“A fat man eating quails while children are begging for bread is a disgusting sight, but you are less likely to see it when you are within sound of the guns,” George Orwell wrote in Homage to Catalonia.
I recalled the line last night at “Flora and Fauna,” the Krelwear runway show at the Setai Hotel which kicked off Funkshion Fashion Week Miami Beach. Amid the several hundred beautiful people (see photos below), those words nagged at my mind as persistently as if Orwell himself were continually tapping me on the shoulder. While not within “sound of the guns,” in Orwell’s literal sense, I was well within mental range of the immense SNAFU that is Life On Earth at this particular moment and, to me, a fashion show at a South Beach hotel with wine flowing at the rate of a dollar per drop and an upright centaur in full makeup gamboling through the crowd brandishing a horsewhip — to me, this seemed like one hell of a succulent quail. And I was the fat man, from belly to bib, because I ate the goddamn thing up.
If it seems like the most spineless kind of penance to criticize an event after attending and enjoying it, not to mention turning it into fodder for a blog post, it is. But you know, I’m a writer, a writer bereft of the slightest insight into fashion (see: my closet), and this is what we call a “write around.”
Having blown my cover, I will advance this critique of “Flora and Fauna”: the models’ 7, 8, 9-inch heels forced them to walk down the runway in baby steps, or, in the worst cases, with the tense gait of someone on a grave search for the restroom. Hard to say why designer Karelle Levy would so inhibit her models, but the effect was to draw my attention away from her clothing and toward the seemingly imminent disaster in the ankle region — which, amazingly, never struck.
All in all, I’d say “Flora and Fauna” amused Fashionable Miami, but it wasn’t as if anyone took off his sunglasses. It was pretty obvious most everyone there came less to see than be seen, and indeed the crowd on either side of the catwalk rewarded attention at least as much as the models on it. (This is probably the case at many fashion events, making such events rare instances in which the spectators attempt to upstage the spectacle, a complex phenomenon that says something about fashion I’m powerless to evaluate as good, bad, or otherwise.)
Held on Setai’s back patio, “Flora and Fauna” started fashionably late, at around a quarter after ten (an hour-and-a-quarter later than scheduled), and finished unfashionably early on account of rain. Ms. Levy must have anticipated the weather, because the show’s finale began as soon as the first drop plashed into the narrow pool upon which the runway floated. The downpour held off long enough for the models to make one last strut, but no longer. As the crowd filed into the lobby — in remarkably orderly fashion considering the price of the shoes that were at risk — I heard someone say, “But that’s not actual rain, right?”
Here are some more photos from “Flora and Fauna.”