Groucho Marx: Fashion Seer?

Groucho, where are you now that the New York Spring 2003 collections so desperately need you? The running theme—clothes for the country club you’d never want to belong to—calls forth Groucho’s most beloved quip, “I’d never join a club that would have the likes of me as a member.” Let’s face it:

1. country clubs are American

2. dissent is American

3. satire is American

4. short golf skirts with combat boots is American

Question—what is wrong with this list? (Just asking).

Anna Sui and Cynthia Rowley made so-called country club clothes for the girl who makes a demand appearance with her tongue in her cheek when she’s not sticking it out of her mouth. Fair enough. Michael Kors has always excelled in making country club clothes for his American clients who are still hanging out with old time eighties Euro Trash and Hollywood Wannabes. OK, no problem. Donna Karan has her girl dressed up and waiting for her WWII GI to return home from the Pacific. Point taken. Calvin Klein dipped back into the pastel satin eighties for some visual “feel good” to what—take our minds of major looming world crises? And is it just me, or do others feel that Kate Spade makes clothes that look like they are for over thirties women who are still taking money from their parents?

Who else saw the Women’s Wear Daily headline a while back, “How War with Iraq Would Affect Fashion”? This is a very serious question. Design houses are already scaling back on logo products. If you want a giant CC on your handbag, Chanel will get it for you, but most likely they now have more discreet models on display. Who will care about logo products if we go to war? What will happen to the luxury market? During World War II, Paris, without haute couture just became another European city coping. Imagine Paris today, minus the brisk luxury trade. It’s a sad, sad image.

Here’s a scenario for you: Marc Jacobs bands his legions of young fans together during the dark days and comes up with “The New Look”, which takes over the world of fashion and makes Marc a hero in New York, Paris, London, Milan, Sao Paulo, Tokyo, and Bombay. He doesn’t do the country club look, he doesn’t do Euro Trash and all the girls, be they university students, out in the job market, whatever, adore and embrace him. Kind of like now, but with more emphasis on “a place in history.”

I leave you with the ultimate Groucho-ism: “Any man who says he can see through women is missing a lot.” Uh, he WAS talking about clothes, wasn’t he?

Christine Suppes




Ernest Schmatolla is publisher of Lookonline since 1994. It is the longest running fashion site on the Internet.

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