Verve Magazine, Nerve, Fashion, May 2010
So haute couture is escapist fare for the masses and a note on what not to buy (since it’s too popular) for the fashionistas. Books, movies and TV serials get rank popularity because of the sequins and stilettos touted by their characters
A little discussion about the haute couture ways of popular women’s fiction led to the realisation that fashion is actually a real-life character, if not a protagonist, playing a very integral role in the lives of the others. So is the stylish drama about Manhattan’s scandalous elite, Gossip Girl, about Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf or is it about the clothes? Can you take in Serena and Blair’s striking good looks when you are busy gaping at the beautiful clothes they wear? Chuck Bass’ three-piece suits, bow ties and mirror-polish shoes are all telling you more than the actual person himself. Relationship make-ups comprise of receiving fabulous clothes in lovely big boxes. It’s not so much make-up sex as make-up sexy. Not surprisingly the fabulous ‘fashion show’ spawns off a whole bunch of shorts: Gossip Girl Couture, Gossip Girl Revealed, Gossip Girl: Faces Behind The Design, Stylish Confessions: The Fashions of Gossip Girl.
In much the same way that Sex and the City set the trend for Manolo Blahniks and Jimmy Choos to be the point of most conversation, the icing on the foot was when in SATC: The Movie, Mr. Big goes down on one knee with no ring, but a brand new Manolo in hand, and proposes. Carrie accepts, of course, and with evident pleasure slides her slender foot into the proffered Blahnik.
In Confessions of a Shopaholic, Rebecca Bloomwood is obsessed with the art of fashionable and pocket-burning shopping and to be honest, she truly falls in love with Luke Brandon when she discovers that he ‘speaks Prada’ even if adorably reluctantly. Not to forget that the pleated green scarf that started the whole relationship (and led to her being the famously anonymous ‘The Girl With The Green Scarf’) was auctioned off by credit-squashed Rebecca and salvaged by Luke and returned to her as a peace offering – a soft silky foundation to a long-lasting relationship. I mean can you love a man that doesn’t understand fashion and your love for it? Is it worth being in such a relationship that doesn’t include material indulgences of the best kind?
So, you discover that fashion now exists as a very necessary element in movies, books and TV shows. It’s not like it’s a new thing – the age of the Victorians and Romantics had their own characteristic dress elements: the cravat, the embroidered handkerchief twirled nervously, the beautiful hats entwined with ribbons, the gowns and the pearls. In fact the women, kept themselves entertained with notes, embellishments and comparisons on elements of clothes and accessories. The fact that fashion and more particularly brand names have now become hugely significant elements and often undeniably important to the viewing audience leads you to wonder what’s next? Movies are evaluated with the yardstick of their style-worthiness – people sat through SATC: The Movie (despite it being a weak cousin of the TV show) and loved it because of its high fashion elements; people ooohed and aaahed over the cinematic disaster Kambakkht Ishq because of the clothes, shoes and bags splashed across the screen. You often forget the movies, but you can’t escape the gorgeous fashion in them. It’s ominous, it’s morally unsound and deeply unsettling, but you can’t change the fact that the peep-toe stiletto, the bejewelled clutch and the silk scarf are as important (romantically) to a story as the people themselves. Sometimes even more so.