The 2007 Spring Fashion Week is proving to be one of the most decisive, the most black and white, in the history of La Mode. Based on what I have seen in the last few days, it’s about two things, and two things only: It’s about being either insanely, ridiculously tall, or bizarrely, frighteningly small. You are either a Maria Sharapova or a Lil’ Kim, and there’s no point in going on living if you are anything in between. And be very careful how you juxtapose the two!
“Come have your picture taken with the Olsens!” yodeled the photographer Patrick McMullan to the supermodel Iman when she arrived at the Fashion Week kick-off bash at Barneys on Friday night, Sept. 8, honoring the Balenciaga designer Nicolas Ghesquiere.
“Not good for me, and really bad for them,” tactfully demurred the purring, towering Somalian goddess.
Though she might have avoided the pixie moguls at the cocktail hour, she was juxtaposed with another midget—moi—for the dinner that followed, a chic affair at the Soho loft of Barneys C.E.O. Howard Socol and his wife, Sharon. Tall and small, like aliens from two different planets, the garrulous Iman and I transcended our respective genres, found common ground and chatted relentlessly for two hours: about her new partnership with the Dress for Success charity; her height and my lack of it. She kindly suggested that I acquire a pair of this season’s Balenciaga platform clunkers, adding that Mr. Iman (her husband David Bowie, the former king of platform glam rock) had stumbled upon and was profoundly shocked by her massive shoes, declaring, “These are more insane than anything I wore in the 70’s.”
Seeking the company of fellow dwarflets, I abandoned Iman and grilled Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen about the intricacies of their line for Wal-Mart. When I asked what would happen to their tween empire once they hit 35, they stared at me—à la Village of The Damned—as if to say, “You nitwit. We’re so small that nobody is ever going to question it. P.S.: We’re already in our 20’s and nobody has said anything. So shut your gob, you English homunculus!”
This slightly uncomfortable moment was alleviated by the arrival of the unbelievably tall Vogue columnist André Leon Talley, twirling majestically like a dervish in a huge cape—a variation of a little slate gray number from the women’s fall collection—which Maison Balenciaga had made specially for him. A lovely evening was had by tall and small alike.
The next day, the shows began. The presence of celebs—so long a thorn in my side and source of invective for this column—had escalated to such an insane extent that I decided to stop kvetching about it, capitulate and ignore the clothing on the runway completely. Henceforth, I will devote my coverage to the gals in the front row, the majority of whom are—in sharp contrast to the telegraph-pole models—totally gnome, if not elf. My plan was to ask them questions that they were not equipped to answer and record the results.
My first target was Victoria Beckham, a.k.a. Posh Spice and a personal favorite. “Should Tony Blair get the heave-ho?” was what I planned to ask the former Spice Girl as she exited the Proenza Schouler show at Milk Studios in Chelsea. I sidled up to the for-once-demurely-dressed Victoria and said, “Can I ask you a political question?”
“I’d rather you didn’t!” was her posh, clipped reply. Since she is neither ridiculously tall nor horribly small, I decided that she was not relevant to the season and let the matter rest.
Next was Marc Jacobs, at the Lexington Armory. While I waited for the show to begin, I probed the arriving celebs.
“How tall was Marie Antoinette?” I asked the pint-sized but preggers Sofia Coppola, directrice of the upcoming biopic starring Kirsten Dunst.
“Hmm. They needed ladders to do her hair,” Ms. Coppola replied sweetly, in her signature California stoner-girl lilt. “So I guess she was pretty tall … if you include her hair.”
A foot taller than both of us and standing nearby, I spied U.S. Open winner Maria Sharapova. (Her male counterpart, Roger Federer, was snuggling nearby next to Anna Wintour). I congratulated her on managing to clunk herself on the head with the lid of her trophy after her win. We both laughed uproariously at my quip, after which Scoop Doonan got all journalistic on her ass. “How tall are you?” I hissed, as if I was asking what she thinks of the corruption allegations that have been leveled at Vlad Putin in the last few months.
“I’m 6-foot-2,” Ms. Sharapova replied somewhat smugly. I performed a quick calculation in my head and realized that, with the addition of a six-inch platform boot and a five-inch-high Balenciaga helmet, she could be an Olsen-mangling seven feet-plus.
Then the show began, not nearly as insanely late as usual.
They say that boys don’t proposition girls who wear Marc Jacobs’ schmattas. They accuse Marc Jacobs of making girls look pretty and chic and hip, but not sexy. How silly! Why is the fact that Marc encourages gals to look cool and bohemian ever seen as anything other than a huge plus? Shouldn’t he be showered with accolades for enabling chicks to dress for themselves rather than dressing to increase their shaggability quotient? Aren’t there enough flagrantly tarty frocks in the world already? Shouldn’t he be given some kind of Bella Abzug feminist-empowerment fashion award for helping girls to say no to “ho”?
After seeing Monday night’s spectacular, I would say Mr. Jacobs deserves a truckload of awards. The parade of funky, cool, deconstructed doll-like outfits was one of Marc’s best ever. Wacky, gorgeous and incredibly chic, the clothes shifted my attention 100 percent away from the celebs and back to the garments. It was stunning. Nobody moved. Nobody talked.
Backstage, I asked Winona Ryder what she thought. “This will sound crazy, but I found it very moving,” the tiny star said. She also said she loved the music—a relentlessly looped version of Pachelbel’s Canon—even though it was “a bit Ordinary People.”
As I walked home, in the wrong direction (that pixie Ingrid Sischy, of Interview, thought Lex was Park and pointed me east instead of west), I contemplated the majesty and meaning of Marc. Without the lure of Marc’s show, it’s hard to imagine European editors, or the pixie and giant celebs, schlepping to New York. Without Marc, there is no Fashion Week.
If you see pixie-sized Marc Jacobs walking down the street, you must feel free to demonstrate our collective gratitude by getting down on your knees (if you are tall) and washing his feet with your hair. Yes, maybe you should make certain it’s really him first, but once you are sure, then go ahead and prostrate yourself.
And that’s the long and the short of it.