Monday, July 25, 2011

let's go back to the start

A shot of my notice-board. Re-done. This isn't too much of a change of what I had before but it is a good reflection of my personal men's parka above 50s' skirt. Click to enlarge if you so please. 

Whilst cleaning my room recently, I had a bit of an identity crisis. Thoughts that had been bubbling beneath for months suddenly came to the surface as I peeled away the countless magazine cuttings, collages and drawings that had papered my walls for years. The world is probably divided between those who stick things on their walls and those who don’t. Let’s just say, I would have had a good chance of running for lord mayor of the former camp. And winning.  

For years I trawled magazines looking for tiny images of the stars of yesteryear – black and white Audrey Hepburn, bikini-clad Elizabeth Taylor, anonymous 1950s' couture models, Twiggy, Katherine Hepburn in trousers and a plethora of Debbie Harry papery-scraps, all orange eye shadow, cheekbone and teeth. That was the ‘vintage wall’. There was also the postcard collection (all paintings), my own drawings above my bed, the fashion collage above my desk, the enormous notice board and the other walls plastered with A4 magazine cut outs and the occasional arty piece.
Desk collage close-up: A drawing I did at a college get-together, The Mitford sisters, shot from Easy Rider ( I really like Easy Rider, particularly the soundtrack), Gandalf, The Jam, Grace Kelly, Picasso's 'Les Demoiselles D'Avignon', You can't really see her, but Vivienne Westwood is at the edge here,  PJ Harvey, Van Gogh self-portrait, Millais' 'Ophelia', Churchill quote, Marilyn Monroe.

Desk collage close-up: Isabella Stewart Garner piece, Peggy Guggenheim postcard,  Jasper Johns' postcard, Tim Walker Vogue ed, The Beatles, Cindy Sherman film still, Post card from McQueen exhibition, Max Beckmann postcard, photo of my friend Julie and I at a music festival a few years back (I'm wearing cat-eyes.), Breakfast at Tiffany's replica ticket, Maud Gonne piece, NME cover.

I didn’t take everything down. Eh...far from it. In fact, to regular eyes the walls are still reasonably very populated. But for me, every scrap that I did take down felt something like a tiny revolution. However, as my friend Eva wisely pointed out (who as it happens was conducting a similar project), removing these old weathered fragments gives the sense that you’re progressing or changing even. And it’s true, it did feel a little like that.
Desk collage close-up: Cindy Sherman film still, Klimt 'The Kiss', Max Beckmann 'Quappi en Rose', Seinfeld cast with Larry David,  Vintage crinoline ad, Bob Dylan in concert, NME cover with The Clash, Kate Moss in Lainey Keogh.

So what about these thoughts that I mentioned in the first paragraph? These thoughts chiefly concerned my changing relationship with fashion. It has changed. Significantly even...maybe? The magazine montages only served to highlight what I had been suspecting for months now. And starting with the imagery: I now wanted images that really meant something to me or inspired me, rather than ‘cool’ but slightly  random magazine editorials or outdated celebrity shots.  I wanted images of Peggy Guggenheim, Patti Smith, PJ Harvey, Tavi Gevinson, Susie Lau, Maud Gonne, The Clash, Vivienne Westwood, David Bowie etc etc as well as the old favourites like Debbie Harry and Audrey Hepburn nestled among snaps of friends and arty postcards. To sum up, I wanted well – chosen imagery. I should clarify that precisely the problem was that I had never taken anything down before. I rarely changed the images on my notice board and the cuttings clung to the wall were seemingly eternal artefacts of my existence. Indeed, the aforementioned Eva asked me a few months ago would I ever take anything down to which I replied, ‘never’. Funny how things change.

Noticeboad close-up: Debbie Harry, Joni Mitchell album cover, Bowie, ID (?) shot of skinhead hair

 I feel as though I am rediscovering fashion.  I want a type of fashion for me. A fashion that crosses over with my other interests – the type of music I listen to, the films/TV I watch, the books I read, my interest in art and my fascination for that particular type of creative woman (women like Guggenheim, Lee Miller, Gonne, Daphne Guinness et al).

Noticeboard close-up: Coco Chanel, Susie Lau, Princess Margaret and Marilyn Monroe on her wedding day to Arthur Miller nestled among old and beloved Elle eds

Of course, would I be right in saying that this is the fashion we all want? But even stating this is reaffirming in itself. It’s like going back to basics. A fashion that isn’t so trend led, or led too much by fashion-y randomers and all-too powerful magazines, but essentially just reflects you and what you are and your interests.

Noticeboard close - up: Betty Draper, Alexa Chung, Kate Moss's 30th Birthday party, Jane Birkin, favourite Elle eds, Bowie, Pixie Geldof (not a fan generally but a great punky Love ed), Patti Smith

Reaffirming this takes away a lot pressure. I have no problems with trying out trends or being trendy– I just don’t want to feel obligated to wear something just because it’s ‘in’ or perhaps, even more difficult to avoid is feeling obligated to wear something because it is all over some shop (cough Topshop). I am at a point in my life where I genuinely only want to wear clothes that I'm comfortable in and perhaps, say something about me. I want to wear Converse with my scruffy green parka and my canvas bag from MoMA and my rings and be done with it. But just as much as I want to wear a ladylike skirt and pretty shoes and lipstick the next day. I just don’t want to ever feel that my passion/interest for fashion is measured in how trendy I am. Because you know what? That’s bullshit. 

Noticeboard close-up: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Marianne Faithful, Alexa Chung, Audrey Hepburn and Kim Noorda for Margaret Howell
I didn’t mean for this to be so long (and needless to mention, I should apologise for my serious tone - ultimately we are only talking clothes here). But it feels like a weight off my shoulders. I never realised that reorganizing a few images in my room would cause me to reconsider so much. But I feel somewhat better. I am taking a step back for a while. Winding down and hopefully replacing this cynical eye for fashion with the beliefs I once had that fashion could be this great creative thing. 
And that is exactly what I want to rediscover.


Anonymous said...

I admire your idea to reinvigorate your list of fashion icons, but I did notice a lot of the new women you put up, while awesome, where all of a similar type - white.

This is not a criticism, just that I thought you might like to see some equally stylish black style icons. so I went for a wee look. I thought this site had some great pictures on it.

seriously, number 3, Dorothy Dandridge, is a million degrees cooler than I'll ever be...

Kat said...

@Anon – While it shames me to a little to admit it, you are very right. Pretty much all the pictures I have stuck up are of white women, and this does need to be rectified.

Thank you very much for the link and for your helpful criticism. It’s quite eye-opening and I really appreciate it. While I have posted about Billie Holiday in the past, people like Dorothy Dandridge and Naomi Sims really do need some posting about!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Kat for your response I really enjoy reading your blog :)

Lia said...

Really liked this post, and it's true, fashion is taken so seriously these days and while I love it and do see (some of) it as art, I find that the people I admire the most are the ones who follow their own fashion rules not those of a magazine. I recently posted about Vintage Versace and the almost tongue in cheek nature of its style, i like it because its wacky and wild and ott but could equally admire the simplicity of jeans and a t-shirt. I say do what you like, wear what you like and F*** the begrudgers ;) x

Donna said...

This post is refreshing and made me very happy. I totally agree that everyone needs to find their own style and a fashion for them. It's very easy to wear "what's in" - for those lucky enough to have the money to anyway! But this requires zero imagination. Being fashionable, in my opinion, is not about wearing the most up to date styles, but more about being able to express yourself through your attire - even if you make a few mistakes along the way!

Great job xx