There seem to be a lot of references to food in fashion these days, such as the supermarket in the Chanel show. Is it now fashionable to eat?
Charlotte, by email
Ha ha ha – you funny! Yeah, SURE eating is fashionable, Charlotte, if by “eating” you mean “counting chia seeds, calculating your glycemic load and banging on about how you let your children eat absolutely anything as long as it has no sugar”. Sure, that’s totally fashionable! But eating anything your grandparents would recognise as actual food? No – that will never be fashionable, not even among the Cool Girls. The Cool Girl is a species identified in the best bit of Gillian Flynn’s mega-seller Gone Girl, which refers to a woman who insists she’s not like other women – instead, she’s a man’s fantasy. So as well as loving “football, poker, dirty jokes and burping”, the Cool Girl “jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth … while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot”.
Kate Moss is undoubtedly fashion’s ultimate Cool Girl, with her love of all things mucky and messy, but even she comes out with Karl Lagerfeld-lite anti-food epigrams such as: “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” Cara Delevingne and Jourdan Dunn are doing their best to be the Cool Girls these days, but not even they have been able to knock “miserable self-denial” off the top perch in the old “What looks fashionable now” charts. I blame Lagerfeld. And Gwyneth Paltrow.
But to your point about food, Charlotte: truly, junk food will be the hottest trend next season. As you say, there was the Chanel show last month, which took place in a phoney supermarket in which all the products were Chanel-branded (French for “carb-free”). At the Moschino show, designer Jeremy Scott, a man for whom the phrase “bad taste” is merely another way of saying “awesome taste!”, had some models dressed like McDonald’s employees and others in gowns that appeared to be made out of giant chocolate bars. Accessories designer Charlotte Olympia has made handbags for next season that resemble Chinese takeaway boxes, while Anya Hindmarch has got ahead of the trend by making handbags that look like crumpled crisp packets for this season. And if you think no one would buy an empty crisp-packet-shaped handbag that costs £995, then you don’t know fashion.
Now, two responses are available to you. To keep things simple and quick, I’ll write them out for you:
1. The fashion response
Now, isn’t this just DARLING? This is what fashion should do at its best: take everyday objects and re-imagine them in a new and exciting way, showing an appreciation of the original design, encouraging us to look at them anew. It is comfort fashion, in that it’s riffing on designs and logos familiar to all of us, in most cases from our childhood, so it prompts a delightful fizz of sentimentality sizzled through with wit. But it is, of course, also ironic fashion in that it is celebrating the mundane, which totally disproves anyone’s claim that fashion is in any way elitist.
For so long fashion has been about bling and ostentation and this, the celebration of the ordinary, like that delightful normcore trend, subverts that. Also, now that high and low fashion mix so indistinguishably, with Chanel making trainers and J Crew making trousers that cost £895, it feels right for Moschino to riff on McDonald’s. It’s also an expression of collective experience in a fragmented world: everyone will recognise the McDonald’s sign so everyone will have the same reaction to that dress – isn’t that lovely?
2. The sentient human’s response
Now, isn’t this just DISGUSTING? This is like something from Zoolander 2, with models frolicking around in chocolate-bar wrappers to the delight of celebrities and fashion editors who probably haven’t seen sugar since 1995.
It’s reminiscent of that time two years ago when Jil Sander made a paper bag and sold it for £185, but worse, because cheap food has class associations that a paper bag doesn’t. This isn’t just stupid fashion, proving that some people will buy anything if it’s by a designer; it’s fashion as made by Marie Antoinette, with designers making insanely expensive versions of food products that are far too common for them ever to think about eating.
There’s something “Oooh, takeaway boxes – how fascinatingly prole! Let’s make fancy ones. Won’t that be a hoot?” about it all. Any idea that this kind of fashion is any less elitist than a metallic Louis Vuitton Speedy bag is absurd. It’s hard to think of a louder clarion call for the revolution than an empty crisp packet, cast in gold tone, being sold for almost a grand.
It is nothing like normcore, which is more Nathan Barley than Zoolander, down to the fact that “normcore” was coined by a trend-forecasting collective called, I kid you not, K-Hole. High-fashion junk food is pure Derek Zoolander. Normcore celebrates the genuinely mundane. This fashion junk food nonsense says that takeaway boxes are fabulous but only if they’re made by a designer – and isn’t McDonald’s chic (employee lawsuits aside)?!?!?!?!? Vive la revolution.
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