For a long time now, high fashion — with the alibi of being “art” — has tried on rape, self-harm, heroin-chic and of course the simple, timeless classics of anorexia/bulimia as titillating “looks.” Anything to keep an enervated haute couture industry (for many years selling mainly in Russia, China and the Middle East, though post-pandemic even these are dropping off) in the headlines.
Ambiguous — to say the least — about the beauty of the female body, the mainly gay male world of high fashion has, after a brief period of pretending to embrace “diversity” (anything above a size four) returned to physiques in which any semblance of female sexual characteristics has been excised.
Covering Milan Fashion Week in the Daily Mail recently under the headline “The return of heroin chic is a cynical betrayal of young women” Liz Jones said: “This season, the female models aren’t even pretty — their bodies are sinewy, hard, not feminine at all. What it means to be a woman is under attack like never before and now the eradication of women is evident in fashion too — in the skeletal figures that bear little resemblance to a normal woman’s body. The men in charge don’t want to see hips and breasts, just the color of our money. We’re being erased, while simultaneously having our pockets picked.”
One form of diversity which fashion is keen on is the employing of “transgender” models — the inspiration for an Insider piece called “13 Transgender Models Who Are Changing The Industry.” But the claim to be “making fashion more inclusive” is inclusive in the way that women not being allowed to play female roles from the Greeks to early Shakespeare was, or indeed the recent theatrical revamp of Joan of Arc’s story, changing her from a brave young woman into an introspective nonbinary “They/Them.” Funny how being inclusive generally means excluding women.
And now fashion has come for the children — pre-teen girl children with no messy female bodies to spoil the line. In case you haven’t seen the Balenciaga “holiday gifting” campaign I’ll describe it, though even typing this feels grubby. Very young female children pose with bags fashioned from teddy bears dressed up in gimp outfits — which was released alongside Balenciaga’s recent runway show in Paris, carried by models made up to look bruised and bloodied. In another Balenciaga photograph a little girl lies face-down next to empty wine glasses. As if this wasn’t enough, an earlier campaign showed a handbag sitting on top of a stack of documents; zooming in, they show papers from a Supreme Court ruling on whether child pornography was in violation of the First Amendment. Making up a hat-trick of heinousness, Balenciaga also ran a recent campaign in which the actress Isabelle Huppert sits in front of a stack of books including one showcasing Michael Borremans, a Belgian painter whose work includes what appears to be castrated toddlers. It’s hardly surprising that #Burnbalenciaga — following on the heels of #BalenciagaGroomers — is trending.
In Balenciagas kids campaign they slipped a document under a Handbag which refers to a court case trying to normalise Online Grooming of Kids.
This is not a conspiracy theory and this photo shoot would only get the go ahead from highest up people at the brand. #Balenciaga pic.twitter.com/ErZApkAFLH
— Oli London (@OliLondonTV) November 23, 2022
How could women like Huppert, Kim Kardashian and Nicole Kidman (who have all worked with the brand) lend themselves to this unholy mess? (Kim Kardashian has since said she is re-evaluating her relationship with the brand.) Society as a whole has been groomed by fashion to the unacceptable for far too long — first with violence against women, and now the sexualization of children.
This isn’t just confined to fashion either. Many lesbians now boycott Pride marches, which are often attended by children, as they increasingly resemble fetish meetings.
It is a strange society indeed which has less of a problem with sexualizing seven-year-olds (the age of “Desmond Is Amazing” when he started out as drag queen, his mother beaming from the gay-club wings) than it does with sexualizing seventeen-year-olds (the age of Virginia Roberts Giuffre when she met the ghastly Prince Andrew.)
Meanwhile, Balenciaga is practicing damage-limitation, removing the images and soberly swearing that it is “taking action” over the photoshoots. “We sincerely apologize for any offense our holiday campaign may have caused — we have immediately removed the campaign from all platforms.” This is a grim affair, but if it results in fashion no longer being given a free pass to fetishize violence against women and children, maybe it was worth those horrible images briefly seeing the light of day. And if it reveals the people who have a vested interest in the processing of dazed, compliant, medicalized children — even better.
This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.