Black to the Futureby Petra Mason, New York / 20.02.2010
If you could bottle and sell the scent of New York Fashion Week this season it would be called “Despair”. And if fashion was not in a tragic enough of a mess, the one designer our generation put our hopes into, Mr. Alexander McQueen, topped himself, by way of hanging, just hours before “the week” was about to begin. So when the grim reaper showed up, we were all wearing our black mourning clothes regardless, for lack of direction or inspiration.
The media, and fashion victims in general, suspend reality and critical thought during Fashion Week. They accept, without question, that if it is on the catwalk, and in the main tent at Bryant Park, it’s fashion. That if it’s in a warehouse downtown, poorly made and un-wearable, it’s “cutting edge” style. Whatever way you slice it, the basics of fashion are pretty simple: prêt-a-porter or ready- to-wear should be wearable. Traditionally, couture is about tailoring and construction, the architecture, and the art, of the garment. These days however, thanks to kak clothes made by companies with names like “Juicy Couture”, the word has lost it’s meaning.
At New York Fashion Week this season, the glimmer of hope, such as it is, lay in the personal style of the audience, and not on the runway. And it’s all in the accessories. Historically, during a recession, as we are, people invest in accessories not new clothes. During the 1980s, the Reagan years in the United States, with debit, deficit, high unemployment, and retail business down, the accessory market boomed.
This time ‘round, it’s the 1980s all over again, and the talent is all in the details, and for most part, not sold in stores. It’s in the new fangled world of recession do-it-yourself style. Tastemakers at the shows this year have been getting out the glue gun and bead box and hitting the craft store. By adding baubles and embellishment, you can update an entire look.
Last seasons sunglasses remixed with a pile of pearls. Homemade micro hats made with bird feathers, netting, studs, spikes, vintage jewels, bones, lace and animal claw. Just add wild imagination.
The runway show for Richie Rich and Pamela Anderson’s A’muse Collection in Hell’s Kitchen last week could have used some of that inspiration, but instead we got the same old played out shit: a recurring 80s nightmare, Barbie’s crack house style. Hyper pastel greens and florescent pinks, big hair, boys in ripped mini skirts, hoodies galore. Intentionally off-screen silkscreen prints a la Andy Warhol. Badly constructed bikinis that looked like a broke-ass hooker put them together for a kinky customer.
Now fashion designer Richie Rich and actress Pamela Anderson have never been considered high taste but that’s not the point. They should at least A’muse as the name of the collection suggests. Everyone knows Pamela, but people outside of New York would not know Richie Rich from the 70s comic strip, so here’s a bit of background: Richie Rich is the downtown fashion interest for the industry. Cute and petite, he’s the blonde male version of Pamela Anderson without the curves but with the silicone lips. Richie’s paid his dues, been around the block a couple times, and become the boy toy of the rich bitches: The Hilton Sisters, Lil’ Kim, Gwen Stephanie, Pamela Anderson and Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas adore his tacky threads. Pam is a regular customer, she commissions Richie to design her wedding mini dresses whenever she gets married, which is often, so she keeps Richie pretty busy.
The A’muse collection remixed streets we’ve stomped down a million times already. Make-up referencing David Bowie on the Ziggy Stardust Alladin Saine album circa 1973. Not exactly a fresh idea. Richie and Pam gave us graffiti signage a la subway art, not exactly a fresh idea. For those of you born in the 80s and 90s, a little ancient history: 2009 was the 25th year anniversary of the book “Subway Art” that put graffiti on the map in the mainstream. That’s 25 years ago.
Looking at the barren and infertile “flash and trash” future of fashion before me on the catwalk: go-go boys with 6-packs and waxed chests and skinny runt legs, verlep transsexual “Party Monster” icon Amanda Lepore, now well into her senior years, infamous club kid Richie Rich, and Pam the skank, I had a Drama McQueen moment, looking longingly at the rafters of the industrial space and trying to recall how to tie a noose, and wondering rather practically, if the cheap, chintzy fabric hanging from the rafters would catch my fall and finish me off.