Trash Aesthetics


Being stylish is one of the greatest things you can do all alone that doesn’t make you feel guilty or ashamed, like eating a whole cake by yourself, or wanking. Seán McGovern shows just how much fun you can have on your bed with your clothes on

If the fashion industry is to decree on a seasonal basis just what, exactly, is in style, it also has to redefine the concept of beauty. Subversive culture has always trickled into mainstream thought, as underground style is diluted by generic reproduction. Lady Gaga has brought subversive style to the fore again by making haute couture commonplace – that is, by making the unwearable wearable, she has questioned previous perceptions of what constitutes style, fashion and beauty all in her excessively commericalised way and all for the hell of it. What a paradox.

Trash film director John Waters, in his 197-wha? film Female Trouble, looked at the theme of “crime is beauty” long before it went from the outrageous to the ironic and to its current resting place of critical thought. The film – like its characters – is cheap, but within the the trade of bad taste lies a highly intelligent satire. It charts the life of fictional criminal Dawn Davenport (Divine), from her early days as a common criminal to her trial and execution, as she kills those who wish to die for art, who are willing to die for beauty in its most grotesque nature.

Contemporary parallels are drawn with the late Jade Goody and – curiously – the phenomenal Lady Gaga. The problem with Lady Gaga is just whether she is ironic or not: if she is, she would have a further flood of prestigious acclaim and lose her marketability. If she wasn’t styled with a pinch of irony, she would sadly be just another perpatrator of hollow mass culture, and make even more money than she does now.

As the streets become the real runways for those who wish to place individuality, the setting of high style becomes wherever you can make it. Everything we wear is never designed simply by coincidence – even the cheapest goods we wear are based with an aesthetic in mind, very often being the aesthetic du jour. The same applies for those who design their style based on vintage styles – which have become fashionable in a subversive way.

Style and beauty are what you make them. Those who dismiss any form of constructed self aesthetic are fooling themselves into thinking they do not subscibe to that idea. The world is superficial, and whether we wish to admit it or not it is how the world will always initially judge you. Style and fashion are very different things. Individual style shows a confidence in oneself. Outward security is the only place to start for an inward one. Lady Gaga isn’t doing something new for fashion. She’s doing it for herself. She’s doing it for fun. She’s doing what you’re not.

Tony wears:

  • Black waistcoat, €60, Topman
  • White shirt with black cuffs and collar, €40, Topman
  • Black silk tie, €20, Marks & Spencer
  • Black skinny jeans, €60, Topman
  • Boots and shoes courtesy of Topman, Grafton St

Marian wears:

  • Red dress, €20, Penneys
  • Necklace, model’s own
  • Shoes, both €99, Topshop, St. Stephen’s Green

Seán wears:

  • Trench coat, €15 from Irish Cancer Society on Camden St
  • Tommy Hilfiger shirt, €15 from St Vincent de Paul, Rathmines
  • Trousers, €40, Topman
  • Balmoral boots, €99, TK Maxx
  • Patent shoes €69, courtesy of Topman, Grafton St

Eithne wears:

  • Black leggings, €16, A-Wear
  • Top, €8, A-Wear
  • Jacket, €25, Penneys
  • Red shoes, €97, River Island
  • Cage heels, €99, Topshop

Stylist and Art Direction: Seán McGovern

Style Assistant: Marian Carey

Photographer: Colin Scally

Models: Marian Carey, Anthony Costello, Eithne Fitzsimons, Seán McGovern

Special thanks to Topman and TopShop