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19-02-2006
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Inside fashion : 10 Truths
The inside edge

As fashion gears up for a run of exposés on film and in print, Jess Cartner-Morley uncovers 10 truths ...


Saturday February 18, 2006
The Guardian


Everyone in fashion drinks champagne all day
The classic fashion exposé opens at a party/backstage at a fashion show, with the sound of champagne corks popping and a cast of waiters, who are always handsome and who for some reason always glide rather than walk across a room. It is true that nobody in fashion is remotely surprised to be offered a glass of champagne on arrival at a fashion show at 10.30am - but then toast makes you fat, and porridge is hardly glam, so what else to have for breakfast? The truth is that fashion people love to hold a champagne flute because, like a good pair of sunglasses, it is an accessory that always makes you look great in photographs; very few really drink that much. And frankly, when the rest of the nation is binge-drinking itself to a guttery death on blueberry-flavoured alcopops, the odd pre-lunch Moët is surely nothing to get one's Damaris knickers in a twist about.
Everyone is really thin
Like, duh! Of course they are. Forget this season's colours, forget the designers and their muses - thinness is the whole point of fashion. Everyone in the industry thinks a size 12 is fat. It is important to understand this, otherwise you'll wind up fat, poor, dressed in Marni and wondering why the world does not perceive you as a style icon. The industry is divided into two camps on the thinness issue. One side, made up mostly of American glossy magazine journalists, is thinner than the catwalk models - which, if you've ever seen a catwalk model, you'll understand is no mean feat. The other side - ranks proudly swelled by newspaper journalists from around the globe - are fat, poor, dressed in Marni, and wondering why the world does not perceive them as style icons.
Everyone talks nonsense
Hands up: this is a pretty fair criticism. A quick flick through any pile of "explanatory" notes, helpfully provided at some fashion shows, throws up a stream of fashionable inanity, such as this from Valentino: "Fashion today has no precise reference points. It is a collage of souvenirs expressed in the moments of a real woman's life that she uses to continuously update her personal style." Thrown into the mix are a heavy dose of the self-consciously obtuse (Roland Mouret, for instance, finding inspiration in "Hitchcock's vision of the dynamic between a man and a woman, Francis Bacon's twisting of perception, and the mysticism of the Scottish lochs") and, to leaven the dough, always a good sprinkling of the plain old crazy. At the most recent shows, Vanessa Bruno was "inspired by the emotions from lost decadence of art nouveau ... her journey takes us to a cross road universe of Indian veiled mystique and sun maidens of the haight ashbury sixties" [sic].
The men are gay or sleazy; either way, they hate women
I would sooner any daughter of mine worked as a shark-wrestler than a model - safer, better conversation, and with superior long-term career prospects. But any industry that employs a workforce of very beautiful girls, most of whom are relocated to a foreign metropolis in their mid-teens, inexperienced and insecure, will attract a swarm of exploitative men: bees to honey is, I believe, the polite way of phrasing this phenomenon. There is no need for undue alarm at this vicious parasite: "modelisers", as they are known, are not a threat to the normal female populace, being easily recognisable by their velvet jackets, white jeans, transatlantic accents (even when they come from Guildford) and, usually, their below-average height, a fact they try to disguise by wearing lifts in their shoes. (This is why modelisers wear such bad shoes.) As for the gay men, they don't hate women: they just can't stand icky fat bits that obscure the divine lines of the accordion pleats.
Everyone is corrupt and obsessed with freebies
Once upon a time, fashion PRs kept editors sweet with Veuve-drenched lunches at Le Caprice. Now that lunch means 45 minutes over grilled fish and sparkling water, with maybe a side order of spinach on a Friday, the money is spent on "gifting" - the sending of lavish presents. Costs about the same, and - a recurring theme - is less fattening. Key freebies are worn, like military decorations, on important occasions within the industry: one Italian label sends top editors the same bag on the same day during Milan fashion week. Because it is an exclusive gift, recipients will be seen toting it prominently, giving the label priceless free PR. You see, it's not really about the handbags - as in any industry, it's about status.
Fashion editors will scheme and backstab to sit in the front row
Shows are ruthlessly, unashamedly hierarchical. There is none of that round-table, we-all-make-an-important-contribution stuff popular in other industries: when you walk into a show, your name is written, for all to see, on a row that corresponds with how important you are felt to be at that moment. Naturally, those of a competitive bent take this to heart: it is considered normal for an editor to have her assistant note her seat numbers in a catwalk season, compare them with those given to a counterpart from another publication, and systematically lobby those designers at whose shows she feels she has been snubbed. It is, likewise, not unusual for an editor to refuse to attend a show unless a front-row seat is granted. Petty rivalry never goes out of fashion.
People in fashion are mad
There is no doubt that some in the industry - indeed, some very important people in the industry - have eccentricities that make Jennifer Lopez and her anticlockwise-stirred coffee look reasonable. One successful designer issued such strict guidelines on how his offices should look that an employee who wanted to use a favourite yellow pencil was required to courier a Polaroid of it to the designer's headquarters in Milan in order to request permission to have it on his desk. Mainly, though, eccentricity is worn for effect, like a Philip Treacy hat.
They call everyone 'darling'
Not true. "Darling" is a bit old hat; so is "sweetie". But the new guard will call you "hon" within four minutes of meeting you. Whether or not they know your name doesn't matter - if they know the name of your handbag (Roxy, Edith, Priscilla), and they call you "hon", you're in.
They say 'fabulous' a lot
To understand why adjectives are so central to fashion, go backstage at the end of a show. You will witness a receiving line of well-wishers filing past the designer at lightning speed (they have another show to go to, after all). Each has five seconds to kiss and greet him or her. It is essential to sound excited without giving too much away: if you're an influential buyer who hated the collection but don't want to fall out with a designer, you might pronounce it "Charming!", kiss, move on, and return no calls. If you are a reporter who has not yet decided whether to slate the new look, you can call it "Beyond!" without anyone knowing whether this is good or bad.
They are all on drugs Cocaine makes you thinner and shallower. What's not to like, as they say in fashion?

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19-02-2006
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I always seem to be shocked as to how true these stereotypes are.....she writes in jest but sadly, the majority actually rings true....

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19-02-2006
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I thought this was very funny....the 'speaking shite' one is exceptionally so....

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I loved the fat Marni wearing fashionista thing........

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19-02-2006
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yeh I thought of myself then....given how much Marni I wear

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Funny...I love Marni - never thought of it as a 'for those who are feeling fat' label - Ghost seems more in that category.

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19-02-2006
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great article helena....! enjoyed reading it...!

the "they say fabulous a lot" part is hilarious....!

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19-02-2006
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lol so true

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19-02-2006
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i have actually found that an increasing number of american fashion editors are much larger than one might think...
because....
no ne ever retires...
and these ladies have all had babies and/or are older than they admit...
not to say they could be called FAT...but certainly not model-thin...

and there are certainly plenty of trendy and thin girls wearing lots and lots of marni...
which one has to be quite RICH to afford actually......

i think i know who the writer is actually referring to..
and it is a MAN......

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Last edited by softgrey; 19-02-2006 at 05:15 PM.
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19-02-2006
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This article is BEYOND!

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19-02-2006
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ok, so what's wrong with marni? is this written by a cavalli-wearer?

yeah, yeah, it's funny..and reading it i was all, "pffft, silly stereotypes!"

but, it's true, isn't it?

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19-02-2006
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Is just that Marni is such a fashionista label.

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19-02-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by softgrey
i think i know who the writer is actually referring to..
and it is a MAN......
who are you talking about, soft?

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19-02-2006
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hilarious..

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Quote:
Originally Posted by pucci_mama
Is just that Marni is such a fashionista label.
i don't see it as that at all..the champagne-drinking, cavalli-wearing, dahling-sayign crowd described in the article wouldn't touch oversized coats..

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