Feminist Philosophers

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What do you think? September 4, 2012

Filed under: ageing,appearance,autonomy,beauty,bias — annejjacobson @ 8:02 pm

This really pisses me off!

 

16 Responses to “What do you think?”

  1. Ruth Says:

    Could you say a bit more?

  2. annejjacobson Says:

    Well, after the discussion on “perhaps I haven’t understood…”, I didn’t want to say that maybe I am all wrong, but it seems to me horribly ageist”. On the other hand, I would like to think more and get others’ reactions before I’ve decided finally.

    One mitigating thing I suppose I could say is that the one NYC couture magazine party I’ve been to, it wasn’t clear to me that the model types were seen as really all that wonderful. So perhaps both women are seen as unfortunate cliches. I don’t think so, though. The look on the older woman’s face seems to me to reflect a devaluing of herself that the cover affirms. Women over 50 hardly exist, even in Chanel, with little Tiffany’s bags.

  3. ChrisTS Says:

    Hmm. I took it as (a) a picture of what one might see on a Manhattan street and (b) a jab at self-entitled fashionistas who do not see anyone out of their own set.

  4. annejjacobson Says:

    Christs, yes, that would go along with my tentative alternative reading. But I’m not entirely sure. Why is the older woman so dismayed? In my experience, New Yorkers don’t just fall back dismayed when someone tries to take a cab away. And the older Chanel really is worn with no style, also odd for chanel clad women of any age, I would have thought, at least in NYC. Where are the family’s pearls?

  5. philodaria Says:

    Hmm. This is really interesting– I had a totally different first impression! I actually took it as the one woman is looking dismayed at this sort of perversion of the classic elegant Chanel style. It’s no longer timeless the way the model-type is wearing it. The classic suit was really designed so that women wouldn’t have to wear the uncomfortable alternatives that usually involved corsets– and the ballet flat was meant likewise (comfort with timeless style and versatility), so I see the way the younger woman is wearing this as a sort of undermining of the Chanel aesthetic and intent (though, certainly we do see more of this lately in their runway shows), and I thought the older woman might be representing the true New Yorker attitude of dismay in response.

  6. Anon Says:

    The reading mentioned in comment 5 seemed the obvious reading to me.

  7. Vicky Says:

    I agree with philodaria but would take it a bit farther. Consider the context: it’s Fashion Week time here in NYC; this is the Style issue; the title of the cover art is “Stiff Competition.” The question is, competition between what and what? I propose it is the competition between art and commerce.

    The background shows display windows from Bergdorf Goodman with mannequins decked out in elegant haute couture gowns, and a slightly frumpy man gazing into the center window. Other (equally frumpy) male figures in the background are simply passing by, and no one is paying attention to the women in the foreground. Despite this haute context (BG is in the ritziest part of Fifth Ave), and the three shopping bags that attest to her purchasing power, the younger woman’s pseudo-Chanel suit is merely a vulgar recycling of the ideas embodied in the older (but more sophisticated, elegant) woman’s real Chanel. (Skin showing, leopard print tights, miniskirt, platform shoes; everything is exaggerated–she basically looks like Kim Kardashian. I say it’s a pseudo Chanel because, although the house has changed its style over the years, they do not make anything that looks remotely like this crass outfit.) Everything about the young figure screams “conspicuous consumption.” I see this as an arched-eyebrow commentary on the distance between the “artistic” side of the fashion industry and its mass culture counterpart – it is not incidental that the elegant older woman carries but one small shopping bag to the younger woman’s oversized three bags, even though there is absolutely no indication that she has less money to spend.

    (Also, there is no cab shown, so the woman’s aghast expression has absolutely nothing to do with cab-stealing.)

  8. Ruth Says:

    I have to agree with philodaria here. The older woman is the ORIGINAL and has STYLE, and the giant, ostentatious rip-off artist is getting her cab. This is unjust. On every level, the interloper is getting by theft what the older woman has achieved by honest toil. This cartoon obviously sides with the blue-hair. I didn’t find the cartoon annoying at all.

    Sorry! Usually I am outraged by everything.

  9. LisaShapiro Says:

    I’m with Vicky’s read…the context of NYC’s Fashion Week is everything here. I would add to it, that the older woman has a real body, and still is able to wear the classic Chanel. The younger conspicuously consuming perversion of couture is grotesquely out of proportion.

  10. Stacey Goguen Says:

    Haha now after reading all the comments I’m kinda pissed about what I think the cartoon is trying to say about the fashionista. (I.e. she’s vapid and clueless about what real/sophisticated fashion should be?)

    Either way, boo for woman v. woman antagonism.

  11. Tomatoes Says:

    I don’t know anything about fashion week or how that context plays out here. So ignoring that, I have a positive read on it. A lot of older women see younger ones as flaunting a shallow, flirty, expose-it-all sexuality that the younger women see as empowering. Feminism and the women’s movement brought them this position. And that form of sexuality does get (younger) women attention, and a quick taxi! But it can be regarded as a disappointing halt to more substantial forms of female empowerment that go beyond flaunting the body or using one’s sexual attractiveness to gain attention. So maybe the older woman is dismayed at what she sees in the younger generation–not just in terms of her fashion choices ,but in terms of her self-presentation and sense of dignity.

  12. annejjacobson Says:

    Here’s the NY Times’ Bill Cunningham on the Chanel show in 2010.

    http://www.nytimes.com/video/2010/10/08/style/1248069153097/on-the-street-in-paris-at-chanel.html

    So I still see the older woman as puzzling dowdy. I agree thecyounger is outre, but not necessarily that extreme.

    Stacey – I love your comment about woman v. woman.

  13. annejjacobson Says:

    Sorry to be so brief – have to go get my hair done!

  14. philodaria Says:

    I agree– I love Stacy’s comment. I also don’t think the younger woman is *totally* outre (those platform shoes are actually very much like something Chanel did a couple of seasons ago, and probably modeled after the real shoe) but I’m still just not seeing the older woman as dowdy. She has a leoprint bag, Chanel flats, a Chanel suit in a fabulous color, and those perfect sunglasses! To me, it looks like she is elegence and style embodied, whereas the younger woman seems to be performing fashion (even the way she’s standing and hailing a cab looks intentionally performative).

  15. annejjacobson Says:

    It may be pointless to argue over dowdiness, but honestly she dresses as Barbara Bush does, though even BB has a bit more sense about accessories. Chanel was very sensitive to the use of chains and pearls, for example. Secondly, Classic chanel jackets are really not worn totally buttoned; lots of attention is paid to what’s under the jacket. I don’t think you’d ever see a mannikin (that is, an artificial one) in a very top store that is dressed like that. Women with style, IMHO, particularize their clothes more.

    I think that’s (the particularizing) what could be said in favor of the younger woman’s style, since she’s used the suit to answer to her body more than vice versa. on the other hand, clearly we are hardly invited to imagine what’s under the jacket.

    Mind you, I spend a lot of time with my gay New York City son – who has an MFA from Pratt School of design – discussing fashion. I’m perfectly preferred to admit that gives me a very skewed view, but I’d be surprised if the cover of the New Yorker wasn’t referencing a similar general take on fashion. It is not an anti – elegance point of view, but it does want to see people appropriate their clothing.

    I should ask him about his overall take on the cover, which might be something we have’t thought of.


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