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28th November 2016

The statement of status

Sophie Soar explores how celebrity outings prove the statement of status and denial of compromise from the red carpet to a night out

It is a fact of life today that our lives revolve around social media: a sad but undeniable reality. I, for one, spend a lot of my spare time perusing ‘click-bait’ and reading stories starting ‘owner enters kitchen to find dog in fridge – you’ll never guess what happens next’ or ‘Cutest kid reads a book. This story will change your life forever’. I invariably fall for it and then, after watching a pointless six minute video to see nothing happen, I vow never to waste any more minutes of my life on such articles. This internal conversation occurs on a daily basis.

Yet I convince myself that reading Vogue articles — which make up the majority of my Facebook news-feed — is forgivable. Is it not a valuable lesson learnt to see what eyebrow shape Cara Delevingne ‘revolutionised’ or ‘who wore it best’ to the VMAs? Forever remaining impartial, this includes every female celebrity who attended but still, one of ninety outfit pictures may beat the rest and I must appraise, approve, judge and vow never to wear that custom made Valentino dress when I myself walk down the red carpet with Ryan Gosling on my arm.

I was initially shocked and somewhat offended when my father pointed out the satirical edge to Vogue articles. My response was something along the lines of: “Well of course they take themselves seriously,” with reference to the articles telling us which ten shades of Dior lipstick must be in our make-up bags this season or which coat under £1000 is essential in our wardrobes. I accompanied my defence with a roll of the eyes, perhaps even a dramatic exit for added effect, to hide the realisation seeping into my expression.

This isn’t to suggest that Vogue indefinitely relays stories designed to mock the devout fashion types who follow the magazine as if prophesy. I do not exclude myself from this category asI nearly chased the postman down the drive when he damaged my most recent edition through brutally ramming it through the letterbox. I calmed myself by thinking it’s not lack of respect to Vogue but just post in general. What my father meant was simply: take their statements with a pinch of salt.

So when we habitually follow that ‘click-bait’ to see what Rihanna or Karlie Kloss wore as a statement evening wear piece, which we must recreate for a fraction of the price — that still costs a month’s rent or requires compromising water or electricity for a few years — we know this is not a definitive instruction to stop exactly what we’re doing and head to Net-a-Porter. What perhaps psychologically stops us from assuming these articles are direct instruction to imminent bankruptcy is not insinuated from what designer items envelop these celebs but actually the context in which they wear them.

Chrissy Teigen made headlines this week with a large ‘censored’ sticker slapped across her nether regions, as she followed the trend of the all-too-revealing dress that caused inevitable mishap and a flashing frenzy. Whilst the price tag and designer label suggest economic status and the hundreds of photos suggest celebrity status, the context around wearing such a dress suggests another kind of status: luxury lifestyle. This is not a dress you would wear when travelling via the tube or magic bus to the red carpet. This dress is designed to be worn in a luxurious context, luxury travel to your destination, luxury circles who wouldn’t even question or contemplate the practicality of such an item – even the luxury of knowing the most revered fashion magazines will not report such a wardrobe mishap.

We mere mortals know all about wardrobe malfunctions from predictable outcomes to inappropriate decisions. After all, autumn might mean endless Mancunian rain but fake fur will still be worn in spite of geographical location and meteorological warning signs. So when Vogue pictures the radiant Hadid sisters sauntering around town in their pristine floor length coats or spotless thigh high suede boots, we know the photograph was not taken after a quick dash to the bus stop, long-jumping puddles or left-over takeaway boxes.

These women wear such outfits as a statement of luxury. Why worry about your ball gown collecting dirt when you’ll only walk a mere fifteen metres in it? Why raise concerns about a risque slit when no one will judge you within the confines of the event? It marks a luxury status that goes hand-in-hand with complacency, marking the distinct difference from those of us who plan our Friday night outfits around warm coats and suitable footwear whilst staring enviously at our iPhones, huddled next to the bus radiator and willing our faux fur to dry out before we catch a cold.


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