From gold cards to dollars: Dressing down for the recession


Cash and clothing have gone hand-in-hand at least since the first dancing girl put on a veil of coin-accented chain mail. However, the last few years have taken legal tender out of the realm of fetish and into the world of fashion. With that in mind, it's worthwhile to take a peek at the changing face of moneyed clothing and consider what it says about the shifting tides of the economy.

In 1995, while accepting an Oscar for Best Costume Design, Australian designer Lizzie Gardiner wore one of the most talked about frocks of the evening. Featuring 254 American Express gold cards strung together like chain mail, her mini-dress was designed to "highlight the enormous amounts of money celebrities spend on their Oscar awards outfits." At the time, credit was rapidly gaining popularity and gold cards were the coin of the realm. Had Gardiner made the dress ten years later, it would have had to feature platinum cards, titanium cards, depleted-uranium cards, or whatever the status symbol du jour ultimately became.

As the economy recently demonstrated, credit can't last forever and, when things get really tough, there's nothing like commodities. That's why the Bunka Gold Coin dress is so impressive. Although numerous fashion plates, including Paris Hilton, have long played with making dresses out of fake money, it took a truly impressive intellect to realize that the real money was in...well, real money.

Originally published