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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Licentiate Column 02/12/10

If there's one thing that a recession is good for, it's separating the wheat from the chaff. The positive from the negative. The naysayers and apocalypse invokers from the Plucky Pollyannas. The... well, you get my drift.

Since the introduction of the government's four year plan, I have heard nothing but pronouncements that the country is doomed and declarations of intent to move far, far away from this aforementioned doom-addled island and towards a land with slightly more milk and honey (or jobs in IT, accounting and the media).

This is an unremarkable, yet unwelcome side effect of the Irish recession. The Irish diaspora stretches back for almost two hundred years. It is not surprising. Both the positive and the negative people evaluate their lives and feel that they have to move on.

What is surprising is the ability of this negativity to consume a person, to the extent that it affects the lives of people around you.

As a fashion writer, it's not my place to comment on the four year plan with even one iota of authority (even though there are others who know much less than me who are willing to give their two cents). This column is supposed to be full of jokes, off-the-cuff comments and observations about the shopping habits of the average women. Yet, somehow, I managed to visibly offend several people when I revealed to them that I was NOT going to tackle the four year plan/the budget/social welfare cuts/Brian Cowen's jamjar specs.

On revealing publicly that I would not be writing about these issues, I was immediately asked why by a petite brunette with an appropriately pointy nose. "Because it's a fashion column," I said. "It has nothing to do with politics. Why should I devote the column to scaremongering about rent relief when I should be devoting it to scaremongering about huge credit card bills brought on by online shopping sprees? What do you want me to do - critique Brian Cowen's three-button suits (and a side note to an Taoiseach; I'd go double breasted if I were you - your chest is less Biffo, more barrel) and Brian Lenihans droopy, sad sack side parting?"

"Ugh. You are so shallow" this particular harridan rasped as she retreated back in the shadows, no doubt to suck the will to live out of another person who had the gall to be thinking about pretty flowers or teddybears.

To this women, I give you this message. I may well be shallower than a fresh puddle after fifteen minutes of drizzle, but fashion is not. While it may not be as profound as a Shakespearean couplet uttered from the mouth of Mother Teresa, it has it's place in the world, just like this column has a place in this paper.

Fashion is the most universal mode of self expression. Fashion tells people who you are. Fashion is an industry. Fashion utilises techniques that have been honed for hundred of years. Some fashion is equal to great art, except fashion is for everyone and not just those who understand it. Fashion is tied in to sex, power, jobs, money, cachet and life-changing events (think marriages and funerals). Fashion is even tied to politics in a Gordian knot that Alexander the Great would find hard to cut through. It runs parallel to all things, not in second place.

I may be shallow, but I am not shallow for refusing to express my opinion on the IMF situation in this paper. There are others who do so more eloquently and logically within these pages. They have a place and I do too; in the Health and Beauty section, talking about shoes. That's the way it's going to stay.