On "It's not personal. It's business."


Alt: Not another goddamn Hedi Slimane/political/OMG what a time to be alive think piece.

One of my favorite movies of all time is You’ve Got Mail. There’s a scene where Tom Hanks (Joe Fox, the owner of a Barnes and Noble mega bookstore at a time when Amazon was just a twinkle in Jeff Bezo’s eye) apologizes to Meg Ryan (Kathleen Kelly, a small children’s bookstore owner) for putting her out of business:

Joe Fox: It wasn’t… personal.

Kathleen Kelly: What is that supposed to mean? I am so sick of that. All that means is that it wasn’t personal to you. But it was personal to me. It’s PERSONAL to a lot of people. And what’s so wrong with being personal, anyway?

Joe Fox: Uh, nothing.

Kathleen Kelly: Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.

I’ve been thinking about this scene a lot recently. There are so many people saying, “it’s not personal, it’s politics” and as a form of self-preservation in this dumpster fire of a time we’re living in, I try to tell myself to stop taking things so personal as well.

But try as we might, it’s nearly impossible to separate your feelings from what’s going on in the world — even fashion.

Last week, Hedi Slimane’s first collection for Celine was unveiled to a cacophony of outrage. Critics were lambasting his designs for being out of touch, even anti-woman. Many fans considered his pieces to be antithetical to Phoebe Philo’s Céline, which was beloved for its feminine tailoring and sophistication. On the surface, the intensity of the reaction was extreme, but given that the show happened in the middle of all the Kavanaugh circus, was it truly surprising?

Maybe if there were different circumstances, the sound and fury for Slimane’s Celine would have been at a 5, but it was at an 11. Bluster is the accessory du jour and outrage is the new black. Slimane is a more than capable designer with a strong point of view and LVMH trusted him with an idiosyncratic brand. He is not deserving of the level of outrage that occurred, but dismissing his critics without considering the context or lens they viewed his work with is short sighted (and it’s a little disappointing that Slimane himself is not sympathetic to that). CONTEXT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. What we wear and how we style ourselves is woven into the fabric of our lives (ALL THE PUNS 100% INTENDED AND I APPROVE THIS MESSAGE), and perspectives and politics will inevitably be woven in as well, making it all exceedingly personal.

I don’t believe Slimane was attacking women — he just designs for a different woman — and I think comparing him to Trump is a far-reaching claim. But I do think LVMH is sending a confusing message to customers of Céline. I think Slimane revealed a collection that was so drastically different and lacking of past Céline, it was jarring for many people (honestly, give the guy his own label, for fuck’s sake). I strongly believe that the timing of his show was noteworthy, albeit completely unintentional. I think many American women, upset at the hearings in DC and realizing that they didn’t recognize their own country any more, looked to Paris Fashion Week as an escape. And when they realized they didn’t recognize one of their favorite fashion houses any more either, it got too much. And the flood gates opened.

It’s easy to look back on the good ol’ days and wax nostalgic about how there was more civility and people worked together for the common good. Those days were also slower. People had more time to process their thoughts and how they felt. But now, gut reactions has replaced reason and I find it pretty devastating. Is sympathy or consideration for another person’s environment/circumstances dead? There’s still a part of me that holds onto the believe that no, it’s not. That civility and consideration happens more than the news feeds and chyrons let on.

This is the Age of Outrage. And like fire, outrage can be stoked to burn, but it can also be captured to warm and transform. Of course it’s easier said than done. Even as I write this, I struggle with my containing my anger. The ego in me wants the last word in every debate, to crush anyone who voices an opposing view. But isn’t it just as powerful to slow down? Maybe we can take the first step of acknowledging the context a person is operating in before deciding to engage or walk away.

Again, easier said than done.


This fascinating article on the shipping company of the fashion world. (NYT)

If you’re filled with despair, a reminder of the things you can do for your community or to get people out to vote.

This tweet is hysterical.

Originally published on October 5, 2018 at Alwaysatodds.com.