Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The Compulsory Fashion Week Rant (without catwalk pictures)

I am strangely compelled to follow the fashion weeks. I find myself less inspired by "real fashion" than ever before, and yet I scroll through style.com, jump from one designer to the next, only to be disappointed. I don't see much I like, and a lot of looks seem gimmicky and silly. What comes to mind is the embarrassing performance by P. Puff Daddy Dirty Money Diddy in Saturday Night Live some time ago. Like the artist in question, "real fashion" looks a little old, full of itself, and kind of stupid, even laughable.

I like The New York Times fashion reports. Eric Wilson recently observed that young men's fashion references were starting to revolve around themselves, and Cathy Horyn noted that in the age of tweeting straight off the catwalk, "lots of people just want to digest the experience of fashion without necessarily appreciating what makes a fashion new or interesting". I think Wilson and Horyn are right. A great deal of both men's and women's clothes I see on the catwalk look regurgitated and overly referenced. I, too, find myself unable to "digest" the fashion I see, but it is not because I am busy running to the next fashion show, but mostly because more often than not, there isn't anything new or interesting in it. It is February, and I am already sick and tired of the S/S 2011 looks, and I don't even read fashion magazines as passionately as I used to, and I don't read "fashion" blogs. I don't actually see fashion all that much, and it seems to me that the pulse of new fashion gets old as soon as I see it for the first time. I have taken one look at the F/W 2011 collection by Marc Jacobs, and I am already over it.

I can't put my finger on where I have read this, but at least some designers and fashion editors blame the retail market which demands new things all the time; people want fashion quickly, people get bored easily. I am going to throw a curve-ball into the mix though: could it be that people move on not because they just want the next trend, but because there isn't a whole lot of thought that goes into fashion these days? Could it be that there is actually very little staying power in the clothes we see? Perhaps nothing takes root in our style consciousness because we are shown bad fashion.

I am not your typical fashionista. I am no longer interested in trends, and a lot of the newer fashions that have found their way to my wardrobe have got there from the streets or style blogs rather than the catwalks. By the time catwalk-inspired clothes hit the stores, they seem redundant to me. I long for proper clothes: clothes that I can feel comfortable with for years to come. This doesn't mean I want "timeless every-woman classics" - it means that I want to see something interesting, something innovative, something that does not look like it is made for the fast and the furious. Clearly the fashion week is not the place to find this, because not only are the consumers of quick trends fickle, the designers are fickle, too. It seems that the reason I follow the fashion week is the same reason why I found myself watching an episode of The Bachelor yesterday: there is something tragically interesting in fast wreckage and lost cause.


jesse.anne.o said...

I just realized yesterday, passing a newsstand in the subway station, that it's been over a year since I've subscribed to any fashion magazines, even.

I think it's rare that I love a collection I see now. I was reading someone's blog this past week and the opening line was, "My heart skipped a beat when I saw..." -- and that's the thing. That's so few and far between.

Teenysparkles said...

i just wrote an enormous comment and lost it! The jist was...I am continually disappointed by retail now...the clothes are boring, the colours are the same in every shop, and there is very little precious detail. It is usually the colours that annoy me the most though. Every winter, spring and summer there is a predictable rehash of seasonal colours - I never see tomato reds or warm yellows, caramel browns or royal blue - anymore. This is New Zealand though, and unfortunately we are fairly limited in options. This was a fabulous post.

Someone said...

I stopped reading fashion mags years ago myself, and keep current in a very small way by checking the internet. Overall, I agree with you - the fashion machine is just not that interesting anymore, whether it's because it's so accessible all the time, or because we really have seen it all by now; we have so many choices and there are no boundaries. Style bloggers and thrift shoppers remix things until really, anything goes. The world no longer follows a narrow selection of silhouettes at any given time, and all our current fashion ever wants to do is rehash real styles from the past.

Know what has annoyed me the most this year? The RANDOMNESS of so-called trends. First, there's the whole fact that "trends" are not usually anything of the sort, but are dictated by the fashion cartel and have little to do with what's really trending. And second, these so-called trends are often completely IRRELEVANT to our times. They feel chosen at random.

Examples of this irrelevance are the "military" trend and the resurgent "70s" trends, including those stupid floppy hats. There is NO GOOD REASON that any of these things should be "trends" right now. They have no connection to *anything.* Fashion just wants to sell us whatever it thinks we no longer have in our closets, that's about it.

Anonymous said...

Recently had this very conversation with my husband of all people. The style I see every day (I teach at a college) amounts to athletic shoes, jeans and sweatshirts, which is the equivalent of no style. The style I see in the fashion media for the most part is ridiculously unwearable. In between there is an entire world of people, full of their own creativity. THAT is what is interesting to me about fashion, wherever I find it.

Eline said...

Haha, I quite love new fashion but admittedly, the really interesting stuff comes from new designers. There's lots and lots of stuff to wade through that you won't like but ultimately when I find something I truly like it's incredibly exciting! But I shouldn't be commenting this because I've also kind of given up on following fashion weeks et al! What is really good though is seeing people like you and me, with not necessarily any interest in fashion but with an interest in expressing themselves via clothing and that's what's really inspiring.