Saturday, August 2, 2008

If I had a dime for every time "poisoned femininity" has been channeled in 2008...

I'd be fucking rich.

Feast your eyes on the following, scans courtesy of thefashionspot.


"Hearts of Darkness"
Ph. Steven Klein
Fashion Editor: Edward Enninful

You can call that "emo" if you want, but you'd (and they did) miss the point.
That specific palette and those cobwebs and spikes all reek of the pure black, evil cosmic energy of Fall 2008 - as I mused upon only 6 months ago. Some called me crazy! But it's here. It is witching hour (Luella was floridly witchy this year, and they used one of her new dresses here, I see). AS IF THAT WEREN'T THE MOST OBVIOUS CALL IN THE WORLD. Burberry Prorsum, Rodarte, Givenchy, Luella, Balenciaga. All present, all spinning fatal fantasy. I do like that Tommy blazer thrown in for good measure (that's a nod to a. advertisers, b. the seemingly perennial late 2000s obsession with prep school/military chic, although history will now credit Gossip Girl with popularizing these types of fussy ensembles). Whatever the case, clean lines and structured tailoring look great on everyone, so I am an advocate of this sensibility. Even when its rectitude is (humorously ) empurpled here by pallbearer attire. And for the record, if we connect this particular image to any musical progenitor, it's the Horrors, not My Chemical Romance. And the nose rings are incongruous.

And now follows, surprise, surprise: RODARTE'S BIG SHINING MOMENT.

Coco Rocha
"Pretty in Punk"
Ph. Craig McDean

Fashion Editor: Tabitha Simmons

As you may recall, Rodarte served as my central thesis in the dissertation that I called "poisoned femininity". So I am met with bittersweet emotional conflict as I view these images now. I am happy, for I was on to something then; it was a rather prescient observation. I am scandalized, too, because I feel conceptually bereft; no one would believe that I was among the first to recognize this micro trend and its awe-striking visual and thematic power. It was kind of my baby, this gnomic aesthetic that has also been called "pretty punk" and "violent elegance" and sometimes just referenced as neo-goth or black magic - and it is now whoring itself, right out in public. Back in February, in one of my lunar moments of fecundity, I wrote these words:
I'm going to bite the bullet and proclaim this an emergent trend. It's a combination of romance and cynicism. It's ironic, irreverent, and progressive. It's a postmodern stab at gender roles in fashion & it's quite exciting, I think.

- the extreme femininity belies a deadly edge at Rodarte
- the Edwardian vibe at Ruffian: decadent and sinister
- Rag & Bone's hardened, sharp take on unisexual daywear.

It isn't about one prevalent style or a specific dichotomy (it's not only about menswear for women etc). Wherever there is a juxtaposition of two diametrically opposing trends (soft & hard, most broadly), a certain social context is created and mood cast, and that's what this thread tries to address. Most of the garments here are impeccably crafted but harbor a ruined, poisoned, "punk" elegance that eschew traditional female ideals in fashion.

I employed a dialogue with other savvy, sharp-witted fashion folk, who also felt I had hit something relevant here. I finally defined my views with a compendium that confidently claimed "beauty disgraced" as the new big thing. When you think about it, that really is quite a novel and sadistic concept to entertain, especially within a business paradigm preponderantly built upon a standard of upward mobility, not ruin.

ANYWAYS...over the next few months, my perceptions were referenced in multiple contexts:

Which is great. Even better, the very clothes that sent my stylegazing faculties off the barometer then are now enjoying major coverage within Condé Nast pages, and styled in a context conducive to "poisoned femininity". Very cool and yet very ironic for me.

Am I suggesting I augured this trend singlehandedly? Of course not. My connection to it is tenuous at best. What I am learning, though, is that this is proof positive that I need to trust both my stylistic and journalistic instincts and try to save my best ideas for when I really need them: I need to present them primarily to whom and for the medium which will best convey them to the proper audience. Yes, that means print. Because, truthfully, had I been in my current position in life and the industry only 6 months ago, my profile in the campaign for this deathbed femininity craze would have been significantly more visible. That is all.

Good night.

P.S. The Kills are also in this FR issue & they look terrific, as per usual.


Diana said...

it's nice to see you're back
i'm going to have to read that thesis one day. i like intelligent analysis on fashion!

Panic Industry said...

thanks! hopefully we can meet up at FW

Dija said...

I lurk at The Fashion Spot and I found your thread called 'Poisoned Femininity' very interesting and intriguing. Not only was it very intelligent, it was inspiring as well and I made a blog post about it.

I feel you're on to something here and you've best described a style that I've been trying to describe for a while and I've been dying to recreate!

Anonymous said...

This is very interesting, your thesis sounds intriguing and I was wondering if you meant your article (which I am going to read) or an actual thesis that you presented. I am preparing my MFA thesis now and it is very much inspired by gender, style, fashion, and art history, so your awareness speaks to me. In art circles ideas get passed around often and it is difficult when your idea appears somewhere else in a similar or even identifiable form.