Thursday, August 16, 2007

Rehab Chic

I read today (in the Times as I don't speak or read Italian) that Italian Vogue have published a shoot in what the editor, Franka Sozzani, refers to as "a fun take on rehab chic". Now, I've never been to rehab but to my mind the models and 'staff' look far too attractive to be in rehab. I like the clothes, am not sure about the poses but I am sure that no-one in rehab looks well enough to be on the pages of Vogue.

It also worries me that a magazine such as Vogue may be unintentionally promoting isms which they did not intend. As a fashion piece goes, I'm sure it was intended to fall into roughly the same category as Tom Ford intended his adverts which featured girls with their pubic hair shaved into a 'G' shape. However, with so many celebrities falling off their respective bandwagons in such high profile recently (Lindsey Lohan is by no means the only example: Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Britney Spears and Kate Moss are all examples which spring to mind as well as Mischa Barton and Amy Winehouse) it seems that addictions have become part of our culture.

Now, I am not usually in favour of criticism of magazines and the fashion industry in general. I don't, for example, believe that fashion (and therefore magazines) are responsible for the size 0 phenomenon or spiralling trends in eating disorders. Those issues, whilst worrying, are not, in my opinion, something which can be laid at the foot of the fashion industry. So why now? Is this issue really any different?

Well, I would argue, it is. At it's bluntest models need to be slender to make the most of the clothes. They are essentially human coat hangers. There are some people who are naturally that shape, and they should be the models. Those that aren't, shouldn't, and certainly shouldn't diet to try and become something they are not. A beautiful, or at least striking, face helps. Clothes do not need to promote or 'sex up' alcohol or drug abuse in order to make the most of them. Those clothes on those models would look just as effective in a different setting. I think that the two combined is a dangerous step away from influencing people to see alcohol and drug abuse in a glamorous light. This is more than the so dubbed heroin chic of the 1990s. Those were skinny models, looking rather grungy, granted, but there was no overt reference to the drug itself in the pictures. Here, I would argue, the very nature of the concept of 'rehab chic' implies narcotics or alcohol abuse. Not even simple use. Most people who are 'users' don't need rehab. Rehab is for those that are ill, have damaged themselves through self destructive tendencies, for people that need help. It is not something which is glamorous and is not something which, in my opinion, should be the setting to inspire the Vogue reading public to associate with A/W07.

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