The Complicated Politics Of Wearing Dior


When someone wrote into the Guardian‘s fashion columnist to ask if it was, maybe, you know, sort of okay to buy Dior after, well…you know…the response was swift and unequivocal.

Hadley Freeman’s vehemence on the subject may seem arbitrary, but to her, it’s a matter that requires unambiguous simplicity…because there’s been altogether too much equivocation. Says she,

Simply, no no no. Simplicity is paramount on this topic because some people – such as Nicole Kidman (who wore a Dior dress to the Oscars) and stylist Patricia Field (who has insisted that Galliano wasn’t being antisemitic when he expressed the opinion that all Jews should have been gassed, he was being “theatrical”) – find it difficult to understand why they should let a few expressions of love for Hitler get in the way of wearing Galliano’s work. I mean, his tailoring is amazing – makes one look so thin and dramatic. Plus, he’s always been, you know, so generous. Even some dear fashion-writer colleagues have attempted to conjure up pity for Galliano claiming that he’d always been encouraged to be “controversial” by his bosses and, golly gosh, it’s so lonely at the top where all one can do for entertainment is spout hate speech. Bless.
If Field, Kidman and the rest of the fashion corps took their heads out of their butts for a few minutes and read a book, they would doubtless cite what is known as The TS Eliot Defence, which is that Eliot’s distasteful views of Jews haven’t stopped people reading his work. The answer to this is, quite obviously: 1. While antisemitism is always abhorrent, Eliot did live in a different era and some adjustments of expectations must be made, and, in any case: 2. Eliot, to my knowledge, never said all Jews should have been gassed.

She makes a further pertinent point: given that the fashion community likes to bandy about the term “showing support” or “supporting” (fashion-speak for “wearing”) then it’s a bit hard to suddenly decide they’re just schmatte rather than inextricably tied up with the designer, the artist, the brand.

For the vast majority of us, the question is academic. I am in no more danger of falling prey to the charms of a Dior bag the cost of six months’ salary than I’m likely to tune into Two and a Half Men tonight. But we are at a point where the distinction between artist and art (and yes, I use the term very loosely in the case of TaaHM) is held up for questioning with unusual starkness on both high and low ends of the, um, brow. The world’s come down definitively on the side of “no difference” — well, as long as someone’s still living. Fifty years down the line — or a stint apiece in rehab, for that matter — may be another story.

No, It Is Not Acceptable To Wear Dior [Guardian]

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin