February 15, 2004
Fashion is perhaps both the highest and lowest of the art forms. On the low it is inescapable, nearly everyone wears clothes and the clothes they where inevitably communicate. Perhaps its no surprise that most people run from this creative opportunity, wearing only what it takes to go unnoticed amongst their peers, in the process broadcasting their tribal identities.
On the high though, fashion is impossibly rarified and encoded. There are apparently only several hundred individuals in the world both wealthy and inclined enough to actually buy regularly from the couture collections. While I'm not aware of the legitimate history of our present fashion system, one can sense the strong links back to the courts of Europe, France in particular.
Pretenses aside, a fashion show is as much a temporary autonomous court as it is a way to show clothes. The structure is better designed for seeing social status then actually watching the lowly models act as mobile clothes hangers. The hierarchy is clearly demarcated in the seating arrangements, themselves arranged perfectly to look at everyone else. No opera glasses needed, its all there in the open. You barely need to pretend to watch the show, half the court is ten feet away on the other side of the runway.
The models themselves are another story. Faces' ice cold, eyes focused several miles outside the room, the walk rigid and robotic. Dehumanized for the court, lucky to be there in some form at all. If they play the game right, they one day too can be seated like a courtier.
The modeling system itself is as much about lifting the fashion nobles ideas of beauty out of the lower classes and injecting it into their own microcosm. Most models are paid little, but compensated in more devious manners. They are perhaps the last social group trained to walk and act, put through a finishing school. Much of their small wages gets funneled towards the agency's network, photographs, portfolios, postcards, agency owned apartments in city centers. In turn they get clothes, and party invites. Dressed up and trained, then wisked into the world of nightclubs where getting a table means spending buying $300 bottles of liquor. Work this space right and the model just may, with luck and skill wind up one of those few hundred wealthy and inclined enough to afford that couture.Posted by William Blaze at February 15, 2004 08:27 PM | TrackBack