Monday, 15 June 2009

The exalted father

Sometimes reading fashion as a coded expression of attitudes and beliefs can be a bit disturbing. I have previously alluded to this in my fearless expose of the horrifying popularity of military fashion. I am now going to draw your attention to the Freudian secret in which an examination of the modern woman’s wardrobe says that we all fancy our fathers. Let me explain.

There has been a lot of hoopla made about the fact that fashion has got ‘tough’ over the past year or so (you know- /blazer/doc marten/brogue/lumberjack shirt). Alexa Chung wrote an article for this month’s British Vogue claiming that modern girls were seeking protection, toughness. Indeed, there has been a soar in popularity for all things ‘boyfriend’ of late. The androgynous look too (see Uniqlo/ American apparel et al) has been a major hit. Of course, Alexa and Vogue need not have pointed this out to me, I have been thinking about it for quite a while. Except that my deeply disturbing analysis wouldn’t get printed in Vogue.

Three possible explanations as to why women wear men’s clothes:
1. We love our fathers and our new way of dressing is some kind of subconscious expression of our desires. This thought first struck me with full, horrifying force when I was speaking to Chloe Sevigny about her new collection for opening ceremony, which consisted of a range of menswear adapted for women. When I asked her why she thought that she liked to wear men’s clothes she told me “I always loved the way my dad dressed”. I’ll say nothing more dear chloe. (see here for my published article on this
2. We are deluded. We think that wearing the clothing of ‘the stronger sex’ will imbue us with some power (which is not only deluded, but stupid too). We think that people won’t think of us as pretty little silly girls, but tough and gutsy.
3. It’s a ‘dualistic’ act of subversion, where we are mixing things up and challenging perceptions of what it is to be female- “Look im wearing mens shoes and a big baggy mens shirt, but im actually really pretty and girly”. The toughness of the clothes only exaggerates our femininity. It’s kind of a counter-culture cool, trendy way of mixing with gender stereotypes, only to reinforce them even more.

I don’t know which is worst. Probably the fancying your dad option, cos that’s kind of embarrassing. Of course, I would have to add that this line of thought could never be applied to women’s tailoring, which is a different kind of thing altogether and is about as close as fashion has ever got to uttering the ‘f’ word: feminism.

Friday, 5 June 2009

The Hours

I’m pretty much a morning person. I love the sense of purpose to the way people dress in the morning- it is so honest and full of promise. What we decide to wear in the morning reflects our days agenda, which is why I think work wear is such an important part of the wardrobe.

There is something very positive about people’s appearance in the morning- the time and consideration that has gone into the decision for the day ahead. Each outfit is hung with a sense of pride and preparedness. By the end of the afternoon, the shirt sleeves may be rolled up, a scarf or tie removed and hair ruffled a bit, but in the morning our clothes have a dutiful quality, ready to serve us well for the rest of the day.

This is what I think to myself anyway, on my journey into work.

Living in France has made me appreciate this all the more. No-one does chic work wear like the French. Its amazing. I find myself filled with inspiration every morning, confirming my belief that the way we dress is really no laughing matter. In France, clothes are treated with the maturity, respect and sophistication they deserve. A woman’s wardrobe is no playground- there are real issues to be considered.

What we wear in the evening is more open to abuse. It’s less constrained by this sense of functionality and I sometimes think that this makes it more vulnerable. Under the cover of darkness, people feel a bit more daring and adventurous, which is fun, but the clothes lose their dignity and well-meaning. We are less respectful to our clothes, hitching things up and leaving buttons undone. Evening wear is about attitude and spectacle.

The worst of all is the morning after the night before, when in spite of our best efforts, the fun of the previous evening drapes clumsily across our morning attire, we look like shit.

Monday, 1 June 2009

The minute and the future

I love Karl Lagerfeld. Here are two quotes, which actually reinforce my own wonderful opinion (see Lieux de memoire) and prove that he exists on a higher intellectual plane than any of his contemporaries. he is really thinking about fashion.

"Only the minute and the future are interesting in fashion- it exists to be destroyed, if everyone did everything with respect you'd go nowhere"

" I don't want to think about heritage. I'm not interested in heritage. The way I consider Chanel heritage is the way someone who has earned a lot of money spends the money. You have to play with it, which is what i do".