Words: Joanne Wilkinson
Image: Henry Harris
Yes, I know I’m committing the ultimate betrayal to Cosmopolitan-sipping girls everywhere, but Queen Carrie really wasn’t all that when it came to stepping out in style on New York’s sidewalks.
In spite of SJP’s constant insistence that she and her on-screen alter ego were miles apart when it came to fashion, I find it difficult to see where Carrie stops and Sarah Jessica begins. So both are worthy of an anti-fashion icon status in my opinion.
I grew up watching Sex and the City and, like every other fashion-loving girl with a somewhat complicated love life, I identified with Carrie and watched her every small screen step with a mixture of awe and admiration. I mean, she was eternally in a relationship quandary that seemed to dominate her world, yet managed to hold down a regular relationship advice column that paid well enough to fund a nicotine and Manolo Blahnik habit. With the leftover change, she embarked on an endless social circuit of cocktail evenings, gallery openings and launch parties. It was the life we all dreamed of, minus the never-ending boy dramas of course.
When it originally aired on TV, it was as much about Carrie’s closet as it was about her colourful love life. We used to look forward to the next season of the show, to see what edgy ensembles super-stylist Patricia Field had up her sleeve. But more often than not, the outfits that appeared on the show’s main protagonist only served to disappoint my high fashion expectations and reaffirm what every man had been telling us for years – not only was Carrie extremely annoying and neurotic, her outfits were entirely ridiculous.
I’m not saying she didn’t have her moments, but these tended to come in the more formal scenes where a sequined dress, fur coat and heels made for an outfit that stole the show away from her less glamorous co-stars (with the exception of Kim Cattrall, who could never be upstaged when in Samantha Jones mode). And as much as most people hated the Vivienne Westwood wedding dress she intended to marry Mr Big in, I loved it!
Rewatching the series on DVD highlights that her list of fashion crimes are endless, starting with the underwear. What was with those boy shorts she insisted on prancing about her apartment in? And then the shorts became outerwear and there were far too many occasions where she attempted to dress them up with gold hoop earrings, a head scarf and heels.
Then there was the unfortunate patchwork coat she wore round about the time we were introduced to the borefest that was her romance with Aiden. Just because you’re being all retro and dating a carpenter, doesn’t mean you need to wrap yourself in a suede ‘70s throwback. But I’d say series 4 outdid itself with a fashion meltdown that featured pinstripe suits, flat caps and one too many oversized corsages. Worn all at once, may I add. No one wants to look like Joe DiMaggio in stilettos, not even Carrie Bradshaw.
If Carrie stopped typing endless pondering questions on her Apple Mac for one second, she might’ve taken a moment to look inside her closet to find the real reason Mr Big kept heading for the hills. To quote the ever-questioning writer herself, I couldn’t help but wonder – was her wardrobe damaging her chances of finding lasting love? After all, who wants to date the girl that dresses like she’s raided every thrift store in the West Village… while blindfolded by a vintage Hermes scarf?
Before Alexa Chung developed her own brand of man-repelling style, otherwise known as ‘granny chic’, Carrie Bradshaw was the woman whose outfits never failed to turn a man off. It was she who started the phenomenon of women dressing for other women, to the detriment and annoyance of men everywhere. While those unsuspecting men folk shook their heads in horror at the endless wardrobe malfunctions and hoped their girlfriends never, ever found the courage to attempt a copycat ensemble, girls everywhere trawled eBay and etsy for outlandish vintage Chanel, Hermes and Fendi castoffs that would earn them some SJP-inspired fashion cred.
The impeccably-dressed Mr Big summed it up perfectly when he described the dress Carrie wore on their first date as ‘interesting’. Her wardrobe may still be a constant source of fascination and even inspiration, but it doesn’t mean it’s there to be worn or emulated in real, actual life. But I’ll take a flat cap off to anyone that does manage to pull off one of Carrie’s more daring looks – tie dye leggings and rainbow stilettos anyone?
Anti-Fashion Icons: Victoria Beckham
scotcampus 17/09/2012 1
Words: Joanne Wilkinson
Image: Phil Stafford
Much is written and rewritten about so-called ‘fashion icons’ of the past and present, but what happens when their signature looks are unattainable and, quite frankly, ridiculous? Here’s the first person on my anti-fashion icon list, which features some of the most universally annoying individuals whose style I’ll never want to emulate…
Anti-fashion Icon #1: Victoria Beckham
It physically pains me every time I read a fashion feature that makes reference to VB “finally doing what she does best, fashion”. As Posh Spice, Victoria ‘I-refuse-to-smile’ Adams was halfway cool. She had some sort of identity, albeit manufactured, and her pretend pout was copied by wannabe fashionistas in playgrounds everywhere.
But, armed with a man-sized Ken doll in nice-but-dim David Beckham, Vicky B became one half of the world’s most infuriatingly unstylish couple, fated to take up more column inches than is ever acceptable for people who have nothing to say. From matching black leather outfits to puke-inducing underwear adverts, this is the couple who sell themselves more than any other and you have to wonder, who actually buys into the Beckham brand?
I seem to remember the point when the ‘90s ended and Posh Spice started hanging around with Dane Bowers wearing head scarves and sprayed-on leather outfits. Then designer Maria Grachvogel let her loose on the catwalk wearing hot pants. It was hard to decide whether her hip bones or her breast implants won the battle for most protruding body parts.
Were we really to take this failed solo singer turned clotheshorse seriously in the fashion world? It would seem so.
The nail in her fashion coffin should’ve been the ill-fated trip she embarked on when accompanying her hubby on England’s World Cup trip in Germany, where she managed to spawn a million wannabes of a different sort when she helped mould what is now known as a WAG. When your hair extensions cover more of your tiny frame than the entire bottom half of your outfit, it’s time to go back to the mirror and start again, swapping the hotpants and heels combination for something remotely resembling an outfit.
But, after enduring about a decade of endless articles heralding the former Spice Girl as some sort of fashion icon, the inevitable happened. Victoria Beckham, the fashion designer, was born. It was bad enough that she made other fashion designers’ clothes look uncool by wearing them, now she was unleashing a range of clothing that threatened to make other women look equally ridiculous?!
I say threatened because, as much as I’d love to say her designs are all hideous, the range itself is full of non-offensive styles. So I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s only when Victoria wears her clothes that the actual fashion crimes are committed. Sometimes shoes can be too high, pouts too polished and talons too long. And the odd hair out of place wouldn’t go amiss either.
No doubt she’ll continue to sell her overpriced garments to the super-rich for many seasons to come, but a few non-offensive dresses don’t erase the series of offensive VB looks we’ve had to endure over the years. This is the woman whose idea of off-duty style is to team a trucker hat with 6-inch stilettos. And on that unfashionable note, I’ll end my anti-fashion argument.