Teaching four days a week and writing the other three is wiping me out, leaving little time (or an unoccupied piece of mind) to write. That said, I do have a draft lined up about what I’m calling the “Indian Fashion Show 2008,” about the Smithsonian exhibit of 19th century Native American women’s garments that recently opened in New York City. I also received Lookbook 54 from Brooklyn-based artist Emily K. Larned (in collaboration with photographer Roxane Zargham), which features 54 ways to style a plain white t-shirt (which is a wonderful commentary on the tensions between standardization and individuation in fashion discourse), and the gorgeous coffee table book of the textile- and mostly installation-based art of Yinka Shonibare MBE. Amazing! I saw some of his pieces on the campus visit to my university, which I took at the time to be a good, good sign.
Meanwhile, here’s some of what I’ve been reading and thinking about in the fashion blogosphere.
* A fight broke out on Jezebel about “gothic Lolita” fashion, with lots of accusations of infantalization and pedophile-baiting. In response, a Gothic Lolita fan wrote a mini-manifesto, which again sparked an intense argument about fashion and feminism, and whether or not one’s sartorial or beauty choices can tell us anything about one’s political capacity. I found these discussions fascinating for their conflation of moral and aesthetic judgments with political and intellectual ones. Someday I may write a post about how those who would portray some women as “duped,” “irrational,” or “passive victims” because of their sartorial or beauty choices must consider how such a stance assumes a “superior” and rational perspective that erases or dismisses other modes of explanation or engagement with these bodily practices. Instead, I’d argue that such choices can also be complicated signs and forms of negotiation or meaning-making that do much more than, say, create legions of pedophiles or otherwise figure as outward manifestations of stunted “maturity.” In any case, it did inspire this genius LOLita:
* Counterfeit Chic briefly blogs the Florida judge who determined that a local ordinance against baggy pants are unconstitutional. As she notes, such laws target young black men specifically as this so-called crime. Racial policing thinly disguised as sartorial policing is the new black (and brown, post-9/11).
* Footpath Zeitgeist is back with a couple of useful critiques of hipster-saturated fashion discourses. The first takes on the transnational circulation of “thrifting” as the name not of a practice grounded in local histories, but a style based on a global aesthetic culture. The second examines the problematic valueing, and privileging, of “vintage” as a sartorial practice of distinction and individuation:
Here, ‘vintage’ means, “I’m too individual to settle for mass-produced new clothes”, even though the “vintage” garment was almost certainly worn on a mass scale whenever it was new. More subtly, it also means, “I’m sophisticated enough to redeploy the styles of the past, not just wear whatever’s new” and of course, “No, you cannot buy this item yourself, it’s all mine.”
This quote goes a long way toward explaining some of my recent fashion blog fatigue (which includes most street style blogs, for sure).
* Lastly, I’ve been listening to the new punk rock advice show You’ve Got A Problem, the latest production from Maximumrocknroll Radio. Is it harder for you to find punks to date as you get older? Are you finding it difficult to keep your drink from spilling in the pit? Not sure how many pairs of panties to take with you on tour with your band? This show has got your answers! I’m going to write in with a fashion question for the next one….