Editorial: “Best Dressed Or Best Undressed?”

Julia in fuzzy chaps, a cropped black jacket & black leather underwear, Rachpoot/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images/Getty Images

The notion of ‘Best Dressed’ is elusive and highly subjective. It is not an exact science. It means different things to different people. And anyway, lists which lay claims to the “best in the world” for a specific category, are not only preposterous, they are theoretically impossible. Because no one person or organization can possibly say they scoped out the entire world in search of the ultimate candidates.

Undoubtedly, there are many more worthy souls – they just haven’t made movies, paraded on red carpets, found themselves in gossip columns, been subjects of fashion websites, or enlisted the aid of PR mavens to get their mugs photographed here there and everywhere. So it’s all to be taken with a grain of salt.

I’m not going for sexy. I’m going for unhinged.”

Julia Fox

Erykah Badu, photo by Ruth Ossai

That being said, one category in the latest installment of the International Best Dressed List (IBDL) had me scratching my head. Along with FKA Twigs and Erykah Badu, both of whom are celebrated for their eclectic style (without the aid of a stylist I might add) Julia Fox was named as “Best Dressed Originals”.

“It will always continue for eternity. When those of no substance crave public attention through shock, not substance”

Ralph Rucci

The “Best Undressed” or “Best Dressed Exhibitionist” is more an apt label based on what I’ve seen of Julia’s constant parade of attention grabbing outfits of such hideousness they hurt the eyes. Many, like the skin baring wedding dress with a black thong that Ms. Fox wore at Sotheby’s Thursday night, leave little or nothing to the imagination.

That is the best Julia could come up with for an evening that celebrates “Visions of America” and an auction titled, CFDA: Defining American Style? Call me old fashioned but I do think that factoring in the idea of appropriate is important, regardless of how rule breaking fashion has become.

“It still feels weird when you are at a cocktail party and you have to look at someone’s panties”

Marilyn Kirschner

Diana Vreeland famously said, “Bad taste is better than no taste” but I think there is a limit as to how far one can go when it comes to pushing the envelope and challenging good taste. We are at a time where fashion chaos prevails, there are no rules; anything and everything goes, but shouldn’t there be some parameters?

Julia Fox and Amy Fine Collins – photo by Ruppert Ramsay for BFA

I reached out to Amy Fine Collins, who is part of the governing body of the current IBDL along with Graydon Carter, Reinaldo Herrera, and Aimee Bell, and I asked her to weigh in. This is what she said, “Julia is her own person, and entirely original in her self-presentation. Which is why she was just voted into IBDL ‘23 in the Originals category announced on “The Cut” yesterday. Her take on fashion is reminiscent of early Madonna and early Gaga, but not derivative of either one’s style though perhaps they made hers possible.

Julia is on her way to well-deserved major stardom. It was quite funny to bump into her at Sotheby’s and realize that together we looked like a bride and groom on a wedding cake.”

Julia carries a bodybag as a purse photo by Getty Images

With all due respect, I have a different opinion. Of course we need fashion mavericks that have their own unique style and think out of the box. Those who are adventurous, audacious and bold challenge the status quo and help move fashion forward but if Ms. Fox is being celebrated as “Best Dressed”, we’ve gotten to the point where there are no boundaries any more.

Ponytail pants fetish wear accessorized with Thom Browne bag, photo by Getty Images

I am not a prude. I have seen it all. I want to be surprised, astounded and left speechless, but I don’t want to go to a cocktail party and have to stare at a person’s panties or into their private parts. That is not fashion; it’s just a desperate attempt at grabbing attention. Is it any wonder Julia is considered to be “the most polarizing, divisive person in fashion?”

In December 2022, Emily Kirkpatrick penned an article for “The Cut,” Year in Review, “It was Julia Fox’s Year”. She ends with this sentence, “Because at the end of the day, whether you love her or hate her — are you not entertained?”

Is being “entertained” the same as “best dressed?”

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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. I look at Julia Fox ans can envision her doing an ” installation ” in a faux chic art show. I understand her desire for attention and admire she has the courage to walk around looking ugly and naked. Calling her best dressed is am insult to the masters of couture, embroidery and style. I look at you, Marilyn and you exemplify class and good tDte. You are nominated by me as best dressed. I winder what Edith Head, Helen Rose or Christian Dior would say if tbey came back. I long for the days of when a woman put on clothes that are beautiful. LuluLemon has destroyed fashion. On LA yoga pants and ugly Trai ers surround me dIly. I wonder what these women do with all the stuff tbey buy. Hmmmm…

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