Fashion Nazis


02 Wednesday 02nd March 2011

While in the Western Hemisphere figures in the fashion world struggle to react to the news that Galliano has been sacked for saying that he loves Hitler, in the East MTV and Sony have apologised because pop group Kishidan appeared on Japanese telly wearing SS costumes.

Obviously there is no excuse for Galliano's comments – see the notorious video below – but some commentators have rightly pointed out that there is no proof that Galliano actually believes the disgusting things he says, and that it is likely that his career in boundary-pushing has left him with no sense of perspective on which taboos are, like, for real.

Similarly, Sony's apology claims that the SS costume has 'no ideological meaning whatsoever'. Uh, yeah it does. All uniforms do. That's why armies have them, otherwise wars look like random people killing each other. That's also why your band was using a uniform to toughen up their image – you just didn’t google THAT one. I will admit, though, that their image does need toughening up... what is happening in this 'Wedding March' video? Are they wearing daisy dukes? Did the father of the bride just fart before bursting into tears?

There's a broader cultural significance to these events. This mindless anti-semitism demonstrates the danger lurking in pop culture’s dominant vision of creativity – that it always means pushing boundaries, going to extremes, challenging taboos, creating shock. We like to tell ourselves that this vision is one that embraces unconventional ideas about beauty and art and that it comes from openness and a non-judgmental curiosity about the world.

Paris Hilton allegedly giving a nazi salute.

However, the assumption that being creative means embracing something offensive is precisely what prompted Rocky Mazzilli to send models wearing swastikas down his Year 0 runway in 2006. When he was thrown out of a club wearing one himself, he protested, ‘My interpretation of the swastika is of anarchy, rebellion and nonconformism. Isn't that what London's clubs believe in, too?’

Here, creative indifference to the actual victims of the holocaust and of anti-semitism throughout history shows the opposite of curiosity and acceptance. This 'creativity' comes from a commitment to the superficiality of shock and a lack of interest in creating meaning, or even considering that meaning exists. It sees cultural value as a marketing tool – which is why Mazzilli thinks he can sell you an ‘interpretation’ of a swastika, why Kishidan thinks a uniform has no ideological meaning, and why Galliano, in a fit of drunken nastiness, knew how to say something shocking and chose to. Pop creativity is not about an original perspective on what is beautiful. It’s about concluding that ‘edgy’ means ‘hostile and lazy’, and it doesn’t mean a thing…

Exceeeeeept… FUN! Screw you, authority! History can't tell me what to think! Awesome dance moves at 0:33, guys. ‘Bad do-wap be-bop do-wap bad do-wap be-bop do-wap’ 4 EVA!

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  • YusufLaher
    Wed 09 - Mar - 2011, 12:00
    And don't forget the outrage over Prince Harry the Nazi.
  • Guest: lol
    Tue 08 - Mar - 2011, 11:42
    Someone should do a video of shirtless asian children running like they have napalm on them. Now that would be edgy!