Blogosphere—the word alone is enough to evoke images of a deep, dark, gluey space where things come to die. Of course, its apologists would say that ideas sparkle with life, free of societal constructs, when they’re liberated to float through the blogosphere. That notion rings vaguely true to me when a métier related to pure thought—anything scientific, say—is involved, but the applied arts, which includes fashion, has a unique kind of immediacy that resists the pickled-in-aspic seriousness of your average those-who-can-do-those-who-can’t-criticize blogger.
What would I love to see in a fashion blog? A salute to the books, movies, people and design statements that are pillaged with impunity by the contemporary fashion community. Illumination, in other words, instead of semiotic dissections of the season at hand. Call me old-fashioned, but the Internet has always struck me as a 21st-century version of the Library of Alexandria (whose loss was considered to be one of the greatest setbacks to the evolution of modern thought), and all those earnest I’m-a-brainiac-look-at-me dissertations about fashion simply dumb down the maximum access of the web to an egotistical flash in the pan. Never mind that they’re chokingly unreadable.
That said, I’ve recently had occasion to delve into the world of fragrance blogs. Colour me entranced. The very thought that there is some gnome out there diligently sniffing away at every single perfume anyone anywhere in the world is prepared to release makes me supremely happy. I will henceforth religiously apply myself to
www.perfumesmellinthings.blogspot.com and http://nowsmellthis.blogharbor.com. It’s not like I want to buy the fragrances or anything (I’m a devoted wearer of Escentric 01), but I’m completely enthralled by the enthusiasm of the bloggers on those sites. There is something so essentially happy and satisfying about a good perfume—not to say provocative—that a blog that can successfully convey a scent immediately registers as a justification for the whole I-think-therefore-I-am solipsism of the blogosphere.
But I should also say that any fashion bloggers who want to delve into the careers of a) Nicolas Roeg; b) Charles James; c) Cristobal Balenciaga (as opposed to his contemporary, Nicolas Ghesquière); d) Suzy Parker; or e) Raymond Voinquel should immediately apply themselves to On the Runway, the blog that is overseen by Cathy Horyn, fashion critic for The New York Times. If your dinner-table talk ever turns to solipsists (and doesn’t it always, in this age of turgid gossip?), all you have to do is list the litany of navel-gazers who have hijacked Cathy’s site, then turn the conversation to all the lost geniuses of fashion who could so easily be resurrected—and given their rightful due—on the web, if overearnest scribes weren’t so busy scoring points off each other.
Frankly, it’s all enough to make one cherish a sense of humour as the only valid response to the way of the world. Of course, the humour is increasingly dark. One learns to love the shadows as the 21st century unfolds. And that’s enough to spark the realization that things were ever thus. I will always come back to Balenciaga’s search for the perfect sleeve as the justification for the most significant career in fashion. He honestly believed he could find God in that quest, and there is a dark heart in such a purpose. God may well be in the details, but He’ll defy you to isolate what is truly necessary.