The economics of fashion shows, like those of football, are to me
mysterious. The majority of football clubs make a loss, sometimes a
substantial one, yet they continue to play their players millions, the wage bill
being by far their principal cost. I can only surmise that such clubs are
elaborate tax avoidance schemes.
The peculiarity of fashion shows is different and not just economic.
First the clothes on display are usually not only impractical (splendour, after
all, is often impractical) but hideous into the bargain. They seem as if they
have been designed by people determined to make literal the metaphorical
appellation of the fashion industry, the rage trade. The garments seem little
more than rags sewn together almost at random; I have never seen anyone in
anything that resembled them off the catwalk. Perhaps this is merely a
consequence of the people whom I frequent, but I rather doubt it. Surely no
one, even in a world in which people are prepared to fall for almost anything,
actually buys these clothes, these expensive and inelegant tatters.
Then, of course, there are the models themselves, who seem to do
everything to imply that the wearing of these clothes is a sure route to misery.
The models look to be in the last stages of emaciation, pale and weak (unless
black), as if they have been kept in an underground cave and deprived of
food by some kind of sadistic sex criminal. Their facial expressions, as a
consequence, are those of concentrated malignity or hatred of the world, as if
there were no pleasure or joy to be found in it. Anorexia is the highest state to
which man or woman can aspire.
I find this peculiar in an industry concerned solely with appearances.
Perhaps the ugliness of apparel, deportment and facial expression that the
industry promotes (at least if newspaper photographs are a fair
representation) is a sign of just how far our obsession with ‘justice’ has
reached. If not everyone in the world can afford elegance or live in conditions that conduce to ease and happiness, then no one should. Until the world be made whole, no one shall smile and no one shall be finely dressed.
Not, of course, that this attitude goes as far as the incomes of fashion
designers. But still the mystery remains, at least to my naïve way of thinking:
what are the economics of those modern festivals of ugly unsalable expensive
rubbish known as fashion shows?