BOOTS buckled to the knees, black tights from toe to waist, shapeless dresses in a glorious color range from mud brown through black to gray that fall just above the ankle — that's the "new look in fashion" here in Paris, fashion capital of the world. Women worldwide may protest and sign petitions, but come what may, it's still almost impossible to ignore the stranglehold of Parisian "couturiers" on women's styles in London, New York and (amazing as it may seem) in Moscow and even the proverbial Timbuktu.
The tyranny of "what is worn in Paris" began well over 600 years ago (and perhaps earlier) in the days of kings, courtiers, and moneyed royalty. The original "couturiers" were employed by certain of the more famous early French kings — Louis XII was a fashion "high-stepper" in his day. He introduced velvet as an accessory fabric and everyone "had to fall in line" literally to remain in his royal good graces. Henry the III introduced lace and wore yards of frills and starched ruffles on his clothing. The queens viewed "fashion" as a royal pastime, and even in the sixteenth century hemlines and necklines, sleeve-lengths and hair-lengths went up, down and in every direction imaginable.
That's just the general background Much has happened since. Napoleon retained the emphasis on "fashion" after the French kings were deposed — the various couturiers who had catered to the kings continued catering to the "rich," the well-heeled, and the upper crust who survived the Revolution. And 600 years later, the tyranny continues. The courts and the kings are gone, but Paris has retained her supremacy over style, fashion, and what looks "chic."
In the past year, stores have been flooded with shoes shaped much like the boxes they are sold in, equipped with clumpy heels and giant buckles. Skirts may still be getting shorter in Portland and Minneapolis, but they are lengthening at furious rates on the boulevards of Paris. And hats! Well, I suppose you can call them hats. They fit over the head like a second skin. The first impression is that "milady" left her hairnet on by mistake. It's shocking when you first see it. But we moderns seem to "get used" to things at an unbelievable pace.
Invariably, human nature drives us all to extremes. The "in" people are obsessed by anything that is duns le vent — literally "in the wind," the "latest." And it's very, very important to conform to the "new conventions." Liberated women all "ban the bra." Of course, liberation is a misnomer. People simply rush from one form of slavery to another. Liberated "in" people d l must wear certain things, all dress in a certain way, all try pot, all go for the new fashions.
There are exceptions, of course. But the "new conventions" enslave as much as the old.
Among many "religious" folks, who reject totally any concept of style, viewing it as worldly, wicked and diabolic to the core, we find the other extreme. All style is wrong, they claim. The cheap, the tacky, and the tawdry is what supposedly pleases the God of the Bible.
Of course, this is a perverted view of the Bible teaching. Neither extreme is right.
As a matter of fact, God loves color. His throne is a gorgeous inter-blending of reds, lemon yellows, rich browns, emerald greens and bright sea blues (see Rev. 4 and 21:18-21). God was very concerned about the type of clothing the priests wore in temple service, and gave specific instruction about colors, patterns, design and yes, even the length of the garment (notice all of Exodus 28).
In Ezekiel 16, God describes a godlike woman as being attractive and concerned about her appearance in a balanced, modest fashion. There is nothing wrong with beauty, color, and a certain modest, balanced, sound "style-consciousness" based on a broad knowledge of the way of God, and certain, but not all, of man's concepts of fashion.