The Fashion Icon by Sem Megson

January 9, 2014 Comments Off on The Fashion Icon by Sem Megson

It was Jared Brandel’s debut show at New York Fashion Week and all hell had broken loose. Only half the models he booked arrived at the venue in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District and they were blistered and bloodied, toe to heel, from strutting too many runways that week. The hair-stylist and make-up artist couldn’t agree on whether his instructions to give the models a post post-modern look meant sleek hair/dramatic makeup or big hair/minimal makeup and, preferring to settle their creative differences in private, the two locked themselves in a washroom and hadn’t been seen since. Then there was the DJ, a scrawny white rapper who kept shouting during the sound check that the venue’s 10kw system had “mad flava,” but no one knew if that was good or bad. As for Brandel himself, he was in a pharmaceutical calm and went about giving slo-mo commands to his frantic assistant and silent assurances to himself that he had seen worse backstage in London, Paris, and especially in Milan, when he worked as an apprentice for a European couturier.

The show got underway an hour late with the DJ opting to play his own demo track, instead of the opening music, and the fashionistas sitting on both sides of the runway booed the rap lyrics so loudly that Brandel peeped through a slit in the back curtain to see what had happened. It was then he heard the pop of a gun — no, his assistant had shouted “Go!” and the models, bare faced, limp haired, trudged onto the runway. They passed Brandel in free-form outfits inspired by his muse, British designer Alexander McQueen, but which he now thought resembled the cloth Hindus used to wrap the dead before burning them and sprinkling their ashes into the Ganges River. With each outfit, Brandel’s lounging brain made crueler remarks, culminating in a chastisement for idolizing McQueen, a designer who, at the height of his success, hung himself in a closet, the same place women hung his clothes.

The finale of Brandel’s show was an evening gown that had a multi-layered chiffon train flowing behind in an outrageous wave, or at least it would’ve flowed behind if the gown hadn’t been put on backwards and the model wasn’t tripping over the voluminous fabric in front of her. This was too much for Brandel. He grabbed a pair of sewing shears and out he went onto the runway, dropping to his knees before the model, cutting away at the gown until the train detached and fell in a heap. The relieved model struck a pose and the fashionistas assumed it was all part of the show, an artistic statement by the designer on eveningwear that put form over function. Brandel, however, didn’t notice the applause he received because he was staring at the arc he had cut in the cloth and the raw shape gave him an idea for a new design.

© 2013 Sem Megson

Sem Megson’s work explores how people both raise and lower themselves to deal with our ever-changing world and has been produced on stage in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Toronto, and London, England, as well as being published in American and Canadian journals.

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