Thursday, December 9, 2010


so i'm going through a phase where the fashion world seems like a vanity fair. Duh, will say some of my readers. Just a phase, will reply the chicken of fashion. i can't be very sure, but it might have something to do with the pain in my gums and with my cheeks being as square as those of the doll of two posts ago (in a less lovely way). i need to focus on a process to make it through, and why not use this time to translate a chapter of that book I've read a few months ago, 'L'exil est mon pays' by Isabelle Alonso. It's a fictionalized biography of a girl living in France in a family of Spanish emigres. Her father, Angel, went to France (where his uncle Tete Pepe was living) to escape persecution by the extreme right regime, and her mother, Liberdad, followed him with their first born Rodrigo. The times were hard. They rented a loft, property of Tata, had three more kids (Angustias, the narrator, then Gonzalo, and Remedios), and lived a happy though modest life.

Liberdad comes across as some sort of super woman. This chapter is an ode to her cheerful resourcefulness. I think it belongs here because it's about making clothes, and something between the lines.


Liberdad had never been rich, but never as impoverished as in France. In Spain she'd lived in a well-off family, in a country marred by deficit. She had developed the astuteness specific to the post-war period, when money was scarce, when scantiness sharpened the acumen. In France she found herself in the inverse position. She had to learn to live as a pauper in the land of milk and honey. Poverty is an art. A permanent tightrope act that leaves no place for chance and doesn't admit of the unforeseen. A rigorous calculation, a punctilious management of every penny, a complete exploitation of every resource. Liberdad applied her perfectionism and verve to making the famous two ends meet, the nightmare of parsimonious budgets and trouble of the needy. On Saturdays Angel brought his weekly pay. Liberdad distributed it immediately in envelopes that she stashed under piles of sheets. Even the unforeseen was anticipated in an adequate fold intended to cover the possible surprises, always unpleasant in those circumstances. She stretched her husband's meager salary so as to have fresh meat and fruit every day, buy necessities so as to assuage the raging hunger of the household, and go to the cinema as often as the sparse program of the local theaters allowed it. For the rest, one solution: make oneself that which one had no means to buy. The talent and imagination cost only the vital energy of their contributor.

Liberdad acquired, for three sous, at a sale, an antique sewing machine in excellent condition, a superb Singer integrated in an art nouveau iron structure. Outdated but robust. The acquisition nested in a corner, as if it had always been there. Angel dubbed it the Human Beast. The engine reminded him of Zola, one of his favorite writers, half Italian, one shouldn't forget...Standing at ease, the Beast seemed a large insect pinned to its board, waiting for Liberad to stir its hardened mechanisms. As an unchained steam engine, it seemed to want to cast off its support and follow some TransEuropExpress in the conquest of Siberian steppes.

Deafened by the hammering noise of the machine raising to attack a recalcitrant hem or a belligerent armhole, Liberdad was a hunter, a pilot, a navigator. From her hand-to-hand combats with the Beast emerged dresses, jackets, coats which kept warm and preserved her family's dignity, with no models, patterns, nor fabric. Well, no fabric...At least that's what I thought for a long time. I had never seen my mother buying anything else but food, and so I thought that everything that wasn't to eat couldn't be bought. The principle according to which nothing disappears and nothing just turns up certainly held for physics, but not for my mother. I thought she generated the fabric for the dresses out of nothing, out of a tiny shred that just had to be bred, like watering a grain which becomes a geranium, like knitting a bit of wool which becomes a sweater. A dress could be born out of a sample like a leaf from a bud. So I wanted to help mom, contribute to the familial prosperity by facing Mme Leboeuf, our tailor neighbor.

On the ground-floor, on both sides of the carriage entrance, two workshops were home to a family of self-employed craftsmen, the Leboeufs. On the left, M.Leboeuf practiced his shoemaker skills. On the right, Mme Leboeuf managed with an iron hand her little team of seamstress-apprentices. M.Lebeuf's left leg was visibly shorter than his right one. He had made himself an orthopedic shoe with a sole bordering on forty centimeters. Needless to say, he was moving with great difficulty, and his lopsided gait occasioned giggles among the children. Mom warned us that if she saw us laughing with the rest of the brats even once, she'd make us regret it. We'd heard many times of mom's capacity to cause bitter regrets, but none of us dared to undergo one, especially that we didn't really know what it was and weren't eager to find out. Besides, it turned out that M.Leboeuf loved children and craved company. He tried to withhold us with licorice candy. Gonzalo and I took the candy, said thanks and went off, but Ridrigo used to spend hours leaning on his elbows on the workshop table, mesmerized by the music of M.Leboef's small hammers, the flight of his resoling thread, the smell of glue and leather, fascinated by his stories of Tour de France or of his years in the infantry in North Africa.

'In North Africa? With that leg of his he couldn't have been a soldier anywhere!', scoffed Angel.

'Nonetheless, he can count to ten in Arabic, which shows at least that he's been there!', protested Rodrigo, who didn't like seeing his heroes dethroned.

'But of course, poor guy, he doesn't do harm to anyone, of course he's been there.' Liberdad calmed the spirits.

Mme Leboeuf was to her husband what the giant is to the dwarf. An ogre of a woman. A matronly version of a werewolf. She wasn't evil, but had an overwhelming force about her. Her voice thundered. The words fired from her mouth like from a harquebus, knocked against the walls, rebounded, and shelled your ears with deafening explosions. All that to say hello. She was too much, but she couldn't be otherwise. She was terrorizing me. I avoided entering her visual field, but when she spotted me, there was no question of escaping her. The volume of her voice arrested me. She thought I was cute, lucky me. She roared that she had something for me.

'Come, sweetie, don't be afraid!'

Good one. Overcoming my terror, I faced her blouse dotted with needles, her gray hair in a bun, and her bellowing mouth.

'I've got fabric samples for you!'

Fabric samples! I would have faced an army of monsters for a single sample, and she was offering me bundles of them. I followed her to the far end of the workshop. She handed me her treasures, I articulated an inaudible 'thanks', grimaced a smile and hurried out of her reach before she asked for a kiss. I clutched the catalogs like a trophy, so proud of having defeated the dragon so that my mom would be the prettiest.

Only mom ended up dampening my enthusiasm.

'Mme Lebouef is very kind, but she should stop foisting these dust nests on you, I don't know what to do with them anymore!'

'Make yourself dresses, mom! Beautiful dresses, evening gowns, princess dresses!'

'With what?'

'With the fabric, with the samples!'

'Impossible! That's not enough!'

Crash. It turned out the fabric had nothing in common with the knitting that extended at the tip of the needles if one wriggles a bit, nor with the grain that grows if one bothers to water it. A fabric sample cannot morph into a dress, even if worked with a pin and needle. One couldn't get anything out of those squares of satin, out of those petals of silk, out of that miraculous lace? Nope. The fabric must necessarily be bigger than the garment one wants to make out of it. That's how it is, that's how it's always been. The harsh law of tailoring. Liberdad's revelations swept me off my feet. My deception matched my illusions. I was hearing the rustle of fairy dresses leaving my dreams, the flutter of impossible frills and flounces, sounding the death knell for balls and receptions that mom would never go to, least of all thanks to me.

Mom wasn't inventing fabric. She was recycling it. So, for instance, a worn pin-striped suit that Tete Pepe had sent to Angel in the Madrid days, which wouldn't have been out of place in a gangster movie, changes genre. Turned inside out, ironed, re-tailored, with the stripes in negative, unrecognizable, it becomes on Liberdad a beautiful two-piece. After that, again exhausted by the years, the outfit with varying geometry is laid down again.

'This isn't tailoring, this is aesthetic surgery...', joked Angel, impressed with his wife's dexterity.

A few adjustments to the pattern, a gallon of paint, a Peter Pan collar fashioned from the usable parts of an old pillow-case, and like Phoenix, the old suit fell into back infancy on my back, in the form of a dress style college uniform.

'Shirley Temple reviewed and corrected by George Raft.'

Mom always had a cinematographic reference at hand for moments when her creations fazed us. Along with myself, my brothers in matching shorts highlighted the little Lord Fauntleroy side of the clan.

Liberdad used to explain to us:

'I'm not the first to make new out of old. Scarlett O'Hara did the same. In 'Gone with the wind' she made herself a gorgeous velvet outfit out of a pair of curtains, and you know why?

'Because blacks were no longer for sale', joked Angel, who had nothing but the most bitter contempt for southern literature with proslavery undertones.

'...Scarlett tailors herself a dress from the only fabric remaining in the house because she doesn't want Rhett Butler to pity her. She wants to preserve her dignity. I could accept hand-me-downs, but it would irk me to even be offered alms. Or I could try to buy cheap stuff. But we're not simple paupers. We're foreigners. If you're dirty or poorly dressed, they won't say: 'Look at the little Alcalas, how untidy they are'; they'll say: 'Have you seen those Spaniards, how shabby they are. All Spaniards are miserable.' You must be the most polite, the tidiest, and the best at school. When people lay eyes on you, I want them to say that you're perfect. I never want Spain to be shamed because of you.'

That we could embarrass Spain with our funny names and with our parents speaking with an accent hadn't crossed mom's mind. Scarlett was lucky to wear only her own green velvet dignity on her shoulders. The dignity of a whole country would have been a bit too heavy. But does one fight one's destiny? To please mom, I wore her sartorial achievements like oriflammes, head up straight, puffed up with textile ambassadress pride. I practiced simulating arrogance, pretending to look down on passers-by. Nobody, least of all Liberdad, could doubt that I'd much rather have worn the clothes without history and significance that I saw in the showcases of stores where no Alcala had ever laid foot. Mom would have been mortified to discover in her offspring such country bumpkin tastes which she despised. Had I articulated my desires, she would have used her usual sarcasm to disqualify the stuff that, in any case, she couldn't afford to buy us. In presenting the inevitable as a deliberate choice, she dissimulated our poverty so that we wouldn't suffer. And we pretended to believe her so that she wouldn't suffer.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

the verdict

the other day i had a pretty tense discussion about stylists with my friend g., in which i was forcefully - with the fury of a person who sees her, um, way of life threatened - making the point that i would never ever ever ask a stylist to create me a lookbook. while i was waiting for the belligerence to wear off so i could write a calm post about it, i came across, a service that scrambles together a lookbook based on the preferences you manifest in choosing among many many pictures. Sometimes i was faced with Anna Wintour vs Rihanna. yes, luckily there was a 'skip, not my style' button, and i used it a lot. the pale Twilight chick popped up often (hello Fredi), i skipped her a lot too. when i was getting bored and annoyed i was suddenly invited to choose between a glass of red wine and a martini, and began suspecting they were taking a more holistic approach than I had been crediting them with. however, the choice between 'The Magic Mountain' and 'Anna Karenina' never came, nor anything like Bud Powell vs. Keith Jarrett. Anyway, voila:

Casual Chic

Your style is a blend of cosmopolitan and California casual. You're a master at mixing beloved basics with contemporary pieces. A vintage leather jacket and boyfriend jeans could be your daily uniform. You don't accessorize unnecessarily, choosing your frills wisely for a pared-down femininity. Not afraid to add a healthy dose of glamour when dressing up, you've cultivated a Casual Chic signature style that flaunts your simple sophistication.

Close enough so far, but the pictures were a total miss. can't copy them here though. moving on...

based on a sufficiently close to exhaustive grid of shape and color choices (tops, bottoms, shoes), they came up with a crapload of stuff for me to buy and like. for starters, most of the shoes were chosen according to my 'hates' list (they asked for one): very high heels, open toes, ugly strappy stuff. because i said i sorta like Calvin Klein, they rained a bunch of boring black sheath dresses on me. and if it wasn't black, it was like this. then many, many, many black skinny pants, a few feathery dresses, some stuff with shiny butterflies. plus a dozen of gorgeous Alexander McQueens which I doubt I'll ever have the class to wear. out of 150 or so styles, about 130 were no-brainers, and I hardly picture myself in 3 or 4 of the recommended looks. This little dress, for instance, which I'd wear as a tunic perhaps, and this Vivienne Westwood skirt, if my life looked a lot different.

i can't leave this post without a single are two of the mesmerizing McQueen dresses. the first one is a little encouraging, in that lovely DYI-Uniform Project sense (and it's called 'distressed woolen dress'). the second is unapproachably beautiful.

this isn't a 'toldya so' post, by the way. to be continued.

Monday, November 15, 2010


when in crisis, go back to the basics. one of my first posts here was about dolls. i love dolls. always have. they're one of those things that can wind me up when i'm in a puddle of apathy.

so, i'm having a cuteness attack and i'm nearly crying here. just look:

Yes she's conventional, no i don't care. partly because i'm convinced she keeps a grotesque little diary and has a parrot whom she taught various puns. i know i've been demanding, Santa, but not like you brought me anything anyway...!!! I could actually afford to buy her, but isn't this supposed to be one of those hints that everyone turns a deaf ear to and you always remember it as that wonderful wonderful doll which would have changed your life if only dad cared enough?...

I'll sleep on it. But seriously: the effect would be double in the event of a surprise (said she with a sigh and poked the pillow).

And one more, for sweet dreams.

and they all live here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Comme des Garcons Fall 2010

For months I've been looking at this collection and I haven't come up with anything better than the jumble of associations it stirred at first sight. I thought of protect-me-from the world jackets. This can well be idiotic but I have nothing to go on with, and yet this is one of those intrusively problematic collections that demands to be interpreted. So anyway, could it be a commentary on the protective role of clothing, considering that padding is used for protection as well as figure shaping? Part of the thrill of deconstruction - a method often used in CdG collections - is making visible that which is supposed to remain invisible. The exposed seams point out the distinctions of that which is supposed to be an organic whole. Dare I assume that this collection puts into the limelight the protective function of clothing, another aspect that's supposed to be elegantly concealed by style?

Could it be that the heavily padded structured jackets are pointing at the comforting/empowering role that formal clothes bestow on the wearer? Are the convoluted strips of padding supposed to evoke large prints (perhaps rose patterns)? If yes, are they trying to say that in fashion even decoration is a shield? And the protruding padding, is it supposed to look unfinished or, to the contrary, torn, undone, and exposed? Is it, perhaps, a hint that this collection is about the various protective roles of clothing which are expected to be overshadowed by design?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

heels step into a higher cycle

There was something about this on Salon a couple of days ago: somebody who goes by the name of giddyspinster makes flower pots out of stripper heels, and sells them on her etsy page:

After having their top removed, the shoes are drilled for drainage and sanded. Giddyspinster's plants of choice are cacti and succulents, which, we must understand, are her best metaphor for the 'the increasingly artificial nature of American femininity, and the impossible images that women face in our society. It's a prickly, spiky, sticky situation...'.

And if books on feminism overflow your library, why not stack them neatly in this book holder made of upcycled stilettos?

For a moment there, I thought these objects claim to be art. If they did, I'd write a longer paragraph saying that it's cliche and I'd also insert that video from Ghost World about the tampon in a cup pretending to be an art object. I don't quite follow the logic of this metaphor, and I think that heels can't help being cliches even when they're mocked. At the same time, I like the idea of making them into something else. What rubs me the wrong way about giddyspinster's approach is that it perpetuates the shoe fetishism instead of dismantling it. Either that, or the fact that in my eyes these shoes are kitschy beyond salvation through upcycling.

Monday, August 2, 2010


My friend F. is invited to a wedding with the following dress-code: everyone must wear one color only, and it can't be black nor white (the creatively challenged are threatened with a punishment). Ton-sur-ton outfits are actually more interesting than they sound. Coincidentally, the style site has a selection on the topic (apparently this is a trend), of which I made a selection (ton-sur-ton? selection-of-selection? get it?):

These were: TSE, Richard Nicoll, Oscar de la Renta, Margiela, and Charles Anastase. The next one's Bottega Veneta, and the difference in the hues makes its placement in this selection disputable, but who wants to be pedantic. As it happens, my friend F. has a beautiful pair of pink trousers which she could build on to replicate this outfit, but she's partial to yellow these days. So, Bottega Veneta:

The next two are from Vivienne Westwood's Fall 2010 collections. This dress looks like it's made from a huge supermarket plastic bag. The folds are both sculptural and light:

And this one I selected because I was surprised how well wine and yellow go together, but ironically I'm placing it here: if we make abstraction of that little yellow cardigan, we see an interesting hue-on-hue outfit.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fucking Amal

'Fucking Amal' (sanitized version: 'Show me love') might be my favorite film about adolescence (and a few other things). Small town, depressing provincialism, quietly beautiful misfit Agnes loves Elin, the popular blond whose spirit is too big for her clique. Earnestly assumed growing pains deserve the happy ending, which is just a beginning, really.

I like the use of red in this film. Granted, red for non-conformism isn't all that original, but the details make all the difference. Elin's dissent is raw, unbound energy. Although the strap of her bra showing from under the glaring red camisole is probably deliberate, the ensemble looks vulgar. The interesting thing is that Elin seems uncomfortable in her skimpy outfits: too exposed, shivering in the evening cold on the bridge, or doubtful, in front of her mirror preparing for the party. Agnes, on the other hand, is a 'closeted' free thinker who, wisely, doesn't make a point of standing out. Her khakis and red sweatshirt, her classical haircut are respectfully conventional yet beyond passing trends: she could be from the late seventies or the eighties or the nineties. Maybe it's a case of using convention as a shield, though I doubt it: militancy isn't her thing, she wants to live and let live. We never see her trying to decide what to wear. Comfortable and secure within convention, Agnes doesn't need to wear statement clothes to be herself. But there are symbols of serene superiority, too, like the air balloon pattern on her shirt.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chanel's Fall 2010 Couture

Yes, everyone's raving about it, and I'm jumping on the bandwagon. The first half of the collection was kinda boring. No really, it was nice and all, but way too wearable and less than couturey. Some of those furry hems and golden mid-calf boots made me think of Russian fairy tales, but I flipped to the next picture thinking 'It's just my imagination trying to fill in for Karl's.' The first seriously weird outfit came about halfway through the show, but still, it was kindergarten matinee kind of weird, which is good enough, but still, depending on what else is there. Well, there was ...tapestry! At least it looked like it. Some of it had roses and went with lace and tulle:

And some of it - or was it still just my imagination? - looked like what Vassilisa the Beautiful might wear to a business meeting:

To give you an idea, here's Vassilisa's everyday get-up:

Towards the end of the collection, however, came something which cannot - I don't care about Karl's actual inspiration, which seems to have a lot to do with lions, whatever - cannot be anything but Vassilisa's Sunday best:

And happily, the bride's dress was a variation on the same theme (it's probably good that the groom's not wearing a caftan; it would have looked corny, I guess. But so did the tuxedo, in that context):

Right, and there were a few dresses which seemed to be decorated with frog skins:

Saturday, July 3, 2010

the uncanny

the first time I saw these elderly twins, they had the same hairstyle, wearing the same lipstick, and the same trench-coat and chiffon head-kerchief, except one was all pink, and the other was all green. They were walking quietly, minding their own business, and after passing them by I turned away to stare some more. There was nobody else on the street, and for a while I wondered if perhaps they were a hallucination. Or a dream that I remembered as reality (I do that sometimes). This was three years ago. Then last year I saw them again, on the bus. Again, their get-ups mirrored each other, down to the little redhead dolls dangling from the zippers of their purses. After that I started running into them more often, sometimes on that bus (always on Tuesdays around 1pm), sometimes on the street, and the fact that everyone was passing them by as if not noticing made me doubt my senses every time. Until once, finally, another guy turned his head in amazement as they were getting off the bus.

A few months ago I saw them on the cover of a health magazine. There was an interview with them. That's how I found out that they're local celebrities (which explains somewhat why nobody looked surprised; and also, duh, it's not polite to stare), that they're 84 and have been living together for the last 50 years, that they've always studied then worked at the same places, as seamstresses and then in restaurants. They were never married, and they have a strict schedule that they follow every day. Their names are Jeanne and Marcelle.

None of this subtracts from my amazement each time I run into them. They're like a rupture in the metric flow of being. In case you're beginning to doubt my account (completely understandable), here's a video. You'll see them talking, singing, dancing, doing laundry, and throwing looks of disapproval at a woman in a short skirt. Oh, I used to go to that laundry once upon a time.

Friday, June 25, 2010 which M goes House and Garden

I've already discussed this with, um, about a third of my readership (see tag) (if there are any lurkers out there to contradict my estimation, now's the time to show yourselves! no? nobody? well, I had to ask...), but since the more I look at the pictures, the more I become convinced that this is a case of 'I wanna be like her when I grow up', seems like a good reason to post about it.

So, about ten years ago, a man and a woman were brought together by their common interest in gardening. One thing lead to another, and they got married, and will henceforth be referred to as Mr. and Mrs. Foster. A rundown farm was purchased to act as family home. Mr. Foster, finding himself on a losing streak business-wise, stayed home at The Countryside and tended to the farm, which needed heavy duty repair. Mrs. Foster held on to her job in The City to earn money and pay for everything. Seemed like a perfect arrangement. Only soon enough Mrs.Foster began noticing that Mr.Foster and her differed in several important aspects. To put it bluntly, Mr.Foster was a messy guy, and, apparently, just couldn't help it. Mrs.Foster, on the other hand, couldn't help feeling rather downhearted for that reason. At some point, the story has it, the disappointment was significant enough to bring Mrs.Foster to the verge of a nervous breakdown. At that point a decision was made - no, not to divorce - to sell the farm and buy a property with two homes, one for each (and anyway, why divorce an otherwise perfectly sweet man who loves to bake rolls?).

Now, about those homes: one of them was a trailer, and the other - a tiny shabby cottage on the other side of the stream, with no kitchen, no bathroom, and no running water.

And yet, the cottage looked like dream house material to Mrs. Foster. She rolled up her sleeves and set to work, and rambled flea-markets during breaks. She did everything herself, and only called on Mr.Foster once, to help her lift some heavy stuff. Here's the result:

And the fashion bit: as becomes a superwoman, Mrs.Foster is good at everything, including styling (I'm so glad to see that she accessorizes with dogs!):

Ok, I'll give you a moment to pick up your jaws. While doing that, look at this nice picture of one of the door handles:

So, the place still doesn't have running water nor heating (and, sadly, it isn't habitable in winter), but even a sissy like myself went 'who needs running water?!' upon seeing this:

The NYT profile (where these wonderful pictures are from) said that the house's interior looked like a wedding cake. I associate wedding cakes with the creepy Miss Havisham's, of 'Great Expectations' (well, basically, when she was young her fiance didn't show up at the altar, and despite being about 200 years old, she still lives in her wedding dress and has the dried up wedding cake as main decorative piece in her lounge). The NYT writer clearly doesn't have the same associations: the house is the opposite of creepy (although I'd like to see a creepy wedding cake interior too..).

Now, if you're wondering about the other house, the trailer, I have to say, it looks great as well. Different, but still great. I urge you not to take my word for it and to follow the link. There are many more wonderful pictures there, which unfortunately I couldn't embed here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

yellow, pastels, men

My friend F. (who already deserves a tag of her own on this blog) asked for some diversity. She's a great believer in diversity, and is troubled by the lack thereof in the fashion world. 'Where are the curvy models?' she asks. 'And the male models?' (And the male curvy models? And the middle-aged models? And the male pot-bellied middle-aged models? And don't even get me started on the racial diversity!). My answer is that the problem with diversity isn't its non existence but its low visibility. There are models of all kinds, but the white skinny girls in their twenties are more popular in virtue of being more glamorized. They dominate the uber fashion magazines, that's true, but let's not pretend that our consciousness and body image is shaped principally by them. Beyonce is more popular than Adriana Lima. But we'll get to that.

Our first step towards diversity will be Armani's Spring 2011 collection for men. There's a whole men's fashion industry out there, but I'm not prepared to write about that. Nor do I think I owe a 'diverse' post for the sake of diversity, since this blog is about what I like, whether or not it happens to be on skinny white women in their twenties (and sometimes it happens to be). So, I like the use of yellow in Armani's Spring 2011 men collection:

I like the yellow detail (which eludes categorization) on the suits:

Now notice the belt:

The knitted vest over the tight tee:

The discrete but still visibly stylish scarf, and the wonderfully tailored jacket which doesn't look like it's trying too hard:

The ton-sur-ton casual chic:

The magic jacquard jacket which can dress up any trousers (and I'm guessing even shorts):

And finally, what Armani overview without a beautiful, honest to God double-breasted jacket suit?

I'd only add that I'd gladly wear any of this myself.

Monday, May 31, 2010

there appears to be a hole in your dress

My friend F. said - I paraphrase - that she couldn't bring herself to see fashion as more than a cash cow based on consumerism and glamor. I was surprised to hear this from a person so clearly aware of the power of self-expression that exists in choosing what to wear. But I don't even have to take that road to demonstrate that fashion need not be consumerist. There's a simpler way: so much of what high fashion produces isn't supposed to be pretty (in the consumerist 'buy me' sense) and isn't wearable. Take Viktor&Rolf. These designers have an architectural approach to clothing. Some models really look like they're wearing a building on the runway. I'm pretty sure Viktor&Rolf didn't set out to design clothes that will sell when they came up with these tulle ball gowns:

I'm trying to imagine how would one advertise this dress. 'You want to look like the Sydney Opera House? We have just the thing for you!':

This one is wearable, although the top looks like a fan, and anyway, this dress doesn't say 'consumerist fashion' to me: