Out of Fashion (and into the Fire)
I had a plan! It was a good plan. I was going to write something chewy and acerbic and occasionally deep about dressing oneself in the age of social media and brand scandals. It had points! It had a lot to do with Balenciaga, which Lauren Collins expertly profiled in this latest New Yorker. (If you somehow missed and/or need an explainer of the ad campaign photo shoot scandal, good for you! I don’t want to talk about it! Except to say it is definitely not a confession or calling card from a pedophilic satanist bacchanal and if you think it is this is probably not the Substack for you!) But then I got tired, of so many things (see rumored pedophilic satanist bacchanal, above), and really busy with work, and there have by this point been so many POV’s bandied about. So let’s go ahead and leave it at the fact that honestly, in general I find internet outrage and the performative histrionics around brands and celebrities pretty exhausting. I don’t think you wear Prada or buy Taylor Swift concert tickets because you believe wholesale in every single thing that Miuccia Prada or Taylor Swift believes (…well, not all of you. This is not a treatise on Stan culture). I believe you wear Prada or listen to pop music because it looks good and feels great and you saw it somewhere or on someone or heard it and did a little shimmy and thought, “me too, please!” What we wear, what we buy should mean something but not everything, do you know what I mean? Clothes should amplify the wearer, not signify a wholesale alignment with a particular mentality. Please, let’s not let brand names stand in for personalities. (Trust me, if you scratch the surface of most “heritage” brands you’re more than likely to find some unsavory politics in there somewhere.)
Anyways, I greatly enjoyed this part of the New Yorker story:
Lauren Luyendyk held the flaming sneakers with a pair of grilling tongs as her husband doused them with accelerant. Then she dropped them into a large bin with a flick of the wrist, as though disposing of a dead rat. In a video that the couple posted on Instagram on December 1st, a manicured hand flashes a peace sign over the smoldering trash-can fire. “Bye, Balenciaga,” a woman’s voice says. One commenter applauded the couple for “taking a genuine stand against the true evil in this world.”
Previously, the Luyendyks had been noted less for their moral leadership than for having appeared on the twenty-second season of “The Bachelor,” in which Arie licked a bowling ball, said that the thing that most excited him was “excitement,” and asked another woman to marry him before dumping her on prime-time television and proposing to Lauren.
It’s a very good piece. I enjoyed learning about some of the parallels between Demna and Cristobal Balenciaga, too. I also had not realized that Demna had become mononymous somewhere between today and when I last truly did a Paris fashion week. I guess I continue to tell on myself about how uncool I am! I suppose that promises to get worse with age! (There is also a good piece about Ozempic abuse in this issue that I bet you’ve probably already seen. But if not, it’s here!)
Further in the annals of fashion, a fascinating thing I learned recently: Marie Antoniette cos-playing a farm girl ignited the cotton—and slave—trade. From (the now sadly defunct) Racked:
In 1783, portrait artist Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun painted Marie Antoinette in a simple cotton gown known as a robe de gaulle. The thin white fabric is airy and loose, cinched at the waist with a sheer golden sash. Full sleeves and a softly ruffled neckline add volume to the otherwise unstructured shape. She doesn’t wear any jewels or embellishments, just a wide-brimmed straw hat tied with a ribbon band, topped with a few relatively modest plumes.
The painting has a graceful and arcadian feel to it, at least to the modern eye. The scene is refreshingly natural when compared to the ornateness of the typical Rococo-era portrait. The gown gives off 'an aesthetic of rustic simplicity,' writes Katy Werlin in Clothing and Fashion: American Fashion From Head to Toe. Despite its humble appearance, though, Marie Antoinette’s portrait in the plain cotton dress had an impact that reverberated through the world in ways no one could have foreseen. It flipped the textile industry on its head, lighting the fuse laid out by a fast-changing world of exploration, Enlightenment, and rebellion. It caused cotton, and the institution of slavery it stood on, to explode.
Who knew! Cottage core has some explaining to do.
I had successfully avoided all news of this particular folly (I like my reality in reality, thank you very much) but then happened across this story—Who Is Still Inside the Metaverse? in NYMag—and my god, there are parts which made me laugh like…well, I honestly can’t remember the last time a magazine made me laugh like that. It’s an utter delight. Some truly terrific scenes. A real treat. Did you know that nobody in the metaverse has legs? They’re all just torsos, bobbing around. My god. Read it. I promise you’ll be glad you did.
What else? I am really enjoying Full Swing on Netflix, and no one is more surprised than me. Really it’s a tremendous joke because never in my life have I actually enjoyed the golf part of golf, and I even went to the US Open last summer. I went to university in St Andrews. Where golf was born. I have to tell people I don’t golf every time I talk about school. And honestly I’ve long maintained golf exists so that heterosexual men can go on walks and talk to each other with impunity, which is something the rest of us discovered to be enjoyable a long time ago. I heard an interview on NPR with Ted Lasso’s Brett Goldstein recently where he said he believed part of the appeal of sports matches for men was that they could be nakedly emotional while not having to look at each other, sort of the way people often will open up on car rides. (One could add this is also the point of the church confessional.) I also think it gives people a shared focus and common enemy and a sense of purpose and fairness and a place to put a lot of feelings. But anyway, the show is good, especially the fourth episode, which is all about Joel Dahmen and male friendship and imposter syndrome and what it means to be at the top of your game for a brief shining moment (or longer, though never by much, such is the point of games). And the whole season has the brilliant you-can’t-make-this-shit-up-in-a-writer’s-room narrative throughline of the LIV golf defection. That thread’s honestly got a bit of a Succession vibe going, which of course I am watching, too, on Sunday nights, like the rest of you. I guess I like golf now?
I did end up finishing Daisy Jones and the Six. It was sweet, and a little corny, and yes, everyone is a little too manicured and much too well dressed, and yes, it continued to be far too dimly lit until the very end. I maintain my point about the gaffers. But I finished it! No regrets.
My new favorite podcast: Sentimental Garbage. I can’t stop listening. I won’t stop listening. Thankfully I am very late to it and so have a lot of old episodes to catch up on. I started with the Gilmore Girl focused ones, in which the host and her guest rate every male lead in the show in ascending order, and moved straight to episodes focused on such marvelous treats as Wimbledon (the 2004 rom com, excellent) and Bring it On (needs no introduction). It even convinced me to rewatch Runaway Bride and Josie and the Pussycats and you know what, I’m actually quite glad I did. Justice for both of those—and Tara Reid, too! I really recommend it if you need something cheering and engaging. I will be very sad when I am caught up and have to wait for new ones like the rest of the world.
I made this and it was really good: Loubia (White Bean and Tomato Stew) Recipe. I added kale and served with some seedy toast. 5/5
If you, like me, are feeling a little sartorial slump while considering your current clothing options for spring, my friends at the very cute Meridian Boutique in Bozeman, MT are having a very good sale. I have my eye on…a lot of it.
I love Norman Rush, and Mating —truly one of my all time favorite novels—is a classic. But by the sounds of this trend piece, y’all knew that already. If not, no time like the present for a big deep novel about an aspirational kind of love in an impossible situation! Here’s how the NYT describes the novel’s central relationship:
Their bond is an “intellectual love” forged through scholarly debates, jokes and an endless stream of conversation. “Causing active ongoing pleasure in your mate is something people tend to restrict to the sexual realm or getting attractive food on the table on time,” the narrator observes, “but keeping permanent intimate comedy going is more important than any other one thing.” The two come to acknowledge their devotion to each other “without anyone having to go through the horrible bourgeois ritual of declaring love.”
That either appeals to you or it doesn’t! And that’s fine either way.
I have been spritzing this toner on overdrive. Dewy, juicy skin and a mood boost? I’m listening!
I am furious about the lack of gun control laws in this country and would love any suggestions beyond donating to Everytown and making furious social media posts, so let me know if you have any? (Also, what’s happening in Florida in terms of censorship is so beyond deranged. People getting fired for showing pictures of Michelangelo’s David and a Disney movie about Ruby Bridges? All of you tax shelterers or people who love them off there in the Sunshine state, vote these feeble-minded lame-ass losers out please lord.)
I know, I haven’t mentioned any books I’m reading. I am reading, working my way through the latest Paris Review, which just arrived a few days ago, and a bedside stack that threatens to topple over and bean me most nights, many of which are galleys that I can’t talk about yet (or I could, but it would be kind of mean, given you can’t read them yet). Also I’ve been trying to write more, which is why I’ve been less than on my game, weekly-delivery-speaking. But you know what? You get what you pay for, and my beloved friends, this shit is free.
Thanks for being here. I love you, even if I disappear then and again. Next week I’ll be more on top of it, I promise. (I think.) I hope you are having a really good week, or as close to one as you can get. The below helped me this morning, personally. XO
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