Someone (Mom, you're busted) sent me a link to a "Fashion Designer" competition sponsored by this total crap magazine in my hometown. This is a glossy mag that looks professional until you open it and see that it's rife with typos and bimbos. It is all about the "scene" in St. Louis with the same people popping up at the same places, looking like they were just teleported from 1998 in their James Perse-tanned-watered-down-LA looks. A high-end version of them is shopbop.com. A low-end version is, well, them.
Let me pause before going further. I know there is good style in my hometown; I see people bring it all the time when I am home. I have friends there who have great style. But generally, there is a lot of brand-whoring bad taste. And it's this BS that gets the local "press." To me, good style is not trying to be something you're not. It's not showy (except when it's in feathers or gloves or feeling dandy... more of that, please!). It's not trying to emulate what you think is another city's style. (I see the photos of the people on the scene, pretending they are in LA.) It's not tarted and pushed up or fake-tanned. That's too easy. (Oh, and it's also gross.) I realize my hometown is smack in the middle of the country, so why not make St. Louis style about authenticity, vintage, or well-crafted midwestern items? When did St. Louis become infatuated with bastardizing bad LA style? (I will not even sink so low as to give Christian Audigier the thrashing he deserves, but I don't understand why so many people in St. Louis wear that mess.)
OK, so back to this shit rag. Because it is so removed from relevance or hipness, this magazine is sponsoring a competition to find the top 6 Fashion Designers in St. Louis.
Why even pick winners? "Well, thanks for coming out, folks. Looks like you ALL win!"
I didn't dig around enough to see what all six will win (or if there will be a no-holds-barred cage match to pick the ultimate winner... YES, now I'm interested! Oh wait, that's MY competition.), mostly because I remember how much I enjoyed watching those first few seasons of Project Runway back in SF* (with wine and Stellies and Milosh, bien sur) and now the exact opposite feelings arise when I think of anything remotely smacking of Project Runway. Besides, isn't Project Runway itself so watered down? (Hello... Lifetime, is it?) How can people squeeze any more from the idea of it? Why not figure out a new, inherently St. Louis-style competition instead of copying something that was cool 7+ years ago? And make it about ribs, please. (Oh wait, now we're back to MY competition.)
So my mom sent me the link for the local designers in competition to see if I knew anyone. I did not. Therefore I feel it's well within my right as someone who actually works in "the industry" to remark on what I found. I didn't put names or names of lines with the quoted material below.
Except that I must tell you that one of the "labels" is called Haus. HAUS. As in what frat dudes call each other at the gym. Or how one burly bub would formally address another mid-rile: "Take it easy, Haus." (OK, maybe it's spelled "hoss," but they are homonyms.) At the very least, it's the German word for "house." So why why WHY would you ever choose this word to represent your line of ladies' wear?!?
For the rest, I tried to categorize them for your laughing, er, reading pleasure. I was struck by how serious these designers took themselves, especially for people who aren't seeing major sales, raking in real dough, or working in a major fashion market. (Sorry StL, but I don't think anyone considers you a global fashion hub.) My favorite was all of the designers who wrote about themselves in the third person. Wait... is this blurb from Vogue? Oh no, it's just YOU trying to make yourself seem more important because "someone else" is talking about you. Phhffft! You don't fool me!
This word was a real bugaboo for our designers. I caught a "boehmian," but the real beverage-spitter was "bohomenian." Bohomenia? That's in eastern Europe, right?
This simple one had them all a-tizzy, too. Witness: "Sheek" and my favorite "Sheik." As in "Duncan"? Or "Mohammad"?
3. AVANTE GARDE
Is that what they called it in the Olde West?
I blame the magazine for this, as apparently they offered this spelling in their drop-down menu. Shame on you, dumb magazine; you're making this worse than it has to be. The best part was seeing how many designers slotted themselves as "Avante Garde," when there was nothing at all edgy or avant about their pieces. One "Avante Garde" designer went so far as to reference the great gateway artist Salvador Dali**:
"Artistic Influence? Salvador Dali is one of my favorite artists, and definitely influences my work. I love the fact that since he is a surrealist artist, when you look at his work it is always different, nothing is normal. And I would definitely say that when I go to create a garment it is my goal to produce something different and unique."
Still bad, but at least this one has heart!
4. IN OTHER BAD SPELLING NEWS
I give you: "Izzac Mizarahi" and "Dani Atrach." The last one's actually a dude. He may be no "haus," but he certainly doesn't end his name with an "i." Tsk, tsk.
5. BONDAGE TAPE IS NOT ELEGANT RESTRAINT
"[Label name deleted] is inspired by the black-and-white visuals of Hollywood's classic film noir and tossed with a dark gothic aesthetic using corsets, buckles, and bondage tape. It projects a feeling of the elegant restraint of women throughout past centuries."
Also: "tossed with"! Hi-yah!
6.EARTH, WIND, AND FIRE
"My line is for those fearless ones that love being vibrant in bold colors. What you see now is what happens when I listen to music whilst sketching. In this particular case, I was listening to Earth, Wind, and Fire."
That's right, in this case I had on the grooves.
Also note: "whilst." Thank you, your majesty. We will let you know if you're in our top six.
7. GIVE IT THE GUSTO!
"MY LINE REPRESENTS A PLETHORA OF STYLES, URBAN,CASUAL, SHEIK, EDGY,COMMERCIAL, ALL WITH A LITTLE SEX A PEEL. I'M NOT A ONE NOTE DESIGNER, I HAVE RANGE. MY PHOTOS ALSO SHOWCASE VERSATILITY, MY PIECES ARE NEVER CONSTRUCTED TO GO WITH ONE THING, THE SHIRT COULD BE PAIRED UP WITH A SKIRT OR A HOT PANT DEPENDING ON ONES PERSONAL STYLE & PERSONA. ALL PERSONS, PLACES, AND THINGS ARE MY INSPIRATION!!!"
This guy barely comes up for air. (Also, he used the ol' ALL CAPS trick to put him in front of the others!) You surely caught: "Sex A Peel." (Reminds me of the big "potato a-peel" ending of the old Tato Skins commercials. Except there it actually made sense.) And "Sheik" (previously discussed).
Also, thanks for telling me what your photos show. I'm reading this on the internet so I'm not blind, bozo. Noted that the shirt could be "PAIRED UP WITH" a bottom of one's own choosing. I'm pretty sure this "up with" phrasing is accompanied by a mouth click or a hand snap when stated live. And finally, settle the hell down with your inspiration. Really, "ALL PERSONS, PLACES, AND THINGS" inspire you? Well, I don't want to see a line based on the turd you dropped this morning. Hey, you said "ALL."
"The line explores a variety of design elements, such as line, shape, and repetition."
Wait... the "line explores... line"? Duuuuude.
9. TOO GOOD NOT TO SPILL
I know I was going to keep this anonymous, but what is this??
How do you even pronounce that? And what does it mean? If the name of your line is written in code, how could it possibly be marketed to the general public? And the people with good taste, the people circling in the real fashion world? Well, I'm pretty sure they don't play this shit. Go on, you try explaining your line's dumb name to Andre Leon Talley. I dare you. I guarantee you he renames it something descriptive in no more than four letters, the first two being S and H.
Check out these scene setters. Please allow me a few  interruptions:
"When you walk out your door, the world becomes your audience. The streetlights suspended from above guide you down the runway. The flashbulbs are going off, blinker by blinker as you walk down the street. The beat of your heels mimics the one being projected through your headphones. Your thick designer sunglasses morph into blinders [Blinders? Oh, I get it now. I'm a horse.], delaying the daylight of reality. [Stupid reality and its light. Good thing I have these blinders.] Anything other than that cup of coffee in your near future seems to fade away. Slow sipping leads to reminiscing, while staring at the red lipstick kiss on the side of your coffee mug… [Yuck? Why is this mug dirty?] You’re suddenly thinking of his voice and how delicious he smelled… [And how good that NARS Dragon Girl looked on him?] You just had to slide him the napkin with your number signed in that same red lipstick. [Oh thank god, you've been talking about MY red lipstick this whole time.] The memory makes you smile as you take another sip of your coffee. [So I'm a whore not a horse?]"
"Once upon a time, in a far away land, there lived a beautiful Princess and her beautiful Mother, the Queen. [The Queen Mother, is it?] If you close your eyes and let your imagination gobble you up, you'll escape to the mysterious kingdom. [A monarchical kingdom? That is mysterious.] It IS a wonderland. Animals, trees, flowers, and the even the shadows at night, talk to you for hours and hours. [Are the walls melting yet?] All the mythical stories are here for the taking. [Tell the one about when Zeus wants to get in that one lady's pants so he turns her into a cow!] The kingdom has no sense of time. [Oh, no requests? Boo.] What year is it? No one knows. [And no one cares if the Zeus story is off the table. Hurumph!] Everything glistens in the fresh sunshine and when the moon rises, the dark creatures come out to play. The little Princess twirls everyday, like a ballerina swallowed by a perfect tulip. [I don't like the idea of these predatory tulips.] The Queen is independent, generous, and caring. The kind of beauty that never gets lost. [Can someone tell me where I left my beauty? Please??] My designs are born in this wonderland. A dream land that is delicate, brave, unexpected, and enchanting."
I can't make this stuff up.
In conclusion, I would put up anyone--ANYONE--I have ever worked with in this industry (or any other industry, for that matter) against these jokers. Hell, I would even put up my own self--and I can't sew! At the very least, I could guarantee an insightful and creative blurb with no more than one spelling error. And that might just be enough to take this competition.
* (Disclaimer, I watched most of the 2010 season when I was home for 3 months and was trying to support one of the St. Louis designers in competition, but there was lots of bad shizz, to be sure.)
** After a discussion with Sweet Daddy on the road somewhere between Biarritz and Bilbao, I concluded this: Dali is a gateway artist. He got me and many other 8th graders interested in art. But when I look back at Dali now, most of it doesn't hold for me. I know he had chops; he could really paint. And I appreciate the code, the idea of things representing other things. But I just don't respect it like I did way back when. Partially, this is because of later Dali's overly marketed persona. But also it's because I don't think surrealism holds up so well. Most of it looks so dated. And why must every museum gift shop--no matter the bent of the museum--have some melting watch paraphenelia on offer? Stop it, people. So thanks to Dali for piquing my interest in art, but 37-year-old Jodi sure doesn't see it the same way as 14-year-old Jodi. But that's growing up for you.