Jeremy Lang­mead on jok­ers in the fash­ion pack

Fash­ion is uglier than ever and it has to stop.

Esquire (UK) - - Contents - By Jeremy Lang­mead

“I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this any­more.” Not words that usu­ally kick off a style column, I know, but I saw Bryan Cranston in Net­work at the Na­tional Theatre. Based on the 1976 Sid­ney Lumet movie, the play is about TV an­chor Howard Beale who, de­pressed by fall­ing rat­ings and cyn­i­cal net­work own­ers, has a ner­vous break­down on air. Sick of all the “bull­shit”, his “mad” mantra is soon taken up by his show’s now grow­ing au­di­ence.

I men­tion this be­cause this month I’m quite furious, too. I’ve be­come an un­happy con­coc­tion of Howard Beale, Larry David, Vic­tor Mel­drew and those two old guys in the box in The Mup­pet

Show. This is mostly down to spend­ing 10 days on a no-carbs, no-booze, no-fun health regime. I hated it. This lack of ev­ery­thing I en­joy has caused me to vent my (pu­ri­fied) spleen on some of the ab­surd items cur­rently all the rage this spring. It’s nor­mal for the fash­ion world to present down­right ridicu­lous clothes oc­ca­sion­ally — it would be let­ting us down if it didn’t — but ev­ery few years it throws up a tor­rent of silli­ness that makes you ques­tion your san­ity, as well as your age.

Un­til re­cently, if some­one said you looked like a joke, you’d be rather in­dig­nant. Yet to­day that may well be a com­pli­ment as some of the world’s most in­flu­en­tial fash­ion houses charge a lot of money for cloth­ing that takes irony a tad too far. Of course, this is all part of a sub­ver­sive take on fash­ion by a new breed of de­sign­ers ques­tion­ing tra­di­tional style codes beloved of the es­tab­lish­ment and who are play­ing around with el­e­vat­ing the hum­drum into some­thing cov­etable (long the case with many art forms, such as Duchamp and his uri­nal), but this an ex­pen­sive joke to wear for one sea­son or two. Vete­ments, for ex­am­ple, of­fers its take on a cer­tain de­liv­ery com­pany’s uni­form with a “DHL” logo’ed T-shirt first

To­day, it seems you can ei­ther dress as a joke, or a bill­board

shown in 2016 that will set you back £485 in 2018. DHL is so thrilled by its un­ex­pected ar­rival on the fash­ion scene it has of­fered cus­tomers the chance to win one.

Vete­ments de­signer Demna Gvasalia is also be­hind the com­mer­cial suc­cess of French brand Balenciaga. From it you can pur­chase hu­mor­ous items for less amus­ing prices: sock train­ers (as you might guess, an un­set­tling hy­brid of sock and trainer) for £495; mas­sively over-sized cot­ton­poplin shirts, de­signed to drown the wearer and fea­tur­ing a gi­ant green dragon print, for £875; and a leather tote bag mod­elled to look like a plas­tic su­per­mar­ket car­rier, for £855.

Other irony come­backs this year in­clude the bum­bag — or fanny pack, as they call it in the US (*snig­gers qui­etly*) — which to give it a point of dif­fer­ence to last time it was in fash­ion is now worn like a gun hol­ster between shoul­der and waist rather than just around the waist. To see how not to do it: Google pic­tures of ex-One Di­rec­tion’s Liam Payne wear­ing his. Payne’s cur­rent guise is ab­surd: he is try­ing to look Straight Outta Comp­ton when in re­al­ity he’s straight out of The X Fac­tor. Bad-ass(hole).

I know it’s not just me who’s a lit­tle be­mused by the cur­rent bonkers-ness. I came across a re­cent menswear shoot in The Guardian. Shot in a dreary air­port, the very mis­er­able-look­ing model was made to pa­rade in a striped bowl­ing jacket and shirt teamed with tiny satin shorts (ba­si­cally ex­ag­ger­ated un­der­pants) and white sports socks worn un­der black leather san­dals. Un­sur­pris­ingly, it wasn’t long be­fore it popped up on some­one’s In­sta­gram feed, soon joined by lots of cry­ing-with-laugh­ter emo­jis. As well as the fol­low­ing witty com­ment from the writer Caitlin Moran: “This is how you dress if you’ve had all your clothes stolen by bul­lies and Miss gets you some­thing out of the lost prop­erty bas­ket.” To look that silly and un­happy would cost you nearly £3,000.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, fash­ion brands are again em­bla­zon­ing lo­gos on their prod­ucts. The logo, last em­braced so heartily in the Nineties, is big, brash and bold again. To­day, it seems you can ei­ther dress as a joke, or a bill­board. Maybe it’s ev­ery­one else who is as mad as hell, not me.

Loco for lo­gos: Vete­ments de­liv­ered a sur­prise hit pack­age with its ‘ironic’ DHL-liv­er­ied ‘work­wear’ col­lec­tion

From top: sports day chic by Gosha Rubchin­skiy; a new di­rec­tion for Liam Payne; huge dragon print shirt by Balenciaga

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