Kat Asharya, the great writer at NoGoodForMe, posted today on Kristen Stewart as Fashion Icon; and in doing so, she notes, “NOGOODFORME.COM completely destroys any cred-slash-pretense to being a somewhat normal fashion blog!” And it’s true, because fashion blogs, as a group, are mostly devoted to posting pictures of people (famous or otherwise), with a more-or-less “snarky”/”bitchy” commentary about whether it’s in or out, fug or fab, whatever; and Kristen Stewart usually falls on the negative side of that line. As Kat says, she pretty much wears a hoodie & jeans all the time, which drives Fashion Police types crazy.
This is why NoGoodForMe is the only fashion blog I can stand. And it’s partly why I decided, after years of soul-searching, that I didn’t really want to be a fashion designer after all. There were a lot of reasons; but ultimately, at some point I realized that I didn’t want to tell people what to wear, which is what a fashion designer does, and instead I wanted to make people’s dreams into reality, which is what a dressmaker does.
There’s a certain kind of rhetoric, or there used to be, about fashion, and how it can be used to express yourself, fill the world with beauty, and all that. How the most stylish you can be is when you’re really being true to yourself. I used to naïvely take them at their word–it’s one reason I got into this stuff in the first place–but the older I get, the more it seems that such platitudes are about as true as the one that says in America, anyone can become rich and powerful. Supermarket tabloidy magazines, “what not to wear” and “fashion police” TV shows, are obviously not at all about enhancing each person’s separate, unique tastes, but rather hammering them into the bland styrofoam nothing of corporate marketing-approved “style”, with strict instructions to buy a new batch of featureless styrofoam nothing in six months. Years ago, I saw a TV show where women were ambushed by their “friends”, told they looked like shit, and forced to endure some professional stylists dictating what they’re allowed to wear. My stomach still churns when I think about the episode I saw: not only did they steal this woman’s favorite clothes (she liked a kind of punky, stripey style), but they cut them to pieces to stop her from ever wearing them again. It was incredibly violent, and while I am a pacifist, I don’t think I could really have blamed her if she’d responded in kind, and smashed their fucking TV cameras. I think I would have, in her situation.
Fashion exists, and is constantly changing, such that some things move “in” and “out” of vogue as time goes by; this is surely true. It’s a much, much bigger topic than clothes–everything from music to philosophy is subject to it–and it’s certainly a fascinating thing to study. But it’s nothing to enforce.
That’s the mission of most fashion media, these days, though–to enforce “the rules”, or rather, to get their audience to do it to each other. That, I think, is the real goal: so even if someone like Cate Blanchett or Tilda Swinton manages to eke out a thumbs-up from the Fashion Police in something weird, they make sure to say Only Cate, Only Tilda can get away with this. All the other women, who aren’t incredibly rich, beautiful, and talented, are not allowed. Even if they’re confident enough to ignore their fashion-media-consuming friends calling them fugly, dated, matronly, or whatever, they’re still stuck with the corporate-dictated, featureless (but for whatever superficial ‘trend’ doodads have been stuck on them) clothes they can find in the mall.
But maybe they can learn to sew, or they can come to a dressmaker like me, and get the thing they’ve dreamed of. The one that’s not in any magazine, the one that’s them and only them. It might be weird, it might be completely at odds with anything on TV, it might get them called names. But it’ll be theirs. And that’s why I do what I do.