Sunday, 25 July 2010

The Death of Tough Chic?

Image from WhoWhatWear

I love WhoWhatWear.  I especially love that they are still plugging leather leggings and bikers or a sharp shouldered jacket as a look as demonstrated by Karmen Pedaru in their recent post.

Those old cronies at Vogue have decreed the death of all the fun things I was looking forward to in fashion for winter: crazy leggings, biker jackets, tricky hareems, power shoulders, statement heels, gothic black... despite all the new stock rolling in online at Net-a-Porter featuring all of these now apparently passe pieces.  In fact Vogue US went so far as to run a piece saying the tough chic look favoured by the likes of Pedaru and Kate Moss is now tired and that looking polished and grown up is back.  They even featured a pictures of both models looking amazing in leather leggings.

And the fashion revelation this Autumn/Winter for which we must leave all this excitement behind is (drum roll)... the Camel Coat.

Now I know that half of Europe including the UK is facing austerity measures and the only women who can afford to buy clothes at the moment are the high flying, glass ceiling busters but is that really all fashion could come up with this season?  Whatever happened to fashion being an escape from reality, a form of self-expression, a platform for rebellion?  Obviously designers are no longer prepared to suffer for their art - they are more concerned about making a profit.  Fair enough, but every time I open a new magazine the pages are awash with camel, camel and more camel.

As elegant as the collections are the continuing orgasms that the fashion editors are having over Celine and Chloe finally producing "clothes designed by women that women can actually wear" is actually starting to grate.  Any one of them going to be brave enough to buck the trend and admit that all this sensible dressing is just a tad boring?  Where is the drama?  Where are the risk takers?  Are they really talking about a generation of fashion conscious twenty somethings who can take the most serious fashion risks wearing this polished, grown up look for a night on the tiles?  Does anyone really fancy working this look for a trip to the local pub?

Yes its all great if you work in an office where you have to look dull and conservative in order to be taken seriously and camel suits your skin tone (it looks awful on mine) - you will have plenty of choice this season and I can understand the collective sigh of relief coming from the quarters of the ordinary working woman (of which I am one).  However I am sure I am not alone in that I find it impossible to maintain enthusiasm for a suit and blouse combination or shift dress by the weekend after navigating around a grimy city like London during the week wearing them to the office.

I can understand if you work in the City or a business that bears no relation to fashion - you are obliged to dress that way on a daily basis.  However, if you are the editor of a fashion magazine surely it is your job, nay, your moral responsibility, to be pushing the envelope on the style stakes, to inspire and support the creativity of designers with your fearlessness in embracing the new and avant-garde - if you buy a camel coat to wear to work surely you have failed in that respect.

The male reaction to fashion is always an interesting reality check we ladies often choose to ignore when indulging in the trend of the season.  My boyfriend's reaction to my hareems was lukewarm but they grew on him. In response to my sharp shouldered jackets and dresses he would comically put up a hand with fingers splayed in a Spock like V and chant "nanoo nanoo" in an attempt to communicate with me.  But his response when asked what he thought of camel coats was to screw his nose up in complete distaste saying it reminded him of nasty uptight middle class girls from the local public school where he grew up. Enough said really.

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