“The smartphone itself has ceased to be a status symbol, since everybody has one,” says Eleanor Robinson, accessories manager at Selfridges. “But it is still important to be seen to be on it. At fashion week, you find these women typing away as they walk into displays and you think:’What is so important that you need to be doing it at the moment?’
The phone is becoming something that puts distance between you and the rest of the world. Status now comes out of being active, in having to handle important emails or take photographs to share with your followers. And so your phone has to be in your hand, not in your handbag.”
With the identical few phones dominating the current market, humour and character are key differentiators. If you’re a 14-year-old woman and have the exact same phone as your daddy, you can fix this using a Skinny Dip case with a fluffy flamingo or a glittery WTF onto it. Both Robinson and Net-a-Porter’s senior accessories purchaser Billie Faricy-Hyett point to the Moschino novelty cases — french fries in 2013, the Barbie mirror in 2014 — as firestarters on the market. We couldn’t keep it in stock.”) To Cassie Smart of Matches fashion.com (largest phone case manufacturer: Stella McCartney), cases are”a wonderful way to be part of a particular tribe”.
From the self-obsessed world of social networking, having a sense of humour with your phone case — if that is a #12 watermelon, or the subtle conceit of travelling light with Louis Vuitton’s mini steamer trunk — may be used to cancel your vanity. “If you are taking a mirror selfie, then using a ridiculous phone case makes it seem as though you’re almost poking fun at yourself,” says Robinson.
Ghesquière, who co-chaired last year’s style and technology themed Met Gala at the Costume Institute at New York and has experimented with using digital avatars in place of models in advertisements, sees the intersection of fashion and technology as”a new means of communicating, and a way to speak to millennials”. Where technology has ingrained itself in the texture of daily life, style is here to make it look nice.