Fashion: An Apologist's View

>> Thursday, April 1, 2010

I came across this article this morning in The Guardian - it's quite old, I know, but I don't think that diminishes its relevance any. In it, the writer Tanya Gold talks about how much she hates fashion - how she hates walking past shop windows displaying 6-inch heels, how she laughs at the "imbecility" of clothes on the runway, a luxury afforded to her, she says, ever since she put on some weight and decided that "even fashion wouldn't pretend it could fix me." She wonders why women can't renounce fashion and just "squeeze... (themselves) into a library and have an inner life instead", as if a love for fashion and for books can only exist mutually exclusive of each other.

Everyone has a right to their opinion, of course. And it seems to fit perfectly into the natural order of things that the more frivolous, the more seemingly vapid fashion gets, the larger and stronger grows the backlash against it. Certainly, there's much to berate about the industry - the list is long, from the use of underage, anorexic models to fashion houses' ironclad rules about lending clothes for editorial spreads, effectively killing all creativity, to the increasing number of products out there that simply do not justify their price tags (see post below).

The reason I find myself unable to stay away, however, lies in people like Alexander McQueen, Giambattista Valli, Azzedine Alaia, Nicolas Ghesquière. Looking at the things they create often moves me and sometimes brings a lump to my throat; the experience is not dissimilar to finding pleasure in music, or classic art worthy of the adulation it receives, or dance or literature or the joy of effortless eloquence.

The jury's still out on whether fashion crosses over into art, and I'm not entirely sure what my take is on the matter either - but I still find it is imperative to recognise the great creativity and often, the vision that many in the fashion world possess. We all want to be heard, especially when so many of us are so stifled and our voices silenced so much; the desire to create is most natural, most human and whether creativity finds its outlet in art, music, words, or just clothes, it deserves its place in the world just like any other.

I think it's unfortunate that Ms. Gold chose to filter fashion in the way that she did and take it as personally as she has. Fashion is, of course, an industry like any other - and one could say art is more about creativity for its own sake and hence entirely different from fashion, but surely a closer look into the art world would change anybody's mind - and the clothes mean nothing if there is no one to buy them, but that doesn't mean that there is no beauty to the madness, that all fashion is derogatory to women, that its sole purpose is to make us feel worse about ourselves, or that to buy into the dream of enchanting clothes is to declare yourself an exercise in frivolity to the world. I have a problem with extremes, especially when it comes to those in opinions and I don't believe that the right answer to anything lies in one or either polar opposite.

And that is, as they say, is my two cents.

p.s. That bit about wandering about Harvey Nichols like "an insect with a broken antennae" observing how "miserable all the shoppers look," and how shopping always involves "a kind of brief, bright burst of self-acceptance, which always evaporates" when one reaches home? Utter drivel. Tanya Gold has obviously confused a distaste for shopping with her right to a diatribe on fashion. I'm not sure what she meant about the miserable shoppers, because I certainly feel nothing but ecstatic when I'm in a store. And contrary to Gold's opinion on the matter, I think the best part of the entire experience is going home, unwrapping your new purchases, and hanging them up in your wardrobe.

In fact, the only thing better than that particular experience is wearing it all for the first time.


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About this Blog

I've loved fashion for as long as I can remember, so it only makes sense that I write for a fashion magazine. I find however that the experience of working in the industry is quite different from appreciating it from afar. That's why I chose to be a travel writer (I chronicle some of my travel experiences here) while staying at the magazine, albeit focusing more on the lifestyle aspects of the job. This means that I must find another outlet for all my sartorial web crawling - et voila! Monyet in Pearls was born.

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