Thursday, January 27, 2011

LOVE magazine, andrej pejic, fashion androgyny

I want to talk about Givenchy couture, but at the same time, I really don't. While the dresses were beautiful, the detailing exquisite (next time I have a gala to go to where nipples are allowed, I'll take this please and thank you), and the inspiration seemingly sincere--Kazuo Ohno and Butoh dancing (used to pretty great effect in this Einst├╝rzende Neubauten clip, incidentally) via Antony Hegarty--the casting had the same sweeping generalization, gimmicky vibe that Vogue's Asia Major editorial had. The last word: Gita has shown me the parallels between this collection and Gurren Lagann. Quote: "Givenchy’s is the couture collection that will pierce through the heavens!"

But now, I guess what's stuck out for me most this couture season--or, to be frank, what's been reblogged on my Tumblr dashboard the most--is this look from Jean Paul Gaultier's collection:

Which comes on the heels of these equally popular shots from menswear:

Time to cover my ass: I quite like Andrej Pejic. He's gorgeous, there's no denying that, and heaven knows I'm not faulting him for a bit of designer dress-up. I remember reading a fairly old interview with him on the Fashion Spot where he said his favorite things were '80s New Romantics, his hero is Boy George, and he likes a whole lot of Dead or Alive. He's a modern Blitz kid, and anyone who leaves me with visions of Steve Strange and super-early Duran Duran dancing in my head is a keeper in my book. This isn't the first time ultra-feminine (I hesitate to say androgynous, more on that later) male models have tottered down the runway in dresses and heels: Martin Cohn, most recently. Same goes for the reverse: Omahyra, most obviously, and Kristen fact, most of the grunge girls.

I also really, really dig JPG's punky couture collection--which is nice, since he's been kind of underwhelming lately. And I also like JPG as a dude and as a model caster (is there a CD for his shows?). His runways are full of some of the most diverse faces and bodies in the business, so I trust that he's not hopping aboard the bandwagon. It's just beginning to feel a lot like fetishization for me. OBSERVE:

Let's play some convoluted thought hopscotch. LOVE Magazine's Androgyny Issue, hitting newsstands February 7 (though I imagine it'll come to the US by March or something). I'm going to withhold judgment until I see the issue, or at least a list of contents, photographers, models, etc. So first, Cover 1 with Kate Moss and Lea T. I'm extraordinarily happy to see Lea getting more editorial work, hopefully beyond her just wearing Givenchy; here's also hoping, in the unicorns-and-rainbows sense, that her success doesn't rely on her being qualified as a transgender model for much longer--just let her be a good model. Good on the Pulp-inspired tagline too. So why does it leave me cold? Yeah, you can say that casting a transgendered model in the nude, decidedly more feminine and vulnerable role is food for thought, but the concept isn't executed to full effect. Kate, sporting a greasy pompadour and a "this is butch, right?" leather number probably on holdover from a Freja shoot, actually kind of looks uncomfortable (this might speak to her limited, though enduring, range as a model).

I don't have much to say about Bieber's cover other than...I kind of feel bad for the poor kid. He looks 12 and he has a daft haircut, to be sure, and his fans are apparently fucking terrifying, but it's a bit mean-spirited, yeah? It feels unnecessarily nasty to be poking fun at a 16-year-old for his girly looks (some even going so far as to question his gender or sexuality), looking like a lesbian or vice versa. Does he understand all the gendered hate he gets? Thing is, LOVE's Katie Grand is a pretty shrewd marketer. Now that Carine Roitfeld's gone, she's one of the industry's most knowing shock-mongers, provocation for provocation's sake. Again, I won't judge until I see what's inside, but given LOVE's track record, I kind of expect a whole lot of sharp-jawed girls in suits eventually showing off their tits.

Which kind of brings me back to Andrej. Why does he stand out as a symptom of fashion's androgyny disease to me and not, say, Jana K's awesome haircut or the fact that for a while, Freja couldn't take a god damn photo without being suited up, greased out, and eventually totally nude? Is it because I find something attractive about those gals and thus turn a blind eye? It gets me angry, but for other reasons. Fashion's androgyny is not about gender expression, ambiguous features, or what have you--it's body politics at play again. I mentioned it as the one thing that grates about designers like Rad Hourani, and Meg pretty much caught on it in a comment from the LAST time I did a post like this, and it remains convoluted and not fully thought out, justified, or explained. Androgyny defaults to ectomorphic, long, lean silhouettes. 20-something female models are made to look like 17-year-old boys by the nature of the business; we go crazy when a 22-year-old woman has hips and breasts, but the capital-W Women and the androgynes are sexualized as women all the same. When male models look like capital-M Men, or they're a little older, they've got build and a bit of facial hair, we breathe a sigh of relief and herald a new age of masculinity; 17-year-old boys who look like 17-year-old boys who are a bit awkward, perhaps a bit more feminine, kind of freak us out and call to mind fashion's obsession with androgyny. But then again, they're sexualized for their youth (HEDI SLIMANE'S ENTIRE CAREER DIOR HOMME AND BEYOND), and that's not great either. And if androgyny goes beyond that prepubescent, slim-hipped mold, we turn our noses in disgust. See Fashion Spot commenters being grossed out by an image of Leigh Bowery nude on Acne Paper's cover.

So then we put the young boy in women's clothes and freak out once again. So Andrej Pejic is being sexualized--or worse, fetishized--as a woman. He's doing it willingly because he enjoys it, but I guess I just hope that the kid has a career once the modeling industry defaults back to prepubescents. Because if my favorite Vogue Turkey editorial and its impeccable styling prove anything, he's got a damn beautiful face and longevity under the Veronica Lake waves.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

costume national / thomas engel hart

I'm not sure why I've blogged so much about menswear/men's fashion in the past. Perhaps it's because the things that piss me off about womenswear hit too close to home; even though women's fashion creates a better show and spectacle during Fashion Week, I can't help but think about how impossible half of the clothing is...not just that it's impractical, but it's designed with a narrow spectrum. It's what bothers me a tinge about Rad Hourani's unisex designs; it's not legitimately designed with all genders in mind, rather the sort of androgynous ectomorph that already has his/her pick of the litter for fashion.

So rather than post about pre-fall (which, let's be real, I have no fucking clue what pre-fall is, and it seems there are only two weeks in New York when such "transitional" clothing would work so why bother. It just seems like a supply/demand financial invention to me), I turn back to menswear. Truth be told, I haven't been paying much attention to Pitti Uomo F/W 2011 either. I probably won't until soundtrack lists come out and I discover that Riccardo Tisci used more coldwave or witch house or some nonsense.

costume national a/w 2011

Speaking of a music influence, apparently Ennio Capasa's mood board for Costume National included a photo of James Chance, whose no-wave jazz noise is a decent counterpart to CN's "rebel tailoring" theme.

He's definitely one of the most enduring figures of the NYC scene; the way he and the Contortions (or the Blacks, or when he was with Teenage Jesus and the Jerks) combined real improvisational funk skill with the squawking, punk-rock rhythms of the time--not to mention his penchant for serious concert beatdowns and a mean fist--has stood him in good fresh stead.

Costume National's collection is the only one that I've been really interested in thus far, and I think (for a high-fashion, high-sex label) the tailoring is decently analogous to Chance's music. Classically slim suiting is undone by raw edges, leather lapels, and heat-fused fabrics, and I have a real thing for turtlenecks and mod mohair sweaters. I don't know why; I was obsessed with CN's monochrome-blocked turtlenecks from A/W 2010, and do not get me STARTED on the perfection that was Jil Sander A/W 2008. I guess it's a New Wave, floppy-haired underachievers thing. Chelsea boots? Say no more.

thomas engel hart x underground

Well, actually, say more. As a designer, Thomas Engel Hart--a key figure in NYC's art/club scene in the nineties himself--has a flair for getting my not-so-well hidden punk screaming with joy. He's another who'd better move into womenswear, stat. I love it when designers play off youth cults; the aged cult members themselves (skinheads, mods, what have you) may not appreciate their teenage rebellion being co-opted by a consumer industry, but it looks damn good. TEH designed these boots in collaboration with Underground, pretty much the #1 winklepicker provider on the internet. They were available at Opening Ceremony, but tragically went out of stock before I could get my hands on a Men's size 9. (I have gigantic problem feet; the only sizes still available are the tiny men's sizes specially designed so women could order them from OC.) Mark my words though, they will be mine.