The Seriousness of Fashion

In response to “The Circus of Fashion” by Suzy Menkes, I’d like to address the “seriousness,” or lack thereof, of fashion moguls and the level of austerity that is expected of the truly fashion elite.  Menkes explains that those truly dedicated to the art of fashion are, and should be, adorned in nothing more than black looks head to toe, in contrast with the fire-heeled, Margiela masks, and intergalactic sweatshirts of late.  The forefront of fashion, according to Menkes, has shifted from these serious types “into a zoo: the cattle market of showoff people waiting to be chosen or rejected by the photographers,” referring to the recent surge of Street Style celebrities captured by Tommy Ton, Scott Schuman, or Leandra Medine.  It seems as though Menkes believes that shows are meant for those of true fashion professionals: editors, buyers, and stylists;  those who peer off or Nowfashion are not worthy or fashionably educated enough to offer critique .

Yes, I agree that much of fashion “blogging” and amateur attempts at influencing fashion via the web are lackluster (read and the oceans of unoriginality and sponsorship that follow).  And yes, the successors of Project Runway type shows do follow a somewhat ridiculous “American Idol”-style initiatives, in which a public vote selects the fashion winner.”  But to criticize the public availability and creation of opinion of fashion is itself even more ridiculous than all the rest.   What would art be if it were only meant for art collectors, and those “truly serious” about craft? Isn’t the purpose of all artistic forms to express a feeling or emotion, and emote that to the world?  And aren’t all collections ultimately at judgment of the public?  Yes, those who have been in the industry may be able to understand the originality or cohesion of a collection “better” most. However, this should not change the fact

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that I am also entitled to view and form personal judgment. Without or NYMag or Refinery29, I, someone who is interested in fashion, would never have access to something that I am passionate about. The rise and importance of the social media generation has only helped to quickly spread information worldwide. How can fashion then be mutually exclusive from this sphere, where technology rules all, and anything remotely public spreads virally?


In that same light, aren’t those who blog about personal or street style attempting to tap into their own artistic expression via sartorial means? If an aspiring artist were to show the world her newest painting on the web, would she be subject to similar sentence?  Menkes contrasts the “circus-like” showing of show-goers outside fashion tents, those sporting high contrast prints, sky-high shoes, and surreal headgear,  with “the opposite of look at me fashion,” wearing the most basic but craftfully structured pieces.   But who is to say that fashion is meant to be entirely serious? What is the point of it all if we can’t live our lives in it? As a person entering the fashion arena, why is it that the Dedicated pros” must only be “dressed head to toe in black?” It seems to me that Menkes, and those who criticize, are missing the point.

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