Extremes of Style: The Fashion Eccentric

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In a world where fashion blogs flood the Internet (guilty as charged), luxury brands take to Web 2.0, and where the sartorial feats of current First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, have propelled her to fashion icon status,  it’s safe to say that we live in a time where fashion garners fascination in a way it never has before.

But let’s be frank.

Most people adhere to a certain style of dress, that while entirely unique, still falls in line with the consensus of what is deemed “normal” attire.  Some consciously or unconsciously stray from that consensus just a little, whether by donning a towering pair of heels, or a sheath with more holes than required for both arms and head. And then exists a particular breed of fashion nonpareils who, again, either consciously or unconsciously, defy convention, bend gender classification, and push the boundaries of said  “normal” attire. The latter are dubbed “fashion extremists”, a term whose phonetic severity matches that which it implies, and more befitting of say Lady Gaga, judging by the confounding stares which befell upon the ubiquitous performer at last year’s MTV Video Music Awards, when she donned a dress made of meat. However, for the remaining rare birds who don’t usually parade in public decked out in animal flesh,  the less disparaging term “fashion eccentric” may be more fitting, no matter how “extreme” the attire (although even the term eccentric can prove just as problematic depending on how you look at it). However one sees it,  one thing is certain: the fascination these individuals garner is indisputable.

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But how do these fashion eccentrics come to adopt the outlandish style of dress that have come to define them, and why? Is it simply experimentation, the desire to shock, or rather the need to be as far removed from convention as possible? And what deems their style concoctions outlandish exactly, if for the wearers themselves, towering heelless shoes and pointy, three-dimensional feathered epaulettes constitute as ordinary a sartorial presentation as a blazer thrown over a blouse, worn with jeans and loafers?

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One such fashion rarity is Daphne Guinness. In a recent New York Times article, the brewery heiress, film producer, and muse (who rebuffs the label “eccentric” commonly used to describe her distinct sense of style) provides some insight into the motivation behind her bold sartorial choices. “What drives me now is the idea of something being against the world,” she’s quoted as saying.

Interestingly, as writer Guy Trebay argues, Guinness’s desire is as conventional a philosophy as the established fashion status quo she and other fashion eccentrics the world over shrug off—the refusal to play by the rules.

Nevertheless, as a person who prescribes to the tame, understated school of style, I’m still very much impressed by my fierce, audacious peers. Their sartorial statements are nothing short of impressive, and highly tempting, inasmuch as they force us to ponder on our very own willingness to push the envelope and act out the sartorial desires well hidden within the recesses of our minds.

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Photos via All the Pretty Birds, Style.com, Facehunter, Vogue.co.uk, Butterboom.com, and Villagevoice.com.

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