This last week, I’ve realised I’m a walking contradiction. As you’ll probably already know, London Fashion Week just happened. Again. I really, really love clothes. I adore fashion, past and present. I delight in trend. I have friends and acquaintances who are involved in LFW – as designers, writers, PRs, models and dressers. But there’s something about LFW – and all the other ones out there – that scares the living shit out of me.
I’ve never aspired to involve myself with clothes beyond wearing them. I say this because I’ve flirted with (or have been pushed into dabble in) writing about fashion. Now, for a style conscious twenty-something who squeals at the prospect of a pair of glitzy new shoes; goes nuts in vintage stores; jiggles about on the spot when browsing the internet for the latest designs and gorges on pictures of pretty dresses in magazines, I simply can’t put pen to paper about the whole fandango. But this isn’t because I know nothing about it: it’s because I’m always hawked by an isolated existentialism whenever the issue of writing about clothes, designers, accessories and anything in between comes up. When there’s poverty and war ravaging parts of the world, I simply can’t justify gushing over the latest runway offerings or waxing delirious about some hot to trot designer’s brand spanking new collection.
The thing is, I can talk for hours about Keith Richards’s style and ability to look great (back in the day) in his girlfriend’s clothes. I can more than appreciate Bowie’s other worldly take on spandex and how it revolutionised performance. I can argue to the death how Bob Dylan is absolutely a qualified style icon for women. And don’t get me started on Hendrix, Bijork, Lady Gaga, Karen O and, yes, Madonna. I would like to add that I have mixed feelings about the above register’s approach to styling themselves, but I’m not singling anyone out for criticism because that’s not the point.
While LFW has been going on, and while the internets are ablaze with opinion left, right and middle following the big event, I’ve been asked by a few people about why I don’t focus more on fashion in my work. The lazy answer would be because I don’t get this sort of thing…
A more honest answer would be that a creepy little part of me would love – LOVE, I tell ye – to be sat somewhere like this at LFW…
The easy answer is, as above, I just really struggle to quantify using expressions like “This season’s key pieces…” while attempting to sound serious…
The untrue answer would be that I’m simply not bothered by fashion. Because I am, in both respects. But the absolute truth, I think, is that it terrifies me. If you have a copy of Glamour’s October issue to hand, scan the feature starting on p.81, The Truth About Fashion Week. If this is the truth, then all my wildest fashion nightmares have been realised. The horror fashion causes people is, basically, madness. And this starts from the origins of garments through to the models showcasing them.
I’ll never forget flipping through an issue of Vogue when I was 17. A double page ad near the beginning of the magazine changed my opinion of the culture forever: I forget which designer it was, but there were three (highly malnourished looking) models wearing the most ostentatious, impractical dresses. And each one was no less than £25,000 a piece. At that time, I couldn’t even imagine that amount of money, let alone having it to blow on one dress, for one season, most probably for one wear only.
Or is fashion in this way truly like art? Perhaps it is. I’ve seen for myself, thanks to the likes of the V&A, how couture appreciates in price and how collectors will treat clothes in a way not dissimilar to a trove of Rembrandt’s paintings. Fair enough.
But when bloggers turn on each other over who sits wear at Topshop’s show at LFW; when ludicrous war erupts between journalists and bloggers over entitlement; when judgement abounds because someone was spotted wearing last season’s jacket, I’m afraid I can’t get involved.
But thanks to Vice magazine, my faith has been marginally restored in the follies of fashion, if only because someone called Elektra went and did the kind of thing I would (but I’m not condoning it, mind). A little like those times when we’re gripped by sheer inappropriateness to feign Tourette’s during a two-minute silence to remember the war dead in an assembly, Elektra’s acid test struck a nerve of delight within me. And in that, I think this post might deign me an outcast from many frontiers. I’m sorry: I don’t get high fashion. I don’t get it when the cost of a dress equates a third world debt. I don’t get the hype. And I never get unnecessary bloodshed, be it on a battle field or the front row at a FW show, and, yes; I too find it hard to stave off the giggles when I’m forced to be serious. Am I a bad person?