LETTERS FROM LONDON
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
1 March 2015
All Mouth and No Trousers

"Who (sic) are you wearing?" should be "What are you wearing?" now that
fashion has gone 'gender-neural'? What? You didn't know?  Men in dresses,
women in suits? Designers have embraced the concept and some department
stores have followed suit (I know…).

Rather feminine designer-to-the-affluent, Alice Temperley feels "wearing a man's
suit gives me confidence and makes me feel more in control". Oh dear. "When I
received my MBE I wore high-waisted trousers with a cropped tuxedo jacket and
a trilby." Hmmm. I'm finding that all a bit sad.

Happily for Alice, London, Milan, Paris did gender-neutral A/W 2015. Acne has
come out with scarves reading ‘Gender Equality’, J.W Anderson Menswear
Spring/Summer 2014, Raf Simons Menswear Spring/Summer 2014, Gucci
Menswear Autumn/Winter 2015, Prada, Givenchy and Saint Laurent (a memory-
check coming: Le Smoking Tuxedo Autumn/Winter 1966...remember that...of
course you do) have all featured both men and women together on the catwalk
wearing interchangeable outfits - a sort of guessing game: guess the gender.

Pink...until now a horrible gender-determining colour, skirt-length shirts...
dresses to some, pussy-bow blouses...not the best phrase is it? chiffon...so
floaty, all worn by men. Picture that. Now picture this. Women wore the
trousers...new? really?...naval-style overcoats...hmmm...shirts with ties...nothing
new here is it? Not so convincing women dressed as men. For decades women
have dressed as men. Miuccca Prada: "I think the combination. It is more
'today'" - male and female models together, side-by-side sharing the catwalk.
Mon dieu! Comment moderne! Oh. I should have said molto modern.

‘Modern’ department store Selfridges is so convinced in the 'new' gender-
bending that they will devote three floors of retail space to gender confusion with
the opening March 1st. They announced: “It is something that we have definitely
seen coming for a while. It is no secret. It is out there and it is quite zeitgeist-y,”
said creative director of Selfridges Linda Hewson. “What we have noticed from
a retail perspective is a lot of women are shopping on the men’s floors…We
want to take our customers on a journey where they can shop and dress without
limitations or stereotypes. A space where clothing is no longer imbued with
directive gender values, enabling fashion to exist as a purer expression of 'self'."

Ah. The journey to self-expression via clothes. Does that mean we can go back
to clothing as means of self-expression rather than copy celebrity-dressing as
the model? If only.

But don’t get too excited, the pop-up shops will only run through to April. All
mouth and no trousers? You could say so.

Will this fashion movement lead to equality of the sexes? Ha! Dream on and on
and on and on and on.


No Cape-walk

No cape-walk on the catwalk then? Madge's backward fall while performing
"Watch me stumble, I'm going to carry on" (don’t you just love irony?) made the
boring Brit Awards less boring. But then, what wouldn't have really.

Although the set design was brilliant - shame about the show. Yawn.... Paloma
doing an Oscar acceptance speech (we still like her) a bit like that 'You like me.
You really, really like me' - remember that one? If not. It was Sally Fields.
Remember her? Ellie Goulding acting like an idiot didn't keep us from falling over
from utter ennui after an unconstrained cringe response. Thank you Madge.
However, pity the poor dresser who tied the ties of Madonna's Armani cape too
tightly. Surely in hiding.


It Remains To Be Seen

If in hiding, the fugitive may be invisible. OK. Invisible in flash photographs.
Really. A San Francisco based clothing company specialising in inventive
fashion, Betabrand, has created nearly invisible clothing. No really. They have
named their collection
Flashback. Clever but possibly not what Madonna’s
dresser would want to experience.

Here’s how it works: glass nanospheres (don’t you just love nanotechnology) are
bonded to the fabric and act as little reflective lenses, which gives the clothes
their shine. Steven Wheeler, a senior designer explains: "It's taking light and
shoving it right back into the camera, which is what blows up the exposure.”
Indeed. Ghostly silhouettes are all that are revealed. Cool, huh? Now don’t you
want one of those gender-bending tailored suits retailing at $520? You know you
do. Dresses for men then?
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