"I'm old enough to remember when my parents dressed us up for air travel," designer Steven Stolman says. "Coat and tie, dresses."
And now, Palm Beach's Stolman--and all of us--have lived long enough to witness a different sort of sartorial air flare, with passengers traveling dressed for bed or the gym. Or, in the case of deliciously named burlesque dancer Maggie McMuffin, not traveling, at least not on JetBlue, not until she changed her teeny-tiny shorts.
To McMuffin and her supporters, the decision of JetBlue staff to make her buy another pair of shorts before letting her board her connecting flight from Boston to Seattle was being miso-gynistic, or at least unfair, since that airline, like most, doesn't have a set dress code, and the decision was made by staff members who believed her shorts might "offend other families," according to an official statement.
But to Stolman and others, it's McMuffin and her booty-shorted, track-suited, wrinkled T-shirt cohort that are unfair--to everyone else on the plane.
"[It] shows a lack of respect to the flight attendants and pilots who always look so professional and whose job it is to get us from Point A to Point B as safely and comfortably as possible, let alone fellow passengers," says Stolman, who traces the current casual plane attire to the last decade and the popularity of expensive Juicy track suits "with bugle beads across your butt. ... Should that passenger have been denied boarding? Absolutely. She should also have been denied egress from her front door, by something called her own common sense and good taste."
What's happening isn't just about fashion trends--and anyone who had to walk behind girls at summer festivals with literally half their backsides hanging out of their jeans shorts knows those have changed--but about how "in general we've become a much more casual society," says Sheila Hills, who worked for 20 years as a ticket agent for a major carrier at Palm Beach International Airport.
Hills has the stories to back it up: "There was an actual incident with this gentleman who was wearing a shirt with [an expletive] on it, and we told him that if he wanted to fly, he had to either turn it inside out or wear a different shirt. You would see young girls almost in their pajamas, in slippers and T-shirts, with their hair all pulled back on early-morning flights like they just rolled out of bed," she says.Read more at:
"One time, there were girls, who I think were on some sort of sports team, sitting on the ground waiting for their plane, passing [the same] stick of deodorant back and forth to each other. I thought, 'Is the toothbrush coming out next, I wonder?'"
As Stolman and Hills acknowledge, we are no longer in the golden Pan-Am era where air travel was a rare privilege "with that specialness about it, because it wasn't an everyday occurrence," Hills, of Palm Beach Gardens, says. "Now it's such a common mode of transportation, no different than driving in a car. They don't feel there's anything special about it."
Things do change. But should there be a line between comfort and couth? Delray Beach designer and former Project Runway star Amanda Perna thinks so: "People should be comfortable, but considerate of other passengers."
When I'm on long car trips, I'm all about comfort. Kick off those shoes, take off that bulky sweater, let your bra straps and your soup-spotted T-shirt show. But before I get out of the car, the shoes go back on and the bra straps and soup stains go back under the sweater, because I'm now in public.
I feel the same about air travel. I dress for flights because I want to get off the plane giving the family members waiting for me the impression that I always look that way.
Airlines, like most private businesses, reserve the right to refuse service to anyone--if they're too drunk, too belligerent, too threatening, or dressed in a way that the staff or other passengers find offensive or distracting, whether it's too much cleavage, or naughty words, or dumb messages about terrorism.
And I get that, although as a writer who pays for my rent and my decidedly non-booty shorts with my own self-expression, I don't take the idea of policing people's clothing lightly. Everything offends somebody, and if that somebody happens to be between you and your flight home, it's tricky.
Then again, current fashions, like jeans shorts cut so high that the pockets are hanging out, threaten to turn me into some judgy old church lady like Sanford and Son's Aunt Esther.
If you like your backside, you and everyone who wants to see it are free to walk around with it on display at home. But the public, who paid to be at that festival, that mall or on that plane, should not have to look at your butt.
Then again, it's hard to dress to a certain standard when the latest and most popular fashions available don't meet them. Victoria's Secret's bralette commercials invite women to "let the bra show" and shorts the length of McMuffin's that might have once been sold in the pajama or lingerie department are now in the regular clothing section.
McMuffin's shorts, little thingees about the length of a boy's short underwear or swim trunks, weren't just worn for comfort, but were coordinated with matching long stripy socks and some sort of hideous retro tiger sweater that looked like a 1970s rug wall hanging. She was trying to dress cute, and as a burlesque dancer, knew she was being provocative, although maybe not enough to provoke getting pulled from her flight.
As she pointed out, the staff and passengers on her originating flight didn't have a problem with it. (A friend also pointed out to me that McMuffin is aware enough of social mores to have worn studious glasses, long pants and a shrug during her subsequent TV interview.)
But obviously, the ones in Boston did, and even though it was inconvenient and likely embarrassing to have to run and buy more shorts at a kiosk, for which she was reimbursed, McMuffin was subject to the airline's subjectivity. It might not be fair. But those are the rules.
Should they be? Not for me to say. But as long as the public gets a vote, they get to, if they choose, sometimes vote you and your shorts off the island, or just off the plane. The tribe, and the plane, have spoken.
Beyoncé may be the symbol of female determination and success today, but there was another woman honored at the CFDA Awards Monday who helped pave the way for girls to run the world.
Donna Karan reminded us all while accepting the Founders Award in honor of Eleanor Lambert that she is an original girl boss, helming a company long before Sophia Amorusofounded Nasty Gal and Lena Dunham developed material for Girls.
“In 1973, Eleanor Lambert put American fashion on the map with the Battle of Versailles. I know a lot of you may not be old enough to know what it was, there are just a few of us left, unfortunately, to witness American designers put next to the French,” she said, launching the beautiful story of a difficult time that changed the course of her life.
At the time, Karan worked as an associate designer for Anne Klein, one of five American designers selected to present collections at a charity show in the palace against major French designers including Yves Saint Laurent and Hubert de Givenchy.
“We were in the girl’s room, so we were down in the basement because that’s the way it was. I was sitting down there, seven months pregnant with my daughter, Gabby, thinking it was the last time I’d ever be in fashion. Unfortunately, and as we all know, the woman who has taught me everything I know today died at a very young age of breast cancer. It was something that changed my life forever.”
Karan went on to say that Anne Klein, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer at 50 and was in the hospital at the same time she gave birth in 1974. The company, distraught that the latest line would go unfinished and not show or sell during that season, called Karan and begged her to return.
“I said, 'Would you like to know whether I had a boy or girl? By the way, I had a girl, her name is Gabby.'"
And with that, Karan says they took the entire company and collection to her home so she could put it together for the next day. As she was working, they got the call that Klein had died.
“What was I to do? There was my daughter Gabby, my baby, the love of my life, and what I was going to do was to be a stay-at-home mom,” she told the room of colleagues, there celebrating her long career that blossomed out of that moment. One defined by making garments that were easy to wear yet professional for working women.
“So what I’m here to say is that what we want, is not necessarily where we are guided.”
There has been ample proof in the form of celeb sightings in Banarasi couture to conclude that the revival of the traditional weaves of Varanasi are back in the fashion spotlight. Bollywood and fashion fraternity's patronage to Banarasi saris has led to a demand for replicas of the designs adorned by them. Local manufacturers and weavers in Varanasi are working overtime to meet the demand for such 'inspired' clothing.
Cop that Celeb style
Take for example Kaushik Selat, a manufacturer of Banarasi saris and fabrics, who recently got a silk kimkhab (traditional weave of Banaras) sari made for a customer from Mumbai. "The lady was quite taken in by a similar sari showcased by designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee. She wanted us to create a similar sari, which took us three months to complete," shares Kaushik, adding that hers is not a solitary case. "We are getting queries every day from cities like Mumbai and Delhi for celebrity inspired saris. In fact, the Banarasi sari business, which used to earlier slow down after January, is doing well even in the usually dull months of the year," he says. Not just individual buyers, but retailers too have been placing orders for saris inspired by designer weaves. Local textile manufacturer, Muqeem Akhtar, has witnessed a steep demand for check-patterned Banarasi saris ever since it was showcased by celebrity designer Manish Malhotra in his collection. "The designer had showcased a multi-check patterned Banarasi sari in cotton with silk border at the Make in India show earlier this year, which was sported by some actresses as well later. That has led to increase in demand for similar saris from retailers across the country that we cater to. We had to get the saris especially woven as we have already exhausted our stock," says Akhtar. With Bollywood stars also taking to Banarasi in a big way, the demand for look-alikes is on the rise. Bharat Shah, a prominent textile manufacturers in Varanasi agrees that celebrities do impact the market. "For instance, actors like Sonam Kapoor , Vidya Balan and Gauahar Khan, who have shopped for Banarasi saris and fabrics on their visit to the city and uploaded pictures of the same on Instagram, have generated a new market for Banarasi fabrics. When their pictures came out on social media, we started getting a lot of queries for similar garments/fabrics. We sold nearly 100 pieces of garments and fabrics similar to those bought by these celebrities from us," he says.
Designer wear, local prices
The reason, say those in the Banarasi weaving industry, for such requests is simple - while designer wear doesn't fit everyone's budget, it is affordability which goes in favour of celebrity or designer inspired Banarasi garments . "Recently, I was approached by an acquaintance for Banarasi fabric to be custom-made for her entire family. She had checked clothing by different designers and had liked an ensemble created by designer Sabyasachi, in which Banarasi fabric has been used," says Vaibhav Kapoor, manufacturer and member of the All India Handloom Board . "Since the original was beyond her budget, she had sent me a photograph of a model wearing it, requesting to get a similar pattern made, without of course, the value addition provided by the designer. The garment will now cost her between `15,000-20,000 - much, much cheaper than the original and well within her budget," adds Kapoor. The advanced technology is also facilitating these manufacturers to make copies of these fabrics therefore making it affordable for the average customer. "Technology is making it possible to create similar fabrics. It is only the discerning eyes which can make out the difference between a handloom and power loom fabric," says Rajat Pathak, a textile manufacturer and exporter in Banaras, who was sent a picture of a designer sherwani in handloom brocade by a customer demanding a similar patterned fabric. "The customer had provided me with a price bracket within which I had to get the fabric made. The original fabric would have cost around `3000 per metre, while the one made by us on power loom will cost `500 per meter, which is very affordable for the customer," says Pathak.
Hemang Agarwal, textile designer and manufacturer in Banaras says that this demand for look-alike garments or fabrics has a remote chance of flouting copyright rules as most of these designs use traditional motifs that have been around since time immemorial, and have evolved over the years. "Nobody has a copyright over this. It is only when some designer develops his or her own pattern and makes it part of his or her collection, and if that is copied, then it amounts to infringement of copyright," he clarifies. Designers, on their part, know their clothes are replicated for half the price. On one of his visits to Lucknow, Gaurang Shah, who designs saris in traditional weaves, had said he takes it in his stride now. "They can copy what I have created, but I can always create something new," he had said.Read more at:plus size formal dresses