With both Fashion Week and awards season upon us, we’re about to be swarmed with images of sartorial hits and misses on both the runway and the red carpet. Here, stylist, front-row regular and former host of Full Frontal Fashion, Robert Verdi, discusses our culture’s obsession with the industry, and his own love-hate relationship with clothes.
Fashion documentaries are much in vogue lately, largely due to... well, Vogue—the popularity of the magazine as well as the celebrity of its notorious editor-in-chief, Anna Regina George La Wintour.
The list of “Look at me!” and “What about me?” films includes Wintour’s own feature, The September Issue. But that’s not the only fashion exposé in the genre. To get the true picture, you really need to watch a marathon of Unzipped, The Last Emperor, L’Amour Fou, The Tents, Dressed, Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's and Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, all of which memorialize our obsession with possessions—particularly clothing—and the people who promote that fixation.
Then there’s another enlightening film, 2004’s Mean Girls. (I’m a huge fan of La Lohan in this TV film—I do love seeing a caftan and liquid eyeliner on the small screen.) Mean Girls shows that, where fashion’s concerned, we’re regularly intimidated into working harder and spending more money in order to look good and fit in better.
I adore fashion, but most of what I love about it is discussed weekly in a small room with my therapist. Because, while I love fashion, fashion doesn’t love me.
Somehow my life has turned into a couture episode of Hoarders. I’ve kept it all—every garment from every season of every show I’ve been on, hung tightly in a row. The Ralph Lauren Navajo blanket coats, the Versace silk “man blouses,” the MC Hammer “U Can’t Touch This” pants. Yes, all of it. Of course, most of it’s still unworn because, no matter how fast I can track down a hot new item in my size and have it shipped via chopper from a remote store in Prague, by the time it’s en route for delivery, it’s already gone out of style.
Fashion, like sex, leaves you wanting more, and, like relationships, leaves you questioning your sanity. It takes too much time, costs too much money and takes up too much room.
In his 1970 classic Future Shock, Alvin Toffler describes a psychological disorder that affects individuals—and even entire societies—in the future, in which “too much change in too short a time” leaves people unable to adapt, and therefore in a state of “future shock.”
Toffler believed that the accelerated rate of technological and social change would leave people disconnected and suffering from “shattering stress and disorientation.” In the book, he describes one of the components of this shock as “information overload.”
This is what happens every Fashion Week, not to mention every time I’m shopping on the Internet.
I’ve considered joining a nudist colony, but I don’t look terrific naked. Besides, the idea of being naked long-term is really only appealing from a financial (clothing-wise) perspective. But the emotional cost would be debilitating, and certainly not worth forgoing the new Rick Owens snakeskin jacket that’s en route to me as you read this—and, as of this very moment, is already out of style.