Rant Of The Day THIS RANT 04/05/96

Rant Of The Day is where I get to mouth off about whatever I feel like for however long I like. Theoretically, I'll update my whinge/opinion piece every weekday; in practice, maybe not so often.

Fashion: how stupid can you get?

In this morning's Sydney Morning Herald (and I'm deliberately ignoring its Port Arthur coverage because some things make me too mad even to rant about), there's a kind of mindless article on how the fashion world is under threat from the Internet because it allows trends to be publicised earlier than clothes are actually available. In it, Suzy Menkes, fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune and, apparently, "the world's most respected fashion commentator", utters the following immortal words:

At the moment, everything is being shown to the public when it is still raw. It's not due in the shops for six months and the public have already seen it, but they are not ready to understand it. It's nice to see Naomi's [Campbell's] bosoms, but it takes a trained fashion professional to be able to edit a show at that stage, to know which parts of it are going to be important. To the public it may just look 'silly'.
Reading between the lines, what this means is that the public needs to be taught how to dress. Without the help of professionals, we're lucky we make it out the front door with our underwear on the right way around, I guess. After all, clothes are really difficult, aren't they? Never mind the great philosophical issues of our time, you need expert help just to know if your socks are the right length for the time of day.

What really bugs me about this sort of thing is that it's a patently dishonest attempt to cover up what really bugs people like Menkes: the threat that public knowledge (Net-disseminated or otherwise) represents. If everyone can see fashion collections early, they can either work out that they hate them or make their own minds up about which bits they like and are going to buy/emulate/evolve with. Either way, they won't need the advice of magazine editors, who need this stuff months in advance (and preferably exclusively) to meet their copy deadlines. If they don't need the advice, they won't buy the magazines. Then the fashion houses won't advertise their perfumes with them, and Menkes will be out of a job. Somehow, though, I doubt we're ever going to reach the point where fashion editors become the Paxtons of the new millenium.

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