Last week, a crazy lady with a horrid wig and no teeth chased me down 14th Street shouting, “Hey baby! Check me out! I’ve got good taste! REAL good taste!”
Her outburst was provoked by my new lightweight glen plaid summer jacket, a couture piece designed by the house of Moschino. The entire back is boldly emblazoned with the phrase “Good Taste Doesn’t Exist.” You can read it half a block away, even if you have been drinking vats of cheap wine all afternoon.
“Good Taste Doesn’t Exist” was one of many aphorisms coined by the late, great Franco Moschino. “Fashion Is Full of Chic” is another.
When, back in the day, the much-missed Franco first incorporated the “Good Taste” phrase into his oeuvre, people were much smarter than they are now. Our brains had yet to become corroded by Paris Hilton, Ryan Seacrest, Oxycontin and Kim Kardashian’s bottom.
Back in the 1980s, the good people of planet Earth understood that Moschino’s intention was subversive. He was spotlighting the oppressive and fraudulent nature of the concept of good taste—i.e., good taste is totally subjective; i.e., one person’s bedazzled pink nylon jumpsuit is another person’s gray flannel chalk-stripe suit, etc., etc. Got it?
Now, some 15 years after Franco Moschino’s death, the inhabitants of planet Earth are too busy tweeting and twatting and twoodling to grasp this concept, as evidenced by the fact that every time I wear my incendiary jacket, I am besieged by strangers wishing to reassure me, as the clochard with the thunderbird breath did, that good taste definitely exists because they themselves possess it. Most noteworthy: More often than not, their ejaculations include a disdainful reference to Ed Hardy, as in, “Oh, God! That Ed Hardy crap is such bad taste!”
Why Ed Hardy? Why now?
Ed Hardy, for those of you who have been living on Mars, is a fabulously gaudy fashion phenomenon created by designer Christian Audigier. Whether you know the name or not, you have seen the product a million times: Those signature tattoo-inspired T-shirts and be-rhinestoned accoutrements are a staple of reality shows of the Rock of Love genre. The depressed husband on Jon and Kate Plus 8 is invariably rocking a ferocious Hardy T-shirt.
The dotted line to reality TV has made Monsieur Audigier and his clothing line the bête noire of the fashion cognoscenti. The hipsters who wear Current Elliott jeans and tote Alexander Wang vest-bags would rather jump in a lake of boiling cheddar than adorn themselves with cheesy Hardy-wear.
Am I wearing it? Not yet. Do I defend it? Absolutely!
Criticizing Ed Hardy for being cheesy is like saying that Elvis was “flashy” or that Liberace was “tacky.” It’s a giant case of DUH! Of course it’s cheesy! That’s the whole point, you doo-doo heads. Ed Hardy is fromage-y and hedonistic and naughty and badass and—the ultimate crime in the world of haute fashion—Ed Hardy is FUN!
If you do not believe me, check out the gorgeous Web site: the bodacious beach towels! The hallucinogenic hoodies! The shagadelic shades! Bonjour! The unrestrained, bedazzled, heavy-metal-goes-Bollywood aesthetic rivals the gaudy heyday of Gianni Versace.
Instead of knocking it, the style arbiters of the world should be grateful. Monsieur Audigier has done a real mitzvah to the insecure fashion cognoscenti: He has given them something about which to feel superior. If Ed Hardy did not exist, they would have to invent it in order to get their snooty fix.
Adding to the roiling Hardy fromage fondue is the recent news that Monsieur Audigier is planning to purchase the Bev Hills crib where Michael Jackson popped his sabots. He is also—hang onto your wheels of brie!—planning to produce a Michael Jackson clothing line.
Before you start blathering on about the tastelessness of this idea, remember what Diana Vreeland said: “A little bad taste is like a nice splash of paprika. We all need a splash of bad taste—it’s hearty, it’s healthy, it’s physical. No taste is what I’m against.”
Pass the Gorgonzola!
Follow Simon Doonan via RSS.