Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Unmasking . . . something. . .

I was on the plane today reading this bizarre fashion news in the New York Times and I made a jarring connection to the story about Immet St. Guillen I read just minutes before.

Okay, I ask you to stay with me here. Because even as I write this I find myself trying to check my assumptions -- which makes me want to explore them even more.

First, there's this imagery of obscured faces marching down the runway to misogynistic music, and then there's this:

Out came models with their faces obliterated altogether, wrapped inside eyeless cloth hoods. Little metal punk chains were draped between where a nose would be and where an ear might be buried.

Hooded, chained, silenced -- it says right there, the most disturbing word: OBLITERATED. It has the effect of dehumanizing these women , which is so flippantly explained away:

"It was a kind of a joke," Mr. Takahashi said afterward. "I didn't want any distraction from the line."

At this point, I am contemplating a tangential rage about objectification of women and models as the case in point, but, back to my earlier jarring juxtaposition -- about the woman who was found slain last week -- brutally. It was this detail that really made me cringe:
Ms. St. Guillen's unclothed body was found inside a quilt. Her mouth was sealed with packing tape, and her head, feet and hands were bound with more tape, officials said.

In the meantime, designers are creating these binding, chained garments that are a stylized, fashion-forward representation of a this violence, the act of binding, blindind, and muting women. And we are consuming it still, accepting, ignoring, coveting, turning a blind eye to disturbing signifiers:

As the Undercover show ended and people filed out into the twilight, post-mortem chatter ran to the beautiful tailored strapped trousers, the sturdy boots, the nice fur coats (although it seems worth mentioning that a number of the coats came equipped with straps that pinned the wearer's arms to her side).

Just, real quick, that thing in the parens? "Straps that pinned the wearer's arms to her side?!" I'm pretty sure that this has very little practical significance -- at least not to the wearer. Unless, you know, she needed to be bound up for easy storage somewhere.

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