Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, Inferno, and the nine circles of hell. There’s another Divine Comedy, the nine circles of excruciating suffering as experienced by that dedicated follower of fashion – The Fashionista
The First Circle is Limbo. This is the time when nothing’s happening. It’s the wait between fashion weeks spending nights in front of the Fashion TV. It’s wading through ones wardrobe waiting for the opportunity to wear this or that. Its smart-casual dress codes, work clothes or jeans, t-shirts and boots. It’s the affected sigh of fashion ennui.
The Second Circle is Lust. To stare with licentious longing at pictures of the unattainable Birkin Bag by Hermes with its six digit price tag – preferably in alligator, snake or some other rare reptile species. Place one in the hand of a true Fashionista and observe the frisson of arousal, the quickening of breath, the passionate, yet gentle caress. To own a Birkin Bag would be life affirming, invigorating, orgasmic; but, the waiting list is at least two years long.
The Third Circle is Gluttony. Imelda Marcos reportedly owned three thousand pairs of shoes. This news triggered outrage and indignation in the non-fashion world, but in Fashionista hell it gave licence to extremes of gluttony. Suddenly there was no such thing as too many pairs of shoes. It activated the obligation for very many pairs of shoes. Fashionistas became the credit card slaves of Jimmy Choo, Manalo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin, the eyes of Lucifer reflecting in red on the soles of their shoes.
The Fourth Circle is Greed. Cupboards overflowing with handbags that have only been used once, and clothes from which the price tags have never been removed. It’s not needing another pair of jeans, but desperately wanting another pair because you must have the True Religion and the Dussault and the Bodymetrics ; It’s the hysteria of possessing and there isn’t a point at which you can say ‘enough’!
The Fifth Circle is Wrath and Sullenness. Only those who have suffered the distress, frustration, pain and grief of having a favourite piece of designer clothing lost, stolen or ruined in the wash will understand. You go through it all. Denial – “I can’t believe it!” Anger – “How could I have been so bloody stupid?” Bargaining – Oh Please God, I’ll do anything?” Depression – the wailing and gnashing of teeth. And finally, Acceptance. “Oh well, I’ll just have to buy another one”.
The sixth Circle is Heresy. The knockoff bag, belt, shoe, clothing. A heresy is committed most frequently by the Louis Vuitton carrier. It is a shameful thing whispered about in corners, confessed only to the closest of friends and accompanied by the furtive question ‘Do you think anyone will notice?’ Heresy fills one’s heart with shameful regret and one’s bank account with relief.
The 7th Circle is Violence. Picture The Sales; the last pair of Gucci boots half price in a size 6. It’s every woman for herself and God for us all. They will knock you down or knock you out. It doesn’t matter who saw those boots first anyone who wants them and is feeling fierce must ‘bring it’ or go home empty handed.
The 8th Circle is Fraud. This is usually committed by a seller taking advantage of the limited knowledge of the SA Fashionista. Having scoured the lanes and avenues of Canal Street Market; New York’s famous FongKong Mecca, the seller returns to SA and holds a ‘trunk sale’ of Chanel bags that the Chanel company do not have in their design repertoire and Prada clothing that Miss Miucha did not create. The Fashionista is intoxicated by the promise of new designer stuff and a glass or two of wine. It’s an easy hustle.
The 9th Circle is Betrayal. Someone admires you’re handbag and your friend and confidante jealously lets slip that it’s a knockoff. When the trusted boutique owner tells you she only imported one of these dresses, but then you see someone else at the same party who looks better than you in the same dress.
There is the 10th Circle of hell of which Dante knew nothing. Indeed, it is a circle of hell known only to the Fashionista.
The 10th Circle of hell is ‘Decision’. – What are you going to wear?
Your outfit must be carefully planned but look effortlessly nonchalant; made by a local designer of note; or be from a European and a highly sought after ready-to-wear collection, Catharine Malandrino; Dries Van Noten; Stella McCartney or the like. If you are lucky there is something in your wardrobe that still has a price tag on it. If you are wise, you planned well in advance and sport a delicious SA designer creation that shows you to be a fashion goddess, heroic, admired, acclaimed.
Alas, most of us flounder in the bowels of the 10th Circle fashion inferno where we don’t have the time, we don’t have the money and we don’t have a thing to wear!