I believe fashion reveals something about human nature. Something that is at its very core. I believe fashion is pursued to attain it. Fashion exists to enhance it, to express it, to underline it. And yet somehow, along the way fashion has played a major role in the destruction of that which it was meant to reveal: the intrinsic cry of the human heart to feel beautiful. To be deemed beautiful by those around us.
This revelation was brought about by an incident that happened a few years ago. And now I’m here, writing about what happened, because I probably wouldn’t be if it hadn’t.
It was in October. I was visiting Lodz in Poland. I was working as a film editor at the time and my boss had decided to send me to cover FashionPhilosophy Fashion Week Poland. For three days I enjoyed one show after another while staying in one of Poland’s finest hotels - spa and rooftop view across the city included. Of course everything was paid for. The travel, the hotel, the taxi to and from the shows, the fancy dinners and the after parties. You see, unlike Paris, London and New York, smaller Fashion Weeks like Poland have to go a long way to get international press to fill the front rows.
It was my first experience of this kind. I was bedazzled and amused at the same time. And I observed, a lot.
I observed the bloggers standing in the courtyard of the main tent, outdoing each other in extravagance of their outfits, waiting to be captured on camera by one another in hope of making it on some street style blog. The goal: increased (preferably international) exposure. The unspoken rule: “I take a picture of you if you take a picture of me.” Simple as that.
I observed annoyed buyers - complaining about prolonged waiting periods or the quality of free food and services while young, mostly unpaid Fashion Week interns moved without ceasing in an attempt to provide the best possible experience for every international guest.
I held interviews with the beautiful models behind stage who seemed to be coming straight from their High school classes, many not yet too familiar with the English language. And I observed the same girls walk across the catwalk mostly naked- their young bodies clearly on display. I caught myself judging their minor imperfections - a tiny tummy bulging out here, a flat butt there. And I wondered if anyone else was struggling to keep their attention on the actual object of what we were here for - the artwork of the garments.
I noticed one of the models, clearly set apart by her advanced age (she must have been in her early 20s). Her face showed the first signs of the not-so-glamorous model lifestyle and her bone structure hinted at some hips - God forbid. Despite her bony frame I couldn’t help but think that her skinniness looked somewhat less effortless, less healthy than for the other girls.
I went to after-parties and observed men putting their best on display with the goal of returning with the trophy of having scored (yet another) model. I watched and even felt envious admiration of us female attendees of our young model counterparts driven by the belief that to look like one of them would make life an allround better experience.
While all of these observations got me thinking, it was one incident that moved me deeply. It wasn’t so much what happened, but rather the reaction to it. I wish I could tell you the names or other important details but all I remember is the atmosphere of the moment. The bottomline: one of the designers picked women from among her friends and acquaintances to display her designs on the catwalk. While middle-aged, these women were still unusually beautiful, tall and slender.
As the show went on, I heard gasps and snivels and finally an exasperated crowd jumping up from their chairs clapping frantically. It was all quite confusing. I wondered if I had missed something, if somehow I lacked basic understanding and appreciation for fashion and had failed to realize the ingenuity of the presented collection. But the shift in the atmosphere was undeniable. There was something raw, authentic and vulnerable in the air.
Whatever happened in those few moments, it left me wondering what was at the essence of it. It is this fascination and wonder about the feelings, values and humanity behind fashion that has me sitting down now, years later, telling you this story with a growing desire to delve deeper into this subject matter. I hope to reach a better understanding, a clearer insight, and perhaps even some truth, if not universal, then at least to live by in my own personal life.