Archive for the ‘Fashion’ Category

The 'demonstration' during German designer Karl Lagerfeld's show for Chanel during Paris fashion wee

I knew there’d be a bit of a hoo-ha about Karl Lagerfeld’s staging of a ‘feminist demo’ on his latest (Paris) catwalk show. In the Guardian and various recesses of twitter, anyway. Hadley Freeman calls the display ‘flim flam feminism’ which I rather like as an additional sub-genre of the dogma. Sounds more fun than the serious holier than thou type you get in the Graun. Hadley also demonstrates the constant contradictions within feminist rhetoric, when she says the feminist themed catwalk show is apt, since feminism is currently ‘fashionable’. Because there remains a loud refrain amongst her sisters that feminism remains unfashionable, ‘taboo’ even , and so it is brave women of conscience who are able to come out and stand up with the sisterhood. The slipping between ‘we are strong! we are powerful! we are a mass movement’ and ‘we are weak, we are castigated, we must fight the power’ may not be consciously designed by feminists, but it is an important discursive weapon in their artillery. The weak, isolated image of feminism allows the myth of  big bad’patriarchy’ to be perpetuated, whilst  the ‘we are legion, we can /and have change(d) the world’ rhetoric allows feminists to galvanise the troops, and take credit for what some of us think is socio-economic change beyond the influence of Hadley Freeman, flim flam feminists, et al. Caroline Criado Perez embodies the dichotomy well – she plays poor weak victim of abuse, patriarchy, misunderstanding, and also powerful crusader and winner of feminist campaigns, set to take over the world. and, I wouldn’t be surprised if she did just that.

Whilst I’m not a keen follower of fashion I do find this catwalk show interesting. I think it is playing on, building, the ‘brand’ of feminism and probably especially on the feminism hadley dislikes. But I would say flim flam feminist/ ‘girl power’ fashion icons such as Beyonce, Rihanna, Victoria Beckham are more widely known and liked by girls/women than any Guardian columnist and more relevant influences to Lagerfeld’s show. But it is also playing on a favourite theme of fashion and 21st culture more broadly – nostalgia. Or faux-nostalgia. The Times described it as a ‘women’s lib’ themed show and that is what it looks like to me – a post-ironic nod to 70s bra-burning husband-leaving feminists. The models holding the placards are doing so with a nod and a wink, and a ‘this shit is O.V.E.R. we’re it now’.

In our current age, the past is continuously referenced, regurgitated, but not necessarily with any real valuing of its content, it is much shallower – more Baudrillard ‘surface’ than that. I do wonder though what the future holds for culture when our present is such a scrapbook of high resolution replications of previous eras, shown on catwalks, lap tops, iphone screens. I fear it will be just more of the same, on different more high tech screens. As a true Nostalgic I know that Blondie knew all this and saw the future back in the late 70s/early 80s:

‘ooh baby, I hear how you spend your time, wrapped like candy in a blue blue neon glow’

Feminism is a brand. Lagerfeld is profiting on it.  It’s a successful brand partly because it is nebulous, malleable, and in the end, can be all things to all women. From Hilary Clinton to Emily Watson to Hadley Freeman/The guardian. As a commenter under Hadley’s article pointed out, ‘flim flam’ feminism is no less real than Guardian hand-wringing variety. But not quite all women buy into any of it, thankfully. Whatever type is in this season.*

*I Loved how Hadley said that the show is as feminist as a ‘ fruitcake’ – when I coined the term ‘mumsy cupcake feminism’ http://quietgirlriot.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/mumsy-cupcake-feminism/ just for those power-women who love to bake in their cath kidston aprons in their spare time between writing angry articles on their laptops on the kitchen table. Fruitcakes are feminist too!

federer

Last year I commented on Rafael Nadal‘s adventures  - not his shock defeat in the second round at Wimbledon, but his panic when a designer watch he was sponsored to wear at the French Open was stolen (and later recovered).  This year, though the metrosexual champ fell at Wimbledon’s first hurdle tennis-wise, he did not make the headlines for suffering any sartorial crises.

But Roger Federer has. In his first round match Federer sported orange-soled tennis shoes but was banned from wearing them in further matches.

‘Tournament rules state that competitors “must be dressed almost entirely in white” and the powers-that-be have deemed that brightly-coloured soles were a step too far.’

Whilst my readers know I am one of the most enthusiastic promoters of metrosexuality there is, Roger does look a bit sad having fussed about with fashionable footwear now he is out of the competition. A question of misplaced priorities? Also I and others have wondered if Serena  Williams’ bright red shorts under her white Nike tennis dress would also break the rules. This picture fails to show off their flamboyance well but when she is lurching for a ball and her dress flips up you can see them bright as day.

serena

So far the Women’s Champion of the world has not been reprimanded for her fancy pants. Maybe there is some sexism here with women being allowed to get away with a bit more glamour than men on court? Or maybe Serena,  unlike Roger who is another casualty of this year’s curse of the top seeds, is allowed to get away with it because she’s so brilliant a player.

Whatever the reason for this (metro)sexual inequality, I think it highlights it’s time for the All England Club to relax its clothing rules. It is making waves with other initiatives such as equal prize money for men and women. And Andy Murray emphasised just how much better women’s tennis is getting when he only half-joked on twitter that he’d like to play a match against Serena. So allowing a bit of colour on court seems the least the Board can do.

If the authorities want to ban something, though, why not those speedophobic long baggy shorts all the men players are wearing this year? I can barely get a glimpse of ass!

nadal

robbierogersmodel

Hello Campers! I’m continuing to develop my thoughts on that thorny topic of  sporno, anti-homophobia and metrosexual-machismo. While I do so I thought I’d show you an apt illustration of the theme.

Last week a professional  footballer came out as gay! Oh. Em. Gee. But before anyone could get the babycham out it was also revealed that he was giving up professional football. According to the Graun,

‘The former Columbus Crew and USA winger Robbie Rogers has announced that he is gay, and that he has decided to “step away” from his career as a professional footballer.’

So, although on  twitter Robbie said he was touched by how supportive everyone was to this ‘news’, and ‘gay academic’ Mark McCormack fitted this event into his thesis about ‘declining homophobia’ especially in sport, I was not so jubilant. It seems a shame to me that a young man coming out does so just as he is leaving the career for which he is well known. He’s not exactly becoming an ‘ambassador’ for gay and bisexual players by putting his boots on the shelf. I’m not blaming him. I believe that football, by its very sweaty, physical, passionate, sexy nature is already ‘well gay’. And until the ‘beautiful game’ ‘fesses up to that fact, out gay or bi players will be few and far between. But before I get down and dirty and grapple with this complex subject, I want to point out something else about Rogers’ announcement that I think is worth a mention.

Apparently,  ‘Rogers is starting a new position with Men’s Health Magazine  in the UK and he is also part of the ownership group for the clothing company Halsey.’ So the side of himself that he is finally openly celebrating is not necessarily his gayness, but rather his metrosexuality!  From what I can see, football is as conflicted about this contemporary tarty display that its stars like to indulge in as it is about sex itself.  Taking your kit off with your  mates and posing for Gay Times is all very well, but if you are actually… you know….gay or bi, it makes the whole exercise a little bit more threatening and destabilises the ‘macho’, ‘heterosexual’, camaraderie of most sports teams.

I am glad Rogers is now free to be himself. But that self, and the culture he inhabits, is a little bit more nuanced than most people will have us believe.

ClassA_GT_Large

It seems some how so inevitable that Gay I mean Guy Ritchie would direct Beckham one day, that this H and M knickers ad is not exactly world-changing.

But it shows off The Body nicely, and reminds us that whilst metrosexuality likes to adorn itself with fashion labels, it is really all about tits and abs.

And as Mr Ritchie  knows, Becks’ bodywork is still holding up pretty well, even as he becomes an ageing star. When Beckham moved to Paris recently and promised to donate his salary to charity, the Mirror named him ‘Saint Becks’. It is not easy to find, but I would like to think of him as having a bit of bad boy in him somewhere, like those other Sainted stars Saint Morrissey and Saint Genet. However, Becks is certainly an icon.

leland-bobbe-half-men-women%20(20)_preview

We already know Denmark is pretty Metrotastic. But it’s not just ‘gay’ game shows that set it apart from other, slightly more dowdy countries. Now, the Danes are bringing metrosexual gender equality right into the heart of the beast, the hair salon. In a recent court ruling, Denmark authorities have decided that the higher price women pay for their cut ‘n’ blows is illegal. Whilst we could argue that this is taking anti-discrimination ‘too far’, and that there is an objective justification for women paying more at the hairdressers – the fact it takes longer to cut and style their hair – I am quite intrigued and amused by this news.

The main ‘finding’ I am taking away from this equal opportunity tartiness, is that men’s beautification is now seen as if it is as normal,  and as valuable as women’s. When car insurance in the UK got the same ‘euro’ equality treatment, nobody was surprised that rather than making men’s car insurance cheaper, women’s tended to go up to match what men pay. The same I expect will happen with this hair directive.  Salons, that were previously giving men cut price cuts, maybe as a way of playing down men’s metro-narcissism, will probably now charge top price. I am not an expert in this field, but judging  by some of the barnets I see on metro boys these days, I think it is possible they are in the salon as long as women anyway. And with more and more unisex hairdressers, why should one group of customers pay less for the same product/service?

It seems likely that it won’t be long before ‘men’s’ and ‘women’s’ hair and beauty parlours will give way to the blurring and mixing of  these gendered spaces, with universal ‘pampering’ available for all. But what I think is also on the more distant horizon is the end of ‘men’ and ‘women’ altogether. We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto. The future is Metrosexy.

h/t Laura H

versace

With the recent horrendous female supremacist bluster about who are the  ‘real women‘ of this world, I was delighted to be shown this video today.

Because, old hags I mean hacks like Burchill and Moore are not only nasty they are also waaaaay behind the zeitgeist. Metrosexual masculinity, with a little help from its friends, is refashioning gender into something more fluid, more fun, and more flamboyant than those two dames can even imagine.

Hurrah for Donatella Versace and her beautiful beaus in black lace panties. And hurrah for all those men who went before them – often in secret but sometimes out in the open- who cross dressed before it was trendy. And hurrah for the  women who won’t let themselves be erased by a middle aged London media set’s narrow minded view of ‘authentic’ womanhood. These are our interesting times.

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h/t @themichaelmoran

Brad Pitt is the new ‘face’ of Chanel – a signature women’s perfume brand. The ad itself is nothing to write home about, and has a definite whiff of a ‘wanabee’ cool. It looks to me like it is emulating  that famous Guinness one, also in Black and White with a man’s voice speaking. But the words, the words in the Guinness ad are a lot more memorable than this vague mumbling from Chanel.

Joanna Schroeder at the Good Men Project has identified why even though it is stylistically dull, this advert is worth commenting on.

http://goodmenproject.com/good-feed-blog/brad-pitt-is-hocking-chanel-no-5/

She writes:

‘I think, as Pitt explains with an emo gaze into nothingness, the world does turn, and we do turn with it. Which perhaps means that life as we know it is changing.

Is this Chanel’s way of saying that the idea of what is “masculine” is blurring with what is “feminine”? That a man may wish to wear a soft, thoughtful, delicate fragrance as opposed to Axe Body Spray, and that’s just fine? Or are they just using a hunk to hock expensive stuff to fangirls?

Either way, I think it’s an interesting choice to cast a man to sell ladies’ fragrances, and am very interested in how the market will react and in what (if any) way the costumer base of Chanel No. 5 may shift.’

Exactly. Now men are pin ups, and men use products as much as women, having a man advertise women’s perfume seems natural.

Though of course the macho metro-denying  ‘male grooming’ industry may disagree. Grooming bloggers such as Lee ‘Grooming Guru’ Kynaston are still desperately clinging onto gender difference and the important distinction between men’s ‘fragrance’ and women’s ‘perfume’, ‘male grooming’ and ‘women’s beauty’.

http://groomingguru.co.uk/2012/10/17/new-fragrance-round-up-whats-hot-whats-not/

It’s all Greek to me. I don’t wear perfume, or fragrance. But I know metrosexuality when I see it. And for the sake of that blurring of gender lines that Schroeder mentions, I like Brad’s ad.