Category Archives: fashion

Petite touche anthropologique: two fashions that may be of carceral origin

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 07.39.34Styles of attire which, like rap music, are associated with the jails and black ghettos of the US

The baseball cap worn backwards

The conjecture, writes Dalrymple, is that this

was first employed by visitors to prison, who wanted to get nearer to the prisoner whom they were visiting, and the peak of whose cap prevented this so that the cap had to be reversed.

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 07.48.30Trousers worn at half-mast, known as ‘sagging’

This is supposed to be

in imitation of prisoners who were allowed no belts in case they were used for suicide or hanging others, and whose nether garments therefore hung low.

Those who intuit in the low-slung-trousers fashion

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 08.07.55an insolent defiance, a deliberate rejection of what would once have been called respectability, are right to do so. The same is true of those who obey the fashion; they are fully aware of the effect it is likely to have on those whom they wish to offend. Such is its purpose.

The fashion

is a symbol of an attempted creation of a mirror-image moral universe, in which what is held to be good by one part of society is held in contempt by the other, and vice versa.

Some leaders of fashion, such as Chris Bryant, the onetime priest who is the UK Labour Party’s ‘shadow minister for the arts’, go further, and dispense with trousers altogether.

Chris Bryant unfrocked

Chris Bryant unfrocked

Women in the last stages of emaciation

Concentrated malignity

Concentrated malignity

When anorexics disport themselves in inelegant tatters

The garments exhibited at fashion shows, Dalrymple writes, are

not only impractical (splendour, after all, is often impractical) but hideous. They seem little more than rags sewn together almost at random; I have never seen anyone in anything that resembled them off the catwalk. Surely no one, even in a world in which people are prepared to fall for almost anything, actually buys these clothes.

Festivals of ugly, unsaleable, expensive rubbish

The models

Hatred of the world

Hatred of the world

seem to do everything to imply that the wearing of these clothes is a sure route to misery. They look as if they have been kept in an underground cave and deprived of food by some kind of sadistic sex criminal. Their facial expressions, as a consequence, are those of concentrated malignity or hatred of the world, as if there were no pleasure or joy to be found in it. Anorexia is the highest state to which man or woman can aspire.

Perhaps, Dalrymple hazards,

the ugliness of apparel, deportment and facial expression that the industry promotes is a sign of how far our obsession with ‘justice’ has reached. If not everyone in the world can afford elegance or live in conditions that conduce to ease and happiness, no one should. Until the world be made whole, no one shall smile and no one shall be finely dressed.

He adds:

Not, of course, that this attitude goes as far as the incomes of fashion designers.