Can I haz fashion memes?

1 février 2018
 
– Written by Brendon John
 
You’ve probably seen several memes today, images of cats making inane statements with bad grammar, “fails” in which the inept prove that natural selection is well and truly broken, but what happens when fashion enters the meme-o-sphere?
 
Gucci cat gifting campaign Christmas 2017
 
Gucci memes a lot
 
Gucci. And we’re not talking Tom Ford’s Spring Summer 2003 campaign in which a Gucci G is perfectly trimmed into Louise Pedersen’s bushes (and which in its derisively sexual comment on branding was a highly successful advert and a meme in and of itself), rather the Allesandro Michele Fall Winter 2017 campaign which revolved around the hashtag #TFW GUCCI – for “That feeling when Gucci.”
 
Gucci campaign featuring Trimmed Bushes
 
That feeling when #fail
 
And while Gucci seemed to grab some of the post-millennial über-chic zeitgeist the collective reaction of the Internet was more cringe-worthy than adulatory. On the other hand, Balenciaga turned Bernie Sander’s campaign logo into the theme of their Fall Winter 2017 collection, reworking Bernie as Balenciaga and trading on the outsize media presence of the American election.
 
Gucci meme fail
 
Meme addiction
 
Yves Saint Laurent’s 1977 launch of the perfume Opium, trading not only on the orientalism that formed the backdrop of his collection that year but also on the heady addictive association with the drug itself is a paragon of a pre-internet meme. Equating consumption and elegance with addiction, Opium remains one of the top-selling perfumes forty years after its launch, due, no doubt to the savvy use of a compact cultural message, reflecting the original meaning of the word meme.
 
left : Sketch for Opium (bottle) by YSL – right : Sketch for Opium by YSL
 
Memes of a feather flock together
 
A regular cat meme A REGULAR CAT MEME 
 
The Internet is, of course, the veritable meme mother-ship and image based social media platforms such as Instagram and Tumblr are home to more categories of memes than you could shake a stick at. These derisive, easily recognisable and risible images range from the feline – see the meme referring to that wonderful moment when everything you ordered online fits – to the more subtly intellectual – see the memes produced by the instagram account @siduations which mixes Alexander McQueen and Alien, Balenciaga with airline safety, or mocks Maison Margiela’s tabi boots by photo-shopping a hoofed deer into the store. This characteristic blend of high and low fashion imagery mixed with popular culture lends an edge of dark humour to the images.
 
 
 
In a similar manner the French fashion journalist Mademoiselle Agnes pokes irreverent fun at the sometimes overly serious and staid fashion cliques. Dressing in a total-look she becomes the caricatured incarnation of a designer’s muse; the femme-Gucci who has become ostentatious to a fault, or the femme-Vogue of the 1980’s, liberated, irreverent and on fire, or even the femme-Fenty who has replaced her lavender field in her country house with marijuana declaring that “fashion gets her high.”
 
Mme Agnes as the femme VOGUE 1980 & GUCCI
In a similar vein, Mademoiselle Agnes’ close collaborator, the French fashion journalist Loïc Prigent recently published a book with a collection of witticisms gleaned from his years backstage at fashion shows. Each pithy remark in J’adore la mode mais c’est tout ce que je deteste (“I love fashion but it’s everything I hate”) reduces the industry to a tongue in cheek meme of inadvertent hilarity: “Red meat is like Prada, if you really feel like it, you should just give in.”
 
Choupette breaks the internet
 
Choupette Lagerfeld Shu Uemura collab
In typically inimitable style it is Karl Lagerfeld’s feline companion that perhaps represents the ultimate fashion meme. Choupette is, in a world of frivolity, a very serious cat and generates a surprising amount of press for such a diminutive beast – starring in numerous ad campaigns and ‘working’ with Shu Uemura as well as other luxury houses on various co-branded collaborations. And yet there is a degree of self-effacing mockery that creeps in around the edges in the frenzy that surrounds her press coverage, and while she might be more attached to fur than Anna Wintour on a cold winter’s night, she remains a caricature of fashion’s obsessions, queen of the memes, a ‘lolcat’ for the ages.
 
Lagerfeld embraces Choupette
Brendon John
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