A Woman Entering a Taxi in the Rain

To people who are only casually interested in such matters, fashion is a bewildering phenomenon. It has been denounced as “spinach” and “a racket for selling clothes.” It constitutes, as nearly everybody knows, the third-largest industry in the country, and it is responsible for the existence of a considerable publishing business. Its interest in rapid obsolescence is transparent, and its aesthetic standards—as those who have recently been exposed to the sack, the trapeze, and the balloon will agree—are apt to shift quickly from the classic to the downright bizarre. It has attracted the attention of psychiatrists, some of whom have traced its lineage directly to the Marquis de Sade and maintain sombrely that it is largely the product of male designers suffering from a pathological fear of women and seeking to render them harmless by making them look grotesque. The doctors’ theory may very well be sound, but it leaves unexplained the fact that the women who are the victims of this curious assault on feminine charm seem to cherish their martyrdom and submit to those who impose it on them like lionesses under the lash of the tamer.

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