Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Closeted Fashion Magazine Reader

Being a woman, and inclined to change my mind in a manner that might charitably be referred to as “often,” I am finding that my bitterness regarding the fashion media has given way to a full fledged resurgence of my former morbid (and it IS morbid) fascination with the impossible, improbable fashion magazines. I find myself shoe shopping and rearranging my scarf collection again. I have a love-hate relationship with my desire to be well turned out. Of late, I have given in to the path of least resistance and made a uniform of my black wedge slides, bootcut jeans and a black v-neck T-shirt. It’s easy. It matches. It’s like Garanimals for grown ups.

Then I crack open a crisp new copy of Vogue (You may or may not be one of those people who understands the joy of opening a flawless brand new copy of an overpriced fashion magazine and poring over the impeccably composed glossy photographs. If you are not one of those people, this will make no sense to you.) and find that I, too, want to wear a diaphanous skirt or buttery soft boots that come up to my knee or high-waist pants or whatever is being touted at the moment. In fact, it is a testament to the narcotic power of these publications that I can be made to drool over a high waisted pant or wide belt as I am 5’2” and naturally could never leave the house in those things.

Don’t get me wrong. I still think that $11,000 for a coat is insane and money better given to charity (for those who have it - for most of us that’s the price of a car, not a coat!). I have still only ever seen one pair of shoes I would pay $600 for (I think it was fall of 2004, Louis Vuitton had these gorgeous wedge shoes in a rich, dark jewel tone fabric with intricate embroidery all along the wedge and if I had been in possession of $600 or so dollars I would have bought them... and then put them in a glass display case in my home). I am a bargain shopper. And I don’t mean “sample sales” bargain shopper. I mean “Seasonal Markdowns at The Limited” bargain shopper.

So what am I doing with my nose in Harper’s Bazaar? I guess I appreciate the beauty of high fashion, silly although it may be. I enjoy a good laugh at the occasional dress that looks like a bubble or a bird’s nest (because both of those looks get re-done every so often) and I admire how Gisele “This Is What The Fashionistas Call Curvy” Bundchen looks posing in intricately constructed demi-couture (see this month’s U.S. Vogue). There’s something about an art form that has some purpose and yet is impractical and unecessary. High fashion doesn’t actually fill a need or accomplish anything other than making people into art. There’s something very appealing about that. It’s indulgent and shallow but also escapist, which can sometimes be a relief.

I admit that I think “this season’s trends” are unimportant compared to personal style and expression. I’ll never like fur (not even faux fur - where’s the sense in that? You’re not wearing the skin of another animal, but you still want to LOOK as though you are? Ridiculous.) and I’m aware of the damage the impossibly thin ideal has done. But spending an hour flipping through pages of beautiful clothes and shoes and gorgeous photography makes me feel like all is well for a short time. And there’s something to be said for that illusion.

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