Friday, 30 October 2009

On the case of Lagerfeld vs. Fat Mummies.

Another season, another incredibly small uproar. Size zero to be exact. And the fashion heavyweight to stick his oar in this time? Kaiser Karl, of course. I should probably apologise to him already for branding him a fashion heavyweight, as this will no doubt require a strict no-carbs diet to rid him of such flabby character aspersions.

Yes, hard to believe but the cartoonish, undead, creative director of Chanel has once again flung his weight (again sorry for the pun) into the championing of the size zero model.

The Kount has hit out at those critics of the current trend for gaunt young catwalk models, commenting that "These are fat mummies sitting with their bags of crisps in front of the television, saying that thin models are ugly". In an interview with Focus magazine and reacting to the news that Germany's most popular magazine Brigitte had made the decision to use what it called "ordinary, realistic" women in its future photo shoots, he proposed the theory that the world of fashion dealt, "with dreams and illusions, and no one wants to see round women".

Here Lagerfeld is toeing the usual lofty line that fashion is a world apart, a universe untouched and unconcerned by day to day things like walking to the bus and having to step over a dog shit in the street. That in itself is nothing new. The "dreams and illusions" schtick is something that gives a lot of value to the purpose and point of fashion design, these illusions filter down into everyday life and whether knowingly or not we all come into contact with this.

My main problem is his cast iron opinion on what makes an attractive woman, one for instance that he would use in a show. Lagerfeld's view of an attractive woman has passed through two degrees of subjective seperation from that of your average male. Firstly, as a fashion designer Lagerfeld must view the model he is using objectively and judge their suitability for their purpose around what will best show off his creation; effectively reducing the woman in this scenario to a walking clothes hanger. Secondly and crucially, he is gay and as such does not feel attraction to women in the same way a heterosexual man does; thereby his opinion on what makes an attractive woman becomes something non-sexual.

This de-sexualised view on what makes a woman attractive is a strange one to me. As a heterosexual 'bloke' it is difficult within this context to try and see things from his point of view. As the creative director of the house of Chanel, Lagerfeld wields extraordinary power over the general direction of trends and therefore over the fashion world as a whole. Not only that but the fashion world is bleeding directly into mainstream popular culture as never before; due in no small part to the patronage of celebrities and all of the gossip mag inches that come with it.

Recently the use and involvement of celebrities within this environment has reached epidemic proportions as hordes of celebrities try and re-ignite the rose-tinted heights of glamour epitomised by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's, aiming to transcend the smutty upskirt shots of red-top scandal and emerging from amongst their contemporaries as the icon of the decade. The fashion world on the other hand is attempting to court and ride this wave of mainstream interest and gossip in an attempt to keep a high profile and keep the industry relevant and profitable.

Recently it has started to get a bit much, even by fashion's overblown standards. Hadley Freeman in her guardian column commented that:

"Things have reached such proportions that Prince was pointlessly at the Chanel show last week while Lily Allen danced in a barn on the catwalk. Now, while I like Chanel, I am no fan of Coco. Even so, it was hard not to sense her rightful disapproval of the whole pathetic business"

Now criticising The High Collared One's choices in his role as creative director is difficult as he has enjoyed undeniable success, but the image he has created for Chanel is a strange one. The last show included a threesome in a mound of hay, with the majority of the focus resting on male models. Although I'm not saying that the fashion house should never change, it seems that the Chanel of today is at a completely different position from the values it held when it was founded. Those being the promotion of the female essence as an independant and fashionable being. The house of Chanel was created for women and retains a huge female following. Lagerfeld's imposition of his sexuality upon the public face of Chanel (that sounds hilariously dirty doesn't it?) seems to be setting the agenda for the tone of their collections.

I'd like to point out that I'm not attacking Lagerfeld's persuasion as there is no reason for doing so, and nor am I stating that a homosexual male designer cannot design for a woman as that is completely untrue. What riles me is that Lagerfeld & Co's opinion of what makes an attractive model could not be shared by those who appreciate femininity. What seems to constitute an attractive woman for Karl is a woman with next to no physical traits that mark her out as being female. Doesn't that strike you as odd? I can't understand his reason for opposing Brigitte's decision to use "realistic" women when it is quite reasonable to assume that Coco would have entirely backed this idea.

Despite looking like a biker cowboy straight from a fucking twilight novel, Lagerfeld has a huge say in the direction of the fashion world and what is essentially just his opinion is taken as gospel. This has left us with emaciated waifs who, to paraphrase Dylan Moran 'weigh as much as a picture of themselves'. The models of today are the polar opposite of the models of Rodin's day and there is something to be said for the cyclical nature of fashion which points to models in the future becoming more curvy. This from a 'blokes' point of view means that I'll be able to stop wanting to feed these girls a good square meal and get back to shouting such retro remarks as 'PHWOAR!' and 'AREET DARLIN'!'. Can't bloody wait...

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