the international herald tribune

“Many years ago, before she married Stefano, maybe even before Junot but if so only slightly before, Princess Caroline published an article in the International Herald Tribune. It was titled “Home” and she wrote of how much she loves Monaco. She said she feels Monaco & the whole Meditteranean in her bones. “I feel in my bones that I belong in Monaco.” I love that. The Languedoc heritage is what makes Monaco what it is. It is the root of everything. I feel like Caroline is in touch with that.“ - Submitted by realgeekyroyalaficionado



STYLESTYLE; Witness for the Defense

In Paris in January, Rei Kawakubo presented her Comme des Garcons men’s collection for fall, titled “Sleep.” An assortment of striped pajamas worn with sweaters, jackets and bathrobe coats, it was, she said, her attempt to revive lounge wear, which had once been an important category in the gentleman’s wardrobe. The date assigned to Kawakubo for her show was, as it happened, the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and two critics saw in the striped pajamas a reminder of the Nazi death camps. Their outraged reviews, in Le Figaro and The International Herald Tribune, prompted a visit to the Comme des Garcons showroom by members of the European Jewish Congress and a spate of articles denouncing Kawakubo as, at best, an unwitting anti-Semite. As a gesture of conciliation, she withdrew the pajamas from the line. Other items in the collection had been stenciled with numerals, randomly scattered, and with footprints. As the scandal escalated, the pajamas came to be described as stamped with “identification numbers”; the models, as “emaciated,” with “shaved heads”; and the footprints, as made by military boots trampling the Jews underfoot. (In fact, no numbers appeared on any of the striped garments; many of the models had long hair; and the tread had been made by a basketball sneaker.) Last month, the Mayor of the third arrondissement refused to rent Kawakubo her usual, city-owned space, for her women’s show – for fear of losing the Jewish vote in the coming elections.

For those of us in the audience that evening in January, the Holocaust connection was one of many possible interpretations, and a highly subjective one, at that. Some spectators saw the show as a late-night get-together at a boys’ dormitory. Others were dismayed by the overtones of emergency, as if the models had been wakened in the middle of the night. To my mind, they looked like insomniac patients roaming a hospital ward. “There is no meaning,” Kawakubo insisted, and, indeed, the body of her work has been abstract – a formal exercise.

Some of the most irate objections have been lodged by people who have never seen the clothes. Suspicious of fashion, they’ve been quick to charge it with crimes they’re sure it must be capable of committing. But more striking than the accusations against Kawakubo is the recklessness behind them. In what amounts to an act of aggression in and of itself, righteous indignation strangles all opinion and hijacks any discourse that the clothes might have inspired.