Thursday, September 16, 2010

Courtesy of Jezebel--Is Fashion Smart?

Jezebel's September article discussing the question "Is it really possible to be a smart person and like fashion?" was a very interesting read.  I always wondered this... mainly because I, myself, always discussed my love for fashion and style with a layer of self-consciousness.  I would gush over clothing and shoes with a select number of similar-minded friends, but when my passion came up in conversation to other individuals... I would play it off like it was some mindless form of entertainment--similar to watching a deliciously empty program on TV.  "Oh, yeah, I write a fashion/style blog--just for fun--you  know--just to use as a creative outlet... right..." would be my typical response.
When one thinks about extravagance in clothing, footwear, and accessories, a less than academic fluff socialite (Paris Hilton **cough**) may come to mind for a majority of the population.  It's hard not to make that connection when a lot of these heiresses or socialites make it a game to be wearing the latest and greatest of fashions and get photographed in them.  The following citation from the article is what I found most insightful:
     "Fashion is itself a way of engaging with the ideas that move our culture.  At least it can be--New York's second-largest industry, which is poised to generate some $770 million in economic activity for the town during the next week (Fashion Week) alone, intersects with race and racism, sex and sexism, consumption and consumerism, and it presents all sorts of murky ethical questions about how the garments we dress ourselves in are made, by whom, and under what conditions.  If you can't see those stories are fashion stories, then you're not looking hard enough.  (Or perhaps you're just the kind of "serious" person who would prefer to be engaged by issues of champagne and hemlines.)  A lot of the cultural resistance to seeing fashion as worthy of serious consideration is due to the corrupting influence of advertisers who would rather their glowingly photographed wares not appear opposite reporting on sweatshops or the dearth of women of color within fashion's image machine--but some of it is also doubtless due to the fact that fashion is an industry dominated by women and gay men, and ours is a culture that suffers from some deep, internalized misogyny and homophobia.  (Law professor Susan Scafidi, who decorated her office with pink and purple dresses, states--"Fashion is a pink-and-lavender discipline.  It's associated with women and gay men, and there is an ongoing perception that this is a lighthearted subject.")"
A further click on Susan Scafidi's name sheds light on a subject that I have looked into with fervor and excitement.  Not only does she serve as a role model that fashion can be "smart," she is pioneering an entirely new field of law.  As a budding first-year associate stuck in office doldrums that may or may not be the rest of my life, I read about this niche area of Fashion Law with great hunger, similar to how I research Animal Law topics with a vested interest.  Reading about the IDPPA, the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act, which is pending in Congress as we speak, defies my normal immediate instinct to pass out while reading legal material.  And God only knows that I have never really been interested in any facet of Intellectual Property law. 
Who knows--maybe some day--after I've put in my dues (i.e. years of associate and perhaps partner torture)... I can open up a boutique within a boutique.  Fashion law and animal law expert practices within the... that's right.... the Fleur clothing boutique I have dreamed about for years... hey.  A girl can dream can't she? 

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