Auntie Fashion

I’m the fashion world’s most-enduring muse.

Posts Tagged ‘antifashion

Antifashion’s Night Out

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Heather Tom

Heather Tom

Here’s a photo of the lovely Heather Tom who participated in Fashion’s Night Out this past Thursday in New York City.  Heather was the original Victoria Newman on The Young and the Restless, and the character hasn’t been the same since she left the show.  But I digress . . .

Don’t get me wrong: I believe Fashion’s Night Out was a terrific idea.  Kudos to all the people who participated in the event.  Click on the link above to watch a fun photo slideshow of the festivities on The Cut.

Nevertheless, as I viewed the photos I was struck by a feeling that it was all for naught.  Fashion is going into a transition period, as it tends to do at the end of a decade.  With the global economic crisis impacting upon all facets of the fashion business, business leaders are taking somewhat drastic measures to ensure that their house of cards doesn’t collapse.  Anna Wintour, for instance, is reaching out to the common folk.  Has hell frozen over?

Not quite yet, but it’s getting awfully chilly down there.  In my not-so-humble opinion, the fashion business only has itself to blame.  The last decade was defined by a celebrity culture where you were only someone if you were one of those lucky millionaires who didn’t have to pay for their own clothes.  At the same time, globalization of the economy meant that you could dress yourself for next to nothing.  Cheap clothes are everywhere, and many inexpensive garments are as well-made as their pricy counterparts.

Getting people to spend again — the point of Fashion’s Night Out — seems like a rather unachievable goal.  I know this because I’m spending less on clothing now than I did in the late 80s.  You don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to look great nowadays, and that’s not going to change anytime soon.

I hope that the leaders of the fashion business realize this before they eat each other alive.  They need to stop collaborating with celebrities who bring nothing to the table (Lindsay Lohan, I’m looking at you), and they need to start concentrating on defining their lines to create some genuine loyalty amongst their customers.  The backlash is imminent, as it was twenty years ago when grunge put them all in their place, and it was forty years ago when hippie culture did the same.

I’m not the first person to point out the fact that fashion is cyclical.  Now that the daughters of the grunge movement are having the grandchildren of the hippies, it’s not a stretch of the imagination to assume that we’re on the cusp of a fashion backlash.  I have no doubt in my mind that antifashion is back.  So my only question to the leaders of the fashion business is this: How are you going to make money from people who don’t want to spend their money?  You’d better rethink your business models before you’re the ones who are dressed in rags.

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September 12, 2009 at 4:33 pm

Susan Boyle

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Susan Boyle

I’m sure that there are people who are already getting sick of hearing about Britain’s Got Talent contestant Susan Boyle, even though she’s only been famous for a week.  But I’m still happy for her.

Of course, the moral of Susan’s story is “don’t judge a book by its cover.”  That’s also the credo of antifashion.  I admit that I make judgements about people all the time.  However, I’m more likely to make a judgement about someone based upon their physical appearance and not what they’re wearing.  People who respect their bodies and their state of well-being usually emanate a certain aura of wellness and strength of character.  I believe that even those individuals who aren’t blessed with good health can benefit from clean living and its contributions to a healthy appearance.

On the other hand, I try to cut everyone slack when it comes to what they wear.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: My day isn’t going to be any worse if you want to wear something that I don’t like.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  If you want to wear a prison jumpsuit or a slutty nurse Halloween costume to the office, be my guest.

Still, I often catch myself criticizing fashion that deforms the human body, but I suppose that goes hand-in-hand with idealizing a healthy body; I don’t think it contradicts my philosophy.

Anyway, back to Susan Boyle.  Good for her.  Good for everyone who has been touched by her story.  Susan and I are kindred spirits, because I know what it’s like to be judged in a business where appearance can make or break you.  Despite my accomplishments, people assume that I’ve been able to get by on my looks alone.  That’s so unfair!  Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.

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April 18, 2009 at 4:13 pm

A kindred spirit . . .

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I visit almost every day.  It’s a smart, funny site with a stable full of great writers (and I’m sure most of them would shudder at the fact that I used the word “stable” to describe their staff — I promise not to do it again!).

Anyway, today I read an article (linked above) by Tatiana, the Anonymous Model that made me want to kiss her on the lips.

I could paraphrase it, but that wouldn’t do the article justice.  Just go read it.  Like me, she loves fashion, but her adoration for the artform comes with a disclaimer.  Seriously, this girl is my new antifashion hero.

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January 7, 2009 at 6:11 pm

Jeremy Scott F/W 2001

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Jeremy Scott F/W 2001

Blogging about Jeremy Scott made me feel nostalgic for the days when the designer showed in Paris.  His Fall/Winter 2001 presentation, in particular, was a great moment in the history of antifashion.

Although it wasn’t that long ago, it’s easy to forget what made 2001 different from 2008.  The biggest distinction is that the “good taste” movement hadn’t overtaken fashion yet.  Makeover shows weren’t a dime a dozen, one-in-two people weren’t calling themselves stylists, and the red carpet was still a couple of seasons away from becoming the circus it is today. 

Designers were reacting against 90s minimalism with luxe looks.  Tom Ford was leading the charge as the creative director for Gucci.  While rave reviews kept pouring in for his ready-to-wear collections, his real contribution to the label was in the accessories department.  Under Ford, Gucci was about to become a global powerhouse based on its brands.

Taking fashion from the Calvin Klein/Helmut Lang 90s into the new century meant making some big changes to the way ready-to-wear collections and accessories were designed.  The biggest change, in retrospect, had to be the “bling” that Ford brought back to fashion: A sleeker, sexier version of Gianni Versace-style glamour.  Understatement had given its way to overstatement.

Jeremy Scott must have sensed where the trends were going when he responded to the fashion climate of the moment with this collection.  Choosing Vanna White as his muse — she was one of the only celebrities in Hollywood who didn’t pare down her look in the 90s — he put on a show that brilliantly poked fun at the desire to look rich and glamorous.

Remember, this was the time when logos had just returned to fashion — you could still find classic Louis Vuitton logo bags in thrift stores.  Suddenly, everyone was plastering their name all over everything.  Fashion had gone from pared-down to pumped-up overnight.  Appearing as if you had spent a lot of money on your clothes was becoming equated with good taste.  The nylon Prada bag of the 90s had become a garish Gucci bag, covered in tacky doodads and advertising: The epitome of overkill.

And overkill was Jeremy Scott’s speciality.  Just get a load of the matching coat and luggage set in the photo I posted above.  Or click on the link to view the slideshow on  Eight years ago, Jeremy Scott virtually (and presciently) predicted how vulgar fashion would become by the middle of the decade.  For that reason, I rank this show as one of the greatest runway presentations I’ve ever seen.  It was positively uncanny how he knew where fashion was going before the rest of us did.

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September 20, 2008 at 5:18 pm

Celine Dion’s Backwards Suit

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Celine Dion

In between cosmetic procedures (her new addiction), Lucinda McRuvy took the time to compose a list of the worst-dressed Canadians in show biz.  She even added a special category, The Worst Dressed Canadian Hall of Fame, just to dishonor Celine Dion.

Now I’ve never been Dion’s biggest fan, but I’m going to take some time and a few paragraphs to defend her.  The reason: Celine Dion is a champion of antifashion.

Whatever passes for fashion nowadays on the red carpet is not what I would call fashion.  I’ve blogged about the stylist-hijacked, designer-sponsored trend that has made the red carpet such a creative wasteland, so I don’t need to do that again.  Just trudge through my archives — if you’re so inclined.

But if you want to know why I worship Celine Dion as an antifashion icon, just read this 2007 story about her from


Celine Dion has refused to ever set foot on a red carpet again because she hates answering superficial questions about the clothes she is wearing. The superstar singer was savaged by the fashion police for wearing a backwards white Dior suit to the 1999 Oscars and has never truly recovered from the criticism. And now she tells style magazine W she insists on bypassing red carpets at events – so she doesn’t have to talk about fashion. She says, “I just want to do music and perform for people who want to see me performing.

“I don’t want people to say to me, ‘Are those diamonds yours? Did you borrow them?’ I can pay for my own diamonds, and I don’t need to wear the necklace of the year.

“I don’t need that s**t, so I don’t want to walk on the red carpet. If nobody wants to dress me because they want publicity, well, I’m sorry.”

But Dion has won praise from some fashion designers – because she’s one of the few stars who insists on buying whatever she wears. Gilles Mendel, who has become one of the singer’s favourite designers, admits he can’t remember ever lending her an outfit. He says, “It’s really rare… She is really classy. It creates an independence, so she doesn’t owe anything to anyone.”


Aside from that, the suit really isn’t that horrible.  Only a scrawny bird like Celine (or a model) could get away with wearing a fabric draped across the breasts like that, and it really does fit her well through the torso, too.  Her pants need to be shortened slightly so that they don’t break like a man’s trouser at the ground (or else her heel needs to be an inch higher).  Her body type favors a plunging neckline — not the neckline of this jacket — because she has such great shoulders.  She also has a long neck, so she doesn’t need to accentuate the vertical line from her shoulders upward by donning a fedora (although I’ll admit that I’d kill to have the hat).

Technically, that’s what’s wrong with the outfit.  Artistically, however, the outfit is a masterpiece.  Just imagine how much more fun the world would be if people went out in public in clothes like this.

Forget what the so-called fashionista say.  Fingers need to be pointed at the millionaires who demand free clothes.  Fingers need to be pointed at the stylists who have made “good taste” a commodity, as if it actually has some sort of value in the grand scheme of things.  Fingers also need to be pointed at people who write worst-dressed lists.

I don’t want to come off as a sanctimonious windbag, so I’ll admit that I used to get paid to write those lists, too.  Yet I don’t know if there’s anything else in my past as a fashion journalist that embarrasses me more.  I was a rotten person back in those days.  Thankfully, I had people like Celine Dion in my life to show me the error of my ways.

Now if I only felt the same way about her music!

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July 19, 2008 at 3:49 pm

Antifashion Week

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Tase T. Lentil

Since every city on the planet has a Fashion Week (except Moose Jaw — and I’m working on that), I’ve decided that it would be appropriate to name the third week in August Antifashion Week.

Antifashion Week will be celebrated by billions of people worldwide as they eschew the designs of the Evil AntiZob a.k.a. Marc Jacobs.  Although individuals are encouraged to express themselves in a manner which defines their own sense of style during Antifashion Week, participating in group activities is also recommended.

Why not build a beachside bonfire with your friends and fuel the flames with fake Louis Vuitton bags and copies of InStyle?  Or instead of going “from daytime to evening” with your makeup, why don’t you show up at work on Monday morning gussied up like a Las Vegas cocktail waitress on New Year’s Eve?  Perhaps you could plan to spend the weekend at the National Lentil Festival — quite possibly the most unglamorous civic pride event I’ve ever heard about.

Whatever you do, just try to have a good time.  With the 2009 fashion shows looming on the horizon, it could be a lot of fun to forget about the stupidity of the fashion world for a while.  Sure, there are going to be some great shows out there, but there are also going to be plenty of Rachel Bilsons and Steven Cojocarus and Adrian Mainellas and Rachel Zoes and Kimora Lees to deal with.  Antifashion Week is the calm before the storm.  Enjoy it while it lasts.

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July 9, 2008 at 4:23 pm

Katharine Hepburn

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Katharine Hepburn

Katharine Hepburn

Award shows give celebrities the opportunity to let it all hang out.  Unfortunately, most of them don’t take the chance when it’s given to them.  They enlist armies of professionals to give them a red carpet overhaul, then praise themselves on camera for looking chic, as if they’ve had a hand in creating their own look.

It’s an obnoxious convention of show business that encourages a lack of creative self-expression.  Everyone is terrified to be on a worst-dressed list, so almost no one does anything to rock the boat.

That’s why Katharine Hepburn’s appearance at the 1974 Oscars is such an iconic moment.  At that time, Hepburn held the record for the most individual Oscar nominations as an actor.  However, she had never bothered to show up at the event.  She was finally convinced to attend in order to present the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award.

As she walked onto the stage it became evident that she wasn’t glammed-up.  In fact, she wasn’t dressed up at all.  In black trousers, a black jacket and a white turtleneck, Hepburn looked like Hepburn — I can’t imagine what anyone else was expecting!

Nevertheless, a story began circulating afterward that the living legend had come to the ceremony straight from working in her garden.  That’s a little hard to swallow — she was clean and her face was made up for the stage lights — but the rumor persists today.  Whatever . . .

Now what makes this such a great moment in antifashion?  It wasn’t as if Hepburn had flipped the bird to the academy.  Still, she had nothing to lose by being herself, and she knew it.  She wasn’t concerned what people were going to say about her outfit the next day, because she didn’t give a rat’s ass about what they had to say.

While I’ll heap praise on someone as fabulous as Holy McGrail, whom I blogged about a couple of days ago, I’ll also give credit where credit is due in this instance.  Katherine Hepburn had been able to live vicariously through her craft for four decades.  She didn’t need an award ceremony or a red carpet to tell her that she could be fabulous: She already knew that she was fabulous.

At its worst, fashion is about the will to conform.  At its best, fashion inspires the opposite desire: The desire to be an individual.  Hepburn embraced her individuality.  She embraced the opposite of what most people call fashion.  She is a champion of antifashion.

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May 27, 2008 at 2:59 pm