Around 1984-85 I fell desperately in love with a Hug-a-Pet bag shaped like a brown bear (in my defence I can say that I was a child at the time, so this was a perfectly understandable affair...). I had a soft spot for brown bears and for bags as well, so that seemed to reunite two obsessions in one pretty well. I was so fond of the bag that the poor bear was dragged everywhere suffering from sweltering hot temperatures and sweaty Summer days to less roasting wintry experiences. He was a faithful companion, so loyal indeed that I didn't have the heart to throw it out when I grew up (though mine looks so battered now that it seemed more sensible to include in this post this image from the Internet rather than a picture showing my own bag...).
I think the brand used to do other animals such as a koala bear, and I remember seeing imitations at the time of rucksacks incorporating soft animals including panda bears. Cuddly rucksacks resurfaced every now and then as the years followed, but they were never as popular as they were in the mid-'80s. But, enough about my childhood.
Fast forward to Milan, January 2017 and to the D&G menswear runway show. The latter was a tale of many princes: D&G turned to the millennial generation for the S/S 2017 campaign that is overcrowded with young and cool faces, so it was only natural that they invited for their A/W 2017 menswear show in Milan more YouTube and Instagram influencers.
The list is extremely long and tiring and starts with Cameron Dallas, who opened the show, continuing with Brandon Thomas Lee, Rafferty Law, Luka Sabbat, Presley Gerber, Diggy Simmons, Neels Visser, Sistine and Sophia Stallone and many more (Austin Mahone was on the microphone). In a way it felt as if the designers were telling us that nowadays you either need a celebrity surname or a social media profile bursting with followers to be cool.
Yet there was nothing unusual going on for what regards the clothes: the offer for the next season includes indeed brocades, over-embellished pieces, jackets, coats and sweaters worthy of little princes and decorated with crown emblems and guard embroideries, or with royal cats, dogs, and lion kings, while sacred hearts completed the collection for that classic D&G religious touch.
Then, right when you thought this was a classic Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's The Leopard moment (revolutionising everything to maintain the status quo - so changing the models and the target but not the clothes...) two suspicious things arrived on the runway to add a cool and daring touch: a leopard bomber (available also in its white polar bear version) complete with animal hood and massive paw mittens (totally practical...) – the luxury version of what you may find in High Street stores, and online retailers from Amazon to Aliexpress (there is an entire section on Aliexpress - just write the search words "bear ears jacket" and see what you get) – donned by Gogoboi, an influential fashion blogger in China, and new updated versions (a leopard - ahah, so Tomasi di Lampedusa - and a white polar bear) of the Hug-a-Pet bag.
Remixed for a generation of cool millennias, the bag now looks larger, but it is essentially a glorified Hug-a-Pet bag. And that's when you feel like laughing in the face of fashion: dear millennials, you may be cool and young, but we're more or less selling you our past, adequately remixed, repackaged and revomited for your pleasure. In a nutshell, you may be living your own modern fairytale written by digital means of communication and studded with social media stardom, but – f*cking hell – you're doing so wearing our past.