War Chic

Flipping through Details magazine at 1:00am on Friday night. No, it’s okay, I just got back from the Lyric Diner with friends, and we might go out to play yet. Meanwhile, I note a few disturbing trends and bits of info as I flip through these glossy pages — specifically, the fashion industry, having long ago (mercifully) abandoned heroin-chic, seems to have replaced it this season with war chic.

A Marithé et François Girbaud ad paints a confusing and unsettling scene of people in vaguely soldierly clothing and dog tags screaming and reaching for what must be a fallen comrade. All are covered in filth and black goo amid a stark field of dirt; black smoke from distant explosions rises in the distance.

And pulling no punches, Dolce and Gabbana, whose ads usually ooze not-always-benign homoeroticism, has a two-page spread of men in bomber jackets in a room full of Roman military artifacts; a woman in a Marie Antoinette wig, gigantic leather jackboots, and nothing else; and another schlub on the ground, shirt open, forehead sporting a bloody bullet hole. No mistaking the theme here.

An ad for Isaia is much less objectionable, but still gets an honorable mention for its fascism chic — an aesthetic I actually find appealing divorced from its perceived political associations. It’s all sharp angles, thin lines, svelte bodies and fine-featured Milanese faces. Don’t forget the leather gloves. Images of Hitler manhandling Eva Braun in the bunker waft through my mind.

I would stop far short of saying this is a big trend — the vast majority of these fashion ads are still people in luxurious settings enjoying life and smiling. But the war theme is notable. They could just as easily be the thoughtless gratuitous use of martial imagery as they could be high-brow political protest. But war is certainly filtering into popular culture in more than just the expected areas, regardless of the message behind these ads.

Details, like Newsweek, has a page of interesting stats and quotes. A couple of appropriate picks to round off this post:

“We’ve got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad. That’s a problem.” — Dept. of Defense “gang detective” Scott Barfield, on the increasing number of neo-Nazis in the US military.

and

One million dollars: amount the Federal government plans to pay St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio to find loopholes in the Freedom of Information Act.

Have a great night.

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