Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada III: How Are People Who Are Different Regarded?

People who are different are regarded differently depending on their stature in society.

People who are different but (already) have high stature are regarded as being "different" or "original" and the difference is considered "distinction". They are often considered trendsetters. If a highly respected artist were to draw a black dot on an otherwise empty canvas, it would still probably be worth millions.

People who are different but are neither of high or low stature but find themselves somewhere in the middle would be considered "eccentric".

People who are different but are of low stature would be considered "weird" or their work or bodies would be considered "ugly".

To a large extent, the valuation of difference is not a function of the objective quality of behavior, work or deportment but a function of the collective's valuation of the social location of the agent whose behavior, work or deportment is being evaluated. The cue for this social valuation usually comes from those who would be considered society's legislators (ex. critics, media in general).

And there is no clearer case for this than in the world of fashion. In the movie, The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda is clearly the legislator of what constitutes acceptable or unacceptable fashion. It is not what is worn that matters but who made it and who wears it and wear it is shown (If Miranda allows it to be shown on Runway). Recently, there was a fashion show in Paris where the designer chose to use the Philippine banig as the primary material. The Philippine banig is a mat, it is what some of us use to sleep on and is hardly ever considered fashion material. But since the banig was used by a respected fashion designer, that designer was able to draw appreciative oohs and ahs from the crowd.

I've always wondered how fashion designers can claim to know the trends (the next hottest clothing item and the next hottest color is...; white is the new pink, etc. In Tagalog, kung ano ang magiging uso at kung ano ang hindi). I think in reality they are just inventing trends within the bounds of acceptable and unacceptable clothing. They push the envelope without going too far. They can get away with it because they have a sense of how far people will go.

No comments: