Monday, November 24, 2008

The pink-is-the-new-black plague...

So, today on the Fashion Spot I saw that rapper, 80's new wave fashion enthusiast and front row staple Kanye West will be launching his own fashion line called Pastelle. It's a weird name to be sure. Maybe it's an extension of the obsession celebrities have for giving their children the most bizarre or downright stupid names possible. I dunno. It seems like every few months now another celebrity decides that fashion is lacking something, and that the something in question is them. All of the spoiled rich girl cast members of The Hills have their own line because apparently they've all dreamed of cashing in on their 15 minutes of fame however possible since they were young. P. Diddy, Jennifer Lopez and Gwen Stefani have all shown their lines during New York Fashion Week, and Justin Timberlake has picked up that torch by presenting his William Rast collection back in September. Apparently what he felt NYFW, and fashion as a whole needs more of are runway shows comprised mostly of jeans, t-shirts and "rocker" jackets. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking jeans, tees and leather jackets. That's what a lot of people wear, and street style has become a major focus these days, but I just don't need to see ripped up jeans and intentionally unintentional looking layers parading down a runway in the same venue as clothes that, while they might not be groundbreaking, still maintain a high level of craft and knowledge in their execution. The list of culprits doesn't end there, and now Kanye's ready to join the club.

Jennifer Lopez at her F/W 05 Sweetface show, Gwen Stefani at her S/S 08 L.A.M.B show
and Justin Timberlake at his S/S 09 William Rast show.

It's strange though, most of the actual a-list celebs (as opposed to the not-so-a-list ones *cough* Lauren Conrad *cough, cough*) that go this route are musicians, and this whole celebrity fashion designer thing seems to be restricted to the U.S. Why is that exactly? Is it this country's increasingly mind-numbing obsession with even the most useless and untalented of celebrities that makes people so excited about it? Is it pure arrogance on the celebrity's part, the belief that they can do it all and be it all better than anyone else? Are lip-syncing in an overproduced music video and cutting on the bias not as unrelated as was once believed? I have no idea and I wouldn't be presumptuous enough to guess the real motivation, but one thing is for sure, the whole celebrity designer hyphenate thing has reached epidemic proportions at this point and it doesn't seem to show any signs of waning. It's always bothered me when these actors, singers and miscellanious "personalities" decide that they're designers. It makes me yearn for the days when celebrities were only allowed into the inner sanctum of fashion as clients, models and front-row seat fillers. It was a much simpler time. As an aspiring designer I stick by the belief that just because you have style or like fashion doesn't mean you have what it takes to be a designer. Now I know that might sound a little hypocritical on my part, knocking people for actually doing what it is that I want to do. But think of it this way, how stupid would it seem if I suddenly decided that in addition to working in fashion I also want to be a pop singer? Pretty ridic, no? And it's not as if all of those other people who love fashion, the editors, critics, stylists, photographers, clients and legions of fanatics who live and breathe every step a stiletto takes on a glossy runway are going out there and slapping their names on a label. So to me the whole "well I just love fashion so much" reasoning behind all of this silliness is just that, silly. You love fashion? Then wear it.

But other than my admittedly elitist distaste for this trend (hey I'm owning it) I couldn't really pinpoint exactly why it bothers me so much. I mean, sure there's a disparity in that none of these "designers" have had to slave away in front of a sewing machine at school learning the craft, or work as someone's bitch organizing fabric swatches and doing beadwork (most people know this as an internship. Kanye supposedly mentioned wanting to intern for either Raf Simons or Marc Jacobs at LV, kind of a joke if you ask me. Does anyone really see Kanye being told to organize the showroom or work on spec sheets?). Obviously designers like Karl Lagerfeld and Miuccia Prada aren't actually doing those things for themselves either, in fact nobody with the title of designer at a company will ever be making the clothes because that's not what they do, but they have the practical knowledge necessary to lead their design teams and dictate what they want done to make their design into a tangible product. So I do have my doubts as to how involved any of these celebs can really be when they don't have any of the necessary knowledge or skills to effectively run a label. Picking out nice colors and fabrics only gets you so far. But after reading about the Kanye line today I was finally able to pinpoint the real problem I have with all of this. These celebrities are putting fashion into the same category as singing, dancing and starring in blockbusters; it's become entertainment. That's why I don't scoff at singers who try acting or vice versa because at the end of the day they are performers, and they are merely trying out different areas in which to perform. Even the whole model-actress thing doesn't bother me much because models are performers as an extent anyway. I'm not saying they all manage to make the transition successfully, but when they try it's not such a radical stretch. I guess I feel that by turning fashion into just another way for people to become famous is wrong, and ultimately cheapens what it is that fashion designers do. Fashion already has a hard enough time being taken seriously as something more than a frivolous, mindless circus of vanity and stupidity. Why make it harder? And I'm not delusional. I know that celebrities and fashion are inextricably linked, but the roles that they play, wearer, spokesperson, cover-model, are becoming more and more blurred and I fear that if this is the direction fashion continues to take it won't be long before it becomes just another way for people to bask in the dim glow of their 15 minutes in this age of YouTube, home-made porn and, (being totally ironic here) blogging.

As for who the next visionary to take the leap into high fashion will be, my guess is Rhianna. Let's look at the evidence. She's huge on MTV (or so I hear, MTV nowadays is kind of like a temporary lobotomy so I avoid it like I do sporting events). She opened a DSquared2 runway show in Milan last fall. Now she's currently featured in a Gucci pre-season campaign for a line of truly heinous Ed Hardy knock-off handbags that benefit Unicef. It all follows the J.Lo plan of attack; make sexy music videos even though you aren't a hugely talented singer, show up to events in sparkly designer duds, frequent big name fashion shows even if you can't pronounce the designer's name, star in an ad campaign for multibillion dollar luxury label. The next logical step? The runway, of course.

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1 comment:

R2K said...

Hey if Sean P diddy puffy puff daddy colbms can do it... any moron can do it.