Fashion. January 2015.

Dear Rowley,

Awoke this morning with a fatal sense of optimism and well-being. I say fatal because the moment you pre-ordain a day lucky is the moment Dame Nemesis casts a spiteful glance towards Bloomsbury and, before you know it, the toast commits sati, you put your toe through your Gammarellis and the Pekingese snuffs it. As a rule I much prefer pessimism. Unlike the eternally sunny of mind, at least a pessimist has the potential for being pleasantly surprised.

As always the Davos Summit has given much pleasure and mirth in Bloomsbury Towers. I am somewhat stunned that there aren’t more questions asked about who is pulling the strings that bring together the people who run if not rule the world in a luxurious skiing resort weeks after Christmas. Media, including the BBC, seem to treat Davos like a harmless summer camp beano where Bono, Mark Zukerberg and Angela Merkel save the world over a fondu and a pitcher of Gluhwein.

Davos certainly makes strange bedfellows. It’s a terrific dinner party game to put the most random names in a hat and choose four then see if they pitch-up at the Davos Summit. I scored three out of four with Lily Cole, Bill Clinton, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Russell Brand one year. This year’s randoms include Pharrell Williams who was in conversation with Al Gore (?!) and Paloma Faith though to be fair Paloma had been booked to sing at Peter Mandelson’s Naked Twister party.

The fact that the British royal family send Prince Andrew tells you all you need to know about Davos. If they thought it meant business they’d have sent Princess Anne. You’d have thought Prince Andrew would have given the après ski a rest this year after the historic allegations of indiscretions with a minor masseuse. But it seems the masters and mistresses of the universe are a forgiving bunch. Davos quote of the week? ‘There is an ice wall representing glacial progress towards gender parity in the workplace’. Pass the sick bucket Maud.

According to Oxfam 1% of the world’s population now own more than the rest of us put together. You don’t have to be Bertrand Russell to work out that this statistic will at some point lead to a similar rage that lit the fuse for the French Revolution or indeed the Arab Spring. Speaking of springing arabs, what did you make of the flags flying at half mast over London to mark the death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah?

Rather unfortunate that just as the Jihadi beheading of hostages seem to have abated, we should see a woman legally beheaded on the street in Saudi on the day the old king died. Of course it shows the utter hypocrisy of politicians who will do business with countries that still behead their citizens but will condemn the Jihadists as barbarians. Both acts are the consequence of belief. How can one be acceptable and the other not?

Speaking of beheadings, what did you think of Wolf Hall? I need to see another couple of episodes before putting the black cloth on my wig and pronouncing sentence. No such hesitation with the Autumn/Winter 2015 menswear collections in Paris. As you know I’ve sat on many a front row in Paris and Milan for the men’s collections back in the day when one could still phone in one’s report to copy takers at The Indy. We did have email but free Wifi was, like Ed Sheeran and self service check outs, still in the distant future but I digress.

The men’s collections in Paris were not distinguished by the return of the parka, velvet Oxford bags proposed by Olivier Rousteig at Blamain or the hosiery that passed for trousers in Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent collection. What struck one was the extreme youth of the male models. This comment is not made with the envious rage of a Disney Witch on seeing Snow White’s dewy cheeks. Youth is not something I envy or desire. But for fashion youth is like virgin blood to a vampire’s kiss.

First we have to understand that the Paris shows have nothing to do with selling the collections. Hermes, for example, know full well that their customer has children and even grandchildren the age of their models. Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent knows his teenage kicks collection will out price all but the trust fund and dot com kids. Kris Van Assche will be well aware that the parka-over-tailoring runway story will be reinterpreted in vintage shops by Dior’s young disciples.

The obvious answer is that the collection, the model casting, the mayhem of a catwalk show and the ruinous expense thereof is now pure dream weaving and PR. There’s a ghastly phrase that goes ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’. Well, the small stuff is precisely what the fashion industry sweats over: the scent that probably costs less than a dollar to produce and sells for $50-$90, the branded leather bag or trainer that a young man will save-up to own and the underwear with the designer’s name circling your hips.

It was ever thus since the days of Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli. 20th century fashion was aimed at adults. Today’s target audience are the tweens and teens who – lets face it – are the only demographic other than ad agencies that think a cross-eyed, beanie hatted Cara Delevingne licking Karl Lagerfeld’s face is anything other than puerile. It’s all about the Selfie, the Tweet and Instagram and social media is by and large an adolescent language that automatically excludes adults.

I’m not remotely surprised that fashion as a business has charged like a Hitchcock heroine fleeing a shower cubicle towards social media. That bitchy schoolgirl mentality of who’s in, who’s out and what’s cool works for a multi-billion dollar industry that relies on women with attention deficit disorder desperate to be sold the next hot heel or handbag. I suspect throwing one’s lot in with the young is a smart investment but also necessary because the lion’s share of adults have entirely lost interest.