Friday, August 28, 2009

Daily Plague 1

Every aspiration for friendship and trenches, captured by The Sartorialist

Daisy Lowe.


The militia, via Polyvore

Famous Five, Dressing Gowns and Secret Passage Ways by Eileen Soper

Celia Birtwell & Ossie Clark by David Bailey

Tube Tunnel by Jonathan

Portobello Road by Diandra

Thursday, August 27, 2009

One Two Five Four

You might not believe me, but I was once on time to one of my classes at uni. It's true. In fact, I was actually early. It was a third year Criminal Evidence tutorial on the other side of campus, past the students napping on the grass next to the ELTs. I traipsed into Menzies College to find a gent already seated at the table. He was wearing a Joy Division t-shirt. It was the artwork to Unknown Pleasures, designed by Peter Saville, concept by Bernard Sumner. My eyes were zapped. Someone in my class likes Joy Division? Surely this must not be so. Without hesitation, I asked if he liked Joy Division. He stopped a moment and furrowed his brow: "What are you talking about?"

It was my first exposure to the artwork of Unknown Pleasures on a t-shirt. Ever since then, I've witnessed an unusually high number of Unknown Pleasures t-shirts around the place. My brother points them out to me when we're walking down the street and it makes me feel narky. How are you supposed to know who really likes the band if everybody who wears the t-shirt buys it on the basis of its appearance? I say this with some reservation, as I understand that I am not entitled to be ungracious about this. It is hardly a Ramones' t-shirt scenario where the popularity of the t-shirt has completely superseded the popularity of the band itself. I can easily recall a time where teenybopper icons would don a Ramones' t-shirt, not because of any due loyalty to Joey & co., but because their stylist told them to. That's right, I'm looking at you, Holly Valance.

My relationship with the Unknown Pleasures t-shirt took a strange turn a week or so ago. In a record store in Brisbane, I found a t-shirt of pre-Joy Division band, Warsaw. It featured the artwork to Warsaw's 1978 EP, The Ideal Beginning. I saw the t-shirt hanging on the wall and I immediately recalled its brief inclusion in Anton Corbijn's first feature film, Control. It was the scene where the fake Bernard Sumner presented his drawing of an HJ banging on a drum to the band. It's a rather haunting drawing, yet eerily enough, it wasn't too dissimilar to all those drawings featured in my girl annuals from the 1930s and 40s. Irrespective of any HJ affiliation, I bought the t-shirt. It's pretty damn cool.

Perhaps my preference for Warsaw over Joy Division highlights a lacklustre desire to be obscure and pretentious. It certainly wouldn't serve as any sort of surprise. Then again, I would hate to wear something that doesn't squarely symbolise my band anymore. That, and I would hate for any confusion to arise as to my allegiance to a musical group. I would hate to receive that odd look of disgust or subcultural suspicion. I'd rather avoid the scenario altogether.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I'm not meant to be here

I'm not meant to be here. I'm not meant to be writing about fashion, style, taste or identity. My best friend from primary school always made it clear to me that I simply had no idea about these matters. It was clear that she was far more stylish and sophisticated than I. She would construct projects based upon drawings of thin girls with long faces draped in short floral dresses. We put together a magazine one time, she was particularly enthusiastic about writing a fashion advice column. For a ten year old, she managed to speak with disturbingly high authority about woolen midriff tops, even more floral dresses and other garb predominately inspired by the clothing worn by the cast of Beverley Hills 90210 and Heartbreak High, respectively. When we sat together and edited the magazine, I felt an odd burn of embarrassment. She had made it clear that every line of her advice was directed towards me. That and her makeover pursuits made it perfectly clear that she always wanted to fix me.

Despite her attempts, she never managed to successfully make me over. A part of it was that I simply didn't have the resources to pull off her desired mid-90s aesthetic. I didn't have the opportunity to shop at Miss Shop or Sportsgirl, simply because my mother bought all our clothes at op shops. At that point in time, op shops did not carry the sort of indie cred as they do now. Op shops were not a haven for stylish bargain buys or unique vintage pieces. They stocked cheap and extremely nasty cast-offs from the late 1980s. You could never disguise the fact that you got your clothing from op shops. Take that pair of purple parachute pants with the odd streaky black lines and fluro-green flecks. Aside from the hideous colours slash material of said garment, there was a very large burn hole around the crotch area. My clothes loudly proclaimed to every kid in the school yard that I had no taste, class or money. There was no way to co-ordinate anything, to pull off a certain "look". There was an incident in August 1995 where I attempted to look decent in an oversized, cut-off denim jacket and pair of slightly tight 501 Levi's. I don't need to tell you that it was an unmitigated disaster.

In retrospect, I should have desperately campaigned for a makeover. I would have wanted her to take away my rag-like flannel shirts, my burnt up purple parachute pants and even my black Cons. I would have wanted her to fix me. Why? Because I am inextricably drawn to makeover sequences in popular media. I love how you don't see very much during the clip itself. I love the feverishly upbeat pop hit that would accompany oblique images of hairspray and lipstick application. Most of all, I love the unveiling where she would look stunning, in a gobsmacked sort of way. All semblance of her former identity would be forgotten, for she would no longer be weird, ugly or different. The success of the transformation no doubt have a cursory effect upon the quality of her life. With some hairspray, lipstick and a short floral dress and she would be set! Love, happiness and success, FTW!

I am starting The Fashion Plague, in spite of the fact that I'm not meant to be here. I never received a makeover, from her or anybody else for that matter. I never conformed to the traditional tenets of feminine beauty. However, that never prevented my growing fascination for fashion design and journalism. Whether it be admiring the cut of a Givenchy jacket in Charade, reading about notions of beauty in Pigeons & Peacocks or sketching designs in my design notebook, this is something that consumes me. It is something that I want to share with you, even though I'm not quite sure I ever got it right.