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A Victorian Mood in Fashion & Entertainment - Marc Jacobs, Rochas, Vanity Fair - Reveals a Deeper Trend: An Emerging Class of New Superwealthy Are Challenging the Status Quo. (Also, a funny Chris Rock Routine.) WEEKLY FASHIONTRIBES POP CULTURE PODCAST
A Victorian Mood in Fashion & Entertainment - Marc Jacobs, Rochas, Vanity Fair - Reveals a Deeper Trend: An Emerging Class of New Superwealthy Are Challenging the Status Quo. (Also, a funny Chris Rock Routine.) WEEKLY FASHIONTRIBES POP CULTURE PODCAST MP3 File
Vanity Fair's social climbers on the big screen. Shockheaded Peter's dark fairytales on Broadway. High-necked ruffled jackets with matching floor-length skirts on the Fall runway of one of fashion's most influential designers (Rochas). Have we entered a Victorian time warp?
Exhibit A: Some Influential Fall 2005 Fashion Collections:
- Victorian capelets at LOUIS VUITTON
- MARC JACOBS channels a teen from another era.
- Olivier Theyskens goes the whole Victorian nine yards at ROCHAS
Why would a time period known for such excessive concern with modesty that they covered table legs be enjoying a a revival in our sex drenched, bare-it-all, F-word mad new millenium?
Interestingly, a peek underneath the tablecloth reveals that we had something quite fundamental in common with our prim Victorian forebears. "Conflicts between the upper, middle, and lower classes is a central theme in the Victorian period," explains Peter Schweighofer, author of Why Victorian Games Fail (DestinyRealms.com) "Our society still has different economic classes, but they tend to insulate themselves fairly well and avoid pointing out and dwelling on class differences."
We love to pretend - especially in the US - that class distinctions no longer exist, and we cloak ourselves in the pseudo-safety of political correctness. However, I would argue that we are actually in the midst of a massive upheaval and redefinition of class; successful music moguls, sports figures and entertainers are steadily creating a new emerging class comprised of extremely wealthy - and non-white - individuals, including moguls like Oprah, Tiger Woods, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Spike Lee, Michael Jordan & Russell Simmons.
In his hilarious stand-up routine Chris Rock: Never Scared, the comedian takes on the topic of whether white America is attempting to prevent non-whites from becoming truly wealthy. According to Rock, the key lies in the difference between being rich & having true wealth. To be rich means you are able to afford a lavish lifestyle now, but don't have enough assets to guarantee the same standard of living for the next generation. If you have wealth, your estate is sizable enough to guarantee that your future family will be able to live the high life, without ever having to worry about bills or how to pay for school. Rock has identified an interesting situation - more and more non-whites are continuing to join the ranks of the "rich" and continue on their inevitable way to "wealth", change is afoot. (As an internet entrepreneur, I say, "not a nano-second too soon!)
With wealth comes power - to flaunt rules large and small. "Media mogul Russell Simmons is conspicuous for his refusal to don the symbolic attire of the ruling class - suit and tie - and adherence to "street" clothing - baseball caps, tee shirts and jeans," explains Cynthia Lucas Hewitt, assistant professor of Sociology at Morehouse College and author of Limits to Conspicuous Consumption in the African Community? Alienation, Spirituality and Nationalism. By flaunting the old rules, and creating new ones, this new emerging power class is, thankfully, turning tradition on its ear.
The Chris Rock of his day, Oscar Wilde, examined the same issue in his stellar play The Importance of Being Earnest. His pompous Lady Bracknell - a social climber originally from the "lower" classes - represented the ruling class and how they discriminated socially against anyone not of their "ilk." Her belief that non-aristocrats be neither educated nor encouraged to think critically might seem outdated at first glance, but it is? Rock's point about who is rich and who is wealthy makes Wilde's criticism of the Victorian status quo as applicable today as when he penned it.
- Lesley Scott
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