28 March 2012

If You Go Chasing Rabbits

 Annie Leibovitz 
Vogue US December 2003
Model: Natalia Vodianova

Inspiration for our up and coming 'Alice in Wonderland' shoot. Think Alice- unconventional-on acid, slightly Tim Burton inspired, bright colours and eery feel. We found the most perfect location and insane props and gadgets to accompany. Various other moodboards to follow. Oh and of course, a song, one of the best written EVER in my opinion. Lyrically genius.

21 March 2012

Heart Shaped Box

Grunge & Glory- US Vogue December 1992
Photographer: Steven Meisel
Stylist: Grace Coddington

So from an underground phenomena- Seattle Sound- starting in the late 1980s, to a worldwide fashion movement that would fill wardrobes and stereos with dirty riffs and dirty clothes. We hail the likes of Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Nirvana. An 'anti fashion' movement that became fashion- funny how it works eh?! But I guess being not fashion, in itself, is fashion- now that is a thought to wrap your head around. What would my world me without this?! 

12 March 2012

Acid Bubble

Alice in Chains


The Cranberries


So if new media is to blame for the faster paced fashion cycle then 'officially' we are now in the era of Nineties nostalgia. Well, at least I feel like that anyway so this means bring out the peroxide blonde, androgyny, leather, sheer, all stars and plaid. Here are some of my favourite shots and favourite tunes to go alongside a time I always wish I could escape to when I feel lost, alone, afraid and defeated. Enjoy x

6 March 2012

Unwashed & Somewhat slightly Dazed

If anyone is interested in a little David Bowie or are obsessed with the Glam rock phase have a little read my little essay below. What an absolute style legend. Basically, in a nutshell, this is about identity and gender in terms of the Glam rock and their multi-personality crazies:

Gender is more than the biological and physical differences of being male and female; gender is the characteristics which males or females use to portray themselves in terms of masculinity and femininity, the way in which they walk, talk, dress and act in the eyes of society. Gender refers to the manner in which these are addressed and how it places itself within society; namely what is termed socially acceptable or unacceptable, how society portrays the idea of these characteristics. Arguably, gender is more about ‘doing’ rather than ‘being’ (Butler, 2004, p1). Feminist, Judith Lorber, discusses ideas in her article ‘Night to the Day’ that in society, gender signs are everywhere and that we usually do not recognise them- unless they are ‘missing or ambiguous’. She believes that we are extremely uncomfortable until we can ‘place the person in a gender status’ or else we feel ‘dislocated’. Besides man and woman, we can place a person into transvestite (a person who dresses in the opposite gender clothes) or transsexual (a person who has physically had a sex change operation). ‘Transvestites and transsexuals carefully construct their gender status by dressing, speaking, walking, gesturing in the ways prescribed for women or men whichever they want to be taken for - and so does any "normal" person.’ (Lorber, 1994). This essay will look at gender identity and roles through clothing and fashion with specific examples to the Glam rock artists of the early 1970s.

Prior to modern day western society, men adorned themselves in makeup and dress in accordance to elaborating themselves and being considered more ‘glamorous’. The concept of men who took the gender bending conforms of society to the extreme can date back to the Macaronis of the 17th Century. These effeminate men took the concept to such an extreme that it was often very difficult to identify whether they were male or female. Known famously for their outrageous and ridiculously tight clothing consisting of short waist coats, thin shoes with either gold or silver buckles; and a massive knot of artificial hair on which they placed their hat or ‘Macaroni’. Even then they were criticised by the church and infamous among the other men of the time.

Clothing and fashion are vital elements when identifying an individual or subcultures; which relied heavily on their image to portray who and what they are. Fast forward and you get to the early 1970s when again man would challenge society’s views on gender and clothing. Glam rock was a reaction to the boring and simple dress of the hippies and the end of the 1960s. When looking specifically at Glam you can clearly see the unconventional use of male forms portraying a feminine look. Men in platforms, make up, died hair, wigs and even skirts. ‘For decades street style has been battling against the belief that western man should forego finery, make-up, exotic hairstyles and any delight in his appearance’ (Polhemus, 1994, p74) Marc Bolan aka Cosmic Crusader and David Bowie (also known as Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane) would be two key players in completely contradicting societies customs. Making ‘unisex a reality rather than a theory’ (Polemus, 1994, p75)

David Bowie and Marc Bolan are prime examples of non conformists in terms of gender roles. They communicated the idea of femininity through dress; they openly talked about their sexuality which would change from homosexual to bi sexual and back. They gave birth to the idea of ‘gender bending’- and how they purposely toyed with the idea of femininity through masculinity. To the glam rock scene, Marc Bolan and David Bowie were the godfathers of gender bending and the mocking of society’s idea of normality. Bowie was obsessed with Andy Warhol and his world; subsequently he also had a transvestite friend known as Jayne County who was a huge influence on his style. The idea of fashion and clothing clearly was a vital element in the creation of their alter egos. It also portrayed the idea that men could wear eccentric makeup, dress in skirts wear high heels and that it would be copied by the thousands of youth who would hang out at these performances dressing in their idols attire.

‘Glam flirted openly with decadence. Sixties children had been brought up in a period steeped in the influence of gay pop managers. They’d been subjected to flower-power, hippy lifestyle, pot smoking and acid. From all these ingredients, they concocted their own style of music-glam rock- androgynous, theatrical and outrageous. It tempted boys to experiment with eyeliner, seven inch platform boots, and to tease their girlfriends by mimicking fellatio with anything long and hard.’ (Napier-Bell, 2002, p106-161)

Polemus’ argument is that; society has been creating a gender split between women and men through the idea of clothing and adornment. Society have set unwritten rules on the idea that men wear trousers and women wear high heels, skirts, dresses and make up. However, when glam rock arrived in the early 1970s a few key factors can be assumed to the manner in which it became acceptable. The Sexual Offences Act passed in 1967, decriminalised the act of homosexuality. This new law allowed homosexual artists or pop stars to be open and talk about their sexuality; it allowed them to express their individual style through clothing. What Glam did was excessively use dress to portray an image it came at a time when youth were predominantly made up of ‘left over hippies’ ‘It was all about glitter, insignificant finery, platforms, make up and dyed hair in shades of crazy colours. All of these decorative items were used simply to express personal identity.’ (Polhemus, 1994, p74)

‘Hair rinsed a luminous vermillion, orange or scarlet streaked with gold and silver. These exquisite creatures, perched nervously on platform shoes or slouching in 50s plastic sandals, cigarette held just so, shoulders set at such and such an angle, were involved in a game of make believe. (Hebdige, 1979, p59).

The stereotype of these glam rock artists and the way in which they dressed would brand them as being ‘camp’ or homo sexual and the imagery of men dress up would upset the norm of society. The idea of ‘unisex’ can be put down to the anti fashion and political issues at the end of the 1960s; which would be the forefront of the last part of the decade. This term would take on more meaning through the idea that men and women alike would avoid eccentric and purposeless attire.

Glam would go on to inspire the likes of the Goths, the punks and new romantics of the early 1980s who again would arise with the idea of toying with gender in terms of attire, make up and gestures. The nature of these subcultures plays a vital element in changing societies view on gender and identity. It is possible to identity the idea of unisex through various groups of people- the Macaroni’s of the 18th Century to the Mods and Glam rock; whether or not it was intended to shock and outrage or defy society’s norms their blatant experimentation with the idea of gender bender in mind has been a crucial solution in bridging the gap between conformity and traditional values. ‘I’m one of the world’s actors, in the broadest sense of the word. I’m an exhibitionist. I like showing off. I’m a peacock’ (Bowie, 1973).

Clothing and fashion played a vital role in gender split. Society has drawn a line between man and woman by means of what they wear, how they act in society and their role in it. Glam purposely crossed that line and in effect you could not tell who was man or woman. This era and its forefathers were vital to establish the ‘radical rethink of masculinity’ and the boundaries of society. Glam was more than a fashion movement it challenged our “culture’s traditionally highly restrictive, inhibiting definition of ‘masculinity’” (Polhemus, 1994, p75); and without Glam and its creators it is impossible to imagine that today’s society would be so tolerant to the ideals of gender.