“You Can’t Play Metal in a Pink Dress.” An Interview with Mares of Thrace

Mares of Thrace are a two-piece metal band hailing from Calgary, Alberta. No novices, band members Thérèse Lanz and Stef MacKichan have been playing extremely heavy music together for nearly ten years, finding their roots in riot grrrl punk. Besides being phenomenal players in their field, they are also feminist minded and fashion conscious women who quite literally know how to rock pink. Mares of Thrace and Jenna Wornette caught up for beers on a patio and vintage shopping in the Annex to chat about fashion, subculture, and sexism.

Who or what inspires your style?
Thérèse: I really like Victorian stuff and a lot of Japanese street fashion, even though it’s one of those things I admire in theory but would never ever wear in a million years. There is a pretty big gap between my fashion theoretically and my fashion in practice. There are things that make the aesthetic part of my brain hum, but I know that it’s always going to come down to jeans and a t-shirt, because I’m constantly moving heavy stuff, and being in filthy dirty places. I really like DIY fashion – it’s kind of my financial Achilles heel. If these things were on a rack in any other store at the mall I would never shell out this much money for them, but here it’s someone’s art! I have a tradition that every time I come to Toronto on tour I try and find a DIY garment and buy it as a souvenir.

Stef: Honestly, I never thought I would do an interview about fashion in a million years! What guides my fashion sense is cost and being a drummer. Everything needs to be comfortable, loose fitting and inexpensive.

Is there a difference between what you wear on stage and the rest of the time?
Thérèse: It depends on the occasion. I mean, at the inception of this music act, we sort of adopted the dress as reclaiming traditional femininity; in the name of strength and competence and being empowered. I’ve heard people say stuff like, “oh that band makes this band sound like they wear skirts,” when talking about a heavy band, implying that this then makes this band seem lame and weak. So we were like “fuck that we’re going to be heavy AND wear skirts!” So in a way we wanted to re-appropriate the dress and the frilly skirt as an iconic thing but unfortunately that doesn’t always work out in practice.

Stef: I tried to wear bows for awhile every time we played on stage. I got pink drums. Just as a good ol’ “up yours.”

Thérèse: I once heard someone say “she can’t play metal in a pink dress,” and as soon as I heard that, I knew that I was going to wear a pink dress as often as I could. On tours sometimes when you’re tired and feeling a little worn down it’s hard to want to spruce yourself up.
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Book Review: Waisted Curves

When handed this book, I felt like I was intruding—the hand crafted spine creaked with hours of the author’s labor, and the muted green fabric frayed at the corners. I felt as though I had been handed a diary, and as it turns out, I sort of had been. Waisted Curves: My Transformation Into A Victorian Lady chronicles Sarah Chrisman’s journey from corset loather to Victorian garment educator and advocate in 250 hand-bound pages. We see Chrisman’s disdain for corsets melt away as she laces herself into the garment daily, and witness her transformation of thought and body, all brought about by an article of clothing.

Chrisman begins the narrative on her birthday, when her husband Gabriel gives her a corset as a gift. This spurs an extensive personal change, both physically and mentally. The narrow conception of corsets with which she begins the memoir quickly changes as she learns more about the history and practices of corsetry. Eventually, she dismisses the idea of the corset as oppressive as she records her changes in self-perception and self-esteem.


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