Friday, March 28, 2008

Fashion, Farce, the Economy and my teeth

When I brush my teeth in the morning and at night, I read a magazine. I tell you this not so you'll have more information about me than you ever wished to have, but to explain how I came to be analyzing the layouts in last month's Vogue. I was brushing my teeth and staring at the layout below: How weird, I thought. John Galliano has taken that familiar fashion trope--the sweater-as-scarf where the sleeves are knotted casually at the neck--and turned it into a skirt. It's senseless, I thought, a creative whim perhaps. Or boredom, as in 'what can we do next that isn't what we've done before,' which makes sense in an industry where season after season, they're duplicating season after season from, oh say, twenty or thirty years before. I spit, rinsed, flossed and went to bed.

The next morning , I turned to this, another in the same fashion feature, as I brushed. This made even less sense. Louis Vuitton's version of Eliza Doolittle--after the Fall? At that point, I was still seeing the layout as a fashion feature. I snorted at the idea of some little Beverly Hills cutie taking the ensemble en tout and wearing it out clubbing.

That night, I squeezed the Colgate, turned the page--and came upon these two as a double spread.

At first I was shocked, appalled even. But then, brush still in mouth, I stood back and took a longer view. Suddenly I saw something more. Marc Jacobs has given us here a vision, a nightmare perhaps, of what will happen to the Ladies Who Lunch when the economy has finished its deep sea dive. This is the Depression 21st Century. This is what happens when the money runs out. Beautiful material, fine fine workmanship, but only bits and pieces of the original garment remain to be put together any which way. And the shoes--the heels have fallen off and gotten restuck on sideways. They're wearable, but only just, a vestigal remain of pre-Depression glamour. They are, in fact, what Scarlett O'Hara might have worn with that famous ball gown dress she fashioned from the living room curtains.

The title of this feature was "Magical Thinking," and the blurb spoke of the "audacious wit and inventive craftsmanship from some of fashion's favorite provocateurs." Yes, perhaps, but fashion doesn't happen in a vacuum. These looks are extreme, but I think they're a prognostication. And coming as it does from some of the premier and priciest designers, it's a bit like some hairy-headed, babble-beaked bird eating its young.

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