When I saw the images from Chadwick Tyler’s Tiberius gallery exhibition, I was speechless. They were far outside of anything I’d come to expect from a fashion editorial (which is what I first thought it was); I loved them simply because they felt new. The second time I went through them, I was slightly disgusted. My only frame of reference for the stark images of madness and hysteria were holocaust victims, abused women, and the hopeless inmates of Victorian asylums. The gritty black and white shots of gaunt, half-naked and vulnerable women became brutal and exploitative. The third time I went through them they led me to three revelations.
There has always been a lot of discussion around the WORN table about the monster known as Mainstream Fashion. Its visual cues seep into every aspect of media culture, from music videos to detergent ads, an homogenous human landscape of the pale and thin. We absorb more images in a day than our brains could ever consciously process, and we internalize them without analysis. But what are we really looking at? What are the messages underneath the bright clothes and perfect skin?
In my heart of hearts, I’m a minimalist. I’m a sucker for a classic line and a clean palette and I never met a grey sweater I didn’t like. I have lots of odd things – feathered hats, pleather leggings, gold shoes – but they are headliners, cast in outfits made of neutral extras. Personally, I think people underestimate the dedication minimalism requires. Crazy crap is everywhere; it is nearly impossible to find the perfect oxford shirt or tailored wool pant.
Maggie Rizer for Max Mara: I find her enormous feet weirdly charming.
Classically beautiful women should be left to men without imagination. Or so said Marcel Proust. The French have an expression I adore: jolie laide. Literally, it translates to beautiful ugly; the Collins English Dictionary defines it as “a woman whose ugliness is her chief fascination.” I think that is, perhaps, too simple an explanation. When I think of jolie laide, I think of women like Anjelica Houston and Sigourney Weaver, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Charlotte Gainsbourg, models Erin O’Connor and Kristen McMenamy, and (one of our editor’s favourites) Diana Vreeland. And I absolutely think of Tilda Swinton.
Tilda Swinton, photographed by Raymond Meier
A few months ago I was talking to Serah-Marie (Worn’s Editor in Pants). I had sent her some digital images I was using as inspiration for a photo shoot. In the course of conversation I offered to burn a CD “for the Worn reference library”, a copy of a few years worth of my own internet image searches. “I must have at least 300 or so,” I said. I went home, opened up my image files, selected all, and discovered in excess of 1600 items.
Hi, my name is Coco and I’m an image junkie.
The internet is a beautiful thing. Literally. If I open up my browser to search for a picture, something to illustrate an idea or as supplement to a bit of writing, I can lose myself for hours bouncing from site to site. The chain is endless. My “favourites” list is filled with links to vintage photography sites, random bits of fashion, and other peoples’ obsessions. I rip the photos I love best and save the addresses in case of an image emergency. (Make no mistake, there is such a thing.)
As with any addiction, my dependence makes me greedy, reticent to share. I territorially hoard my stash. As Courtney Love says, “I want to be the girl with the most cake.” But today I’m taking the first step to rehabilitation. I’ve admitted my problem and I’m giving up my top three.