All Dressed Up & Nowhere To Go

Thom Browne Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear

I just received an email from luxury e-tailer Farfetch: “Great news. The most sought after pieces right now. Shop the edit.” Great indeed, just in time to be going nowhere! Another from Intermix read: “Your week in outfits is here. Every day is Extra!” What alternative universe are they living in? Really, what are they thinking? One undeniable aspect of being stuck at home is that it gives me more time to think and to write.

It’s becoming harder and harder to find humor right now but it always helps to put things into proper perspective and take things with a grain of salt. They say laughter is the best medicine and boy, do we need that now! Fashion can be tone-deaf at times but it’s also endlessly amusing and entertaining and there are many aspects of it that are utterly absurd.

Fendi Bag Lady Cartoon by Marissa Acocella for The New Yorker

The New Yorker is known for its on-point cartoons, some of which are fashion related. The one that always makes me laugh out loud is Marisa Acocella’s “Fendi Bag Lady.”

Another satirical cartoon that tickles my funny bone is “We’re From Manhattan” featuring two black-clad angels first entering heaven, explaining their unusual choice of color to heaven’s gatekeeper.

I always start laughing as soon as I see Simon Doonan because I know that fashion’s “Good Humor Man” will invariably have something outrageously funny to say. Simon’s astute, biting, and often hilarious observations about the industry serve as fertile subject matter for his books. They have helped parlay him into a sought after host at the most high profile events.

Among his more memorable quotes:

“I don’t want a politician who’s thinking about fashion for even one millisecond. It’s the same as medical professionals. The idea of a person in a Comme des Garcons humpback dress giving me a colonoscopy is not groovy”.

A woman once asked him what the SD initials on his ever-present Goyard bag stood for, and he deadpanned, “South Dakota.”

In reviewing his 2013 book, aptly called “The Asylum,” Marc Jacobs observed that the fashion world is “hysterical,” and Simon is the “one man who sees it and tells it like it absurdly is.”

Marc Jacobs attends the 2012 Met Gala

Of course, Marc can be pretty hysterical himself. He is a notorious quick-change artist who uses Lynn Yaeger as a muse one season only to switch to Jacqueline Kennedy the next time around. At high profile fashion events, Marc shows up in his pajamas or boxers, and a see-through Comme des Garcons shirt. Or, he might be chicly decked out in Chanel and dripping in pearls.

Jamie Korn Fashion Candles
From left to right: Marni, Rick Owens, Miu Miu, Gucci, Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello, Dries Van Prada, Balenciaga, Pyer Moss, Dior, Marc Jacobs, and Louis Vuitton

Regardless of what he does, Marc has fashion editors wrapped around his fingers. He always has the last laugh. Speaking of last laughs, one of the wittiest fashion related things I’ve seen most recently is a portfolio in The Cut, “Wax Frocks,” They enlisted artist Janie Korn to re-imagine their favorite spring runway looks as candles. Brilliant!

Vaquera Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear

Though they may not have been intended solely for our amusement, the recent fall 2020 runway shows were filled with smile-inducing moments. I dare you to keep a straight face looking at images from the madcap Gucci lineup or the Vaquera show.

Pairing a frothy evening gown with side-striped camouflage trousers is just one of the ways Vaquera subverts elements of luxury. Equally amusing is the tongue in cheek manner in which the models held numbers the way they did “back in the day”.

Collina Strada Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear

Fashion can take itself very seriously at times. The fall runways filled with dark, monastic designs, and models instructed to look as solemn as possible. Thank goodness for designers like Julie Taymour of Collina Strada. Julie is known to inject a dose of reality by casting real people, friends, and acquaintances in her runway shows. She provides a welcome respite to so much seriousness.

Stella McCartney Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear
Jonas Gustavsson MCV Photo for The Washington Post

Thom Browne and Stella McCartney both enlivened their fall collections with models clad in animal costumes. For Stella, it was not just a fun gesture, but symbolic of her commitment to animal rights activism. Thom’s “Noah’s Arc” theme was a way of mixing serious tailoring with fabulous flights of fancy.

After I saw these collections, I chuckled when I thought of something Diana Vreeland once said:

“I am mad about horses and the world of animals because they, of course, have more style than any human being that ever lived.”

Ms. Vreeland is famous for her many sage proclamations and insightful edicts. They are the basis for a new Rizzoli book, “Diana Vreeland Bon Mots: Words of Wisdom from the Empress of Fashion.” Alexander Vreeland edited the colorful, Flexi bound, 6×8 inch 160-page manuscript with illustrations by Luke Edward Hall. It is highly entertaining and a perfect read, especially now.

Clothing is not only a way to express ourselves. It offers protection and is a buffer against the environment. In times like this, Balenciaga’s exaggerated shapes can come in handy.

Balenciaga Ballroom Crewneck Dress in black bonded velvet

We now avoid large crowds and distance ourselves from others. Demna Gvasalia’s voluminous ball gown might keep you the suggested 6 feet away from your fellow human beings.

Balenciaga Campaign Dress in Prince of Wales Wool

The Balenciaga Campaign Dress in gray vintage Prince of Wales wool will make you look so intimidating; people will not dare to get too close. If they do, you can prod them with your exaggerated pointed shoulder.

Bottega Veneta balloon midi skirt

This beige cotton-blend midi skirt from Bottega Veneta is not only chic, but you will also be able to stand on the checkout line at Whole Foods Market and have plenty of space to yourself.

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

1 Comment
  1. Hey Marilyn…very cleaver, especially with what we are in the middle of right now. Nice to be able to smile about something.
    Hope you are well. Stay safe and hope to see you soon at one of the vintage shows.
    Elaine Klausman

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