DIS/COMFORT OF POWER

From brand bios: Christopher Bates isan intrepid menswear designer achieving a meteoric rise…” and HD Homme “luxury collections serve to bring back the essence and etiquette of the classic gentleman” while Garrison Bespoke tailors “know that clothes really do make the man.” Quote and illustrate. I told myself. Just quote and illustrate. Cute and cuddly, boys. Keep calm and carry on. Jesus, take the wheel…

Warning: sh*t gets dreadful, even if it looks flawless. Pardon my dissonance. These visually beautiful clothes are designed to appear highly desirable, but all I experience looking at them is existential angst. I feel half-called to abide by the adage “if you got nothing nice to say then don’t say nothing” and half-pulled “to speak truth to power” especially since status quo tends to equate silence with endorsement. I object, if not to the garments as such, but to the ideals of white male dominance and aesthetics of unhindered corporate power inherent within them. The Post-Paris curiosity about clothes and designers from elsewhere on the fashion industry map is driven by desire for discourse on systemic historical social patterns that dictate what is (not) wearable. I’m glancing at the aforementioned collections and at my TOM* notes: trench coats that would be at home in any high-rise office/condo elevator, luxury aperetivo knits, toxic tuxedos, get me outta here, S.O.S. These are highest quality uniforms for access to Privilege. There are no blurred identity lines here beyond the Who’s the Man/Who’s the Boss approach to life’s many entitlements. You can mix and match as long as you belong within this style-gated community.

Jeremy Scott presents the idea with his trademark nonchalance in a spring-summer Moschino collection. Just wear cash already, why not? The Billionaire Couture (an actual brand and boutique chain name, yep!) also offers a boys line, because world dominance is bred and inherited. And it looks exactly the same (Toronto, Milano, Sydney, etc.) anywhere with white patriarchal footprint: this luxury menswear ethos is a racist, sexist product of colonial militarism. Naturally, it comes with a high fur collar: nothing says gentle/man subtler than a display of death/violence… Pair it with alligator boots and any watch that costs an annual budget of a small non-profit. Don’t forget to display the self-congratulatory trophy lipstick smudge from an anonymous sex object…  That better be a lingering kiss o’ death for this version of masculinity, man. Sure, it’ll run strong, high on power fumes, for some time. I’m over it, now.

Post-Script: My mind kept coming back to two things: Douchebag and DiCaprio. WTF? I so badly wanted to refer to this style as Luxury Douchebaggery or Douche Deluxe. However, I recognize that commonly using a reference to vaginal hygiene product as a derogatory term for male obnoxiousness is a testament to how ingenious patriarchy is at masking itself within its insidious misogyny. So a new post-paris term is needed… What is this couture genre? Help, y’all: postparisfashion@gmail.com

Leonardo DiCaprio emerged within this convo not as a person but as a subtotal persona of his most prominent on-screen characters, because they are fractions of a once aggressive white patriarchy at a loss for a future, easily imaginable in most of the above outfits… Shutter Island, Inception, J. Edgar, Great Gatsby, Wolf of Wall Street… DiCaprio plays white men destroyed by their own power very very well. Oscar-well. However, for the Academy Award voters who are 94% White, 76% Male, with and an average age of 63 years old, it must be a surreal experience of watching their own extinction as a social species. So they’ll continue to bespoke-dress according to their Intrepid Gentleman Status but they won’t give DiCaprio that Coveted Exclusive Statue.

For more: HD Homme, Christopher Bates, Garrison Bespoke and TOM* Fashion Week on Facebook.

UPDATE: This is not a critique of the clothes as such. I’m not against pants, jackets and cardigans, LOL… even if I might be anti-tux! Furthermore, this is not an attack on the aforementioned brands. You can go ahead and swap ’em out for the suddenly-scandalously-traditionalist Dolce&Gabbana or Dior Homme or Versace or Polo Ralph Lauren or any other interchangeably fine master purveyors of “impeccable taste.” The system holds. This is an inquiry into the macro-processes that continue to determine hierarchies of worth, styles included.

UPDATE, April 7, 2015: The review of the Copenhagen Fashion Week brought in another Genre Participant: SAND.

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