Sometimes adjectives or literal descriptions don’t cut it for a fashion writer. Sometimes, images from a film, a work of art, or pop culture persona, or other such seemingly random connections give a much more accessible or instantly understood picture of what they see coming down the runway. Those notes front-row journalists jot down as each model trots past? Very often, it’s something like “ very Secretary meets Martha Graham” or “caged bird takes a bath.” It might be indirect, but it’s certainly a lot more fun.
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Whether the fashion writer’s personal observations end up matching the designer’s intended inspiration is not exactly the point, but sure, it’s always an added bonus for the purists. When it comes to absurdist fashion, however—the designers whose collections favor idiosyncrasy first and wearability later—these types of looks demand a surrealist game of free association.
This season during Paris fashion Week, Alexander McQueen’s show was a goldmine for this sort of activity, with its grotesque clowns-on-Botox makeup (very Amanda Lepore—the famed New York transsexual) and Philip Treacy headwear composed of detritus (see Matthew Barney’s Cremaster 5). Stripped away from such theatrics, McQueen’s clothes still made for quite a spectacle of gothic queens, exaggerated proportions, resurrected ideas from his previous collections, and as always, precise tailoring. And the really freaky iron maiden headgear? Does Hannibal Lecter ring a bell?
But my mind isn’t just stuck in teen-goth mode—pink swirls of cupcake frosting sums up my take on Marc Jacobs and his neon brights and a spangled bodysuit at Nina Ricci took me back to ‘90s Olympic ice-skating sweetheart Nancy Kerrigan. The hair at Comme de Garcons could only be described as a basket of yarn anxious to be crafted into a sweater and the stacked wood platforms at Galliano—his skyscraper heels are becoming legendary—didn’t make me want to buy them, but they did make me want to run to Ikea and pick up a bentwood table or chair.
And it doesn’t stop there. Here, a gallery of Fall ’09 juxtapositions straight from my brain to yours.
Renata Espinosa is the New York Editor of Fashion Wire Daily. She is also the co-founder of impressionistic fashion and art blog TheNuNu and a sometimes backup dancer for "The Anna Copa Cabanna Show."