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LFW- A muse review…
So…like every other fashion idiot, now is the time for the mandatory review. The week everyone is scribbling about…London Fashion week. Or should we say #LFW.
The week where London’s creative outlet overspills from their wardrobes onto the cobbled street outside of Somerset house. When new street style bloggers are snapping furiously at primped and preened bouffants and the old timers are batting desperate fashion kids away like fashion flies, as they float about them waiting for their moment of blogging glory like the smell of a gone off canape. Tragic, Desperate, Outrageous, Try-hard, fake, fickle, frenzied and fabulous. Dontcha just love it. Sit back, relax and lol at our/my (Alice your loyal and roving reporter) experience at SS/12 London Fashion week.
At The muse, we are no stranger to street style. Our episode featuring WGSN is one of our faves, and the mode of image making has never felt more prominent or current than at this season’s fashion week. Everywhere you look there is a photographer’s eyes darting up and down you, reading you for a trend, looking for what boxes you can be blogged in and what you have to offer. If you couple this at first intimidating reality with the fact that fashion week is so focussed on glamour, glitz and excess, it makes for a situation that is rife with potential for monumental embarrassment…
FASHION MELTDOWN case.1. I’m on my way to fashion land blackberry in hand, arranging my schedule…and have to wait for a friend…who; rather annoyingly is 40 minutes late. Cool its not like I have to be anywhere. Oh wait. Its fine I’m cool and collected. Until…ew…what is that? Look down at my blackberry screen…oh my lord. A bird has just pooed on my hand and the screen of my phone.
As I curse my friend and scrabble for a tissue and decide to give up waiting before his mates come and fashion me a feascies head-dress I charge towards Somerset House. Thank god for tissues, Thank god for sanitising gel…We’re home free, I appear to have been lucky.
As I turn into Somerset house to collect my pass…still in a slight haze of poo trauma, I hear…”HI! we’re from the Guardian, we love what you’re wearing…can we take your picture?” I of course oblige. Who doesn’t like to hear someone loves what your wearing? lets face it. Jackie Dixon, Elle photographer extrordinaire and blogger at ‘Show me your wardrobe’ says “Hoik your look up about ten notches. As a general rule ask yourself three questions 1) Would you get stopped by The Sartorialist? 2) If you got stuck in a lift with Emmanuelle Alt would she be impressed? 3) Would you go to Sainsbury’s in your look (if the answer is yes change immediately, unless you do your Sainsburys shop in Balenciaga and vertiginous heels, in which case I salute you and proceed).”
Fine, I can live with that. if your at fashion week, its going to take a lot to say no.
Here is the photo below. hair…cool…shirt…like…dress…lovely…shoes. Hmm, what could that white spec possibly be?
Aside from this initial trauma, fashion week really does showcase talent in a very different way to the other fashion weeks. London is cool, not chic. Even the mandatory fashion week faux-nonchalance is lesser so here, the arrival of Kate/Sienna/Kanye to the FROW (front-row get-to-know) does cause a stir here, thats just how we roll.
The brashness of the city was very much reflected on the catwalks this season. Topshop unique’s gold and black colour palette, shiny lame textures and bold prints is really Brixton, Caribean and Carvinal in it’s influences; all very London.
Whilst Mulberry mixed their classic nudes, tailoring with fluorescents and Winehouse bouffants to meet somewhere between Sloane square and Camden town.
Our focus was very strongly on new designers, young fresh talent and The stars of the future. The place to find that was Vauxhall fashion scout; most notably The ‘One’s to watch’ show. Continueing the themes shown at Mulberry with fluorescents executed in a way that incorporates both structure and drapery, Malene Oddershede Bach showed a focussed and understated collection. Playing with texture in the most wearable way from the One’s to watch show, her use of wool and silks, leather and metallics was in a distinctly feminine way. Her kick skirts and print blocking was all sexy but palatable, with great tailoring and a look of the ‘effortless chic’ about it.
Perhaps the strongest and most engaging of the One’s to watch show at Vauxhall Fashion scout, Pheobe English’s collection was all texture and experiment. Her use of pleats, tassels, tule and knitwear was dramatic and beautiful. Contrasting the look of the unfinished with superb shapes and expertly executed pieces, the focus on texture and ruffling was backed up with craftsmanship. The cream and black colour pallette, with leather inserts and playful lengths and shapes made for something interesting and new.
Our favourite collection was by far that of Meadham Kirchoff. Edward Meadham talks about the collection thats got everyone chattering (and apparently some shoegoers shedding tears in a totally blaze fashion, “Its a celebration of girls. Of the ridiculous artifice and expectation of female beauty. A celebration and disgust of it. So yeah…the normal.”
Aside from the Courtney Love meets Clueless dancers, applying make up in unison amidst powder pink and mint green crests of balloons and little ballerinas twirling and pirrohetteing (all to a track of the Spice Girls) Meadham Kirchoff showed Marie Antionette kick skirts, cartoon prints, lurid mini dresses all set off with glitter, ponies feathers and ruffles. Like a sleepover made flesh. Celebrating and questioning feminine excess all at once. Cake sugar, cuteness and childhood all launching itself down one catwalk. What it means to be a girl is constantly questioned experimented with and judged at fashion week, be it the height of your heels or the measurements of your hips, to put all these things down the runway was brave and beautiful. Plus did you see those shoes? They are to die for.
So with Meadham Kirchoff’s message, Burberry’s FROW and the one’s to watch’s futures still swilling themselves around our heads, we bid aduor to London Fashion week. With so many blog posts still to read, the fashion pack’s heads are immediately turned to Milan’s luxuriousness and then Paris’ chicness.
London’s done itself proud for another season, and we can’t wait for Spring 2012 when we can put the trends we’ve seen into practice!
The Reality Star’s Guide To Beauty
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling my weird love/hate relationship with my television taking on more of the ‘hate’ at the moment. ‘The only way is Essex’ has been followed by ‘Made in Chelsea’, which is soon to be followed by what I can only describe as an embarrassment to our fair isle; ‘Geordie shore’. Oh dear.
Don’t get me wrong, I am guilty in indulging once in a while in the kind of American vacuous ‘scripted reality’ that have spawned these region based British counterparts; first there was ‘Laguna Beach- the real orange county’ (inspired by the hugely successful drama ‘the OC’), then there was ‘The Hills’ (following the young life of Lauren Conrad, a woman that started as a girl on Laguna Beach), then there was ‘The City’ (another spin-off featuring Whitney Port; the one that was slightly more edgy) Then there were a million others, and my IQ was halved.
Laguna beach started in 2004, and I became aware of it via MTV, probably around 2005, so that gives me a solid dose of 6 years of rubbish swilling around my head, and although I wasn’t ever the biggest fan, I found it a funny kind of escapism, middle ground between a sitcom and a documentary but now that’s all changed. Why is it that this type of TV only now is starting to really bother me? I think the answer is pretty clear. All these programmes have been up until now very far removed.
I don’t live in LA or on a Californian beach, nor do I conduct my life around long lunches with girlfriends to gossip/snipe/catfight about the night before and then storm off to my waiting white BMW/Range rover. Its not real life, its just something to laugh at and turn your brain off to and I’m very happy with that. But Essex isn’t LA, neither is Chelsea, or for that matter Newcastle. Their all within a short travelling distance, they’re not far-removed and they’re all part of the social make-up of Britain. But these people don’t seem to be removing themselves from hollywood, living in a dream world of boob jobs, scandal and fakery that I don’t associate with the Britain I love, but I think others don’t see it that way.
With this weeks episode of The Muse.TV surrounding beauty, I thought I’d take a minute to examine the ‘Scripted reality’ star’s ‘guide to beauty’ (if you will). When I was filming the latest episode, within the beauty industry, I found professionals who were dedicated to artistry, care of the skin, and not drastically changing what you have, but highlighting it. The make-up artists were really pushing the idea of a base for your skin, a primer to allow less actual layers of make-up, and care for the skin underneath. But when was the last time you heard of this kind of regime on TV? no. No no no no no. If I was a make-up artist I’d be throwing my eyelash curlers in the air with frustration.
To achieve the beauty standards of the scripted reality star, one must start not with a rejuvenating primer, or a good moisturiser but it seems invasive surgical procedures. In ‘The Hills’ these procedures were actually totally ignored by producers, and the viewer was just supposed to assume the way its stars filled their bikinis was genuine. But British reality stars have never been known for their subtlety; ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ could probably be defined by the faces of its female characters, and makes no qualms about openly glamorising surgery and other forms of extreme beauty treatments. There is talk of botox parties, boob jobs, and even mention of the tanning injections ‘melanotan’, which has links to cancer, and causes chronic nausea; but as the buxom and brown Amy Childs says “you look good all the time!”
Amy Childs is I would say the UK ambassador of this guide. She jokes about needing boob holes in the massage table of her beauty salon to cater for all the boob jobs in Essex, and when looking for an assistant wants a clone of herself- into fake tan, boob jobs and cheek fillers. She’s recently been photographed outside of the parameters of the programme dressed in a replica outfit to one worn by Katie Price, so this gives an idea of the genre of ‘beauty’ she puts herself in. I’m not for a minute suggesting that Amy Childs and the rest of the cast of ‘The only way is Essex’ are solely to blame for what I see as portraying harmful and invasive procedures as commonplace, but with 1.55 million viewers of the itv2 programme surely its something to question?
In the end I wouldn’t class my scripted reality star’s guide to beauty as ‘beauty’. The people in the industry I’ve met aren’t promoting a necessity to cut, jab, and inflate to look your best, it should be something fun and experimental, and as much as these programmes promote surgery and other extreme procedures as this, this is obviously not the case. Each to one’s own, and surgery does work for some people, but it is not the same as putting on eyeliner, or using a highlighter product to enhance your assets, no matter how accessible and acceptable it becomes.
To conclude, I’d like to turn to a woman who has long fascinated me, and is perhaps who I regard as the first explicitly obvious tragedy of scripted reality programmes. If Amy Childs is the princess, she is the queen, and if we can learn anything the portrayal of beauty in these programmes, its from reality veteran Heidi Montag. After starring in MTV’s ‘The Hills’ from 2006-2010, became completely unrecognisable from the fresh faced girl that started the programme. At the peak of her surgery she underwent ten procedures in one day including brow-lifts, ear-pinnings, a chin reduction, as well as a second rhinoplasty and second breast augmentation. Her surgery wasn’t mentioned on the show until well into its development, but her face and body were changed dramatically for the viewing public, explicitly talked about or not. Montag is just a year older than me (now 24, but 22 when the main bulk of her surgery was carried out) and has been described as being thrown head first into a Barbie factory.
In 2010 Heidi spoke of her regret of the procedures she underwent- “Parts of my body definitely look worse than they did pre-surgery. This is not what I signed up for.” She adds, “I definitely think I should have been way more informed. I think that doctors should really walk you through all aspects of it, not just the glamorous side of it. Doctors, it’s like they’re selling you cookies or something.I would love to not be ‘plastic girl’ or whatever they call me. Surgery ruined my career and my personal life and just brought a lot of negativity into my world. I wish I could jump into a time machine and take it all back. Instead, I’m always going to feel like Edward Scissorhands”
Maybe its time to turn off.
‘Death of the icon, birth of the e-con…’ By Harriet Moss
Last month saw the tragic death of Elizabeth Taylor. Many said it was the death of Hollywood’s last Golden Age actress, but was it also the death of Hollywood’s last style icon?
Previous ages of Hollywood, such as the Golden, took a more subtle approach to the world of fame. Stars were able to be elusive with infrequent interviews and photo shoots as the only opportunity to gaze at those placed so high on a pedestal by adoring fans, ‘celebrities’ were those who deserved and earned the title. Icons were born as the mystery of their glamorous lifestyles gave us the opportunity to see those on the silver screen as higher beings than us humans; glamour and style were the core foundations of this superiority.
The word celebrity is used so loosely these days: if your face has been on TV, or if you’ve been in the right A-lister’s bed, you can technically call yourself a celeb. And the paparazzi will probably follow you for a week or so. However, very few of the today’s rich and famous have a style worth following. And no-one gets anywhere close to that ‘icon’ status.
A few over the years have tried: there were Sienna and Kate with their Boho look a few years ago that got them in the papers every day, whilst girls across the county lowered their hemlines to the floor and got their ‘float’ on. But it is doubtful they will be remembered in decades to come - well, nowhere near as much as Taylor’s ‘Cleopatra’ anyway.
In fairness, Kate Moss is as close as any celeb today could get to becoming a Style Icon. She has long outlasted any other model in terms of tabloid ‘watchability’. Having to live with the surname ‘Moss’ I’ve witnessed personally just how far her fame has spread. Booking a hotel abroad over the phone has become much easier since she took the fashion world by storm: ‘Ah… M, O, S, S… like-a Kate-a Moss!’ says an Italian Hotel receptionist. However, Kate has unfortunately seemed to have hung up her haute-couture heels: she barely lives in anything but Yummy Mummy Primrose Hill attire and appears to think she is no longer worthy of designing for us young ‘uns shopping at Topshop.
There are a few Fashionistas out there looking to make their stamp on the twenty-first century. Pop-lets like Rihanna and her majesty, Lady Gaga, are always pushing the boundaries of fashion. I say ‘fashion’ rather than ‘style’ as their attire is not a series of ‘looks’ that can be recreated by civilians. I can’t see myself being carried down to Tesco’s in an ‘egg’, or getting into the pub in my Rihanna-esque S&M get-up!
Even royalty seem to be lack lustre in their looks of late. The endless comparisons between Kate Middleton and the late Lady Di show how the times have changed. Kate always looks great but so do thousands of Sloanies on her budget too, whereas Di turned heads with her out-there ball gowns and anti-establishment plunging necklines. I can’t see girls today having coffee-table books with Queen Kate’s face on them (as my Grandmother does with Princess Diana).
Perhaps these fashion-failing famous faces will never be ‘Style Icons’ because of the way time has changed. How can a celebrity become an Icon when we have seen them taking out the trash in their pjs, and elegantly flashing their ‘woohoo’s as they get out of a cab with no pants on?
The media have taken away the pedestal and those whom we see on the Silver Screen can now be seen as real people, and surely real people can’t be style icons?
Or, perhaps they can. With the rise of ‘Street Style’ in our magazines and the reign of the high street, perhaps it is the infamous ‘us’ that are the icons of today. It is not difficult to see a fabulously dressed girl on the street and suddenly want to dress like her. Maybe that is the problem, we see so much of celebrities and they just aren’t as interestingly dressed as the girl behind the counter at Starbucks.
The internet has created a realm of fashion, style and shopping that has come to rule our wardrobes, with prices plummeting downwards, that perfect endless wardrobe in every girl’s dream is now just a few clicks away. Current economic climates have meant that price now tends to rule, which greatly for us does not always have to mean ‘cheap’. Vintage and low-price internet brands give us the opportunity to become far more expressive and creative with our day to day personal styles. The challenge of poorer times has given us an extra skill; British girls now excel at finding that perfect outfit on an ‘e-con’ budget.
I think that the ‘icon’ has been replaced with the ‘econ’ - it is the streets over stars and, you know what… I prefer it this way. So as we say RIP to Hollywood’s Liz, it is the ordinary girl who’s become an icon to us all. We - or rather, you- now rule the runways.
Cassie joins the youth club, cool Britannia reigns supreme and looks like the kids are all right after all!
From the rebellious attitude of the punks through to the perfectly coiffed quiffs of the rockers and over to the dapper threads of the teddy boys, Britain has enjoyed a long history of youth tribes and I for one love the rebellious spirit and experimental attitude of Britain’s youth.
I’ve always been a little bit obsessed with street style particularly British street style and for this weeks episode we took a trip to Carnaby street and Camden looking for characters who embody the archetypal British street style. We also caught up with the guys from PYMCA who own the biggest archive of youth culture photography.
Hanging out with the PYMCA guys at their exhibition space was quite an education. From chatting to James who has an encyclopedic knowledge of style tribes to browsing through their gallery space which features some of the worlds most iconic youth culture images I couldn’t help but get sucked into the subject.
Hunting the illusive British street style icon proved a harder job and I quickly realized that British street style has come along way since the 60’s swinging mods and 90’s new age ravers and is no longer segregated into neat style tribes.
Today’s British youth are an eclectic bunch that adopts a multi faceted and multi cultural approach to dress borrowing a broad pick and mix of influences. Mixing high end statement pieces with their thrifty eBay bargains our current crop of fashionistas are build up of a savvy network of sartorial mavericks who take risk and aren’t afraid to have fun whilst doing it.
Fashion And The Cult Of Celebrity by Alice Nyong
This week, I have been given cause to ponder on the world of celebrity. Dear god, its a vast subject. I have filmed my episode on celebrity fashion ranges, and during this exploration, the main thing I came to realise is that celebrities have an impact not just on what we wear, but how we live our lives. I would actually argue that the ‘celeb’ has actually taken on its own class in Britain today. When walking through Primark on a Friday afternoon and seeing a £2 copy of Kate Middletons (and lets face it, more famously, Diana Princess of Wale’s) engagement ring with the emblazoned label of ‘get the royal look’ its clear that even the new royal couple have become part of the new celebrity class.
It is actually quite pertinent that it was the blue oval sapphire with diamonds surrounding it that caught my celebrity curious eye, because Princess Diana was actually one of my earliest memories of celebrity. I suppose it was her death that made this idea of fame so glaringly obvious. A blonde beautiful princess chased to her death by a pack of photographers on motorbikes, television images of flowers & memorials flooding the screen, and actually going to lay them with my mum will put a pretty strong image of fame into the head of a nine year old. Although fame seemed like something scary and almost evil, the fact that Diana was so sought after, to the point that she lost her life, set up in my head that if somebody is in the newspapers or on the television, I should take notice of them.
Acknowledging this for me is quite embarrassing. I was talking to a friend this week about celebrity as a phenomenon and he made me so jealous when he recalled actually leaving a coffee shop that Jude Law was in with his children, because people were fawning over him, just because he was Jude law drinking coffee. He didn’t want to be that guy who cared for something so benign. I am that guy, or have been.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t rifle through bins or kiss a poster before bed, I don’t actually even read magazines devoted to celebrities, but there have been a few notable celebs’ that I have become really interested with. In my childhood I was a bit late for the Take That hysteria, but I was right on time for The Spice Girls. If Diana was my first glimpse of celebrity, The Spice Girls were where it became a glare.
Posters, t-shirts, costumes, photo albums, key rings, perfumes, films, TV programmes…crisps? All for a girl group, whose music hasn’t exactly stood the mainstream test of time! But I remember thinking what I would do if somehow I was given the chance to meet them. Wishing for that chance to come. The way The Spice Girls branded themselves was in a way that we were supposed to ‘know’ them; and I, like so many other fans really thought I did. But I was 11. What excuse would the forty plus women in Marks and Spencer in Hackney give the other day as they blighted my lunchtime with their inane chit chat about Katie Price? ” Oh well she’s had a breakdown since Pete hasn’t she…Ooh I know…bad innit…” You’d think they were talking about a friend, but no a woman made famous by inflating her chest and revealing her bits. It just shows how what is effectively a marketing tactic has evolved even within my lifetime. We think we know Katie Price; so let’s buy this magazine/book/dvd and see which idiot she’s sleeping with now.
This is what celebrity has become and the reason this absurd phenomenon has flourished is because admiration of another person is a human trait. However, as is indicative of this generation in general, we demand our celebrity fixes on a grander scale and instantly. It’s easier to see the attractive qualities of a person when they are laid bare for us by the oh so subtle graphic design department at Heat Magazine. But this is the thing, celebrities are just people. In fact more than that, they are strangers. We may know who they’ve shared a stage or a bed with, but we don’t know them. When talking to young girls like myself on the street about celebrity clothing ranges the words Kate Moss, Dita Von Teese and Lily Allen slip off the tongues so easily; you would think they were talking about life long friends. This is why celebrity clothing ranges are so popular, because the regular consumer doesn’t know where Valentino goes on holiday for example, or who Balenciaga gets drunk with on the weekend. But the Sienna Millers and Victoria Beckhams are laying it all bare; their look books may as well be the tabloid magazines. As Lady Gaga has so aptly said, the public want to see the celebrity fall over, fail and ultimately rot. It’s messed up, so is fashion. It’s no wonder the two are merging.
I am endeavouring to get to where my friend is in terms of celebrity. I don’t want to be the goon posing for a picture with Russell Brand in a Hampstead coffee shop (yes that is me) or be talking about Katie Price’s mental state at the checkout. No matter how we fight against it, celebrity does have an effect on fashion, but I think the way we let it govern us is important, people are just people, whether they’re on the telly or not. I’m tempted to say when it comes to fashion, just go for whoever makes the nicest frocks…is that really going to be a supermodel? My second piece of advice is to realise that that pedestal ain’t real no matter how long you’ve had your object of desire up there. When it comes down to it, your really just two idiots in a coffee shop. There’s a reason why they say “never meet your heroes.”
Fashion with a conscience?
My preconceived idea of Ethical fashion is extremely outdated.
Now I’m all for a bit of recycling me, who knows, perhaps a bit of composting too? Ooh, let’s add some fairtrade produce into the mix, RIP plastic bags and, what’s that? Ethical fashion you say?? Oh no. No thank you. I mean, I’m all for helping the environment but you’re going a bit too far there mate. Last time I checked, the only ethically designed clothes in existence were sold in hippie shops alongside incense sticks, wind chimes and healing crystals and even then they were a mix of tie-dye, hemp and felt. Hardly an aspiring fashionista’s dream combo and not exactly the ultra-modern, slick and stylish lifestyle promoted by the mainstream media these days. Factors impossible to ignore in our image obsessed society, despite the most admirable and inspiring efforts of our eco fashion pioneers.
Wait, hold on there just one second, this is not the end of the story. I have an important epiphany-esque breakthrough to announce: I’m an eco fashion convert! “Do my ears deceive me?” you say, “has she lost her tiny mind?”. Yes, you heard correctly. I fail to express how blown away I have been these past few weeks in learning about ethically designed fashion so thank you to Amelia Gregory and 123 Bethnal Green Road for educating me. Such commitment to innovation and beauty in the face of what appears, on paper, to be quite restricting creative circumstances. Not at all what I expected and something which has thankfully opened my ignorant mind to the endless possibilities and potential of ethically designed fashion. Visiting 123 Bethnal Green Road, a new eco fashion concept store in East London, I saw, first hand, what wonders could be made out of reclaimed and used fabrics and textiles. How strange it was to feel that sense of luxury and the new from clothes, though now reconstructed, which were once considered “old” and “past it”.
A new ethical collection to launch in Selfridges on March 21st made using surplus stock. A collaboration between Speedo and award winning ethical fashion designers From Somewhere.
I must admit that I do feel somewhat foolish having taken so long to discover what impossible progress eco fashion enthusiasts have made over the years and how they’re paving the way for the new generation of young and talented designers of the future to take it to the next level. From hippie dreaming to Catwalk reality. The bottom line being: you can make beautiful, impeccably designed, perfectly crafted, catwalk worthy clothes from recycled textiles and ethically sourced fabrics. Who knew ey? I feel it’s about time that serious ethical designers be put alongside non ethical designers in the style stakes. In the end, it’s all about fashion innit? No matter what the ethical stance, these clothes really need to be able to face the scrutiny of the fashion mafia and triumph in order to gain any serious global presence. When will this happen? Why this is already happening of course and with each season, the concepts get stronger, the support is greater and our impending crossover to eco fashion draws ever nearer. Who ever considered a world where fashion had a conscience? Whatever next?!
‘It’s a Man’s World’ by Harriet Moss
Described by the BBC as a ‘svelte blonde standing over 6ft with cascading platinum hair, dewy skin, lush lips and chiselled cheekbones’ it is no surprise that Andrej Pejic has had a so far wonderful career as a womenswear model.
As well as sounding like the perfect definition of a model, Andrej has caused a stir at all of the most recent fashion events such as the Couture Show in Paris, New York Fashion Week, and numerous London Fashion Week parties.
But Andrej has really caused a stir because he is a man.
Born in Bosnia and raised in Australia, Andrej was discovered in McDonald’s by an Agency Scout when he was just 17, an age when he was already experimenting with a feminine look. Since then he has been catapulted to the top and is storming the billboards this year in the Spring 2011 Jean Paul Gaultier and Marc by Marc Jacobs campaigns.
However, unfortunately, most of Andrej’s success has not been well received. Writing for the Daily Mail Amanda Platell describes the 19-year-old model as ‘Fashion’s ultimate insult to women’. His presence has once again sparked the continuously simmering debate on the role of size zero models. Fashion houses most often design for an unrealistic ‘boyish’ figure: around 6 ft tall, flat chested, slim-hipped and completely unlike the majority of the general female public: so much so, that they are now looking to ‘boys’ to model these designs.
But how can a male model with a ‘boys’ figure be more of an insult to women than an unrealistically-small female model is?
Whilst Andrej is clearly a man and not changing that, and is fairly quiet about his sexuality, Brazilian model Lea T is a different story. Born a man to a Brazilian footballer father, Lea T recently spoke on ‘Oprah’ about her open belief in Gender Identity Disorder. She is now a woman and is to undergo surgery for this in May of this year. Quite rightly so there has been less stigmatism about Lea T being a womenswear model as she, and hopefully the rest of the world, thinks of herself as a woman, and will be 100% female very soon. Posing completely nude for French vogue, with just a hand covering her still manly genitals, Lea looks stunning, slightly vulnerable and every inch the beautiful model that she is. This is a photograph that will surely come to define the generation of models riding the wave of transsexual success.
Fashion that we see on the runway is more of an art form than a prospective outfit for our next night out. The catwalk ‘look’ is not one that we can always duplicate on the streets and therefore who models it is not a direct representation of ‘us’: the general public. Is the gender of the models even relevant? In this age where the lines between gender and sexuality are so blurred, why can’t a beautiful man who feels comfortable in more feminine attire express his personality on the fashion show stage?
Fashion celebrates beauty, style and grace, most often through the models that showcase the main importance in the industry: the clothes. I am sure that Rihanna did not discriminate against the Jean Paul Gaultier dress that she wore to the Grammys just because it was Andrej Pejic that modelled it on the runway. In fact, in an online pole, Andrej won hands-down in ‘Who wore it best’: a clear indication to those not comfortable with this new trend in models that they are here to stay. Rather than ‘demeaning real women’, male or transsexual models take away the danger that the presence of Size Zero female models present. ‘Real women’ won’t harmfully strive for a tiny figure if they know that those modelling the fashion aren’t women to begin with. At next Season’s Fashion Week, we all may be able to watch the boys and relax: enjoy the show, enjoy the fashion, and enjoy a larger lunch.
Alice Nyong on “Is Racism The New Black?”
Fashion, our beloved mistress has taken some bashing in the press in the last fortnight. Erdem Moralioğlu’s rather dubious choice in runway model (as covered in an earlier post by Ani), has been way overshadowed by the rants and ravings of a certain Mr John Galliano. My fabulous friend made the rather funny comment of Galliano’s nosedive into career oblivion as ‘One year Dior, next year dancing on ice’; and in truth the story is the stuff that itv2 would be chomping at the bit to ‘reveal’. But is there a darker side to the way our designers view women, and more generally, a darker side to fashion?
I think the fact that Galliano’s comments may raise this as an issue is perhaps due to the way he is accused of attacking mainly women, and in directly relating their femininity and worth as a woman to their race/religion. The fashion industry is ften labelled as misoginistic, and although this is a description I consider to be extreme, a woman is defined in many areas of fashion on how she looks, and race is no different when it comes to this. The package of the super woman, who is fabulous and desirable and chic is now not only slender (but not boney) has a cleavage (but not too buxom) exotic (but not too ethnic?) woah. too far?
I mean, should we really start a race row about what a drunken borderline crazy designer slurs at strangers in a bar? In my opinion not. The fact I’ve heard more puns on the situation then genuine outrage (‘knock knock knocking on heaven’s Dior’ being a personal fave) tells me that the fashion pack and general public are all very aware that ranting about gassing is the blabbering of a madman and not a general concencus or an issue anyone in their right mind agrees with.
But my beady eye has picked up on another recent new story that garners less lolz, and perhaps goes to show that ethnicity is another thing to add on to that unattainable list to make the fantasy woman. I am referring to Beyonce Knowle’s not so sensitive shoot for L’Officiel Paris, in which she darkens her skin with make up to portray an image of the ‘African woman’. I’m sure I’m among a slew of people to give their two cents on Bey’s little styling ‘error’ but as a mixed race woman I’ve constantly been aware of Beyonce’s mysterious lightening skin, and weary of its effects on the popularity of skin whitening products. She has achieved a lot on a really broad scale, but is basically blonde, and pale enough to be mistaken for white, yet dark enough to remain accepted by the black community. In this latest shoot her choice of make up has been described as ‘minstrel-like’; not exactly a great description to recieve as a black woman. So Bey…what makes a darker skin tone more innately ‘African’? Beyonce has actually described herself as African, so what does the brown body paint and leopard print do to enhance this? Are these image making tools just as bad as Galliano’s expletives?
Once again, the answer to my proposed question is…probs not. But I am seeing a different side to the ‘ugly face’ of our beloved but cruel industry coming to the forefront, as it is bound to do, and that is a pressure on outward appearance to define your race and a particular ‘race’ to mean something within fashion. The way I will be addressing this is no different to the way I address lots of shallow, hateful and vacuous areas of fashion; by realising they are stupid and moving on.
There is beauty everywhere and it doesn’t matter where your from. J.G wouldn’t call Natalie Portman; the new face of Miss Dior Cherie, and proud Jewish woman, the names he allegedly called these women, but that doesn’t make her any less Jewish, or any less desirable to the millions of men and women that deem her the most beautiful woman in the world. Similarly if Alek Wek painted herself the same colour as beyonce’s natural skin (or hair for that matter, there seems to be some crossover) it wouldn’t make her any less ‘African’, or any less groundbreaking.
To conclude, I hope the Galliano story doesn’t end too sourly, for all the puns and the lols, I do want it to be ok its sad to see a career implode like that, the man can make a frock. Fashion has had enough bitter ends for a decade at least? And Beyonce and her honey hue will survive another day through this bit of bad press, I just hope her younger fans don’t take her actions to heart. And like the issues of weight, height, face shape, and eye colour, fashion will judge your race. And like all those other things, you can’t change who you are, and whatever you are, your mayj.