I was imagining a James Bond-esque scenario, re-written in a fashion sense with Suzy Menkes in the role of M.
M: -" Spare the Russians and the Chinese, kill the rest
...oh, and don't forget to bitch-slap Susie Bubble."
So there was this article where the whole fashion industry gets a verbal slap and some rant about the good old days when we were all dressed in black.
Phew! I feel relived being Russian, for Suzy Menkes has spared the Russians and the Chinese together with our pathological sense of show-off . Thank you M! The rest can burn the eternal fire of shame, can't it? And while I'm still alive ( you never know what she may write next) let me tell you my side of the story, in which wearing Kenzo is not entirely shameful, and you don't have to be the top-of-the-class Antwerp Academy graduate to have a unique sense to create a successful fashion brand.
I'm saying it now, when 'assistant buyer' has become a part of my job, making me somewhat a fashion professional. I do go to shows for work and even though my boss gets the front row and I get the nth row, my name is on the invitation and photographers take pictures of me while my boss nervously lights a cigarette and waits for the circus to be over so that we can leap over mud pools in 10cm heels and dash to a showroom appointment. Technically speaking I am a fashion professional who should nod in agreement to Suzy Menkes' article...but only if everything in the fashion world would be as she put it!
Back then, when I traveled to Paris on Eurolines bus and made friends to stay for sleepovers since I haven't had a cent to pay for a hotel room, I found it hard to have a conversation with those 'exclusive fashion professionals' without a pair of Margiela tabis on my feet or a vintage Comme des Garcons jacket casually hanging off my shoulder. There were no photographers to roam the streets for the latest street-style shot – they pointed their cameras to the catwalk, and we tuned our ear to the reliable source of fashion critic to tell us what we should think about this or that, about the designers we should love or despise, and about the trends we should adopt in a 6 months time. Sounds all just and fair, doesn't it? But let's go back to the tabis on my feet – without them I was an outsider, a poor-ass fashion student without an opinion and no one gave a shit. With them, I started conversations and got rides home but something was wrong – the fashion industry in itself begs for a show-off to come along and be called an insider, saying 'I know what you mean about the experiments with fungus on fabric'.
Oh 90's! Suzy Menkes gets so nostalgic about them! Well, she kinda hits the spot – all the things considered vintage after 20 years, so it is THE moment to remember the 90's, but do we really want them back? With the unnecessary exclusivity, austerity and cynicism?
Take my words of a fashion professional however big I may imagine myself to be and however piss-poor my opinion is in reality – but NO WE DON'T!
I do agree that there are fools getting a spotlight ( see my critic on Elle Belgique), but that was always the case – the moment one phenomenon goes pop, the ones in-the-know call it foolish, there are no two ways about it. Now fashion went pop. Well, it's more like we made it go pop.
Bloggers have played a crucial role in fashion communication, and if brands or designers consider it relevant to invite a fashion blogger to a show, give them free stuff and open PR agencies for bloggers, they are simply answering to a popular demand.
I find it hard to explain in rational terms, but personally I prefer to see a Margiela headpiece on Bryanboy than in the museum. It is the same personal and non-rational mechanism that is triggered when I see something I like or dislike. I do not believe in the ultimate good and bad in the institutional terms. I believe in a personalized and irrational approach to fashion with all that follows – you wear what you like, not what is considered good-taste or elegant; you act as you like, outgoing or restrained; you pose in front of a photographer if you like to or you say 'no', I've never been poorly commented on if I kindly refused to have my picture taken; but you do not call someone's clothes 'hideous' just because you personally or irrationally dislike them. Courteousy is the key to the fashion circus, that's how I see it.
Menkes' article was lacking any courteousy or sense of now. I almost felt like I'd get slapped by the critic's very hand if I go to Paris wearing a Gilles de Binche-inspired dress by Jean-Paul Lespagniard – one she so eagerly supported. Excuse me, but what are designers working for then if we can't wear and show? Fashion is not some kind of abstract concept – it is a living, changing, evolving thing. It must not be distant, exclusive or unreachable – it should be as close as the wardrobe, as familiar as the favourite blogger's face and as exciting as the work of your favourite designer, even if the designer in question is your best friend without any formal training. Fashion has to touch our soul – everyone's soul, not only the soul and the erudite mind of the exclusive few. And if being a peacock of the fashion circus is what it takes to make fashion available to everyone, I am ready to stand in utmost alert and defend the open communication of fashion with my teeth and claws. Fashion will remain pop, whether you Suzy Menkes like it or not.
Having said this I'll just go back to work... Can I still call it work, M? No, I'm probably just what-fucking-ever doodling nothing of a fashion designer, quietly DIY-ing my own personal and irrational clothing shit deep inside a moth-hole of Brussels and dare I ever come to Paris with my embarrassing peacock attitude.