Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This makes me mad

Vivienne Westwood, fashion designer and inspiration to fashionistas everywhere has really dipped below the belt. Westwood's menswear fashion show in Milan this last week featured men in overly priced clothes acting as homeless men. Some carried bedrolls, some were "sleeping" in cardboard boxes, some pushed carts and carried plastic bags. Men were seen wearing what appeared to be makeup that looked like frostbite and walked up and down a runway covered in cardboard boxes.

The Times online writes:

Last night the press release for Westwood’s menswear collection, for Milan Fashion Week, declared: “Perhaps the oddest of heroes to emerge this season, Vivienne Westwood found inspiration in the roving vagrant whose daily get-up is a battle gear for the harsh weather conditions . . . Quilted bombers and snug hoodies also work well in keeping the vagrant warm.”

Yes, because as Westwood would clearly understand, those quilted bomber jackets she makes for ridiculous prices would be the first thing that so called vagrant would wear...not clothes that they picked up at say Salvation Army for free or dug out of a garbage can because they have no other choice.

The Times also adds,

Westwood conceded that she herself had no experience of being homeless. “The nearest I have come to it is going home and finding I don’t have my door key,” she said. “I mean, what a disaster that is, dying to get in your house and you can’t. And what if it wasn’t there any more?”

Good point Vivienne, you're really on to something there. Lets capitalize on it shall we?

Homeless people are not a fashion statement, they are our fellow human beings, moms, dads, sons and daughters and they need help; if you find this so inspiring why don't you go volunteer at your local soup kitchen, or donate all the money you make from this free inspiration to a homeless cause, instead of make a hoodie and play with the "fun" theme of “like they were sleeping rough and they’d got frost in their hair”? I feel that using the suffering of others to make money is not inspiring, it's just plain cruel. I have lived in downtown Sacramento for a while now, somewhere that has had national coverage recently on the homeless epidemic. I see these men and women, sometimes even children every day and they are suffering. They sleep in bushes and under overhangs that smell like urine; they get harrassed by sh*t punks all the time, and it certainly does not look like a fashion show to me.

Based on the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) released by HUD in July 2009:

  • Nearly 1.6 million people use emergency or transitional housing programs over the course of a year; and

  • On a given night, approximately 664,000 people are homeless. Of those:

    1. More than 124,000 are chronically homeless;

    2. 36.5 percent are chronic substance abusers;

    3. 26.3 percent are severely mentally ill; and

    4. About 15 percent are veterans.

I don't find this something that we should use to our advantage, something we should be able to call "homeless chic." We ignore these people everyday, we assume that they could go do something better so we walk right past them and don't give them the time of day. These people are abused and even die on the streets and you're going to romanticize that by making your fashion show all about it and then paying the men that walk in these shows more money than some of these people will make in their lifetime?! It makes me sick that this would be something that someone who I used to admire, like`Vivienne Westwood would find appropriate and get respect for from the fashion community. Get a grip people and open your eyes to the realities of life.


  1. Um, well put. That is so strange! I guess I don't understand her concept whatsoever. I love Vivienne's work, but this is kind of crossing the line.

  2. Good for you! This was an excellent post!

  3. How distasteful. You can only push the envelope so much. This reminds me of that absurd part of Zoolander when Mugatu creates his "Derelicte" (probably not spelling it right) line based on homeless peoples' fashion.

  4. The article I actually read about this used Derelicte as a comparison for this line. You're right on target.

  5. I have to agree that this is awful. The designer is capitalizing off the plight and pain of other. How truly sad.

  6. Yeah this is amazing... how can people have fun with the disgrace of someone else...