The Skin Show, Too

Mugler’s latest film—and collection reveal—is homage to not just the brand’s sharp and body-defining silhouettes, but the nothingness within them too. Excited?

Are we jelak of fashion films yet? Especially inane ones? Apparently not. Mugler has released a film of its spring/summer 2022 season, in lieu of an IRL runway show, with content that would once only be watched on a Saturday night, alone. But this is apparently not smutty, even when designer Casey Cadwallader has admitted to the media that it’s “the most bare collection” he has ever put out. And are we not also jelak of the bare, especially buttocks? Apparently not. Mr Cadwallader has enlisted some of the most recognisable names in music, film, and fashion to help him sell the nothing-quite-there looks, many proudly exposing the area of a woman’s body with a high concentration of adipose tissue, self-slapping included. It is hard to deny that the clothes and the presentation are not hyper-sexualised. Twerking as if a foreplay? Check. Cavorting atop a limousine? Check. Girl-with-girl lip lock? CHECK!

Is it a wonder that the video has gone viral, and clocked 587K views and 1.9K comments in four days since its release? And, manically discussed online, and prompted an editorial “conversation” by The New York Times? The paper called the online reaction “either enthusiastic or overwrought, depending on your point of view”. That the near-dominatrix, for-extreme-sex wear on women who have no objections to putting on as little clothes as possible should garner so much passionate reactions is, to us, more amusing than the rattle-no-ground film. Megan Thee Stallion doing an erotic dance (and slapping her backside [above]) is understandable. Bella Hadid trying a similar, too, is not hard to comprehend. Lourdes Leon mounting that limousine (below) not unexpected. But Chloë Sevigny’ getting into the act (wearing more than the others)—that’s rather curious. Ms Sevigny is an eternal muse to designers. Or, as NYT’s Guy Trebay calls her, “the patron saint of gay designers”. Does she need this to augment her fashion cred?

Even former supermodels are in the act: Shalom Harlow and Amber Valletta, two that Tyra Banks would call “high fashion girls” (a category Ms Banks does not consider herself to belong). Ms Harlow, half-baked in a strappy corset, operates a massive camera in the film (which includes scenes that appear to be shot in a studio lot) and Ms Valletta, in a one-shoulder-slashed mini-dress, plays a sort of grip, pushing the vehicle on which the camera is anchored. Both, not prancing and emoting like the rest, appear less sexy too. Nevertheless, is it possible that women filming other women in overtly-arousing prancing, as well as two smooching are not sexploitative?

More and more, the fashion world is visible with those for whom clothes that cover are totally redundant. This is the era of OnlyFans and the likes of Ms Puiyi, the Malaysian OF star with a Penthouse cover to her résumé. They worship at the Altar of How I Can Be Naked Next. Much of the clothes are not mere body-con outfits; they are pieces of fabrics moulded on the body, with the strategic parts left exposed. It is possibly not easy to design with such gaps unfilled. But how do all these clothes really differentiate from, say, Alexander Wang? Or, those on the now canned Victoria’s Secret shows, presently replaced by the steamy presentations of Fenty X Savage? The only thing not seductive in the Mugler film is the use of hooped earrings the size of hula hoops! They are so huge, the women have to have them dangling ungainly from their ears, with the thin circular bands under their arms and pits. How sexy is that?

Screen shots: Mugler/Youtube

Dirty Is Stylish, Clean Is Not

’Tis the season of scruffy sneakers

An MRT commuter seen with a pair of stained Sperry canvas sneakers

By Ray Zhang

Pristine is passé, dirty is dapper. If what I have been seeing during my daily commutes in the MRT train these days is any indication, the more soiled your sneakers are, the more fashionable you will appear to be. Unclean is today’s ugly. You are probably saying the same thing: We have Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia to thank for this preference for the dirty deed, er, kicks. He is probably laughing every day now since the “fully destroyed” Paris canvas high-tops were launched and had gone viral. I have no idea who’d want to own the really hammered shoes (those are the really expensive ones. Most others are less destroyed [see below for an example]), but it seems that there is a flaming desire for the deliberately damaged, even when the shoes are generally slammed by Netizens.

For the longest time—since school days, in fact—I have this thing about clean sneakers, not just your regular clean, but immaculately clean: Not a spot, not a crease, I could appreciate. Which explains why, for the longest time, I would not buy white sneakers even when they were the kicks to wear. Till now, they are not only reminders of school days, they are canvases for grime and mud. It even took me a long time to accept white mid-soles. And the few sneakers that I own with that wide white underscore are always worn only when I carry in my pocket Crep wipes. So you can imagine my delight when, in Italy years ago, I bought my first Premiata sneakers with white mid-soles that were graffiti-ed—marvelous camouflage for filthy matter that must adhere down there.

Dirty preferred. Clockwise from top left: Golden Goose Super-Star, Balenciaga Paris high top, Autry Super Vintage Medalist, and Premiata Steven low top. Product photos: respective brands. Collage: Just So

As you know, Balenciaga did not only destroy the Paris sneakers, they’ve roughed up the Adidas Stan Smith, too. I won’t be surprised if there are more to come, but I think it would be bolder and more of a mockery, even arrogant if Balenciaga messes up their own iconic Triple S (although in latter iterations, some mid-soles did look somewhat dirtied, but definitely not destroyed! Ugly and dirty—double the cool?). To be sure, Mr Gvasalia is hardly the first designer to smear the spotlessness of new sneakers. One of the earliest to do so was Raf Simons on the collaborative Stan Smith (again Mr Gvasalia was not the first). I remember it well because, while I was oddly attracted to them (that perforated R!), I could not bear to part with good money to buy shoes that are scruffy before they’re worn. And by the time the really dirtier and scruffier Golden Goose ones came around in the early 2000s, I was still stuck with the stainless and sterilised.

I consider myself a fairly adventurous sneaker fan, but I stop before the toe box of those dirty and defiled. It is disconcerting to me if I wear kicks that are more stained than those seen on waste collectors (who, in my estate, are, conversely, very well and neatly shod!). While I understand that soiled sneakers reflect a don’t-give-a-shit attitude (that commensurate with today’s fashion and habits, such as placing shoes on a dining table, next to food) rather than a grubby appearance, I can’t subscribe to the “destroyed”, whether intentional or the result of wear and tear, or with a mission to “mock poverty”. “Vintage experience”, as it’s also called? Scuff marks are “decorative art”? What will be cool next? Holed and soiled socks?

Photo (top): A. B. Tan