Fashion or Flop?

Fashion, like all art, is subjective. Everyone has their own perfectly valid opinions on what looks good and what does not. This is the reason why so many niche aesthetics have become popular in the past decade. There are a wide variety of styles to choose from, no matter what your individual tastes are.

However, some pieces of clothing are just tasteless. Namely clothes from designer brands.

There is no doubt that prestigious lines like Louis Vuitton have made their mark on the world. These million dollar brands have designed many elegant pieces. But they have also come up with a slew of bad ideas with unreasonably high price tags.

In theory, scrolling through Prada’s website should yield stunning dresses or chic jackets. Instead, it features thousand dollar items that could easily be found at the local TJ Maxx accompanied by other horrendous crimes against humanity.

A baggy, sleeveless, empire waisted dress made out of nylon should not have anyone reaching for their wallet. When it features a Prada label, though? The dress is suddenly worth $2650. Nevermind that it is essentially a garbage bag that someone tried to take to fashion week.

Prada. Prada’s several thousand dollar attempt at a nylon dress.

Chanel’s designs are similar. Their Ready to Wear show from the Fall-Winter 2023/24 Collection features outfits that mix spots, stripes, florals, lace and leather in a mess that can only be described as what would happen if Kim Kardashian decided to take over Emily Gilmore’s wardrobe. And not in a good way.

Chanel. A look from the Fall-Winter 2023-24 collection.

“Some high-end brands, though once luxury, have turned to a more fast fashion style, so it’s important to keep in mind when splurging on a luxury brand,” said sophomore Jocelyn Allen.

She describes fast fashion as “tending to be cheaply made because it is a trend, so it isn’t meant to last long anyways.”

These once esteemed brands have taken to putting their own quirky spins on what sells. And it appears that what sells is stylistically challenged clothing. 

Celebrity style icons entrust these brands to make them look as fashion forward as possible. This backfires incredibly when what is considered “fashion forward” is clothing that may as well have been designed by an elementary schooler on a sugar high. Their over the top outfits are simply one more way to display their wealth to the rest of the world, inane costs be damned.

“Some do tend to make a lot of weird and interesting choices, but for the most part I think that they really try to make a statement and stand out amongst others,” said Masuk student Ruthika Giduthuri of celebrities’ red carpet ensembles.

One such celebrity is the infamous Harry Styles. Styles is known for his approach to fashion, specifically his bending of gender norms in clothing. This, in any other circumstance, would be something to praise. After all, too many people are held captive by the strict social regulations in place when it comes to clothing. But the outfits that Styles chooses to wear in his breaking of standards are just ugly.

In 2022, Styles sang several songs from his album “Harry’s House” on the TODAY Plaza. For his performance, Styles wore a garish black, brown, and green jumpsuit with bell sleeves designed by JW Anderson, a luxury brand. This striped monstrosity was priced at just under a thousand dollars.

Google. Harry Styles in his bold JW Anderson onesie.

This onesie could have been executed in a far more elegant manner. The jumpsuit had no structure, and none of the embellishments that Styles is usually known for. Basically, it looks like something that could be found in the toddler’s section at a J.C. Penny. 

But opinions, just like a fingerprint, differ from person to person. While some believe that Harry Styles’ clothing choices are questionable, others appreciate how unusual they are. 

Freshman and fashion aficionado Emily Barnhart said, “I liked Harry Styles’ jumpsuits. I thought the sequins were fun, and that’s what fashion should be.”

The sequined jumpsuit in question is one custom designed by Gucci that Styles wore during a 2022 Coachella performance. This jumpsuit is much more flattering on the singer, and has the attention to detail that many of his other looks have featured.

Google. Harry Styles wearing his infamous sequin jumpsuit at Coachella 2022.

Plus, Barnhart is right that fashion should be fun. After all, it is a key means of personal expression. However, there is a point where outfits become too much.

Within the world of fashion, there are certain ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’. Namely: stick with what you know you like instead of jumping ship for a fad, balance is key, and wear clothes that fit you, regardless of what is trending.

Despite how basic these general rules are, many fashion labels seem to have difficulty sticking to them. Dior’s knit shirt with puffy ruffled short sleeves is hardly timeless, and Valentino’s hot pink organza poet blouse with a gaudy bow around the neck is certainly not easy to work into an outfit.

Dior. Dior’s very original $2050 ruffled sweater.
Valentino. A $2100 organza shirt with bishop sleeves from Valentino.

Fashion can tell you just as much about a culture as a history book can. Just by looking at an old portrait, you can tell by what region of the world someone is from, what year it is, and even their income just by examining a dress. Clothing has been used to start societal revolutions, and as a form of protest. Even when women were not allowed to vote, they were allowed to dictate what they wore.

So, what are these modern designs saying about us now?

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