Fashion Rocks

Today, I read an interesting article about Miuccia Prada in the Personal Journal section of the Wall Street Journal. It detailed the shy designer’s aversion to being in the public eye, and touched on why so many women are reluctant to embrace fashion as an extension of their personalities. Alessandra Galloni writes:

“Closet fashionistas love their Jimmy Choo shoes just as much as the next woman, but many of us can’t seem to get over the bias that equates a love of fashion with a low I.Q. Must we admit to being hooked by the irrational allure that makes a Louis Vuitton handbag of cotton and polyurethane worth $1,500? Isn’t the pursuit of fleeting clothing trends a frivolous one?”

I can’t afford many of the high-end fashion pieces, shoes, and luxury bags I salivate over in the fashion glossies, but I take pride in the cheaper alternatives I find as well as in my appearance. I enjoy reading Essence, Marie Claire, Vanity Fair, and Vogue and I make no apologies for it. I love cosmetics; glosses, flattering lipsticks that pop, black liquid liner, mascara and the like, and I luxuriate with toiletries; lotions, creams, perfume oils, nail polishes, scrubs, soaps, etc. But I notice that I get a lot of flack for my glossy lips and affinity for fashion, from other women.

This has always been the case, particularly throughout high school. I used to feel guilty, for expressing my taste for a classic look. In high school, I was a chameleon. I experimented with different hairstyles and cuts, funky hats, and preppy skirts, blazers, and jeans. I deviated from the norm, taking my mother’s advice into account, about not following minute long fashion ideals. It was always quality and longevity over trends, and I apply those principles to my wardrobe, till this day. I wear a lot of black and go for clothes that transcend all seasons, as opposed to rocking the look of the moment. I’ve never been one to go along with the grain. I go against it, and wear the looks that best complement me, my figure, and my personality… with successful results I might add.

Sometimes, I refer to magazines and style programs as a point of reference, to make sure I’m dressing to accentuate my best parts and to hide the flaws. I try to look my best, and was always seemed to be crucified for that… accused of being high maintenance and fussy, when I'm not. So what if I like to lubricate my lips or play up my eyes... I like to look presentable. That is not a crime, but I used to feel as if I were a felon when it came to these matters. I indulge in a certain level of vanity, but never to a degree, where it should serve as a threat to anyone else.

In the article, Prada explains that "what you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today, when human contacts are so quick. Fashion is instant language."

After graduating from college in Milan, Miuccia rebelled against working for her grandfather's luggage and leather goods business. "I thought fashion was stupid because I thought there were more intelligent and noble professions, like politics, medicine, or science," she explains in Galloni's article. Prada would later exercise her ambivalence towards the fashion industry, by purposely designing unattractive and unflattering clothes, particularly in the late 1990s.

“I brought women back to the very basics, to the lowest ugliest point… I’ve recently re-evaluated my job… I’ve realized that fashion is a very powerful instrument that… allows you to transmit ideas and shape opinion."

Miuccia Prada also posed this question to those who won’t admit to the joys of fashion and looking their best;

“Why aren’t people embarrassed to buy beautiful furniture or art for your house? What you wear says more about you than what you put in your home.”

Prada also opines, “Buying a $5,000 handbag just because it’s a status symbol is a sign of weakness… Daring to wear something different takes effort. And being elegant isn’t easy. You have to study it, like cuisine, music, and art.”

Prada also opines,

“Buying a $5,000 handbag just because it’s a status symbol is a sign of weakness… Daring to wear something different takes effort. And being elegant isn’t easy. You have to study it, like cuisine, music, and art.”

And I agree, wholeheartedly! I’ve always been opposed to sporting visible labels, and found that the same hypocritical people, women, who antagonized my elegant and painstaking fashion sense, were the same women whose t-shirts or skirts shouted their labels at me, like a loud marquee o’er top a theater!

I’m glad that Miuccia Prada has reconciled her feelings of feminism with her newfound appreciation for her chosen art. Her 2007 collection for spring/summer features bright colors, beauty, and form.

There is absolutely nothing wrong or high maintenance about a woman wanting to present herself at her best.

To the nay-saying, closet fashion magazine readers (because I know you love it), get some well roundedness and some fashion sense that genuinely defines you, rather than what your ideals and pop-culture dictates to you... perhaps then, you can stop turning your noses up at women who enjoy and appreciate the concept of fashion, structure, form, and femininity. A woman wearing a Chanel suit doesn’t make her any less intelligent or productive than a woman wearing Birkenstocks, a t-shirt, a bare face, and jeans. I think there’s something to be learned from French and Italian women (and men for that matter), who make no apologies for looking great, and presentable while out and about in the world.


Brunhilda said...

I wholeheartedly agree. I always try to look presentable. And I abhor those who wear labels plastered across there chest. If I'm going to pay 50 bucks for a shirt, I'd rather buy a nice blouse than a label logo tee. I hate being accused of being high maintenence just becuase I like to look nice, dammit!

pricolatino said...

Oh how I feel you... Growing up gay and avant-garde in PR, I was always ahead of my peers in fashion... It was puzzling how they made fun of my suspenders one Christmas, and two years later they were all wearing them... while I was wearing bermuda shorts and knee-high socks. Which, a year later, they were all wearing. I learned to ignore them, because deep down, I knew better. And besides, I made them look, I made them talk, I made them remember me... and isn't that the purpose of fashion?

nina said...

"But I notice that I get a lot of flack for my glossy lips and affinity for fashion, from other women."

Ahhh... and this is the real truth. Why we are so vicious towards other women has always been a bit of a mystery to me, yet it seems to be ingrained in our DNA, or at least for some of us it is.

I really enjoyed this post as a healthy endorsement of "self" and "self love". No matter what the crowd may say about you (and they will, don't I know it), you must always be true to who you are.

Than can be a lonely proposition, but you'll be happier in the end.


TexInTheCity said...

You have perfectly articulated something that I have felt for a while now.

Thank you for such a lovely post.

Anonymous said...

You had me clapping at the computer screen.


BeautyinBaltimore said...

I've had women tease me because I like to look nice/groomed also. I have had some of these same women come back later and ask me where do I get my eyebrows done at or the name and brand of my eyeshadow.