Today I had lunch with a group including a law professor who talked about how he’s worried about his son’s interest in fashion. Apparently his son has become quite interested in the art of sewing and design and this law professor was perplexed how exactly he was going to accept this. His son is about 2-3 years away from graduating and according to this professor, was reaching a point in his life where he really needs to start thinking about what he might want to do with his life.
To this professor, fashion seemed well…trivial. Almost ridiculous because it has no deep meaningful merit in improving the world. I could tell this father really just couldn’t understand why would anyone want to do this sort of work for a living when there’s so much more he could contribute in the world. He didn’t mean to put down what his kid was into, it was just something he didn’t get.
I found this interesting because I had just seen The September Issue that chronicled the making of the September issue of Vogue magazine and, in particular, showed the “softer” side of Anna Wintour, their editor in chief. Although Wintour gave me an icy chill throughout the film (you never saw her eat, or dress down, or exercise…or basically anything that you could connect with her as a human being) the one part that really got me was when she talked about her siblings. One is a correspondent for The Guardian, another is a deputy general secretary of a global union in Switzerland and another is a managing director of a borough council in the UK. All “serious, meaningful” institutions. Her siblings view her profession as “amusing.”
That’s what bothered me. If this professor’s son was painting or sculpting I don’t think he would be as perplexed by his son’s interest. Because it’s clothes we forget one detail. What designers do is beautiful, it’s art. It’s not just something utilitarian, it inspires and excites people and that’s important and essential in life. If we were to live a daily life of just basic khakis and blue button downs it would be horrible. True, alot of fashion is silly and ridiculous but its also dramatic and gorgeous and if we didn’t have Alexander McQueens, Marc Jacobs, John Gallianos, or Dolce & Gabbanas it would be a sad muted world.
Honestly do we need another lawyer? God no. We need more nebbish Jewish designers to create the perfect black cocktail dress.