March 8, 2016

TALK IS CHIC | Talk(ing to Yourself) is Chic

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Should I buy these light-pink fringed stilettos? They’re sooooo pretty. Realistically though, how many times will I wear them? Should I get them in a more neutral color? Remember your already-failed resolution of only spending money on experiences? Does dancing and twirling in the shoes count as an experience?

The last time I spoke to Greta, she mumbled something about econ and the world ending. While most people would find that sort of statement deeply distressing, I know that she, my closest fashion confidant, is busy preparing for the Cornell Fashion Collective show this Saturday, March 12 at 7 p.m. in Barton Hall. This article is not an explicit advertisement for the show, but if you express any interest in fashion (which, I’m assuming you do if you’re reading this) you should strongly consider buying a ticket at Greta is too consumed by her final collection exploring where the ocean meets the horizon to help me make my own crucial decisions, such as whether or not I should order the shoes or with this blog post.

When browsing through fashion magazines, I always gravitated towards the section titled “What you should wear in your 30’s.” There was something luxurious but practical about the clothing selected. I imagined myself in the slightly longer skirts gliding home from work to my own apartment in the West Village. To me, the fashions were not matronly; rather, they symbolized independence. From the age of ten, I aspired to be the woman who could work diligently to justify her lifestyle.

I have always been infatuated with fashion, but whether that should translate into a career is an ongoing internal debate. I am still strongly impacted by the aesthetic beauty and art of fashion — the most recent Elie Saab collection brought me to tears. However, when you study Fiber Science & Apparel Design, you’re not so naïve to the disgraceful aspects of the industry. The exploitation of workers, poor factory conditions and harmful environmental impact of the overall industry — it’s endless. From a consumer perspective, it’s appalling. These problems will persist as the demand for “fast fashion” increases, as clothing retailers are pressured to churn out trendy clothing at a lower price point. Maybe the Devil does not wear Prada, but the Gap?

On the other hand, as someone who works closely with the Cornell Fashion Collective designers, it’s not about selling the fashion but “selling” the personal statement and the corresponding emotions to a captivated audience of over 2,000. It’s a thesis in a sense, and a well thought-out one at that. Similarly, the art of dressing should elicit those same strong, indispensable emotions. Your closet should be carefully curated like an exhibit at the Johnson Museum (a seriously underutilized, amazing resource on campus). I bought the stilettos, but that’s the only extravagant purchase I will be making for a while.

So what’s the overarching message for this column? I don’t know. And while that is perhaps the most frustrating answer to hear, I’m going to keep thinking about it. Can I single-handedly change the fashion industry and the consumer mindset? Not if I keep these internal thoughts to myself — I’m relying on a little conversation.

We share a major, we share a house, we share clothes. So why not share a column? Eleni Toubanos and Greta Ohaus are both Fiber Science & Apparel Design majors in the College of Human Ecology. Their column is intended to be a conversation between their two unique perspectives as a designer and fiber scientist. They can be found lounging around campus, on their porch sharing a bottle of wine or at [email protected] and [email protected]Talk is Chic appears on alternate Tuesdays this semester.