Sunday, November 7, 2010

The emperor has no (nice) clothes

Nobody really likes being bothered with commercials when watching TV. What's  even more annoying are commercials that attempt to be funny, but aren't. Many commercials fall into that category. One recent exception is Reitman's latest amusing ad campaign. For those of you who don't know, Reitman's is a Canadian chain of retail stores selling affordable women's clothing.

When I searched for the commercials on youtube, I discovered that the campaign isn't new at all, though perhaps some of the ads are. I guess I am just (sadly) watching more TV than I did before.

Anyways, the ads feature two guys who are essentially spoofs of a mosaic of flamboyant, effeminate designers (such as Jean Paul Gauthier, Karl Lagerfeld, etc.). They are not that different than the  hilarious character Mugatu in the movie "Zoolander".

In each commercial, the guys basically compare haute couture fashion with Reitman's clothing. In each case, the model wearing the haute couture clothing lands herself in some dreadful and embarrassing situation as a result of her absurd and impractical outfit. Here is a sample of some of the commercials from the previous campaign:

Anyways, for some reason, the commercial got me thinking: If we think of fashion designers as being professionals and the experts regarding clothing aesthetics, isn't it odd that there is a public conception that haute couture is absurd, impractical, ridiculous, and ultimately ugly? When we look at other highly trained members of society, e.g. scientists, engineers, athletes, etc., we easily recognize their expertise. Why do we (at least some of us)  not do so when it comes to fashion designers?

Unfortunately, I don't have a good answer for this question. My best theory is that many fashion designers want to be seen as avante garde artists. To design something that actually looks nice would be too dull, too gauche and too bourgeois. I think you sometimes see odd-looking models for the same reason.

I should point out that this stereotype isn't universal. That is, though the stereotype undoubtedly exists with a significant portion of the general public, I'm sure those same people would have a favourable opinion of most well known glamorous European labels such as Gucci, LV, Valentino, etc. 

I think this stereotype is unfortunate and turns off a lot of people to the fashion world, especially men. It is for this reason why in part, I usually write up a "worst of" post highlighting the most absurd elements from the runway.

-The Scandal