who needs tooth bleach when you've got fashion?

this morning i dove into a task with the trepidation of a beginning crime scene investigator: reading the New York Times Style Magazine, Men's Fashion, Spring 2006.

this is not a love/hate relationship. i don't do it--as i have done in years past-- with an eye toward finding what is manageably fashionable while simultaneously disregarding what i find abhorrent. i do it as a study of the enemy. i do it so that i will know the mind and desires of our culture's shallowest denizens.

sure, when i was a middle teen i had a subcription to GQ, and i'll admit it taught me a lot about how to be a successful white man. the most valuable lesson i took away was, by following a few simple rules, one could be very well-dressed while not spending a fortune. since i learned this all the way back then, i haven't really needed any more training. i am hip to fact that almost everything beyond a well-tailored, dark blue suit, wingtip shoes and hydrated flesh is unmitigated crap. of course, so is the dark blue suit and wingtips (but they can help one play the part in the event that the system must be brought down while acting as an inside player...)

i'm proud that i've been able to dismiss this consumptive fashion crap from my mind, to not think it matters anymore. i don't know why, but i've done an almost complete job of it. i don't even harbour little vestiges of it the way i do the lingering fear of a christian hell.

i don't secretly wish i could order 86 dozen charvet shirts the way the maharajah of patiala did, as reported in the article called "what's my line?" i find i have no desire for a $370,000 maybach automobile with its "pre-pimped old world niceties like a champagne refridgerator"--or even the suggested "alternative route" of an humble "sub-zero 424 fs free-standing wine cellar" for the utterly stupid price of $2,888.

now, don't get me wrong: i derive joy from being surrounded by pleasant things. i like objects to work correctly, and i am not at all opposed to those correctly operating things being made with an eye toward aesthetics. the concept of "fit and finish" is a sign that someone crafted a thing with care and love. like furniture-maker james krenov, i believe when a maker does work with love and care and serenity the object created is imbued with these qualities. it radiates these qualities. it is a joy to be around.

and that brings me to the central point of this post: joy. i don't know about you, but when i'm filled with joy i tend to smile. i'd venture to say that if i got marooned on a desert island for 20 years, i'd still smile when things made me happy.

so, apropos to this "style issue," wouldn't it would seem that the sole purpose of all these possible possessions--written about, eulogized, waxed rhapsodic over, researched, photographed, priced, summed-up and critiqed for 172 shiny pages of magazine--would exist to help us be happy?

why is it then, of the 126 advertisements that contained the male face in this issue of pressing male fashion concerns, there are only 8 smiling faces?*

*5 of which were in a single izod ad


Kenneth said...

You not only had a subscription to GQ, you kept back issues on a bookshelf, spine out, in order.

Alison said...

The thought of Biffle with GQ back issues on a bookshelf is really messing with my head. It's good to have old friends to remind you of your embarrassing past.

For my part, I had a subscription to Seventeen magazine for at least three years, starting in junior high, I believe, although I think I had to apply serious pressure to my parents so that they'd let me subscribe before I was actually a teen. I tried to dress like the models, but failed miserably.

Even today I often will put on a random assortment of clothes and have to ask, if Biffle's around, "Is this an outfit?"

Walter said...

kenneth-- yeah, first of all, thanks for reminding me, but second, do you recall that i also had cut pictures from them and pasted them on my walls? men on one side of the room, women on the other? a few of my older cousins found that kinda...odd...of me.

more recently, i also had me an arrangement of "fine woodworking" like that, until i wrote them to say that if they did another damn article on routers i was gonna cancel my subscription. they didn't listen.