Is there nothing that can’t be made fashionable?

by Franca on 17 February 2012


At the airport on my way back from Brussels I bought this magazine because I wanted to check how well I can read French (pretty well, thankfully). I picked this one, Jalouse, because it looked the least wordy. The main headline said ‘Crazy Mode’ but little did I know that this was some sort of mental health themed issue. There was a few articles (some serious) and loads of features making reference to the ‘maniaco-depressif’. I don’t want to say anything about the proper articles because something may have been lost in translation, but this I just cannot let go even after creating my very own mini twitter outrage.

There was a fashion story with the model made up to look pale and like she’s been crying, looking miserable wearing misbuttoned designer pyjamas (see photos), with the following description:

To the West. Like a convalescent in a bathrobe. In slippers and luxury shirts, in pyjamas and sequin tops, a shopping bag just in case or… In short, a deranged appearance, like an outing from the psychiatric hospital.*

Really? Really? The psychiatric hospital? What is the message here: She’s not well enough to dress herself, but look how hot and artfully fucked up she looks? Psychosis is sexy?

When I posted this on facebook, someone said they were beginning to supect Zoolander was a documentary. Looking at this, they’re not far off!

* In French (not sure I got this exactly right, but definitely the gist of it): A l’Ouest. Telle une convalescente en peignoir. En chaussons et chemise do luxe, en pyjama et tops a pailettes, un cabas au cas ou… Bref une allure detraquee, comme pour une sortie d’hospital psy.

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Rebekah February 17, 2012 at 8:16 am

Grrr. Even though my brain knows that anything can be — what, commodified? Fetishized? — I’m still surprisingly irritated when it happens.
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Franca February 17, 2012 at 10:21 am

I know, we shouldn’t be surprised, but this did just make me go ‘whhoooaa’. I’m almost ‘used’ to casual racism because it’s so common. I think here it’s that she looks so unwell here that I had an almost physical reaction.

Kerry February 17, 2012 at 10:12 am

Er, what?! This is so distasteful, but then don’t French magazines (is this Belgian?) have a history of striking the wrong note? Whitening black models (or was it blacking up white models?) and taking about ‘slave style’ earrings.
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Franca February 17, 2012 at 10:24 am

It’s French Vogue that does this kind of thing all the time (that was them with the blacking up and also the photos having starving slum kids hold £1000 handbags). This is a French magazine, but I’m not sure (I hope!) it’s not a French thing.

Kerry February 17, 2012 at 10:18 am

‘talking’ not ‘taking’ – my powers of spelling have abandoned me this morning.
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superheidi February 17, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Besides the very offensive and insulting nature of such a mindless shoot, I can’t believe how uncreative this actually is. The chief editor and stylist must have been very desperate for ideas. Such bad taste!

poet February 17, 2012 at 5:16 pm

My first thought was “Wait, are they doing another of those awful glamorizations of physical abuse?” because of the reddened eyes and disheveled clothing, but this is just as bad. Absolutely not okay!
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Rebecca February 17, 2012 at 6:06 pm

This definitely is not a good way to get me to buy a magazine or the clothes they’re showing.
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The Waves February 17, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Holy sh*t! This is so problematic and inappropriate… on waaay too many levels. I have a vague recollection that Italian Vogue did something similar a few years ago; with strait-jackets or something. What’s next, cancer, malaria, world hunger..?
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jesse.anne.o February 17, 2012 at 7:03 pm

I always think of AbFab instead of Zoolander but it’s basically the same thing.

Heroin chic. Oil spill chic. Homeless chic.

It’s times like that when I am glad I anchor my fashion news in everyday-people fashion blogs. The context is unmistakable, you know?
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The Waves February 17, 2012 at 7:06 pm

It seems that I was right; Steven Meisel shot a rehab editorial for Vogue Italia in 2007. Not cool.
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Style Eyes February 19, 2012 at 9:35 am

What’s that all about! Surely no one wants to look like that and seems entirely inappropriate to make light of such a serious issue for many people.

Dora February 20, 2012 at 6:39 pm

That’s awfully ill of them fashion magazines are running out of ideas.
how can they make fun of such a delicate issue.

Shophopper February 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm

This is quite distasteful, but I don’t think it falls under the same category as Meisel’s shoot. At least his rehab editorial was interesting, and you could read it as a sort of commentary on the fashion world. I don’t mind fashion magazines tackling taboos or social issues, as long as they don’t do it in a gratuitous way.
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Lorena March 7, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Yikes !
I think it’s a little too much.
But you have actually brought up a very interesting question: IS there nothing that can’t be made fashionable ?
I have the feeling that NO – some stuff is plain tacky and unreal and I see no art behind it. But, then again the truth is in the eye of the beholder :)
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