Zing Tsjeng | Contributing Writer | Saturday, 28 February 2015

Sorry Marc Jacobs, You’re Wrong About Social Media

The Debrief: Here's Why Marc Jacobs Doesn't give a toss what colour the dress is or anything else on the internet

Hey, Twitter junkies! Did you spend all Thursday and Friday obsessing over an ugly lace dress that could have been white and gold OR black and blue? Were you glued to your Tweetdeck, watching two escaped llamas run down a highway in Arizona? Marc Jacobs has some stern words for you.

‘I am so appalled by the whole social media thing,’ Marc told Vogue international editor Suzy Menkes in a recent interview. ‘I don't get it, it doesn't appeal to me, neither does a computer, or working on a laptop. I don't want to read a book on a device. I like a book with a hard cover, and text on a piece of paper.’ 

‘I like magazines,’ he added. ‘I don't care if I carry around 100lbs of magazines, I'd rather do that than look at them on the internet. I am just not of that generation. I get it the allure of it, but it just doesn't appeal to me.’ But why the hate, Marc? There’s nothing like a little social media storm to spice up the boring end of a work week. 

OK, so Marc Jacobs may not have had #TheDress in mind when he went on his anti-internet crusade. Fans have pointed out that, well, he’s being a little hypocritical – for the last two seasons, Marc By Marc Jacobs has sourced its campaign models from an Instagram competition. But his comments aren’t actually unusual for designers. Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto once declared that technology was causing an information overload for young fashion hopefuls, ruining their creativity and imagination.

'We are losing those young people because we have too much information by media,' he told WWD, 'especially [through computers]. We can see everything at the same time, so already they are spoiled too much. So when we have talk sessions with young designers or students, I tell them: 'Be bright. Your eyes have become dirty.'

So it seems like fashion is in agreement: internet bad, real life good. Except it’s not that simple. Designers like Marc Jacobs and Yohji Yamamoto are lucky enough to be surrounded by fashion every day – they not only work in the industry, but they create the intricate, beautiful work that the whole glitzy business runs on. The rest of us? Not so lucky. The closest we’ll ever get to Marc Jacobs’ new autumn/winter snake-print coats and sequin-swirled dresses is online, where you can pore over show images and Tumblr runway GIFs to your heart’s content. 

When Suzy Menkes wrote her now-infamous column ‘The Circus of Fashion’, she ignited a debate on every fashion blog in existence. She’s right that Fashion Week had become a corny carousel of preening street style bloggers and paparazzi, of course. But it’s hard not to detect in her remarks a whiff of the same Luddite scoff in Marc’s. Internet blogger bad, real life fashion writer good! 

‘If fashion is for everyone, is it fashion?’ Menkes asked. Fashion thrives on exclusivity, of course. But the internet has thrown those gilded doors opened and invited everyone in. If you were a suburban kid in suburban Dullsville, USA, you’d have to save up for the monthly glossies to even look at the new collections. Now anyone can log onto Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram and talk about the new Dior or Balenciaga or Saint Laurent show – and that’s great. Without that huge surge of interest, fashion wouldn’t have grown into the global powerhouse it is today. 

In fact, that democratic spirit channels some of fashion’s most legendary designers. At the turn of the century, fashion houses only catered for monied aristos who could afford to buy couture. But revolutionaries like Coco Chanel and Chloe founder Gaby Aghion opened style up to the masses. Aghion literally sold off-the-rack cotton dresses out of suitcases to Paris boutiques, creating the first idea of prêt-à-porter (ready to wear). Meanwhile, Coco believed that fashion shouldn’t be about ball gowns and corsets – her iconic tweed suit was put to use on crash test mannequins to make sure that the Chanel girl could hop on a bus, get into a car and stroll around in total comfort. 

History is full of great stories of how designers first fell in love with their craft. JW Anderson’s first fashion memory is of spotting a pair of Jean Paul Gaultier shorts in Easyjet’s inflight magazine. Stella McCartney remembers the gold platform boots that her mum wore to the premiere of Easy Rider. With an entire world of fashion one browser tab away, who knows what new talents are being inspired? 

At the very least, maybe someone will be able to finally explain what colour that fucking dress is. 

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Tags: Getting Ready, Fashion Week