on Vladimir Karaleev: a long-time love, since 2010...

While at the showroom of Vladimir Karaleev the other day, I asked him if he named his wittingly ripped-torn-shorn pieces. The Andy, the Mickey, the Sue? (Thanks, Sam!) The tug? The yank? But wait, what’s Karaleev’s trick? How does he make a rip look romantic? How does he make it look Parisienne and not partisan New Jersey? It made me begin to think of the language used to describe so many of this year’s favorites. 

Jersey, it would seem, has taken over the scene. Of course, it’s better when it’s not just jersey, but “sheer” jersey. Or if it has an uneven hem (bad seamstress) or side vents (‘cause when you’re working it can get hot). Perhaps it’s an indicator of the “democratization” of fashion jargon. In fact, many of the recent season’s fabrics and cuts have a direct relationship to the parlance of class conflict. What we are witnessing is a subtle Bruce Springsteenization of the fashion world. It’s a way of getting a little closer to the People by wearing working-class gear, cargo pants or “distressed” leather. (Though “distressed” does sound rather Jane Austen in comparison to the ordinary “stress” of Charles Dickens.) The favored jumpsuit (or, fully ironic, playsuit) is not a far cry from a gas station attendant’s overall.

And almost everything has to be “oversized” which made me refer to a recent shopping trip as an exercise in buying potato sacks with belts. Why diet anymore if there are no zippers or seams to control our cravings for cookies? You have to be rich to wear these things. Rich people eat cookies and pay someone to vacuum out the fat out of their stubby knees. 

And those purposeful wrinkles, those ordinary indicators of a pleb, what are they called? “Ruched” indicates a puckering of fabric that looks like the ruffled seam of a lettuce leaf. “Let them eat cake,” cried Marie Antoinette, and in this case, I decry, Let them eat lettuce! Give me your tired, your poor, your Salad days, so that we working plebs can find a better way of fitting into our slouchy pants. Either way you look at it, fashion jargon seems to compensate for the guilt one might feel in a world strangely absent class conflict.

-- April von Stauffenberg, 11 July 2010


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