Joan Smith, ’Kinderwhoring’ (1994)
Clothes have always encouraged moral panics in the society like the launch of Dior’s ‘New Look’ in 1947 which outraged a number of politicians and was highly criticised. However in defence, fashion designers call their critics as humourless and suggest fashion as not a staid business and that it shouldn’t go through scrupulous analysis. Joan Smith feels, these designers are devious and believes that there are more significant indicators of ideas about femininity and the status of women than the clothes they are supposed to wear at any given time.
When Naomi Campbell and Courtney Love dressed up like baby dolls in the nineties, they embodied the image of Kinderwhore. This look came into fashion in times of sexual confusion and when women were overcoming their inhibitions about seeking sexual pleasure. Kinderwhore portrays adult women being little girls at heart which helps to soothe male fears. Smith also makes reference to Vladimir Nabokov’s ‘Lolita’, which involves a special kind of dishonesty and mind games played by paedophiles. Lolita and its fashion counterpart Kinderwhore allow men to fulfil their demeaning fantasies.
Overall, this article is opinionated and has feminist approach towards women clothing. It also claims that looks are not always misleading and sometimes what you see is what you get which is in reference to the ‘Kinderwhore’ look which combines two contradicting images, one of a sexually aroused adult alongside that of a playful young girl.
Smith, J. (1994) ‘Kinderwhoring’, 24 September 1994, in J. Watt, (ed). The Penguin Book of Twentieth-century Fashion Writing. London: Viking. 31-35.