Saturday, November 28, 2009

Photos of Inspiration

New Blog!

So I have decided that I'm going to start a new blog (in addition to this blog.) As you know, this is quite a big decision because blogs are important investments and undertakings, just like a Facebook profile, txt msgs, and all intrnts communications, and it's not like I an just abandon this new blog on a whim or anything.

Anyway, as you may or may not know, for some time I have been obsessively collecting online photos of vintage clothing. I was going to upload them all to flickr, but that was taking a long time and even though flickr is kind of organized it just felt like a mess, so instead I have decided to archive them on a new blog, The Fashion Museum, which will be mostly photos and thus far less work.

You can find my "curatorial statement" here. Perhaps, even if you read this blog, you do not care that much about vintage clothing, but like in this blog, my goal is partially to break down the commonly held belief that fashion exists, in it's highest realm, in the designer world and can and should only be accessible to a select few, and instead argue that fashion is and should be an important component of the lives of everyday people, and is an important source of history and culture for women in particular. And also that fashion and clothing is overlooked in history particularly because it has historically been a women's "craft", even though I believe much of it belongs in the same world that "art" does.

But, mostly, The Fashion Museum blog will be photos of cool clothes, not just paragraphs of liberal arts-y theorizing.

PS: While I was writing this, the computer turned on the "narrarator" function and started to read stuff in that robot voice! Once when I was in seventh grade computer class we discovered that function on our computers and we kept making the computer say, "You killed my father. Prepare to die," over and over again in different robot voices. Hi-larious!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Seal of Approval: Adam Lambert

Like everyone else, I now love Lady Gaga after the masterpiece of "Bad Romance"...but what really blew my mind was American Idol Adam Lambert's insanely gay performance last night on the American Music Awards!!! This was absolutely the first time I have ever seen such "classic" homosexual imagery within the context of an openly gay performance on a major awards show! He dragged some guys in bondage gear around on a metal leash! He kissed a guy! Simulated oral sex which sadly was edited out of the West Coast Feed! Whoa!

Apparently it "shocked" many- prompting a commentor to say "I can see why America is embracing Taylor Swift. She is sweet and pure. I didn’t understand it before, but Adam helped to put all of that into perspective." Another referred to it as "degenerate" and "sick." Many people said they wouldn't want their kids watching, as if this was the first "inappropriate" performance on an awards show-but think how great this could be for older teenagers who really are confused about their sexuality and see something like this validated, even in a theatrical way?

Yeah, the song was pretty bad, and the singing was more Broadway-esque than anything else, but it was more about the spectacle. It seems that though we have seen as much from scantily clad-eighteen-year-old girls appropriating this type of sexuality in order to appeal to men, it's okay, but when it comes to a gay man camping it up in the same way, it freaks everyone out. I think we are so used to gay performers consciously trying to avoid addressing sexuality, or to only embrace the most mainstream of mainstream to not alienate anyone, it is nice to see such an obviously brash/trashy/bawdy tribute to it. (Additionally, everyone has sat through countless performances wherein clearly gay backup dancers dance suggestively around the lady-star, so it was nice to see backup dancers be what they usually are, which is hella gay!)

Anyway, I have to agree most with Entertainment Weekly critic Ken Tucker who said, as a TV viewer, he totally disagreed. "I thought Lambert's performance was a gas, a delight, a blast of brash vulgarity in the midst of merely ordinary vulgarity," he wrote Monday morning. "Lambert was an event unto himself. The song he was singing was beside the point — and the point was, 'Here I am, Adam Lambert, freed from the shackles of 'American Idol,' I'll push this dancer's face into my crotch if I feel like it, isn't it funny to lead human beings around on leashes, and can you believe how high I got my hair to stand up under these lights?' "

Anyway, perhaps someday we won't have to talk about performances like this one as if they represent all of gayness, as they obviously don't, because we will have lots of representations of gayness in all it's forms in the media and blah blah blah, but for now, at least he did it loud and proud.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Space Funk: A Love Story

For a long time, I have wanted to write a post about the fashion called "space funk" (well, I call it space funk) but I haven't been able to find that many great photos, and I've always thought I should do more extensive research on it than just what comes to mind. I have so many questions about, such as...

Where does the space funk look come from? What are its origins? How does it relate to the much whiter, less funkier fashion/music genre of glam rock? Could I get a grant of some kind in order to study it? Why are fashion's histories and particularities never seen from a valid anthropological standpoint?

Space funk seems to have a lot in common with Bowie's bold, spacy, strong look of glam rock- but did space funk really draw from glam rock or did it grow independently? Now glam rock, my number one lover during my later years of high school, often had a similar, funky, spacy, glittery feel, but it often looked sort of homemade- like you just threw on your mother's ratty fur and some gold pants. See the lovely Marc Bolan in the below photo below.

David Bowie's impeccable glam rock meets space funk look.

Brian Eno works the strong shoulder while doing what he does best: twist nobs.

David Bowie seems to be the link between the two-because space funk is not about throwing things on. True Space funk is usually carefully constructed, apparently by some sort of master 70's craftsmen, like in this amazing LaBelle video.

Also, in their early years, bands like (pre-Parliment) Funkadelic and Sly and the Family Stone had sort of hippyish, pirate-y, Hendrix-y version of a space funk look. Obviously this had nothing to do with Brian Eno.

Edit: Doesn't looking at these photos make you think about how you will never begin to look anywhere near as cool, and neither will anyone else for the rest of time?

All I guess i can really say about space funk is that we no longer have these sense of dazzling showmanship we once did, and that is a tragedy.

Okay, now I'm just going to post some photos. Perhaps I will enumerate more on this subject later!

PS: I want Midnight Special DVDs for Christmas.

The king of Space Funk, the underrated Rick James.

Okay, maybe he's the king of Space Funk: Bootsy Collins

80's space funk, courtesy of The Commodores.

Betty Davis combined space funk with a classic ho look.

Anyway, I can barely find any good photos! Isn't there an archive somewhere?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mad About Urban Outfitters

Hey, does anyone remember the show Mad About You? Boring Helen Hunt, the always grating Paul Reiser, sort of yuppies, the 90's? You know, as a kid you will watch almost anything: Professional Wrestling, Weekend at the Apollo, Home Improvement...but when the Mad About You theme song began, I couldn't change the channel fast enough (I feel the opening credits clearly show why.) As the blandest of "adult" sitcoms, focusing on adorable relationship foibles, it was everything I hated about TV, and to top it all off, it looked SO boring.

And, without further adieu, I bring you some new Urban Outfitters clothes, clearly inspired by the puffy chambray shirts and unnecessary vests of Paul Reiser and the high-waisted faded jeans and boxy blazers of Helen Hunt. You know, designers spend thousands researching their inspirations, but why bother when such sartorial splendor is only a remote-click away?

Ohmygooood this is so ugly. I just don't understand why anyone would want to wear something like this. What draws you in? If you want to look like absolutely nothing [ie, Helen Hunt], why pay so much for it? This is $100!!!

This is a stonewashed shirt- very Paul Reiser! It also comes in bleached chambray and tie-dye, to be worn for more of a "world music" look! Did you know these are just old shirts Urban Outfitters hand "splatter bleach finished?" What can't those geniuses do?

Alright, probabaly no one on Mad About You would wear this- maybe a kooky aunt? Anyway, what is going on here?! A faux fur vest paired with a washed silk oversized blouse? If you're going to wear a faux fur vest, even one this ugly, at least try for a little glam rock panache a la Brian Eno in his Roxy Music days! Why is everyone so willing to wear fugly, strange clothes like harem pants but only in the most muted and boring ways possible???

Once, not long ago, I worked at a very trendy vintage store that happened to be located right near Urban Outfitters headquarters. The store was full of hipsters and 90's stuff that flew off the shelves. Occasionally some young ladies wearing a belted oversized silk blouse and whatnot would come in and buy a lot of stuff with the Urban Outfitters credit card, so they could be "inspired" by the stuff for their designs, then manufacture brand new copies of this shit and sell them for far more than even our jacked-up prices. And everyone at my job would be like, "They don't even go to real thrift stores! The stuff is already picked out for them! Easiest job ever!"

Indeed. One would almost think, to make this garment, an "Urban" buyer closed their eyes and plunged straight into the next available sale rack, but I guess it was carefully chosen? This blouse looks like the kind of blouse they still sell at stores that have displays like this out front.

So ugly and 90's and boring and ill-fitting and weird. And so paired with an off-white silk blouse. We truly are moving into the mid 90's as "vintage" and "inspirational." Isn't Urban Outfitters worried that soon they will have covered the whole 90's and then we are going to end up overlapping even more and nothing will be "in" or "out" anymore? Also, how are they ever going to "draw inspiration" from the 2000s as nothing original happened through out the entire decade, fashion wise? Maybe these purses will come back? Who knows? Start buying everything, because tomorrow it could be popular!

PS: "They're not going to like my NYPD Shoe sketch! It's basically the same thing!"

Friday, November 13, 2009

eBay Auctions!!!!

Hi, I have some eBay auctions up right now. Also, I have this vague plan to create an eBay "boutique" with the ten million pieces of designer crap I have laying around my mother's house. I'm planning on using the fact that I once sold a 70's maxi dress with crochet front to Tori Spelling during the boho craze aught-2. Or something. Anyway, this isn't designer crap, but cute vintage! Go forth and buy! And I'll post for real! Also, do yourself a favor and watch that new Lady Gaga video! It's great!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Seal of Approval: Dancing with The Stars/Beth Ditto

I guess I'm a little late on this one, but Dancing With the Stars is kind of an amazing show. I always heard about it, and was like, "This is the most European concept ever," which it totally is. But it's kind of amazing because it, unlike every other show on TV, is so straightforward. All these "stars" (Aaron Carter!!! Wooooo!!!) have to learn a complex routine with another person, put on a ridiculous outfit, and dance their heart out. That's it. No one gets special treatment (well, the guys don't have to wear heels and wigs and dresses, but at least they have to wear high-waisted pants with a matador jacket and no shirt) and they all just seem, so, well, eager to please. Clearly this is the highest of high camp (especially that one supergay judge), but no one is acknowledging it because they're too busy dancing. It hearkens back to another, simpler celebrity era, when we expected our stars to be all-around entertainers who acted, sang, did impressions, told jokes, tap-danced and smoked a high-tar cigarette all with a smile on their face (That clip is so cool! There is a guy with peg-leg break-dancing for serious. Why is tap-dancing by far the best kind of dancing?)

It's like, what do celebrities really do these days (besides coke?) Nothing! But not on this show! Doesn't it kind of make sense that we expect these people to be skilled at something? And even though the people on DWTS aren't especially talented, at least they're trying. There's something so...humble about it!

I'm still rooting for Kelly Osbourne after all these years, too. Plus, she did do a dramatic dance to "Crazy Train" with crazy hair. And Ozzy came to watch her. I was touched. She seems pretty cool on that show! Apparently she's a crowd favorite!

Secondly, my second Seal of Approval is also kind of late, and goes to Beth Ditto, after I watched this clip of her. Like many hipster feminist types, I first saw The Gossip way back in the early 2000s when I was but a teenager, and it was like, "Here's this fierce cute fat girl who takes her clothes off [in an aggressive/nonsexual way]! Wow!" (It was also like Wow! because we had just seen The Donnas. Remember them? They sucked.)

Kind of like seeing Kelly Osbourne on TV though on a far grander scale (Kelly Osborune was, after all, mostly pretty annoying), it was pretty mind blowing/empowering at the time, so the fact that Beth is actually Famous now is really cool because she is a completely, completely different role model from every other famous pop star today- describing yourself as a "fat feminist lesbian" who grew up "poor" and "butch" on a website owned by Vogue is the kind of thing we need a lot more of. She also seems to really love and appreciate fashion in the outsidery, all-encompassing way that it should be loved. And she is one of those rare people who is managing to affect (however small) amount of political change through art, music, fashion, etc., without being preachy or boring. She also seems to love novelty prints- just like ME!!!!

Should Beth Ditto go on a special episode of Dancing With the Stars? In a word, yes.

Gee, my posts have been so warm and fuzzy lately. Maybe I will go to Urban Outfitters today.