Fashion taxidermy?

Fashion should push whatever boundaries it debatably has left to strain. In order for clothing to shock, it must be quite the innovative design. Madonna has become respectable, Pete Burns looks plain weird and Gaga is rather stagnant. Where art thou amazement? But there is a subject matter that flirts with the border of what is a line you may fear to tread.

Jean Paul Gaultier’s latest collection, seen just days ago was received in horror by many onlookers. There was an unmistakable silhouette being trotted down a rich purple runway in Paris, the centre of the fashion world. It was an oversexed, over the top and ooh so Winehouse collection. The models, all with varying degrees of the intensity to the ‘Amy Winehouse look’, were aesthetically stunning. An icon, a figure of excess, a fearless yet fragile character that died long before her years, now a theme for a high fashion collection?

Firstly, ask yourself if you would like to dress in identical clothes to a tragic figure that recently died? Pretty much walk in their shoes, potentially promote a lifestyle that can kill and ultimately be a bizarre ghost to their look. Although one could argue that we all wish to have Marilyn’s sex appeal or choose to smoke through a Hepburn ’esque telescopic holder, there is no problem with this form of homage. Certainly, time has numbed any upset that could be related to Monroe’s early death and turbulent love life, or Hepburn’s painfully thin appearance, so was Gaultier’s mistake just bad timing?

Although it could be said not all of Gaultier’s Spring Summer 2012 designs were 100% Amy, there were some absolute hardcore imitations. The beehive, black flicked up eyeliner, wine stained lips and Black to Black style veils, had definitely been seen before. In actuality, rather than look at the disrespectful side to the collection, we really should judge it on its lack of any originality. The Winehouse family were soon to make comment on what had been showed. “The family was upset to see those pictures, they were a total shock,” Mitch Winehouse said. “We’re still grieving for her loss, and we’ve had a difficult week with the six-month anniversary of Amy’s death. To see her image lifted wholesale to sell clothes was a wrench we were not expecting or consulted on. We’re proud of her influence on fashion but find black veils on models, smoking cigarettes with a barbershop quartet singing her music in bad taste. It portrays a view of Amy when she was not at her best, and glamorises some of the more upsetting times in her life.”

One fan of the collection, Vogue’s Harriet Quick said: “Couture gives him the space to really explore all the details and let his imagination run riot. It was Amy’s diva, rockability, and Camden girls’ sensibilities all brilliantly mixed.” But it must be remembered that this industry that now celebrates her and almost in a rather taxidermist fashion shoves her back into the limelight, was ultimately the thing that killed her. The love, sex and rock ‘n’ roll side to the music business, which always flows with ease into the fashion world can be a stage in which icons can stand. However, Gaultier in his latest look has failed to include the eating disorders, heartbreaks and drug taking that are too often glamorised and tucked into a puffy hairstyle in the name of ‘fashion’. Bad taste in this collection is an understatement.

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