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It is my belief that there is no such thing.
No such thing as subjective cool. You see, the word – cool – cannot be placed in quotations; it has no evolution; lexicographers cannot redefine it; Cool may be misused and abused, it may be misunderstood and misapplied; Cool may be poorly replicated and conspicuously counterfeited; Nevertheless… Cool remains unchanged. It remains unchanged because it remains objective. Bieber, Brittany and Boy bands notwithstanding.
Elvis Presley’s high school classmates have told stories of his younger years. Stories that suggest that he always had a somewhat detached swagger about him. They said he dressed eccentrically, not because anyone else was doing it; not because television commercials had defined his ideal image, but because of something that flowed through him. Elvis had tapped into something inexplicable, something beyond an ad campaign. There was a new culture on the horizon, and Elvis, McQueen, Sinatra, Brando, and a handful of others were destined to introduce it to the masses.
Now, in recent years the masses have become dissatisfied with the casual coincidence of cool. We’ve become dissatisfied with the esoteric occurrence of the sensational. In todays world, we’ve taken the mystical element out of cool, labeled it, and marketed it to the public. In a sense, we’ve placed cool in an attractive box, separated it into categories, and sold an entire generation on a concept of “cool off the rack”… with free gift wrapping.
Many of you are familiar with the famous Givenchy fashion brand. Hubert D Givenchy rose to fame in the fifties and sixties, when he designed several custom dresses for Audrey Hepburn. One such dress was the radiant ball gown that Miss Hepburn wore in “Sabrina”.
Then, of course, there was the iconic, little, black dress pictured below from the set of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. I’m sure you’re familiar with this one.
This dress was an epic win for the designer, and please understand that Givenchy was not reinventing cool when he designed it; Instead, he was playing by the rules. Givenchy had gathered some of the subtle ingredients of cool, and his designs were a mirror of the elements that he understood of cool. In a sense, Givenchy attached himself to cool – like branches to a vine – and allowed it to flow through him.
Today, like so many designer brands, Givenchy (the brand) has allowed their success go to their head. Because they’ve experienced tremendous acclaim due to their founder’s harmony with cool, they now recklessly suggest that cool is a pliable element; it can be molded and updated annually and seasonally to increase profits. To them, cool is as clear as mud, and the desperate public takes them at their word. Thus, feeling that need to experience cool, the public emulates the confusion. The result is a deluging trend torrent upon which one year, colored denim is outrageous, and the next it’s all the rage; one season, women’s jeans must come to their belly buttons, and the next season those are called mom jeans along with anything that doesn’t show a little butt crack.
The gallery below is comprised mostly of images from the Givenchy 2011 mens fashion line. There are a couple of photos from Ralph Lauren’s current purple label included. Tell me, in these pictures, do you not see a gentle molding of the definition of cool?