The Reluctant Sartorialist

For the majority of my existence on this planet, my perception of fashion has been pervaded with judgments of pretentiousness, sexism, classism, and often, inherent racism. Yet, now it seems the less I take judgments from the outside world, sent in my direction, personally, (judgments that, for someone like me, can seem to come from an infinite number of points in my circumference) the less I am critical of things in the outside world. I feel compelled to understand inventions I have allowed to remain, in my eyes, foreign.   Although if I see a do-rag going down the runway on a white woman again, I’m snatching wigs…

It may have taken every ounce of energy to do so, like a recently turned, blood thirsty vampire trapped alone in a room with their human best friend, overcome with the feeling that their stomach is digesting itself, deciding “no it’s fine, I can wait,” but I decided to watch The September Issue, a documentary following Anna Wintour and the Vogue crew, as they assemble the renowned September issue of Vogue magazine. Now, I’m not going to say I found Jesus during this experience, and there are some moments of this film I did not quite agree with, but in the end I was left with the idea that fashion, at its root, at its foundation, at its core is a form of expression. And like many things that are based in some form of truth, as it expands, others may ride the wave of its authenticity for personal gain, but that’s neither here nor there.

Until now, I didn’t see fashion as a means to tell a story, but it is…. or at least, it can be! Grace Coddington, through her creative direction, challenged me to think of fashion, in the same way I think of Theatre, Music, or Dance. It can encompass and yet, go beyond beauty. And as luck would have it, in the vein of synchronicity, of serendipity, I happen to be reading El Quinto Acuerdo, which for me, thoughtfully divides everything in life into two categories: fact and perception, reality and virtual reality, science and art… For instance, let’s say you ask me what happened at my audition yesterday… what happened is fact, it is reality, it is science… if you will, but my retelling of the situation, no matter how I put it, is perception, part of a virtual reality, it is art… an artful expression, which if done with some sincerity will resemble reality… or not. And that’s how I think of Fashion; an artful expression of a cunning perception.

Iris Apfel challenged me to think of fashion beyond beauty, in her documentary, Iris. It seems she merely loves to create silhouettes, to have fun, to eliminate sameness, and while watching the documentary, I was reminded of the past. When I was a child, I was tormented by my parents for being different, “Do you think you are normal? Do you think you are masculine? Why can’t you be like everyone else?” questions I was asked on a regular basis. And even as a child, I knew that my way of thinking was different than the rigid thought pattern of society. I don’t have to be feminine or masculine, I can be both!… If either of those social constructs actually exist…. It’s as though, my parents thought my domestication would not be complete, until I conformed in this final way, and I refused. And although I was unable at the time, I used my imagination, cut outs from magazines, and anything else I could get my hands on, to create an expression of who I feel I am in this world. That is art. That is the beginning of fashion. And now I am consumed. If I’m going to be in this world, I’d like my existence to be artful in every way, and so I begin…

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