January 22, 2010

fashion, basically. also, TEAM CONAN

This morning Tanya Gold published an article in The Guardian entitled "Why I Hate Fashion." SPOILER ALERT: it's about why she hates fashion. I suggest reading it before continuing reading this post, because then you get more of an idea of what this whole discussion is about. Also, I hope you're sitting down. Get cozy. Use the toilet real quick, so you don't have to get up and go in the middle.

I can't say I fully disagree with everything she said. I hate the size issue, I hate the commercialism, I hate 14-year-old models being told to lose weight so they can look sexy in a dress made for women twice their age. The problem, though, is how she is so general-ALL of it is uncreative and evil, apparently. But it's a broad subject. Criticizing parts of it (poorly, might I add) is understandable, but putting Yohji Yamamoto in the same category as a magazine about cellulite, dating tips, and makeup is not. Oh, and speaking of Yohji Yamamoto? He hates fashion, too. Oh, and speaking of makeup? Neither editors Katie Grand, editor of Love, or Anna Dello Russo, editor of Vogue Nippon, (you know, Vogue, the magazine Ms. Gold said she spits at and sometimes rips up) wear any.

I am sort of used to the occasional "Why would you waste your prodigal, wiz kid, Jay-Leno-would-probably-sit-you-on-his-lap-and-exclaim-'kids these days! They can use commas!'-type GENIUS (that's me, the genius!) on something as frivolous as fashion?" email. I am also, luckily and gratefully, used to the occasional "I don't like fashion at all and I have never taken an interest in it but I still love your blog and like what you're doing" email, as well. And while we are on the topic of Leno, COCO ALL THE WAY. Tonight was a sad night.

It's refreshing to me that those who can see that all the supposedly "fashion"-oriented magazines and reality TV shows are BS can still appreciate a fashion blog, and for that I'm very thankful. It's not, I don't think, a very difficult thing to do. But then there's the "fashion is stupid!" mindset. The people I know in real life that share this view hate it when clothes are just about being attractive -- then they scoff when I show them the work of any designer whose work is out of the ordinary or not focused on making its wearer look sexy. Tanya Gold, too, says that she "can look at the clothes on the catwalk now and laugh at their imbecility." So, you hate fashion that is soulless and you hate fashion that required of the designer thought and emotion. That's pretty cynical. Conan says don't be cynical. AND CONAN IS RIGHT.

You know, in the beginning of The September Issue, Anna Wintour says she thinks some people mock fashion because they are intimidated by it. And she's right. Yeah, it's snobby, but you know what? So is turning up your nose at a runway collection because you thinks it's weird and you just don't get it. This, in fact, makes the nose-turner-upper not too different from those horrible "fashion" magazines - dismissing something because it's strange. How very narrow-minded.

Ms. Gold speaks about how she discovered fashion at 13 and then dressed in a way she knew she was supposed to dress. "How I enchanted. How I belonged. I thought I looked just like the effortlessly beautiful girls at school. Except I didn't. And, very soon, I realised that I didn't. All that weekend job money and childish angst and still I looked like me. That was the first seduction – and the first betrayal." I don't believe Ms. Gold "discovered" fashion; she discovered middle school and teenagerdom. She said that before that, she dressed as Andy Pandy and was happier.

I find the idea of dressing as Andy Pandy pretty awesome. It's creative and it's fun, and that sounds fashionable to me. What Tanya Gold and many others, including myself, hate is the everyone-has-to-look-the-same-and-also-sexy philosophy, which is NOT fashion.

This is by no means written with the intentions of a personal attack on Ms. Gold, but rather, a kind of response to this idea that I see coming up often. I think that the problem with fashion isn't fashion, but how others decide to see it. The same "fashion" magazines that offer advice about pleasing men might decide that fashion isn't for overweight people, but it's Tanya Gold's fault for believing it, and if she really wanted to have fun with clothes she could. Same goes for the idea that clothes HAVE to make you look sexy. Not if you don't want to! Isn't that amazing!

I invite these folks to read a constructive runway review by Cathy Horyn, Robin Givhan, Suzy Menkes, Hilary Alexander, or Lynn Yaeger. Look at the works of Comme des Garcons, Rodarte, Issey Miyake, Alexander McQueen, or Vivienne Westwood, at the very least. Read a magazine that has not one word about plastic surgery or dieting, or at least, ignore those parts and appreciate the art (Lula, i-D, Russh, Dazed and Confused, Pop, Love, Vogue, Bazaar, W, to name a few). Be open-minded.

Her article was essentially pointless, and I guess my post is, as well. Tanya Gold will still hate fashion, my friends will still question the loyalty I have for it, and I'm pretty sure that most of the people that come to this blog and will see it come because they already know everything I just spent too much time saying, anyway. Still, I felt compelled to write it, for whatever reason, and will go to bed, my brain swirling with thoughts. I love discussing and thinking about fashion philosophy, and I wish the "it's supposed to make you look attractive" one would vanish.

Read: Personal attacks on Tanya Gold, be it about her writing abilities or physical appearance or age, are irrelevant, unnecessary, and will be deleted.