‘Freedom’ is a word that is shamelessly overused in fashion media and fashion marketing. The term is a staple of fashion campaigns – which a brief look at ads of the past couple of years can confirm. Freedom is promised to you, the reader and consumer, as long as you buy a freedom-inducing item.
It makes complete sense that the ties and pulleys of this trend conjure to mind a construction site, while the cuts, tears and slices are reminiscent of the surgeon’s table. Faceless e-commerce imagery, outfit shots, nudes, digital filters and editing have all worked to establish a visual lexicon of bodies presented in vignettes and fragments.
The great black and gold stoppered boules of Lanvin—Arpège or My Sin on Bette Davis’s vanity in All About Eve, the towering factice of Robert Piguet Bandit in the Paris bathroom from which Ann-Margret applies in delight in Made in Paris spoke to some secret world. Perfumes became the ultimate luxury in my eyes, and the ultimate femininity. My assumption was that this near-mystical sillage, like the distraction of a magician’s smoke, would transport me to womanhood. But I learned a scented path is as complex in its revealings of desire and development as any perfume’s structure.
Viewed from a distance of more than a century, the nineteenth-century beard fashion looks like a basic historical fact. And yet the arrival of this fashion came as a great shock for those who lived through it. Sweeping much of Europe, North America, and Latin America after roughly two centuries of clean-shavenness, the beard movement was almost certainly the most dramatic development in nineteenth-century men’s fashion – every bit as shocking as if knee breeches and ruffled shirts were to once more become the dominant mode of men’s dress throughout the so-called ‘Western’ world.
Fashion is often characterised as a representation of society, its ‘most precise reflection.’ Yet, specular reflections are optical illusions based on light and its energy. Standing in front of a mirror, we see not only a virtual image, but also a fundamentally distorted one. Underlying this metaphor seem to be two prevalent perceptions of fashion: that fashion communicates accurately and that what we wear is indicative of who we are. This reading of fashion implies that if fashion were a mirror of society and its members, the mirror can be read.
To age in public for a woman is, despite all woke societal efforts to the contrary, still hell; to age in public as a star is worse. A roll-call of the sex symbols of my youth in the noughties – Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, Lindsay Lohan, Megan Fox, Christina Aguilera – is notable for the fact that many of them dared to suffer what the tabloids saw as lapses in their promised hotness: weight gain, insanity, shaved heads and bad haircuts, cheap fake tans, bad plastic surgery, each mark against them more or less a problem auto-generated by the fact of being female, famous, femme and fuckable during a wave of (dubious, commercial) feminism that mistook the marketing of slogan thongs for self-empowerment.
American Apparel and American Apparel advertisements, CSS, New Young Pony Club, Urban Outfitters, headbands worn across forehands, leggings, Steve Aoki, Alice Glass, The Klaxons, neon, Kate Moss at Glastonbury, early Hedi Slimane, the video for Fuck Forever by Babyshambles, complaining about people wearing band shirts when they don’t listen to the band, insincerity, The Teenagers’ Homecoming, ballet pumps, Cory Kennedy, Purple Magazine, bangs, The Strokes, Agyness Deyn, heroin, ecstasy, squatting, squat parties, looking like you live in a squat, lenseless glasses, plastic shuttered sunglasses, an absence of politics, deep V-necks, nostalgia, Topman militaria, high street romanticism, recession glamour, home counties Americana.