While I was interviewing Mikel Rosen about Rent the Runway we discussed his thoughts about the state of fashion. Here are a few excerpts from that discussion.
On his mantra
In England, there’s this place called Marble Arch in the center of London and on a Sunday it’s called Speakers’ Corner. The strangest people go there with an orange box (like a wooden crate) and they stand on it and say what they feel and that’s how I feel at sixty-three, on my orange box, shouting my mantra. On the other hand, it’s a way of retaining some form of respect and manners by saying this mantra because every little bit that might sink in, might retain some personal individual soul in people other than this clone-thing that’s beginning to happen in a mega-way.
On fashion students
Students will come into every class I do and they’ll look the part, dress up, not all of them, but the ones that do that are still committed to being at the nail parlor, getting the extensions, having the right heels, having the right bag even if it’s the cheaper version, and dressing it but they’re not walking the walk, they’re talking it. That’s not the answer. It’s instant gratification, façade, cosmetic values.
On San Francisco fashion
There’s no fashion in San Francisco. It’s very fashionable to hook and network things together, and that’s why Apple and Instagram have got into bed with Anna Wintour at American Vogue and sponsored the new Met Ball and the Met exhibition, Man versus Machine (Manus ex Machina) because Mr. Apple can be photographed alongside Ms. Wintour and it makes him look fashionable for people who buy his products so the networking and getting into bed with the right people works.
On Anna Wintour and the Met Ball
I don’t know if you saw the red carpet at the Met Ball this year. It’s just a complete joke. The movie, The First Monday in May, Anna Wintour’s sequel to The September Issue. It’s really good. It shows you her and Andrew Bolton, he’s the curator, it shows you what they’ve done. It shows you the glam side, him twitching in front of a mannequin, having a dress put on a dummy the day before the event opens, or her running in and out of meetings, but it doesn’t show you what else she’s done in her life that day before the meeting or what he’s done with the design team to plan how the exhibition would look. So, you think how did she do all this? She raised $13 million last year from the Met. Sure, it leaked out that $1 million went to Rihanna. Fine, it helped raise the other $12 million. Fine, Anna Wintour can walk into a meeting and say “We’re running late, we need to close the Met for a week.” They say “It’s a public space. We can’t.” She says “The public can come back in a week’s time. Close it!” They ask her how she feels about being compared to The Devil Wears Prada. Fine! That’s all entertainment to sell the movie. My point is what goes on the red carpet, the opening night to get the publicity, to get the $13 million–
“It’s like the freaks of fashion on the red carpet.”
You will see in the film how Anna is very subtly questioning who is on what table at dinner; who is being invited and who isn’t. She needs the freaks there to make the film, to make the publicity, to make the media coverage on every app and website, to raise the $13 million and unfortunately it’s making even B-list celebrities freak out more and more to get attention. So the majority of what’s on that red carpet is nothing, nothing to do with fashion. It’s really to do with the most glamorous version of Victorian days when you used to have pay to look at the Bearded Lady in the circus. You’re just looking at these specimens. It’s a really strange world at the moment. We’re in really decadent times again.
On the future
The revolution. It has to come. I don’t know what it is but I think it will happen. When I’m with the twenty-year old graduate students, they get this. It won’t be them but if they stick with this, it will be their kids that do it. It will be in about another fifteen-years time, something will happen because the technological thing will stop and something will explode out of it because we’re human beings. Even if we allow robotized human beings to take over that will be a revolution. I can’t see it continuing like this. It’s crazy.