Dry White Season

Whoever wins in November, Republican looks swept the Fashion Week runways

| September 30, 2004

With the windows of the Marc Jacobs shop showcasing underwear with anti-Bush slogans, and with so many fashion designers vehemently opposed to the Bush Administration's policies, it is surprising that the so-called statements of Fashion Week were anything but rebellious. It is downright disappointing to see lily-white and blue-eyed models wearing Palm Beach-worthy printed cocktail dresses (As Four), candy-colored baby doll dresses (Marc Jacobs), narrow black skirts decorated with beads and feathers (Derek Lam), and Bermuda shorts. And besides the skirt, no one was wearing black after Labor Day.

It was as if the runways were speaking with one voice, and it was a stern one: 'We're not playing vintage dress-up anymore! We're serious. It's time to forget those wild feminist plans, those ratty tangles, and dress like a rich, grown-up lady!' At many shows the models looked like what they in fact were -- sullen teenagers who had been forced to sit for endless hair and makeup sessions and then be trussed up in $5,000 gowns when they'd rather be hooking up behind their local Burger King. In one show, in which Keith Richards and McJagger's daughters smiled as they dressed up in familiar Trash and Vaudeville-type gear -- turquoise boots, little skirts, and tees -- the change felt remarkably refreshing, far beyond the novelty of their clothes or the smiles on their faces.

Fortunately, there were some transgressors, but very few. Downtown designer Gary Graham put a model in dresses made of gold raffia and called it 'straw vote.' His were the only models wearing flat shoes. Jeremy Scott made a black and white mini-dress called Lady Liberty, which featured the statue with a skeleton's face. Kenneth Cole offered a film about voting. In the show by Imitation of Christ, someone read the Pledge of Allegiance while a Bush look-alike sat in the audience.

Without a touch of reverence or even ironic self-consciousness, Marc Jacobs threw a fragrance-launch after-party on the night of September 10th. Apparently, the girls in pretty candy-colored taffeta dresses throwing confetti didn't remind anyone of a time not so long ago when more than paper was falling from the sky.
-- Elizabeth Dwoskin



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