Sans socks

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, Cirque Du Soleil, and New York Fashion Week – What exactly are the major differences between these three acts? Well, among other things, the first two actually advertise themselves as circuses, whereas Fashion Week pretends itself an elitist social event.

First of all, let’s analyze what makes a circus a circus. 1: A circus needs a ringleader – someone to organize as well as introduce the acts of the circus. 2: A circus needs performers, dressed in costume and typically wearing great deals of makeup. 3: A circus needs to be choreographed to music. 4: A circus must have a center stage, around which the audience sits.

So why doesn’t Fashion Week advertise itself as what it is? I can see it now: They could hold a parade to kick off the event. Models riding in on mistreated elephants – they could even bring in some of their exploited third world laborers to hold the reins. Certainly then we could take Fashion Week a little more seriously.

Not to say that certain people in the fashion industry haven’t already adopted this practice. Thom Browne – New York’s "style czar" – did just that with his personal exhibition for Fashion Week. Well, not just that – there were no mistreated elephants or exploited laborers. However, he did mock the fashion world by creating his show in the form of a three-ring circus, complete with a top hat wearing ringleader and models in three-legged pants and on stilts.

Yet Browne certainly wasn’t the first designer to slap fashion in the face. Fashion Week of September ’07 saw another designer’s rebellion to the runway norms. Jack Spade set up its runway in the middle of bustling Bryant Park, in the shadow of a large tent constructed for a red-carpeted runway show.

They had filed for a permit to hold their show in the park, and displayed it taped to a tree. They then proceeded to set up a rolling wardrobe, a boom box on a trash receptacle, and a director with a clipboard and headset. They then recruited park patrons at random to participate, until they had exhibited all of their spring collection. After this, Andy Spade, co-creator of Jack Spade, appeared and took a bow toward all the very confused park patrons.

I have to admit, however, that I am torn. While I would love to see more poking of fun at mainstream elitist ideas, there’s something frightening about the idea of those elitists starting to make fun of themselves. Wouldn’t that cause a rift in the space-time continuum? Come on, Dr. Hawking, back me up on this one.

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