The Times, stylistically woke: We've just watched Part 9 of the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick Vietnam film.
All in all, Part 9 was hard to watch. Hard to read? That would be Vanessa Friedman's report from the current round of Paris fashion shows. The report appeared in this morning's hard-copy Times.
We'd have to refer to this work as obscene. It appears beneath an obscene headline:
What Does a ‘Woke Woman’ Wear?No, we're not making that up. After a bit of early piddle, Friedman climbs into the saddle:
FRIEDMAN (9/28/17): You’ve got to hand it to the designer Maria Grazia Chiuri—she stands her ground. There’s no waffling here. Whatever the voices whispering in her ear are saying, she does not let them sway her from what she believes. When she joined Dior as its first female artistic director just over a year ago, she picked up the banner of feminism and has been waving it enthusiastically ever since: delving into its literature, discovering its heroines and using them as muses in her shows, from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to Georgia O’Keeffe and Amelia Earhart.So true! Chiuri should be fabulous for these woke times! Thoughtfully, though, Friedman lays out the the disconnect between the inspiration and its expression:
It should have made her the perfect designer for these “woke women” times. The problem is the disconnect between the inspiration and its expression.
FRIEDMAN (continuing directly): As consistently as she has stuck to her agenda, she has stuck to her separates: couture denim—this season in patchworks of different faded washes and weaves—and Dior-branded underthings: big pants and little bras, reimagined in wide marinière stripes (or jailhouse ones, depending on your reference point), most often worn under sheer tulle ballet skirts. Also the corset top and the character cashmere knit, this time with the dragons, spiders and snakes that marked the work of Ms. Saint Phalle.Say you want a revolution? There's nothing woke about wearing a white cotton onesie over a polka dot shirt with a swiss dot skirt below and a white jacket over it all!
But what feminist, even a millennial one, wants to wear a mirrored mosaic onesie in bright pink or blue under a transparent tulle skirt open to the waist that looks like nothing so much as Madonna in her “Desperately Seeking Susan” years? Or a white cotton version over a polka dot shirt with a swiss dot skirt below and a white jacket over it all, as if to give new meaning to the term play suit? These are not the clothes of revolution, even New Look revolution.
Chiuri has stuck to her separates—and yet! As Eliot so thoughtfully mused, between the inspiration and its expression falls the shadow.
Part 9 of the Burns/Novick film features footage we didn't know existed—footage of the 9-year-old Vietnamese girl who ran down the road in the famous photograph after having her clothing, and much of her skin, burned away by a napalm attack.
We didn't know there was film of her preternatural calm as several photojournalists later came to her aid. Somewhat similarly, we barely knew there could be foppish, upper-class bad faith of the type the New York Times is willing to churn in such regular fashion.
As we sit on the eve of destruction, that piece by Friedman is obscene. When a nation's major newspaper, and its subscribers, tolerate such obscenity, that nation has silently volunteered for one, two, many Donald J. Trumps.