I read that this summer’s big fashion look is curtains. What does this mean?
Carla, by email
Indeed, curtains are where it’s at now, and, sadly, this does not mean cutting down your curtains and turning them into a dress, as Scarlett O’Hara memorably does when she goes to visit Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind (still my favourite fashion reference – bog off, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and your boring black dresses, give me crazy-eyed Scarlett wearing a pair of old velvet curtains any day.) It means oversized florals, the sort normally found on curtains in the homes of fabulous elderly relatives, worn all over your person. Your style icon for this is Adele in her latest video, Send My Love (To Your New Lover) which, frankly, sounds a parody of an Adele song title, but no matter, let’s focus on the frock.
Adele’s dress is gorgeous, as you’d hope it would be, given that it’s from Dolce & Gabbana and therefore cost about £5,000 – but then, as anyone who’s ever visited Knightsbridge, Dubai or Moscow knows, high prices on designer clothes are no guarantee of style. It also bears a striking resemblance to the much-mocked floral Givenchy dress Kim Kardashian wore to the Met Ball in 2013 when she was heavily pregnant, and this similarity furnishes us with three possible lessons, depending on your feelings for the Kardashian family. First, if you are Team Kardashian, you can say that this proves Kim was just ahead of her time. If you are anti-Kardashian, say Kim’s dress was hideous and Adele has shown us how to wear florals properly. And if you are meh about the whole thing, you can say they both look like Mrs Doubtfire and let’s have no more of this nonsense.
I’m with number three here because, as the late and much missed Robin Williams memorably said, he wore florals in Mrs Doubtfire better than Kardashian at the Met Ball, and he definitely did, because he was Robin Williams and she’s Kim Kardashian. Can Kim make unhappy schoolboys stand on their desks? Can she play a genie? I’d like to see her try. But the point is, these florals are frumpy and unless you’re as beautiful as Adele, most of us will look like Robin Williams in a dress. Not a bad look, but possibly not one you’d pay for.
There’s a lot of guff in fashion magazines about how frumpy trends like this are actually feminist because they’re not about looking sexy. But this is gold-plated nonsense. The truth is, these frumpy trends – florals, mid-length skirts, heavy tweeds, etc – are, if anything, even more elitist than the usual fashion looks because only the exceptionally thin and pretty can wear them without resembling a male comedian in bad drag, and yes, obviously, I am speaking from experience here.
It’s a shame, because these are precisely the kinds of clothes I like: the ones that aren’t screamingly obvious in their need for approval, the ones that are made to appeal more to women than men. But while curtains may be the look of the season, I’d prefer to watch Robin Williams than actually resemble him.
Why is the fashion industry so besotted by Kim Kardashian?
Catherine, north London
Yes, it’s a Kardashian special this week. Wait, what do I mean “this week”? Every week is Kardashian Week because this is their world and we’re just living in it.
You are quite right, Catherine: the fashion world is so entranced by Kim K these days that it is all but slurping spaghetti with her, Lady and the Tramp-style, and the only reason it isn’t is because none of the people in this relationship do carbohydrates. In the past few weeks Kim gave a talk at Vogue Festival in London, where she thrillingly revealed that “contouring is over”; she attended the Vogue 100 Gala; she went to the Met Ball in New York, invited by US Vogue’s Anna Wintour.
Just as a reminder here that Kim is famous for three reasons: one, her father was friends with OJ Simpson; two, she was the victim of a sex-tape leak in 2006; three, her family has a reality TV show. None of these are the usual paths towards the fashion world’s snooty heart, and I find it honestly admirable how the Kardashians, through sheer wild-eyed determination, have made them so.
The short answer to Kim’s popularity among fashion folk is social media. Social media is a profoundly immature world, filled with adults worrying about their popularity as if they were nerds in high school. Kim’s one proven skill is mastering social media, and the fashion world has flocked towards her, desperate for the likes. We can despair of this but, really, I prefer to raise a vodka shot to Kim, our modern day Becky Sharp hacking her way through various social worlds, as chronicled now by Vanity Fair, the magazine as opposed to Vanity Fair the novel. Plus ça change, eh?
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