“Following the Fashion” a December 1794 caricature by James Gillray, which satirizes incipient neo-Classical trends in women’s clothing styles, particularly the trend towards what were known at the time as “short-bodied gowns” (i.e. short-bodiced or high-waisted dresses). This caricature satirizes the figure-type which is most flattered by high-waisted dresses, contrasting it with a body-type which was not flattered by the style — as well as playing on the perennial struggle between attempts of the “Cits” (families of rich merchants in the City of London area) to imitate the stylish aristocrats of west London, versus the determination of the aristocrats to socially repulse the Cits, and consider them to be still unstylish.
30 years involvement in the ‘fashion’ industry as a hairdresser, fashion photographer, fashion writer, art director, choreographer, editor and a model provides enough experience to comment on the subculture of it. This all pervading propaganda, an all pervading juggernaught that permeates every corner of what the industry would deem, ‘our boring lives’. Unless of course you are part of the elitist côterie that fawn over themselves endlessly and sycophantically.
If you aren’t part of that ‘scene’? You don’t exist, you are boring, dull, non-descript, thus dismissing the majority of the world’s population to irrelevency – except when they buy this shit or are paid to make it for almost nothing. All those years have given me a healthy disrespect for those that pander to the philosophy which does nothing for the world. Bullshit charity drives posing at fashion parades are nothing more than tax deductions or marketing strategies and are, at best, morally corrupt and at worst part of the propaganda that enslaves people on both sides of the social divide. So everyman and his dog is ‘dressed up to the nines’ in an absurd attempt to fit into some cadre or other that defines itself via evermore ridiculous attire.
You, who may be laughing at this frippery because fashion is so light and frothy, deserve only jovial examination which focuses on its frou frou ideals which say, “don’t be so serious, it’s only fun”. But it’s not fun to the millions who toil to create the throw away shit that the developed world believes is ‘awesome’ To them it’s a daily grind for a pittance with which they feed their families while the vast majority of all profits derived from this slavery reminiscent of industrial revolution Britain, is syphoned into the pockets of people like Karl Largerfeld, who spend it on fabulous villas in Italy, absurd plastic surgery, a stable of luxury cars, boats, private jets…blah blah- you get the picture; while their slaves either starve or are buried under collapsed buildings in Bangladesh!
And Lagerfeld is seen as someone worthy of esteem? Every city in the world has set up their own version of Lagerfeld, Perth has it’s version too, who, like every manifestation of the Lagerfeld effect, is admired because they make stupid dresses for equally stupid people with stupid money. Seriously, is that something to be proud of? Is that something to aspire to, either the maker, or the buyer? Seriously, this absurd human being deserves respect? If you had immense riches
Meanwhile, the ‘developed countries’ – a strange term for inane western culture when you think about it – are hell bent on ever increasing the velocity of the fashion cycle so as to generate more sales of absurdly impractical garments to inanely interested consumers -Really? WTF?
Are we to continue this madness ad infinitum? At what point does the world see through the facade to the truly evil ideology that lurks underneath the ultra-chic skin of it all? Are fashion doyens our new Maddonas, our Gods?
The modern global mediaplex is awash with fashion – creepy fashion – spread out to include food, environment, design, literature (50 shades of bullshit)… the Arts are now a joke, little more than an excuse for wannabes to stand around fashionably talking bullshit about paintings, sculptures and installations as if it has some deeper meaning to them than how much money can be made from it. We should all be thoroughly appalled by it and the fact that most people don’t recognize it for what it is – propaganda – is astounding!
Indoctrination designed to dumb us all down and make us malleable and stupid, uninterested in the real issues that matter. It seems the vast majority are content with banal mainstream media programming that exists only as product placement or a backdrop for advertisements selling billions of tons of next years land fill. Even the word ‘recycled’ and ‘environmental’…’organics’ have been hijacked for use in fooling the marginally caring consumers into believing they are doing the right thing by paying exorbitant prices for tiny apples and supposedly sweeter tasting oranges and bananas that haven’t been sprayed with deadly chemical cocktails or genetically modified.
Safe in the belief they have done their bit to save the environment (because they can afford to feed their family such exotic fare as a real’ apple), they also feel superior to those who have to resort to HJs or Maccas…or heaven forbid, fruit and vegetables from Coles or Woolies!. As if the corner deli 5 years ago didn’t sell us fruit that had been sprayed with DDT – which, for those who don’t remember was like agent orange, and for those too young to remember that…well , is GM crops the closest equivalent? Fashion isn’t just clothes or watches or shoes anymore, it’s an evil ideology that permeates every aspect of our modern existence and, without doubt, can be blamed with certainty for many of the worlds current problems…environmental, socio-political, economic and philosophic. The clothes maketh the man (woman too) and so we are judged primarily by our externalities.
We are put into pigeon holes dependent upon what class of garment or accessory we wear…Prada etc are worn only by the elite, the Alphas of our brave new world, only the wealthy can afford such ‘brands’ and they look a certain way tha – is touted as what we should all aspire to. Those of us who care about such things, will, in the absence of cash, buy knock offs so they can emulate Alphas – let’s call this segment Beta? The next sub group are those that, in a vain attempt to be different from the mainstream, adopt a variety of ‘looks’ which are counterpoints to the elite brands (which they actually aspire to but can’t afford) inasmuch as they emulate the exclusivity by other means.
Punk was a classic example of this. Punk clothing (insert Goth here) was originally ripped and torn clothing with safety pins holding them together because the group that wore them had spent all their money on speed or heroin…as the ‘movement’ took hold fashion designers emulated it and before you know it clothing and accessories that look like they have been thru a wood chipper are so expensive only alphas can afford them. Such de rigeur mentality is just as stupid for punks as it is for the jet set.
And while we are on the subject of Brave New World why not examine how fashion segregates as effectively as any apartheid regime; and it started as far back as medieval times with the Sumptuary Laws -These Laws were used to control behaviour and ensure that a specific class structure was maintained. Sumptuary Laws date back to the Romans, who used purple in their garments to denote political, social and financial superiority over others less fortunate.
English Sumptuary Laws were well known by all of the English people. The penalties for violating Sumptuary Laws could be harsh – fines, the loss of property, title and even life! The Medieval period had been dominated by the Feudal system – everyone knew their place! Clothing provided an immediate way of distinguishing ‘Who was Who’!
Medieval clothing and fashion, like everything else, was dictated by the Pyramid of Power which was the Feudal System. However, the old Feudal system broke down and the ravages of the Black Death (Bubonic Plague) significantly reduced the population! During the reign of King Henry VIII a new and wealthy Merchant Class arose. These wealthy men were looking above their station! They needed to be kept separate from the Upper Classes of the Nobility. Henry VIII drafted a new series of laws concerning dress and personal adornment – he updated the existing “Sumptuary Laws”. His eldest daughter Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary) followed suit! The English Sumptuary Laws were excellent tools for maintaining control over the populace!
Medieval clothes provided information about the status of the person wearing them. This was not just dictated by the wealth of the person, it also reflected their social standing. Only Royalty were permitted to wear clothes trimmed with ermine. Lesser Nobles were allowed to wear clothing trimmed with fox and otter and so on and so forth!
Queen Elizabeth I continued to use the Sumptuary Laws, just as her father and sister had done before her. Elizabethan Sumptuary Laws dictated what colour and type of clothing individuals were allowed to own and wear, an easy and immediate way to identify rank and privilege.
The excess of apparel and the superfluity of unnecessary foreign wares thereto belonging now of late years is grown by sufferance to such an extremity that the manifest decay of the whole realm generally is like to follow (by bringing into the realm such superfluities of silks, cloths of gold, silver, and other most vain devices of so great cost for the quantity thereof as of necessity the moneys and treasure of the realm is and must be yearly conveyed out of the same to answer the said excess) but also particularly the wasting and undoing of a great number of young gentlemen, otherwise serviceable, and others seeking by show of apparel to be esteemed as gentlemen, who, allured by the vain show of those things,
The excess of apparel and the superfluity of unnecessary foreign wares there to belonging now of late years is grown by sufferance to such an extremity that the manifest decay of the whole realm generally is like to follow (by bringing into the realm such superfluities of silks, cloths of gold, silver, and other most vain devices of so great cost for the quantity thereof as of necessity the moneys and treasure of the realm is and must be yearly conveyed out of the same to answer the said excess) but also particularly the wasting and undoing of a great number of young gentlemen, otherwise serviceable, and others seeking by show of apparel to be esteemed as gentlemen, who, allured by the vain show of those things, do not only consume themselves, their goods, and lands which their parents left unto them, but also run into such debts and shifts as they cannot live out of danger of laws without attempting unlawful acts, whereby they are not any ways serviceable to their country as otherwise they might be.
Which great abuses, tending both to so manifest a decay of the wealth of the realm and to the ruin of a multitude of serviceable young men and gentlemen and of many good families, the Queen’s majesty hath of her own princely wisdom so considered as she hath of late with great charged to her council commanded the same to be presently and speedily remedied both in her own court and in all other places of her realm, according to the sundry good laws heretofore provide
Is it any wonder that the poor and disenfranchised people of the world turn to religions that demonstrate abhorrence to the idea that women should look like street walkers to feel attractive to the opposite sex? Or that ridiculous displays of wealth and avariciousness are the order of the day?
In Greenwich on 15 June 1574 Queen Elizabeth I enforced some new Sumptuary Laws called the ‘Statutes of Apparel’. The reasons were to limit the expenditure of people on clothes – and ,of course ,to maintain the social structure of the Elizabethan Class system! Her reasons and proclamation for Enforcing the Statutes of Apparel can be read on the following link: elizabethan-era.org.uk/enforcing-statutes-of-apparel.htm
As a meditation on the degeneracy of a society that has encouraged the excesses of celebrity to such an extent that it has been allowed to dwarf the higher values and enable the abuse of the virtuous and the innocent, it damns absolutely the superficial lure of fame and c e l e b r i t y worship.
We are not suggesting that women wear burqas because of this. However, it is easy to see why many thinking women in Muslim countries ‘take the veil’ rather than be ogled like they are pieces of meat because they wear what western fashion touts as sexy.
We haven’t even touched on the sexualization of children which the fashion industry is squarely to blame for! What is beyond doubt is that a very small group of disgustingly pretentious fashion wankers have hijacked the hearts and minds of our youth with media on every level, TV, internet, movies, music, art, food…all that is culturally important for the fair and equal development of a truly cultured society is now in the hands of people who want us to believe their shit so we will buy their utter, utter crap in all it’s puerile manifestations.
The difficulty of reversing this pattern is monumental. Costumes now rule our every waking (and sleeping) moment. We are all affected by these myriad of different ‘uniforms’, from absurd priestly vestments – they look ridiculous but to believers it appears they are closer to God – what a joke – to fascinators worn by women at horse races, to look – well – fascinating we suppose?
It’s an addiction to absurdity and an acclamation of plutocracy by the majority. And there is no end in sight -short of a revolution (it can easily be argued that the French and Russian revolutions were caused by the populace’s perception that the aristocracy would rather buy jewels and clothes than feed a starving child). At what point are the eyes of a world gone mad with wonderlust going to suddenly realize that they are being manipulated for profit and that the people who flog them this dross care nothing about what we look like but only how much money they can milk out of us with planned obsolescence and obscene manifestations of garb, or ridiculous recipes while millions starve to death. Or paintings that fetch astronomical prices after the artist that created it died in penury, or in some war started by the same oligarchs who spin and dye the clothe we are ‘taught’ to wear.
To stop the rot you can simply start to look at fashion doyens as pariahs who deserve no praise or accolades for pretending to be anything but homo-sapiens dressed up in costumes that are worthy of little more than laughter, certainly not respect.
Recognizing the ridiculousness of the ‘latest’ thing and all it stands for – waste, caprice, jealousy, avarice, greed, stigmatism, plutocracy, manipulation, all and more of this puerile pursuit of glamour that makes one man cut his/her coat according to his/ her cloth and thus separates us one human being from the other by virtue of the clothes we wear, the food we eat and the car we drive.
This mentality has been used most foully by the media and the fashion industry to create sales at the expense of our global morals and humanity. It appears of little concern that the cloth we cut is more often than not cut straight from the metaphorical skin of third world countries and the profits from such criminal profiteering goes straight into the silk lined pockets of the few at the social and spiritual expense of much of the world’s peoples.
“Lighten up”, we hear you say, “it’s only fashion”. Think again when you see the next battalion of SS troops marching toward you singing ‘Deutschland über alles’ and wearing Hugo Boss designed uniforms.
Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.