Fashion Victim: Our Love-Hate Relationship with Dressing, Shopping, and the Cost of Style

Fashion Victim: Our Love-Hate Relationship with Dressing, Shopping, and the Cost of Style

Michelle Lee

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 0767910486

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

A riveting look inside the fashion world that exposes the truth about shopaholics, sweatshops, and celebrity closets.

Fashion—from the $1500 Prada bag to the $30 Kate Spade knock-off sold on the sidewalk—has been transformed from a commodity reserved for the elite to a powerful presence in mass market culture. As a society, we are obsessed with fashion and style, racking up credit card debt to support compulsive shopping habits, scouring magazines for the latest trends to buy, and focusing more on who’s wearing what at the Oscars than on who’s winning. In Fashion Victim, award-winning journalist Michelle Lee blows the lid off the fashion industry, and spotlights the fascinating—and often disturbing--ways in which it is morphing our culture, our economy and our values.

Dishing on the lords of the label, including designers like Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, and Kenneth Cole, Fashion Victim reveals a world that is sometimes grotesque, sometimes glitzy, but constantly intriguing. From bear hides to the Victorian bustle, Lee traces the role of fashion through the ages, taking us from the dawn of ready-to-wear in 1865 to the modern trend cycles that incite us to clamor after leg warmers, bumster trousers, and Manolo Blahniks. She details the birth of “Speed Chic”—the hamster wheel of style that keeps us stuck in an endless cycle of consumption and has become the crack-cocaine of fashion, providing us with a temporary high until we spot the next trend and reach for our wallets. She also explores the phenomenon of “McFashion,” the uncanny proliferation of retailers like the Gap and Old Navy that are creeping into every town in America and stripping us—and the designers they knock off--of individuality and innovation. And she ultimately probes the human cost of fashion’s decadence, including the distorted perceptions of beauty fueled by high-end designers, the dangers of dry cleaning, and the ugly financial disparity between those who make the clothes and those who buy them.

An unprecedented look behind the runway at the forces and personalities driving this $200 billion dollar industry, Fashion Victim is a stylish, provocative and highly entertaining contribution to the analysis of American popular culture.

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manufactured these items certainly had the capability of using sinew or perhaps even plant fiber to stitch hides together to manufacture rudimentary clothing . . . people were doing much more than simply tying pelts to their bodies in an untanned and untreated state.” Adovasio believes that the Neanderthal’s predecessor, Homo erectus, was actually capable of creating clothing from a simple pattern and then stitching it along the edges. “I don’t believe they were necessarily manufacturing fully

why it carries so much weight in our lives. We have the power to change how we feel about our clothes, but we rarely do it. Can’t stand swimsuit shopping? Then why buy a new one every year? Hate exorbitant price tags? Then why continue to spend so much money? Tired of seeing everyone wearing the same clothes you see in stores? Why shop at the mall? Frustrated by the pace at which handbag shapes come and go? Why snatch up the latest styles? Sick of rail-thin models and celebrities in magazine

dressed exclusively in Miuccia Prada’s labels while publicizing the movie. “We have a deal with the marketing department for this movie,” Danes told a Philadelphia paper that year. “I wear what they give me and I get to wear whatever they give me when I’m not promoting.” Tommy Hilfiger exclusively dressed the cast of the 1998 film The Faculty, and its stars appeared in the designer’s ads. It’s essential that product placements reproduce real-life conditions, adds Ian McQueen, vice president of

exponentially. Companies scramble to get the top celebrities to see their clothes. Susan Ashbrook wastes no time offering them her clients’ services. The day that nominations are released and presenters are announced, Film Fashion approaches certain celebrities with “look books” on behalf of clients. In order to snare that all-important actress, designers fly into L.A. a week before the Oscars and set up the most expensive flea market in the world. This year, twenty-four fashion companies,

it’s any consolation, I threw away two-thirds of my wardrobe and lost fifteen pounds after 152 Digital Composition 135506 Lee_0767910486_4p_01_r1.qxd 12/19/02 9:25 AM Page 153 THE THIN SPIN first seeing paparazzi pictures of myself—the celebrity version of a vicious Polaroid.” When Minnie Driver packed on twenty pounds for her first film, 1995’s Circle of Friends with Chris O’Donnell, she told a reporter at the Toronto Sun that the weight gain wracked her selfconfidence. “I did weigh

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