Thursday 3 March 2011

(updated) Galliano: What not to swear

when your apology is neither sincere nor binding, such as those regularly proffered by Pope Maledict.

John Galliano, probably as the result of prodding by his agent and advice from his legal counsel, produced a waah-waah statement regarding his latest anti-semitic rants, this one recorded and posted on YouTube. His list of regrets was published in the Wall Street Journal (!) and its self-flagellating pose would look good on a member of Opus Dei.

Here's a man who says he was victimized for being and looking different, yet seethes with anti-semitism and gynophobia. His contempt for women evident, in the fashion he creates and the way he displays it on anorectic models who deliberately look like concentration camp survivors. His men's clothing models are well-muscled and buff.

Models on the catwalk at the John Galliano Spring/Summer 2009 collection fashion show during the Paris Fashion Week, Paris, France.

stylist flew to his defense with a barely coherent statement of her own: "People in fashion all they do is go and see John Galliano theater every season. That's what he gives them. To me, this was the same except it wasn't in a theater or in a movie. John lives in theater. It's theater. It's farce. But people in fashion don't recognize the farce in it. All of a sudden they don't know him. But it's OK when it's Mel Brooks' 'The Producers' singing Springtime for Hitler."

So. A gay bully goy screaming foul and vile anti-semitic slurs is theatre, and it should be celebrated like the comedic work of acclaimed Jewish director∕writer Mel Brooks who parodied white-supremacy first in a clever and brilliant film, and then in a Broadway musical.

As I observed over at ProgBlogger gay persons of colour - alcohol unblocks self-censorship; it doesn't plant beliefs or attitudes in people's brains. Galliano expressed opinions that he held and felt; the disinhibitor of his choice simply loosened his tongue. But Patricia Field may want to use the Twinkie defense to justify her inane comments.

Nathalie Portman is said to be deeply shocked and disgusted by the video (of Galliano's hateful rant), and that "as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, [she] will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way."

Galliano is a venal example of a fashion designer who patently loathes women who don't meet the physical requirements of a perambulating clothes racks for his creations.

Some feminist fashionistas deconstruct the pervasive and persistent gynophobia implicit in the hegemonic representation of a specific ideal female body type which is nubile, thin and malleable.

From here:

Crystal Renn, photographed so memorably in her voluptuous curves by Glamour magazine in September 2009, when her spare tyres (shock! horror!) provoked headlines, and who wrote a memoir about her recovery from anorexia [...] is now a U.S. size two [...] These girls have been used as a smokescreen, so that the gay men who run the industry can continue to peddle the idea that women should look like adolescent boys (it was no coincidence that nerdy, weedy boys walked the runway in womenswear this season). This is their dream, not ours.

Why does what goes on in this elite bubble, this hall of mirrors, matter? Because even though Renn enjoyed fame as a plus-size model, the fact she is now a size [two] reveals that, deep down, women want to be tiny, no matter how much we protest. It confirms the fact that once anorexia nervosa or even yoyo dieting has you in its grip, it is hard to ever be free of it.

Renn has explained her weight loss by saying she has ‘got into hiking’, but then anorexics and those with body image issues always say things like that. [...] Sad for all those women out there who are easy prey to these overpaid idiots. Who will go on a diet, and fail, and binge. Who will worry about fitting into that bikini come summer. Who will look at these impossible, clearly harmful images and find they just don’t measure up, and never will.

[...]one of the women in the audience, Nita Dickson [...] is the mother of Sophie, who died in her 40s from anorexia-related illness. I had become friends with Sophie — who in the end weighed 3st — while working with her on a documentary. I remember sitting talking to her, in her South London terrace house, and gasping when two of her teeth clattered to the floor. This is what these beautiful fashion shows don’t show you, the ugly side of being thin.

Nonetheless, it was his virulent explosion of anti-semitism, and not his ongoing visual assault on women's bodies that got Galliano fired from his job.

Update: Women, in all their gorgeous fleshiness and their wildly different configurations, are more likely to respond to publications and photographs that depict them as they actually are.


Look's editor Ali Hall: [...] "about five months ago I started using curvy models every week. The response was unbelievable. I've never had anything like it on a magazine. "People were quite emotional about it, saying 'thank you, it's changed the way I dress' and talked about the confidence it gave them.

[...] In Germany, the market-leading women's magazine went further; Brigitte stopped using professional models altogether in January last year, and now uses a diverse range of readers in its fashion pages. Sales have gone up 4%. "It wasn't a strategic decision, it was a natural development," says editor-in-chief Andreas Lebert. With the boom in fashion blogging, and sites where street style is celebrated, it isn't just designers and magazine editors who can create trends. "The traditional image of a model to show women what they should look like has become redundant.

[...]Will any of this really change the way women are portrayed in fashion magazines? Ben Barry, a PhD student at Cambridge University, thinks eventually it will. His research, to be published in a few months, is on whether female consumers are more likely to buy something when an advertisement (and by extension, a glossy magazine fashion spread) features a model who is more reflective of them.

Using mocked-up fashion adverts, Barry surveyed 3,000 women in the UK, US and Canada, "and the vast majority of women significantly increase purchase intentions when they see a model that reflects their age, size and race. If you speak to consumers on the street about my research, nobody is surprised – consumers are light years ahead of the fashion industry in that they want to see diversity.

So. Will haute couture featuring emaciated models garbed in esoteric, absurd and Grand Guignol-flavoured schmattas persevere? Probably just as polo does, as a form of entertainment for the very rich and really vapid.


Jacqui said...

What an EXCELLENT post! Thanks for summing up what I've felt but had trouble articulating.

deBeauxOs said...

Laurie Penny at The New Statesman nails Galliano as an ugly eruption of the omnipresent gynophobia and racism in the fashion industry.

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