Dystopia as Clickbait: Science Fiction, Doomscrolling, and Reviving the Idea of the Future

This spring, the fashion house Balenciaga launched its latest line with a fictional news broadcast from dystopia. Repurposing the uncanny valley as virtual runway, the video features prosthetically altered models with blackened mouths speaking in electronic blurts over a grim techno soundtrack, pantomiming headlines from a world of disappearing water, robot control, and planets realigning—all while wearing austerely futuristic new couture apparently designed to aesthetically summon this grim tomorrow into being, as the conceptual chyron crawl scrolls enigmatic koans like “In space humans cannot cry,” “Mushrooms have thousands of genders,” and (perhaps grimmest of all) “It’s always Fashion Week somewhere.” While it may not make you want to buy the clothes, it provides another remarkable example of people explaining what it feels like to be alive right now through reference to our darkest science fictions.

You don’t need to trawl avant-fashion shows to find it—just check your news feed.

As

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