You’ve probably already seen that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rocked up at the Met Gala – where individual tickets are $35,000 (£20,000) and tables start at $200,000 (£150,000) – wearing a white dress saying in big red letters TAX THE RICH. It’s what the Clash called ‘turning rebellion into money’. Not one dollar in tax from the rich is going to be gained from this gesture — fashion can absorb anything and turn it into a trivial trend.
Garments with words on are always monstrous. I think of the immortal words of Fran Lebowitz: ‘If people don’t want to listen to you, what makes you think they want to hear from your sweater?’
Top of my hate list were those Katharine Hamnett monstrosities, with CHOOSE LIFE and 58% DON'T WANT PERSHING in letters a mile high. Imagine my glee when my husband’s mate got to know her and we were asked over for ‘supper’.
‘The young poor dress so much better than the young rich,’ she drawled at one point. ‘That’s because the young poor can’t afford your clothes!’ I came right back. She had her boy toy show us the door, but I’ve often recalled that evening when I pass yet another halfwit walking down the street bearing the legend NO WAR, SAVE THE FUTURE or, best of all, NO MORE FASHION VICTIMS in big black letters on a baggy white T. I thought of it again when I saw the images of AOC last night.
Looking at the other rich and famous celebs attending the Met Gala last night, the words ‘more money than sense’ came straight to mind. I’ve always been an admirer of Kim Kardashian and the gloriously brazen way she flaunts her beautiful, bespoke body, but to see her in a full-body gimp suit, out ga-ga-ing Gaga in that meat dress, made me seriously query her mental well-being. It reminded me of when poor, cornered, over-sexualised Britney shaved her head: ‘Look at me – don’t look at me. Think I’m pretty? How you like me now?’. Or what about Cara Delevingne wearing a vest with the words: 'Peg the patriarchy'?
Lewis Hamilton, no doubt to signal that he is not just a hyper-privileged multi-millionaire, showed his solidarity with the non-binaries (or the ‘ninnies’ as I call them for short) by turning up wearing what looked like his nan’s best nets. It recalled the old Sound of Music scene when Maria takes down the curtains and makes dresses of them.
I’ve never cared for fashion, not even when I was a teenybopper and supposed to be getting into clothes. When my friends hung around Chelsea Girl, I shoplifted in bookshops; I liked being a glitter kid as our clothes could be any old thing so long as they were mired in sequins. When I pretended to be a punk at 17 in order to get my dream job at the New Musical Express, I was similarly pleased to adopt the uniform of skintight leather. I’ve always had so much going on *upstairs* that to devote any sizeable portion of what clothes I chose each day would have struck me as pointless in the extreme.
Every area of commerce is attempting to deal with climate change mania and urban insurrection in their own way. Kendall Jenner gives a policeman a Pepsi and stops a riot. Cars go green. But fashion is in a uniquely difficult position as its survival depends on the throwing away of good clothes four times a year in order to make way for the new.
Fashion contributes to pollution of the earth and the exploitation of workers to an unparalleled degree; the fashion industry makes, say, manufacturing fridges look like growing wildflowers on an Alpine mountain in terms of its war against nature. The Met Gala will increasingly become a wake for the Woke wealthy, as their mockable costumes and sad faces say ‘We may be rich and famous but look – we’re not having any fun – please don’t burn our gated communities down!’.