9/5/2002
 

:claudia's column:

on french fashionism

 
     

Old hat, I know, but Gamine really ought to voice its opinion on that recent spree of fascism in France. (It is widely known that Gamine has connections with France, but I would have it known right away that they are purely aesthetic and hardly social and certainly not political).

So you want to know if the French are desperately fascist ? Well, coincidentally, while all this anti-human politic was welling up in France, I was staying in the heart of Le Pen countryside, that is the middle, the bit that lies between Calais and Cannes and between Arcachon and Alsace. Not consciously there to report on fascism, it is however one of Gamine’s habits to take notes on society, and what I saw, it saddens me to say, was an indelicate display of what I now consider to have been some form of fascism.

What I understand to be fascism is an intolerance of diversity, fear of the extraordinary, mass conformity, submission to the most ridiculous and unfounded rules with tendencies towards nationalism and repressed sexual desires; if this is correct then what I witnessed was unmistakably fascism.

 
     

With regards to intolerance, what I experienced while walking (incognito) down a typical small town high street, wearing my 1970's Monte Carlo sunglasses with lenses the size of two television screens, was shock from passers by, manifested in nervous laughter and a vulgar use of what can be quite a poetic language. The only sunglasses worn by the young in this town were those wrap-around skiing glasses that Prince William is so famous for; en masse they looked like Darth Vader’s stormtroopers dressed up as gargoyles.

Elsewhere, I noticed how my outfits brought fear into the faces of shop-keepers, school-children and the clientele at tabacs; perhaps it was the abundant use of colour, the benevolent inclusion of an array of styles, or the sheer volume of fabric used in my dresses, that caused such outrage.

 
     

Thank God I am rich and powerful - I can’t imagine how ordinary people would cope. Displays of Nationalism were deposited in the most unlikely places - a number of wedding processions that drove by had little French flags attached to car aerials instead of the traditional baby pink or blue. It made me think times were changing and that it might not be safe to stay much longer, even though Gamine has always advertised itself as Frog friendly.

Relieved, I was to return home to England. It seemed my fans were glad to have me back, as many of them had hung the English flag up outside their homes for my arrival. My self-assurance came rushing back, so much so that I foolishly thought it would be perfectly alright to do some shopping like ordinary people.

 

 

I was out of Darjeeling and cherry liqueurs so I took Nelson and went to Fortnums, which was all fine but while we were waiting outside for the driver, some squat little fascist who was passing by said to his friend in an unnecessarily loud voice "THE ONLY DOG I HATE IS A POODLE". The human equivalent would be to say something as absurd and ignorant as "THE ONLY HUMANS I HATE ARE JEWS".

Well I am not totally naïve and have been aware of a fashionable prejudice towards this breed of dog before. Only last weekend I felt obliged to invite some people to stay in the country with me and while we were having tea one of these ignoramuses said, as we were discussing Nelson, "poodles are not an intelligent breed", when it is common knowledge amongst the people who are concerned with these things that poodles have been established as the most intelligent breed.

This statement was justified, my guest felt, because, as they said "poodles weren’t bred for any purpose". I don’t have to tell you, my dear readers, that they are the original French hunting dog. The guest was ejected from the house in the usual terrifying manner.

That is the last time I am ever going to do something simply because of societal obligations. Society is so often wrong. Look at what is regarded as good taste by the respected bourgeoisie - sexless dressing and soulless interiors; marvellous. It has slowly dawned on me that a form of vile and evil fascism is alive and well in England, disguised as fashion - it is unwittingly used everyday by ordinary people, it is fashionism. We don’t have to look to Paris, we have our own fashionism.

Follow your hearts, darling fans, watch your mouths and watch your thoughts.