Fashion week's thin end of the wedge
- Michael Gove MP From The Times February 23, 2009
This week is, of course, British Fashion Week. Or as I prefer to think of it, British Famine Week. Or British Body Fascism Week. Because what strikes me about fashion - whether it's London, Paris, New York or Milan, whether it's the spring/summer collection or the autumn/winter shows, whether its street or couture, a capsule collection or a diffusion line - is that all the people wearing it are far too thin. Far, far too thin. I've yet to see a model anything near the normal side of slender allowed anywhere near a catwalk. And that sends a clear, powerful and very ugly message.
Designers, style magazines and their allies fondly imagine that each fashion week communicates a new set of principles to guide us towards what looks good. One season it will be tartan, tweed and brown leather, another season will be all about long hem lines, mustard yellow and batwing sleeves. But these efforts to signal what is "on-trend" and "directional" are overshadowed by the central message that the fashion industry communicates - none of it is worth anything unless you're thinner than a slice of air-dried Parma ham.
I'm sure every model who takes part in fashion week is as healthy as a butcher's dog, but that's not the point. For all the women - and especially teenagers - who cannot squeeze into a size zero without either starvation or surgery, the images the fashion industry sell are invitations to self-loathing. I know that fashionistas everywhere will accuse me of narrow philistinism and missing the point of their gorgeous creations. But if they were genuinely talented they could make women of all shapes, sorts and sizes look properly gorgeous instead of just draping angular lady-boys in creations that are little more than drawings come to life.