After the largely dark, recession-tinged array of clothes shown during New York Fashion Week, we’ve been eager to bask in the dramatic, fanciful quirk of Milan’s collections — the searing-hot pinks at Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci’s polka dots, and the baguette hats and handlebar-mustache dress that only Agatha Ruiz de la Prada could hallucinate. So it dismayed us to discover that the Dsquared2 collection — the same boys currently putting the touring Britney Spears in headdresses and feathered epaulets — looked more like a Walk of Shame than a runway show. Is it possible that the pervasive, sloppy-starlet style we’re most accustomed to seeing in Us Weekly’s “Stars: They’re Just Like Us” section (“They look hung-over!”) actually is crossing over to the catwalks? I mean, look at the pictures above. Models are actually holding Starbucks drinks and even cell phones. Last time I checked, Starbucks wasn’t runway related.
For years, we’ve been perplexed by adorable actresses embracing their inner slob grunge. Homeless “chic” made for a brilliant parody in Zoolander, but that movie also theorized that you could brainwash someone into committing murder by playing “Frankie Goes to Hollywood.” It was never meant to be taken seriously. When the satire became celebrity street attire, we threw up our hands. An untidy aesthetic can be excused when you’re popping out for some groceries, and sometimes, the unpolished thing can be very sexy. But there’s carelessly cute, and then there’s looking like “it’s-been-laundry-day-for-the-past-eighteen-months”: Mary-Kate famously pioneered ripped hose paired with mountains of heavy layers (and $2,500 shoes). Lindsay Lohan spent the last two years in leggings and unwashed-looking concert tees. And despite Blair Waldorf’s testimony that tights are not pants, Mischa Barton actually did treat a mangy old pair of brown hosiery as if they were real trousers. Grunge was one thing; what these girls did seemed more like grime.
Which is why it’s alarming to see the ensembles celebrities wear for morning-after coffee runs actually appear, in some form, on the allegedly sophisticated European catwalks — in Dsquared2’s case, complete with real Starbucks cups, in case the point had not been made finely enough.
I, for one, hope this is merely an artistic statement on how our collective economic woes may make us all a tiny bit less self-obsessed. Because if Mary-Kate Olsen’s castoffs are hot for fall, then by spring 2010, there may be nowhere left to go but Pamela Anderson–style track pants, tank tops, and Ugg boots. At a time when we’re seriously considering stuffing all our money under a floorboard, fashion should be our escape. Who wants to bankrupt herself in order to look … well, bankrupt?