Saturday, January 30, 2010
I'm not even kidding, this is what passes for news in the UK.
I once went to class in my pyjamas, but I was 20 and studying at Berkeley, so cut me some slack. Now apparently it's a big trend, "major" to borrow a Beckhamism. Girls all over the UK are spending immense amounts of time creating their slumber party looks and then heading off to bag bargains and shop for groceries, in some bizarre fluffy zombie fashion. The idea is not just to be lazy, but rather to be impecably stylish in your nightwear. It's sort of amusing, but also disturbing because the look fuses together two pretty insidious trends; celebritysynthesis and infantalism as a political choice.
Everyday every tabloid in the UK runs a picture of Lindsey Lohan at a 7/11 in a hoodie and pyjama pants. The guise is 'incognito'/'I just shot an incredibly demanding, sexy, adventure packed scene and now I need some downtime'. (Okay, we get it, you're just like everybody else, big deal, that's nothing to be proud of). Now, as these things go, the body language and the psychic projections of our celebrity friends become (over a very short space of time) the outlook of everybody else on the planet.
Consider the general attitude of the unaccompanied twentysomething in the streets today, don't we/they all have that slightly posey, slightly paranoid quality to them? As though they're terrified that the paparazzi might jump them from any given corner? The downcast face, the hand to the temple, the gaze into the distance, it's such a hallucinatory construction, and it's turned a generation into Norma Desmond/Veronika Voss (depending on your taste).
When Manet was painting in the late nineteenth century, he captured an expression he observed in the modernizing streets of Paris, wherein technologies and economical shifts brought strangers from different classes into each other's paths in previously unimaginable ways. His subjects look blankly ahead, insisting on their ignorance of anybody else's presence. Today's paparazzo pose takes it to the next level, not only has social order gone to shit, not only are you harassed by beggars and aristocrats alike on your weekly trip to Tesco, but now the world's media want to steal your soul.
Manet's The Street Singer
Non-celebrities have synthesised the staged paranoia of the harassed starlet and costumed themselves appropriately. The get-up of cutesy pjs and full-face of make-up is akin to a scene from Mad Men. It's inoffensive sexuality is domesticated and respectable, followers of the trend are not expected to shop in their Agent Provocateur negligee but rather pastel pyjama pants and a t-shirt with a bunny on it. There's most definitely some infantalism at play here, again as a reaction to the collapse of life/society/interaction as we know it. Pyjamas equally safety, equal prepubescence; the urge to run back to the bedroom we had in our parents' house is the closest we can get to wishing to be back in the womb without looking utterly potty. And let us not forget that this is all about the looking, lover.
For a much more in depth look at this topic read this brilliant article.
What's your favourite rumour about me? Here are my top five current favourite stories about myself (some of them even have a basis in truth):
1. I never eat more than twice a week.
2. I have a really big dick.
3. I take my own vacuum cleaner with me everywhere.
4. I'm from a very wealthy background but keep that quiet so as not to come off as bourgeois.
5. I'm obsessed with a lucky handkerchief and keep it up my sleeve at all times.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Edward II is one of the most fascinating figures in history, a monarch who caught the popular imagination and who was memorialized in Marlowe's play and Jarman's film. His life was made for a drama, there is intrigue, adultery, murder, exile, passion, terror, political plotting and sex around every corner. His demise is one of the most canonical and iconically horrible of all deaths, the most grotesque of queer bashings.
I remember as a teen discovering Edward II in the library of my claustophobic Catholic school and having a terrifying moment of revelation. I think I recognised myself there, in the encyclopedia of British monarchs, it was both a relief to find for myself the bigger history I was born from, and also a gruesome warning that the road ahead was going to be monstrous.
But, does knowledege ever come without such a qualifier? John the Baptist knew he was blessed with a great message, but he recognised it as his destruction too. It's the breaking of the seventh seal, an intellectual apocalypse, the closing credits from Kiss Me Deadly, can you face your own future?
Knowledge so overwhelming, overpowering, joyous but dark, is perfect expression of the sublime. As Edmund Burke put it, "The passion caused by the great and sublime in nature . . . is Astonishment; and astonishment is that state of the soul, in which all its motions are suspended, with some degree of horror. In this case the mind is so entirely filled with its object, that it cannot entertain any other."
I wonder how Edward felt, faced with his own desire and destiny, apparently opposed as they seemed? Did he imagine that his position as God ordained monarch would protect him from the malice maneuverings of his political opponents? Or did he recognise that his course of action would lead to his destruction, and yet embark upon it anyway?
Monday, January 11, 2010
Thought you might be interested to read this ahead of coming to the "Walls of Authority" private view on Sat 16th. It's a press release/manifesto for the show and quite interesting it is too. Especially on the back of seeing Artur Żmijewski's first solo show in the UK at the Cornerhouse (Manchester) last week. Zimbardo's notorious Stanford Prison experiment is in the air it seems.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Everyone's favourite performance orchestra The Irrepressibles are finally releasing their debut album "Mirror Mirror". You can buy it from Monday via itunes, Rough Trade, Amazon, and Play.com! But for now, enjoy this compilation of their best live moments. (5 points if you spot my celebrity cameo).
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
I like liberated bodies, I like the liberation of bodies, I like to liberate bodies - and that is why I hate this story from V magazine.
The idea is to spotlight plus size supermodels and hold them up as some sort of sartorial "fat is beautiful" Aesop's fable. All very worthy I'm sure, but in no way charming, original, exciting, provocative or beautiful AT ALL. The whole spread strikes a tone somewhere between joyless social responsibility and a patronizingly cheery insistence that fat people can be just like thin people too! We can all look the same if we just try hard enough to erase any trace of difference.
Homogenity is not beauty, lover.
Taking a group of curvy ladies and subjecting them to the same processes of mortification (and don't these women all look weirdly wayx?) that every fashion editorial requires, does not by any means reverse or even examine the all consuming body fascisms of the age. Rather it posits the curvaceous babes as this season's quirky, quasi-political concern. Plus size models are cropping up here there and everywhere it's true (on Gaultier's runway, and the cover of Love magazine), but not just as par for the course, not just in amongst the other statuesque beauties in shows and shoots, but always as a special kind of oddity, rare, special, at arm's length.
Furthermore, isn't there some horrible insistence amongst all of this, some pernicious justification that fashion is not just for the terminally thin - that fat people can buy it too? In times of global economic catastrophe, new markets no matter how ludicrous must be prised open. The paradox of the whole dreary spread (and really denim can only ever be dreary) is that it in fact doubles back on itself and undermines itself entirely, by proving how elitist high fashion is thanks to the pitiful selection of clothes on parade. Do any of the pieces tie in with the big fashion stories of the moment? At a push the leopard leotard does, but the rest have a woeful air of desperation about them. You can pratically hear Formechetti wail, "There must be SOMETHING these girls fit into!" before half-heartedly turning back to pile of the Guess Jeans.
The heavy hitters of fashion (and this in not a justification) simply don't make clothes for bigger bodies, designers work to a very certain set of lines and these models highlight that. (As a stylist in a previous life I had more than my fair share of moments squeezing models who could never be considered fat into sample sizes that were seemingly made for two-dimensional projections). So instead of creating a celebration of voluptuous curves or a saturnalia of flesh, what we have on the pages of V is in fact a reinforcment of the accepted belief that thin is in.
There's no suggestion that big is beautiful in her own right, but rather a lack-lustre whimper that fat girls can be cute too. "Too", as in "also", as in "in addition to", as in "a secondary (less attractive) option". The story doesn't encourage us to throw off our clothes and love the skin we're in does it? No, it simply offers the cold comfort that if you aren't whip thin there's still a modicum of hope for you if you act/dress/think thin.
Please. The radical thing about being fat (like being gay/black/disabled/trans or any other variety of freak) is that you don't have to play by the rules. From outside the walled city of Jericho, non-normative beauties can make their own rules since they are permitted the glorious insight that they will never be Giselle (or even Candice Huffine) and frankly that's no bad thing. Freed from the spider's web of conventional good looks, of trying to be something one is not and hating herself for it, the world, the wardrobe and the dressing table become the flaming creature's playground. This is an amazing advantage, a freedom to enjoy whilst the rest of the world slave away under the false hope that if they go on eating less and buying more, they might just be transformed through the powers of some mysterious commercial alchemy into a paragon of gorgeousness. But of course, that never happens. The only way to be beautiful, is to be beautiful, it's in our own hands. I am therefore I am, so to speak.
How I wish V had the intelligence to run a shoot with some genuinely interesting busty babes working their own, ingenious looks. When bodies are outside the boundaries of "normal beauty" (what an oxymoron) then their owners have to think, to actively engage in dressing and presenting them to the world. The higher you get into the digits of fashion, the more is required of you if you want to shine in your apparel. This is a good thing. It's far to easy to be a size eight, roll up to Top Shop and buy one of everything.
And so, here is a selection of some of my all time favourite bigger beauties.
World Famous Bob
Well look at that! The universe has ears, and good taste! With thanks to Models.com for this preview of the aforementioned Dirty Martini in V by Lagerfeld. Is this Kaiser reconsidering his outspoken and unpopular views on "fat Mummys"? Here's hoping?
Dirty Martini for V Magazine. (Work Mary!)