Fashion Weeks for Fashion Geeks or REALITY BITES!
Me (on the right) and a friend in NYC in 1980 wearing 40s vintage
For a week now there is FASHION HELL going on in New York City, although they call it FASHION WEEK. I want to ignore it all because it sucks the energy out of me. So I'm trying, really. On one level it is easy because of what I see - which makes my eyes pop out and my jaw drop. Not because it's so overwhelmingly beautiful or inspiring or breathtaking, and how could it be if even someone as frighteningly untalented as Kanye West is wielding scissors - no, I'm pained and feel assaulted. But I'm still a little bit of a style-addict and a fashion plate. So, here I am sitting at my desk peeking into the huge fashion sections of the New York Times. Especially the men's fashion pages hold a special fascination for me.
What the f#ck is going on? I don't get it. What is it with these young, skinny, unsmiling, asexual baby-faced dudes who wear ridiculous clothes and look like creatures from outer space?
Which leads me to the question an "aging" woman might be confronting herself (in a very light, bemused fashion) relatively often. Is it me/I? Is it the times? Were an awful lot of things really better or just different back when? I think I'll take a leap of faith and say: Yes, it was better. Nobody looked that bad because nobody had that kind of money or the time to worry about whether a canary-yellow 2.500 $ coat with purple sleeves matches his frog-green 845 $ skirt. Here is a NY Times link: http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2015/09/10/t-magazine/double-breasted-tailoring/s/13tmag-tailoring-t-slide-GP2D.html and a little pricelist for some pieces of several 2016 Spring Collections. Hope you're sitting. Comme des Garçons Homme Plus coat, $1,850, pants, $750, and hood, $360. Prada shirt, $640. Adidas sneakers, $80. Turnbull & Asser socks $40. Dior Homme coat, $2,450, Calvin Klein Collection coat, $2,195Loewe hood (part of jacket), $5,810. Alexander McQueen jacket, $3,195, and shorts, $995.
So in the end it is about "how to look bad for a lot of money?"
This can't come as a surprise - but you can have it REAL cheap! Right here in Los Angeles and the really bad dressing is worth every cent. Come to think of it, it's actually free.
So I have an urgent message for you designers: WAKE UP, you are living in a dream world! There is one wonderful expression that is perfect for this sad topic: REALITY BITES. Outch! Walking around in LA and looking at men's clothes makes you lower your gaze or wanting to wear shades 24/7. And if all those esoteric and self-absorbed designers would just step out of their ivory towers for a moment and take a close look at what they so casually always call "street fashion", they would see what could be called "casual ugly" which is the way most of the men of LA are dressed. "Dressed" is a too nice word. They throw on something that's lying around on the wooden floor of their Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Echo Park or Downtown place - and go out, carefree, thinking they are the coolest guys on earth, shades, flip-flops, wool caps and all.
One of my favorite songs was always "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" by the Kinks, still one of my favorite groups. The way Ray Davis sings "They seek him here, they seek him there..." makes me smile and I sing along. The song so captures the spirit of "Swinging London" in the 60s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQAR-nx4w88
Overdressed, "foppish" (love that word) men have always been an icky issue, except for the sixties. There were a special section of guys, mostly rock musicians, in such colorful, outrageous and frilly duds that you didn't have to go to the circus to have some fun. Suits, frocks and shirts were made of silk, velvet, satin and brocade; there were billowing sleeves, lots of vests, bell bottoms or piped pants, all often made of daring prints. Remember Jimi Hendrix's wild outfits and Mick Jagger wearing that feminine white dress like top at that legendary free concert in Hyde Park in 1969?
But here is the rub. Almost all of that stuff was cheap, came from Carnaby Street, Kensington High Street or hipster stores like "Granny Takes a Trip", or from those fabulous flea markets London was so famous for. The way you dressed was just a natural part of life, an extension of you and an expression. Fashion was fun and NOT a status symbol. The silliest of fashion-questions which is "Who are you wearing?" was not yet invented. Oh golden, innocent times.
So what is male fashion today? Desperation mostly. And why does it look so utterly joyless and without any identity? Ha, that's it! I've got it! Men are at the verge of a massive identity breakdown! They stumble around not knowing which way is up or down, being kicked off their mighty throne they thought they'd be sitting on till the end of time. It all shows in their clothes, which look like a desperate search for something... a little bit of femininity, something childlike, a half-hearted attempt at machismo, lots of helplessness, doused with a big splash of ridiculousness.
The most objectionable piece of clothing is easily also the ugliest pants in the universe and my personal enemy: CARGO PANTS.
There should be a MUSEUM OF THE UGLIEST PANTS. Filled with nothing but CARGO PANTS. Let me just share a few photos that I shot this year at several "Starbucks" locations in Hollywood. Take a look and then have a very strong coffee - preferably NOT at a "Starbucks" - to be jolted out of a very depressing mood. Fashion is dead, style is dead, taste is dead, but CARGO PANTS live forever. Certainly at "Starbucks" and in Los Angeles.
Signing off - SILVERELLA, depressed in Hollywood