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Oscar de la Renta: The End of Snap, Crackle and Pop Leadership?

So Oscar de la Renta just died. A fashion icon par excellence. Can a fashionista be anything more than a dressed up peacock, no matter how wealthy?

Every era has its leadership zeitgeist. Usually in the heady times, the zeitgeist favors pomp and circumstance, narcissists, unachievable visions and huge fortunes. That was the early 2000s. Now the zeitgeist is for the opposite. Staid, sober, serious as befits secular stagnation.

The expansionary era favored lots of over-the-top signs, electric symbols, galvanizing inspirations. That’s where the fashionistas came in, de la Renta being one of them.

Now even the techno-rabble favors shabby, dirty-looking garb. Michael Jackson gear is passé. Even a t-shirt passes for dressed-up these days in certain types of company. What does that connote? I give no respect, neither do I want it. Or so it seems to me.

But the clothing of the fashionista is wearable art. And as with all art, it carries a message. The message might not be apparent at first blush, but generally it means: I give a damn, in fact a big one. I expect respect too. I want to show that the world is an exciting place and I can make it more exciting, just like my clothing shows you. I will make an impact. On anything.

When the high times are a-rolling, the zeitgeist was snap, crackle and pop. You made big decisions, nay world-changing decisions on the spur of the moment so as to achieve transformational changes.

But with secular stagnation comes deflation. Clothing, art and leadership become deflationary too. No big moves unless the bean-counters approve. Clothes shall be deliberately shabby as befits the low expectations caused by ultra-low interest rates.

In the low times, fashionista are distrusted. So are big signs and symbols by leaders. The tyranny of the narcissist gives way to the depression of the professional introverts. Attempts to motivate people using signs and symbols are seen as being, at best, deceptive, at worst fraudulent.

De la Renta’s wasn’t just a death. It marks the definitive end of an era. Sure fashion will live on but right now, globally, we have the anti-fashionista leadership of low hopes, low expectations and low achievements.

Let’s wish for a little more irrationality and intellectual excitement, less rationality and more effervescence. At least, I think that’s what de la Renta would have wanted.





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