A walk down the lingerie department of any store shows the “weight” that is placed on big breasts. There is a head-spinning variety of chest contraptions designed for the sole purposes of “enhancing,” “lifting,” “enlarging,” and “amplifying,” the female bosom. Words that conjure up images of torture at a concentration camp are used such as inserts, adhesives and tapes. There is even a bra named “dramatic/extreme lift.” I call it a neck-a-boo, the merger of the boob and neck!
Descriptive culinary words such as “cutlets” are used to achieve the décolletage effect that is apt to describe the ample bosom of culinary goddess Nigella Lawson.
Plastic surgeons are laughing their way to the bank by performing multiple enlargements, enhancements and pronouncements per day. Breast enlargements have become so ubiquitous that you see hoardings and billboards of women laboriously stooping on the expressways flaunting toll free numbers of such clinics; strip malls have breast enhancement clinics alongside of take-away Chinese dim-sum; magazines are splattered with ads for procedures at throw-away prices with very little to no downtime. To add legitimacy to such procedures articles are written as to how breast enlargements can lead to elevation of the self-esteem, self-confidence and self-worth.
YouTube has videos demonstrating a whopping Nine Steps to breast enhancement!! How could it possibly take 9 steps, I mean squeeze, push and voila va-va-voom!!
The old trick-of-the-trade of stuffing toilet paper down your bra for a cheap, non-intrusive lift continues to flourish.
Women’s vernacular consists of phrases such as “filling the dress,” “creating an hourglass silhouette” “perking it up” etc. etc.
There are many facets from which a blog on flat-chested versus “enhanced” chested women can be discussed. However, I will limit my discussion within the parameters of fashion. If enhanced breasts are appealing to you for “lifting” your spirits, “enhancing” your self-esteem or “enlarging” your ego, then Bon Grandes!!
Time for a disclaimer here. Some of you may be thinking right about now that this is a “case of sour grapes” blog for me. Maybe, I the writer of this blog has always brewed a deep-seated resentment for the well-endowed woman due to my biological misfortune of “inability to fill my dress.” Let me reassure my critics, this is not the case. I have always been big-chested and believe me I still find the grapes to be sour!!
The irony is that these “enhanced women” tend to idolize women who are themselves flat-chested!! Most women look at fashion magazines, runway shows and models as an inspiration for beauty and fashion. Flip through any magazine or watch any runway show and you will see model after model with a pancake chest, displaying the latest styles and trends. Fashion runways are strewn with flat-chested models walking sullenly down the ramp.
To add to the irony, most of the large-chested models you may see on the runway or in magazines are usually associated with eroticism and definitely not with style or fashion. Most of such “enhanced women” are either posing for some erotic product such as condoms or in politically correct terms for products related to “horizontally challenged” women. I am sure this is not the effect the fashionable woman is aiming for.
Interestingly, most fashion designers opt only for flat-chested models. The fashion industry lauds flat-chested women. They are an indispensable and integral part of fashion houses. The primary reason is that these women carry off the clothes better than big-chested women. Flat-chested women look modern; they look fashionable and uber stylish. My point is further endorsed by the fact that I have never ever seen a big-chested girl walk down the Grand Palais runway for the Chanel show, or have seen one in a cerebral Prada dress or in a convoluted pose for a Marc Jacobs spread. Now in all fairness, high-end designers do want stick-thin models and unless you defy the norms of nature, it will be an oxymoron to be stick thin and also have big breasts.
I personally have never ever understood the lure flat-chested women have for big breasts. Maybe indeed it is a case of sour grapes. In my opinion big breasts are not fashionable or stylish. They can be erotic, seductive, sexy but significantly hinder your fashion and style choices.
Most clothes do not fit well on big-busted women. They are fashion-restrictive. They hamper a full exploration of fashion as the styles are limited. You are limited to only a few types of necklines and silhouettes, unless you want to walk around looking like you are perpetually ready for an audition for the Playgirl magazine. Stylish, edgy clothing is not designed for big-chested women. Buttons pop constantly and you have to have a limitless supply of safety pins for security purposes.
In addition they even put a damper on enjoyment. Dance moves are limited to avoid looking like a clip from Girls Gone Wild. Sports and aerobics in particular require extreme contraptions.
To top it all, big breasts add weight to the overall frame and no fashionable woman wants that!
In the end, all my blogs return to the running theme of conformity. Conformity dictates being big-breasted; non-conformity states shun the rules. If you are blessed with being flat-chested enjoy it and consider yourself in the elite group of the likes of Kate Moss and Karlie Kloss.
Anish Kapoor is an acclaimed British sculptor with roots in India. He was born in India, but has lived in England for many a decades. His works include bright medleys of deeply pigmented colors. The colors are audacious and daring. He uses reds, yellows, burnt oranges, royal blues, maroons. Such colors are deeply rooted in the culture and fabric of his birthplace, India. It is obvious that he was inspired by his roots.
But, his works also include gigantic stark, bold, curved and metallic forms; almost industrial and space-age in nature. These sculptures are a significant departure from his colored works. Such works are indicative of a shift, an evolution, a progression and an expansion in his work.
I have been discussing inspiration at length in my prior blogs and want to make a shift. I do not want to discuss the “standard application” of inspiration for example from a magazine, website or even a book. True, one can get inspired from anything and everything. The creator of Chanel nail varnishes was inspired by the color on a grocery store bag for creating the Mimosa colored nail vernis (yellow). So, when it comes to inspiration anything and everything can be inspiring as long as you have an open mind.
Part of our inspiration comes from our roots. The place of our birth has a genetic predisposition on our thoughts and behavior. That is why you see Anish Kapoor using deeply pigmented mounds of color in his sculptures. The colors and the actual forms of the mounds are deep rooted in the traditions of India. During the festival of colors called Holi, the Indian bazaars are littered with a psychedelic array of optical colors. The bright blues, fuchsias, reds, oranges, yellows are meant to be besmeared on friends and loved ones in joy and celebration (no, it is not barbaric or offensive, but simply pure fun!)
In addition, the spice markets in India are cluttered with heaps of various shades of red hot chili powder, bright yellow turmeric powder and an array of colors. Anish’s sculptures are very reminiscent of the Holi festival and the colorful spice bazaars of India. He was inspired by his roots.
Well that is all very well and good. But, he just did not stop there. He evolved. He did not stagnate. His took his art form not just a notch higher, but did a paradigm shift by creating industrial looking sculptures. In fact, he recently designed espresso cups for my favorite brand of coffee, Illy. As you will note, there is no semblance of color or of Indian origin in the cup. He released his roots, evolved and made an illusory cup for Illy.
In fashion, art or literature, I have often seen a repetition. The original work is unique and inspired. But subsequently there is a repetition. That is why we see some designers repeating their designs season after season, authors writing books on basically the same story line, a sort of déjà vu, if you will. Painters following the same theme, work after work. Directors directing the same plots movie after movie (no pun intended Hangover 2!) Ironically, if the product becomes commercially successful, the chances of evolution are even less likely as nobody wants to forego a true and tried formula for success.
The point is stagnation leads to decay. Especially in creative fields, evolution leads to new ideas. You simply cannot churn out the same old idea and package it with new marketing. Anish is an example of true creativity as he eschewed inspirational roots for evolution.
In my photo, there is a whiff of my colorful roots of India, but I too eschewed my roots by wearing Church’s men’s oxfords with it. It is a step towards evolution and up-rooting.
In my last blog, I had presented a photo of a model with unearthly long extremities wearing grid-patterned tights. As aptly pointed out by Ms. Ofelia from myintendedlife, her extremities did not look human. She reminded me of an unfinished sketch with an exaggerated form. A draft, if you will.
I recently read the book, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. A most wonderful piece of literature. While reading the book I was struck by the similarity between fashion and architecture.
Both start with a vision. The bolder the vision, the more spectacular the product. Vision leads to a design or draft, followed by construction and then the final execution.
The model with the grid stockings was like an architectural draft-basic, bare-boned but with a distinct sketched vision. She was a proof ready for the final construction/execution.
In both architecture and fashion it is necessary for the creator to have a well-defined, clear and refined vision. Any paucity in the vision will lead to a poorly constructed final product, not aesthetic, bare, vacant and soulless.
Architecture and fashion have a soul. That is why we get moved when we see the ace examples of either. Why do you think millions gasp in awe after seeing the Coliseum in Rome, the pyramids in Egypt, the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the finely chiseled Ajanta Caves in India. These structures are not only grand in form and size, but have the power to make the viewer reflect into the soul of the architect. One can feel the chapped hands of the chiseler, envision the beads of sweat on the brow of the bricklayer, feel the physical ache of the woodworker. Even after the passage of centuries, one can feel the turmoil and joy of the craftsmen.
It is the same in fashion too. Master Couturiers spend hundreds of hours sewing little pearls on a gown with bent necks, stitch the perfect folds of a coat in the dim lights of the studio and attach the most delicate chiffon ruffles to a sleeve using the minutest needle with strained eyes.
In both instances, the master craftsmen are at work displaying the excellence of their respective trades.
Architecture bleeds into fashion. The similarities are a vision, choice of materials, form, functionality and space. Both utilize a play of light and shadow. Both cater to an ambience. Both need a creator who understands constraint and restraint.
I am sharing with you today my interpretation of my favorite architectural marvels with similar fashion designs. Whether the fashion is inspired by architecture or vice versa, is subject to your interpretation.
Taj Mahal and Byzantine Fashion
The Taj Mahal is the greatest example of Mughal/Persian architecture. It is an ode of Emperor Shah Jahan’s eternal love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The structure is deeply rooted in Byzantine history. It was made using the finest white marble, adorned with intricate calligraphy, stone inlays and carvings. The interiors are inlaid with precious gemstones and engraved marble designs. Can you imagine the patience and tenacity required to carve the fine filigree into marble. The structure screams opulence, craftsmanship and decadence. The old wife’s tale goes that the craftsmen who built the Taj Mahal had their hands chopped off such that the structure could not be replicated.
On a lesser draconian level, Chanel’s Byzantine collection reminds me of the opulence of the Taj Mahal. The designs are reminiscent of Mughal/Persian royalty. The finest Couturiers worked on the creation of the garments. The fabric is luxurious, the jeweled embroidery is intricate and the craftsmanship is superlative. There is an element of luxury and richness similar to the Taj Mahal.
Zaha Hadid and Fluidity in Fashion
The world renowned Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid uses space, light and fluidity in her architectural designs. Her architecture is modern and radical. It is intellectual. There is airiness to her structures. No surprise that she was commissioned by Karl Lagerfeld to construct Mobil Art Chanel Pavilion with a fluid, almost in motion dome.
Zaha Hadid has brought architecture to her fashion designs, imparting the same principles of fluidity and motion.
Burj Khalifa and “High” Fashion
Oh to reach such lofty vertiginous heights!! Burj Khalifa in Dubai is one of the tallest man made structure ever built. It is 160 floors. It is a pinnacle example of the power of human capability. It is amazing to see the machinations of the human brain that went into the planning, designing and construction in order to achieve the perfect balance and alignment.
The Alexander McQueen crab-claw heels are a similar example of an aeronautical design feat. Similar planning went into achieving the perfect balance while maintaining the aesthetic beauty.
St. Basil’s Cathedral and Phantasmic Fashion
St. Basil’s in Russia is the most unique and dazzling example of a juxtaposition of architectural colors, spirals and complexity. It seems hallucinatory. I often describe it as dream-like.
Alexander McQueen’s gown on Lady Gaga evokes similar phantasmagoric feelings of surrealism.
Frank Gehry and Deconstructive Fashion
Famous Los Angeles based architect is the master of contemporary architecture. His style has been defined as Deconstructivism. It does not follow an “Order” per se. One of my favorite Gehry architectures is the Hotel Marques de Riscal in Elciego, Spain. It is a supreme example of deconstruction without the grunge effect. There is an Order sans an order in the conventional sense. I particularly like the mix of metallic colors, especially the olive green and shades of purple to mauve.
Deconstruction is a ubiquitous term used in fashion. However, funny as it may sound, deconstruction needs an order to be aesthetic. Otherwise it looks well, deconstructed!
Again the master craftsman McQueen’s ruffled gown reminds me of Gehry’s work. Deconstructed, but not grunge. An example of patent disorder but latent order!
Frank Lloyd Wright and Volume Fashion
Wright, is yet another phenomenal American architect. His style was organic architecture. He is identified with the prairie homes he designed that are prime examples of open space, unity and continuity. He despised the “boxed” in feeling. There was volume in his architecture.
Jil Sanders beautiful clothes are parallel to Wright’s architecture. Jil Sanders is a perfect example of openness in clothing. There is nothing constricting in the clothes, no “boxed” in feeling. Its continuity in uber style.
Friends, I hope you enjoyed my interpretation of the juxtaposition of fashion and architecture. It is a small respite from pre-fabricated homes and mass produced clothing.
Yesterday I wrote about the power of pop culture branding and received such thoughtful comments that it stimulated another blog.
As an illustration of pop culture branding, I wore my t-shirt with “naked” Marc Jacobs promoting the cologne Bang.
A point raised by my readers was that the power of branding can at times supersede the quality of the product. The product does not necessarily have to be the “best” as branding will make-up for any lack. This is a valid point. For instance take Coke, is it truly good for us? Does it bring us good health and help us stay fit? Sure it tastes good and may give us an instant fizz, but it has no intrinsic food value. Yet it is so heavy on branding that even Karl Lagerfeld decided to partner up with Coke and design a limited edition cover for its bottles coming out this month. (If interested, read my earlier blog, “Coke goes Couture.”)
Branding is not just limited to fashion, it seeps into all walks of life. A good example is books. I have bought many a books based on the radio interviews of authors or after reading a vignette of their biography in a periodical. They portray an erudite and intellectual image. If they have some flamboyance or flair in their personalities, it adds to the “X” or “Y” factor that I talked about in my earlier blog. What effect does it have on me? I am compelled by a force beyond my control to type amazon.com and charge the book on my current ongoing account. (Another example of the world becoming a global Mall with accessibility of all products at our fingertips.)
When the books arrive in the brown cardboard packaging, my joy knows no bounds and I get geared to read my latest acquired piece of literature. However, a few chapters or pages into the book, I realize with disdain that this is yet another book that I will add to the escalating “give-away-to-the-library” pile.
Another example is movies. Hollywood exemplifies branding. I am an avid listener of National Public Radio, especially the Film Week Marquee (a Friday critique of the upcoming weekly movies.) I often hear esteemed movie critic, Kenneth Turran condemn the premise of an upcoming movie. Contrary to the review of Kenneth Turran, the very next day I hear how that very movie broke all records at the box-office and soared to unimaginable monetary success. How is this possible? Shouldn’t quality equate with monetary success? Often times it does not. Branding gives it the boost. The actors are branded, the production company is branded and the movie is branded.
An extreme example is cigarettes. Those of you old enough to remember the Marlboro Man, will agree that the Marlboro brand was created based on the rugged and virile image of the man in the hat. The fact that the man in the hat could very well suffer from throat cancer a few years down the road was irrelevant!
However, in order to keep a perfect equilibrium to this discussion, one has to concede that branding is not the be-all and end-all. It is true that designers like Karl Lagerfeld, Betsey Johnson, Marc Jacobs or even Galliano may use their image to promote a brand. But ultimately the essence, the core, the nucleus of the brand needs to be virtuous. The product needs to be good. There must be a consistency in the quality. Rest is all fluff.
Branding is like icing on the cake. If the core of the cake is not scrumptious, icing may help initially, until it is all licked off and the only thing left is a noxious distaste.
It is similar to life. Sure you can talk the talk, walk the walk and even experience a few lucky strokes. But to achieve sustained success the work needs to be put in. Nothing replaces hard work and consistency. No amount of branding will guarantee continued success. Such assurance will only come from the essence of your work.
That is why brands such as Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, Prada have sustained the dips and tips of economies, stock markets and changing cultural times and yet emerged triumphant.
Karl Lagerfeld, is the true Head of Chanel and the “Head” around my neck.
During my trip to China I saw this necklace at a store. It was lying right next to the necklace with the face of Lady Gaga.
It was love at first sight. To be precise, it was lust at first sight. I was so mesmerized by the necklace, that even though I did not have my credit card with me, I had to borrow my friends’ for payment.
Talk about the epitome of satisfying the Id-True Instant Gratification.
What was this force beyond my control that compelled me to buy the necklace? Such a potent force that I had to resort to borrowing (thank goodness my shopping compulsion has not reached a level of begging and stealing yet, as in the expression “beg, borrow or steal.”)
What was it about this man with the silver-haired pony tail, high collars and glasses that captivated me?
In this instance, it is the bewitching rock star appeal of Lagerfeld. He has become deeply embedded in the strains of pop-culture and acquired iconic status.
Such cultural domination of fashion designers is a reflection of the changing times of fashion. Take for instance Marc Jacobs or Alber Elbaz of Lanvin or Miuccia Prada. They all have their signature trademark personalities and styles.
The recently sculpted body, with the day old beard is the signature of Marc Jacobs.
Alber Elbaz is high on the cuteness factor, with the moon-face, bow tie and round glasses. Alber Elbaz brands Lanvin.
The shy, head-band wearing Miuccia Prada is the stamp of Prada.
In the past designers used to be mostly behind the scenes. They had an aura of mystery, a certain je ne sais quoi. Sure, we heard their names such as Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta or Dior and may have even seen an occasional photo of them attending a benefit, but their personas were not ingrained in the public psyche such as the ones in today’s times.
In current times, simply designing beautiful clothes is not enough. It is mandatory for designers to acquire an “X” or now a “Y” factor for branding purposes. It is essential for the designer to have a flamboyant, autographed personality.
The modern consumer is global, smart and savvy. They shop all over the world. With the advent of web-shopping the globe has become one giant Mall accessible to all, at any time. There is laser sharp competition.
With a whirlwind of choices at the fingertips of the consumers, what motivates them to opt for one brand over the other? Is it the quality, the stitching, the tailoring, the pricing or is it owning a product designed by a pop-culture icon. It boils down to the “extra” that a brand has to offer. The minds of the modern consumer, especially the younger ones is complex. They grew up in the web surfing age and jump from one “icon” to the other. Why should they then not choose a product designed by a famous pop culture “icon.” Nine out of ten times they will opt for an item with some pop-culture value, even if it is just a t-shirt with a silhouette of the designer imprinted on it. Or in my case a necklace with the “Head” of Chanel.
That my friends is the power of pop culture branding!
Psychology was my major in college. I was quite mesmerized by the Freudian theories of Id, Ego and Superego.
The Id theory is the part of the personality predicating on the pleasure principle. Instant gratification.
Speaking of instant gratification, I was passing by the Louis Vuitton store the other day and saw a horde of people inside. There was commotion and chaos. Kids were running around and adults looked frazzled. The first thought that crossed my mind was oh my goodness; there is a mob inside the store!
Usually one does not expect to see droves of people inside stores with LV kind of exclusivity factor. You expect to see a select few carousing the products in their well-heeled soles and under the very watchful eye of the security guard. The tones are hush and the sales staff move around stealthily in the background in their dark sleek uniforms and perfectly gelled hair.
So why the radical change? Why do I hear sounds of babies howling rather than hush mellifluous tones? Why do I see baby bottles on the counters rather than strategically placed trinkets to lure the buyer to buy add-ons “just because” along with the other hefty four-figure purchases.
Such swarms are seen in and expected to be seen in more “mass friendly” stores. Curiosity got the better of me and I peeked inside. To my utter shock what did I see? A line, yes a queue of people waiting patiently to pay for the “exclusive” four figures and up monogramed bags! There was surrealism to the moment.
I was befuddled, confused and perturbed. Aren’t we going through the worst global economic crisis of all times? Isn’t the employment rate in the U.S. the highest since the Great Depression? Isn’t the crashing Greek economy threating to cast a dark shadow of doom over the entire economy of the European continent? But here, right before my eyes, straight in my ocular field I was witnessing a long queue of people clamoring to have thousands of dollars charged on their credit cards for a few alphabetic symbols.
Were these people simply succumbing to satisfying their Id personality? Seeking instant gratification. Or were they endorsing their status in society via the monogrammed letters, giving them a feeling of success and a sense of having arrived?
Most likely it is a mixture of both, satisfying the Id and an endorsement of societal status. After all, aren’t the two interchangeable?
While in the Western world, there is an economic crisis, in the remaining parts of the world there is an economic boom. The BRIC nations, Brazil, Russia, India and China are going through an unparalleled monetary upward swing. The buying power of the so-called middle-class is rising exponentially. Such amassing of wealth has given rise to a heightening in the Id personality. And how is the Id gratified? On a base level, by an acquisition of Brand products.
On one of my recent visits to India, I was amazed to see the power of the Brands on the psyche of the masses. The worth of a person is judged according to the Brands he or she is wearing. For example the Brand of purse she is carrying or the wallet he is whipping out. There is plenty of disposable income and the Brands are happily obliging by rushing to satiate the deep hunger of masses with increasingly deep pockets.
There is most likely minimal to zero knowledge regarding the rich history, the origin, the culture or the value of the Brand, but there is definite knowledge of the power the Brand wields in society. Such consumer may mis-pronounce an elite Brand such as Hermes and de-value it by rhyming it with a viral genital disease, (you know what I mean) but hey everyone recognizes the giant lock on the bag which will lead to the unanimous verdict of having arrived, thereby satisfying the Id.
Such consumers use their Brand possessions strategically. The monogrammed Brands usually “come-out” during group gatherings such as parties, swanky club get-togethers, ladies lunches etc. The Brands are not used for solitary occasions. I mean, why use a Brand when nobody can see it.
This makes me wonder. Was the Brand purchased solely for display? Is the value of the Brand solely to exhibit ones status in society? Does the Brand have absolutely no worth to the user as an individual?
If such is the case, in my opinion the Brand is de-valued.
The symbols are meant for enjoyment-the LV, the H, the two G’s, the two C’s, the EA. They most certainly satisfy the Id. But let’s move to a higher level of Ego and leave behind the superficiality of merely the possessory and display value of the alphabets. How about exploring the history and origin of the alphabets. Learn how a poor cobbler in the remote village of France started the business, one hide at a time, hand stitching each bag to the point of utmost perfection. How an empire was built from a mom and pop owned family business. Learn the vision of the brand, its culture, its ethics.
Use it for your own enjoyment and think of its rich history while carrying it to the supermarket where you don’t expect to meet any one from your social circle.
Then you will truly derive “added-value” from your Brand possession. You will satisfy not just the Id but the Ego.
Some may argue that even though interpretation may be individual, certain universal basics, a foundation, an order needs to be there for the inception of art. Beyond that the artist can take creative license to express his or her views.
Non-conformist that I am, I am willing to go as far as to even dispense with the above theory of foundational art. After all, if there are universal parameters, dictums and precedence then where is the originality, the expression and the true tour de force art.
My most cherished designer Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel directed the latest film, The Tale of a Fairy for the 2011-12 cruise collection. As is the signature of the master couturier the movie is dripping, oozing and drenched in luxury almost bordering on hedonism. Whether it is the colonial Parisian mansion with the silent-footed bevy of maids and butlers or the “actors” walking in the house with a cascade of Chanel pearls around their long necks wearing signature white and black Chanel pumps making their 6 feet lanky frames reach towering and withering heights. Whether it is the impromptu trip to Monte Carlo or an almost on-the-verge of an orgy on the French Riviera. It is all there.
There are beautiful girls kissing each other, a waif who looks like an angel and an element of surrealism. In fact, all the elements of a good Hollywood blockbuster are blended into the film.
So then what is so wrong, so very wrong with the film? Well, the simple answer is the lack of a story, a script and a backbone to the film. The story centers around three women, one who is hysterical through the whole movie, the other solely there to provide the international element with her well-modulated British accent and the third for the hot and steamy girl kiss. The story borders on being cheesy and entering into the realm of being ridiculous.
What redeems the movie is the physicality of the cast. Two of the lead actors are in their mid and late 40s. The girls are androgynous without the essential prerequisite Hollywood bust and lip enhancement. It is antithesis to Hollywood casting. It defies all traditional norms of established standards of beauty.
The silver-haired, 40-some year old Kristen McMenaney with her pierced nose and bouffant hair gives any 20 year-old run for her money.
Freja Beha in her underwear is reminiscent of Kate Moss in her very young and best days for the Calvin Klein ads.
In summary, even when Karl Lagerfeld does something less than his trademark perfection, a little oops, a faux pas-somehow it is interpreted as art. In this film, the physical attributes of the cast of “actors” redeems Lagerfeld’s movie from entering the Girls gone Wild genre.
Marriage fever is in the air. The infectious buzz/bug started with the planning of the much publicized Royal wedding. It became full blown with the global telecast of the Royals walking down the aisle at Westminster Abbey. It is now simmering with a plethora of “bride” movie releases such as Something Borrowed and the hugely anticipated movie Bridesmaids. Of course, one can never undermine the power of the marathon re-runs of “bridesmaids” series on Sex in the City on TBS. I suppose the corporate business of marriage/being a bride is basking in the hues of the Royal wedding sunset. I see no wrong in maximizing monetization of marriage. After all we live in a corporate society.
I am not one of those people who cry at weddings and find everything oh-so divine from the overly saccharine cake to the ubiquitous Cooks champagne. I am a cynic by birth and a bit too late to change. However, I do ponder and reflect over things often. I try to scratch the surface to uncover the truth, the veracity, and the real deal. What good does it do for me, you ask? Well, that is to be left for another blog at another time. Suffice it to say, except for a deep-rooted feeling of disillusionment, dissatisfaction and disenchantment, nothing much!!
So, in keeping with my core nature, I had to scratch the surface of marriage as well. Marriage initially originated from social, financial and cultural needs. In the olden times marriages took place to unite powerful kingdoms at odds with each other. It was used to amass wealth and power between two kingdoms at war, marriage served as the uniting bond or glue. A sort of a merger between two corporations if you must want a modern analogy.
Marriages were also performed for other very practical reasons such as financial dependence of women. Women were not financially independent and needed a man to provide for them. Another reason for marriages was to protect women and for their safety. For example, when empires were invaded by the enemies, there was looting, plundering, pillaging and raping of women-in such times women needed a protector in the form of a husband.
Of course, in our modern society the definition of marriage has significantly changed. Women are financially independent and do not need a husband as a “protector.” After all don’t we all carry pepper spray in our Chanel totes and take kick-boxing classes in our gyms!
Women have their own portfolios and IRAs to fall back on in their silver years. The cultural pressure of being an “old spinster” is dissipating slowly as well, though not so much in Eastern cultures. For companionship there is Facebook, Twitter, match.com and all sorts of social media (not the healthiest form of companionship, I must state.)
And hey, even for sexual gratification and procreation who needs a husband!! Ask Samantha from Sex in the City for any tips!! Ah women have become so self-sufficient, self-serving, self this and self that.
Despite all this liberation, marriage does hold an enchantment, a lure, an attraction for most women. It is a day when she/the bride is the sole center of attraction. It is a day that makes all women feel special. There is apprehension and excitement as the bride embarks on a new journey. Whether a bride is getting married in a 7-star hotel in Dubai or a tiny village in India; whether a bride is wearing an $80,000 Christian Lacroix wedding gown or a white chador wrapped around her ; whether the cuisine of all continents is served at her wedding with special chefs being flown from each country or a home cooked communal meal-all brides primp, prune, rub and scrub to enhance their prettiest and most alluring qualities.
Marriage serves as an equalizer, despite ones wealth or poverty, despite ones social status or the lack thereof, the equalizing element being the bride.
It is intriguing to study brides in various cultures. You have the traditional Western bride with the quintessential “fairy tale ” wedding, the long white gown with the train and veil; the cake and champagne; the bridesmaids and bouquets.
Then you have a traditional Indian bride who is synonymous with Indian blue-blooded royalty, decked in gold jewels with henna on her hands and coyness as her signature trademark.
(Although with the emancipation of women, in a recent publication I saw a traditional bride huffing and puffing on a monstrous cigar and a cooler one chugging a beer…cheerios!!)
The traditional Tunisian or Turkish bride with the intricate headdress!
The Afghani bride laden under the heavily embroidered purdah-the weight of the clothing and jewelry serving as a symbol for the oppressive times that lie ahead of her.
And of course the same sex brides/bride-groom weddings.
All in all, it is a day of beauty, jubilation and rejoicing. What lies ahead of the bride….Allah Alim (God knows best!)
Karl Lagerfeld and Diet Coke. What is the common denominator? Skinny silhouette, hi-style appeal and quirkiness.
Karl Lagerfeld designed the cover of the limited edition Diet Coke bottles coming out in June. Yes, Diet Coke has upped the style factor and is now clothed in a haute couture wrap of swirly psychedelic candy stripes, kaleidoscopic polka dots and dizzying stars. It appears that Coke and Mr. Lagerfeld are trying to invoke a hallucinatory and phantasmagoric experience for the drinker. Trying to give us “commoners” a heady rush!! (With the upcoming nuptials of the blue blooded in London, all of a sudden I have become conscious of the social class system.)
I like that Mr. Lagerfeld used basic colors such as white, black, grey with a prudent dash of cotton candy pink in his design. The cover results in a pop artsy image, something maybe a modern day Andy Warhol would design.
Being the master of the business savvy fashion world, Lagerfeld knows it is all about branding. What can be a more powerful brand than an image of himself! Hence, he places a signature caricature of his “skinny” silhouette standing erect, further selling the concept of “drink Diet Coke and be skinny.”
What can we expect next from the hi-priest of fashion? Possibly a bottle of Moët et Chandon clothed in a quilted leather cover with a chained bottle stopper…a la bubbly Chanel experience!
What is the message in the bottle? Life is merely a mirage, it is a fantasy-drink Diet Coke, live the dreamy haute world of fashion and most importantly be skinny!
Lately the runways are fuming with “smoking” models, literally “smoking” on the runways.
One can see the super-thin models walking in the buff and emanating a “puff” from their perfectly matte or super-glossed pout, depending whether you are at Yves Saint Laurent or Gucci.
I was a bit astounded and bewildered,as I thought to myself, unbeknownst to me, did the Surgeon General revise the much touted cigarette warning? My query was quickly answered in the negative by the omniscient Google.
Then why am I seeing models running rampant on the slicked runways with a cigarette dangling from their lips? From Kate Moss for Louis Vuitton Fall 2011 to Lady Gaga for Mugler show. Melbourne fashion week had models dressed as “women of luxury” with billowing swirls of smoke rising between their delicate lacquered fingers in a smoky salon environment. Cult blogger Bryanboy is seen flaunting a drag from his ciggy.
The most likely reason is that the fashion industry is in a perpetual quest of the next “it” concept; the next “unparalleled” runway show and the next “shock inspiring” campaign. What better way to grab the attention of the consumer than using a prop that is synonymous with notoriety. A prop that can be the subject of much heated debates and is counter-cultural. It truly can be called the “it” prop. (Disclaimer: I am not promoting (or not) cigarettes, but merely analyzing the wide use of cigarette as a prop on runways.)
Another reason for using cigarettes as props is because fashion is cyclical. It is like karma, it is bound to come back. Flares come back, platforms come back, and even big padded shoulders have made a come-back. So, why not cigarettes. This season there has been a surge of the 70s. Gucci, Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, Tom Ford all have hustled down to the 70s and brought back ideas for their respective lines. And what could be more synonymous with the 70s than smoking.
So, in summary, without making this blog political or for that matter medical by weighing in on the pros and cons (well, mostly cons) of smoking, it is fair to say that the fashion industry is always on the abyss to find ways to “shock.” Sooner or later, we all run out of shock ideas and revert back in time to re-visit old ideas and re-package them.
What will we see next…a model rolling a marijuana joint while walking in Eiffel tower-esque Pierre Hardy heels!! Now that will be trippy, no I mean it in the most literal sense!