Wednesday, 6 August 2008

The colour purple

Trudging up the Rialto bridge in Venice and panting slightly from the heat, I suddenly get a sharp nudge in my ribs as one of my travelling chums feels the need to inform me that he has, yet again, spotted some member of the public, Venician or tourist, wearing the colour purple. I had stupidly told him over pizza and vino the previous night that I was scouting Venice for any visible or unusual fashion trends. Lucky for me it seemed I was not going to get the chance to complete this grand mission on my own, I now had a voluntary sidekick to hand.

'Look, they're in purple. Purple tops and shorts', I squinted following his gaze and took in the view of two elderly women clad in lilac t-shirts with the slogans 'I heart Venice' teamed with matching lilac pedal pushers. I took one look at his beaming face and didn't have the heart to inform my accomplice that these ladies were less dedicated followers of fashion and more likely part of a pack of tourists following some guide with a plastic sunflower. If only he had read September's issue of Vogue he would have known that tomato reds and hot oranges are the autumn girl's colour palette. So instead I ignored him, smug in my Bible-like Vogue knowledge.

There are two questions I wanted to know the answer to from my few days in Venice; firstly why were there so many tourists wearing faux straw gondola boating hats with ribbons emblazoned with the words Venezia (why? why?! When would you ever where this item again except at a never-going-to-happen Venice themed fancy dress party, also do you just want to get ripped off with tourist prices?) secondly and more importantly, why do girls perceive fashion so differently from boys?

Well I don't have the energy to rant about the ludicrously irritating former observation, so why tourists wear hats with corks on in Sydney and t-shirts with the Eiffel tower on in Paris, (though interestingly, these items never reappear outside of these top touristy destinations) will remain one of life's great mysteries.

In attempting to tackle the latter mystery surrounding gender perceptions of fashion, a few explanations should probably be dismissed, Such as the age old stereotype that men see clothing as purely functional. The rise of very metro sexual male identities in the twenty first century, from pretty indie boys in tighter jeans than girls to emo boys with their precision styled hair, shows men see fashion as central to being recognised as part of a certain subculture.

Maybe the question is not; why do girl's perceive fashion differently to boys, but perhaps, just perhaps there is too much information advising, contradicting and essentially confusing girls. You only need to walk in to your local WHSmith and compare the voluminous rack of women's magazines on fashion, lifestyle, health, and bridal wear to men's sports and 'interests' (which we all know is a censored word for gay mags). Even when I have accompanied the boyfriend shopping with the aim of proving him wrong, that there is variety in men's high street clothing, I have been genuinely flabbergasted at the lack of individuality, noticable change in seasons and the general void of diversity. As he aptly stated 'it is all boring sh*t'. Whereas men's fashion seems to be promoting the minimalist meets subtle look, women's has exploded in a firework display of colours, fabrics and structures.

It seems this season there is for women a definitive trend of black lace, tartan, check print and the staple chunky high heel, whereas for men it is the usual 'smart casual' but of course we are going to describe it as “smarter than casual look but less smart than tailoring” according to David Lamb, Associate Fashion Editor at GQ ( Sure sure darling.

Oh having just checked the women's section of it informs me to 'Reign supreme in regal, jewel encrusted purple. It's the colour of the season.' Humph. Not only am I now confused with my Vogue palette of tomato red but I am now thinking that those lilac ladies of Venice were not so stale after all.

When a hat is not just a hat

Note to self- a trilby hat is good for messy hair, smartening up a summery outfit and avoiding sunburn of the scalp which inevitably creates your very own personal, flakey snowstorm of dandruff.

However, this juicy little tip flies out the window when the toddler on the plane seat behind you sees your fashionable accessory as nothing more than a bit of light entertainment. Not only does the trilby do all the benefits noted above, it is also doubles up as an essential item in a game of peek-a-boo.

Unfortunately this game is compulsory.