It’s been a year since my first miscarriage, and the summer sales have returned. I buy a loose kaftan, I buy a pin-tucked denim dress, I buy cotton shorts with an elastic waistband, I buy skin-tight hotpants. There’s no coherence in the silhouette or materiality of this selection of garments, no vision of what I want to be. The pandemic rages on, and in the convergence of societal crises it has caused, I find myself escaping into consumerism again, despite the ways it has failed me. My vision of how my life will unfold is no longer progressive or linear, I don’t assume it will just heighten and widen and deepen.
In lifestyle and fashion magazines, celebrity profiles tend to unfold as stories about successful overcoming of difficulties. Magazines present fame and success as results of a struggle – they appear to be fought for, and, therefore, earned. Thus, in its profile of Bella Hadid Vogue US dwells on the difficult aspects of the model’s life – indeed, she might be one of the world’s highest-paid models, living in a luxurious apartment, but she also cries every day.
A conversation with the family behind Manny Gammage’s Texas Hatters Inc.
‘I’ve seen wills being written up about hats. Once I saved a family from not talking to each other, because two grandsons were fighting and both thought they had right to the hat. They didn’t want the money or the land, because the hat was a status symbol of an elder. They asked me to make another one just like it. I made an exact copy, but then they got shuffled and I couldn’t tell which one was real. They both came and both offered money to me to let them know what the real hat was, but I honestly couldn’t tell them. They both have his hat over the mantelpiece.’
Karl loved paper and reading was his truest joy. His protestant work ethic helped him shine in the fashion industry. He was known to have said that he is a fashion nymphomaniac who never gets an orgasm. Very few people remember what Lagerfeld looked like as a young man; it is as if he arrived in his prime in old age with his snow-white ponytail, and dark glasses that hid his sympathetic eyes.
Peacocking: ridiculous, beautiful, moving. No coats, even in sub zero temperatures. A lot of belly buttons on display. Crowds moving in unison, phones held aloft to catch a glimpse of a celebrity you’ve never heard of. Stern-looking men in dark suits surrounding beautiful young women with perfectly applied make-up and professional hair. Bumping into people you never see, except at fashion shows. Waving to friends across the catwalk, then losing them in the crowd. A swarm of shiny black cars with tinted windows blocking the street. Bored-looking drivers lining the sidewalk while smoking and drinking coffee from paper cups.
Fashion is a polysemic category. When it comes to thinking about it critically, there’s one aspect I particularly like: the way in which fashion is also connected to a more philosophical dimension – referring to a form of temporality; to the search for newness, the ‘irrational’ appetite for novelty; the idolatry of commodities; a speedy pursuit of replacement and therefore, an assimilated rationale based on transitoriness and ephemerality. This particular Euro American narrative of fashion has dictated that ‘the centre’ of ‘real’ fashion derives from European modernity; and that such a ‘centre’ would further land in four great cities that ended up making the global circuit of runways. In this narrative, widely accepted and dispersed, the rest, in other words, everything that stands outside of such a location is considered the periphery. This story has, however, begun to break down. The subject deserves a more hybrid narrative.
She was a beautiful baby. The first and only one of our five that was beautiful at birth. You do not guess how new and uneasy her tenancy in her now — loveliness. You did not know her all those years she was thought homely, or see her poring over her baby pictures, making me tell her over and over how beautiful she had been — and would be, I would tell her — and was now, to the seeing eye. But the seeing eyes were few or non-existent. Including mine.