Our Father, Fashion?

Two weeks ago I mentioned my distaste for idolatry, a concept that flourishes ceaselessly—like a bright fuchsia fungus—throughout the realm of fashion. The colossal veneration hurled towards street style stars, bloggers, and specific brands is often so zealous as to be frightening, if not downright creepy. Herewith, a further exploration of that topic because, naturally, that’s what was on my mind when I woke up this morning.

As previously noted, it’s great to dabble in admiration, and there’s no harm in taking style cues from those in the spotlight. What disturbs me is when people seem to view these figures through a sacred lens, believing that total absorption in another human being (or brand) and their choices is a worthy pursuit for one’s entirely disparate life. Does a person not lose something of themselves in this process?

pray_for_fashion_mousepadComments on popular fashion blogs often read like the impassioned pronouncements of a devout believer, one who blindly accepts all the tenets of his or her religion without leaving any room for skepticism. “You’re amazing,” is a common conclusion, usually followed with something along the lines of, “You’re perfect. I want to be you.” I can’t resist a loaded eye-roll when I stumble upon these remarks, but more than irritating, they’re simply sad. These grand statements aren’t in response to posts illuminating some new, never-before-seen truth. More often, they’re comprised of aesthetically pleasing photographs of a pretty girl in a well-formed ensemble. The writing on these sites–though the majority isn’t quite worthy of that title–is generally a brief blurb about the blogger’s newfound penchant for matching one shade with another. Texture, layering, a new accessory. I enjoy all of these frivolities, but a person’s expert ability to assemble them just so isn’t exactly cause for bowing down.

Of course, some of these bloggers do employ a biting wit or make fresh observations that cause them to stand out within the obesity of the blogosphere (the only entity I can think of that actually needs a cleanse). But I ask again—do such tactics imply divine intuition? I’m always turned off when the bloggers themselves appear to believe that the scent of their shit is waning—that maybe they are as sacred as their readers believe them to be. The best ones are those who utilize a bit of (non-phony) self-deprecation, and who respond to all of their readers’ hyper-fascinated pleas with humility and the clarification that, no, they’re really not so special. God [or whoever is out there], they know, did not bless the blogosphere.

To be sure, many of these bloggers work ceaselessly—they’re truly talented creatives worthy of our applause and, even, our following. But those responses shouldn’t result in interminable obsession. As Hamlet would say (“who’s Hamlet?”)—“ay, there’s the rub!”

People make similarly fixed conclusions about brands, which does not allow for much critique or questioning when their decisions or designs occasionally falter. In their godlike positions, it seems, many labels are believed incapable of doing any wrong. I immediately think of Alexander Wang, the designer whose name everyone drops as a means of exhibiting their fashion savvy and that elusive notion of “downtown cool.” Wang knows what he’s doing—most of the time—and his work at Balenciaga thus far has proven just how expansive his skills really are. But my experience is that (in the fashion world) whatever Wang does is heralded, without a doubt, as the right thing to do. He recently debuted a new round of Objects—a line essentially comprised of things you already have and don’t need any more of, but with double the price tag and, of course, double the cool-factor (which exudes rampantly from the Wang branding). Luxurious, brass shot glasses are nice and all, but people’s responses to them would have you believe they were capable of curing all worldly ills. As their design is not even remotely groundbreaking, I have to wonder if the responses would’ve been so intense if Wang himself was not attached to the product?

We do ourselves a disservice when we believe that happiness and intelligence can be derived from the possession of specific material goods, or are inherent to the pretty proportions of another person’s face and body. By blessing certain people and brands, we are allowing that the exterior (of something or someone) is the only basis for our judgment, shelving the need for depth or a unique interiority.  Questioning the choices that these various entities make has become a rarity. Perhaps we should reconsider luxury—its purveyors and its dwellers—and what it has come to connote: flawless achievement, often sanctified purely for it’s recurring façade.

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