I have found myself to be strangely gripped by that TV show, Lily Allen Opens a Shop, or whatever it's called.
Is that all it takes to open a fashion store: a liking for dresses and a sort-of famous name?
Agnes, by email
Yes, I too have unexpectedly found myself watching that TV show of which you speak – Lily Allen Proves That She May Not Be as "Sharp and Real" as the Press Has Always Claimed, Unless "Sharp and Real" are redefined as "Cackles At Random Intervals and Chain Smokes". Whatever it's called, it has become a regular part of my televisual diet – presumably the ready-made, microwavable part.
But you see, Agnes, where you and I differ is our interpretation of the show's message. Where you see confirmation that the fashion and celebrity worlds have become so simultaneously debased that they prop one another up like a house of cards, I perceive a glorious, nay, Swiftian satire. I mean, come on, Agnes! Lily announcing her retirement from public life via the discreet means of a TV series? If only JD Salinger had known that this was the way to achieve real anonymity!
The idea that watching a pop star with too much money and too little sense try to open a shop-type-thing with her clubbed-out sister just for, like, the fun of it, provides some kind of dramatic arc? It is simply not possible any of this is intended seriously, and the fact that Mary Portas (a woman who takes shopping as seriously as some people take curing cancer) and Stephen Fry (a man who is now employing his much-vaunted intellect by tweeting all day) are involved, too, just confirms my theory that this is not a TV show but a satire on the modern age.
And like all the best satires, this one has a goal beyond mere sneering. Lily is deftly parodying the assumption that just because a celebrity, like, really likes clothes, this is clearly a God-given sign that she is the reincarnation of Coco Chanel and should bless the world with her talent. And because of the parodic ploy of this female Chris Morris, the end is surely nigh for those celebrity fashion ranges, which have been polluting high street stores like flatulence tainting a party atmosphere. Moreover, it is almost hard to hear Lily's witterings over the booming death-knell that this show sounds for any reality TV show that is predicated on the brief: "A celebrity, doing something."
So in short, Agnes, do not look upon this show, which we shall hereon call "Lily Allen, Annoying, Still", as a guide to fashion or even as the nadir of television, fashion, celebrity and everything important. See it instead as a deeply moral satire on the pit of excess in which we live, an updated version of Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal, even. Lily Allen: this century's Mark Twain.
Why are fashion editors referring to Kate Middleton as a "style icon" when it is patently obvious she can't dress for shiz?
Marina, west London
My dear Marina, take my hand and allow me to explain what we in the know call The Rebound Factor. This is when a famous person establishes themselves in a certain role, magazines and newspapers become accustomed to this role being filled and so construct copy around it accordingly. When this role is, for whatever reason, later vacated, the absence is felt by no one more than the press and they proceed to embark – desperately, indiscriminately – on patently stupid rebound relationships. Thus, Lady Gaga is the new Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow is the new Grace Kelly, Angelina Jolie is the new Elizabeth Taylor. On and on it goes, heartbreakingly. It's like seeing a newly single man attempt to find comfort in the arms of a blowup doll: there is no warmth in those plastic arms.
Which brings me to Kate Middleton. She is, I am sure, a perfectly pleasant young woman, or as pleasant as any woman can be who thinks marrying into the Windsors is a good life plan. Now, I think we all know whose shoes Middleton is being forced by the press to attempt to fill and we know this because she appears to be wearing those exact shoes. It must take some effort for a girl in her 20s to dress like a Sloane from the 80s, so kudos, really, is due. Yet as if an attractive young woman in a skirt suit wasn't a tragic enough sight, more pitiable has been the British fashion press's desperate insistence that she will be a "style icon" in the manner of her late mother-in-law. I would bring up the blowup doll analogy again but I'm worried my UK passport might be revoked.
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