“Was It Good For You, Too?”


In addition to covering one’s body for social protocol, and keeping one warm and protected, one BIG reason people spend so much money on clothing is to insure that they will be attractive to the opposite (or to the same) sex.

Sex makes the world go ‘round; it saturates our culture, and is very much a part of the fashion equation. Even so, I’ve been struck by the amount of sexual innuendos infiltrating fashion coverage at The New York Times. It appears that the powers that be at The Gray Lady are intent on injecting some playful sex (or at least, innocent sex talk) into their fashion content, perhaps in the hopes that it will ‘steam’ things up in terms of advertising revenues or readership gains, and make them seem au courant and relevant.

This recent ‘T’ Magazine for spring summer 2007 bore the cover line, “Adult Content” beneath a blown up picture of actress Robin Wright Penn (perhaps it should have been wrapped in brown paper to further get the point across). But alas, it was really just a ‘tease’ after all. There was hardly anything of a naughty nature to be found within those 288 pages unless you consider their portfolio “Graphic Material” starring an “x rated girl in her summer dresses” as they describe it, (it was hardly x rated), or a pictorial of exotic skinned accessories (page 242, “Barely Legal”) to be titillating in that way.

And could I possibly be the only one who notices that Cathy Horyn has sex on her mind? (Perhaps as much as – if not more than – fashion). Of course, one can argue that perhaps it’s me who has sex on MY brain and so that is why I notice.

Regardless, I’ve always thought that the conservative (on the surface at least) and low keyed The New York Times fashion critic has a decidedly ‘kinky’ side, and will use any opportunity to link fashion and sex whenever possible (whether or not it’s called for). This was apparent throughout her recent reviews of the Milan and Paris collections for fall 2007.

In her column on Monday, February 26th, “At Versace, a Testament to Genius”, Cathy wondered what fashion would be like if Gianni Versace (who was killed 10 years ago this past summer), were around today. She observed, “no doubt, Mr. Versace would have responded to a culture tipping toward pornography. After all, he agitated critics in the 1980’s by alluding to sexual bondage.”

Certainly, the most obvious place to mix sex and fashion is at Versace, a house founded on sex with a capital S. But that was hardly the only instance.

In her Feb 20th column, “In Milan, Raf Simons Sends a Message to Paris”, she summed up her thoughts on the rather controversial Prada collection by noting, “In a strange way, the collection seemed intended to attract you and then, like love, repulse you”.

In her Friday, February 23 fashion review, “When Seeing Isn’t Quite the Same as Believing”, she dished about Gucci, noting that it’s designer Frida Giannini is “is a very good designer” and observed that she “tried doing sexy clothes” (which Ms. Horyn speculated were done to “please editors”). Upon reflecting on Giannini’s broad shouldered 40’s evening dresses, she said, “Here you’re dying a little for sex.” (Oh, really?????). When she went on to talk about Marni, she said, “In the hands of Consuelo Castiglioni of Marni, sex-shop latex quickly loses its furtive associations (if they still exist).”

On Saturday, March 3rd, Cathy spoke of Stefano Pilati’s capability of “giving a sense of surprise and eroticism” to his work for Yves. St. Laurent and Rei Kawakubo for Comme de Garcon’s “almost erotic use of padding (imagine tennis-ball-size mounds and doughnut-shape rings) that suggested the feeling of being pinched by a stranger.” Pinched by a stranger? Hmmm. See what I mean? Though I think she’s probably closer to being ‘pinched’ (verbally and otherwise) by Nicole Miller’s chief executive officer, Bud Konheim, more than anything else at the moment. As everyone knows, Horyn was banned from attending Nicole Miller’s shows after she incorrectly reported that PETA was protesting outside a Nicole Miller show awhile back, and Konheim has been very vocal about his negative feelings regarding Horyn ever since. He has gone on record with his view that she is lacking in fashion knowledge, exhibits insecurities and inconsistencies with spelling and cannot even pronounce certain words (like jodhpurs). Well, I bet she can pronounce ‘sex’.

–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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