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3 December 2015

I only went to fashion week once – after I saw them applaud starvation, I won’t be back

Don’t tell me that high fashion is about joy. It is not. It is about a want that can never be sated and it is about money.

By Tanya Gold

High fashion is ugly and insane. I can say this with authority because one summer I went to the couture shows in Paris by mistake and spent a week chasing people who look ridiculous – like the Mr Men but with none of the self-awareness – round a city that is lovelier than they are. I will not be allowed back. I say this happily and with pride.

Fashion journalism is not journalism and should not call itself that. It is salesmanship and, because it is self-important in inverse proportion to its significance, it is very self-important. That is why there is a rope around fashion; specifically around Karl Lagerfeld and his cat/muse, Choupette. It is designed to incite you to want something worthless.

I did not have even a moment of seduction, because, as I walked into the Armani show on the first day, I noticed that the models’ lower arms were fatter than their upper arms. There is no more elegant way to put it than that – they were starved. They had bad skin and hair, because they were starved, and they were very young.

And yet, all around, I heard applause. They were clapping at the starvation! They were clapping at themselves! I did not recover from that. It is still the most pointed, oblivious expression of misogyny and rage that I have seen.

Reportage-wise, it was a bad week because my contempt was as obvious as my cheap clothing, although I did see young people – groupies – weeping over designers and even customers, which was interesting. You do not make it as a fashion hack (or salesperson) by walking into Valentino in a high-street T-shirt that is covered with ice cream, as I did. They think you do not care and they are right. And they will shut you out.

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But that is fine, because there is only one proper journalistic story in fashion, which is: it is exploitative. And they don’t talk about that. Don’t tell me that high fashion is about joy. It is not. It is about a want that can never be sated and it is about money.

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For a real insight, you had better interview Alexander McQueen’s corpse, and he will tell you nothing.

I only had one real fight, at a Chanel show. I sat next to a famous fashion journalist. She asked, “What do you think?”

I told the truth. I said that I thought it was stupid.

She took this personally, because they do. They hate you for not liking the skirt, for not caring about the skirt, for not colluding with the fucking skirt.

I was, she said, blaming fashion for my own problems. She meant: “You are fat and so who cares what you think?” Here, a body is an opinion by itself. There is nothing else. We watched a man in a tuxedo in a lion’s head walk down the catwalk. He was a human soft toy and no one even laughed.

Suzanne Moore is away

This article appears in the 02 Dec 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Syria and the impossible war