Is she totally tragic or wildly groovy? Is she so out that she’s in? Could Harriet Miers become the face of fashion for spring 2006?
With her breathtakingly frowzy cobalt-blue 80’s career clothing, George W. Bush’s latest Supreme Court nominee is, at first glance, an unlikely fashion icon. But take a long, hard look at the recent New York collections and you will see that Ms. Miers is, horror of horrors, totally spring 2006? That 80’s corporate look—explored ironically at Tuleh, Proenza Schouler and even Marc Jacobs—was so dominant at Olympus Fashion Week that the designers were accused of playing it safe and pandering to the establishment. Whether or not Harriet makes it onto the bench, these Janet Reno–friendly garments will hit the stores in January and, like it or not, Bible-reading, wholesome Harriet will have gotten there first.
All of which highlights the importance to the fashion firmament of that fabulously degenerate brand otherwise known as Kate Moss.
Good job, Kate! Thanks to the coverage of your cocaine-snorting shenanigans, the entire world now believes that everyone working in fashion is a raving, jonesing dope fiend. All the recent Kategate ink, including that spilled in The New York Times and Women’s Wear Daily, has been peppered with this-is-just-the-tip-of-the-iceberg quotes from people claiming that the fashion world—-my world—is nothing less than a drug-addled hellhole. According to Guy Trebay in The Times, things have become so louche that models now snort coke out of empty lipstick cases, presumably right before charging off down the runway!
I am one of the blinkered idiots mentioned in the same articles who, despite working in this industry, has managed to remain blissfully unaware of all its dreadful excess. Nobody has ever sidled up to me and asked, “Do I smell Chanel?”—code, according to Mr. Trebay, for “Got coke?” Maybe the young models are unwilling to share their stash with an old nelly such as myself in case they get blamed when I have a heart attack. Either way, I feel as if I’m totally missing out. My experience of the fashion world is infinitely more Christian and Harriet Miers–ish.
If only La Mode were half as degenerate and debauched—i.e., as interesting—as the recent press suggests. There is, regrettably, a horrifying dearth of Kates and Gias (Gia Carangi: smack-addicted 80’s model immortalized in a 1998 biopic starring a pre-Brad Angelina Jolie) to break the humdrum routine. In my capacity as creative director at Barneys, I regularly find myself mingling backstage at hotsy-totsy fashion shows or lingering at photo shoots. Yet, in the 20 years that I’ve been doing this job, I’ve only had to deal with two “nodders.” Most of my colleagues are much more concerned with food than with drugs: “Is Serena Bass doing the catering?” is much more frequently heard than “Got ’ny crack?”
I suspect that the fashion world is, much to its annoyance, significantly less drug-infested than other milieux. Pole dancers and musicians are probably much worse. Bankers? Fuggeddaboutit! A sex-worker friend with an extensive Wall Street clientele has told me endless stories of walking on men’s chests in high heels during all-night coke-fueled sadomasochistic sessions. It’s hard to imagine any fashion folk carrying on like this. Please don’t tell me Eileen Fisher and Ralph Lauren are speedballing and freebasing with hustlers in their spare time!
Whether real or imagined, the mystical connection between fashion and substance abuse clearly serves a vital function. Tales of druggery and buggery, missing septums and flying cell phones add a much-needed sizzle to the otherwise boringly bourgeois world of style and luxury goods. Isn’t this, when all is said and snorted, the reason why the Burberrys and Chanels of the world are willing to pay so much dosh for the use of Kate’s image in the first place? Without bad-girl Kate, these luxury brands are just a bunch of naff, glitzy Rodeo Drive emporiums.
And what of Kate herself? We are, après tout, talking about a human being, and a rather sweet one at that. First off, how about a bit of sympathy? Sadly missing from any of the recent commentary was any concern for the lovely lady herself. That cute little chippie from Croydon clearly has a Donatella-sized problem. Let’s hope she can follow in Ms. Versace’s footsteps and get a handle on it before she loses the roof over her head, not to mention custody of her daughter.
The first thing Kate needs is new role models. Hanging out with aging, weather-beaten rock chicks like Anita Pallenberg and Marianne Faithfull is probably not the smartest move. Re Ms. Faithfull: Back in the early 60’s, in Reading, England, Marianne was a pupil at the convent next to my old school. She was a ravishingly pretty, rebellious young thing. While my school uniform was standard blue and white, hers was an intriguing chocolate brown and yellow and included a wide-brimmed hat and a knee-length cape.
I wonder if Marianne is still in possession of these insouciant garments? If she threw a couple of shoulder pads into that cape, it would be very au courant, very next season—very Harriet Miers.