Victorian Cliff House, San Francisco
Photo: Pierre Boulat
I am like 99% sure that is Abney Park. Mainly because I hang out in cemeteries a lot. Don’t ask.
If by “elitists” you mean people who don’t accept wool instead of cashmere, who emphasise the superiority of haute couture over ready to wear, who understand the difference between “cost” and “worth,” who don’t believe that because what you makes ends up on someone’s back it is inherently valueless, pointless, and purely functional - then the industry is full of them by its very nature.
Vivienne Westwood once said she believed in elitism because fashion isn’t about pleasing everyone all of the time. It’s about the few pushing forward, doing something brave, and new, and exciting. We don’t have nations of brilliant people. We have an elite few who pull the rest of us, kicking and screaming, into the light. You get that in science, literature, art and fashion.
I suspect you mean elitism pejoratively, though. In which case I’d like to point out that fashion’s elitism is intellectual, or rather creative. John Galliano is the son of a plumber, an immigrant from Gibraltar. Lee Alexander McQueen was the son of an East London cab driver. My father is an electrical foreman, my parents are working class. I am working class. And I worked for my success. So did John and Lee, and many many others. There are privileged people in fashion, as there are in all trades. But you’re only as good as the clothes you put on someone’s back. Plenty of people have tried to buy their way into fashion, most have failed.
And besides, fashion ends up on people’s back. All kinds of people. It affects the lives of the masses, whether they realise it or not. That must be one of the least elitist things in the world.
Mrs William McManus, Vogue fashion editor, reading newspaper on a train, 1955. A photo by Joseph Leombruno and Jack Bodi. [Conde Nast Archive]
John Waters and David Lynch meet outside a Bob’s Big Boy, LA c.1979