fashion

Chronic Dissatisfaction

This is not a self-help type of article, I can’t do that, not just because I think it’s cheesy, but simply because I’m not good at it. This is me asking some vital questions.

I see it everywhere around me – my mom does it, my sister, my father used to do it, my brother, my friends, oh and count me in, even though I’m reluctant to admit it. I’m talking about things – looking for, constantly craving and finally buying new stuff – clothes and accessorize are more common with female population and gadgets among men, but I don’t want to generalize and go along with common expectations since my dad has over 50 pairs of shoes and unknown number of shirts. Half of those are, you’ve guessed it, never worn.

It’s a never-ending loop, a process of looking for that perfect piece of clothing that is going to fill your life with purpose or create your improved identity, buying it, coming home and shortly after that realizing that you need something else. Every satisfied need for an object, no matter if it’s a T-shirt, a bag, a new lamp, table-cloth or iPhone opens a need for something else, something newer, something clean and unused.

Today I am in a position to pretentiously conclude I am more skillful than my sister in breaking the loop and realizing what is actually bothering me and therefore finding a solution for my heartache.

For example, my sister is in a never-ending look out for a new pair of  pants – she owns I don’t know how many, from a bunch of ridiculously similar jeans in to all kinds of print summer edition trousers, but it’s never enough. Whenever she goes to the store, she buys new pants but always comes back a bit sad because she couldn’t find the ones she had in mind. Asking her about what exactly did she have in mind ends up really badly with us having a fight so I stopped asking questions, I just observe and thank the gods I escaped from the power of the loop.

‘Chronic dissatisfaction, that’s what you have’, I always tell her while sitting on my high horse, never revealing that I stole that line from Penélope Cruz’s character in Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

Nevertheless, I am familiar with the occasional feeling of despair and thinking ‘I am so lame and everything I own is a bunch of worn out shit’ when entering the shopping mall. The positive thing is, after going in a couple of stores and trying out some clothes, I realize I already have everything I like wearing back home in my closet so I just buy similar stuff to replace the older, shabby ones. At the end of the day, I don’t really throw out that scruffy sweater because I decide it has a SOUL, yep, that’s how I manage the craziness, I play along with pretending expendable objects have a deeper meaning.

 

via Daily Prompt: Loop

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Guy Bourdin: The World of Strange Fantasies

Let’s talk about stepping over the lines of the safety zone through art and fashion. Perfectionism, violence, surrealism and eroticism. One name embodies it all – Guy Bourdin, a controversial and incredibly influential French photographer.

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“My pictures are just accidents. I am not a director, merely the agent of chance”

I remember sitting in a class dedicated to analysis and the use of violence in the media, it was one of the few interesting, contemporary subjects I really enjoyed dealing with throughout that year’s semester. We studied numerous films and TV commercials while trying to detect over the top, degrading content,  discussing whether the violent or sexual scenes are acceptable and art worthy or completely unnecessary, used only to shock and get attention.

After movies we focused on commercials and fashion editorials that are regularly filled with nudity, painfully obvious sexual allusions, glorification of drugs, weird, even gore images that have nothing to do with the product… One of the examples that stood out and made people react in a second were a couple of posters showing female legs in stockings and high heels, one of the photos was particularly provocative as it featured a woman photographed from the behind. She is wearing black stilettos and sexy fishnets and seems to be reaching for something or maybe falling down into the unknown, making us look at her body placed in an unusual, exploitative position.

That was one of Guy Bourdin’s most famous photographs, the one I had printed on a A4 size paper and glued to the wardrobe with a chewed up bubble gum. At the time, I didn’t know much about Bourdin’s work, I stumbled upon his photos in an old fashion magazine while I was sitting in my dentist’s waiting room. Where else, right? Who buys that shit anymore? While you’re sitting and waiting for a minor surgery that is about to take place in your mouth, you’re not happy or inspired or focused, you just need something to play with until your name gets called.

But, here’s the thing, of course I didn’t read a single article, I didn’t care about Keira Knightley’s style secrets interview, I totally ignored ‘this summer must have recommendation list’, but while flipping through those pages I saw something that made me go back and stare. It was a throwback to Bourdin’s 1979 Autumn campaign for Charles Jourdan brand. It is the same series of photos where the one from my wardrobe came from and each one was captivating because it was something I had not seen before. The photos in the magazine showed legs wearing high heeled shoes. Just legs, cut from the knee down. It was one of the many shoe editorials Bourdain made. The photos were surreal, I didn’t find them beautiful, attractive or aesthetically pleasing, but the fact that they gave me a moment of ‘out of this world experience’ was more than enough to intrigue me.  I wrote down his name on my phone in case I forget later (the fact that he had a French name made me even more interested).

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You are familiar with the epic line marketing campaign ‘experts’  love to (over)use whenever the opportunity presents itself: ‘SEX SELLS!’, they scream as they make a two-minute toothbrush commercial where half of the time we see a closeup of a very young and beautiful girl eyeing the man of her dreams while holding that brush. She is vigorously moving it around her mouth, in and out, and back in, smiling like she’s experiencing the greatest joy of her life. You’ve seen it all, they push sexual allusions into situations where it ends up looking far away from wanted sexy appeal, rather ridiculous and awkward. Sex is the most talked and thought about topic, right next to politics unfortunately, but placed in an artificial surroundings it just doesn’t work. But who cares, as long as it draws attention and invites us to comment the stupidity of the creative mind behind the genius idea.

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This is where Bourdain was a master – direct, but not trashy , although ridiculous if you take things and his obsession with detail out of the context. And he’s just not all about sex like those Dolce & Gabbana gang rape adverts. Even though there will always be criticism towards Bourdain’s objectification of women and depersonalizing them, turning them into victims and subordinated, weak characters, I never decided to explore that side of his work and pulling it through feministic social critique filter. Maybe I was afraid it would made me not like his work anymore and I didn’t want to ruin something that was so mesmerizing to me. Maybe I just didn’t care in this case, because I don’t look at the models in simulated death scenes in Bourdain’s photos as the victims. Maybe a very primal sensation, a voyeur in me doesn’t let me turn against this world of sexual fantasy and making me accept it as simply controversial. Contorversial is cool, even necessary. Fashion is all about objectification and commodity, so it’s always a relief when I find someone whose work overpasses those elements shows creativity and expression in their purest form.

Using Tarantino’s quotes as a conclusion sentence is always the best idea:

Why graphic violence? BECAUSE IT’S SO MUCH FUN! 

Guy Bourdin exclusive

 

 

The Exploitation of Frida

One day in the late 1940’s you find yourself wandering around Coyoacán, Mexico and stop by at La Casa Azul where the rebellious painter lived and ask her: Frida, my dear,  what do you want to be remembered by after you are no longer living on Earth? What do you think the answer would be? I have a couple of versions on my mind, they are all connected with freedom and free love, determination, passion and obsession with life with all of its epic, exciting, moments, but also the inevitable downfalls, pain, sickness and sleepless nights. 

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I am happy that the legendary artist is getting more popular than ever, social media created an important passage for new generations towards her art, words and thoughts about honest love and intimate suffering. The aftermath is amazing, even though Frida passed away 63 years ago, her image and spirit are present while she’s considered as a role model and inspiration to girls and women (and some boys and men, because why not?) of all profiles, especially the underprivileged, misunderstood ones.

Commodification as a norm

Every medal comes with two sides, and the thing that is happening with Frida’s persona, just  like with many other important figures who represent resistance to the system of exploitation, is that they are all being turned into something completely opposite, they’re becoming objects of advertising propaganda. Just think of the irony of Che Guevara, the best example of modern era’s distortion of values – his face selling T-shirts, travel agency deals, coffee mugs, key chains, door mats, towels… There’s even a ‘Che chic’ expression for a fashion inspired by the great revolutionary’s image! The real person and the idea behind is lost, irrelevant, to a great number of people his face is merely a caricature, a pop art commodity.

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To answer the question from the  beginning of the post, I’m positive that Frida Kahlo would never accept the role of a commercialized poster girl, a capitalist icon connected to various products in most ridiculous ways. The last example I saw today, the one that ‘triggered’ me to write this down was a billboard presenting a young model wearing Frida inspired traditional Tehuana like dress with a flower crown and a parrot sitting on her hand, all very rich, colourful, with a big white 10 % SALE banner screaming from the top right corner. Naturally, there is no manifest mention of Frida, but the resemblance is uncanny. Oh, and when I zoomed in towards the bottom right corner of the image, I could finally see it is a commercial for a newly opened furniture store. What is the connection? What do Frida’s face, style and that poor parrot have to do with the new sofa or a lamp they would like you to buy? I have no idea, I’m pretty sure that the ad creators are equally clueless.  That’s the idea, to keep everything floating on the surface, as soon as you dig deeper, try to find any meaning, there’s a dead-end.

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Fake feminism

In Frida’s case the story is even more complicated because it all has a lot to do with commercialization of feminism and empower yourself ads. Empower yourself by buying our shoes, empower yourself by getting that perfume in a drugstore near you, empower yourself by choosing hair extensions from our salon, empower yourself… Ok, just stop for a second there and let me unnecessary analyse it. What does it mean exactly –  if I buy a T-shirt from a brand that currently doesn’t have the ’empower’ or ’embrace your beauty’ campaign going on, am I degrading my self – worth? And what about next month, when the brand I bought the shirt from turns to a different, for example ‘YOLO!’ campaign style while the others begin to embrace the ‘love yourself, be unique, but look just like everyone else while wearing our clothes’ mantra? Damn, it’ s like you can never win and reach 100 % on the empoweredness scale. Should I worry about it, probably not, but I do sometimes. I feel like I have to. Would Frida care? I think not, she would just continue marching on using her talent as a weapon of mass destruction in fighting every stereotype there is on her way to immortality.

Wearing Frida or Che’s face on your shirt is not really a problem, the question is: Do you know who those people are, how they lived and what they stand for? Or are you just wearing it because you like the colors and it looks kind of cool and edgy while their polished images are somewhat familiar and also you saw someone wearing it on a Instagram photo just the other day? If the answer to the second question is yes, take the shirt off and do some research.

Now I need to chill, hand me that Pepsi, Kendall! Cheers!

Pop stars make money, not art

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It’s not a real post, just a short observation. This photo presents why Rihanna is awesome. Rihanna as a brand, not a person, because believe it or not, I don’t know her. She obviously doesn’t give a fuck about her appearance, but that’s not a big deal at all because she’s in a position to not give a fuck. Rihanna who gives a fuck, now that would be a weird surprise, even a bold statement.

The singers’ power doesn’t lay in her image of being a rebel because she’s not a real one. It can’t be compared to genuine punk ways of Sid Vicious, Joe Strummer, Bowie, Iggy or even Andy Warhol and his colourful team. No way. Sylvia Plath, Simone de Beauvoir,  Frida Kahlo, Virginia Woolf, now those were the real punks, rebels with a purpose. I love rebels, but I love Riri, too. Let me explain.

Her main job is not art, it is to make loads of money. She’s in a position where her popularity allows her to set trends that would influence people, mostly young girls, to consume, buy more and more stuff with no real reason. The influence of today’s pop stars doesn’t depend on books or even newspapers or television, it spreads like fire through photos on social media. It’s not complicated at all, no matter what messages Rihanna sends through interviews or her lyrics, let’s face it, she’s not calling for a revolution. And why should she? She is a product of the system we live in, everything is for sale and the product is as valuable as the wealth it accumulates. 

I’m getting to my point. This photo makes me laugh, not only because Riri looks ridiculous, it’s because it will make people buy and wear ugly sunglasses, flip-flops with socks and feel like a boss. Not only will they wear that, they will pay as much as it takes. The higher the price, the better, people are suckers for exclusive things. As the price of a product goes up, it’s Instagram photo with hashtags becomes more valuable. Simple math. #flipflops