10 March 2011

Style Debate: Fashion for the Masses

Sitting at dinner last night with H (thank you MissIzzy, for the night out with H), I had a thought.

Now, truth be told, our Guapo's (yes, rockin it Tenley Old Skool) outing was actually intended to be "thought free," and let us relax. Which we did. But somehow, in discussing This, That, and The Other, it came up.

I was thinking about a woman Malena told me about. She has a customer who collects - and started ages ago - a certain 70s jewelry designer. Part of the reason she collects is for her daughter. And apparently she picked well. Granted, she originally picked this designer (name long since forgotten on my part) because she loved the designs. At the time, they weren't Sought After. Now, they are.

While I absolutely factored The Bean into The Bag Decision, I don't have anything else I could say I collect. And I don't know if there is anything else I'd want to. It would be really hard, now, with the proliferation of available Big Names, to select something I both adored and would be unique. It's all available everywhere.

I wholeheartedly support Fashion for the Masses. I think it fabulous that H&M, Target, and the like catapulted the Jaclyn Smith/KMart model into our style conciousness. I think it marvelous that there's less and less distance (for all sorts of modern, webified reasons) between the Runway and the Average Consumer.

But then, it isn't.

Call me a snob, but it isn't so fabulous that I try and go buy something unique and special, and turn around and find someone else carrying the same bag or wearing the same scarf. There is something so elevated about The Houses that is disappearing. There are no more muses. The Grace Kellys are no longer the inspriration (there is, of course, the argument that there are No More Grace Kellys). Natalie and Kate and Reese and ... well, it's just not the same.

So for someone who actively tries to make High Fashion palatable and wearable to The Rest of Us, I suppose it seems odd to be calling out The Houses for "lowering themselves." But if there isn't any aspiration in fashion, where are we supposed to go with it? I still, no matter how practical my own daily closet choices may have to be, want to delight in details that only come with that heightened sense of style that trickles down from haute couture. The drapey flowy collar on my Gap sale T-shirt came from somewhere, and it wasn't KMart.


Allie (Wardrobe Oxygen) said...

I was going to write a post about this recently but didn't know how to do it while being tactful.

I am not one who can afford designer pieces, and I am okay with that. I don't want them to stoop to my level and offer cheaper versions. I don't want Louis Vuitton and Hermes to become the Gucci of the '80s. I hate seeing people clamor for something on Gilt just for the brand, wearing high-end shoes with Mudd jeans, carrying their LV Speedy with velour sweatpants.

We have become a society that feels they deserve everything. Either put a second mortgage on the house for an It bag, or buy some cheap crappy version of it (hello Coach monogram & Dooney & Bourke). It's diluting high-end brands, and diluting style all together.

I don't want someone to think my Liberty scarf is from H&M, or even that my Cole Haan or Nine West shoes are Payless. I wish people would worry more about fit and style than brand name. Let's return to a world where Jackie and Audrey are style icons because they can make a simple shift dress, or a turtleneck with capris look elegant, not because WHO they are wearing. When we get there, maybe the masses will understand that style comes from within and special items will again be special.

You have inspired me to finish this post collecting dust on my desktop!

DC Celine said...

Allie, can't wait to read your post! Post a link here - I think it's a debate we need to keep going.