Posts Tagged ‘body image’


Something is really wrong with fashion design.

I went out to get something to wear on my birthday a while back and I found that I was an XL.  I’m pushing five foot seven and at my roundest, I had a 33 inch waist.  I could stand to lose a few pounds, I have in fact, but extra large? Who are designers making clothes for?

It seems to me that the hallmark of good design of any kind is, working with what you’ve got and making the best of it.  I wouldn’t be much of an architect if I could only design buildings that looked great on level, perfectly square lots.  In fact I’d be kind of a hack.

Yet in fashion, we hail as genius, folks whose clothes only look good on people who could wear garbage bags with duct tape accessories and look amazing.

With blessed few exceptions, fashion designers are no longer making clothes that make people look good.  Most designers seem to be working with Jenny Craig and the cosmetic surgery industry to make us feel bad about ourselves, not good about their clothes.  I saw a commercial recently featuring Vera Wang – she’s a noted fashion designer for those who don’t care.  In the ad she says that what she values is good design above all things.  Her words voice over a series of shots of perfect looking people rocking what can only be described as thrift store costume wear.

Nothing wrong with thrift store costume wear, I’ve got plenty, just ask the folks at my 10th high school reunion.  But in the Vera ad there was no “design” involved and again the models would have looked great in anything, especially with hair, makeup and lighting.

Maybe I’m late to the topic, but it seems to me “supermodel” syndrome has overtaken fashion.  Rather than buying clothes that make us look good, we feel we much change ourselves to look good in the clothes that were designed by these hacks.  I know there’s the delusion that we will look like the guy painted on the wall in Times Square or the lady on the cover of Vogue, but often times, even they don’t look like that.  Their bodies are more the product of retouch than real life.

I don’t know about women’s fashion mags, but GQ, Esquire, Details and their ilk not only need to ramp up their dreadful editorial (Andrew Goldman’s work is a welcome exception), but they might want to rethink their definition of fashion.  Their pages are peopled by young men who will graduate from high school any day now — if that tape worm doesn’t get them first — wearing suits they will not be able to afford until their parents die and leave them everything.  They look great.  They also look great in jeans and sweatshirts, their old Boy Scout Uniforms and their Sponge Bob PJs.  They are however the only ones who would look great in high water suit pants and three button jackets.

This month’s Details magazine features fisherman’s coats with rope toggle buttons (remember those from grade school?) and shoes that look like they came out of a bin at the Goodwill as their fashion forward for the season.  While it may be fashionable to have beat up shoes and to still look good in a kindergarten coat, it does not offer much in the way of design.

I despair for the fashion industry.  We are either doomed to look like Maoist China with everyone in the same jeans and chambray shirt or to be victims of the sort of thinking that had Mayan parents hang beads before their babies faces to make them cross-eyed because it was fashionable.

I haven’t seen that Project Runway show that’s so popular with my people.  Perhaps there is a new generation of designers coming who are talented enough to design clothes that make actual people look good, not just mannequins.  If not, there is a fortune to be made by the person who has the strength of character to withstand the Emperor’s New Clothes design school that has taken over fashion, the vision to remember what true purpose of fashion design and the skill to make us look good again.

Or maybe we just need to invent cosmetic health insurance.



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