The other night I attended this fashion show in New York at the behest of a famous critic who assured me the show was the seminal event of the season. Now, you know me, darlings,  I just have to attend the “seminal” of everything, I’d turn up for a Chihuahua’s tea party if I thought it was in any way seminal.  I’m slightly snobbish that way.

I attended the event and was duly positioned along the catwalk, my friend, the critic, seated beside me with his notepad and pen in hand, and shortly thereafter the show began with all the pomp and pageantry you would expect from such things, the models appearing one after the other, sashaying up the walk, twirling, swirling, before sashaying back again to the sound of effete applause.

About three models in a gorgeous brunette made her appearance dressed in something pink and rather ghastly; she sashayed, twirled, swirled, and was walking back up the catwalk again when my friend leaned across to me and whispered something in my ear that put a completely different spin on the evening’s event.

‘Oh, dear,’ he snickered, ‘she’s a bit roomy in the hips.’

I frowned and stared up at the girl in question, a beautiful, willowy creature who looked a tad healthier than her colleagues to be sure, but could in no way be referred to as “roomy in the hips”, indeed the poor girl would have been considered positively malnourished in any environment but this one.

Is this fashion or a woman slowly starving to death?

Is this fashion or a woman slowly starving to death?

Now, my friend, the critic, is gay, and normally he’s a divine chap, intelligent, outspoken, with a great sense of humor, but there’s one subject that quickly turns him into something of a religious fundamentalist: women’s bodies.

Why this particular subject bothers him so much probably has more to do with his chosen profession than any particular ideology on his part, he views a woman’s body as purely functional, like a mannequin; something to hang clothes on and position in the right light to create the required effect. When he referred to the model in question as “roomy in the hips” I’ve no doubt he meant it in the same way an engineer might consider a vehicle a little heavy in the rear.

But a woman is not a vehicle, she can’t just be redesigned to suit the aesthetics of the day, there’s only a certain level of “heroin chic” the female body can endure before vital organs start shutting down. I mean that’s just a matter of biology.

Any-hoo, back to the fashion show.

Now, after my friend had made his rather cavalier remark I started studying the models more closely, and what began as an evening of light entertainment quickly dissolved into something far more sinister. The women I saw up on the catwalk were angular, and bony, with shrunken breasts, and muscles withered to the point of atrophy. I saw ribs visibly sprouting from knobbly spines like the limbs of that face-hugger creature in the Alien franchise, with shoulders consisting of nothing more than protruding bones shrink-wrapped in a tissue-thin layer of flesh.

I’d seen these people before, in images of holocaust victims staring through chain link fences, I almost expected to see a sign over the catwalk reading “Arbeit macht frei” Work makes (you) Free, the slogan suspended above the entrance to a number of concentration camps during the second world war, or perhaps the modern variation would read “Mode macht frei” Fashion makes (you) free.

The point I’m making is this. These women looked like victims, and this entire event was beginning to resemble a crime scene, and sure, in my friend’s mind some model’s imaginary hips needed trimming down, but in my mind these poor girls required immediate medical intervention, high profile arrests needed to be made, the fashion world’s equivalent of the Nuremberg Trials needed to be convened….

…But then again, I do so love my fashion which kind of makes me an accessory after the event (no pun intended), and besides, who on earth is going to stand in judgement if everyone is in on the game?

Now I’m off to buy that Christian Dior skirt I’ve been positively aching for; anyone joining me?

 

Judith Chambers

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