Paria Farzaneh Fall 2019 Menswear

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There have been some hair-raisingly dystopian underground performances around London these past three days. The one young Paria Farzaneh put on was skeweringly on point about the social media–altered existence we’ve all surrendered to today. She led her fans to a hole-in-the-wall club under a railway arch and involved them in a scenario that felt like a Black Mirror episode.

There was a front door at the end of a darkened runway, with a boy in a bed behind it. Suddenly, the unmistakable, piercingly loud, universally despised sound of an iPhone alarm went off. The boy got up, stepped through the door and onto the “street,” phone in his hand. As we all do. Only the street wasn’t a street but a rolling conveyor belt. The boy stood still, raised his phone, checked himself out, and started videotaping himself as he moved along. Almost as one, the audience auto-responded by lifting their own phones—as we do, at fashion shows—and videotaped him videotaping himself.

All the boy models—and a couple of girls—then did exactly the same, before stepping through the transparent plastic curtains of a room that looked like a sterile decontamination unit. With a loaded irony pointed at our obsession with posting every second of our existence, Farzaneh titled her show Here, Right Now. “It’s the mundanity of it. The alarm we all have. The conveyor belt we’re all on. People aren’t thinking what’s going on,” she said. “I just wish people would put their phones down, start looking each other in the eye, and start talking.”

Ironies within Black Mirror ironies: Backstage, the models were taking photos of themselves, and the audience lingered until they’d pressed post on their Instagram feeds. Instagram is where what happened in the club lives. But Farzaneh only posted still photos of the clothes she’d designed. You see them here. They were a stepped-up development of what she’s established in two short seasons—clothes that retain her British-Iranian identity in the printed fabrics, a stamp now implanted more as a detail in piping and some terrific laminated cross-body bags. But she’s moving on into smarter, more tailored looks and some terrific hand-knits, too.

And beyond the salutary commentary she delivered about screen-dominated consciousness, she had another message for her youth following. “I feel it’s time we get away from the streetwear movement. That’s fast fashion now. It has a shelf life,”she declared. “We need to smarten up.”

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