In this past weekend’s The New York Times, there was a special 12 page section, “The Funny Issue” which came with an editor’s note: “This section is not appropriate for grown-ups”. Naturally, I looked. It was the usual mix of crossword puzzles, board games, jokes, political humor, bathroom humor, etc. But anyway, who needs the funny pages or comedians when you have fashion? Yes, it’s big business but it’s also endlessly amusing, entertaining and such a perfect subject to mock!
One of the funniest fashion related things I’ve read about recently is that Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman is working on a clothing line with his wife. Ms Aispuro, a former beauty pageant queen, said the clothing line was inspired by their seven-year-old twin daughters. The El Chapo-branded clothing will feature the drug lord’s name and signature and could soon become available in the US and Mexico. OMG! The irony of the news breaking on April 1st, April Fools’ Day was not lost on me. FYI, maybe it should be a line for petites. The diminutive drug lord’s nickname is Shorty.
Remember back in November 2018 when budget-friendly shoe retailer Payless created a fake luxury store named “Palessi” along with a corresponding luxury website and an Instagram account? At the grand opening of the fake posh store in Los Angeles which had previously been a Giorgio Armani boutique, social media fashion influencers walked the red carpet, and once inside, champagne was served. Many of the guests raved about the shoes (which were actually priced from $19.99 to $39.99) and said they’d pay hundreds of dollars for a pair. The top offer was $640, which would have been a 1,800 percent markup. Hilarious!
But almost nothing is as potentially funny as the fashion runways which are fertile ground for yucking it up these days. As a seasoned fashion editor, I appreciate that designers play it for all it’s worth and much of what is shown is meant to make a statement rather than to be taken literally. Over the course of the month of showings there are bound to be moments that are amusing, entertaining and even laugh inducing because of the kitsch, the ludicrous exaggeration, the splashes of bad taste on display, and simply because some things are just plain downright UGLY, to the point of being humorous.
I’ve chuckled more than a few times envisioning what people outside of fashion would think when surveying images of certain fashion shows. And I’ve smirked thinking how I would look if I wore any of the more absurd ensembles. Better yet, I’ve imagined how hard my husband, neighbors, or perfect strangers would laugh seeing me in any of them. The anti- establishment label Vaquera, designed by Patric DiCaprio, Claire Sully, and Bryn Taubensee, is known for its subversive social commentary. The trio has been pushing the envelope since their NYFW debut in February 2017. The show, which centered around their take on the “American Dream” featured a model as a Tiffany loving gal, humorously dressed in a human sized version of the iconic blue Tiffany & Co. bag, but printed instead with the name Vaquera on it.
For fall 2019, their inspiration was domesticity, “the charmed life inside a spectacular New York City apartment circa 1927”, with references to historical costumes and interiors. The oddball way the designers played with oversized proportions, volume and gender tickled my funny bone.
It was a hoot seeing the male model’s hairy legs, capped off with girlie ballet slippers no less, peeking out of the black knee length dress and oversized jacket.
I am a huge fan of Jonathan Anderson who is no stranger to quirk. The inspiration for Loewe this season was miniature 16th century cameo portraits and there were certainly some wonderful, sober pieces including standout coats. But you cannot tell me that this wacky feathery outfit does not look like Big Bird!
The hats Jonathan used to accessorize many of his ensembles, were inspired by those headpieces designed for church, particularly in the Flemish region, but all I could think was how much they resembled Mickey Mouse ears.
They also made me think of The Flying Nun’s (aka Sally Field) signature buttress.
I am always amused by the imaginative Simon Porte Jacquemus who staged his recent show to resemble a quaint village square in the South of France. Simon always plays with exaggerated proportions and I had to laugh at his doll sized bags paired with enormous hoops. His hankies as earrings similarly put a smile on my face.
And then there were Simon’s cheeky takes on the otherwise elegant, couture like peplum. In his world, they are created out of a set of four nylon bags that resemble a flotation device. Pretty funny!
We all expect the over the top strangeness of Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele, who’s extravagant and exaggerated shows are like theatre. Even though it was actually a bit more tame than usual this season (well, sort of), there were still the totally wacky, head scratching, offbeat put togethers that verge on madness that the designer has become synonymous with.
Speaking of Alessandro, he is co- chair of the 2019 Met Gala on Monday, May 6th, along with Lady Gaga, Venus Williams, Harry Styles, and Anna Wintour. Gucci is also a co- sponsor of the accompanying Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute exhibition, “Camp: Notes on Fashion” (May 9 – September 8th) which will explore the origins of camp’s exuberant aesthetic based on a 1964 Susan Sontag essay that describes camp as “love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration.”
The Met Gala has become increasingly more outrageous, entertaining, and often hysterical as a- listers throw caution to the wind and good taste out the window as they try to outdo one another with their sartorial choices. Rihanna as the pope? Katy Perry with angel wings? My gosh; I can only imagine how it will look this year with a theme based on “elements of irony, humor, parody, pastiche, artifice, theatricality, and exaggeration” and items on display ranging from “the Sun King to drag queens” in the words of Anna Wintour.