with new york fashion week getting started today (tweets direct from BCBG/max azria fw’12…yes please), i had a little look-see back a couple weeks at couture collections for spring 2012. this story went viral a week or two ago, but it never really dawned on me to write about it until now. i’m always a fan of jean-paul gaultier. always. no matter what he does, he is fabulous. but he caused a pretty big scandal when his most recent couture collection paid tribute to the late miss amy winehouse. too much, too soon?
image from style.com
i think it goes without saying that the world at large handled amy winehouse’s death fairly lightly. it wasn’t long before the “shoulda gone to rehab” and “congrats on 24 hrs sober” jokes started – and how many puffed up amy winehouses did you see running around on halloween?! a halloween store in the shaughnessy village even sold a wig that was literally marketed as “amy winehouse hair”. right!!? when JPG’s couture collection strutted down the runway, it was clearly an homage to the late singer. the unmistakable bouffant/beehive/pomp hairdo, heavy cat-eye-eyeliner and single mole above the top lip all fused perfectly with the slightly trash, sexed up 50s-ish collection. winehouse’s signature polo was reinvented, as was her typical pencil skirt! all this teamed up with musicians playing winehouse classics made for a very interesting show. the models were even smoking cigarettes! seriously! you can view the full collection on style.com!
image from style.com
personally, when i first read about this, i was so gung-ho. hello, JPG + amy winehouse?! yes. many, many times yes. BUT later i read an article with commentary from winehouse’s father, mitch winehouse, who spoke on behalf of the family: “we’re still grieving for her loss […and] to see her image lifted wholesale to sell clothes was a wrench we were not expecting or consulted on”
truth be told, that hadn’t occured to me. at all. i read it more as a tribute, but given that the family wasn’t even consulted, nor was a donation or contribution made to the amy winehouse foundation. sketch sketch, no? kind of reaping the benefits of her death. and doesn’t that always happen? you know, that someone’s work is always more famous or reels in more money after their death? it’s true for painters. and definitely true for amy winehouse. even i only jumped on the amy winehouse bandwagon after she had passed away – i had no idea that her style was so full of soul – she has a super gritty voice and a really badass MO.
how is this any different than the every day goings on in the fashion world though, really? in the 70s, style was influenced by artists like david bowie or movies like saturday night fever. in fact, lady gaga once revealed bowie’s influence on her costumes and her musical style. no big deal right?
“but wait!!!” i hear you say! “didn’t you write an article a couple weeks ago about inspiration vs copying…can’t this all just be considered copying?” well…JPG did pretty much take her style and alter it to fit his own ideas. but, there’s definitely a difference at play. inspiration means to take influence from something else and adapt it to fit your own style (in every sense of the word).
there haven’t been a ton of tribute collections, though. vivienne westwood paid homage to planet earth narrator david attenborough a couple weeks ago. the dudes had icicles in their beards. cute but strange, although i can’t say i blame miss westwood – attenborough has the most calming voice ever, aside from morgan freeman. he makes me want to save the polar bears. but no one had a problem with this. the only difference i can see is that attenborough is still alive. so, it all must come down to insensitivity. what do you think? would it have made a difference if part of the collection’s proceeds were donated to the winehouse family, or if they were consulted at all? is JPG being insensitive or should it just be taken for what it is? much too much? much too soon?
i will leave you with this really funky edit of amy winehouse’s you know i’m no good (from her album, back to black) by ifan dafydd (this guy is awesome, very james blake-y)