Paris Fashion Week recently concluded. All the big names were there; even Banana Republic arrived with their new line. K & K (Kim and Kanye) made an extended appearance; as did Simon Porte Jacquemus, who is billed as "one of Paris' hottest young designers."
Jacquemus' designs, featuring white, green, grey and black resembled chic homelessness more than fashion, being a mishmash of irregularly sized bits of cloth affixed in a variety of patterns. What really made his show bizarre was the nudity. His models strolled down the runway with one or both breasts exposed. Many of the models sported brown paper masks, which served two functions: one, to block out the models' beautiful faces and, two, to focus attention on the bared breasts.
Jacquemus equated his show with child-like sensibilities, saying, "I like this randomness."
This brings up the question of nudity - exposed breasts - at a fashion show. Is nudity part and parcel of fashion or was this merely an attempt to gain attention, like Ozzy Osbourne biting off the head of a bat at a rock concert?
Admittedly, fashion is art and the nude human form has long been regarded as art. And even more importantly, fashion is about many things, but primarily fashion is concerned with two things: sex and status. In other words, fashion is all about advertisement. Here I am look at me. I am beautiful, sexy, wealthy, etc. There is nothing wrong with that. Just imagine how boring life would be without fashion and sex.
That being said, Jacquemus' show looked more like Friday night at a strip club in Detroit. Let's face it this was Paris Fashion Week - the Event. If a designer wants to stand out he has to push the envelope. The best way to accomplish that is to get some beautiful models and have them expose their breasts. Fashion magazines do it all the time. They search for a glamorous name and have her take her clothes off. It sets them apart from the run-of-the-mill fashion magazines.
Simon Porte Jacquemus
Simon Porte Jacquemus is a French designer. In 2010, after quitting a creative director's assistant job in similar haste, he launched his own line out of his apartment, often sketching ideas while riding the Metro. Yet since debuting his first collection in the spring of 2013, the clothes have stood out. | Photo: Archives |
What Jacquemus did wasn't porn, but it wasn't fashion. Fashion implies clothing that someone would wear, even if just once. Does anyone imagine that a big-name movie star is going to arrive at the Academy Awards strutting down the red-carpet in white slacks with both breasts exposed? Of course not; clothing is meant to heighten sensuality. It accomplishes this by increasing sex appeal by ostensibly diminishing it, i.e. by covering it up. Fashion enhances the wearer's physical charms, which in turn excites the imagination.
Fashion is ever-evolving. Designers desire to excel. They do this by being ascetic, austere, devout, flagrant, simplistic, extravagant, and on and on. They take these attributes to an astonishing extreme. No designer wants to be categorized, thus their 'style' transforms constantly. Unfortunately, in his attempt to eschew categorization Jacquemus generated a nuance of uneasiness. Gratuitous nudity used simply to shock and astonish is a false boon because sex is a cultural construct. And until the construct deconstructs, taking on a different energy and direction, fashion will continue to make a virtue of sartorial camouflage.