$39,000 backpacks and other troubling summer fashion trends.

Notes from the fashion apocalypse.
July 21 2011 10:08 AM

Attack of the $39,000 Backpack

Five summer fashion trends to look out for.

Sparkle cast. Click to expand image.
Serena Williams' sparkly cast

Suddenly this summer, I feel like I am starring in a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers or Village of the Damned. A terrifying new phenomenon is manifesting itself on the streets of NYC and I have this horrible creepy feeling that I am the only one clocking it. The fact that Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Nancy Grace are not devoting hours of coverage to this science-fiction-esque scenario only makes it more sinister. Yes, I am talking about those grim black Darth Vader leg casts which are taking over Manhattan.

Simon Doonan Simon Doonan

Simon Doonan is an author, fashion commentator, and creative ambassador for Barneys New York.

Every time I leave my house I encounter a glamorous chippie hobbling down the street with a broken foot encased on one of these massively unwieldy, high-tech orthopedic gladiatorial thingies. I have started to count them, and am averaging five per day. Clearly those trendy starvation diets and juice cleanses are taking their toll. As bone density has plummeted, heels have risen. The lethal combo of fragile feet and outrageous Pierre Hardys, Alaïas, and Louboutins has produced this catastrophic futuristic plague. As I walked through Barneys on my way to the Olsen girls' handbag launch last week I saw no less than three—count 'em!—women sporting these casts.

I called a couple of foot doctors to verify my amateur observations. They were both too busy to call me back. I take this as proof positive that we are in the middle of an epidemic.

This epidemic is not the only improbable summer trend achieving momentum right now.

Breton sailor top. Click to expand image.
Jean Paul Gaultier

The Breton sailor top, previously the sole province of Pablo Picasso, Jean Paul Gaultier, and my gay sister Shelagh, is enjoying a mad popularity. Fan though I am of this look, with all its salty resonance, I feel unable to adopt it myself. Every time I don my Saint James matelot, I feel like a sordid and tubby extra in a Jean Genet something or other. (Those horizontal stripes! Quel horreur!)

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Speaking of sordid: What about those chewed, ripped, and barely-there Daisy Dukes? Last week I ate lunch with blogeuse-du-jour Leandra Medine. She pens the hilarious Manrepeller.com, a site that exalts high fashion while simultaneously acknowledging its innate un-shagability. Ms. Medine arrived looking chic and pulled together, with the exception of her disintegrating denim hot pants which were definitely giving the Shroud of Turin a run for its money. "You should have seen them pre-slash. Perfect farm wear. Today I'm going for denim diaper," she replied enigmatically, after I demanded an explanation.

A saucy and related summer trend: guys rocking shorts at the office. I have spotted boys in sassy Bermudas at Barneys HQ and Jonathan Adler HQ and, since I still have fabulous legs, have seriously considered adopting the trend. However, my great age causes me to feel the cold, and wrapping a cashmere blankie round my chilly pins would ruin the look.

One more summer trend: The backpack is back! I mention it not because I feel I have truffled up anything unusual—this trend has been yakked about ad nauseam in the run-up to summer—but simply because I am surprised that it actually caught on. I never imagined that anyone could endure the heat-augmenting encumbrance of a backpack during the month of July. I was wrong. The backpack is a more frequent sight than those orthopedic broken foot situations.

The Olsen twins backpack. Click to expand image.
Is this backpack worth $39,000?

The explanation for the backpack re-embrace is quite simple: The growing and mysterious addiction to Twitter is largely responsible. In order to get her fix and remain "at the center of the conversation"—this is the cliché trotted out by gals who are now sleeping with their phones to facilitate nocturnal Twitter-feed checking—a gal needs a hands-free accessory solution. Phone in one hand, new Diet Pepsi skinny can in the other.

My advice: To avoid inelegant struggles as you don or remove your backpack make sure you buy one with a nice easy-slide surface. In their fab new bag collection for the Row, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen have introduced a nice glazed croc number which slips on a treat, yours for a mere $39,000.

Stop presses! New summer trend: robbing banks to buy glazed croc backpacks so that you can remain at the center of the conversation, in the death-grip of your Twitter addiction.

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