Bring Back Demi Moore’s Lycra Bike Shorts
A specialist in eighteenth-century French literature and culture, Weber is a fashion historian and the author of "Queen of Fashion: What Marie-Antoinette Wore to the French Revolution." She is also an Associate French Professor at Barnard College.
Question: Who ultimately sets fashion trends?
Caroline Weber: I kind of hope that we are about to pass out of the phase in which celebrities are the ultimate trendsetters. But I think for at least since the beginning of this millennium that’s been the case. That movie stars, actresses, some very famous singers, like Madonna, have really been the ones to set the trends just for the simple reason that they’ve been photographed the most. So, as we all know, the represent free advertising for the designers. Designers will fall over themselves to get an actress, to beg an actress to wear his dress on the red carpet. Jewelers do the same thing. And those are the pictures that all of us consume. Those are the pictures the designers rely upon for their advertising; those are the picture magazines rely upon for their content. So, everywhere you turn you have celebrities as this sort of faces and bodies of fashion.
What’s sad about that is I think the obvious fact that almost all of these celebrities are styled within an inch of their life. They all have teams of advisors helping them to decide what to wear. We’ve had the rise in this millennium of the celebrity stylist, Rachel Zoë, being the best example. And so I think what we’ve lost is any kind of organic or spontaneous trendsetting by these women. Again, I am old enough to remember when Demi Moore, sometime in the late 80’s wore a pair of Lycra bike shorts to the Oscars under some weird kind of ball gown that she had designed herself. But in retrospect, at the time I thought it was horrible, but in retrospect it’s kind of great because she was actually trying to do something original. And I think that really gets us to a distinction that should be made between fashion and style. That style is a personal sensibility. I think it can be, of course, informed by one’s cultural and historical time and place, but it has a very personal element to it. How a person chooses to throw things together. Fashion again, is dictated by an industry which needs to have a certain number of changes happening all the time.
So, it’s not necessarily stylish to wear everything head-to-toe from this moments Prada, but it’s incredibly fashionable. It can be stylish to wear something from ten years ago from Prada and something from Yves St. Laurent from today and something vintage and throw all that together in an interesting way. I don’t think we see so much of that in an era when celebrities are under pressure to wear whatever is newest and best and hottest and most important for designers to sell nowadays. And so I think we are really missing stylish trendsetters in our current culture. And I think that the only solution to that or the silver lining there is again the democracy of the web and the fact that you have these people who have style blogs, and clothing blogs who post pictures of themselves looking really interesting and fabulous and wearing things that you’ve never heard of before. Or that one site that I love, the Sartorialist that just takes pictures of people on the street wearing interesting combinations of clothes. And it’s not about “Cameron Diaz models the latest Yves St. Laurent handbag, Celine top, and leather pants from Rick Owens.” It’s much more interesting and much quirkier and much more idiosyncratic and I think that’s where the trendsetters I would like to see are living and working, but that’s still I think a smaller and less powerful demographic than celebrities with this whole apparatus of the fashion industry and the magazine industry behind them.
Recorded on October 13, 2009
Fashion historian Caroline Weber is hoping we’ll pass out of the phase in which celebrities are the ultimate trendsetters. Only then will style become original again.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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