A Defense of Fashion

I love fashion.

I often say this, and truly mean it, but it fails to be taken seriously. Oooh, I love shopping too! some screech… but fashion isn’t shopping. Oh, really? some ask with a raised eyebrow, and seem surprised that the previously intelligent person they conversed with could express such a naive thought… but fashion isn’t naive. Why? some ask, surprised, as if fashion were something to be avoided at all costs… but fashion cannot be avoided. But the most damning response of all is silence. A quick silence, followed by either a) a change in the conversation, b) the person I’m talking to leaving, and c) an awkward moment.

Let me explain why I love fashion. Quite simply, I never get the opportunity too.

Fashion is one of those rare things that works as a medium, a canvas, and an artwork unto itself.

The mere act of putting on clothing is powerful enough to change a person’s mood, and for that matter anyone’s around that person, for better or for worse. In this way, fashion becomes the outward reflection of that person, or as anyone who has been to high school knows, groups of people. That person doesn’t have to say anything – their clothing offers the initial introduction to their personality. So fashion plays with emotions, just like art.

But isn’t fashion inherently commercial? Doesn’t that very fact bar it from being artwork? My response: art is commercial too. Artists have to make money, as daring and as innovative as they may want to be, they ultimately have to come to terms with the cruel reality that people will have to want and buy their artwork so that they may survive. Of course there are exceptions to this rule in the artistic sphere, just as there are in the fashion sphere. Like art, fashion invites critique, innovation, and nostalgia just as much as it instigates and represents social movements and concepts.

Now let me say something daring: fashion requires intelligence. To understand what fashion means to you, you have to know yourself. This is why I believe many people avoid and sometimes seem to be afraid of fashion: it requires effort! It demands physically putting on clothing and make-up of course, but also to examine yourself philosophically and emotionally. You have to be aware of how you view the world, what you think of the people around you, and how you see or envision yourself. This is not easy and often constitutes a lifelong task. It is because of this that wealth is not equivalent to style. You may have a closet crammed full of Celine and Dior, yet still pair a purple fur coat with neon green gladiator sandals. It is just as hard, if not harder  to establish a sense of style when you are rich – hello! you have to resist the temptation to buy everything in your nearest vicinity – just as when you are poor.

The philosophical and aspirational aspects of fashion are why I love reviewing, examining, and critiquing each season’s collections. Each show and designer presents their unique, constantly altering view of the world on the runway. For me, this is an intensely emotional experience. Even though I cannot afford almost everything I look at when I review collections, each piece of clothing represents an opportunity of who I could be or will be in the world. My favorite designers create much more than beautiful clothing – they weave an intricately beautiful vision of the world.

So there. This is  why I am not ashamed of loving fashion.

Life is an occasion worth dressing up for.



p.s Congratulations to those who made it to the end of this post!! 😉