Paris Fashion Week has brought controversy with the unveiling of the Jean Paul Gaultier Spring/Summer collection, and if, like me you had the opportunity to view the footage of the show online before the bombardment of news articles and twitterings, you may have had time to form your own opinions. Here are mine.
To say that the death of Amy Winehouse came as a shock is a sticky statement to accept. Yes, she was supposedly on the route to recovery, and this was someone with real talent, real passion, but also an unfortunate real addiction to a detrimental relationship. She lived a life of erratic ups and downs, all under the pressure and scrutiny of the public eye.
The real shock here, was the realisation of loss; the reminder that talent and fame do not bring invincibility, and that whilst revelling in her talent, the world had watched a young woman with so much life to live deteriorate in the public eye.
The media is notorious for feeding off negativity. Magazines publish unflattering photographs, say nasty things and speculate the worst before its happened. Following her death, the media were largely accused of putting pressures on Winehouse. A predominant feeling amongst close family and friends seemed to be that the press spent the whole time grinding down on her, then as soon as she died, the tables turned and all negativity turned into words of praise and adoration of a ‘musical legend’.
So how does this link back to a Paris Fashion Week Gaultier show? The show saw models walk down the catwalk in beehives of different colours, with the signature beauty spots and excessive, 60s winged eyeliner. Pencil skirts, cocktail dresses and lingerie as outwerwear were key looks throughout the collection. The models themselves were extremely thin, (too thin, but with haute couture designers this raises a whole different argument) and the backing music? An Amy Winehouse tribute string quartet band, of course…
Whilst the garments were beautiful and nothing short of the genius Gaultier delivers, there was something so evidently wrong with the whole thing. Only 6 months after her death, here was a runway of Amy lookalikes; gaunt, straight faced, some casually smoking down the catwalk, to an awful rip off of her great music. Amy’s father was outraged at the show and refused to support it, whilst close friend Kelly Osbourne described the show as ‘lucratively selfish and distasteful’.
Whilst I am a fan of Gaultier and understand his motives of paying homage to Winehouse’s iconic style, to me the whole setup of this show lacked dignity, sensitivity to those close to her and glorifies a ‘look’ which ultimately depicts Winehouse at a low and unhealthy stage in her life. It would seem that the mood of the show seemed to focus more on the glorification of her suffering rather than the celebration of her vivacious personality, extreme talent and original style. Gaultier had seen Amy in concert only once, and never met her in person, so did he hold the right as an artist himself to interpret her so heavily into one of his catwalk shows?
“Telling me I can do anything I want is like pulling the plug out of the bath and then telling the water it can go anywhere it wants. Try it, and see what happens.”
― Nick Hornby, A Long Way Down