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Designasaur 10 - Exploding Pavlova
Ged Maybury - 4/8/00

Dear Designasaur, do you have any opinions on fashion design?

Dear Reader, - yes. But [uncomfortable silence]

Dear D, why so shy?

Well, I don't like commenting on something I have had no direct experience in.

Dear D, surely you've had a go a making some sort of garment in your life?

This is true. I once embarked on making my own underwear.

Dear D, - well there you go then!

Oh no, it was a major failure. Underwear, like nappies, must keep certain specific contents in. Mine did not. The volume did not exactly match the body parts there-in, nor did the apertures match the body parts there-through.

Well, Dear D, you are therefore very qualified to comment on fashion design, for neither does it! Odd holes! Dismal fit! Surplus fabric hanging out everywhere!

Well in my case it was not fabric hanging out. Anyway, since you wanna hear:

It's a fascinating thing, the world of fashion design. Year after year, show after show, the fashion leaders of this world attempt to dazzle us with something new. This would, I'm sure, be a whole lot easier if the shape of our human bodies were to actually change year after year. But damn it, it doesn't! Women (the ones who actually wear the stuff you see on the cat-walks) remain resolutely 1.7 metres and size 10, while the men are always tall, muscular and very trim in the mid-riff. (These oddities are called 'models', which, like other types of model, are in fact plastic replicas of the real thing.)

This must be so maddening! If only we could make them sprout an extra few arms and legs, or relocate their heads or something, then we really would see something new! I think fashion designers should get together with genetic engineers, I really do, and I think they should be exempt from our future anti-GE laws (if we ever get any).

But until then, and short of actually using a normal range of human body types (inconceivable, it seems), the poor desperate fashion designers must put up with this bitter reality and perpetually meddle instead with colour, fabric, shape, coverage and gender signals.

Or meddle with the very definition of clothing.

Let's review the basics: clothing is primarily for warmth or coolness, and for protection against rain, sun, wind, flying sand, bird poop, welding sparks, gazing men and all the other irritants in our environment. In most cultures it is also for modesty, and frequently (often most importantly) for decoration, status and the display of wealth.

But how boring! Let's extend the parameters! Clothing, or at least fashion clothing, can be a means of, say, testing aerodynamics: let's put these garments into a wind tunnel and see if they fly! It can be used for recycling all kinds of metal and plastic. It can be (Some would argue has always been) a Dadaist Statement. And what else? _ Ah, ummm, - an excuse to use more film? Ahhh, ahhh, (Come on! We're paying you millions here to think for us!), - another use for sheep? Errr, - magazine filler? STOP! That's getting waaaaay too close to home!

Oh, and there's one more important parameter I'd like to add. Fashion Clothing must be removable by teams of no more than three, using hand tools only, within a toilet cubicle. I mean, I look at this stuff they cat-walk every year and I often think, "Yeah but how is she going to 'visit the bathroom'?" I mean, how will she get it off?!

But even that very picky parameter was put to the test recently, and right here in New Zealand too! A thing like a nappy won the supreme award in the Benson & Hedges fashion show. Now that was an innovation! That whole removable-in-a-toilet parameter overthrown in one brave stroke!

Curiously this winning concept never seemed to make it to the streets and nightclubs of Normal-land. I never once saw a woman wearing the Fashion-Nappy in Christchurch. (Mind you, they probably did in Auckland, and I expect it would have been a hit in Wellington too. - It would never blow up over your head.)

At regular intervals we get fashion clothes made of various metals. Chic; yes. Cool; yes. And possibly even protection against certain wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation. This is a concept that really should be taken further. Radio-free clothing.

More recently I've seen the models strutting around in stuff that looks like hardened clouds, or perhaps to put a NZ spin on it: - exploding Pav. I liked it. It had a sort of Pre-Raphelite/ Maxfield Parrish look. Not original by a good century or so, but whimsical and fun. We even have a little version of the same thing we bought about six years ago that we stick on top of our Christmas tree. Is that where they got the idea?

But can it be removed in a toilet cubicle? That is the question. Imagine this garment becoming snagged above shoulder height on the partition wall, leaving the contents, still holding onto her contents, hanging just out of range of the can?

- Is this what they mean by "fashion emergency"?

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