Free Pussy Riot: The Only Band That Matters in 2012
If you haven’t heard of Pussy Riot yet, you need to take action now! Tobi Vail (yes, of Bikini Kill) had much to say about members of the anonymous collective (who were jailed for protesting the conservative Russian government) as well as their outfits: “Their uniform not only disguises their identities, it congeals their individuality into a unified set of symbols. Their neon balaclavas clash with the individual pieces of clothing worn by each girl, but also express a visual unity. Bright purple, pink, green, red, yellow and blue; one girl’s tights clash with her dress, but match another girl’s balaclava, which match a third girl’s tights, whose balaclava matches the first girl’s dress, and so on. The result is an image that is striking and memorable.”
Thinking Kink: The Politics of BDSM Fashion
Catherine Scott at Bitch Magazinerecently wrote this short piece about the place of clothing in BDSM culture. These kinds of interesting discussions happen on fetish community discussion boards all the time, so seeing it moved into a venue like Bitch is exciting.
Tom of Sinland (NSFW)
While we’re on the topic of S&M, we must bring your attention to these totally ridiculous (and awesome) drawings by Bendix Bauer for Horst Magazine. Playing off the works of legendary gay illustrator Tom of Finland, Bauer replaces the beefcake hunks of yesterday, with the gay fashion icons of today.
“Most of us realize that politicians have a unique talent,” British fashion editor Annalisa Barbieri claimed. “Give them an outfit or a sentence, and they put it together in the most convoluted, illogical and unattractive way possible.” The matronly frumpiness of female political figures, with their dreary clothing choices (power suits with shoulder pads, the ubiquitous string of pearls) has rarely made first ladies and female politicians trendsetters.
Robb Young argues in Power Dressing: First Ladies, Women Politicians and Fashion that this perception is rapidly changing. A fashion journalist for the International Herald Tribune, the Financial Times, and British Vogue online, Young says that now, feeling less pressure to blend in with dark-suited males (those shoulder pads did serve a purpose), political women are expressing themselves through clothing like never before.
Today the media report on political women’s style in the breathless manner used for supermodels and actresses. But where the clothing choices of male politicians are rarely more complicated than the colour of their ties, women “take a gamble” no matter what outfit they choose.
Handkerchiefs remind me of a lot of things. Tied around the neck, they suggest an old-fashioned country crooner. Worn as headgear, they bring to mind L.A. gang-members or possibly music video back-up dancers. And if you wrap one around your face to cover your nose and mouth you’re probably holding up a bank in the Old West.
But in the 1970’s in certain social circles, if a man placed a handkerchief in his jeans’ back pocket he not only announced his homosexuality but also his specific sexual fetishes. The Hanky Code developed in gay communities in Canada and the United States as a means of identifying sexual partners based on practices and compatibility. Colours and patterns symbolized different activities, from the relatively-vanilla (light blue for oral sex) to more extreme (black meant S&M, understandably). Friendly orange conveyed the rather daring message that you were ‘up for anything’.
While the back pocket was the most common placement, hankies were also looped around belts or tied around ankles. Worn on the left side they meant you were a ‘top’ (the penetrating role) while the left side signalled you were a ‘bottom’ (the penetrative side). Inexplicably, the sides could reverse meaning depending on which coast you were on. Continue reading →
The Cosby Sweater Project
Another day, another amazing new Tumblr: The Cosby Sweater Project has photos of Bill Cosby’s iconic sweater collection and hand-drawn illustrated details of each pattern.
Is Designer Duplication A Fashion Statement?
Nathalie Atkinson confronts the problem that we’ve all noticed in fashion — the “trickle down” effect, high fashion designs showing up in low end mass market stores. How can the courts differentiate between rip-offs and simple coincidences? As Atkinson points out, “Great minds think alike — or sometimes one does, on purpose.” You can read more about the legal implications of fast fashion in Emily Raine’s article featured in the latest issue of WORN.
Clothing The “Terrifying Muslim”: Q&A With Junaid Rana
Why does the media insist on referring to clothes worn by Muslims as “garb”? Mimi Thi Nguyen interviews Junaid Rana about the racist implications of this label. Their Q&A is a truly thought-provoking discussion about how clothes are rarely ever just clothes; instead, they become “a way to racialize and establish social boundaries of who belongs here and who doesn’t.”
The Smart Set: Unfashionable
As Jessa Crispin points out, Vogue‘s lack of awareness and questionable ethics when it comes to politics are nothing new, but they are nothing less than shocking. A particularly oblivious portrait of the first lady of Syria, Asma al-Assad, raved about her chic fashion sense, her thin body, and gentle demeanor, but failed to mention the growing civil unrest in her country. Now the citizens of Syria are calling for a complete removal of President Bashar al-Assad and the profile has mysteriously disappeared from Vogue‘s website. That’s the problem with the Internet, Vogue — there’s always someone with a screenshot.