It’s a banality to suggest that the way that individuals dress says more about the individuals themselves. The reality is that it’s an indicator of not only their inner psychology but also the outer manifestation of what their entire civilization is all about.
So is there a deeper history regarding how women dress within our feminist and gynocentric world?
Are they really “rational actors” and “sovereign individuals” who are following their own ideas and desires, or are they just helpless lab rats in a wider civilizational experiment?
The West’s Fashion… or Bad Style
James Lever, who was perhaps the most important fashion historian, demonstrated through his comparative study (“from the invention of the needle some 40,000 years ago to the development of blue denim”) that the very idea of “fashion” began in medieval Europe. During the 14th century, men began wearing the doublet, which was considered by the moralists to be “indecent” as it displayed their “shapes,” while women (especially the upper-class) started to wear the corset, also amplifying their “shapes” (though women did previously wear a sort of bra, it wasn’t meant for purely aesthetic enhancement).
These modifications in in the realm of fashion parallel those in other fields. This phenomenon was what the late historian Alfred Crosby described as a rush towards “quantification,” i.e., adopting a form of rationalization and mechanization which would impact all aspects of Western civilization, including philosophical theology (for instance, Thomas of Aquinas and what Crosby deems to be his “algebraic” view of God, almost the deity of some deist, with no attributes or names).
The Perennialist author René Guénon wrote that the West was “cursed” in the 14th century because it is during this period that it severed its ties with the “spiritual East,” notably by banning the Templars who served as a link with the Islamic World (they were even accused of worshipping “Baphomet,” a reference to our beloved final Prophet ﷺ). Thus, for Guénon, this distancing from the East would automatically necessitate the adopting of an “anti-spiritual” approach, which in politics can be witnessed in Philippe IV, King of France, who wrestled authority away from the Catholic Church and effectively laid down the path for the later ideologies of secularism and nationalism.
Some Perennialists (such as Jean Robin) thus opine that the Black Death, a bubonic plague that originated in Asia (most likely in China), which decimated 40-60% of Europe’s population, was some kind of “divine punishment” for having abandoned “tradition.”
Even if we don’t agree with these Perennialists on their thoughts in this regard, Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian, Barbara Tuchman, argues in her book, A Distant Mirror (1978), that until the 20th century, the 14th century was the most violent century in human history.
Others would argue that it was a punishment for having launched the crusades against the Islamic world, in the same way that “wokism” hit back against conservatives after they used the exact same rhetorical points to demonize Muslims (males in particular) after 9/11.
But as we are focusing on fashion here, let’s just say it’s quite the “coincidence” that the very notion of “fashion” appears in the 14th century, when the entirety of the West—after declaring open war against Islam through the crusades—was running towards civilizational materialism; and that “degeneracy” in relation to clothing is something that is not actually as recent as it is often believed to be.
Yves-Saint-Laurent: The LGBT Activist Who Defeminized Women
Yves-Saint Laurent (YSL), who has passed away, is considered to be one of the most influential fashion designers alongside a few other fellow French citizens such as Coco Chanel and his early mentor, Christian Dior, as well as other Europeans such as Elsa Schiaparelli and Cristóbal Balenciaga.
Yves-Saint Laurent is generally admired for having brought high fashion to the average individual (mainly women). During the ’60s he made “haute couture” accessible through ready-to-wear garments. The post-WWII West saw a slow but steady shift from industrial production to services-oriented consumption. It was becoming a “society of the masses,” and Yves-Saint Laurent was smart enough to have guessed that the new Western consumer would want clothes which would appear to be “elite” while being mass-produced.
But there’s another field where Yves-Saint Laurent was influential. This was in the creation of women’s modern fashion, as argued by Fiona Levis, who has dedicated complete chapters to this question in her biography of Yves-Saint Laurent.
Basically, Yves-Saint Laurent popularized the pantsuit, which consists of a pant and an assorted coat or jacket. The pantsuit has a long history (Coco Chanel earlier weaponized it for the “boyish figure” of the ’20s); is associated with feminism; and is basically an attempt to “reclaim” the suit from men as “a sign of power.” Yves-Saint Laurent made it a fashion statement and a general feature of “empowered women” from the ’70s onwards, when they entered the US workforce and other fields of society (consider politicians such as Hillary Clinton or Kamala Harris).
Yves-Saint Laurent was fond of the “androgynous” effect that it had, like giving broad shoulders to women. He also loved the way that it removed femininity from women. Yves-Saint Laurent was so avidly against women acting feminine that he was even against them using accessories such as gloves and handbags. Ironically these are things that Christian Dior, his supposed idol, loved to design for women.
Yves-Saint Laurent’s biographers never make the link openly (and even if they do, they applaud the open display of his sexual orientation), but this “defeminization” of women might have something to do with his homosexuality. Yves-Saint Laurent was of course, if not the first, at least one of the first public figures in France to openly assume his homosexuality and homosexual tendencies (interestingly a lot of male fashion designers seem to be homosexuals).
He’d form a famous couple with Pierre Bergé, who was a shrewd businessman and shoddy figure associated with France’s Leftist establishment from the ’80s onward. While others may have been more “discrete” homosexuals, this couple would actually openly embrace LGBT activism.
Being an open homosexual, it’s likely that he didn’t feel any sort of desire towards women. Perhaps this is why he seemed to believe that women are most attractive, maybe seductive even, when they stop being women?
What does this say about “intersectionality” when two supposedly “oppressed minorities” (homosexuals and women) are essentially locked in an endless battle against one another?