The Paradox of Not Caring

Manolo says, the Sunday Times of the London they have the article about our muse the Miuccia Prada, published under the title In Praise of Modesty. Here is the excerpt.

If there is a fashion pioneer living today, it is Miuccia Prada. Her vision of the modern woman totally changed our attitude to sex and how we dress it up. She is fashion’s great provocateur, and when she sends models down the catwalk wearing sheer blouses buttoned severely to the neck, or black capes worn over beige shirts, or with belts pulled tightly round cardigans and socks up to the knees, you wonder, is her interest in the clothes at all, or in the opportunity to play intellectualised sexual games? Above all, how has she managed to take us all along her own special path?

When I put this to her, it’s obvious that she is not entirely sure of the answers herself. After all, she came into fashion through the back door, with no training and, initially at least, no great interest in the business. She had always had an abiding curiosity about appearance and what it says about us, though.

“I realise how powerful and important clothes are, especially for women,” she says. “They have to be useful for your life, of course, but they must also express your individual sentiment.” That Prada accepts that all fashion is role-play is what makes her such a force. She understands that the job of the truly ground-breaking designer is to decide on the roles, dress them and then present them in such a way that people all over the world want to join the cast.

Prada herself makes an unlikely éminence grise. She is neither dowdy, nor overwhelmingly chic. In fact, she looks entirely normal. Her figure is that of a woman in her fifties. Her hair is cut like most other women’s hair. She rarely wears make-up. Contrast her with another Italian icon, Donatella Versace, and you realise that she is a fashion outsider. Certainly, she avoids socialising with most other designers and runs a mile from social events. As she said to me, years ago: “I am a wife and a mother” — she has two teenage boys — “and I have many more interests than fashion. Fashion is just my job.”

But today she has amended her tune: “I’ve become impatient when people claim they don’t care about clothes. They still dress every morning, and if they are going to reject fashion, they still need clothes to show it. Style rebellion is still a form of self-expression.”

Indeed, as the Miuccia notes, claiming to not care about the clothes, to not be concerned about what one wears, is the paradox, for the clothes worn by one who claims not to care make as much the statement as those worn by one who dresses with purpose.

These inescapable facts obtain: that clothes are always necessary, and that others they will always judge us by them. These are the reasons why the Manolo he would have you dress with the purpose, to consider carefully what you would wear, and to think about the effect your clothes, and how you wear, them will have on others.

Of the course, this does not mean that you must dress to please others, nor that you should follow the lowing herd, but rather that you should be conscious of the image you are projecting.

For the example, if you wish to project the image of carefree disdain for the high fashion, be aware that your dirty t-shirt of the Oakland Raiders, torn sweat pants, and flip-flops may not be conveying that exact message, may in the stead be saying to the by passer, “Cross to the other side of the street, lest this person’s disdain for personal hygiene and grooming infect you with the parasites.”

Manolo says, the fashion, it is not the nuclear rocket brain surgery.

There are the simple rules for dressing that can be used by anyone to maximize the assests and diminish the faults, and thus project the worthy image. Likewise, there are the ways and reasons to deviate from these rules that will thus project the pleasing counter image. But the central necessity for properly using, and sometimes ignoring, the rules of the fashion and the clothing is to be thoughtful, to consider your choices carefully, and to be aware that you are always, always, always projecting the image, even when you think you are not.

P.S. Speaking of our muse the Miuccia, the Manolo he has updated his humble Prada Blog. It has the new look! It is improved!

19 Responses to “The Paradox of Not Caring”

  1. Mimi October 25, 2005 at 10:39 am #

    Thank you, Manolo, for stating that so well and so clearly. I couldn’t agree with you more.

  2. deja pseu October 25, 2005 at 10:42 am #

    The Miuccia and the Manolo, they are both superfantastic!

  3. Annie October 25, 2005 at 11:50 am #

    “Manolo says, the fashion, it is not the nuclear rocket brain surgery.”

    This must go on the next Manolo t-shirt collection!

  4. La BellaDonna October 25, 2005 at 11:55 am #

    La BellaDonna’s fashion choices have been significantly influenced by the film Beetlejuice. She realized that she might not, after all, acquire the wardrobe of the Constance Bennet after she shuffled off this mortal coil; that La BellaDonna might, in fact, be forced to spend eternity in whatever she is wearing when she dies.

    This has inspired La BellaDonna to never wear the clothing that she would not, in fact, be caught dead in (such as the dirty T-shirt and the sweat pants so evocatively described by The Manolo). Instead, La BellaDonna, she tries always to wear the clothes that she could be happy in, if she should unexpectedly wind up wearing them for eternity.

  5. Viola October 25, 2005 at 1:19 pm #

    Annie, you took the words right out of my mouth. That’s a t-shirt I want to buy!

  6. Maryscott O'Connor October 25, 2005 at 1:39 pm #

    Dearest Manolo,

    I am love your blog so much! It is so wonderful, I tell all my friends, with magic adding of it to my blogroll.

    Okay — I don’t know HOW you keep THAT up. Anyway. My Left Wing is a POLITICAL community blog, but every so often I indulge my whims, and having stumbled upon your fabulous site, I immediately added it to the Interesting Sites section of our packed blogroll.

    Any idea how I can find my beloved Coach Bella boots in dark brown glossy for LESS than the fucking $480 that Bloomingdales wanted for them this past week???

    an adoring new fan of the Manolo…

    Maryscott O’Connor
    Fairy Blogmother

    My Left Wing

  7. blackbird October 25, 2005 at 1:44 pm #

    Well said Manolo.
    Well said.

  8. Ninotchka October 25, 2005 at 3:49 pm #

    “Cross to the other side of the street, lest this person’s disdain for personal hygiene and grooming infect you with the parasites.”

    LOL Brilliant!

  9. Donna B October 25, 2005 at 6:05 pm #

    This kind of fascinating fashion philosophy is what pushes the Manolo beyond clever and funny and stylish into truly life-changing ideas!

    I also liked your idea from Beetlejuice, LaBellaDonna, of possibly having to wear the same clothes for eternity. I have often thought this about animals (in terms of a lifetime sameness), but never in terms of me!

  10. The Baron, thoughtfully October 26, 2005 at 8:27 am #

    “…claiming to not care about the clothes, to not be concerned about what one wears, it the paradox, for the clothes worn by one who claims not to care make as much the statement as those worn by one who dresses with the purpose..” We believe this is what Castiglione in the 15th century wrote when he described a good gentleman as having ‘sprezzatura’. This is characterized by a lack of affectation. The truly stylish do not appear to be so at first glance. One may use other words for this as well, such as ‘soigne’. We believe that this quality is still important for gentlemen and ladies.

  11. toad October 26, 2005 at 10:44 am #

    Yessssss,
    Dressing for the role, job interviews come to mind. For many jobs the buisness suit is required even though you will not dress that way at the job. For many of the bluecollar jobs that I have gone after, it has been the jeans, the work shirt, and work boots for the interview, supervisor or foreman has to be able to visualize you in the shop. For the back office worker you must look like you mean “business” even though they will dress semi-casually, the women in HR are very prone to checking out your footwear. The shoes and boots do not have to be new but they should be clean and in good condition.
    The dressing down in torn and tattered clothes and in generally looking unkempt by various actors has always astounded me. It would seem to me that if an actor wants work he or she must realize that any photo or glimpse of them can be seen by someone who might hire them for a role. If you look like you are careless about your looks might you be careless in getting to the set on time and prepared?

  12. Lori October 26, 2005 at 11:08 am #

    Joan Crawford said that any actress who went out looking shabby was digging her own grave. (I guess that’s not so true anymore.) As for office workers, I don’t understand why my colleagues act like they are ready to break out the champaigne (or maybe a can of beer) on the rare day when they are allowed to wear jeans to work. Isn’t it just as easy to put on slacks and a nice top as it is to put on jeans and a t-shirt?

    As for men, I like it when a man’s clothes are forgettable.

  13. Norma Desmond October 26, 2005 at 11:48 am #

    “Manolo says, the fashion, it is not the nuclear rocket brain surgery”

    Bing Bing Bing! We have a new t-shirt.

  14. AskMom October 26, 2005 at 10:28 pm #

    The same money required to buy most trendy ridiculous trash would outfit a superfantastic person in a classic cardigan, white button down shirt, well-cut slacks and respectable shoes suitable for ever so many occasions, and in a swipe converts a characterless slacker into a responsible member of civilization. God bless Miuccia and the Manolo for making this simple virtue so much fun.

  15. lindenen October 27, 2005 at 1:37 am #

    Manolo, did you see this blurb at the bottom of the article?

    “AN EVENING WITH MIUCCIA PRADA

    Join Style and Colin McDowell for an evening of conversation with Miuccia Prada. She will be discussing her life, her look and her design philosophy. The talk will take place at the British Museum, London WC1, at 7pm on November 23. Tickets are £20; to book, call 0870 842 2242″

    You should go!

  16. Linda October 27, 2005 at 11:43 am #

    Brilliant! Simply stated, eloquent, I’ve never used this word before but “superfantastic!” And I too want the “Manolo says, the fashion, it is not the nuclear rocket brain surgery” t-shirt! I am an aspiring designer and it discourages me when I hear some things said by people who are not superfantastic and don’t get the importance of dressing for the occasion, whether the occasion is lunch with the president or shopping for oranges at the supermarket. I don’t let them get to me, and I try not look at their comments as a personal insult against my chosen profession. If they knew the level of skill involved in the making of the beautiful superfantastic clothes… And by the way…the shoes you feature are simply superfantastic.
    Hey! I like that word! It’s so perfect for so many occasions, like a simple black silk sheath dress worn with black pumps with sculpted heels…

  17. Norma Desmond October 27, 2005 at 1:56 pm #

    What lindenen said. Agreed, agreed. To see your reportage from the event would indeed be enlightening and entertaining and altogether most super fantastic! And could you not write off the lovely trip to London as the business expense? There is nothing not to like about this idea.

  18. Lol-la October 28, 2005 at 1:59 am #

    O Manolo! Some of your most devoted readers do indeed regard fashion as nuclear rocket brain surgery, so baffling are its rules to them.It is for this reason that they consult your writings on a daily basis. If you could regularly discourse upon basic dressing and fashion buying rules, or even just the brain surgery part, these klutzy devotees would kiss the tassels of your moccasins in gratitude.

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