There’s a confession I have to make… I have a sort of teenage fascination for James Franco, leading me to watch just about all his films. With a little delay, I finally immersed myself in his latest TV series: The Deuce, dealing among other things with the beginnings of pornographic cinema.
Before international careers, the first actresses of the genre were essentially prostitutes. So we logically find some in the series, including Candy, interpreted by the brilliant Maggie Gyllenhaal. By the way, something continually jumped out at me in almost all of her scenes: her work clothes, which many girls would be happy to wear today. Mini-shorts, platform shoes, small tops… pieces that can be found in many closets, probably forgetting this part of their history.
So, how did the prostitute’s paraphernalia become something noble?
A story that goes back a long way
The links between fashion and prostitution are far from recent. As soon as haute-couture appeared at the end of the 19th century, the big houses made friends with the wealthy demi-mondaines. For example, Emilienne d’Alençon was one of Chanel’s very first clients, after having robbed King Leopold II of Belgium. The romance continues a century later, when Lagerfeld and Gaultier open their arms wide to call girl Zahia Dehar.
The connivance between the creator and the prostitute is beyond doubt. Sometimes client, sometimes muse, she fascinates as much as she inspires. Before joining our dressings, fishnet tights were the prerogative of dominatrixes. The XXL fur coat? The favourite item of the workers on Saint Denis Street… An aesthetic considered decadent when it appeared on the catwalks of Cardin or Saint Laurent in the 60s and 70s, considered simply sexy today. For its A/H 2014 collection, Louis Vuitton even transformed its fashion show into a hotel lobby, walked by models dressed up in luxury prostitutes. Plying your trade in the streets has has then become chic…
The prostitute, fantasized heroine?
Of course, the periopathetician’s uniform doesn’t exist. If she always dresses to please, it doesn’t necessarily imply a skirt the size of a panty guard, especially when we talk about escort girls and “girlfriend experience”. Even if the clichés are always based on a part of truth, this vision thus remains rather stereotyped.
That said, her “typical” clothes found another significance, almost totemic. In her glamorous version, the prostitute is an independent woman. She represents a kind of freedom — on the sexual level including, obviously — and a force superior to man, who she dominates and over who she takes the ascendancy through his fantasies.
From then on, her outfit becomes a symbol of women’s rights and their accomplishment — even if some feminists will surely jump on reading these lines… Thigh-high boots then become a way to embrace one’s potential for seduction, to accept it. Claim it with pride, even. A pomp synonymous with power, more than fellatios in a gloomy street.
What if, in the end, the whore was the post-modern counterpart of the Amazon? •