As most of you know, I work in Soho at Patricia Field, a New York institution which caters to the freaks, the faggots, the fashion forward, the total ho-bag, and the random tourist looking to shop in the store owned by the stylist for Sex and the City.
I love the store, I think it is one of the few holdouts in NYC’s ever-homogenizing landscape and continues to be a middle finger in the face of the yuppie dream that this city has become. Plus it’s just fun to work there, I love the flamboyant people I work with and I absolutely love being a lingerie buyer.
But—and there’s always a big but, Dottie—I am also straddling two places, the incredibly superficial, selfish, and vapid world of fashion, and the non-matrix world of spirit and true connection. I really felt it more than ever this morning as I walked through Soho on my way to work.
I love clothing and have tons of it. I also once loved fur, and have a large amount of that as well. My first memory ever is of looking down at my blue velvet and white rabbit fur coat, complete with rabbit fur muff and hat, and feeling like the most special little girl in the world. My mother really did it up in those days, and it’s stuck. So I’m constantly collecting new items from the store that I don’t really need. But a while ago I realized that fur is just a bummer and I can’t justify it to myself anymore. The pain and suffering involved in collecting it is too high a price in my estimation. So I made up my mind that I wouldn’t get rid of the fur I already have, but I’m not going to buy any more, even vintage.
Last year I got into a huge fight with the main buyer in the store because along with the title of Lingerie Buyer and Bookkeeper, I am also the Consignment Manager, and I decided not to carry any fur on consignment. It is only a small percentage of the store’s merchandise, and I feel that it’s not causing any harm to heed the larger obligation of the good of the Universe than to cater to the fur needs of our customers. But others feel differently, and when I refused to carry a very saleable hoodie with a fur lining that my co-worker’s friend made, it turned into an ugly brawl. I couldn’t get him to understand my point and behind my back he declared that he would carry more fur than ever in the store. So now we have fur bags and fur barrettes and fur shrugs and all kinds of crap made out of cheap Chinese skinned-alive rabbits and cats and dogs and whatever. Which doesn’t make me mad, it just makes me incredibly sad.
I’m not trying to villainize my co-worker. He’s been at the store far longer than me, and is a good person who embodies Pat’s vision for fashion more than I ever will. He just doesn’t get it, the same way almost everyone I work with doesn’t get it. When the discussion comes up (which is rare because I am sick of the fight) the hardcore fashionistas in the store just look at me like I have three heads. And I understand, because I’ve been there, I was asleep once, too. I didn’t understand that my choices affected others and I didn’t realize that we are all—people, animals, plants, earth, solar system—connected and that what harms one harms us all. Now I can’t see anything except that. But to many people I know, fashion is the beginning and the end, and there is simply no awareness that the fur comes from somewhere dark or that plastic goes to a landfill somewhere and just sits there, poisoning our air and water, never rotting.
Today I walked through Soho on my way to work and all I saw in the windows was greedy consumption and death. Of course, I saw a lot of stuff I wouldn’t mind owning as well, but even that depressed me. The ridiculous consumption of overpriced designer goods and the absolute disregard for how it’s made suddenly became incredibly clear to me. And the photos of models in the windows bummed me out equally, because they are a reminder that as well as being programmed to consume as much as possible and cause suffering in the process, we also are told to feel like shit about what we look like so we will keep feeling the need to purchase, collect, consume, discard. With all those fabulous items of clothing, we still don’t fit the bodily ideals pressed into our psyches all day long. But maybe, just maybe with one more pair of $1000 fur boots, we will be that much closer. And so the matrix continues to blind us with shiny objects and airbrushed faces.
It’s as if one minute I was standing in the illusion of a beautiful, golden palace and the next my vision cleared and I found I was actually standing in a hall of bones and sorrow.
I realize this is all a bit dramatic, and there is a good chance hormones may be responsible. But these are the thoughts for this morning. Somehow during the course of my life I have morphed into a tree-hugger–a drunken, slutty one, but a tree-hugger nonetheless. And standing in the middle of my world today feels a little daunting.
Sigh. Perhaps I just need a nice cup of free trade decaf coffee with soy milk…