Who wears that? I’ve heard it a million times from a million different “tee-shirts only guys” and a dozen “tapered jeans girls.” These fashionably apathetic masses stare blankly at the creations that glitter on the runways of Milan, Paris, Hong Kong, London, and New York semi-annually, and wonder in disbelief why anyone would waste a yard of material on such impractical apparel.
The genius and forward-thinking creativity of such haute couture greats as Karl Lagerfeld, Valentino, Emanuel Ungaro, and Jean-Paul Gaultier are lost on these poor, close-minded souls. Little do they know that these artists are the people responsible for generating healthy, growing economies as well as keeping the timeless and preeminent function of art alive and vital. There’s nothing more unflattering for a figure than an unfounded opinion, and when it comes to fashion, there are a plethora of people wandering this badly coordinated planet just asking for a visit from the fashion police. Ignorant hordes of suburbanite Americans open up the latest issue of Vogue or In Style as they sit in their doctor’s office, and gape at the audacious and attention-grabbing garb that is showcased by the most talented tailors and seamstresses each season. The insane styles occasionally witnessed strutting down the runway can show a fashion designer as an unlikely physicist or architect.
What these sweater-set soccer moms and metal-mouth teenagers don’t realize is that these bold and extraordinary designs are fulfilling their purpose as beautifully as they fill Gisele’s curvasious frame. What better exposure could a couturier ask for than to have his or her design featured in a nationally syndicated magazine that will cause the world population to balk at their eccentricity and seemingly useless garments? It’s marketing genius. The crazier and more unbelievable the design, the more bulbs flash at the show, the more magazine covers and fashion spreads, the more notoriety, the more money. And who thinks its worthless? You? The one in the Tommy sweatshirt over there? Right.
The second reason we should all be setting up small shrines to the fashion gods is that their creative genius tends to trickle down to even our de la gauche level and spice up the middle class world of retail. No one can deny that they’re not at least a little bit sick of Mavi jeans, Burberry scarves, and the Tiffany’s version of the snap bracelet for college students. Designers are creating new looks and concepts right now that will eventually sweep the nation.
Thankfully, some of the innovative, albeit extreme, ideas that surface on the world’s best-known catwalks, lend new ideas and new trends to the mix of the same old boring styles that stagnate from season to season. You can count on Versace and Gucci to shock and amaze the world, but you can also count on Barney’s and Bloomingdale’s to tone it down and knock it off to appeal to the masses.
So the next time you berate great masters of the fashion world, think again. They’re quietly changing the way you yourself dress and making a Bottega Veneta sack full of money doing it.