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Springtime for Hauteur

It’s the snobs, phonies and backstabbers of the fashion world who really get on author/style fiend Glenn O’Brien’s nerves. No, what he thinks should be in vogue are wit, candor, dignity and some good old-fashioned catfights.

Former Interview editor and Factory member Glenn O’Brien has authored two books on style and contributes his sartorial advice to GQ magazine.

When the other boys were looking at the girls in Playboy, I was looking at the girls in Vogue. I wasn’t designing dresses for my mom when I was a kid—I was playing ball and reenacting wars with the rest of the guys. But I dug elegance. I went for the Audrey Hepburn, not Jayne Mansfield. There’s no accounting for taste: I ended up a fan of the Yankees, the Jets and John Galliano. I love fashion.

And I hate it too.

What I love about it is obvious—beautiful girls, beautiful clothes, fantastic levels of inventiveness, escape from the humdrum of conformity. I like the libertine quality one senses in fashion precincts, the lack of moral pretense. I like escapism. What I hate is more complicated.
I hate the snobbiness. Fashion shows were originally intended to sell clothes, but now they also establish social orders. First row, second row, third row, everyone else standing or turned away. It’s like a microcosm of America. Occupy Wall Street, sure, but what about Seventh Avenue? Fashion is the Defense Department of the 1 percent.

The worst snobs on the planet inhabit the fashion world. Not to mention psychos, sickos and backstabbers. Keith Olbermann’s Countdown used to call out “The Worst Person in the World,” but he never mentioned anyone in fashion. If he only knew that underneath all that organza lurks a world that’s as vicious and heartless as the one under the Capitol dome.

But nobody notices because everyone is so nice.

Everybody says everything is great, the way Andy Warhol did—except you could tell Andy didn’t mean it. Art and fashion are at their best when the creators compete. Think of the abstract expressionists punching each other out at the Cedar Tavern. Instead, it’s “Oh, he’s fabulous; she’s dreamy.” What fashion needs are front-row punch-outs. Not just designer on designer, but editor on editor, stylist on stylist. “You sociopathic, lying biatch!” Front-row violence would make the whole thing a lot more exciting.

Not to mention sex. I remember hot models walking the runways to spontaneous ovations. But now designers want all the applause at the end, so it’s Stepford models—expressionless, sexless robot teens. Imagine if real women modeled the clothes, or high-quality drag queens.
But you’ll never get any real criticism of the fashion system or its major players in the fashion press because it’s a legion of hoes. If a designer/advertiser staged “Springtime for Hitler,” nobody would write a bad word. They think they’re art critics now, but they’re even more witless.

And humorless. If the sly Thom Browne sent a guy out on the street wearing a white, down-filled wedding dress with a train, he’d get some laughs; but send him out on the runway and there’s nothing but nods and note-taking.

Hey, I’m all for the sideshow, but it shouldn’t be the headliner. How much of the brainpower of humanity does fashion use up? Like a computer, the human race has only so much memory, and I bet half of the cosmobytes not taken up by sports, celebrity gossip and wanking are used by fashion.

And fashion information has the half-life of soap bubbles. Imagine if we diverted the brainwaves we’re using up on handbags and shoes into bee colony collapse disorder or curing cancer or gerrymandering.