Material Boys
Home Up In Nomine Patri




By Julie Burchill,
Guardian Weekend 3rd Oct 1998. 

There's nothing wrong with homosexuality - I gave it a shot myself a couple of years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it. My best male friend, Marcus, is a trolley dolly who looks like Gianni from EastEnders, and he is the sweetest-natured person I have ever met. He is young and beautiful, though, and this matters more than anything on the gay male scene. When gay men start to lose their looks, or never had looks, or when they start to age, as we all do, they can become bitter.

If all fashion designers looked like Marcus, they'd want nothing more than to create the most glorious frocks with which to gild the female lily. But they don't. Instead, they're sending out the most beautiful women of their generation to parade in front of the world's media dressed as schoolgirls and sluts, space cadets and beekeepers, with their arms shackled to their legs and wearing trousers as jackets. A recent craze was patches of gauze and silk that cover the mouth: you don't have to be Emma Freud to get the subconscious wish behind this.

Jobs for the boys rule the roost in fashion as nowhere else, except possibly the police force: the hot new names in womenswear this year are Scott Henshall, Sean McGowan, Anthony Symonds, Robert Cary-Williams and Simon Thorogood, joining golden boys Antonio Berardi, Alexander McQueen and Matthew Williamson. Female designers - Amanda Wakely, Caroline Charles, Nicole Farhi, for example - who create clothes that anyone outside a circus would want to wear, are often dismissed by their male peers as "dressmakers".

How many girls want to be designers? How many graduate each year from the big colleges? And why do so few get the glamour jobs, and are instead shunted into sensible shoes and chain stores? Maybe it says something for female graduates that they do not possess the silliness and vanity that the boys do, but it speaks volumes about high fashion, too.

No, if a girl wants to get to the top in fashion, she had better become a model. If you have the look, you will be paid handsomely by designers to parade their monstrosities down the catwalk. And because newspaper photographers and editors are so robustly heterosexual, you will end up on the front page. Soon though, the designer will become aware that people are looking at you, not his clothes, and he will start to hate you, loudly and in public. The recent spectacle of the raddled old designer queens, living like princes and as right wing as kings, coming on like some Marxist scourge about how disgustingly overpaid the supermodels are, was truly disgusting to behold - these are girls who earn a literal pittance when compared with the designers themselves.

Their attempt to portray the new wave of undermodels as some sort of feminist triumph over the the supers is amazing in its audacity, too. The new girls are, on average, 15 years old, thin as rakes, and with skin like unborn lambs: they make the supers look lovably human. At least they were women.

If Claudia Schiffer is a joke, finished, what does Karl Lagerfeld think he is? If supermodels are so stupid, how come it's Christy Turlington and not Jean Paul Gaultier who has gone back to college? No, the supermodels' crime was not greed and temper - which are lauded in male designers - but being women who dared open their mouths and express opinions and ambitions beyond acting as clothes horses. Designers like the new girls because they don't talk back and they're cheap, but there never has been and never will be any integrity in preferring children over women as either sex objects or employees.

Models, though treated like simpletons, are not sad: they do their best with what they've got, and make a tidy pile, and know enough never to wear stupid clothes without getting paid for it. It is the people who follow fashion past the age of 30 who are truly sad. I have met some boring people in my life, but none as boring as the fashion writer in her thirties. Hanging around with gay men to the exclusion of heterosexual ones has dulled what charm and spirit she might have once had. And make no mistake: no one despises a fag hag as much as that fag.

When a civilian dares to play the little boy swinging from the lamp-post and ask why the Emperor's new clothes are unwearable, and exactly what fashion is for, we are told that it brightens up our dull little lives. But, frankly, only someone with a very dull life indeed could find fashion interesting. It's just material!! The Technicolor wonderlands are in your heads, not on our backs.

It seems to me that women have never spent more time and effort on making themselves beautiful: and never before have women moaned so much about not being able to Get A Man. The answer to this may well be that, by buying the gay male agenda - that looks are the only important thing we have to offer a prospective sex partner - they have made themselves into horrible copies of these men, total narcissists, and therefore no red-blooded boy wants to go out with them. When all you care about is your hair and your make-up, you're not much fun. And everybody wants to have fun.

The much-discussed emptiness that Bridget McBeal feels is often thought to be the result of too much feminism, but I would say that, on the contrary, it comes from too much girlyism: so much effort goes into the outer self that the inner self is a barren husk. Men don't give a damn what you wear, so long as you take it off a lot.
The fashion and beauty industries have done a great job selling insecure women the idea that men have to be  made to want them, and that only by spending half their salary on clothes, scent and make-up will this miracle come about. But men wanted women a long time before pore-strips and eyelash-curlers were ever invented. One of the lessons modern woman has not yet got her head around is that men love you because you have a vagina. They don't give a damn whether you've got a Versace.