Controversy in fashion is not anything novel. Everyone is eager to tack the label 'enfant terrible' onto anyone who veers just a little too far right. Designers whose sole purpose is to shock people rarely gets my vote of confidence because for me, it's just not enough have a garment make a statement and a statement alone. Therefore I'm not impressed when the queen of shocker labels Voyage (I thought label was well and truly defunct...), once famed for refusing Naomi Campbell into their store is basing their new collection on the swastika. The designers behind Voyage, Rocky Mazzili and Louise were recently also thrown out of a Soho nightclub for swathing themsleves with swastika-printed garments. Rocky's line of defense made me shake my head in disbelief and feel embarrassed for them at the same time:
"My interpretation of the swastika is of anarchy, rebellion and nonconformism. Isn’t that what London’s clubs believe in, too?
Call me old-fashioned, safe and PC but my interpretation of the swastika is non-sensical evil, hatred and symbolic of human suffering. I have no problem with fashion poking fun, making political and social commentary but there are some things that should be left well alone and this is one of them.
Ok so, Voyage is a prime example as a label that's purely there for the shock factor and to generate bad (which really means good) PR so really, what can you expect. But what of these new ads from the McQ diffusion line from Alexander McQueen. Thanks to Fashion Critic for alerting me to this as I had only previously seen the colour rockabilly ad series. The ad features a slightly petrified looking girl with a leather jacket adorned (shackled?) with the Nazi eagle and swastika and the Iron Cross, a symbol declared as German by Adolf Hitler. If this is a creative statement instigated on the part of Lee McQueen, then I'm deeply disappointed. If it's a move concocted by a marketing agency, then I'm surprised this hasn't been brought up for inspection at ASA. Above all, I'm mostly baffled since these Nazi symbols really have nothing to do with the clothes themselves and the spirit of rockabilly London kids by which the collection is inspired. What purpose do they serve other than to shock? And if it's a selling tactic, then how would a leather vest displaying symbols of historical evil induce anyone to buy into a brand?
I'm an advocator of pushing boundaries but some lines should be left uncrossed.