No Holds Barred: Fashion Flip – New York Social Diary

Shopping as my “go to” drug has officially come and gone. My age is definitely a factor, but these last three years has accelerated “fashion” into a platform (sick of that word) I will never understand or buy. Streaming clothes and accessories with influencers acting like drug pushers doesn’t get my attention. It dulls my brain. But again, I am not the market.
I get that designers have to be more outrageous to grab the eye. After all, “its show-biz baby.” But who is really buying all this stuff? And enough with the Chinese and the Russians.  Now couture (considered “the high”) has embraced “the low” of torn denims, shredded dresses and cartoon T-shirts — while the retail “low” (H&M and Forever 21) have switched to the classics of Chanel jackets and Dior straight skirts. What’s happening with this strange flip?
Clearly, fashion was always a young man’s/woman’s (now trans) game. It’s clear that drag has influenced a lot of streetwear. And I really get that fashion has become a major performance art. The drag clubs don’t need to be closed because there are so many RuPaul look-alikes everywhere. Drag has been absorbed into our culture already. It’s “a look.”
As 21-year-old Karl Lagerfeld said at to his mom, “Being noticed is the only thing that matters to me.  I don’t care what people say as long as they say something.” I rest my case.

I don’t read fashion magazines anymore because my doctors no longer have magazine racks in their waiting rooms.  I don’t live near a corner newsstand nor does my CVS even feature a checkout line rack of People or National Enquirer.
So the fashion dynamics have changed as social media took over.  Award red carpet shows appear to be for clown wear, and who really reads about Fashion Week anymore.  Store catalogues don’t exist and “designers coming to town” for boutique appearances are long gone.
The only time I notice style as a headline is when something like Pharrell Williams being announced as Louis Vuitton’s creative director. That makes sense as rappers (along with drag queens and porn stars) have had the biggest influence on our style from music, to art, to clothes.
After all, Harlem designer Dapper Dan started all this 40 years ago by outfitting “gangsta” stars with Fendi and Gucci line attire (and got sued for it!).
It made sense as “regular fashion” ran out of steam. Pharrell will open it all up beyond runways into spectacle luxe merchandising. And watch menswear explode on all levels. Talk about “performance art.” luxe brands will never be the same — and maybe they shouldn’t.
Then again, we already had a giant taste of “designer” Rihanna in her Super Bowl halftime red maternity jumpsuit and leather breastplate. She didn’t dance in it (she had 250 dancers in white baggy hoodies and jumpsuits all around her to do that). Her Salomon red platform sneakers sold out online the next day at $450 a pop. The look was voluminous and puffered and RED. Clearly it was a giant intro into Rihanna’s maternity line. It actually had a kind of Andre Leon Talley look to it with the humongous coat on top. There were a lot of moving parts.
But truthfully, at this point, “props” should be made to Kanye West who started all this rap – baggy pant – puffer – hoodie – sneaker style. He did it for Adidas and the Gap before he was dismissed for bad behavior (which might be part of that look). Yet I hear his YEEZY sneaker sales are sky high on the “black market” (so to speak) and shoe outlets.
Currently, Rihanna and Williams are the ultimate in “trending,” which has nothing to do with actual design skills like cutting a pattern or sewing a hem or knowing the actual basics of designing (once a skill set). But we all know this is about Insta blasts and celebrity chart toppers. This is pure “marketing”; not designing (What’s that?). We live in a time where celebrity judges on The Voice are more important than fashion editors. And in many ways, the clothes have never looked worse.
I already noticed a weird product (in Rihanna red) making the viral waves — MSCHF’s Big Red Boots. They are AirPod-shaped plastic globs from toe to mid-calf. They are called “moon boots with a shot of Botox.” Or Uggs on steroids. This is part of the cartoon (Mickey Mouse feet) Croc culture at $350 a pair. This is TikTok couture. The reviews are terrible, but hey, Mr. Lagerfeld? … it takes a lot to get noticed nowadays.
Meanwhile, I’ve lost my shopping curiosity. Either everything looks the same or I have aged out of what’s “hot.” Our “COVID couture” of baggy sweat suits, sneakers, and puffer everything has now been translated into cashmere and silk versions called “Casual Lux.” So, you are buying a $1,500 $2,600 Bottega Veneta tracksuit.  It is STILL a TRACKSUIT.
The recent Fashion Week seemed excited about “wearable clothing.” Big jackets, low slung giant pants, “comfort zone” tweeds (what’s that?). No body awareness needed — no attention or performance. NO STYLE!
Trending is one thing, but actual shopping has become something else. I haven’t been in an actual dressing room in three years. Period. I lost my shopping mojo and my rhythm. Though I hear places like Neimans and Bergdorfs are packed. High end will always stay high. It’s amazing that “sad little” Dillard’s (still family owned) is beating all the other mid-range retail giants in sales. They feel it has to do with their loyal customers and staff. Also, they have upped their personal attention to customers. In fact, their in-store customer service has beaten out their online sales. There’s hope.
The aspect I used to love the most about shopping was the interaction with the sales help. They used to be skilled “advisors,” some I had real relationships with. They would call me when sales were on or tell me to wait on a purchase for the next price drop. Some were “stylists” in the dressing room, helping me make decisions.
Recently I went into a high-end store (short on help) and though the sales “person” was “acting” very accommodating, it felt very different. They were extremely tall. And a bit unsure of what to show me. They selected styles that would look great on him. This is not to criticize the gender sales issue.
The truth was they didn’t have the right approach yet. They were new on the job, period. To be clear, the best salesperson I ever had was a drag queen at Sephora who ended up selling me the store and was an expert in makeup application and “follow up” (he called and wanted to make sure I was okay with the purchase).
But the other night, I saw something disturbing that transcends style and shopping. My well dressed (casual lux) friends took me to a five-star restaurant. From the moment we entered, I saw a sea of black puffers, baseball caps, shorts, T-shirts, and flip flops.
The waiters were the best dressed in formal black uniforms. I realize I live in a resort town, but I was shocked. I actually decided to wear a dress for the first time in four years. I called it my Leave It to Beaver June Cleaver mid-calf length, “mom dress.” It’s a shirtwaist by Samantha Sung.
The place was noisy and popular and we were led to the quieter backroom that had some “grown-ups” in cashmere sweaters under great jackets (not hoodies under jackets) and pants with real waistbands and actual shoes. Clearly there was no dress code. I felt sad and disgusted.
On my way out a 20-something guy with a baseball cap and cargo shorts and his girlfriend in Daisy Dukes short shorts approached me and said, “Wow, that is some dress!” At first, I thought he was being snide, but I actually think he has never seen a real dress before.
I get it. The message is:
Bring back the dress code.
Get dressed and save our civilization.


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