One of the many great things about style & its perception is that everything reads as in the eye of the beholder. What one person believes to be vulgar, others see as a refreshing manifestation of all things hip & inspired. Many artistes create such perfected personas that compliment their lines, their canvas, an image that makes a house. Hell, even Giorgio Armani bedecked his yacht in tones & textures that could have come straight out of his collection archives.
Take Vivienne Westwood. Carrie Bradshaw, heroine of Sex & the City, chose Westwood for the final showdown: The Wedding Scene. Paired with a fantastically courageous turquoise feather, the structured layers and the shaped bustier create an elfin-twisted haute couture fairytale as she exits the cab at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. What I loved was what so many people were drawn to hate: the feather. Yes, it’s turquoise & about a foot in length, but it gives drama to an outfit that for Westwood is relatively mute. It really brings a touch of the 1940s to the modern punk that is brought out in the dress.
Sex and the City breached the gap between what was acceptable & expected of city women, with the world of haute couture & constant innovation that was previously restricted to the catwalks of Paris & Milan. Granted, this may have been taken to extreme on occasion, toying with audience naïveté on what was really happening on the streets of New York between women & fashion. Take the character of Carrie: she evidently relishes the walk of shame after a night at Big’s so much so that her nonchalance brings her to don a large white men’s shirt, secure a black leather belt to give the outfit a waist, & simply add stilettos. Would this genuinely happen in real life? I don’t think it matters. Patricia Field, costume designer for Sex & the City for much of its career, made us sit up & watch. Here was a high-fashion editorial look being played out on the small screen. That’s what made it real, the fact that it was fashion, & it was happening real-time. It didn't have to be pretty. To paraphrase the great editor Diana Vreeland, Never fear being vulgar, just boring...
(editor's note: this is an altered version of an article that I first published on my now defunct blog, Violet Velvet Mittens)