Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Mixed Messages, Continued...

Talk about mixed messages...I know it's 'all about' the mix these days, but what about the mixed messages emanating from The New York Times? Once again, one hand does not seem to know what the other is doing at The New York Times (or perhaps such contrasts are precisely the point). In my column yesterday, which was about Cathy Horyn’s article on the ‘trend’ away from tricky, eclectic, eccentric dressing and a return to the fitted suit, I omitted the most important thing - the irony of it all. Just two days prior, another article in the paper, on fashion and style, celebrated those exact elements.

In his article on the front page of the Sunday ‘Style’ section, (“Paris Is Entitled to Sniff”, March 13th), Guy Trebay acknowledged the amazing fashion sense of the Parisians which is predicated on eclectic, eccentric, highly individual, experimental put togethers.

But conversely, in Ms. Horyn's column yesterday, Bergdorf Goodman’s Robert Burke was quoted as saying “there has been so much emphasis on individual style and eclecticism, and I think designers and customers are getting tired of the fur stole, the brooch, and so on. A simple tailored suits looks refreshing”. By the way, in Guy Trebay’s article, Robert Burke was one of those who applauded the French saying, “The plates have shifted, and Paris is the place right now, no question.”

On Sunday, Mr. Trebay waxed poetic about the refreshingly individual style recently on display in the City of Lights during the Paris Collections, which he credited largely to “a new style, one that plays the game of high-low dressing with assurance, that treats couture clothes like T-shirts and street fashion like couture.” He also noted that, (contrary to say, the Upper East Side of New York, where a very static, “stultified” if you will, clonish sort of uniform is de rigueur- or as Elle’s Anne Slowey put it, “uptight Uptown chic”), in Paris “the populace itself shows signs of having been liberated from the tyranny of stultifying bourgeois chic”.

Cathy Horyn's column was an homage to a symbol of 'bourgeois chic'- the suit. And if you think about it, what could be more potentially 'stultifyingly' bourgeois or uptight than a suit, unless of course, it’s put together with the “highly individual style and eclecticism” that Mr. Burke alluded to as being so overdone, or perhaps aided by the welcome addition of some of those “full boho skirts, easy proportions and eclectic little fur shrugs” that Ms. Horyn is now seemingly tired of?

Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

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