Back in the Saddle–Again? Yup, Gals! Western Is Best

Manhattan is clogged and constipated with an excess of fashion trends. We need a style enema. The whole concept of fashion trends has always been a bit dodgy. Historically, these modish milestones consisted of imperial edicts inflicted on a pathetically absorbent public-a.k.a. you-by deranged fashion editors and retail operatives-a.k.a. moi -whose main agenda was always to justify their existence by sounding as authoritative as possible. Yes, we were bossy, but at least our vaunted trends were new! At least they came one at a time. At least they expired!

We now live in a product-saturated age where every trend that was ever invented is strangely present and permissible. Trends no longer lose currency: They hang around like bad smells, wafting back into range every few months. You don’t believe me? Try thinking of something that is totally and unforgivably “out”! Even the 80′s career-girl look with scrunch socks and a tie-neck blouse is a trend. Mod, shoulder-pads, Victoriana, dirt-bag, dangly earrings, preppy, slutty, chinoiserie, hippie, Goth, denim: Every single trend ever invented now lurks on your radar waiting for you to randomly re-embrace it.

Example: According to the mags and store catalogs, the spring season’s biggest trend is-try not to die of shock-Western! Yes, the trend which rocked the fashion world a mere 18 months ago is soooo totally back! Yee-ha!

As a cowboy-lover of long-standing I, for one, am delighted. Since salivating precociously over the denim-clad dudes in Laramie , Rawhide and Bonanza as a preteen, I have developed a connoisseur’s obsession with cowboy drag. I even went through a troublingly gassy phase of eating nothing but pork and beans.

Here are two ways to put a slightly different spin on this season’s return to the rodeo:

Prissy cowboy: Think Gregory Peck and Joseph Cotten in Duel in the Sand . I’m talking about tailored Western attire. Exquisitely dandified duds will make a nice change from the smelly dégagé of the last cowboy trend with its battered straw Stetsons and pube-exposing denims. Call R.J. at Barneys (212-826-8900) and demand to be measured for a Hamilton custom Western shirt. Based in Houston, the Hamilton sewers love nothing more than to craft a Western yoke in a classic shirting fabric. They can even do studs. Prices start at $250 per shirt with a minimum order of four. Fellahs! The tailored look must be worn with messy hair or you run the risk of being mistaken for Dale Evans.

Nelly cowboy: If you have $830 to spare and no objection to becoming the ranch bitch, then you will love the new pink floral cowboy shirts from Gucci Spring 2004-Tom Ford’s final men’s collection before he makes his much-gossiped-about move to the West Coast.

There’s a lot of speculation about the wisdom of Tom’s relocation to Hollywood, i.e. from the narrative-free world of fashion to the story-dependent world of movies. I say give the guy a chance. Most movies today are thin on story and thick on art direction ( Kill Bill , Cold Mountain ). Tom, with his cowboy obsession, could spearhead a revival of the whole spaghetti-western genre … the good, the bad and the jolie-laide ! Bonjour ! He could be the next Sergio Leone!

My fave Leone movie is definitely Once Upon a Time in the West . This 1968 epic is a Gucci-esque orgy of art direction and hyper-masculinity, featuring Fonda, Bronson and Robards all in their rugged butch prime. And the music! Rather than investing in more cowboy crap, you would be well-advised to ignore my above suggestions and purchase the utterly haunting Ennio Morricone soundtrack, $10 on Amazon.com.

Warning: Within the Western genre, there is one trend which is quite definitely démodé . Cowboy hats worn on the back of the head-à la Madge on her last tour-are a tidgy bit 2002. But don’t give them to Goodwill just yet: They are bound to be acceptable when the cowboy trend is re-touted, 18 months from now.

Head ‘em up, move ‘em out! Rawhide!