A ‘Sweeping’ Fashion Statement

Each day, there was Naomi Campbell, staring out (or smiling) defiantly from the front page tabloids, dressed fabulously to the nines, flawless hair and makeup, looking more like she was sashaying down the runways of New York, Milan, or Paris, than reporting to get her hands dirty to serve out her sentence for throwing a cell phone at her maid. And in fact, her in your face fashion style was chronicled by all and made the front page of the Sunday Style section of The New York Times, where she was the subject of Guy Trebay’s article, “La Campbell Proves That Beauty Makes Its Own Rules.”

You know, I’d be the first to admit that when I saw the arresting images of Ms. Campbell unfold daily, I was in disbelief. But after I thought about it, I started thinking this is what fashion is all about. Or rather, this is what personal style is all about.

Isn’t fashion meant not only to be appropriate, but mood enhancing, joyful, expressive, empowering? Shouldn’t it bring joy to the wearer and the observer? Certainly, with the exception of Friday, when Naomi was wearing a red carpet worthy Dolce & Gabbana gown, from Monday through Thursday, her choices (considering her ‘down and dirty’ duties) were beyond reproach – a timely mix of street and couture, high and low, form and function.

I’m one who believes fervently that life is too short and too precious NOT to dress up every day (regardless of what it is you’re doing or where you’re going). And by ‘dress up’ I don’t mean cocktail suits and gowns. It’s not just about looking good and putting thought into your outfits sporadically, for special occasions (black tie events, red carpet entrances, grand parties, benefits), but expressing yourself through your clothing and accessory choices on daily basis.

The celebrated ‘Best Dressed’ through the ages have always had this trait in common (it had been said of Babe Paley that she never had an un-chic day). And regardless of what you think of Naomi as a person, or her antics, horrible manners, bad tempers, etc. you can’t say she doesn’t always looks every inch the star. Even if she’s a star ‘brat’ (as Guy Trebay would describe it).

In her defense, I have never seen a picture of her having an ‘off’ day in terms of fashion. She knows what is ‘expected’ of her by the public and the press and she follows suit. It’s hard to really squabble with the fact that she possesses a finely tuned, innate knowledge of what suits her best. It’s also hard to fault her taste as she honed in on some of the more fantastic coats, jackets, furs, accessories which were used to comprise her daily ‘look’ (Gaultier, Burberry, Hermes, Ralph Lauren, etc) as she made her way into the Sanitation Department to do her duty. (What did you expect? Sweats from Old Navy??!)

And what about her wicked sense of humor (or sense of the outrageous) which was evidenced in her choices for the week? Her picks of what she deemed ‘appropriate’ for the occasion (what does one wear to publicly clean latrines when one is a supermodel with a capital S?). With her sporty pants or well worn jeans tucked into combat or high heeled boots, amazingly covetable coats and furs, jaunty hats, paparazzi friendly over sized shades, and designer bags, Naomi looked like she had just come from a photography shoot orchestrated by Vogue Magazine, a portfolio on sporty couture.

Forget about ‘Working Girl’; Naomi really ‘worked it’. You gotta hand it to her. The girl has moxie (as Guy Trebay observed) Though, let’s face it, not everybody likes moxie. This reminds me of that famous Mary Tyler Moore episode in the 70’s when Lou Grant told Mary she had spunk and she smiled and thanked him. He retorted “but I hate spunk!”

-Marilyn Kirschner

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.

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