Monday, 11 June 2012
Browsing the new season collections on Luisa via Roma, the Florence-based retailer which is known for being among the first to put next season’s clothes online to pre-order, I was particularly struck by a Givenchy nose ring, which had featured in the label’s fall/winter 2012 runway show – as well as in numerous fashion editorials since then.
I’m generally not a fan of Givenchy menswear, and I’m definitely not a fan of men’s jewellery – even more so when it is adorned with Swarovski crystals, as said nose ring is – but something about it gripped me. I even entertained thoughts of buying it, until reason prevailed (a fake nose piercing? £200? Really?) – as well as the reality that only three occasions readily present themselves for wearing such an item: attending the fashion shows this season, taking edgy self-portraits for the internet, and clubbing in Dalston.
I suppose what I like so much about it is how it is something ‘fashion’ (absurdly ‘fashion’, in fact) which is actually influenced by the unsophisticated, sub-culture world of extreme piercing. The only cop out here is that you don’t need a septum piercing to wear it: rather, it is magnetic. Nonetheless, it’s definitely an object of desire. It has a bit of tribal-by-way-of-punk influence too, for that wonderful sense of ultimately meaningless post-modern mash-up. As do Givenchy’s other ‘fake’ piercings this season:
And here's the unsavoury depths-of-the-internet version:
Subculture vs. Vogue:
One of the things I like about fashion is the way it can take some odd idea or aspect of life and twist it into something luxurious and aspirational, hopefully with added design integrity and pleasing aesthetics. (It doesn’t always work: see Givenchy’s somewhat gaudy print T-shirts with sharks and rottweilers, presumably the high-fashion take on the sort of dreadful shirt beloved of nerds that you find in discount basements). If you look at it in a detached way, this low-to-high approach is quite funny – even if designers don’t intend it to be that way. I couldn’t help seeing more parallels between what you might call “extreme body modification” and fashion. For starters, fashion is infamous for its tenacious embrace of the ultra-skinny body, itself attainable only by fairly extreme dieting and exercise, a form of body modification. You see it a lot in fashion editorials too, whether it's subversive surgery themed shoots, or the provocative use of bodybuilders or the morbidly obese as 'props'. Speaking of the extreme overweight body, remember the fashion world obsession with Beth Ditto a few years ago? And then there’s ‘zombie boy’ (Rick Genest) a real, living example of extreme body modification – and current fashion darling, and sometime muse to Nicola Formichetti:
Off the top of my head..
(not literally - voluntary amputation of body parts is apparently a thing - you couldn't make this stuff up. It's SOO fashion. No quicker way to drop a dress size than some cheeky amputation)..
Givenchy (by Alexander McQueen) SS97 haute couture vs. extreme bod mod:
Balenciaga SS07 metal leggings vs. the pinnacle of piercing:
Christopher Kane SS11 vs. terminal tats:
Lady Gaga’s ‘wacky’ prosthetic horns? They’re based on real 3D under-skin implants which people, who may or may not be suffering from body dysmorphia, have done:
Oh look, it’s Givenchy’s signature stars:
Extremes and fashion go hand in hand (extremely skinny models, extremely expensive bags, extremely high heels... you name it), so the link between body freakishness and high fashion perhaps isn’t surprising. I think unattainability is a key concept. The question is where the lines of ‘good taste’ are drawn. During my “research” of extreme body modification, I discovered that you can (and people do) get eyeball tattoos (W.T.F!) and – even less suitable for the squeamish – temporary suspension from hooks placed in the skin has an underground cult following. Concepts for Givenchy fall/winter 2013, perhaps? Or beyond even the remedial touch of Parisian couture? Should designers visit 'ModCon' conventions for inspiration? Apparently "bagel heads" are big in Japan.
Steven Klein are you reading? This could be a darling editorial:
Maybe replace the weird guy with Karlie Kloss, and the household objects with the season’s IT bags? I’ll send you my invoicing details if Vogue Italia runs with it.
Edit: he actually has a toaster hanging from his nipple. A TOASTER. I like the effort with the sheet backdrop. It adds an almost celestial edge.
Fashion's fixation with bondage and sexual perversion is no doubt a similar phenomenon.
PS. The thing I really want next season (excluding the entire Raf Simons collection) is the Yves Saint Laurent runway sweater. It has SO much Tumblr appeal. What’s that design motif? Razor blades, you say? All the better for carving a Chanel logo into your arm during a fit of angst, and subsequently getting 12,000 re-blogs.
£880 for a sweater, though. That’s a tough sell (to the logical part of my brain from the impulsive side).
Does the fact that I would even contemplate spending that on a one-season-only runway knit make me as mad as the people who get 75% skin-coverage tattoos and piercings in body parts the existence of which eludes the innocent mind?