Thursday, September 13, 2018

No Holds Barred: Fashion Hype Must Go On

lakhesis © 123RF.com
by Blair Sabol

It’s bad enough that the retail industry has lost its way – but now we still have to hear about New York’s Fashion Week?  Hard to believe it is still alive.  I guess the fashion hype must go on, but certainly “the show” doesn’t have to!

I did love the reports of Ralph Lauren’s 50th Anniversary NYFW extravaganza in Central Park.  It wasn’t really about the clothes (which were still eye popping) or the typical celebrity guest list of Hilary, Oprah, DeNiro, Kanye, and Anderson Cooper.  It was 78-year-old Ralph, dressed in a simple black tuxedo jacket, bow tie, vintage (not torn) jeans and worn out cowboy boots and his post-show short finale speech. 
Ralph Lauren celebrates 50!
“I’m not glamorous, you know.” And then he went on to credit his team and family and then OUT!!!  No muss.  No fuss. Forever humble. He was and still is one of the best America has to show for – and it hasn’t been easy for him either in these last years of retail’s ice age!

Personally I am too old to care about fashion or the current crop of designers.  Most of the people I know are dressing in their own uniform; jeans, leggings and athleisure wear.  Sneakers have now become black tie attire.  The rest of the female population is into the “Eileen Fisher-ing” of America; big tunic tops and jeggings.  That is fine as long as the fabric isn’t rayon/spandex (which most of it is) showing every “muffin” explosion from your waist to your dimpled knees.

Nowadays people look like a crinkly Hefty bag stuffed with leaves.  That describes 2019 “Street Fashion.”  Thank God Bill Cunningham left when he did!

Yet last week the Guardian posted the headline “Thirty Years at Vogue: How Anna Wintour Changed the Way the World Gets Dressed.”  Did she?  From what to what?  Do we look better for her?  Isn’t this really just about tenure as an editor?

Maybe her annual presence at the Tennis Open was significant.  But she wasn’t courtside last week for Serena Williams “anger management” moment.  Actually it wasn’t Serena’s lack of game etiquette that got to me – but how can a woman of her stature and athletic ability actually play tennis in a tutu?  Or even worse ... run about in a one-piece compression outfit at the French Open!  And they were her own designs! She said the “cat suit” made her “feel like a warrior princess.”  For who?  For what?  “Fagettaboudit!”
And speaking of sports iconic attire – we now have Colin Kaepernick being Nike’s latest “Just do it” spokes model.  He talks of his “sacrifice” and insists on making your dreams “crazy enough.”  All well and good ... but where was the actual Kaepernick line of goods?  Where were his sneakers?  His hats, his t-shirts?  Why no socks (with or without printed pigs as cops?) or at least kneepads.  I want the merchandise not so much the message.  After all, Michael Jordan really did change the world by getting everyone to buy his “Air Jordan” sneakers and branded gear.  What does Kaepernick have other than attitude?  After NFL’s opening game is that enough?
In my mind – here was the real Fall Fashion moment:  Aretha Franklin in her triple casket costume changes.  It is shocking to me – no one has leaked a single selfie or phone camera shot of any of it.  The only image was of her crossed legs in her cherry red Loubatin spike heels.  Resembling the dead Wicked Witch of the West at the end of the Wizard of Oz!  Hard to believe a mortician didn’t even snap a single image of her in her St John rose suit or her finale of a full-length gold ball gown and sparkling gold matching heels! 

How does the White House leak major “anonymous” details but no one caught Aretha being THE fashion statement of 2018? Even Bill Clinton couldn’t resist making a loving comment about Aretha’s costume changes at her viewings.  “I was so glad to get here and the casket was still open because I was wondering what my friend’s got on today.  I wanna see what that girl is carrying out.”  Indeed he did – plus he even got to google eye Ariana Grande dance around in her micro mini ass shaking song tribute.
It was reported Aretha didn’t leave a will and apparently she is worth $88 million. But she was known to always carry a spangled clutch bag to every performance to collect her fee in cash! She was a stickler for her own money management!  Maybe that clutch was in the coffin because she was taking it all with her in the end!  

But the real ironic blessing at her death was she was now the size 6 she so wanted to be!  And everyone got to see her in all those couture clothes.  By the way, I bet now you can ask a mortuary for an “Aretha-ized” viewing – with outfit changes at your memorial. Aretha set the last word in Fashion Trend!
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya, Pool)
Since fashion magazines are dying, all that is left are the relentless Instagram and online “influencers” who send out hourly posts and photos of themselves and product.  Goodbye runways!  But even the “high influencers” are running out of steam. 

Leandra Medine of Manrepeller admitted last week that she prefers the simplicity of her “understated mess – going out to get my 7:15 coffee” outfit (grey t-shirt, yellow flip flops and cotton pajama shorts) to her usual Instagram selfie “deluxe couture brand” mini documentaries. 

Leandra's “coffee” outfit.
“It takes me all of 3 minutes to get into my coffee outfit ... not much time and the outfit isn’t much either – but I love how I look and I think it’s the best I’ll feel all day – transitioning from alive to ALIVE. 

“While it certainly doesn’t require nearly as much energy or time putting together my 'coffee' outfit for the morning as it does an elegant NYC evening ensemble, there is an ease, an honesty and integrity about this look.  And compared to the 'outfits' that have me standing in front of my closet, pondering a collar flip or a boat neck and whether it’s a wedge block heel that will really nail my point ... My coffee dressing is so functional, easy, and relieving as hell!!”

Even for Medine all that hourly photo exposure can get exhausting.  When your whole life is focused on who is looking at you ... even if it is just YOU looking at YOU ... This is one of the major reasons fashion has lost its soul!

Maybe I should take all that back – I recently viewed Kylie Jenner giving a heartfelt YouTube tour of her giant handbag closet!  Imagine a complete history of her 21 years in all the Chanel, Hermes and Louis Vuitton bags a girl could dream of! Hundreds of them! Maybe she will be the subject of the next Metropolitan Costume Wing exhibit!  And in that case ... Anna Wintour has her Met Ball in the bag and can continue to “Change the World.”