Saturday, February 16, 2008

What Fashion Is About...

I have done many, many things in my life.

I have cooked for a living. I have cared for sick people and performed scientific experiments. I have taught and exercised to earn my keep and made triple soy ristretto caramel machiatos to survive. I have danced and written and acted for money. I have even made money impersonating a man impersonating a woman. Yes, I did the Victor/Victoria. So what is it about fashion that has called me when I have such a breadth of skills?

Because I am someone who has a gift for languages. Science is a language. Food is a language. Art is a language and as an art, fashion is a is dialect.

People, usually men, treat fashion with disdain or contempt. Even some designers say : "It's just fashion".

But fashion is an extremely powerful way of telling a story. Or expressing how you are feeling. It can be or has been a means of oppression or a tool of liberty or a means of rebellion.

Think of the punks of the 80's, or the Flower Children of the 70's or the 20's Flappers. Think of French revolutionaries and Cuban guerilleros and Black Panthers. Think of the clothes that prisoners wear or the clothes that distinguish certain women as prostitutes. Think of how wealthy people or those of certain social classes dress and how it distinguishes them from other people in their culture. Think of priests and nuns and nurses and judges and doctors.In all of these examples fashion and garments play a powerful role. Would you know if a doctor is a doctor is they did not wear a white lab coat? Or would you be able to tell a hooker if she wore a business suit? Nopers.

When I dress consciously ( versus dressing in a utilitarian manner) I am telling a story every time. The story can be " I am angry". Or "I am sad" or "I loved "Sweeney Todd"" or "Today I feel like kicking somebody's ass" or "I want some of YOUR action".

It can be " I am outraged by racism" or "I am inspired by Roy Lichenstein work" or "Even though I am fat I am still hotter than you".

The story can be "You all need to listen to me because I hold the truth in my hands" or " I am more intellectually capable and knowledgeable than you, thus what I say deserves your attention".

All of that you can be conveyed through fashion.

Knowing fashion and speaking fashion at every level is a way of yielding power.

That is why designers make really good money. The ones who speak and manipulate the language brilliantly and are in tune with what people want to say become stars, like rock musicians or great artists.

I mean look at what some of the current designers are saying through their clothes:

Henry Holland ( House of Holland):

"I am British, rebellious , cool, and irreverent. You WISH you could be as cool as I am".

Vivienne Westwood:

"I am such a cultural force of nature that I am addressing political injustice from the catwalk".


"Oooo, Ooo Witchy Woman.. I am Pagan and fierce".

Jonathan Saunders:

" I wanna be rich and I am going to sell out from LA to Dubai".

Ralph Lauren

"I am OLD money, but cool and sporty"

Michael Kors:

"I am NEW money who is desperately trying to appear as if I was OLD money".

Betsey Johnson:

"I am desperately trying to hold on to my youth and sexiness but in truth, I have the taste level of a streetwalker".

Zac Posen

"I am SO fierce, I can tailor CHIFFON".

Marc Jacobs

"Even when I say nothing, people still shut up and listen".

Carolina Herrera

" I will marry a future Senator".


"If I can make it there , Ill make it anywhere, it's up to you New York, New York...".

Narciso Rodriguez

"Does anyone remember me and more importantly does anyone even care?"

See, that is why I love fashion. Because it's a BEAUTIFUL language...

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