Blair Waldorf, fictional protagonist of the popular TV series Gossip Girl, once remarked, “Fashion is the most powerful art there is. It shows the world who we are and who we’d like to be.” As an aspiring designer and the idol of her self-proclaimed ‘minions,’ Waldorf argues that fashion is an ardent form of expression. She contends that individual styles reflect distinct personalities. However, renowned playwright George Bernard Shaw considers fashion to be inauthentic, as demonstrated by his writing: “A fashion is nothing but an induced epidemic.” Shaw emphasizes the momentum of fashion. For example, when a celebrity selects a particular fashion, it soon becomes a trend, spreading quickly and reaching many people. Fashions travel from coast to coast and from continent to continent. They are produced and reproduced, representing conformity instead of authenticity. Introducing the comparison with the phrase “nothing but,” Shaw diminishes fashion for its conformity. He also connects it to the negative connotations associated with the word “epidemic.” For example, epidemics are often considered to be contagious, dangerous, or toxic. Unlike Waldorf, Shaw rejects fashion as an art form and uses his metaphor to do so.
Unlike Shaw’s degradation of fashion, I agree with Waldorf. Further, I see fashion as an autobiography. The pages turn and the story changes. Fashion allows people to express themselves and tell their stories. Just as individuals write their own autobiographies, they also write or create fashion. Some individuals are the very best authors, just as others have a keen sense of style and become trendsetters. In interpreting my metaphor, one may think that each page corresponds to an important event, which, in turn, corresponds to a certain trend. In sum, the pages tell a story. In another interpretation, fashion could simply be any self-created idea. Like Shaw, I also comment on the momentum of fashion, applauding its dynamic nature and powerful influence. However, I believe that its power can be used for self-expression and not just conformity. My metaphor does not devalue fashion. I, like Waldorf, accept fashion as an art form, commenting on its power for expression.
According to three different metaphors, fashion can be seen as an art, an epidemic, and a book. Each of these metaphors attempts to provide a straightforward answer to the question “What is fashion?” In this case, metaphors seem to be a flawed way to make a comparison. Metaphors appear to oversimplify an elaborate idea. They appear to answer complicated questions with petty comparisons and overlook important subtleties of a definition. However, metaphors can also be quite complicated. They are flawed, yet complex. For example, if fashion is an autobiography, it is a story about one person and doesn’t connect to others. This element of my own metaphor is flawed; fashion is very connected to others. Fashion connects people across cities, borders and countries. Shaw, too, presents a flawed metaphor. Even Waldorf’s masterful description of fashion doesn’t account for the tendency for fashion to spread and change over time. Thus, metaphors are imperfect because they rely on interpretation. The required element of interpretation makes metaphors ambiguous. Like a painting, or any work of art, a metaphor articulates some meaning. Each person who views the painting, however, will see a slightly different meaning.
“Damien Darko.” Gossip Girl. CWTV. 31 Jan. 2011. Television.
Shaw, George Bernard. “A fashion is nothing but an induced epidemic.” Brainyquote.com. BookRags Media Network, 2014. Web. 6 March 2014.