Fashion Trends: Anyone who has ever travelled the highways and byways of the American Midwest is familiar with the cement goose tradition, those popular lawn ornaments that people dress for all occasions. In the rainy Spring season, they wear little yellow rain coats, in the summer, perhaps a bikini or a Cleveland Indians outfit. There's a cement goose in our town that for the past couple of years has been wearing a burka. Every time I drive by it, I find myself wondering if it's a pro-Islamist statement or an anti-Islamist statement. I had the same reaction when I saw this fashion story in today's New York Times.
Normally, the clothing that makes it down the fashion runways bears about as much relation to clothing worn by women in the real world as the cement geese have to real world geese, so it's hard to take anything seriously that appears on the runways of New York and Paris. It would be a more ominous harbringer of things to come if fashionable women were obscuring themselves behind veils as they went walking on the street. But this designer's explanation suggests perhaps the statement is more pro-Islamist than we are apt to believe:
"It was a kind of a joke," said the designer Jun Takahashi of his decision to wrap his models in eyeless cloth hoods. "I didn't want any distraction from the line."'
Isn't that the same reasoning behind religious mandates that women be covered behind a veil? To prevent them from being distractions from the important daily duties of men? posted by Sydney on
3/05/2006 03:53:00 PM
Here's a story about fashion designers in Europe adapting to muslim standards: http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/02/27/opinion/rdark.php
After a decade of free-fall hipster pants, bared midriffs, bras on show under sheer dresses and naked legs, fashion has started on its great coverup. Forget girlie frills and celebrities flashing flesh on the red carpet. The typical outfit in the current international fashion collections is in any color as long as it is black with a silhouette long, lean and layered.
The mood is now for a chaste sobriety, with sturdy fabrics, thick leggings and even ankle-length hemlines.
The world's leading designers have no doubts as to where fashion is headed as they talk about "restraint" and "sobriety."
... Marc Jacobs, founding father of the girl-woman aesthetic, shocked the audience at his New York show last month with hefty knits, leg warmers and thick layers of clothes shrouding the body.
"The leg thing was a conscious decision," says Jacobs. "Early on I knew I wanted to show pants under skirts - and I didn't want to do pink and frills."
As Karl Lagerfeld, whose New York show debut featured entirely long, dark, layered clothes, puts it: "If you read the daily papers, you are not in the mood for pink and green."
Various influences are pushing fashion away from bare-it-all vulgarity - not least that there is nowhere to go but up from low-slung pants and strapless gowns. But among themselves, thoughtful designers are putting the change of mood into a different context, as they talk about the "Muslim-ization" of fashion. They are referring both to drawing, deliberately or unconsciously, on a culture of female sobriety. In a world clearly in turmoil, cocooning clothes are a response.
With the wearing of Muslim headscarves in school an abrasive issue in France and after the violent reaction in the Muslim world to the Danish cartoons considered disrespectful to the prophet Mohammed, few designers want to speculate openly about the influence of visual exposure to constant news reports on the Muslim world. Jacobs describes how his multicultural references included snap shots of Arab women with only eyes uncovered, but that he deliberately effaced the shrouded Muslim women in the corner of the collage.
"It looked a little scary to us because of what has happened in the wider world," he said.
As with any artist, the creative process of fashion design is complex. Lagerfeld said that he surprised himself by designing ankle-length white shirts, only realizing afterwards that they looked like a fashion take on Arabian culture.
"It was very strange," Lagerfeld says. "It goes in your mind and out of your fingers. You don't do it on purpose. It is about sensitivity and one cannot escape this kind of influence. It also has something mysterious, a mood of danger - something exciting."
... Many liberated westerners might be dismayed at the idea of fashion absorbing any form of dress that suggests the subjugation of women - or of discussing a subject that has so many connotations and overtones.
"We have talked about the Muslim- ization in fashion, but I don't want to be quoted," says one Paris-based designer, referring to conversations between himself and his partner. "I remember what an idiot Tom Ford looked when he raved about Hamid Karzai's robes, with all that was going on in Iran. It just makes fashion seem so dumb."