LADIES AND THEMLEMXNS, allies and aesthetes of this non-existent, although still High, Jury. It has come to my attention after taking a 16-month long nap, that some things are just not making a bit of fucking sense. 

 

On may 27th Vogue published an article on their website by Nicole Phelps regarding the Metaverse’s first runway show. Truly summing up the fiery wreckage of the downtown style scene I have observed since the loosening of lockdown; of the meltdowns happening on personal and collective levels.

 

This jewel came to my attention while scrolling through the Vogue site from which I, sometimes begrudgingly and with much eye-rolling, obtain surface information pertaining to arts and culture. I’ve seen more photos of Kendall Jenner in a prairie dress than I ever cared to, and I am still trying to figure out what it is that Emily Ratijowski did to become famous. At the time of writing, the website has started to roll out content for Pride Month, with obligatory mention of Lil Nas X. Fascinating. 

 

I don't want to write about the IMVU Virtual Fashion Show covered by the piece because I truly did not find it that interesting or compelling, and that's putting it most kindly. If you don't know what I'm talking about, consider yourself fortunate. You have missed something that I continue to struggle to explain. Even to myself. It's like watching a stranger play RuneScape while on acid in 2004. Still, I would prefer to not touch on aesthetic criticisms of the work of Collin Astrada and Co. Not now anyways. 

 

What I want to do is break down the way publications like Vogue are addressing the changing arena of fashion and the content that brands are putting forward in this, dare I say, "post-COVID era". 

 

The way fashion and identity are being delivered to us is rapid, and rapidly changing, and I find a lot of it becoming increasingly shallow and less impactful. The way clothing brands use the term "sustainable" so frequently now is fascinating to me, seeing as most garments in stores are not based on sustainable wearability or even functionality. 

 

Streetwear and skate culture have long been this way, based on throwaway trends (the literal business model of Supreme) but it's been amplified by Instagram and our time apart from each other in the last year. 

Maybe fashion was always like that and I used to be in love with someone else. The things made by Marni and Gucci are interesting and well made, but how much wear will a person get out of an intentionally ugly sweater? Seeing overcrowded racks filled with questionable, unwearable designs is heartbreaking and discouraging. 

 

What happened to simplicity and glamour? Being quiet and easy? The cover of Vogue used to mean something. But Vogue has lost a lot of integrity and status as an arbiter of taste and lifestyle, and became an echo chamber for whatever content celebrities are posting. They have long pandered to the downtown and underground crowd, like that creep trying to get into Unter at 8AM or your Uber driver playing 100 gecs unsolicited or your deli crush asking you what poppers are. 

 

That being said, I admire any and all attempts to platform different body types and diversity, but doing that authentically can be difficult when you have a legacy and identity that looms large in the cultural landscape.

Now, you may ask why I care what Vogue is paying attention to, and I'm not exactly sure myself. 

It is probably something engrained deep in my Southern Gay Psyche (SGP) of the 90's and early 2000's. Vogue may have lost respectability, but you cannot deny its reach and power.

 

At the tail end of 2018 (wild year!), I had an interview with Vogue on the 3,000th floor of One World Trade for a position as a Junior Men’s Editor (I literally just typo-ed that "Ediot") As you can tell from my contribution to this fledgling paper, I did not get that position. In fact, I was completely ghosted. Maybe I made a bad joke about Emily Bode? Something about white nostalgia? I'm not sure- but I've dated in this city long enough to know that if someone doesn't get back to you, they truly do not give a fuck about you or your future endeavors.  And let me tell you something, I am more than qualified to steam garment samples and make Starbucks orders. I don't eat at Dig Inn But I could have. I would have even started getting my clothes dry cleaned to have a desk job at Condé Nast.

 

The longer I think about it, it wouldn't have made me happy. I’ve never  enjoyed being around people I consider "cooler" than myself, especially if they are richer or hotter than the "myself" in question. The lines outside certain stores still make me a bit uncomfortable and kind of take me back to high school as I walk past. Yet I've always managed to smile and keep up. I was trained in the spirit of John Waters, Diana Vreeland, Joan Crawford- people who said what they felt, because how they felt made them who they are. By saying something sharp or witty, getting away with it as a joke or a drunken dance with bad etiquette always feels good even when you're sitting squarely at the bottom of our imaginary social ladder. Who wants to fake eccentricity? It always felt good to have a moment of privacy in those smoky bathroom stalls at China Chalet. 

 

I'm starting to not care about all that.... "coolness". If this pandemic has taught me one thing, it's that I can find joy in absolute solitude. The forgotten joys of cooking, of cleaning, of bathing, sewing, writing...hell, I felt like Laura Ingalls Wilder just soaking life up in the Big Woods; like Marie Antoinette on a fake farm, dreaming away revolutions.

 

I'm going to assume you live in Brooklyn, maybe Chinatown if you have bad karma, but there is a chance that at one time in your youth, you flipped through, and possibly idolized the cultural totem that is Vogue like I did. It could even be the reason you live here now.

 

So, yes, I have a personal vendetta. And maybe we all should after being force-fed Met Gala coverage and advertiser content for decades. But we are now skipping towards an Emerald City, a new frontier of the way content like this will be dealt with; recognized, but not truly critiqued. Nicole Phelps could hardly wrap her well-worn head around this. So what are the lowly "we" supposed to make of it?

 

The article made me think of our relationships between physical things and their virtual counterparts in our day-to-day lives that we never really think of or stopped paying attention to. It is curious to see how brands will move forward and thrive, how they will create meaningful and authentic content. Yes, virtual iterations of garments seem outlandish today, but if you had told someone about Venmo in the 60's, you would have had a lot of explaining to do. Yes, the concept of Bitcoin is wild to us, but try explaining Pornhub to a Civil War soldier. 

 

There are so many physical/virtual parallels in our lives making it hard for us to grasp reality even when we insist that we are. But perhaps what our hard grips have mistaken for reality is instead just our phones.