Stop The Narcissists Now
Even in his forties Jean-Paul Gaultier was described as an enfant terrible, a moniker he earned when his began his fashion career in the 1970s. As a designer he embraced an unconventional sense of gender and sensuality. He revised the feminine ideal to include the qualities of strength, power, and authority. To the stereotype of masculinity he added the ideas of sensuality, femininity, and narcissism. This gender redefinition in his designs has become the most enduring characteristic of his work.
Elizabeth Wilson's Adorned in Dreams includes a useful introductory discussion of certain forms of early, European fashion subcultures that favored rebellious, or oppositional, dress. Along with the great masculine renunciation of the early nineteenth century, in which men forsook foppish perfumed effeminacy for classic understated sobriety, came the figure of the Regency dandy. Although English in origin, dandyism soon found a resonance in post-revolutionary France, where it was adopted by the avant-garde youth subculture, the Incroyables. The typical dandy was undoubtedly motivated by a narcissistic obsession with image, display, and the presentation of the self through dress yet his overriding concern was with sheer quality of fabric, fit, and form, not overbearing or ostentatious ornamentation. This coterie of young gentlemen was thus characterized by an ethos of stoical heroism, a disciplined quest for refinement, elegance, and excellence, the diverse historical legacy of which...
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