Thursday, June 25, 2009

What's That About: Scar Tissu

It's not often that I have to look up a word while reading a fashion article. Guy Trebay had me on the dictionary yesterday with a piece for the NYT, on the diet cutbacks of male model A.J. Abualrub (not him in the pic left, check him out on the Times' site).

Never mind about A.J., the word that puzzled was cicatrice. Which I vaguely recognized, but couldn't place in the context of Roberto Cavalli's snakey catwalk product.

As it happens, the word (which is plural) means "scars": the raised, pinkish keloids that result from a serious wound hurriedly stitched together. Cavalli is apparently inserting metal shims between layers of leather to create gleaming seams (seen--I think!--above). Whether the designer is intentionally evoking raised trails of trauma, or whether this is Trebay's interesting interpretation, is not clear.

What is is that current fashion is once again in a love-me-I'm-damaged mode. Balmain's $2000 ripped bleached jeans are the most egregious (and popular) example. British fashion magazines are perpetually urging readers to "toughen up" their sweet floral frocks with a nasty leather biker jacket, à la Amy Winehouse. It's somehow important to pay thousands of dollars to look as though one lives on the street.

This virtual toughness looks great in fashion photography, on professionally beautiful bodies, and undernourished, over-allowanced, under-23s, but let the ordinary buyer beware. If you really want to play hard, find your scarred leathers and ripped jeans and hulking shoulderpads in a charity shop/thrift store. If you get the size right (tight. Emaciated Milan Male Model tight) no-one, not even a Vogue editor, will notice the difference.

(photography by Marcio Madeira for VOGUE.COM)

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