Ever since The Imagist treated us to the latest issue of Fantastic Man featuring Bret Easton Ellis as it’s cover subject my mind has been tipped towards representations of fashion’s trappings within Ellis’ writing. As a self-proclaimed moralist Ellis’ depiction of fashion (and the surrounding culture of disposable glamour) is one of interest tempered with apprehension. The world inhabited by Ellis’ college students, vampires, social parasites and of course psychos is one that mirrors our own in terms of it’s connection to consumerism.
“And another thing,” I yell, pacing. “It’s not Garrick Anderson either. The suit is by Armani! Giorgio Armani.” I pause spitefully leaning into her, sneer, “And you thought it was Henry Stuart. Jesus.” I slap her hard across the face and hiss the words”Dumb bitch.” – Bret Easton-Ellis, American Psycho
Easton’s critique of fashion is largely negative – it exists as a crutch for the emotionally unavailable or criminally shallow. Fashion (in it’s most materialistic and empty form) is an ever present element within his work. Whether Patrick Bateman is outlining his afternoon at Barneys in meticulous detail or Clay, the detached protagonist of Less than Zero is recalling his friend’s Benneton wardrobes – there is an almost methodical amount of attention payed to who is wearing what. Characters are described amalgams of name brands and products – they are defined by these items. The fastidious details outlining sartorial perfection belie an emptiness that repellent yet endlessly fascinating. As a wholly biased audience I find myself continuously absorbed by his exploration of this theme.