10/16/13

Healthy Choices

I played a show last night with ClapperClaw and J-A-H at CoCo66. It was really great. Not a lot of people came, but I had fun. I did a set of covers:
A photo of me performing Captain St. Lucifer (I asked them to make the lights red for that song). 

I was happy with how it went. I sometimes forget how much I really love playing shows. Like, Oh yeah. Even if not a lot of people come. Even if people come but they hate it. That didn't happen last night, I think people liked it. It's just this thing of changing your attitude, or kind of just paying better attention to things. I love performing. I don't think that makes me a mean or bad person, necessarily. I think it's where my skills are best put to use. It may not seem that way to other people, but everyone has their own way of looking at things. I didn't get enough sleep but I was so blissed out and reading Depression: A Public Feeling in bed. I think my mattress is fucked up again. It's only a year old! I wake up every morning in excruciating pain. Today was alright but I slept later than I should have. I'm so sleepy today. Exhausted. 

I think you can tell a lot about a person by what they eat for breakfast. I imagine that people who are rich, or well organized or happy eat really good, elaborate breakfasts. The way you do anything is the way you do everything, right? Some people only eat for nutritional value. Some people have breakfast as part of a larger master plan. I routinely deny myself breakfast, almost subconsciously. On one level, it's the thing of "I never have time" to eat, and when I do eat it's usually because I breakdown and get something with no nutritional value.

Anna Dello Russo eats what she calls a Japanese breakfast every morning, which includes has miso soup. Don't you want to be like ADR? I do.



So thank heavens for man who sells fruit on the Southwest corner of 34th St. and 8th Avenue and his cheery, toothless smile. I go to him sometimes when I'm late for work or just want to have some fruit for breakfast (if I'm trying to make a healthier choice). I usually buy a raisin-bran muffing from the coffee guy next door. He doesn't smile, since I only ever buy muffins and never his stank-black steamed tar coffee beverage, sizzling little fistfuls of heartburn and dry cleaning. I got a muffin and an apple today. I feel like I am taking OK care of myself by stopping to get it. I ran into the cute boy who works in my building in the elevator, was too shy to say anything, and then a coworker got on so I chatted with her. That probably makes me seem like so much more of an asshole. He was really cute.

So let's talk about the Spring/Summer 2014 COMME des GARÇONS collection. On her process for making this collection, Rei Kawakubo told reporters through her husband/interpreter/CEO Adrian Joffe: “She says she couldn't think of anything new, so she decided not to make any clothes."



This god a typically rapturous review from the NYT, Cathy Horyn loved the freedom of Kawakubo's imagination (as she does every season). The folks over on the CDGTENPOMAP blog worried briefly that this augured Kawakubo's retirement. Thankfully, this doesn't seem to be the case. At least not yet. Dis Magazine said the "irrelevant, redundant, and fairly obvious, padded, stuffed, and structurally unsound handmade garments felt gratuitous, meaningless, and even trendy:" and wondered if perhaps she needed a "Re-cation". Ba-dum-DUM. That's fine, Kawakubo seems to thrive on negative reviews, right?
"If I do something I think is new, it will be misunderstood, but if people like it, I will be disappointed because I haven’t pushed them enough. The more people hate it, maybe the newer it is. Because the fundamental human problem is that people are afraid of change. The place I am always looking for—because in order to keep the business I need to make a little compromise between my values and customers’ values—is the place where I make something that could almost—but not quite—be understood by everyone.”
I was really into this collection. At first I thought about how cool it was that Kawakubo seems to be displaying a kind of fundamental ambivalence about fashion, clothes in general. But thinking a bit more, that's not really what's going on here. Ambivalence is multiple options, Kawakubo is fairly consistent in the way her line of thinking leads her in one direction. It's not that she could take or leave the concept of clothing; it's that no progress can be made until the concept of clothing, and the baggage (sorry) that comes with clothing and designing fashion is abandoned, neutralized. These looks might not work at the office or a dinner party, but they don't have to. She's not trying to make clothing here. At least not clothing as we know it.

In a way it's a more emotionally honest collection than we've seen from Kawakubo in a long time. Remember, she'd almost never concede that her clothes are unwearable. In fact, to the contrary, she'd often indicate that the mechanical complexity, the violent ugliness of some of the clothes worked almost as mystically, to convey energy, strength, rebelliousness. This is the woman who thinks of spraying $200 perfume as analogous to drinking a cup of coffee or smoking a cigarette. It's great. But for Kawakubo to be presenting a collection that simply dispenses with the notion of wearability, it's sort of forthright and, I don't know, kind of sweet. She seems to be demanding that the garments (as such), the constructions be evaluated on their own terms, rather than how they might fit into your wardrobe. She does not seem to want to present a collection that makes you excited to go to a red carpet premier or benefit gala. These looks are not for the feint of heart.

Yes, Dis, we've seen these shapes before. Yes, more forcefully and more clearly articulated. But, to my mind, this is the utilization of a CdG vocabulary. There are a number of classic CdG codes she's working with here (bones, skeletons, armor, protection, bondage, girlhood, blackness, jewelry, etc.), but the design part is in the context; the codes and gestures are applied outside of the realm of "making clothes". It's something else.

The show does remind me of the CdG S/S 2004 collection (gosh, ten years ago!), in which Kawakubo showed only skirts. This time, there were no pants or skirts or bottoms at all, really. It would be naive to think that these big terrific things are the only things CdG is going to produce next season. In 2004 they produced a number of gorgeous jackets. This time the ideas of the presentation will certainly filter into the actual pieces that get produced. As Joffe notes in a recent and wonderfully informative interview, they produce 95% of what's shown on the runway. I'm excited to see what actually gets made from these looks, and how eternally cool CdG sales staff styles them.

There's something so refreshing, and maybe even optimistic about the idea of just changing the frame. Like, if you don't have any ideas for new clothes to make, start by not worrying about making clothes. The existential point here is, I think, a beautiful one. I'm trying to find the quote from Nina Hagen where she's hosting the German version of American Idol or something, and makes some cockamamie point about how God is the vase and you are the flowers, but you need to change the water. I'm messing it up. What I'm getting at is that the new CdG collection is a fundamental statement on nature, on reality, on the force of creativity and will. Which aspects of your circumstances seem permanent, immovable, and how sure are you exactly? What would it look like to free yourself from the constraints you think are permanent?

Make healthy choices, kids.

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