ENOUGH ALREADY: Italian fashion suffers from an acute case of contamination. It’s a word that spills easily from the lips of countless designers, publicists and retailers alike. Usually, the intent is to convey a deliberate juxtaposition of contrasting elements or styles — say, Jane Birkin meets Kim Kardashian, or metallic studs appear on delicate lace.
In September, Constanza Cavalli Etro told the Financial Times the spirit of Milan’s Fashion Film Festival was “to give life to a contamination of arts, which includes cinema, music, graphics.”
The same month, Marni opened its beautiful, brightly colored flower market at Rotonda della Besana, with a mix of gardening tools, flowers and totes for sale. In a press release, the company said the event confirmed “its interest in contamination, expressed through an inclusive message.”
And in a section of the fashion brand’s Web site, Valentino designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli go on the record as saying, “Our creative approach is similar to that of a factory. We are curious and like the contaminations that come from other worlds.”
Something is getting lost in translation. According to Merriam-Webster’s, the verb “contaminate” means “to make [something] dangerous, dirty or impure by adding something harmful or undesirable to it; to soil, stain, corrupt or infect by association.”
The Oxford English Dictionary provides examples of proper use: “The site was found to be contaminated by radioactivity” (literal), and “Celebrity has contaminated every aspect of public life” (figurative). Dictionary.com, meanwhile, suggests: “The manufacturer recalled the product because of possible salmonella contamination.”
Fashionistas, unite: It’s time to retire “contamination” from press releases, unless they’re from the World Health Organization.