Photo and Art: John Yuyi @johnyuyi
Once again I am inspired by my fellow sociologist, the fashion designer Demna Gvasalia. In an interview published in Vestoj and summarized by BOF, he addresses three of my favorite things to think about in fashion: authenticity, irony and resistance. The photo that I am posting today, a collaboration with the artist John Yuyi, for me represents my take on the three. Now that my break is here I have time to deeply reflect, to embrace my re-set completely and perhaps to find more ways to share that experience with you. The re-set, or going back to the beginning is right and Gvasalia shares that view in his comment, “Authenticity is going back to the original archetype”.
For me, that means thoughtfully re-visiting my about page which has not changed during the 3+ years of my project and is probably the most shared and quoted thing about me. I think that rather than turning to fashion news and independent magazine platforms for inspiration, I will spend the next weeks taking each concept in the “Woman Who” and then subsequently do a deep dive into each. It will be an interesting writing and creative direction challenge. It will ground and center me into recalling what was important to me in the beginning. It will help me remember my DNA and bring it into the present after a time of much learning and experimentation. I can bring it forward into today and use it to give me a modern sense of direction. “There is no there” means this will always be an ever evolving process.
You might remember a post I wrote about this designer and his January 2017 show that presented archetypes of dressing. Highly conceptual, many “fashionistas” thought the collection simple, saying it reminded them of a neighbor. That, said the designer, was the whole point. With Vetements Gvasalia always takes us back to the working class (whether it is Champion sweats or Carhartt work clothes) and reminds me of my own roots. The point, he argues, is all about the kind of questioning of culture that takes place through the medium of clothing. Clothes are the posers of questions that often need to answered by a culture or an individual. Questions that can be both/and funny and painful and thus ironic. Being partial to text for various reasons, this time text was used to pose the questions. The text the artist created for me reminds me of and references another great artist, Barbara Kruger, who has used and is currently using text in this same ironic way to respond to and ask important questions about power and consumerism.
The resistance piece of the trifecta is in regard to what Gvasalia calls “selling out”. This is giving into the lure of money with the danger of over saturation, To avoid this, one must learn to say no, an important strategy that comes along with any re-set. Saying no and even losing money in the short term for what you wish for in the long term is the strategy. “There is no there” reflects the fast moving, ever evolving landscape that makes it hard to have a long term view. This landscape can support authenticity, irony and resistance yet it can also make them easy to lose. It requires a good deal of stamina to maintain oneself. The photo I post today is asking ironic questions about authenticity, power, age, social media, creativity and selling out.
How are you maintaining a long term view and what gives you the stamina to do so?