Let me begin by saying I know absolutely nothing about fashion and whatever my thoughts continue to be below is based on an 'outsider' view, and as someone interested in the business of it all. Now that the tiresome pre-emption is done, we'll get right to it...
A couple of weeks ago Burberry set up shop in the former Foyles HQ in Soho for LFW, and was open to public for a week to showcase the new collection. Burberry Makers House featured ready-to-wear garments and very expensive bags (more on this below), and also played host to designers and craftors in recognition of the different talent and skills which goes into making as well as producing a single piece of object.
Admittedly, the exhibition is housed in an extremely picturesque location: secret garden, faux (presumably?) marble statues, complete with overgrown foliage and sandalwood incense burning. A totally Renaissance presentation, if you ask me... So while the bloggah in me marvelled at the detail and effort put into the creative direction of this project, I couldn't help but feel like I did not belong to 'that' world: high fashion, the rush and the adrenaline, the pure and plain glamour of it all. It was, in my mind, unnecessary and ostentatious.
I have no doubt that these individuals in the workshops are talented, otherwise they wouldn't be there. Just look at concentration on the embroidery, hand-made and all that jazz. And here I am going crazy when my computer processor doesn't automate a function properly. Maybe I'm the bad person here.
Nonetheless, as I stood there at the side, amidst the snaking queues and crowd, I still felt the distinctness and dare I say, arrogance of it all - this heritage of a brand coupled with a self-righteous grandeur, and finally coming to a realisation that the entire fashion industry is something that I could never ever fathom in my mundane life of NB trainers and off-season dresses. Precision and quality are gloriously paraded, and the uniqueness of craftmenship is applauded and cheered, but I know nothing about it.
I do not relate to any of this.
What both amazed and troubled me was the sheer amount of people there – either in admiration or curiosity, were they here because they truly felt and possessed a connection to the very art that these creator were immersed in? Or was it crowdhype, because it was simply just the stylish thing to do. Go to a Burberry exhibition, upon exit I must feel like I have achieved something equivalent of a fashion designer too.
I am not someone who was born in circumstances to understand such riches (of the industry), and neither are so many others. We obsess with the runway trends, and the models, and the makeup, and the theatrics of high fashion and for what? I'm sorry but I generally find the entire fashion industry to be elitist, overexclusive and overdramatic.
And it is this self-perpetuation of holier-than-thou attitude that brings out the worst in the entire industry: model #squads, photographers with a 'creative vision' (which often feels meaningless) which ultimately translate into the hypernormalisation of such despicable behaviour. They act how they act because they believe it is the normal thing to do, and they do it.
And for me, that is the struggle of someone who enjoys trying new styles, and outfits, and colours. But it's difficult where everyone who's someone is just a big fat bully, and telling us that this season you must have Gucci loafers... or die. Glossing over the fashion magazines, it feels like clothes are usually pictorial fairytales with the personality a snobby princess.
I also struggled to find meaning in the inspirational context behind this collection and exhibition – drawing heavily from Virginia Woof's Orlando and hence Elizabethan themes, ruffles were predominant in the collection, as were oversized lapels and naval embroidery. That sounds great, but when I overheard the price for a handbag for £60000 I nearly cried with laughter.
Who are these people and why do they exist to buy 60k handbags?!
I do not have the privilege for this.
(Said handbag. Or maybe not. They all look equally unaffordable.)
Why is the entire business of fashion so jealousy guarded with its upper echelons, the Gigi and Bella Hadids of our time? (To be honest I didn't even know who they were until blogging lol) And why would I aspire to be a millionaire in a society that's unbelievably far from reach for so many others who can barely work to survive? These are some of the questions I ask myself sometimes.
With Christopher Bailey's initial move to CEO in 2014 consisting of a £1.1m pay deal, and almost £4m in shares I think to myself – who are these people and why is there so much money involved?
Fashion shows are such an exclusive event which radiates envy for those less fortunate, but would you really want to be part of a society that cares only about itself, and those who they have the power to deem worthy?
I suppose the worst thing and the final thing I'd like to say is that tragically, this seems like the end-goal for many bloggers (but not all, /cough/ just pre-empting again before I cause a scandal y'all). The façade of perfection and ~vibes~, and the invites to shows and trips and endless champagne... We were having a conversation with our friend and she mentioned she used to know a now pretty big/well-known blogger who can't write to save her life. Her only redeeming quality was that she looks pretty. I agreed, and sadly this seems to ring true for so many others.
Originality is now encapsulated in tick-boxes of marble backgrounds, rose gold accents, and coffee table books. No, I have not read #girlboss or Hygge books, or any of the self-published books by pseudo-authors (I am neither using this word in a positive or negative manner). And why would I spend money on a How-to-be-Hygge book which ironically details that the best things in life are free?!
This business of fashion is exciting but also simultaneously bewildering, and at best, fantastically horrific. I realise this may not be the wisest move – writing a post on fashion as a 'fashion blogger' but I can't help it, this is how I feel and how I feel is not all great.
While I love the designs and the creativity of this industry, the culture of high fashion will always be something unattainable and a distant mirage for most of us.
Regretfully, I still look at Valentino shows and find myself gawking over it but realise that that my love will just be a lifelong one-sided crush... maybe one day I will wake up to understand the magic of the fashion business and its self-fulfilling prophecy.
I know this isn't my 'usual' post but I thought it would be fun to write and get something going... let me know what you think!
, by Cherie Koh