If you have not already done so, you may wish to read the
Introduction to Gnomica.
Friday 28 December 2012
Read gnomica 1-200 here!
I am a fashion person,
and fashion is not only about clothes
— it’s about all kinds of change.
Karl Lagerfeld (10 Sep 1933 – )
This is a most believable observation from a style star who, because he “wanted to dress differently”, lost 42 kilos (almost 100 pounds) in thirteen months — and published a book about how he did it. You’ve seen photos all over the popular press of this elegant gentleman of the very white hair and the very high collars, and he does photograph almost as attractively as the many beautiful young models a third his age who showcase his many couture creations. A quick peek into the man’s ‘world’ is not entirely amiss — here and here.
Yes, I have to agree that ‘fashion’ is “about all kinds of change”. Fashions come and fashions go, as they say, but, as that other famous fashionista Coco Chanel also said, “Fashion changes, but style endures.” Karl and Coco do not contradict each other!
Is there any difference between style and fashion? Most incontrovertibly! Style is as it were the immutable and eternal Platonic ‘form’ of which fashion in its many varied realizations in our fleeting phenomenological world is but a mutable and ephemeral instantiation.
Can you imagine what it is like to lose a hundred pounds? Just so you can “dress differently”? Well, it’s not hard to appreciate his reasoning nor his iron-willed, persevering follow-through on that reasoning … just look at some photos of the man! Even at his age, he really does look just too fab (and I’m not gay)! It is something to emulate.
In any event, there you have ‘one kind of change’.
And this kind of change is, on my thinking about the matter, at bottom an interior change, a change of attitude, a change of modus vivendi, and it is precisely that profound invisible interior change that makes possible the superficial visible exterior transformation. The outer is here a measure of the inner.
One is (or, I should more candidly say, I am) reminded in this connection of one of my favorite emblems of metamorphosis, the life cycle of the butterfly – that sometimes not unattractive caterpillar turning itself into an ugly pupa turning itself into the exquisitely beautiful butterfly. Lagerfeld, not entirely unlike the way he transformed himself, transform others – not so much on the inside, one imagines, as on the outside. Is that so evil?
Further, then, when it comes to fashion in general – not just clothes – ‘all kinds of change’ pop into mind. Some people change their exercise routines, their newspapers, their TV shows. Other change their tastes in food and drink, in films and books, in sets of ‘in’ and ‘out’ friends. Some even change their spouse. It’s endless.
And in this connection I won’t speak for others, but I come back to that Platonic thing: the phenomenological world of appearances where we live our quotidian routines does have an ephemeral quality to it, but — for all that – surely nothing to be contemptuous of. But we change, and at the same time (I believe) yearn for some kind of unchanging backstop to help us secure a groundedness that will not shift on us. We delight in Karl’s polymorphous ‘fashion’ but treasure Coco’s perdurable ‘style’.
So say I.