Sienna the queen of fashion? More like a schoolgirl frump

Share
Related Topics

British society has always found new ways to keep the masses down, from the feudal system to Ikea and Big Brother. Now we are one nation divided by a common raincoat. Frightfully, frightfully common, since we're talking Burberry check here - once the uniform of stout shires' matrons, now snugly wrapped around a chav somewhere near you (I spied a Burberry hat on my dustman last week).

British society has always found new ways to keep the masses down, from the feudal system to Ikea and Big Brother. Now we are one nation divided by a common raincoat. Frightfully, frightfully common, since we're talking Burberry check here - once the uniform of stout shires' matrons, now snugly wrapped around a chav somewhere near you (I spied a Burberry hat on my dustman last week).

Fashion has become the social force that cracks the class whip, with badges as distinctive as the old cloth cap. But until quite recently fashion was a harmless affair that merely informed women what length skirt they should be wearing, or that grey was the navy blue of Eastern Germany. And fashion in the last century was largely democratic, in that its vitality usually rose from the underclass, from jazz dives, punk rock and rappers through to surf-boys.

In its purest form, fashion existed for the very young and was a sublimely effective way of sneering at your parents and other authorities. "Do you intend to go out wearing that?" signalled that your outfit was a masterpiece. It's hard not to feel nostalgic for the days when outré clothes could give a Yorkshire miner or retired colonel alike a cardiac arrest. Growing up, as I did, in the twin-set territories of the home counties, you were grateful for rare glimpses of fashion flamboyance. I was sartorially influenced for life when a children's clothing designer called Valerie Goad came to live with her young family in my neighbouring village in the mid-Seventies.

Tall and beautiful with severely bobbed hennaed hair and vermillion lipstick, Valerie teamed sweeping Liberty lawn skirts with striped stockings, cap-sleeved silk shirts, hand-knit cardigans and vertiginous heels. She always looked amazing - part Cruella De Vil, part Kate Greenaway. Many years later I met a London friend of hers who said, "I once crashed my car on the Kings Road because I spied Valerie and she looked so incredible I couldn't take my eyes off her."

But the age of fashion icons as innovators is over. Rest softly Elsa Schiaparelli! Goodbye Mary Quant and our lady Madonna of the cone-breasts. Who is now held up as the ultimate icon? Sienna Miller, that's who.

Now Sienna seems like a perfectly nice sort of girl; doubtless that is why Jude Law is marrying her. In fact, she reminds me of my school-mate Sarah, who also has a mane of tousled blond hair and favours cowboy boots. Which is to say Ms Miller looks exactly like well-heeled, borderline Sloanes of a slightly bohemian disposition have looked for the past 30 years.

Last week she was hailed as the queen of London fashion week and pictured in a pink, stripy Matthew Williamson strapless ball-gown looking exactly like a frumpy Benenden schoolgirl at a hunt ball in the late Eighties. But that's no reason to blame the poor girl for the fashion industry's current creative poverty and call this year's Seventies-inspired boho-peasant look the "Sienna" because it sashays so hard upon, yawn, last year's Seventies-inspired boho-peasant look. The indecent recycling of fashion trends got ever swifter in the past decade, but now we've reached the centre of the cyclone the whole business is inert enough to send anyone into a coma. Can you identify a single heart-stopping fashion trend since 1989?

I have a vast wardrobe, but I've come to realise that it's costume, not fashion, that I adore. Fancy dress is second only to godliness - as a bunch of bishops in gorgeous frocks demonstrate - but "Fashion" is Satan's own handiwork, and he's particularly proud of inventing crochet, velour tracksuits and Voyage. Fashion now only exists to enslave the vulnerable masses, addict them to store cards, then sneer at them. Without fashion's evil schemes there would be no ponchos, no Burberry check, no Ugg boots and no sniggering at Colleen McLoughlin.

This is the catwalk's cruellest dictate: that once clothing leaves its precinct and the pages of glossy magazines, its allure drops by the millisecond. By the time a girl in Liverpool is wearing this month's Vogue's top tips, she's a laughing-stock. Fashion is no longer about the clothes, but the context. Only in the fashion world is it acceptable to deride people for being déclassé.

"Chav" is just a thinly veiled substitute for pleb and it's invariably used to mock the very people who have most slavishly absorbed the stylists' message. Such snobbery is the last refuge of the ideologically exhausted. Fashion - you're so OVER.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Read Next
“I just wanted some chicken wings,” Tan Shen told the assembled media. “But once I got in there ... I decided I needed time to think.”  

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Ellen E Jones
Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay's Chris Martin “consciously uncoupled” in March  

My best and worst stories of 2014

Simmy Richman
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015