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OCTOBER 13, 2009 8:58AM

Why No Nobel Prize in Fashion?

Rate: 6 Flag

The Nobel Prize Committee has been handing out awards like candy this past week -- and that was quite a sugar-coated jaw breaker for Barack Obama -- but I just don't understand why there is never a recipient from the fashion world.

That said, it has been quite a year for Nobel firsts.

More women than ever took home a gold medal -- plus a sack of Swedish kroner -- in the areas of economics, chemistry, physiology, medicine and literature; one for research into economic governance, two for delving into the mysteries of chromosomal activity, another for the most in-depth description of ribosomes to date, and still another for her critical depiction of life behind the Iron Curtain. A few men in physics received Nobels for work related to optical communication and an imaging semiconductor circuit.

And then, of course, the President of our United States got the startling news that he had won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for world-saving acts yet to be committed, and his opponents have been raising campaign funds on that vast left-wing Swedish conspiracy ever since.

Now, these Nobel Prize accomplishments are all well and good, and we're proud to be breathing the same air as these brilliant people, but are science experiments and fictional books the only game in town?

What about the research that goes into making sure people don't walk around naked all day? It deserves a second look.

True, fashion is not the only category that has been slighted since the awards kicked off in 1901. There has never been a Nobel for mathematics, either, an oversight that also smacks of bias -- one can only assume that Alfred, who made his fortune inventing dynamite, saw no need to recognize people who simply dabble in numbers, and maybe he felt modern civilization already knew enough about adding and subtracting and that machines would one day take over all that crunching anyway.

For those of us tortured into learning the multiplication tables as an innocent child, the fact that there is no Nobel for math makes all the sense in the world.

But I digress.

Because even if algebra and calculus get no respect, shouldn't the science of clothing? I mean, these Nobel Prize winners studied what goes on in our economies, our bodies and our dysfunctional societies, shouldn't there be some recognition for those hard-designing men and women paying attention to what hangs on the outside of our bods?

I don't know how much of any given nation's GDP goes to buying the latest shirts, skirts, dresses, pants, vests, shoes, gloves, sweaters, jackets, coats, scarves, earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings, but I would think that apparel plays a serious enough role in every economy that any economist worth his or her hat would see the value in that.

And it beats spending years staring at economic charts and graphs and still getting it wrong about the recession.

Medicine also applies here -- everyone knows that the best drug for just about any human being is a new outfit with a touch of bling. A Nobel Prize in Fashion could also, of course, hook in with the physiology category since the better we look on the outside, the better we feel on the inside. Any fashion magazine can tell you that.

And then there's an application to chemistry -- putting together just the right blouse with just the right skirt would be like mixing baking soda and vinegar which, if I remember correctly from Chem 101, would turn any well-dressed woman into a walking volcano.

This is why I just don't understand why fashion designers -- from those premiering their latest creations on the runways of Paris to those knocking off those ten-thousand dollar dresses for KMart -- don't get more attention from the eggheads in Stockholm.

Much peace has been bought over the decades with the perfect pair of shoes, especially when they're running away from a fight.

Shouldn't that be the basis for the best Nobel of all?
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Those boots look deadly. I'll go along with a Nobel for fashion. I may go along with just about anything today.
Leave the funny bone naked, I say. There should be a culinary Nobel for delicious, wry humor.
Great thoughts! Evidently, the Nobel Prize and fashion are not a good mix. Or maybe the fashion police have their hands in it. It is definitely an exact science in finding the pair of shoes that are just right! And I've seen shoes that should be in the Hall of Shame but, I'm sure they'd work when running from a fight.
RC, I hate to break it to you, but all the Nobels are already about fashion, or fashionable, anyway.
Thanks for adding to this important discussion, dear OSers. I do want to add, too, that when writing something this profound and meaningful, it helps to be sleep-deprived.
and how about Nobel Prizes for video games, pop music and cartoons? And why should the less glamorous industries be overlooked: plumbing, roofing, sanitation...
"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months" --Oscar Wilde.
they will have to settle for winning Project Runway. that's almost a nobel.

i had not been following the awards much, didn't know a slew of women had won. that's cool.
Should I start up a petition to get fashion on the list of Nobels? A friend pointed out that Marshall McLuhan often wrote about the importance of "fashion" in every culture, maybe up there in impact with chromosomes, ribosomes and collapse of the Soviet Union. Worth a try?
sorry, but as much as I love fashion, there are places and awards and recognition within the industry. Fashion, like business (and as creative fashion is, it has become nothing more than a ruthless business, except in few rare occasions) is not relevant to the world.
I do hope no one is taking me seriously on this one...it's my attempt at writing the absurd.
Good post! I'm a fashionista myself and LOVE clothes.

I've watched every season of Project Runway, although my sister who is a designer stopped watching this year after they kicked two brilliant black male designers off the show - same thing happened on the knock-off that replaced "Runway" with on BRAVO when they kicked off the best designer in the bunch toward the end of the contest who happened to be a black male.

However, I don't know about a Nobel for fashion. Maybe one for bloggers who know how to use satire and wit to address weighty issues. In that case, someone from OS would win hands down! Personally, I'd like to win one for literature, but I completed my first novel at the age of 57 last year, so I don't know if I have enough time to build a body of work. Except, that didn't seem to matter this year when awarding that Peace Prize!

Those Norwegians really know how to start a controversy, don't they?