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I experienced a surge of emotions when I first saw this photo.  The Elegance of the gentleman  took my breath away!  So polished and tasteful!  Such finesse and refinement.  It forced me to stop, stare and think.

Elegance has become somewhat of an obsolete concept in the modern society.  Crude and rough behavior/actions are considered aggressive and are rewarded.  Alarmingly, aggressiveness is somehow a virtue in modern times!

People talk loud, dress loud, act loud.  For a slice of loudness, experiment going to a Starbucks at 6.00 a.m.  The energy is palpable.  The loud whirring of the fan is deafening (why one would need a fan in 60 degrees temperature is beyond my comprehension.)  The Baristas wired on caffeine are screaming long, incomprehensible drink orders; the patrons on their Blackberrys are trying to talk over the noisy din and of course the shrill whirring of the cappuccino machine adds to the madness.  Nope, there is nothing in this scene that is even close to being defined as a “coffee break!”

The expression “squeaky wheel gathers the most grease” is apt and appropriate in present times.  In a recent article I read, as per statistical data, the employees who spoke the loudest and were most boisterous got the maximum raises and least reprimands.  Yes, no place for a person with delicate, fine sensibilities in our society.  Dress loud, speak loud and in general live loud is the mantra!  Cult shows such as Jersey Shore and the Kardashians are a perfect example.

Vulgarity is sexy and roughness a turn-on!

The “casual” look has replaced the “formal” look.  Jeans and t-shirts are perfectly acceptable in most settings, even formal ones.

In the midst of such coarseness when one sees an elegant gentleman, regally perched on his bicycle is cooling for the eyes and senses.  It is a breath of fresh air.  It make you stop and stare, even if for a rushed moment.

Notice the attention to detail in his dressing-the peak-a-boo striped socks and shirt cuffs; the thin silhouette of the suit; the well-trimmed silver beard; the retro glasses perched on the bridge of his nose, the well-polished loafers; the suede elbow patches.  An absolute optical delight!

It is evident that he took time to get dressed.  There is attention to detail.  He takes pride in the small things.  He has dignity and grace.  He is polished and refined.  He is an Elegant Man. I am compelled to stop and stare at him.

 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!

Just read a line on style icon Carey Mulligan: “She’s got great taste; carefully avoiding anything above the knee, tight…” Buck, Joan Juliet. “The Talented Miss Mulligan.” Vogue. 2 September 2010. http://www.vogue.com/magazine/article/the-talented-miss-mulligan. 30 September 2010.

As a lawyer, it set the wheels of my analytical legal mind in action as to what exactly is the definition of “good taste.” Is it subjective or objective? Can it be loosely interpreted by each individual’s own sensibilities, or do certain established standards apply to define good taste? Are being sexy and having good taste synonyms, antonyms or both? Is the good taste of one the obscenity of another? After all, there can be art form in pornography as well.

For some, an above-the-knee short (or very short) dress is taste. For others a tight fitting (even better if skin tight) dress is taste. For yet another demographic it’s chest-baring dresses, and for others if a woman wears all the above rolled into one it is the epitome of style and sex appeal. Conversely, for some (not necessarily the puritanical ones) it could have the opposite “turn off” effect.

Believe it or not, there is law on the issue of interpreting what I will call “good taste,” for the purposes of this blog. It is outlined in a 1973 Supreme Court case, Miller v. California. No, I will not belabor you with the case as we are on to something more important and interesting here.

The Court analyzed whether a certain form of art (style/fashion are forms of art) would be offensive to an “average person” applying “contemporary community standards.” I question the test, as the definition of “contemporary community standards” has significantly changed from 1973 to 2010. As a lifelong observer and student of style and fashion I have observed that any style that is not form fitting or body baring to some extent is not appreciated by the “community.” Loose clothing, no matter how stylish, is considered matronly and homely. (Right about now I can hear Stella McCartney, Alber Elbaz and Nicolas Ghesquière scoff!)

As a personal observation, and nothing against the opposite sex, I have noticed the tighter and shorter my clothes are the more admirable glances I get from my darker halves. I could run around in the most stylish and tasteful Balenciaga or Prada dress but somehow fail to pique the interest of men.

So, if we follow the above logic is it appropriate to deduce that our “community standards” adhere to a blatant exhibition of a woman’s curves? Unless a woman succumbs to such exhibitionism will she not be considered stylish? Is that in keeping with “good taste?” Has there been such degeneration in our society that style and taste is all about body-baring sex appeal?

The sad part is that we are talking about “community standards.” Most of us human beings are gluttons for approval and such approval will obviously come from a “community.” And to please that “community” we will continue to comply with the “acceptable standards of the community,” i.e. body baring tight clothing, conformity and lack of imagination!