The Cult of the High-End Fashion Designer
New York Fashion Week is in full swing again, and it’s got me questioning how much we worship high-end fashion designers. In the age of big-business fashion, marketing has convinced us that designer clothes are in another stratosphere above anything you and or even a skilled local dressmaker could dream up or create. Yet two generations ago, the skill of sewing and designing clothing was common knowledge. Vogue Patterns still sells a number of sewing patterns from some of today’s most popular high-end designers—folks like Badgley Mischka, Chado Ralph Rucci, and Anna Sui. I love these patterns because they’re a reminder that women historically took designer patterns to their dressmaker or some even made the looks themselves. Learn how to sew and go out and buy your own fabric and suddenly “designer” clothing is demystified. It doesn’t descend from the heavens, it gets sewn together out of fabric, hello.
Some fashion designers are true innovators, of course, worthy of adoration, and their skill far surpasses anything I am capable of. But are their creations worth the $2-million runway shows and house-payment-high price tags they fetch? Those numbers add to the feeling that fashion design is in a category of things we couldn’t possibly do for ourselves. It adds to our feelings of passivity and helplessness when it comes to what we wear. We need to correct the power imbalance between the public and designers. We worship chefs but we also worship the home cook—I’d like to see the same thing happen in the world of clothing. Here’s to the home sewer, the independent fashion designer, and local tailors and seamstresses this week!