Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
You are a director backstage at Studio City at MGM in 1949. Your musical spectacular adaptation of “Mildred Pierce” is already running a million dollars over budget and six months late, and you’ve been on your knees for two hours trying to convince the chorus girls to put on the sensational New Look suits you’ve designed for the final, showstopping number, except even they think the outfits are too over the top. They’re all hardbitten teenage runaways who know just as well as you do that this is not going to be their big break, and they’ve been in the business long enough to have had it.
Come on, you tell them, Think about how chic this is. It’s not about you. It’s about these shoulders. We’re going to knock their socks off with all this ELEGANCE. Who said glamour was supposed to be fun? Could you smile for just one second, for god’s sake?
It’s one thing to be at home in your clothes, but getting dressed up is something else entirely. The best they seem to be able to do is gaze off into the distance thinking, One day. But the thing is, when you’re back at the studio going over the dailies, you realize that they couldn’t possibly have looked better.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
If you are at all like me you will have found that this song is assuming increasing relevance in your lives.
Don’t pay attention to three-quarters of it. That Dude’s deranged, faux-benevolent smile and bad rapping make it too easy to dismiss the song as a Krazy Ironic 90’s Dance Hit, which does its mood a huge disservice. Just pay attention to her.
Because the point here is her shocking underlying vulnerability, and what a great look it is. The weird, shy movements, the inclination of the head, the narrow-shouldered protective hunch. The Jacques-Beineix-taking-a-salon-photo haircut. The fact that that voice is wearing no-big-deal spaghetti straps. If somebody could write me a script that replaces every early Kate Moss photo ever tumbld with screenshots from this, I think the internet would feel like a refreshing place again.
Spring 2011 has been all about this kind of dissonant 90’s tropicalia palette, and it is easy to assume that you’re not even kind of ready for that much fun. It’s like a shitty day at the beach: things are supposed to feel as great as the Club and the pool and the jungle and Baywatch combined, except you just can’t make the emotional leap that the color scheme requires. What this girl teaches us is that you only need one thing to handle it: the confidence of restraint. Don’t try too hard to have fun. By looking like she actually might need to be made happy, she turns the video into “Wicked Game” in a Caribbean resort town just hit by a hurricane. Postcolonial disaster moods: like there’s a fun party going on, but the lighting is too weird and the trauma is too recent for things to ever get really wild.
Accepting this, that you’re not 100% enthusiastic about the combination carnival/masquerade/child pageant going on around you, is what gives you enough poise to say, “You know what? It’s okay” and pull off the look. Maybe you feel more like the hulking shadows than the yellow bustier and green miniskirt – that’s fine. Sometimes the TV rip is going to be too grayed out. Sometimes we let context distract us from our emotions.
It is too much to wear these colors and be happy all the time.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
If someone were to ask me how I felt, I would say “Like Zarathustra coming down from the mountain, ready to tell the People what they need to wear.” And their reply would be, “Get out of the way, we are trying to watch this ANTM challenge where the runway is actually a tightrope.” And when the eliminated contestant fell at my feet and expired while smizing directly into my eyes, I would take over the judging panel and begin talking.
Fashion is an act of aggression, and by “fashion” I mean anyone who bothers to walk around pulling a Look. Clothes are our most immediate way of saying, Here is how I feel right now. Except it’s hard to remain thrilled enough about the world to care what every passerby has to say, and most of us are so sick of not being noticed that we resent the act of wearing Looks that draw attention. If I wanted a message I would go to the Art Space. What makes you so important that I have to notice how you feel?
This is why we call obnoxious items “statement pieces,” and why we find them arrogant. Most of us don’t have any statement we feel strongly enough about to make. Meanwhile, the Anna Dello Russo of your circle is strutting around in a ______ while you are wearing some tepid schmatta that Does Not Adequately Convey How Amazing You Are, because you’re trying not to be an asshole, and you feel annoyed and defeated except you can’t look away. Your day is ruined: someone has had the nerve to presume that they are not mediocre.
The positive thing to do would be to acknowledge this person’s outfit for the inspiring phenomenon that it is. Then you grab your wardrobe by the balls and come up with a Look so chic that it just massacres them and everyone else who ever made you feel unfashionable. This is what I mean when I say Dress to Distress.