The FINANCIAL — With the summer months storming into the public consciousness of Tbilisi’s residents, the city’s streets have been enlivened with a surge of rather pointed consumerism.
After all, the summer season calls for new dresses, bikinis and handbags in lighter fabrics and livelier prints. Winter staples give way to their summer equivalents as many of us struggle to frugally jumpstart our existing wardrobes by visiting high street stores or discount outlets to add a hint of colour, a new accessory, or replace pairs of worn-out skinny jeans, with, well, a new pair of skinny jeans.
Meanwhile, on the high-end of the fashion spectrum, Neiman Marcus, the largest luxury retailer in the United States, is already showcasing pre-autumn trends, which, according to this unparalleled fashion and designer hub, consist of the colour green, military themes, pantsuits, ponchos and vests, lace, statement boots, structured handbags and pearls. Christian Louboutin button flannel booties (featured on the store’s website to demonstrate the comeback of a military-inspired style) retail for 995 USD: a genuine price tag for authentic fashion that only skyrockets from here when it comes to Louboutin heels.
It is widely thought that one’s fashion credentials are proportional to the amount of cash spent acquiring them. Few things scream “trash” louder than an obnoxiously fake Louis Vuitton handbag or an inexcusably mediocre “Dolce&Cabbana” [sic.] t-shirt. Armed with such disposables, one would be hard-pressed to create a scarecrow, let alone a fashionable outfit.
The truth is that fashion does not come on the cheap. Within the last five to seven years the fashion industry has moved much further than a pair of skinny jeans tucked into a pair of boots, and catching up now becomes a matter of large-scale spending. Being fashionable requires buying autumn season Dior handbags and Louboutin boots now, in the spring, and trashing them in the autumn to make room for the winter arrivals. The great majority, though, would rather substitute a Dior bag for a functional car and adopt a similarly rational approach to their existing wardrobes. They might follow such practical suggestions, offered by Glamour magazine, as: why not pair an old denim jacket with last year’s maxi dress to create a new outfit for this summer? Yet would this sensible strategy carry much weight in the higher echelons of the fashion industry? Clearly not.
Fashion has a price tag; it comes from the pages of Vogue, not Glamour, it spills from the runways of New York and Paris into designer boutiques and luxury online retailers, not discount stores. Catching up is a maddening and, well, pointless exercise.
My own way out of this whirlwind? Timeless style. My favourite designer is Martin Margiela, a fashion visionary from Belgium who has made it his life’s work to design abstract, deconstructed and anti-fashion styles that are impossibly bold, sexy, humorous and mindboggling. Margiela’s cloven-hoof-like shoes, sunglasses that look like a censor bar, coats with extra sleeves protruding from the front and back, and batwing shirts are each recognizable and stylish without ever being fashionable in the truest sense. They are as deliciously mad today as they were when the collections first came out and as they, in all likelihood, will be in the future. They are works of art, nothing less.
Neither Nieman Marcus nor Glamour said it was fashionable to wear a batwing shirt this summer. But they also forgot to say that style transcends fashion by defying its most visible asset: complicity.