I’ve seen those guys who juggle chain saws! It’s not a trick. They juggle real live humming, slicing chain saws. If one misses he loses a hand. If he really goes wild he loses a customer. In a way, what he does is profound. It takes practice. It takes discipline. It takes nerve. And I have to say it probably demands some inborn disposition toward risk and public humiliation with which the bulk of us aren’t blessed. Juggling chain saws demonstrates many enviable human traits. What it does not do–in fact what it completely distracts the audience member from thinking about at all–is cutting down trees to make houses.
I couldn’t help but think about juggling chain saws while I was reading about this year’s incarnation of the auto-erotic narcissipalooza that is Fashion Week. Haute Couture, which is French for abominable inside joke, takes skill. It takes discipline. It takes an eye for line, spatial balance and color coordination that the vast majority of us neither have nor can be taught. It lacks however two things–anything to do with cutting down trees to make houses and the honest self-realization to know that at the end of the day it’s nothing but a carney spectacle meant for shucking rubes.
As far as I can tell, this year’s Fashion Week is no more delusional than any other. This year though, I caught two banana beetles in the Burrata Mozzarella And Baby Beets. First was the well-intentioned but symbolically horrendous Fashion for Relief Haiti. It’s not that they chose to bring attention to the brutal and inescapable deaths of 200, 000 innocent people by combining it with a tribute to a guy who committed the willful and selfish act of suicide, nor that I haven’t seen a model pay this much attention to members of the working class since Naomi Campbell used them for target practice. It was mostly that New York City runway models might be the only people in the western hemisphere who are less well fed. While they are airlifting supplies to Port Au Prince, someone needs to drop a sea plane full of energy bars over Central Park West. I’m not surprised that they are sending food to Haiti, I am surprised that they aren’t sending contracts.
It was just a couple of days after the fashion world took a stand against malnutrition that the story broke about a woman named Coco Rocha who couldn’t find work, because she heaped out at a bloviated 5’10” and 108 pounds. There is no doubt that the idiots who demean women like this for letting themselves go look at pictures of the suffering and wish for an active fault line on 41st and 5th. They compound their vicious thoughtlessness by claiming that no one makes the models come back for more while forgetting that even a beaten dog will slink back to its abuser for comfort if it’s been properly trained and broken.
The other item that drew my attention, while not as heinous at least as telling, was the seditious glee with which it was “leaked” that actress Lindsay Lohan was persona non gratutita near the runway. Okay, maybe someone needs to sit Ms. Lohan down and tell her that California is a state not a sorority, but as far as I can tell, the only difference between Lindsay Lohan and Kate Moss is that Moss could hide behind Lohan as the narcs ran by. This isn’t about Lindsay Lohan misbehaving. It’s not even about taking the pressure off of the Samanthas, the Charlottes and all of the other Proctors Without Borders who are so essential to putting the Beat in the B-List. It is about the need for the fashionistas to set the velvet rope low enough to reject to someone we recognize but high enough that the Real Housewives of Silicon Alley can limbo under it. If we should scale back the self-congratulatory nonsense of Fashion Week, we should cleanse the earth of real housewives. Actually not all of them. I want to see “The Real Housewives of Provo” eight women, all married to the same guy named Eustis. I’d watch that.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t dislike fashion per se. People do generally feel better when they think they look better. Fashion designers, as previously stated, are talented people. I like Tim Gunn. He dresses well, he seems sincerely concerned when he might have hurt someone’s feelings, and he knows Iron Man! Also, you are right. “Who is this guy to talk?” I am not in any sense of the word fashionable. The only category in which I can honestly say I am superior to a runway full of models is my capacity to displace water. I am not judging fashion. What I am criticizing is when the industry undoes fifty weeks a year of sending the message “A little effort is all it takes” with two weeks of “Yo, hippo! Staple an SMV sign to your ass and get out of the way!”
I understand that this rant is all for naught. I comprehend that the Fashion bus is bullet-proof–a tightly defined cult of the self that will endure as long as there is a buck to be made from creating a sense of worthlessness in the masses. And after all, what are the masses for? Nobody ever got rich in treadmills by pointing at the sidewalk. In the end, though, the industry will eventually hurt no one else as much as it hurts itself. You get that many people that emaciated juggling chain saws, and somebody’s going to lose an arm. But knowing the fashion industry, they will rally their underfed troops, pitch their tents, and make stumpy Fabulous!