Monday, November 29, 2010

And Then There Were Two: Fashion and Fragmentation in Black Swan

I was blessed to get advanced screening tickets, in what I can only assume was an early Hanukkah gift from the universe, to see "Black Swan" last night and chose to attend when I should have stayed home to work on a paper (ironically) about dissociative disorder that is due a week earlier then I thought it was. Insert me crying. In fact there were a multitude of scenes in the movie that can articulate the graduate school experience. My favorite, and apparently one of the film's more squeamish scenes, was the use of dermatillomania (skin-picking for those who don't have the DSM-IV tattooed in their gulliver) along with the seemingly real bleeding cuticles that haunt the first half of the movie. My hands end up looking like Freddy Krueger whenever there's a paper looming over me, or say....forgetting the due date to one. At the risk of writing any spoilers to the movie we all know that girl is trippin'- right? We all GOT that from the trailer? I'm not ruining it for anybody...well unless you were some nice, white, middle-aged women that saw it last night and evidently assumed that it was a film about pretty ballerinas. Then my most sincere apologies,'s not.

One aspect of the film that resonates quite physically with the audience is the sense of vertigo that occurs through the camera work, and the literal spinning of the ballet moves. This seems to have also upset many of the movie-goers last night who along wth being uncomfortable at seeing female masturbation can't handle the shaky camera technique last seen in "Requiem for a Dream". I appreciated the disequilibrium that the spinning envoked, and its' consequential allignment with Nina's character who is quite literally spinning out of control. Aronofsky forces the viewer the remain in the character's tightly controlled and ragingly fearful world in which self-mutilation, anorexia, and panic attacks are as natural as brushing your teeth. The strength of the film is in the message that it conveys of the complexity of female sexuality, and in turn the way upon which society constucts our ability to express it. The dissociative nature of the main character is painful to watch as the conscious and unconscious pirouette into a perfectly controlled chaos. Perhaps what resonates the most is the way upon which females continue to be defined by these constraints, not only at the hands of guys, but our fellow ladies as well.

In Thomas Mann's novella of the same name the concept of societal attitudes on aging and the awakening of female sexuality are fleshed out just as they are expressed by Nina, and in a role akin to the mother in Haneke's "The Piano Teacher", the character's mother. The overwhelming sense of the expiration date of the ballerina, which is brilliantly articulated by Nina's mother (a former dancer), the previous principal ballerina who is ousted (Winona Ryder's part), and finally Portman's role that hinges desperately on gaining the role of the Swan Queen. Each of these women exemplify the terrifying experience of aging out and as Mann wrote, eventually being eaten alive by our own determination to remain ripe.
The result is one that speaks very specifically to the female audience as a personal reminder of the looming nature that time controls, and consequently the lengths we go to remain youthful and relevant (in North America, that is). The devestation of lost dreams and the ways upon which we bribe, cajole, and court our own youth through self-destruction, and what now seems to be the trend of invidious consumption. For me, I can't help but be influenced from a psychological perspective of the metaphorical murder of our mothers as part of our own separation-individuation and our own Electra complex. In the end, I am reminded of "Irreversible"s conclusive statement. TIME. DESTROYS. ALL. THINGS.

I decided to attempt my own version at fashion fragmentation because I'm still 8 years old and playing dress up. White Swan wears a Marc Jacobs headpiece, Marc Jacobs "Swan print" Dress (Detail Below), and thanks to the bookcase I am successfully en pointe. I was not, nor have I ever been in ballet...that is not a possibility when you grow up, let's say, "lower working class". You feel me.
Black Swan wears a headpiece from Paris department store Printemps, a tulle and feather Cynthia Rowley dress, and Dior shoes.
I haven't quite figured out how to wear the swan dress out in public, being 4ft. 11" it just doesn't have the same effect as it did on the models from the runway. Also it has side slits to my lower buttocks and shows my tattoos, which...I usually don't. The simple answer is to have the slits sewn shut and to hem it, but them again I'm stubborn when it comes to irresponsible and irrational purchases. Sue me.

Oh geez, I think this is from Spring 2008, the show where Mr. Jacobs cleverly reversed the model order on the crazy train, most likely giving editors a fright thinking the man was running out to say the show was cancelled. Most recently the image of the swan has shown up on a terribly contrived dress from the Spring 2011 Miu Miu collection which, in my humble opinion, was lazy and derivative. I'm not putting a picture up because 1. you can see it for yourself on 2. it's already on 3,473 blogs by now 3. because the collection shouldn't be marveled at merely because Miuccia caught wind of popular culture and threw a swan on a dress. I say these things because I love Miuccia. She was a former Communist..just like me. It's tough love and I know hardly anyone else will call out the nudie Emperor.
Anyway, I digress. The swan is a naturally feminine symbol especially in the case of a pair necking creating the formation of a heart, and we all know what a heart is derived from...oy vey! These archetypes! In terms of its historical reputation the swan represents beauty, grace, tranquility, purity, and above all transformation...the symbolism in dreams echoes that of the unconscious vying for the dreamer's attention towards looking into the water for a deeper sense of self. It's no wonder that the animal is an innate characterization of beauty, thus continuing to represent an iconoclastic muse for designers.

And finally meet Wellington, my giant Victorian stuffed swan. He becomes incredibly dusty and not in the Springfield way. I admit that I've personified Wellington to a certain degree, but that's only because he's so damn dignified looking. Naturally, this makes me a slightly looney "swan lady". I'll accept that and leave you with one of my absolute favorite bands...Giant Drag and their stunning rendition of "Swan Song" .
It's true,
ps. I hope nothing got ruined for anyone. No tears. Please.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Just Like Pagliacci Did: The Use of Clowns in Fashion

Miu Miu Spring '08
When I first began to think about clowns as an archetype for female fashion I couldn't help but remember one of my favorite Miu Miu collections featuring a doll-up Kristen Dunst as a nymphet harlequin in hemlines that make my weiner hard. The use of the harlequin as an influence as opposed to the traditional clown is intriguing as its' origin from French passion plays is no less than a black-faced emissary of the devil that roams around the countryside chasing damned souls to Hell. I wonder if Miuccia was slyly referencing the particular dress of the female as a way upon which men are driven wild (for all intensive purposes) and females are provoked into jealousy? Since I can't ask Miuccia directly I'll just assume that the influence of the harlequin, and in particular the designs for this label, reference the elastic nature of the performer while also implying the naivete of the character as inferred by the both charming and callow nature of the advertisement above.

Left: Erin Fetherston Fall '09 Right: Moschino Spring '09
In contrast to the puerile vision of the Miu Miu girl, both Fetherston and Moschino show a more comical vision of femininity that displays a variant theme on the literal buffooning of women's fashion. Through the use of exaggerated collars, headpieces, and detailing the designers successfully obscure the female form while concurrently showcases an obvious costume rather than design. That being said, I don't believe there's any harm or disservice to the above designs particularly with the historical model that has been shown at Moschino since its inception. It is, however, a clever nod to the notion that women will wear what is deemed to be in fashion regardless of the piece of clothing actually enhancing their natural features.
Perhaps it is unfair to include anything from Japanese fashion week as an example of clown as muse, however it is particularly in this flippant expression of fashion that the designer is most forthright. If Moschino and Fetherston encourage women to playfully incorporate exaggerated details into their wardrobes while maintaining a classic color palette, then the unknown Japanese designer appears to promote a world in which figures and limbs are as equally obscured as faces. In creating this unrealistic vision does the Japanese designer negate their own collection and relegate it to overzealous harajuku girls or American tourists buying into an inane avant-garde?

The enduring inspiration of the clown is in its' clandestine nature both emotive and physically, in that the latter remains camouflaged and therefore de-sexualized, whereby the former assumes an instinctual emotional dread. If one does not know what is underneath the bulbous suit nor what actual affect is being displayed the incorporation of the clown motif appears to represent the antithesis of the development of visual recognition skills established soon after birth. While the consequence this fashion cache may lead to the desire to see the "clown" stripped of its' novelty the adherence to deception more often than not affirms the horror of the unknown, and essentially supports the fear of the clown.

If the Japanese design assumes a theme of the veiled figure, then the above use of balloons as couture fabrications convey a light-hearted juxtaposition of farcical fashion with an untouchable wall of rubber that apparently only last one night (in contrast to the 10 hours of construction and hour and a half of fitting on the model). Balloon fashion has recently been shown during the Kim Tom Clown Festival fashion show in Shanghai, China with ensembles ranging upwards of $2,000 for the time-sensitive outfit.
The nature of the balloon is vulnerable and fleeting much like the cyclical trends of fashion and it's economic influence over women; in referencing the novelty of Paper Clothing in the 1960s, the concept of disintegration and disposability is sharply contrasted to the extreme cost of the balloon garb. Imagine showing off your wealth by the deliberate destruction of each balloon "thread" with the prick of a pin! $10 here... $40 there! Perhaps a more practical question would be how the model uses the bathroom in a balloon dress...although that has certainly not stopped women in the past from wearing constrictive clothing..just ask Daphne Guinness.

In I Pagliacci, the character of Canio is driven mad by hatred and jealousy of his wife's betrayal, and in a murderous rage the performance becomes a reality as he stabs both her and lover to death in front of the audience who assume it is part of the show. As Canio drops the knife and turns to the spectators he yells out, "La commedia e finita! (The comedy is over!)", and with that exclamation the facade of the clown disappears to reveal the genuine nature of the cuckolded man before his peers. The dance of the deception is no longer an option and Canio voyeuristically sheds the costume of the clown in order to once again be seen as a man.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons that I am personally drawn to the clown as an archetype, in that I think each one of us wears a mask that if both difficult to relinquish while being extraordinarily easy to demand from others. By using fashion as a frivolous and novel distraction we become the products of our own deliberate representations while never revealing our true uniformity. It's simple to become a mass without hair or make-up or jewelry or stylized clothing...I mean, concentration camps? Did this really end up at WWII? This was supposed to be light-hearted. Regardless, the symbol of the clown is universal as both a fool and an example of obscured drives which is no doubt why as a model it so closely resembles the costumed nature of our own projected personalities.
It's true,

Sunday, November 14, 2010

White as RRIICCEE: An Evening with Vincent Gallo

Out of the roughly 100 people attending the RRIICCEE concert nearly all of us were Caucasian except for two Asians spotted near the front of the stage talking at the end of the encore-less show. There were also quite a few people that looked like they were on dates; which unless you met on personals this is a fairly inappropriate show to spend money on trying to get ass. A few interesting points about the show:

1. People didn't clap after the first two songs because apparently they thought they were viewing a Marina Abramovic piece.

2. There was absolutely no photography allowed per Gallo's "Insanity Rider". The interns working at Lincoln Hall were as vigilent as the guards at Auschwitz. Surprisingly, no one attempted to be a rulebreaker, but that could've been influenced by point #3.

3. Gallo performed a la Jim Morrison via Kathi Wilcox of Bikini Kill, that is, with HIS BACK TURNED on the audience nearly the entire set. I considered yelling, "GROW UP!" at the performer formerly known as Prince Vince, but realized that if he mentioned that I paid my hard earned dollars for this horse hockey; I'd cry. Big nickel and dime tears too.
4. No encore.

5. He covered "Moon River" by Henry Mancini. It was one of those moments that was so gorgeous and utterly perfect until my mind was invaded with dialogue from the Sex and the City "I Heart NY" episode, and then it was ruined completely with images of Mr. Big and Carrie Bradshaw doing a contrived slow-motion dance together. Thanks a lot modern girl memory.
This is what the RRIICEE show could have looked like if the Belvedere Vodka spokesman could stop projecting a great wall of pain and isolation to a roomful of people in black. Maybe I'm still harboring ill will after a sour ebay interaction where Mr. Gallo yelled at me to remove a test pressing of one of his records because he couldn't handle other people besides himself having one...I believe I responded with, "you must have an awful lot of time since yr not making movies to look for yourself on ebay".
Whatever. The end result of the show was everything I imagined it could possibly be and I do mean that in the most sincere way possible. Afterall, I'm the one who got Brown Bunny-ed forking over the dough to see his Highness jack off his guitar. I only wish I would have had the guts to have sounded my air horn in both protest and delight in seeing a grown man croon the phrase, "Honey bunny" and "Love me forever". Mr. Gallo, the first step in opening yourself up to love is facing those who adore you.
It's true,
Gallo photos: owned by him, I'm sure.
Bikini Kill photo: owned by some former riot grrrl, I'm sure.

Rodarte Time Machine

I have a full understanding that I am literally two months late in mentioning the Spring 2011 Rodarte show, but I didn't necessarily want to talk about that anyway. Afterall, I'm not a fashion editor and my opinions regarding the sisters is inconsequential...if you want opinions on fashion shows I think you have to read 14 year olds' blogs. Nevertheless, I felt excited about the prospect of digging into my closet and mirroring the vision expressed by the Mulleavy's which was quite obviously inspired by wood. Redwood forests to be exact.


The two runway photos exemplify the extremely derivative nature of the designers' inspiration in the literal wood paneling of the "man repeller" skirt and the shoulderless dress. Did I just pun? Nature? The wood? Nature. I did.


Michael Kors currently has his discounted version of women metamorphizing into the Tree of Knowledge at the Outnet for anyone dying to get Biblical..or natural. To be natural women. I kid, I'm still considering buying this if only I wasn't getting letters from my University threatening to break my legs unless I pay the balance on my Fall Grad semester. Oh, and if I hadn't made a blood oath to myself that I'm not allowed to buy anymore de-sexualizing novelty prints for 56 years. God I love novelty prints.
I unearthed this lovely beige moire vintage dress from the 1950s in my vintage closet, and since I can't take a photo with my regular camera (because only a ghost knows where the battery is for it) I've used the telly. The picture is atrocious. It's just the proof that I did indeed succeed in appreciating something that I already own as opposed to making rotten decisions about spending money and what is considered art and beauty and uselessness.

The close-up of the moire fabric further demonstrates the lovely texture that so closely replicates wood grain, and consequently is one of my favorite vintage fabrics besides velvet. Absolutely darling. If I had all the time in the world to "curate" items like certain rich white girls I would have a closet dedicated to this fabric, but alas, I'll have to be happy with what I've got. Amen to that.

When were these Miu Miu shoes from? 2006? I don't know and I'm too lazy to search because once again it doesn't really matter as they're being worn as the final touch to the Rodarte collaboration in my mind. Although do note the nod to wood as it is featured via the floor of my apartment. It would be terribly clever if it hadn't been done entirely on accident. Anyway, the carved wood is legendary and apparently the sisters appropriated the concept for their own Nicholas Kirkwood platforms that "fashion bloggers" will soon be showing off more than Miu Miu cat/swallow/daisy prints and Dsquared spine heels. I say appropriated, other might say steal. Whatever

H.G. Wells wrote a million years ago that "nature never appeals to intelligence until habit and instinct are useless", and I find that the same may be said for the unending cycles of influences on fashion. The original concepts become reborn and then die in flames of irrelevance only to be born again after a sufficient amount of time has passed to then be sold to a new audience. I'm just pleased that while I'm an eternity late in internet time regarding the Rodarte collection I'm light years ahead in "rocking" the wood trend. I'm not rocking anything....just trying to detract from my Macedonian calves.
It's true,