After a Fashion

When did the concept of breaking in jeans become obsolete?

THE RANT I am adamantly opposed to paying people to make you look messy. You do not need to pay people to make you look messy, you can do that all by yourselves. Not that I'm advocating that messy business in any way, shape, or form, mind you, I just don't think you should pay people to help you look like that. The way I understand it, you pay people to make you look better, not worse. This rant extends from ratty, beat-up clothing that is designed to look ratty, to some aesthetician's smeary, apocalyptic view of make-up, to my favorite thorn-in-my-side: messy hair. The spring runway shows were littered with ripped, faded jeans, torn T-shirts, and shredded sweaters, makeup that could be mistaken for bruising, and hair that is ... well, we covered the hair a few weeks back, didn't we? Do not buy into it again. We are not emotionally prepared for a return to acid-washed jeans, when they are still available off the rack at Target. When did the concept of breaking in jeans become obsolete? And what designers are calling "a fond look at punk," is in reality, the ultimate expression of design laziness. Punk remains with us everywhere, especially places like Austin, where folks are loathe to give up any trend that they embrace, and what was once shocking and exciting has aged badly into a look as ridiculous as that of another prevalent Austin look, that of the hippie. Enough with the tattoos, piercings, ragged clothes, and butchered hair. It's not a fashion statement anymore, and it certainly doesn't represent a rebellion of any kind anymore, except maybe at your parents' house, so get over it.

CATWALKING At the first fashion show in which Miuccia Prada introduced her "lower-end" Miu Miu collection, I was privileged to be hired as a dresser. I was assigned to a lovely British girl named Cecilia, but more importantly, the model dressing six feet away from us was Naomi Campbell. The word among the dressers was that the notoriously demanding Miss Campbell, who had been banned forever from the runways of certain designers, had to be watched every minute so she didn't steal the clothes and wigs. Perhaps she is just overcome by the beauty of the outfit or maybe the amount of champagne served backstage to the models ... The cornerstone of fashion reporting, Elsa Klensch for CNN's Style, took us to Milan for the Spring/Summer 2000. Valentino's collection, as usual, is lovely, lovely and presents an exotic look that is incredibly soft and always beautiful. Never one to lapse into much trendiness, Valentino has always presented his own view of femininity that never varies much in any direction, but is an excellent example of old-school couture. Loveliness aside, every time I see him speak, it strikes me that he would be extremely difficult and unpleasant to work for. The hooded eyes and pursed lips have a sort of internationally queeny body language that says, "I eat fashion assistants for breakfast." But as talented and successful as he is, he can eat anything he wants ... Gucci's Tom Ford has unveiled a pretty dull Spring 2000 collection, with the obvious intent of rejecting the tawdry excess of recent seasons. Every time you open a fashion magazine, says Ford, there are "flowers, feathers, beads, and spangles and patterns and color and stuff." It's true, he's already done that "stuff," but his collection could use a few more of those items to bring it alive. He relied a little too heavily on combinations of real python and printed python that looked mismatched, but his very long wide flares that cover the skyscraper stacked heels are fabulous and exactly the sort of Seventies detail that can be made to look fresh again. The Style Avatar applauds Mr. Ford for meeting the rigid requirements for pleasing proportions ... Among those still doing flowers, feathers, beads and fringe, Dolce & Gabbana present a rock & roll collection that is wild and vivid, with moments of brilliance, even though they clearly disagree with me about the crotch-grazing hemline issue ... Armani was disappointing in his major foray into using prints and patterns and such vivid color. It just didn't look Armani-ish, and overlooks all the hallmarks of styling that make his product so identifiable ... And then there's Prada, who showed some improvement in styling and construction, and may someday earn the respect and success she has been so freely given. But, then again, can you argue with someone who built a fortune of selling zillions of little nylon handbags for $900 a piece?

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