Thursday, January 25, 2007

God wears Dog

The fashion world is taking a beating lately. First, the self-proclaimed God of Rap was caught wearing dog fur, and in Brazil, fashion is being blamed for the anorexia deaths of several teenage girls.

The court of public opinion in that country seems to be fingering the fashion industry--for creating body image models that most girls cannot achieve. So Brazil's top model Gisele B√ľndchen, a tall blonde of German blood, felt the need to defend fashion. Anorexia, she said, isn't the industry's fault, it's parents' fault.

I don't know what I think about that, other than that she comes off as a Marie Antoinette.

But here's what we can learn about cool: For many people fashion and cool are coterminous. These twin tempests show us the difference: fashion is an industry and cool is an attitude. Fashion isn't cool, it wields cool (to sell product). But cool is by definition slippery and flees at the first sign of trouble. Cool doesn't get caught.

Fashion, on the other hand, can get caught. That's what happened to Jay-Z over the holidays.

Faux-fur coats, made in China and carrying his label's name, turned out to be real--real dog fur. Fashion can get humiliated, but not cool.

Actually, fashion predates cool by centuries, according to Joan DeJean in The Essence of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion.

Most likely, fashion will outlast cool, but in the short term it's fun to look as the "identity industry" as they like to call themselves, gnash against an identity being imposed on them from the outside.

Plus, there's something beautiful about the man who calls himself "Hova" (as in the God of Rap) getting caught pimping dog fur jackets.

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