Fashion Review as Prophecy

This month bees were added to the Endangered Species List for the first time in history… The Post-Paris project began over a year ago with a collection by Canadian designer David C. Wigley who thought the plight of vanishing bees needed more buzz… (Warning: I love puns and I cannot lie!) Titled “To Bee or Not to Bee? Style Worth a Question,” that review also launched the reverse inspiration series in which we explore in-depth ideas from designer mood boards. “What the Bees Told” was the first installment. We learned fascinating things about bees through microscopic photography, ancient drawings, poetry and that dire Jerry Seinfeld cartoon… I had said: “Fashion is a fair frontline in the battle for our inspired survival.” I stand by my words (and still want that jacket!)

Later that spring, I published “Dis/Comfort of Power” on the relationship between certain luxury aesthetics in menswear and the ideals of toxic masculinity, racism and colonial militarism. Douchebag couture was one of the descriptors. Two things strike me as fatefully incredulous. I noted Leonardo DiCaprio and his Oscar-less-ness as proof of his aptitude for holding a mirror up to the worst in white masculinity. Fast forward to his Best Actor trophy for a survivalist (anti)hero epic “The Revenant” in an #oscarsowhite year… #Apropos

Furthermore, in my tirade against such fashion-enabled superiority displays I wrote of “systemic historical social patterns that dictate what is (not) wearable. 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.” Fast forward to Donald Trump wreaking havoc on the American Presidential election as a personified embodiment of misogyny, racism, xenophobia, the works… Complete with “the self-congratulatory trophy lipstick smudge from an anonymous sex object that better be a lingering kiss o’ death…” I stand by my words and brace for impact come the morning of November 9.

Fashion is not an isolated phenomenon. It is inextricably of the zeitgeist. That’s what draws me to it. It’s a lens I try to equip my Academy of Art University students with.  Looking back at these reviews, I am encouraged to move forward with this project! To bring us full circle, here is the fierce satirist Samantha Bee (cymbals!) destroying Donald Trump and the rape culture he has risen to symbolize.

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