A Dolce & Gabbana model sits at a table looking balefully at the camera with a monumentally foolish-looking tiny red purse sitting on top of her head.
Moschino ads show women with their skin painted orange or lavender wearing outfits that would have made any 1960s stewardess proud. Oh, and the same hairstyles as well.
Etro et.al. have once again ripped off the Navajo nation, without recompense for their sacred designs.
Of all things, a number of designers have lifted the fanny pack (something you don’t say in British Colonies, thank you) from those of us who use them for hiking and turned it into a fashion statement.
In a nod to the increasing influence of Muslim women’s fashion, Calvin Klein is featuring knitted balaclavas. They’re not functional at all. If anything they look eerily like you took your grandmother’s pastel knitted comforter out the attic (where your mother hid it for damned good reason) and cut it into a headscarf. Hey look, if that floats your boat, have at it. Truth is that some of the new Muslim designers have come up with looks that really are creative, gorgeous and a fashion statement. And good for them.
As usual, the prices of everything have skyrocketed. A tiny bag for $4400- the kind of money that would put me in another country for AT LEAST a month or more having the kinds of life experiences that would last one hell of a lot longer than a miniscule snippet of leather.
Fashion has long been a business of ripoffs.Those of us who are in the business of adventure travel and real life wandering find it hilarious that folks like Moncler design a puffy jacket that will sell for more than an entire ski trip to Banff. Puffies are functional and life-saving. Put a designer name on it and you can jack up the price three, four, five, six times what the same thing would sell for at REI. However, and you can take it from someone who uses puffy downs to save her life on trips up very high mountains, there is no number of extra zippers or cool logos on the sleeve that can possibly justify a Bally jacket for nearly two grand. The best jacket I ever bought was made by Bergens’ of Norway, and it has taken me to the top of Kilimanjaro, the Everest Base Camp and other extremely cold and challenging places. Cost? $179 on sale at www.theclymb.com. The difference between those who want to look adventurous and those of us who genuinely ARE adventurous is that the latter actually go out DO. The rest stand around and pout, posture and pretend.
A look doesn’t make you legit.
Look, I love fashion. Always have. I’ve written columns on the catwalk and how to interpret the splash of the high fashion shows to street level and the work day. However what I appreciate are good designs, clothing that flatters, and pieces that you can I can reasonably wear to work once in a while. When we’re on our own time, it’s genuinely fun to don something flat out gorgeous, that makes us feel like a million bucks, but doesn’t also make us look like we should be in a petting zoo or circus sideshow.
This year for the first time in a long time I bought all the major magazines, and perused the typically massive September issues to see what fashion’s most creative minds could come up with. I was truly disappointed. It wasn’t just that animal prints were making a comeback (AGAIN? how creative of them) or that gold and silver boots are making a comeback (AGAIN? How creative of them). Or that Michael Kors- who along with other major designers blew his brand wad by coming out with too many cheap crap pieces- was mixing plaids with rose prints (AGAIN? How creative of them) or that platform shoes have reappeared (AGAIN? How creative of them). It’s that these old standbys, which if you’re as old as sin like I am you’ve seen come around over and over and over again- are touted as NEW NEW NEW.
In fashion, frankly, nothing is new. It’s refurbished, remade, redone, recycled and priced so far beyond the average person’s salary that it’s an insult. And there’s no relief in sight.
For those of us who are outdoors types, it has always been hugely amusing to see various attempts by major brands- and those who have failed miserably to maintain any level of cache, like Calvin Klein, to venture into outdoor gear. To wit, the other day I was searching for light jackets and running pants. As I scanned the offerings, I saw offerings from Donna Karan and Calvin Klein, fashion giants decades ago. I wouldn’t DREAM of trusting my life and warmth to a fashion house. That belongs to North Face, Arcteryx and brands that, while pricey in their own right, know a thing or two about snow, rain and wicking materials. This is a perfect example of mission creep, putting your brand fecal matter on pieces that have no business being in your line. This isn’t your world, folks. If people insist on sporting a logo to show off their fashion sense(lessness) have at it. However, I sure as hell wouldn’t trust a mountain excursion to a Calvin Klein jacket.
This goes for sneakers, warm boots and a great many other staples of an active outdoor life. Fashion designers have reached into every aspect of my adventure existence to put four figure price tags on stuff that has a job to do-protect me from biting winds, drenching rain or massive snowstorms. I don’t give a flying shit about a logo on my sleeve if I’m in the middle of a three foot snowstorm in Nepal. I care if my coat is going to save my life.
When a Filson rain jacket sets you back $395, for those of us who care about dryness, warmth and durability we are happy to shell that out for a rain shell. That’s considered one hell of a lot of dime for protection and it’s worth every single penny. Ask anyone who’s ever been in the middle of an Amazonian down pour. We can attest.
Here’s the piece: when I’m not training hard for an adventure, which takes up a considerable amount of my time, I want to dress up. Preferably in something flattering, well-made, that is of quality material. Even at 65- and perhaps especially so right now, I want someone to look at me and say DAMN GIRL. Don’t we all. Fashion is two things: superb cut and excellent cloth. Without those two things you have nothing. If it doesn’t flatter you, then you look foolish. Why? Because you’ve spent your wad on something that will be out of fashion in half a nanosecond. Good fashion, truly good fashion, lasts decades, and allows you to accessorize it differently for nearly every season. For example, the knee-length black knit dress I am wearing at the moment, a body-con sheath that allows me to decorate it in endless ways. That includes this season’s fascination with scarves or Navajo jewelry, or a lovely colorful jacket. That kind of dress you can don for decades on end, because it never, ever goes out of style. Belt it, scarf it, hike it high on your hips, it’s a chameleon. And worth every single penny of the $400 I paid for it- which comparatively, wasn’t much.
The French know a thing or two about fashion. They eschew flamboyance for simplicity. They know how to spend good money on the best accessories that speak to taste and class. They’re not interested in overpriced crass. Or pretend looks that don’t last more than a few months.
This is of course, just my opinion. However, for those of us who have studied fashion for years, who love the feel of an excellent cut of cloth and the way a dense silk skirt swirls around the knees and ankles, fashion is intended to flatter. Perhaps that makes me old-fashioned.
But I can tell you this much when I am out and about, I get one hell of a lot of DAMN GIRL as opposed to what the hell is that supposed to be?