If ‘iconic’ gets applied far too liberally in fashion, fashion icon Diane Pernet is the real deal. For upwards of three decades, she has made her mark as a photographer, designer, editor, journalist, documentary filmmaker, talent scout and perfume creator. She is often credited as one of fashion’s earliest bloggers, launching her platform, A Shaded View of Fashion, in 2005. By 2008, she conceived A Shaded View of Fashion Film festival, through which she could return to her love of cinema while promoting a wave of talents who were pushing the boundaries of a burgeoning medium. The 13th edition took place last November in Paris and once again confirmed how her pioneering vision remains as relevant as ever. Like most icons, she has assumed a sui generis appearance, never deviating from her alluring, all-black, gothic haute priestess style. Included in the Business of Fashion’s Hall of Fame, Pernet applies her singular insight across the industry and does so with extraordinary staying power.
What creates an emotional response for you in fashion today?
A designer with a soul that shines through the collection and the presentation. For example, active designers like Rick Owens, Dries Van Noten, Issey Miyake, Comme des Garcons, Yohji, Y/Project, Demna at Balenciaga. They are all designers with their own handwriting, there are more of course but they are the ones that come to mind. They are consistent because they each have their own point of view and they really do not care what anyone else is doing.
Often we see several designers arriving at a similar idea during a season. How do you explain this creative intuition?
There are always the leaders and the rest just follow.
How do you feel about designers expressing or interpreting their worldviews in their collections?
I think it is exactly how fashion should be. I was very moved with Balenciaga’s FW22 collection. It was so sincere addressing the climate change and the war in Ukraine. How can a designer live through a time and ignore what is happening in the world… it makes you appear tone deaf.
How would you like to see fashion evolving this year?
After what we all lived through with the pandemic, I am a bit shocked that it appears as though nothing has changed at all. There are still too many collections; too many clothes; too many people travelling to all the cities when they learned through COVID that it was not necessary. People learned nothing. So how would I like to see fashion evolve? Of course sustainability is on the top of the list, but we all know this. Conditions for factory workers needs to change. It just amazes me that after all the horrors revealed in the documentary, “The True Cost” made in 2015 (and screened at ASVOFF that year), factory workers are still not paid properly, nor are there safe working conditions. The other thing I would love to see change is cancel culture and overly politically correct everything. This whole bit about appropriation – imagine if Yves Saint Laurent and John Galliano presented their past collections today, the ones that were inspired by Japan, Russia, China, Africa… It has just all gone too far. A tribute is a tribute; it should not be seen as grand theft.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.