High-Fashion Still Doesn't "Get" Normcore

by Erin Mayer

Like a grandmother adding hashtags to all her e-mails, the high-fashion set is trying to understand normcore, but it just isn't working. When Vogue dubbed Kate Middleton "Duchess of Normcore" this spring we all chuckled and thought "How cute!" Now W magazine has come out with a photo spread called "Banal Plus" that seeks to fashion-ize normcore. The problem? Normcore can't be fashion-ized. That's the whole point.

"Why be normal," the spread's teaser line asks, "when you can be normal and then some?" The shoot, which will run in the magazine's August 2014 issue, was styled by Edward Enniful, who's definition of normcore includes Nike socks (okay, got that one right) paired with clothing you certainly won't find at the Gap. If a $61,000 Dior coat is normcore, something has clearly gone amiss. In fact, Racked calculated that all the wares featured in "Banal Plus" add up to $356,000. Certainly not the anti-fashion, but they did manage to add some (non-J. Crew) Birkenstocks and unfashionable bowl haircuts for good measure.

This leads me to my original point. High-fashion doesn't get normcore and should probably stop trying. That's okay. Normcore wasn't made for the pages of fashion glossies. From the original post on normcore, written by Fiona Duncan for The Cut:

In fashion [...] this manifests itself in ardently ordinary clothes. Mall clothes. Blank clothes. The kind of dad-brand non-style you might have once associated with Jerry Seinfeld, but transposed on a Cooper Union student with William Gibson glasses.

An $8,000 Chanel coat is not ordinary. Neither is Kate Middleton. Athletic slides with Nike socks pulled all the way up the ankle are normcore, so at least W figured that out. Another bizarre effect of high-fashion trying to walk the walk and talk the normcore talk is the assumption that anything even moderately dressed down equals capital "N" Normcore. For example, Glamour's Lipstick blog just ran an item called "More Evidence the Normcore Trend Has Extended to Nails," featuring images of Kate Walsh and America Ferrera going polish-free. I'm sorry, that's not normcore. That's called "I'm lazy and didn't have time to put on nail polish or get a manicure." In fact, I'd argue that full on French tips are far more normcore than completely polish-free.

Fashion world, I love you and your overpriced Celine purses I will never be able to afford. But stop trying to make "Banal Plus" happen.

Images: wmag/Instagram