Fashion has always loved its eccentrics, but it hasn’t always been good to them. Think of Isabella Blow, Margaret Case, Claude Montana, and most models. But without them, it would simply be a fur-trimmed, alligator skin Fortune 500 list. A few weeks ago, Andrew O’Hagan wrote a very dispiriting essay for T, lamenting the loss of the fashion eccentric. He wrote:
“[Faux eccentrics] seem to be working not from a brilliant fund of ideas or from a conviction that their outer selves must be used to express a fascinating inner landscape. On the contrary, they’re just showoffs who dress up for the cameras. For people interested in our contemporary times, this is an important distinction: the true eccentric gives us more mystery, more wonder about being human, a new side to beauty, while the faux-eccentric gives us less of everything.”
“What a bummer,” as the surfers beloved by renowned eccentric Diana Vreeland might say. But O’Hagan’s argument must be right, because it’s written in T. Nonetheless, as any eccentric worth her weight in poet-foraged anteater teeth knows, a lament of the end actually signals the beginning. Enter the second age of eccentrics.
That’s right: for winter 2013, the biggest trend of all the trendz is the return of Les Grands Eccentriques. Whether it’s women wearing floor-length fur coats to the supermarket or gals taking deep-feeling prose writers on dates to the Carlyle for chocolate ice cream at 10 PM on a Sunday, the eccentric is back and ready to exercise that notorious obstinacy.
So what’s this mean for trendz on the street? Let’s explore!
The rise of the literate. An eccentric knows every trick in the book because she’s read the whole book. The key to being at once painfully misunderstood and marvellously well turned-out is to read voraciously. Chanel’s Paris apartment is filled with the things, from Plutarch to Montaigne to Shelley to Maupassant, so maybe start there, and by “there,” I mean “with everything.”
The end of tedious conversation. Having perused all the great works of literature, this hoity pack of bad bitch dame eccentrics is going to bring a welcome end to dull conversation. Gone are utterances about how we don’t want to go there for brunch because it isn’t, erm, bottomless, and complaints about Lara’s “really awkward selfie angles.” In their place is provocative nonsense about “your favorite droll idioms” and “the best carpets on which to make love!” Perhaps one of your friends will figure out how to tell a story, and perhaps she will write a little comic book about it and sell it at the Neue Galerie.
“Cultivating a look.” No longer tasked with following trends, everyone, even non-eccentrics, will begin the process of fashioning a style all one’s own. Perhaps this means miniskirts with six-foot-long blouses that billow like deranged windsocks. Or maybe the look is Lee Radziwill backstage with the Rolling Stones: bitsy black minidress, demure Manolos, and a tumefied white fur coat. It should be noted that a cultivated look is usually divorced from popular culture but firmly tied to some whimsical web of high literature and black magic. It requires indulgence beyond the aesthetic, so the woman who wears velvet turbans with cropped mohair sweaters and plaid kilts should also be reading Gilgamesh in a bath spiked with Laphroaig 18, while the one who dresses daily in a wardrobe of pin-neat black pant suits will also gather her friends at her apartment and perform tarot card readings.
The restoration of passion. Suddenly, a woman’s emotions will no longer be dismissed as the hoity fritterings of a hormonally-challenged ladyblog reader, but rather the grand, portentous feelings of a true broad. Women will become obese with feeling, weeping with passion for the sound of a rattlesnake’s tail one moment, and the next, sour with guilt over an inability to conjure ‘shocking pink’ with her dearest friend when performing tantric pair meditation.
The new era of maxims. Eccentrics are treasured for their ability to turn a phrase. Don’t be surprised if eccentrics begin saying things like, “If there’s a matching jacket, always get it. Luxury loves company.” Or, “She has the calves of a bullfighter. And I know from bullfighters!” Or, “I can count to four, and after that it’s either very inexpensive or far too many drinks.” Whether sense can be culled from these aphorisms is up to you, and if you’re smart, you’ll bundle them up in a book, get someone to doodle little shoes in the margins, and sell it for a pretty penny at museum gift shops, Colette and Fivestory, French linen stores, and other altars for our new eccentrics.