The stereotype of the self-loathing cosmetic surgery patient can be found in the annals of psychiatry. Lacking much in the way of critique of gender norms, the mid-twentieth century psychiatric discourse addressed women who underwent cosmetic surgery as neurotics, disordered personalities or otherwise pathological subjects.
If fashion ‘wants to kill’ its practitioners, that’s because it epitomises capitalist innovation at its bare essence, consisting of the sort of change that is only for the sake of the system’s survival. Fashion is what is left when all pretence to consumer utility or social improvement is stripped away. The sacrifice of perfectly useful goods to the ever-shifting demands of fashion is a kind of corrective purge, an obliteration of what the philosopher and writer Georges Bataille called ‘the accursed share,’ clearing the field so that capitalism’s competitive mechanisms and requirements for endless growth can continue to function.
Glenn O’Brien: One of the differences between art and fashion is that, though it has relatively little effect, there still is such a thing as art criticism. Fashion criticism on the other hand is nonexistent because anyone who would dare to write something against a major advertiser would be immediately not just fired but thrown into the East River.
Linda, Austin, TX
I was dressed in a gorgeous short leather-suede skirt and top having a birthday dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel restaurant. When I was leaving my house, I was unaware that a lacy red thong was statically tucked underneath the back end of the skirt – or that it fell out in the middle of the restaurant floor. The maître d’ picked it up and came trotting after me, waving it as he’s announcing ‘Oh ma’am, ma’am, you dropped this,’ as everyone was pointing and snickering. I turned and horrified, I said, ‘Not mine, but you can keep it.’
‘Fashion is like a banana. No, don’t laugh. I’ll tell you what I mean. Sometimes designers complain to me that a competitor has copied one of their ideas and is making a killing with it. I tell them, tant pis! If you presented that idea two seasons ago and nobody noticed, it’s because the world wasn’t ready. That was your mistake. An idea in fashion is like a banana; if you eat it too soon, it’s green and tastes bad. And if you eat it too late, it’s brown and the taste is still bad. It has to be just perfect. That’s your job as a designer – to put your ideas out there when they’re ripe.’
Jean Jacques Picart in part two of a narrative interview conducted by Anja Aronowsky Cronberg for Vestoj ‘On Failure.’
Filled with mentions of Renzo Rosso’s personal relationships with political and religious figures (the Dalai Lama and Shimon Peres are ‘proud to call Renzo as a friend’), sartorial anecdotes (Rosso’s home-made pair of bell-bottom jeans) and charity philanthropy (‘He helps people help themselves.’) Colin McDowell’s gushing recent profile of the OTB industrialist leaves the probing reader with the distinct feeling that the Business of Fashion article has a hidden agenda. But what is it?
‘The system is what it is and fashion can’t change that. Are you going to change the world with fashion? I don’t think so. Fashion is just a reflection of society at large. We live in a culture where poor people can dress up in nice things for cheap, and where rich people want to know that they’re the only ones to have what they have. That’s not new. Some people have yachts in the Caribbean; others have a shack to sleep in if they’re lucky. My point is that we need everything – ultimately it’s about balance.’
Adrian Joffe in the first part of a long narrative interview conducted by Anja Aronowsky Cronberg for Vestoj ‘On Failure.’