I Hate Karl Lagerfeld by fightclubsandwich

At first, I found this article difficult to start. My focus would spiral madly away into this weird confessional bit about how fashion is kind of a difficult business to identify with, being composed as it is of a glut of giant moneyspinning corporations, the rules they make and the rules they follow, and then clusters of individuals and subcultures and the rules they make and the rules they follow. It all got rather horribly complicated, until it dawned on me that it didn’t have to, this is a simple enough topic so why would it need a complicated introduction?

I hate Karl Lagerfeld. You see? Simple!

All fashion journalists seem to think of Karl Lagerfeld – the current head of Chanel, for those who might not know, and hey why should you? – as some sort of eccentric German grandfather figure of the design world, like Dr Emmett Brown from Back To The Future but with less gadgetry and more shoes. In a hyper-serious industry like fashion, his quirkiness is the only injoke. This is perhaps the first reason that I do not like him. Nobody likes an injoke that they are not part of, and the callous broadcast of injokes to the lives of people who “weren’t there” and thus do not get it is teeth-clenchingly irritating. Here at TBO, for example, we have plenty of injokes amongst the staff, but we are aware that they are of no interest to the average reader who was not present for the joke’s birth. Consequently we keep our damn mouths shut.

My main problem is that after doing my research into this joke, I still don’t think he’s a good one. I refuse to enjoy or even tolerate his “quirky” quotations, which, to the sensible mind, are not so hilarious or witty as they are bratty, banal or just plain cruel. In terms of the latter, how about the suggestion that “fashion is the healthiest motivation for losing weight”? Or “Luxury is for the rich, not the nouveau riche.” The smugness that saturates such brush-offs is, in my opinion, unbearable. Uh, hello, when has it been okay to use a phrase like nouveau riche in a context devoid of sarcasm without getting punched in the mouth? Oh, there is a world outside of the fashion industry? Poor people live there? Oh how quaint! I don’t get how anyone could find such comments endearing. I am under no illusions; if I met Karl Lagerfeld under whatever circumstances, I have no doubt that he would be cruel and dismissive of “my kind” so why should I give him the time of day? Snobby people deserve the loathing of those they look down upon because it evens the playing field, they need to be reminded that hating others is not a mark of sophistication and superiority, that we can hate you back.

I suppose I also despise what Karl Lagerfeld represents, as a part of the fashion industry. I got kinda interested in clothes through my mother, who taught me to sew and knit, but it was only when I first attended university – leaving a school with a set uniform to wear every day – that I really started to see any practical application to any of it. “Oh wait, people actually wear clothes, in the real world. Oh no, all my fellow students dress really well!” Of course, by the time I reached university I was already stuck in my weird-geeky-stubborn-misfit-y niche, so I got interested in fashion with a pre-set distaste for authority. Maybe I’m just repulsed by the idea that Lagerfeld’s persona (rather than his actual merit as a designer) is enjoyed predominantly by those cliquey types who consider themselves “insiders”, in a way, with some kind of acute awareness of how the highest echelons of the industry works. This only gives feed to the idea – in paranoid brain like my own – that their joke, their common knowledge is a way of keeping us out. It’s a party to which only the people who care and the people who are in the know get an invite.

Lagerfeld seems to enjoy painting himself as some kind of pastiche of an authoritative figure. Is the whole point of his persona an indication that in the sprawling mess of the fast-moving fashion world, the idea of an iron fist to rule it all is absurd? Nah, I wouldn’t credit him with an actual sense of humour. I mean, come on:

“I built up my own reality. I created something I can cope with in life. I enjoy luxury and being the centre of my own intact world.”


Cartoon Couture? by fightclubsandwich

Originally posted by fightclubsandwich in October 2008

And now, an article for the girl who considers the Vans slip-on a more iconic shoe by far than anything by Christian Loubouwhatsit. Why spend all that money on Vogue or Cosmo or Glamour to learn about expensive, exagerated clothes being worn by models with ridiculous figures, that are difficult-to-the-point-of-impossibility to translate into real life? You can learn how to navigate your way around the convoluted, controversial world of fashion by remembering the cartoons you used to watch as a child!

Mona The Vampire

It’s pretty clear from the outset that Mona The Vampire is a child of the 1990s. Firstly, she embraces the grunge look, with dreadlocks, Courtney-Love-style exaggerated make-up (her eyelashes were about as long as her fingers, and those porcelain-doll-parody red spots on her cheeks must be some statement use of blusher) and baggy clothes that are often quite lumpy and misshapen, but in a cool way. On the other hand, other items of her attire, such as her loafers and knee socks are SO this summer, if you’re into the whole trend-spotting thing. Not to mention that Goth is supposed to be coming back in a big way this year (and if you’re anything like me, that is EXCITING NEWS).

However, Mona’s overall look is mostly reminiscent of the mix-and-match street styles torn straight from the Fruits books and magazines, and blogs such as hel-looks. com. The button up shirt is so Lolita-esque, especially accessorised with the over-sized neck bow and hair ribbons. Then there’s the clashy-clashy colour scheme- the cape alone is deep purple with lime green and mustard flowers, and worn with a red blouse! The reason that the likes of the Fruits books fascinate everyone is the sheer inventiveness that the subjects show, pulling off eclectic looks that make you wish YOU’D thought of that, and that mix is Mona’s look in a nutshell.

Babar The Elephant

Babar is an elephant who is adopted by an Old Lady (referred to perhaps excessively bluntly as the “Old Lady”, and no, not in the sense that she was Babar’s “Old Lady”, it’s absolutely not THAT kind of a cartoon) and is taken to France, where he is dressed by Parisian tailors in what we must assume to be an extremely well-made suit. These guys designed and made clothes for an ELEPHANT, if you’re going to take on a challenge like that, you don’t do it by halves.

Anyway, then some more things happen, and Babar goes back to Africa and becomes King of the Elephants, bringing back many elements of French culture, in what may or may not be an endorsement of Western imperialism and colonialism, but I am not one to let Wikipedia ruin my childhood memories. Besides, all that subtext has nothing to do with the clothes. Does the possibility of a morally dubious underbelly to a children’s story really detract from the genius shade of green of Babar’s suit? It’s bold enough to be a personal trademark, but not too ridiculous or silly to undermine him or his role as a leader. Not to mention that the cartoon series at least show him wearing the suit as a very young elephant, (ambiguously aged, but I’d peg him as a teenager) as well as when he grows up to become a parent himself? This shows a sensibility about his style and teaches the kids from a very young age that there’s nothing glam about never wearing the same thing more than once, and a well-made item that will last you a lifetime is an infinitely wiser choice.

Madison from Cardcaptors

Like many children’s television programmes, Cardcaptors revolves around a young girl who has magical powers, blah blah blah, save the world, blah blah blah, cute little animal companion, etcetera. The aforementioned world-saver, Sakura, has a best friend who insists on designing beautiful outfits for her to wear whilst doing the whole magical thing, and if the characters’ school uniforms weren’t cute enough to leave any regular schoolgirl green with envy – those cute little berets! The bell-shaped sleeves! The red detailing on the collars! – Madison’s glorious garments raise Cardcaptors to the status of Sex & The City for ten year olds. It’s probably best to put any questions regarding the sewing skills of a child who is still in primary school in the back of your mind. Just open your eyes and let them water at the fabulous wardrobe she is responsible for.

Madison’s design trademarks (although she doesn’t actually wear the best stuff, it seems unfair to credit Sakura as the stylish one since she doesn’t seem to wear anything other than her school uniform when not in Madison’s creations) include lots of matching and co-ordination, small details such as buttons and bows that tie the outfit together and playfully feminine headgear such as ribbons, berets and even bunny ears. Her outfits almost always include tiered skirts with lots of petticoats, and she often matches them with knee socks or high boots, and capes that offer an interesting set of lengths. She also pays a lot of attention to her sleeves, with lots of puffiness around the shoulders, detailed cuffs or supplies very long gloves instead of sleeves, for something a bit more modern.


If the girly eccentricities of Cardcaptors are analogous to Sex & The City, then X-Men is more like Dynasty. I am not talking about the more recent movie tie-in series X-Men Evolution; this is the early nineties attempt at telling the X-Men story, and the 80s influence is all over the character design. To start with, there’s a lot of really big hair. In retrospect, I suppose it’s odd that my six year old self was never in any way perturbed by the fact that Jean Grey’s hair was bigger than I was. The best X-Men hair of all, however, has to be Storm’s. Although she has some stiff competition – Quicksilver also did the edgy ice blonde thing, (and is probably the role model of Jay Manuel from America’s Next Top Model) and Rogue’s two-tone ‘do is one of the most recognisable looks in the Marvel Universe – Storm’s utterly awesome mohawk phase makes her admirable not only from a fashion standpoint, but is indicative of her role as one of the fiercest of all female comics characters, like, ever. It may not be a particularly shocking haircut to the likes of you, dear reader – and if it is, just go to your nearest Green Day concert or easily available alternative, where they’ll be ten-a-penny – but for a children’s cartoon? A character aimed primarily at young girls? It’s a pretty big difference from all that Disney Princess Hair, for sure.

Anyway, these mutants also love their statement pieces, (as I believe they’re referred to in actual fashion magazines) from Jubilee’s bright yellow trench coat to Shadowcat’s exaggerated preppy lapels and Jean Grey’s thigh-high boots. This is in keeping with the central theme of the show of every character having their own unique abilities, of everyone having some aspect of themselves that’s special and unique. My favourite character at the time was Rogue, and her pairing of a scruffy khaki jacket with bright yellow and acid green spandex is a distinctive, punky, experimental look that few could pull off – and with the aforementioned two-tone hair, too!

Top Cat

When you see a bright yellow cat wearing a plum-coloured waistcoat and fedora, you know that this is a creature who is utterly fearless in his fashion taste. Kate Moss later stole the whole fedora-and-waistcoat combo idea, but with none of Top Cat’s pizzazz nor courage. Denim and black may be in tune with her rock ‘n’ roll image, but it’s less interesting, for sure. Top Cat not only succeeded with what could have been a tricky monochrome look, but also made it work as a successful day-to-night outfit. Admittedly, when you’re a cat who lives on the streets, you may not get invited to a lot of fancy affairs that may warrant a “night look” but hey, at least he doesn’t look as dated as Choo-Choo (that’d be the pink one in the white polo neck) who – now that it’s not the sixties any more – just looks like some sort of practitioner of some sort of strange, new-agey healing technique. And that’s just weird.