December 26, 2010
I've never bought a single issue of Vogue magazine. If it weren't for "Sex and the City" I wouldn't even know what Manolo Blahniks are and, now that I do know, I still don't care. In fact, I had to look up how to spell "Manolo Blahnik"in order to type that and it wasn't spelled anything like I thought it was. In the world of fashion there are "fashionistas" and I'm happy to not be one of them. I'm a fashiomissta, not a fashionista.
My introduction to high fashion was back in the eighties when I found a show on CNN called "Style with Elsa Klensch." The program would air the runway shows -- of what I supposed were famous designers -- from around the world. Until then I had no idea there was any such thing as "couture."
"Style with Elsa Klensch" became appointment TV for me. Every week I sat there utterly fascinated watching runway show after runway show and every week I had the same thoughts:
"Who wears this crazy shit?"
"That's not even real clothes. You can't do anything in them. And it looks ridiculous."
"People actually buy this stuff?! Who?"
And then there was the question I ended each program with, "Why don't these people design real clothes for real women?"
Not knowing anything about fashion, I hadn't realized that most of the fashion designers were men. And I really hadn't known most of them were gay men. But watching "Style with Elsa Klensch" that was obvious.
So that led me to another question. "Why would gay men design clothing for women?" I mean, think about it, gay men like men.........shouldn't they be designing clothing for men since that's who they found attractive?
Then one day all the pieces came together and I had an epiphany. It was during an overhead shot as I was looking down into a bustier flopping emptily on the chest of a model with no breasts.........
They weren't designing clothes for women. They were designing clothes for drag queens.
That explained it all. It explained the models they chose. Gay men find male characteristics attractive. When the average height for a woman was under 5'4" these models must have averaged 5'10". You know who averages 5'10" in height? Men. That's who. It explained why the models had broad shoulders, no breasts, figures as straight as a board and giant hands and feet.
It explained the flamboyant costumes they were passing off as clothing. I could picture a drag queen wearing those outfits as I could never picture real women wearing those outfits.
However, these designers were in the business of selling their clothing and the market potential for drag queens wouldn't earn them a living. They had to sell their clothes to women. Which meant they couldn't have actual drag queens up there modeling their "women's" clothing. So they used female models who looked as close to men as they could get.
Now do I think they were consciously doing this, that there was a deliberate plan? No. I think they were just doing what most artists do: designing what they like. But what they like and what they find attractive is men. As for the few straight men and women who were fashion designers, all I could figure is they were just going along with the way it was.
The theory made perfect sense to me back then and it certainly explained everything I saw on that show.
Flash forward twenty years, I've long since stopped watching "Style with Elsa Klensch" even before it went off the air back in 2000. One day I'm channel surfing when I come across a marathon of "America's Next Top Model." On the show there's a runway coach who teaches the models how to walk and how to pose for the camera. As expected the coach was a model and really is very good at the job of teaching these young women how to be fashion models. This "runway coach extraordinaire" is also.........a man: J. Alexander, a drag queen.
All I can say is at least the fashion industry has finally come out and admitted who it is they really want up on the runway.