A rainy Sunday in Rome and the perfect moment to browse through web classics aka The Sartorialist and co. Which brought me back to the 70`s, and then
into a deep depression.
It felt like a nasty virus, but in fact it was the good old vintage that had infiltrated the whole internet. From a never-ending list of blogs and online retailers to retro inspired fashion. Vintage sells, and I started to wonder did she also sell its soul?
I don’t know when it actually happened. But my question is: What did she ask Mephistopheles in return? Was it just the money? Or wasn’t it rather fame
and buying the way out of dusty thrift shops onto the smooth glamour of the red carpet? Yes, I think it went for Fame.
After decades of society’s abhorrence, the sweet taste of Faye Dunaway's perfume must have been too much to let go off. Dunaway, in her 1967 leading role, took us back into the middle 30`s with the reinterpretation of Bonnie and Clyde. Yet she did not only revival the Icon, but also brought to life the look of a bygone age. Hollywood marketing pulls off its proverbial gags. Movie theaters are filled, night after night. And as one could suspect, not only the theaters cash-registers do ka-ching. With this movie a new sort of fascination for the past was created. The film industry gave birth to the phenomenon of nostalgia and through it—and we thank it very much for that social revolution—to the attraction of wearing clothes from the past.
So far so good, but where then did it go wrong?
There’s no point mentioning the late 80`s "Hollywood has it, we want it" publicity effect. I think we all know it oh so well. From Miss Moss and her "Vintage Muse" to Top Shop's internal Vintage store. The Big-money-trend Vintage hit the masses. However, a bit of popularity never wrote one`s Epitaph.
But when Vintage became a "brand", an apparent synonym for coolness, and when people started wearing it, just for the trends sake, that‘s when things went wrong. And yes, I think this is when Vintage lost it. A bloody victim of its own success.
At least I thought so. On the second thought though—it all seemed a bit too simplistic, a great set-up to write it off just like that. Could it be that
we gave up on her in our wishful thinking like we did on Britney Spears after her polished-to-shine hairdo?
There must have been something left of its origin. So I started to look beyond the obvious. And it dawned on me:
Once more, I realized that I had to move from my accuser-position to defendant. Realizing the truth is that we all asked Vintage to stand for our
"individuality", and when it became a mass phenomenon we damned it, suspecting, it was not capable to pull it off any longer. I guess, the waiting room
was too crowded. This is where we went dead wrong, dead-ending in the alley of our own irresponsibility. Wearing Vintage by itself never made anybody
more unique, more "one of a kind". Rather, this was and will always be simply the result of what one does with it.
So is it Vintage that has lost it, or isn't it rather the blind trend follower, who never wore it with soul?
What a barbie-blonde aha-moment from my side with you to share, but once again, it is the attitude, rather than altitude.
This stressed out writer (defending the Vintage) loves the second hand for the Story it brings with it. Its previous owner and its time, which will never be approachable to her—that is what is so unique and so intriguing. Which were the parties where Bloody Mary was in such an overwhelming quantity that it covered my skirt—leaving a bleached pattern despite all dry cleaners' effort. How was the winter's wind when my mink hat was taken out for the freshmen year? And how strong were the sexual needs of that recruit, marching through the greyest paths of humans history?
And yet, in spite of all rich told and untold stories this special something I picked up, preserves me the luxury to write few chapters on my own.
Like borrowing a book from a library and never returning it back.
This is the real thing for me, taking an item that belonged to somebody and turning it into my very own.
And at the end of the day it does not really matter if it is at San Giovanni`s one euro stock market or the Portobello Road Market I got the piece
from. Whether its thrifted, secondhand or whatever you like to call it. Who cares whether this came from a store with the rare and genuine "Vintage
look", whatever it might be, or rather from London`s touristic attraction number 1 where the smell of fast-food curry and hot chilly mingle with
overpriced dusty humidity of vintage—flirting with a 100£ price tag.
Let us ignore the hype around it, and focus on the essential. That sort of anthropology rush, the possibility to express—in the best case for its original price target and not the overpriced due to the huge demand. It is really the story you can extract from touching the garment and from feeling its soul.
All children talk to their toys, Baudelaire said. The toys become actors in the great drama of life reduced by the camera obscura of their mind. And Toys are my garments, my bags and scarves.
The most important day of my life! Well, that really depends on how the rest of my life goes. If this day does turn out to be the most important day of my life, I might as well give up now! But needless to say, it is a day that a girl remembers. It will be a day that my father will take numerous embarrassing photographs that I will desperately try to hide from any potential Mr. Rights in the future. So with the certainty that this day will be documented and will forever live in photographic history, it all comes down to the question ‘what the HELL am I going to wear?’
Of course I wanted to wear something classy, sophisticated and that screamed ‘watch out world here I come’. I wanted to feel confident and fabulous. There was only one answer. Leopard Print.
So it’s not exactly Jackie’O or Michelle Obama and perhaps a graduation from University calls for something a little more conservative, but I just couldn’t see myself in an all black, knee length dress just blending into the crowd. Oh God, I just shudder at the thought of BLENDING!
You see, me and leopard print have a history, a long and complicated past. Call it a love affair if you will, but love is what it is. It was in fact love at first sight.
I first got my little paws on a faux fur, leopard print coat at the tender age of four. It was a gift from my mother’s eccentric best friend, ‘aunty’ Mary we called her. We saw her once a year and she always came baring gifts from a magical land called America, which seemed to be filled with ridiculous clothes for four year olds. Such was this deliciously soft leopard coat with a silky red lining. But in her words, ‘I think every four year old should have a little bit of glamour in their lives.’ I have never heard a truer statement uttered since.
At preschool, the other girls ooh and ahhed over my luxurious new coat while we sipped on orange juice and nibbled on homemade sandwiches. I was a social and fashion success. From then on I was known as the fashionable one. It was a title I wore with honour and pride.
As I progressed from preschool to primary school my leopard fetish continued to grow thanks to the 1990s pop explosion of five girls from England. ‘I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want.’ That’s right; the Spice girls.
I had leopard print trimmed jackets, skirts, shoes, underwear and even a leopard print bathing suit. Although I had more of a thing for Posh Spice I will admit that my obsession for leopard print lead me to looking a little more of the Scary persuasion.
Fast-forward to the present day and a recent encounter with an old college classmate further cemented leopard print as part of my fashion identity. ‘My God I’ll never forget that leopard print dress!’ Ok, so these may have been the words of a leering and very drunk man but it confirms the power of leopard print and is perhaps the reason why I love it so much. After three years together, everyday in a classroom, the only thing he remembered was me in a slightly (only slightly mind) provocative Dolce & Gabbana number. In retrospect a straight jacket would have probably been more comfortable, but then again who needs to be able to eat, sit down or even breathe when one can look ‘sexy’. Not to mention the fact that, at least in Ireland, to be ‘sexy’ is a sin (along with missing Mass on a Sunday, burning the potatoes and being sober).
It’s not rocket science and I never was very good at maths but man plus woman in tight fitting animal print dress equals… well lets say… a very strong reaction. I guess this where it all gets a little bit National Geographic. I am talking about the whole Caveman Cavewoman theory. The running around in animal skins not unlike the animals they hunted and killed. It’s all very Tarzan and Jane. It seems it only takes a flash of leopard print to ignite some kind of primitive instinct and to reduce our modern day, moisturized man to his primitive hunter-gatherer beginnings.
And so it seemed like the appropriate choice for my graduation from University. Of course I did intend to classy it up a bit. The dress fell to just above my knee, had long sleeves and a high neckline. The leopard did all the work. Even being completely covered up I felt conservative but not boring, exactly what I wanted. At least when I look back at the photos thirty years from now I won’t be completely mortified because somehow I have the feeling I will still be strutting around in some piece of leopard. Not that I plan on being that mutton dressed as lamb older lady squeezed into a leopard number, but hey then again it could be fun!
However there are those certain important days when I must control this fetish and force myself to abstain, because the thought of a leopard print wedding dress does not bode well. Though I am sure our dear friend Roberto Cavalli could whip up something fabulous!
Perhaps on a more morbid note I would like to be buried in something leopard. For me it expresses my person style, classy yet with an edge. Something that cries screw you world I am going to have fun no matter how serious life gets. For me everyone should have that one piece of clothing that makes them feel a little more wild, a little more free, a little more MEOOOWWWWWW……
Then there's this label who won't be showing this season nor the next, it's beat
it's dust scattered across an old record, a coat hanging on the cross—breathless,
an empty skin unzipped, a shadow on the wall reminiscing the silent poet,
a divine number
Then there's this feeling, a closed feeling, no longer weeping the mystical back alleys in Harajuku
where broad stripes and bright stars conquered the tempered heart,
forged in jewel steel engraved with the words: 村正
the demon blade
Then there's this hotel room in Alaska, no witnesses, no nothing,
where isolation desolation exclamation
invoked the spirits of those folks whose strings resonate deep within
the land of the free and the home of the brave,
the eternal scream, the nuclear weapon, rhythm and rhymes:
rock and roll
Then there's this collection whose price was never tagged for it was higher than our digits,
our exchange rates—our cool, a precious moment, so loud it shattered bones and skulls,
speechless masks walking on their burying ground—the last moment,
January twenty second two thousand and (n)ine, the vanishing light
reverence and fear
Then there's this feeling, a sad feeling, that keeps asking was it suicide or was it murder?
(Ask my brain. I don't know)
the record stopped playing, FATHER the hipsters ran out of coins OR was it the jukebox
who ran out of tunes, who couldn't count past (n)ine,
who devoured Americana
until it's needle wore out, scratching the snow white facade of the nation
floating on overtime, overclocked, overpriced
Then there's this vehemence to conserve, to dry clean only and vacuum pack all the remnants,
dry freeze every stitch with cryogenic devotion, a cellar a wardrobe
where all numbers combine yet none equates to the absolute value of Takahiro Miyashita, 宮下貴裕
Taka the oyster, the silent poet,
ask my brain
Then there's this thirst, a wind blowing from the desert, dry and dusty eyes shut glooming
wide-open uneasy progressive philosophy resonating in the minds and memories of all,
what the future will hold,
The Redisun, Time Migration, Standards, The Modern Age, Nowhere Man, Touch Me I'm Sick—A New Morning, Dream Baby Dream, Give Peace a Chance, Night Crawler, The High Streets, Axel Rose, Noir, About A Boy, Love God Murder, Birds, My Own Private Portland, The Lonesome Heroes,
A Closed Feeling
The ninth sense disbanded
Then there's this letter, a sad letter, Dear friends and supporters,
where dear friends and supporters are given the announcement—the adjournment
or is it punishment (You shall not make for yourself an idol)
the eighteenth show a closed interval thank you to all but keep looking, keep shopping,
keep up with appearances
It's past (n)ine and I don't know what to wear
It's past (n)ine and the beat is dead, circumscribed to collectors—we are all collectors now, collecting
an infinite number of fragments in time, of time, running out of time,
playing the old Beatles song that keeps spinning past the last groove,
Number nine, number nine, number nine, number nine
Number nine, number nine, number nine, number nine
Number nine, number nine, number nine, number nine
Number nine, number nine, number...
A vain emperor hired two weavers for a new suit. They said they could make a special fabric just in his honour. It would have been an amazing fabric: extremely light to touch, beautifully crafted and with the peculiarity of being totally invisible to everyone who was incompetent. The two waivers started working on it, and when the fabric was finally ready, they proudly showed it to the emperor. His heart skipped a beat when he realized he couldn't see anything in the wavers hands. Ashamed about his own thoughts and worried about his incompetence, he did what every coward would do. He faked enthusiasm. The two impostors couldn't be more happy about that. They said they would immediately start sewing the suit. The word spread among the emperor subjects about this magic fabric, and all the people couldn't wait to see the emperor in his new suit. The day of the parade before his subjects, wearing his new suit, the emperor was nervous. Would his subjects be more competent than him? When the crowd finally saw him, everyone started screaming and clapping hands. Within their own hearts, they were feeling the terrible consciousness of incompetence. Within their own hearts, they knew they had to fake enthusiasm. A child cried out: "He's naked!"
Hans Christian Andersen, who wrote this tale, wasn't sitting on the front rows during fashion weeks.
When the lights turn off, and the celebrities walk away, would you be able to scream out loud what you really think? Would you be able to accept your own thoughts? Fashion editors decide who's a genius. Buyers follow editors. Customers follow buyers. We all follow. Fashion is not about dresses. It's politics. Take a stand.
As I recall it my t-shirt soaked in sweat felt like I dove into a lake with my clothes on. I shut my lashes again and I see it all, as if my eyes were wide open. I dream of Paris and life somehow transfers to the "city of light."
Via Concorde? I am not sure.
It's one of those days when us people move like birds in search of one's nesting: towards the ideal place to lay the eggs and presume an existence which will albeit only last a season. The same allowed lifeline fashion has before designers present their new incarnation. Dutifully I'm there too, as if I exist through this semi-annual repetition.
Friends and faces pass before me. They look stranger in reality than in magazines. From afar, grungy Miss Day takes my picture. She waves a gloved hand as I draw one final salute. I wonder where she is heading. Seeing Her Majesty is a rare privilege indeed.
A bunch of Boys-in-Margiela force the crowd in attendance. Everyone, myself included, fixes an admiring eye at them. What do I feel? A hint of envy for their youthful skin, their forceful vitality, their coveted invitation for being at the right place the right time.
Or is it pure admiration?
Time disappears fast and in less than a moment this wonderful frivolity will take place of pride in memory. I might or might not be able to testify to that. Oh well…
I walk through the hallway. A woman greets me, asks for my pass (how the hell does she know my name?) and tells me to follow her. She points to my seat and surprise; I am front row. “How weird!” I hear a voice behind me. I sit keeping my sweaty hands carefully placed on my knees. My camera is hanging from my neck and my bag rests against my tapping feet.
On my right, Carine nods “Hello.” On my left Anna's voice enquires after my mother. “She is fine,” I say and turn my head up to the ceiling counting to ten. Opposite, the seats are packed with mermaids and sirens that carry strange names: Daria, Coco, Raquel, Kinga, Lara, Natalia, Sasha, Hannelore….For a moment it feels like I only exist in a spell. How fortunate these women are, how beautiful and spotless, sitting there slapping bewitching smiles left, right and center.
The lights go dim and Hussein's voice announces: “The show is about to start.” In this dream I'm wearing red, my hair is long and I have the most perfect teeth.
Hussein’s voice is up again informing us that the show is cancelled because “summer ain't coming” God just told them via Skype “the world shall be stuck in winter for a while.”
“So what are we gonna do now?” asks Carine.
“Let's be patient,” says Anna.
Soon the room resembles a scene of a bloodless massacre. Something out of a picture by Delacroix. People cry invisible tears, a horde of women powder maniacally their noses or plug their eyebrows to oblivion. Anna’s hairdresser and his team retouch the hair as she is placing a phone-call to God demanding that he should at least change his mind for a season. He ought to have told her, for Couture's sake.
Carine is already out smoking "a la Française."
What a mess! So, no summer for a while…
I make my way out with Jo Calderone’s arm wrapped around mine.
Silence is loud, now. Pure veritas blew away the essence of our words/moments/thoughts.
It’s the canvas portrait of a ghost. Still speaks softly, sometimes.
The last day we met Paris was cold and grey.
I wore my dress under layers of black wool – under cover charme.
All the mirrors love that dress, it looks like an avant-garde piece, but it’s not. My mother bought it for herself when I was twelve but she couldn’t manage to wear it, as she’s not the kind of woman who can wear it. She’s so sweet.
I waited patiently and then, when I turned seventeen, the time came for me to take it.
Black drapes engrave movements with drama. An early widow.
The last day we met I wore it with no respect.
I wore it with no reason, like a dogma.
Drawing the image you’ll keep of me – a pale figure/ a black dame/ a ink shadow under the grey sky.
The fabric was folded between us in our last embrace.
Now. Mirrors are asking for that dress again. I wear it like a perfume.
Fate will give me precious gifts tonight and I already chose my favourite one.
He feels my presence around him, somewhere. He holds his glass and I can read a subtle smile behind his face.
When he comes to me we both know.
Acting as the black dame, I don’t speak that much.
He says he loves my dress and I look away as he’s staring at my legs. Touching me with white fingers, he follows the paths I’ve been drawing for him.
He could never be more close that this.
I’d love to tell that I miss you. You were a perfume on my thoughts.
But there’s no absence. You’re standing there, somewhere, hating(?) pushing(?) judging(?) loving(?) ignoring(?).
You couldn’t dare to hold me the way you wanted to. And I couldn’t stop telling you about my lovers.
It still takes a while for you to realize that a pure heart belongs to such a bitch.
You blame yourself, as I blamed you.
Under cover, hidden with black layers, truth is finally allowed to change its words.
For beauty’s sake, veritas has always a double face.
She is gone. This wide-eyed little girl that once stood in her place, she has evaporated into an aching wisp of loss, indistinguishable among the grey of history that lilts beside us. How terrible it is! That the more one tries to hold dear, the more her face twists, bends, becomes even more swiftly something insubstantial. To reach and to grab so vehemently, only to find that you destroy through distortion everything you touch, this fills the chest with the most unbearably potent of agitation.
Oh, how every dark and chokingly ink-purple turn of my spirit has been forced to ache on behalf of this irretrievability! How it impudently mourns and sobs for the loss of little Resi. How she has vanished without even being granted the entitlement to a solidly black death! A possessed white ostrich plume stands on the dresser. With the noblest sadness, The Marschallin adorns her coif with the regal feather.
These clocks, these wretched demons; just as we cast our adoringly fright-filled gaze upon them, they disintegrate and warp into all that they’re surrounded with. No matter how stoic, how eternally metronomic they persist, they seem to dissolve like burning crepe paper into thin air, curling and shrinking morbidly into themselves.
I only wish I could blame these revolting and perturbed entities. I am eternally indebted to helplessness and tireless, ceaseless guilt; because it’s the intrinsic nature of existence itself that I myself must uninterruptedly manufacture and release these ghosts into abstraction.
The immortality of these residues, this disturbs with the greatest terror of all.
This looking glass is covered in the fingerprints of a girl that no longer exists. Even as The Marschallin, seated poised and wild-eyed at her vanity, perceives her momentary self before her very own eyes; everything vanishes in that same instant – for every solitary moment of the present has already met its death in the process of becoming.
It’s a general rule of mine to steer clear of little boys. But every now and then, someone catches my fancy and I get blindsided. I met Hot 20-Something Guy poolside at Soho House. It must have been his tortoise-shell Persol sunglasses that made me give him my number so willingly. After a week of his cryptic Hot 20-Something Guy texts, he finally figured out how to properly invite me for a drink.
Soho House was packed. As the elevator door slid open, the heat and the music hit me hard. I made my way through the throng of beautiful people out onto the roof deck, where Hot 20-Something Guy was waiting. We stood near the edge of the pool, the Manhattan skyline glistening in the background. Hot 20-Something Guy was getting less hot by the second; making small talk, taking long sips of his drink without offering to buy me one.
Taking the evening into my own hands, I headed for the bar. As I passed through the thickening crowd, I bumped into my former boss – the CEO of a prominent high fashion label. Immaculately dressed in his signature dark denim, white button-down and blazer, he kissed my cheek (proper Brit that he was) and insisted on buying my drink.
I returned to find Hot 20-Something Guy surrounded by a group of friends. After making cursory introductions, he charmingly announced that he was going in search of beer. I chatted up his very unstylish girlfriends (apparently some people still wear giant hoop earrings in earnest) in between deep drags on my Marlboro Light. A camera flashed as someone snapped my photo; I could not believe I’d donned my vintage Chanel navy matte sequined dress for this.
Just as I was about to call it a night, another attractive 20-something guy approached. A friend of Hot 20-Something Guy, this specimen was actually far cuter. Let’s call him Media Guy.
We sat on the plush couches and I couldn’t help but notice our knees gently touching as we talked. Hot 20-Something Guy was nowhere in sight – much to my relief. I placed my hand on Media Guy’s thigh while smiling and gently biting my lower lip. The conversation turned heated; I could tell he was aching to get me home, aching to slide the silk straps of my dress off my shoulders. He invited me back to his place for a nightcap; I couldn’t wait to see what he had in mind.
I take out a book I stole from my aunt, an airport book, an airport lounge book, but it's a seventies airport lounge book, an Asian invasion intrigue book, full of words like ‘ninja’, ‘shuriken’ and ‘gaijin’, not a nineties cyberpunk intrigue book. If I put the book on its back I can see where all the good bits are. It saves time. Page 32, Agent Takashi gives General Onegin a blow job at his villa in the Crimea to get secrets about the new nuclear airplane. She knows what she's doing, she's been trained. Because apparently when men are having sex they can't help talking about work, particularly the things they're not meant to talk about. So General Onegin mumbles a lot of secret codes while he's holding Agent Takashi's ears, along with the name of his ex-wife. I can feel my knob go stiff. But that all changes when I suddenly think of my aunt.
Her house is like a museum, a homage to the seventies. Nothing has changed in there since her last husband died in 1978. Even her clothes and her dark glasses are the same. The glasses are worth seeing; these huge Pierre Cardin purple things with lenses the size and shape of television screens. Every time I'm sent to stay with her she gives me this cunning, in-the-know, smile and says “you know Isak I don't worry because the way fashion works these days I'm due to be very hip again anytime soon.” It's her lawyer that told her this, her only friend, but even he's on a payroll. I never say anything but with an ass that could plug the hole in the ozone layer and a nose gone red from too much Lambrusco she shouldn't hold her breath. The only thing hip about her is her record collection and that only because she bought them when she was still capable of love, before her first husband fell off a speed boat in Hong Kong harbour and drowned. I'm allowed to look at them but not to touch which is sort of silly since I've been stealing them in two's and three's for several years now; first edition Rolling Stones and Hendrix. She says all that music is too loud and jumpy. There's writing on every record cover; ‘Can't wait to listen to this with you...’, ‘For ever baby...’, ‘Check this out, I cried and thought of you…’. All I'm allowed to play is Sade, Phil Collins and Julio Iglesias and really low too.
She lives in un-musical world, and that's why she doesn't like me. I move like the notes of a sitar. There is a slight panic in her eyes when she watches me move around the apartment which I wouldn't call a home. It's more like a pyramid where everything has been displayed in preparation for the afterlife. If our civilisation was suddenly hiroshima'd and her apartment was preserved, by fallout future civilisations would think we embalmed our dead in tie-dye silk with lava lamps and lots of curved white furniture, “for traversing the heavens”;
“—and the great big purple square eye lenses, professor?”
“No doubt in anticipation of seeing the Divine Light, the Celestial Bodies....”
And so she's careful when I'm there. As if, in each of my movements, sound has already broken everything. The phrase “don't touch that Isak” hangs from her lips like a nicotine tattoo ready to fall off at any moment. I don't blame her because once I apparently did try and break everything. It's one of those family stories that I was too young to remember. Left alone in the apartment for a few minutes I got bored, so the story goes, and took an American football out of the closet and started to kick it all over the place like I was a two legged flipper on a pinball machine. I couldn't have broken that much because the place is still stuffed, unless as Plato insists, everything in this world is a copy taken from the ideal, and my aunt, bless her discretion, has a catalog of the infinite from which she can order replacements. But anyway, the story goes that when they found me I was hysterical, just laughing all crazy like and scoring field goals all over the place. The doctor was called and they gave me a shot.
So I suppose she has some reason to be nervous, especially since, knowing I like music she must find it curious that I will often not bother playing the music she likes. I prefer to attend the music of silence than confirm the world with Phil Collins. Wouldn't you, in a house where the sofa has a plastic cover on it? “Easier to clean,” she says. But when you sit on it it makes this terrible crunching sound. I don't think my aunt hears it though it scares the hell out of me. I can't help it, I always think of a dancing skeleton, the crunchiness being the sound his bones make when they touch.