Fashion can be a terribly spoiling thing. As a fashion critic, I have become grotesquely blasé about the experiences upon which I gorge. In the past year, for example, I have dined upon the stage of La Scala, I have taken in the panoramic beauty of Rio as an exclusive guest of Christ the Redeemer atop Mount Corcovado in Brazil. In Rome, I sat centre stage on a set at the city’s Cinecittà studios, in which I was transported to the streets of Paris, which were magically recast from black-and-white to glorious technicolor. I’ve worked a cigarette beside Catherine Deneuve. And while I mightn’t have sipped champagne on a yacht (as the song goes), I’ve sipped it on just about every other conceivable vehicle.
I’ve enjoyed countless once-in-a-lifetime fashion moments. But was I overwhelmed by a sense of misty-eyed wonder in their aftermath? Did I feel, as the buzzword of the day would have it, “grateful”?
Well . . . Kinda.
I mean, yes, of course, each of these occasions, and so many others, have had their wondrous moments. Such privilege. Such exclusivity. Such a great tale to tell. But a lot of the time, if I was honest, I found myself fidgety and distracted. Worried about a looming deadline, or if I spelt the designer’s name correctly in a recently written article, or whether I would miss the following show, or whether my shoes — or feet — would survive the short walk back to my hotel. Truly, fashion has turned me into a monster.
I felt especially monstrous at Opening Ceremony’s “Pageant of the People” for SS17, at the Javits Center. It was late. It was Sunday. I was hungry. And the show meant so well: a staged performance — or pageant, in fact — celebrating diversity, fashion, feminism, and rallying against voter apathy in advance of the US elections in November. The brand’s creative directors, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, had corralled a tremendous cast of actors and public figures to take part: actresses Rashida Jones, Natasha Lyonne (from Orange is the New Black) and Whoopi Goldberg were among those parading the catwalk. Whoopi Goldberg! The show was compèred by Portlandia actors Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen, and Baz Luhrmann and Spike Jonze were sitting front row.
It was a novel approach to a fashion show, and an interesting way to engage people in a broader discussion than one about hemlines — a topic that really does seem to be utterly redundant this season. But all I could do was twitch around in my seat in a rictus of embarrassment. At one point, we were told to turn to the person on our left and ask them if they had cried that day. “Not yet,” I muttered through gritted teeth. Yes, it was a happening. I just happened to find it all a bit cringeworthy.
Comedy and politics and fashion make for queasy bedfellows. It doesn’t help that fashion people are generally utterly humourless. Or that a huge proportion of the audience were international press, who won’t be eligible to vote in November anyway.
As for the clothes, they were all but forgotten. Lost in the laundry of liberal exposition. I can vaguely recall some ribby knits. And some internationally themed varsity jackets. And a star motif? And that Whoopi was wearing black.
I’m sorry. I’m a monster.