Friday, September 18, 2009

the emperor's new clothes

Last night I watched "Valentino: The Last Emperor." I laughed, I cried, I sympathized...

I've always been enamoured of the kind of characters that populate the world of fashion (and music, and film, and art, and poetry, and basically any walk of life that springs from individual creativity and passion), and Valentino was no different. You could tell that he was absolutely born to design beautiful dresses for beautiful women and it was so refreshing to see someone so completely dedicated to doing what he loved for so many years. At the same time, it was clear that he regarded his one-dimensional life with a sense of sadness. Fashion, to an outsider like me, seems so full of everything that living is made of--it makes itself present, fearlessly and exuberantly and sometimes with a degree of mania. Trends come and go with a vengeance but we, as Wearers, are true artists in our own right. We can pick and choose which trends to buy into (literally) and which to avoid. I, for example, will never understand the appeal of ever-unflattering harem pants:

Or masculine shoulder pads (my shoulders are broad enough, thank you!)

I believe that the purpose of art is to make us feel something, to inspire us or help us better understand something about ourselves or our lives or just simply to make us smile... when I visit an art museum I don't spend hours looking at paintings just because they are famous for one reason or another, I just let myself go and let my instincts decide which paintings I am drawn to. I feel the same way about fashion. I don't want to subscribe to a style because I should, I want to wear clothes that are expressive of me, today.

Huge tangent aside, I was skeptical that the Valentino company would ever recover from losing its namesake, because, lets face it--he WAS the brain of the brand. And I do not claim in any way to know what I'm taking about when it comes to fashion (historically and theoretically)--I am admittedly a novice. But I do know what I like and what I do not. And I must admit that I kind of love the new collection so much that my heart flutters:

These dresses each possess a sort of ethereal darkness that makes me shiver and soften at the same time, like an echo of the "lingerie and leather" trend that I adore right now--understated and gentle elegance, sleepy, beautiful and simultaneously mysterious and haunting.

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