chickfactor’s in-house fashion critic the angry american (aka editor gail o’hara) rails against the fashion herd
1 only morons would spend that kind of money on designer clothing. if you work in the industry, fine, you get your discounts, promos, favours sent over to you from PRs. and anyone who wants to wait for the sales, fine, there are definitely some pieces to be had — a vivienne westwood frock for $400 seems quite reasonable. but let’s face it, most pieces are about as high-quality as something from topshop and they aren’t actually worth that much more.
2 wearing a trend while it’s an actual trend makes a smart girl feel like she has no personal style. there’s nothing worse than having marc jacobs decide that whatever you normally wear is the thing to wear this year. if you just really love velvet coats, say, like I do, the last thing you want is for vintage velvet coats in bright colours to be in fashion, because then you just have to pack them away for a season or two. when the cloying fashion critic for the guardian announces that ponytails are over, I breathe a sigh of happy relief. I’m not in fashion. the ponytail belongs to me (along with the also now apparently out-of-fashion ballet pump), it will always be stylish and classic, like a navy blue cashmere v-neck and white jack purcells. (however, just because skinny jeans are now oh so out of fashion, you won’t see me sporting those — and I never did/will).
3 to be a slave to fashion and beauty industries and magazines is just plain stupid and distracts you from more important things in life. remember the beauty myth? well, read it again, dork.
4 smart people know that fashion is for idiots. my old buddy oscar wilde once said, ‘fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months’ and he knew what he was talking about. fashion is not street smart — do you want to get mugged because someone wants your sean john jacket or your d&g watch or your sad little chihuahua? I didn’t think so.
5 I must admit that some fashion designers are true artists and craftspeople. I believe that commes des garcons, hussein chalayan, dries van noten, vivienne westwood and miuccia prada (who also makes mistakes, see below) are all talented designers with a lot to offer and know how to flatter the human form. (I also adore my design icons edith head, elsa schiaparelli and courreges.) but most designers are simply pilfering the past, stealing ideas that they could never come up with themselves and regurgitating the same damn thing year after year. pay attention to the fashion trends as dictated by the dullards and you will see: every spring/summer we all are supposed to wear white, beige and nautical, every autumn it’s back to black, grey, lace, probably ‘sexy secretary’ and ‘urban warrior.’
6 fashion is racist, xenophobic, sizist, ageist, elitist and just plain silly. it is made for women who starve themselves and prefer pain to comfort. letting them decide what you should wear is like following the cues of the bitchiest high school clique. why should they be in charge? what makes them capable of deciding how high your hair should be and what color lipstick looks good? following their ideas means that you are ignoring what may actually work for you. even if they decide for one split second that curly hair is in, they still religiously straighten their hair because they would never ignore what society expects of them. skinny jeans are out, but they still wear them despite the fact that they only flatter about 5% of the population. they are laughing at you when you wear those sweater trousers from stella mccartney, not with you.
7 following the herd is a sign of weakness. just ask fred nietzsche. people in fashion do not take risks. they are sheep. I used to work on the same floor as the staff of elle magazine. they all wore the same uniform: black trousers, black shell, black heels. in some cases you would see women wearing shoes so pointy that you could almost feel the pain emanating from their bound feet. the actor david duchovny pointed out that fashion is a subtle form of bondage and it is true.
8 personal style is far more impressive. someone like isabella blow is in the fashion world, but she has her own personal style, thanks in part to her chapeau creator philip treacy. maggie gyllenhaal may wear designer clothing but she wears it all in her own way and she looks totally at home in it. amy winehouse has great personal style with her towering bouf and her insane eyeliner. bjork’s personal style is unmatched — her swan dress scared the crap out of the herd followers to the point where they have to remind themselves how scary they found it over and over but in truth the icelandic elf queen is bold. our old east village pal quentin crisp famously said that fashion is what you adopt when you don’t know who you are and it is so true. people who have personal style have something for life — fashion people have something that lasts six months.
9 men don’t understand fashion. of course many men would dress women in heels and tight skirts, but they also like a girl in jeans and a t-shirt. comfort is key to looking cool; there is nothing less attractive than a woman who cannot pull off the outfit she is wearing. therefore, smocks and ballet flats are cool. tight, unflattering leggings with a miniskirt may not be. our hero jean cocteau once said ‘art produces ugly things which frequently become more beautiful with time. fashion, on the other hand, produces beautiful things which always become ugly with time.’
10 fashion is all wrong for these times. the cycle of perpetual obsolescence is filling the landfills with more crap no one should have bought in the first place. the only reason you can buy that cheap smock at h&m is because someone in a sweatshop made it. the planet doesn’t need fashion people to make more stupid t-shirts that increase climate change awareness. what the tired old planet needs is for fashion people to make more quality clothing that lasts out of eco-friendly fabrics and to avoid making lots of useless high-street trendy crap that people only wear twice and then toss into the plastic bins on the street because it will never come close to being in fashion again. and don’t get me started on fur: killing animals will never be cool. become a vegetarian immediately and try the slow fashion / buy local / recycling and crafting method instead — or just invest wisely on a well-made garment that lasts rather than filling your wardrobe with silly, frilly tops that cost a fiver, things that you snapped up impulsively during the sales and went out of fashion 48 seconds later. in the old days you could set something aside — a 60s shift, say — for several years until it came back into fashion. but now, with the quality of most clothing so poor, the designs so extreme, the material so rubbery and otherworldly, it’s hardly worth saving because it isn’t meant to last.