The Eye of the Fish

September 24, 2009

Fashion: Weak

And so here we are again, with another week of deluded and denuded, grumpy, sour-faced, anorexic models prancing around the Viaduct, under the impression that Auckland Fashion Week is of global importance.


Today, hold your breath, Pamela Anderson arrives to make a major fashion statement, with a range of swimwear that is not made of fur or leather. Well, duh!


Since when has swimwear ever been made of fur or leather? And since when has Pamela Anderson ever been a by-word of taste or good fashion? She’s always been known for two things only: her bad taste in ugly rockers, and her lack of acting ability. Asking Pammie to come to Fashion Week in an effort to raise your profile and your credibility is surely one of the greater fashion faux-pas of all time: worse than falling over in your 9 inch Westwoods.


Auckland makes me despair: one of the world’s greatest harbours, ruined by one of the world’s ugliest cities. It’s certainly not known for its fashion: indeed, if we take the West family as NZ’s most-loved style icons, then a sense of anti-fashion is more likely. Fashion is soooo dated – so 1980s – so utterly pointless and such a waste of time and resources, yet it seems the press love to witter on about it, despite our country’s chronic lack of interest and ability in it. Indeed, not just Aucklanders, but New Zealanders and NZ men in particular get a bashing from design commentator Douglas Lloyd Jenkins in a recent Listener article, although arguably the same allegation of poor taste in fashion could be leveled at gay men as well as straight men, and at women as well. There is a none too subtle – and boring – irony that not only do gay men rule the female fashion world, but that now they deign to tell straight men that their fashion sense sucks as well. And this from a man who dresses as Rupert the Bear. Thank heavens that in the Fishy world, our scales are fashion enough, and the rest of the herring crowd doesn’t mind if you are a boy fish or a girl fish.


Anyway: we don’t need to worry about fashion here in Wellington – your hair is cut short because of the wind, women don’t wear a skirt in case it ends up over your head, men tend not to wear kilts for much the same reasons, and black is such a sensible colour, it’ll work for everywhere from the CakeTin to the nightclub. All you need now are a few polka dots…. coming soon…!


24 - 09 - 09

How particularly apt that Auckland’s annual Boobs on Bikes Parade also took place yesterday.
I’d argue that Boobs on Bike’s is Auckland’s true statement on fashion:
“New Business Association chief executive Cameron Brewer said the parade was a bad look.
“The timing couldn’t be worse with Boobs On Bikes right in the middle of Fashion Week. Our best and brightest fashion designers are doing their best to showcase New Zealand high fashion, yet there’s a tacky sideshow holding up all the traffic,” he said.
“It’s a real shame when our celebrated creative sector are putting their best foot forward this week. It’s an untimely distraction.
“Let’s hope the visitors, international fashion media and buyers are too busy down at the viaduct to see what’s going down Queen Street.”

24 - 09 - 09

Sigh…. yes, you’re right. A carefully crafted post to show that Pamela Anderson is the big-breasted news in Auckland, to an otherwise anorexic fashion week – and then we get not only Chelsea Charms with the world’s biggest breasts, but also designers ‘The Carpenter’s Daughter’ have put hefty size 18 women on the catwalk…. …which in fashion terms is great and empowering to women (but will further categorise Auckland as a hick town in the fashion capitals of Europe like Milan…)
“The label’s founder, Caroline Mar, said the average model in the show was size 18 representative of a big number of New Zealand women. Sixty-five per cent of Kiwi women are believed to be size 16 or bigger. Mar is all for women celebrating their curves and said she wanted to “show normal everyday women that they are also part of fashion because they get left out a little bit”.

“There are a lot of big girls out there and usually at Fashion Week you don’t see them. Our customers are so hard on themselves and are their own worst critics. My idea is to make them into cheerleaders when they look in the mirror every day.”

24 - 09 - 09

Not sure what this post of yours has to do with either Wellington or Urban Design, although the picture of Ms Anderson is most enjoyable. Such a sweet young woman.

60 MPa
24 - 09 - 09

They say you are a true Wellingtonian if you can distinguish between 6 different shades of black suits..

Heard this Jenkins chap on Nine to Noon Tues
and he put out the theory that good clothes are a conversation starter for meeting women.
Five bucks says he’s an habitual bow-tie wearer, which only looks good on PJ O’Rourke.

While we should all be patronising good local shops (big ups to Marvel,Mandatory and Rixon Groove) I think he misses the point a bit in that NZers like to think that they are relaxed and a bit “beachier” than that.
It’s great to look sharp in the right place but no good when getting dirty.(For work purposes, you understand)

Having said that, if I never see another pair of crocs it won’t be too soon – the original Urgh boot.

Tethered Zeppelins
4 - 10 - 09

Never thought you were much like Michael Laws, but your post does have a certain resonance with this article by him in the Sunday Star Times:

CULTURE WARS came to Auckland last week with the twin attractions of Fashion Week and Boobs on Bikes.
Auckland retail leader Cameron Brewer cringed at the conflict and sniffed that the latter would undermine all the good work of the former. It was good taste versus bad taste, and Brewer clearly favoured the Bolly brigade.
He is, of course, wrong. There was more of an audience for US porn star Chelsea Charms, and her lightly tethered zeppelins, than the combined crowds of every fashion show. Low taste may be poor taste, but it is taste nonetheless. That Fashion Week sought to portray amateur porn star Pamela Anderson as its pin-up girl only emphasised the magnitude of that victory.

I’m the first to admit that I don’t get Fashion Week. But then, I’m a straight male. None of my gender nor sexuality remotely do. We don’t understand the weird walks, the weirder clothes and the view that goodie bags are an end in themselves. But most of all, we don’t understand the pretension. The cultish view that fashion is worthy of exclusive veneration, and that the more unwearable the garment then the more watchable it must be. In fact, the only bit we actually got were the size 16 models in the Carpenter’s Daughter show, because that’s exactly what our wives and girlfriends look like.
We also don’t get the highbrow dismissal of Boobs on Bikes an absolutely harmless display of fantasy and fantastic proportions. Men like to look it is our instinctive nature. More car accidents have been caused by a crop-top than any cellphone will ever create. It is our culture.

But it was veteran columnist and commentator Jane Clifton who really set the scene in her tut-tut midweek review of the networks’ current affairs shows. At what point did porn become mainstream, even respectable, she asked? With Chelsea Charms on TV1’s Close Up and our own homegrown porn star Lisa Lewis on TV3’s Campbell Live, what happened to serious TV?
There can be little doubt that porn has become mainstream over the past 20 years. More liberal classifications and the rise of the video and the DVD have seen to that. In addition, porn has made previously taboo or unusual sexual practices very much the norm.
Again, this upsets moralists and feminists alike. But the truth is that women are as ready a market for porn/erotica as men. It is a common couples stimulus, and upmarket sex shops like D’Vice cater almost exclusively for the female market. Then there is the rise of the suburban swinging scene an outlet for bored couples who can’t quite bring themselves to clandestinely cheat.

Indeed, women are the more assertive daters these days. They have always been the mating gatekeeper, but now they’re as apt to play poacher too. There is no more devastating a hunter as a woman on the pull.
And yet none of these things are remotely respectable. Women might gossip after the second gin about their favourite sex toy, but it’s still not polite conversation at the dinner table. No man ever admits watching any internet porn other than by complete mistake. Likewise no one openly confesses to being a swinger, or to wishing a career in the adult entertainment industry upon their son or daughter.
In short, we remain this inherent mess of prude and prurient. Which is why Chelsea Charms is such a safe outlet. We can ogle, but it is the ogle of the freak show.

Fashion is the same. Pornography: respectable, but not.

It has the same kind of participants beautiful women, in the main, surrounded by the seedy and the snakes. It has the same drug-addled stars and the same disregard for convention and conformity. It even has the same regard for the freakishly proportioned and the fantasy that they provoke. It has the same offer of glamour and the same betrayal of dreams. Only the hard, and the hard-nosed, truly survive.
And what was the arty documentary on Vogue ice queen Anna Wintour if not an exploration of sex, fantasy and power? The only difference between Wintour and pornographer Steve Crow is that the former has way more money. And the latter, a lot more fun. Their product, and their intent, is the same. This is fine by me. I’m a moral libertarian and believe that what consenting adults do with and to each other in private, public or the parliamentary debating chamber is entirely their affair. But let’s not get too prissy: one man’s pornography is another woman’s Robert Mapplethorpe. One woman’s erotica is another man’s bloody boring book.

And there’s a lesson in the last week. Don’t complain and people won’t notice. Auckland has finally learned from its excessive upset that provocation is another’s publicity, and that all publicity is good publicity. That said, the mainstream media still bit this year and as long as they carry on biting then the happier Steve Crow’s creditors will be.
But spare us the rapt divinity of NZ Fashion Week: the excited twitter of kids, barely out of journalism school, trying to preach profound. It was entertainment and as divorced from the average wardrobe as Chelsea Charms is from your wife.
We would never be seen dead with either: the clothes or the porn actress. Jeans, a tight T-shirt and a sportive embrace from your lover. Does it get any better?