Is the Press Ruining Fashion?
The Academy of Art University in San Francisco recently hosted a fashion symposium with fashion designer Ralph Rucci (the only American invited to show his exquisite clothing under his own name at the Paris Haute Couture), retired designer James Galanos (who dressed former first lady Nancy Reagan and diva Diana Ross), Michael Fink of Saks Fifth Avenue (VP Women's Fashion Director), and moderated by the fabulous Cameron Silver of Decades (the A-list vintage boutique).
The purpose of the panel was to discuss the state of fashion, which Rucci kicked off with a passionate rant against the press, accusing it (us!) of helping to "ruin" fashion by placing too much emphasis on unrealistic designs that make for eyecatching editorials but have nothing, apparently, to do with "real" women and "real" fashion.
In his opinion, since no one in the audience - comprised mostly of students - was dressed in a way that remotely resembled a fashion editorial, magazines were obviously out-of-touch and irrelevant. Galanos heartily concurred, and according to his extremely narrow-minded and dated definition of what can be considered "fashion," anything fantastic but unwearable that walks down a runway is to be considered an exercise in self-discovery rather than fashion. Michael Fink noted that from his perspective as a retailer, he needs to focus on what sells. Sadly, there were neither actual women nor members of the press invited to participate, despite being the market in question and the apparent cause of the demise of modern fashion.
The fact is, in this age of too many trends, designers, and choices, the fashion press is the very reason why fashion remains vibrant and interesting to women.
Editors and fashion writers address this overload of information by sifting, editing, and curating what's worth putting in your closet. (However, so much of what is featured in the print media is an exercise in pandering to advertisers, that fashion lovers are increasingly turning to bloggers who are still considered less beholden to advertisers and more likely to actually publish their honest opinions.)
In addition, "unwearable" clothing and editorial spreads feed into the fantasy element of fashion: yes, it's a business, but it's one founded upon creativity, both of the designer, and of the wearer as a means of their self expression. "Crazy" clothes fuel people's imagination, spark ideas, and, ultimately, help keep fashion interesting, aspirational, and in demand.
- Lesley Scott