Friday, March 13, 2009
I give up
Why do people listen to Karl Lagerfeld? Seriously. I will never get that man's allure. Sure, he's a German robot skeletor who has the ability to devastate anyone in the fashion world with a snide remark, but as far as I can tell all he does is sit around all day and call people fat while taking sole credit for everything his design team does. Chanel and most other high fashion branding is nothing but iconography for something I never aspired to be a part of; its the logo for the international WASP conspiracy. I see the crossed C's on grandmother's hairclips and jacket buttons more frequently than on a young fashionista's handbag. It's all a ruse, and Chanel is the most visable and powerful perpetrator.
My friends and I had a joke crew a long while ago call Closet Crust. And I created a logo for us riffing on the crossed Chanel C's, writing them in metal script instead of the prudish easily symmetrical font. It was for those of us who had grown up punk rock and had discovered a love of fashion and style that was actualized when we moved to New York. Even though we didn't look the part anymore, we still cherished our old 7"s and LPs. And yeah, I went to see DSB at ABC No Rio wearing vintage Dior and no one was the wiser. What of it? This was a time period where everything I owned was second hand from working as a buyer at Beacons Closet. So I could pull off some astounding looks on a scumbag's budget. I followed every collection on Style.com and my LiveJournal (ah yes, I blogged before there were blogs to blog on) was peppered with wish lists and dream looks from current runway collections. I dreamed of high fashion, but was content with it being unattainable.
But then something changed. I graduated from college, quit my job at Beacons, and started working at Barneys. Suddenly the labels and the price points were within reach. Spending several hundred dollars on a pair of Ann Demeulemeester boots seemed like a totally okay idea and finally a few of those Dries Van Noten knits could be mine, first hand. When you are surrounded by three hundred dollar jeans every day at work, you concept of reasonable price points becomes perverted and suddenly you've spent nearly 1/6 of your annual income buying clothes at your workplace. And when I say 1/6 of my income, understand that during that period I made more money than you probably do, and more money than I probably will again, at least for quite a long time. Commission retail is a heady profitable game, although ultimately soul-crushing. So I quit.
After I walked away I realized how hard I'd fallen for it. Fell for the hype, the manufactured sense of specialness and rarity. But it also was irreparably tarnished for me. For every beautiful overlooked piece that would go on sale, there would be 20 items ruined for me by sixteen-year-old trophy wives in training begging mommy to buy them for them. Nothing was special. After seeing the mindless upper class mindlessly spend money on beautiful pieces they didn't appreciate in the same gesture as countless overpriced disposable pieces of crap, it made me realize that it was all targeted toward the same consumer base.
$1200 dresses are not made for people like me, whether they are cheesy Versace monstrosities or glorious Proenza pieces. In both I look and feel terribly out of place. I feel too young, too constrained, and too self-conscious. And I've learned to be okay with that. I get dirty, I spill food, I get snagged, I ruin things, and I don't mind holes in my dresses or grease stains on my jeans. Delicate artifacts that can only be worn with caution by pampered misses are not for me. Silk makes me sweat and a bias cut puckers around my prominent ass. The only things worth spending real money on seem to be good lingerie, a serious coat, and few pairs of well-made gorgeous shoes. But as for that other stuff, please keep producing is so when it's threadbare and charming the next generation can buy it 20 years later.
What sucks is that I'm finding it hard and harder to avoid becoming one of those curmudgeonly "vintage is better" snobs the older I get. Blah blah blah, it's all been done before, there is no more real innovation, just theme and variation. The only thing that keeps progressing is textiles. Everything else is just a riff on something else. It's all "inspiration pieces" from closets that I'll never get to raid. Plus I'll always be more comfortable in a lycra blend than silk. Faded black cotton 90s mall dresses make me feel at home. Cheap and easy, built for damage and speed, that's what the true Closet Crust afficiando feel most comfortable in. But I'll still happily pair them with a pair of expensive boots, because what's more punk rock than black leather? It's the only thing available at Barneys that goes with my motto for fashion and life: better once slightly damaged.