I am an addict.
I can’t remember when this all began, or if there was even a starting point; the obsession strikes me as circular rather than linear, certainly not derived from any timeline that would allow for progress.
Oscar Wilde understood. “Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.”
I am head over Jimmy Choo heels engulfed by apparel—a consumer consumed—stuckin the glossy pages of magazines hoarded from years gone by, others stripped fresh from the rack. I am stuck, plastered somewhere between a Marc Jacobs ad and a spring spread, my heart racing but never winning, just beating the seconds against my chest as I lose myself in the fabric of time, oblivious of overdue assignments and dirty dishes stacked high.
Pupils dilated from an eye candy overdose.
Soul sliced with the alluring cut of silhouette shapes.
Heart held captive by colors unheard of in even the highest grade Crayola box.
I’m thumbing through page after page until Vogue or W or whatever pornography I can get my hands on becomes a flipbook of scenes from another world, one composed of plastic people in real clothes, places far away and digitally enhanced. A pair of legs that stretch for days—seemingly unattached to a body—prance through city streets, unfazed, in Brand™ jeans and skyscraper stilettos. Strange looking girls drape themselves across beaches and boys, their wide set eyes glaring under oversized Brand™ sunglasses as they pout with fish lips and jutted out hips.
Utopia squeezed into a Kate Spade bag.
This too could be you, but for me, this is where the addiction ends and is replaced not so much with reality as with taste. Too many designer products are downright ugly, if not painfully plain. You know, the sort of thing you’d either have a good laugh at or walk past without noticing…were it not for the font size 72, stitched-in-five-seconds-flat (thank you Child Laborer #2292309) logo which somehow redeems the grotesqueness of the item and ups its value by at least several hundred bucks.
I totally support wasting money on things you don’t need, but please, don’t invest your savings to look hideous, exactly like everyone else, or both.
Yet designers commit—and get away with—aesthetic murder because you do, you do, you do and you will, you will, you will. It’s simple:
1. Brand™ must first make a name for itself in the social hierarchy of the rich and famous. Easy as Paris Hilton. Using basic celebrity marketing logic, we know to combine high prices with ugly products. The more expensive an item, the more valuable—and therefore, the more desirable. Equate ugly with unique.
“Gosh Lindsay, is that a handbag or is that the shredded carpet-covered wastebasket I tried to abandon my children in?”
“BRITCH, please. This is by Brand™ and it cost me two weeks’ worth of rehab.”
“Wow! Where can I get one?”
2. Pray, pray, pray Worst Dressed critics and fashion bloggers are on vacation or distracted by more serious offenses. Or better yet, dead. Hmm.
3. Create edgy high fashion advertisement using Polaroid camera and excessive hairspray. Cast models from eating disorders clinic.
4. By now, Brand™ should be well known among the general public. To increase anxiety and therefore, demand, give adequate ants-in-the-pants time before making product available. Release select items on self-created “black market” websites—customers are more likely to spend when they think they’re being shady and outsmarting the market. Oh, you rebels you.
5. Kick back and watch the dolla dolla bills fly.
After this conquest, Brand™ can produce anything and rest assured that so long as its name is attached, the product will be considered classy. A plain white T-shirt for $200, a blindingly tacky sequin dress for $2,000; this is the million dollar Red Dot in Middle of Blank Canvas painting of fashion.
So are you in or are you out?
I am still an addict. I still dissect trashy magazines into actual trash, and still treasure the weird advertisements more than the actual content. I may never overcome my fixation with style or lose my faith in retail therapy.
On the bright side, I’m not shopping off this week’s IT List or trying to Look like the stars!, or even my peers. I am not above Walmart, I am not below Neiman Marcus. I am a consumer and I do not discriminate.
There are countless designers who truly invest themselves in their collections, willing to put forth the extra love and effort. Because of detailed embroidery, specific fabrics or just the time it took to make, their pieces will cost more. We should buy for these reasons, and because we actually like the finished product—not for the brand name.
Would you still flaunt that purse like a trophy if the C stood for “Chump” instead of “Coach”? If so then keep walking tall, babe.