№.6 For Those About To Dress...

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Why don’t we consider great personal style to be high art?

The dressing room in Karl Lagerfeld’s apartment in Louveciennes. You bet I’ve sunk many hours into browsing Pamono for a replica of that gorgeous Bruno Paul dressing table for AFFALÉ H.Q.

Personal style is a dangerous thing for a fashion designer to possess. Never trust a skinny cook, but never, ever trust a chic designer. No one is more susceptible to getting high on their own supply, save for, like, a ski lift operator with a cannabis-flavored side hustle. It’s almost exactly like that Picasso quote about turpentine…

“When art critics get together they talk about Form and Structure and Meaning. When artists get together they talk about where you can buy cheap turpentine.”

…except, invert it!

“When fashion designers get together they talk about Form and Structure and Meaning. When consumers get together they talk about where you can buy cheap basics.”

As with boxing, and jazz—“The better it is, the less people appreciate it!—exquisite sartorial taste is inherently self-effacing. But not in the trendy, much-discoursed “quiet luxury” sense that pop culture is currently enamored with. (Thanks, Succession costume department; thanks, ski accident victim-victim Gwyneth Paltrow.)

No, truly great personal style is self-effacing precisely because it’s so over-the-top. It doesn’t cover its own tracks, so much as it stomps around on those stilts with giant molds of different kinds of animals’ paws strapped to the bottoms. People inevitably grow accustomed to filtering it out, chunking it into your broader personality, assigning you a kind of emeritusy GOAT status: “Oh, that’s just so-and-so; they have great taste.”

So you become obsessed with finding new, heretofore inconceivable ways to cry, “Wolf!”. Because when you’ve already committed to going all-in, each and every hand, upping the ante is no longer a viable get-your-kicks strategy. Congratulations, you’ve shot the moon. Hitting upon dramatic new ways to splay all of your chips out, Casino Royale-style, is all you can do to stave off death-by-boredom.

Like, concrete recent example: over-engineering feathers:

“…Everyone was still abuzz over [stylist Law Roach’s] client Hunter Schaefer attending the Vanity Fair Oscar party with only an Ann Demeulemeester feather as a top. That she avoided a wardrobe malfunction is a styling feat at least worthy of an engineering Ph.D. student’s thesis.”

Back Row’s Amy Odell, in Law Roach Said It: Dream Jobs Can Be Miserable

Amazing, but, now what? How will the duo set the fashion press abuzz next year? With two feathers? Half a feather? The obvious fashionista solution is, of course, just rock a wardrobe malfunction! Countersignaling, yay! As horseshoe theory would postulate, the distance between a faux-pas and a faux-yeah! is vanishingly slim.

But that, that right there.

That’s the problem.

Thanks to your status as Dope Emeritus, you can now get away with murder. With killing it in something no one else would be caught dead in. Show up to the office in a literal clown suit, shoes and all? Probably some 4D chess styling savant thing, they’ll all say. (Dress up as a chess piece the next day and really get inside their OODA loop.)

Because, in the land of the two-eyed, the assumed-to-be-three-eyed girl is queen.

Hans Christian Anderson’s infamous The Emperor’s New Clothes isn’t some cute lil’ fable where the moral is: Hubris: Not even once. Instead, I invite you to view it, eyes afresh, as a sort of koan. Regardless of their degree of undress, Empresses, Emperors, and Empresons alike haven’t no clothes.

They haven’t any clothes.

They, fashionistaus supremeus, have transcended all trends; they have sublimated all things sartorial; they have shed the compulsion to act chic. The thrill of getting ready in the morning is gone. No more risqués (get it) to conquer. Not another mountain to wanna make move.

So! If you’re still with me here, the loudmouth kid at the end of the fable—this punk isn’t blurting out some sage observation that no adult dare make, borne out of a child’s more direct perception of reality. I mean, really, have you been around kids, lately? Ever? A stopped second hand is still correct once a minute. Just out of HCA’s frame, I’ll bet the next thing that kid says is: “Look! The sky! It’s purple!”

Speaking of Karl Lagerfeld, did you know he published an exquisitely-drawn edition of Emperor’s New Clothes? If anything, that man was too self-aware…

So dressing well is under-appreciated as an art form. It’s under-appreciated in proportion to how well you dress. And, as our little above-reframed fable illustrates, it falls completely off everyone’s event horizons the exact instant you fully step into your power as a luminous cyborg being, comprised of flesh and blood and fabric and cloth.

Where does that leave us? How do we learn to appreciate the elusive art of personal style?

“For the human is a godlike living thing, not comparable to the other living things of the earth but to those in heaven above, who are called gods. Or better—if one dare tell the truth—the one who is really human is above these gods as well, or at least they are wholly equal in power to one another.

“For none of the heavenly gods will go down to earth, leaving behind the bounds of heaven, yet the human rises up to heaven and takes its measure and knows what is in its heights and its depths, and he understands all else exactly and—greater than all of this—he comes to be on high without leaving earth behind, so enormous is his range.

“Therefore, we must dare to say that the human on earth is a mortal god but that god in heaven is an immortal human. Through these two, then, cosmos and human, all things exist, but they all exist by action of the one.”

— “The Key


“Because of this, unlike any other living thing on earth, mankind is twofold—in the body mortal but immortal in the essential man. Even though he is immortal and has authority over all things, mankind is affected by mortality because he is subject to fate; thus, although man is above the cosmic framework, he became a slave within it. He is androgyne because he comes from an androgyne father, and he never sleeps because he comes from one who is sleepless.

“Yet love and sleep are his masters.”

— “Poimandres

Check back in a few days for part two.

plus chic, tu meurs,


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