"Since humanity lost their fur and realised the implications of the cold we have adorned ourselves with matter."They say that inspiration catches you off guard. I have been struggling of late to find inspiration for a new blog post. As I was laying in my bed wrapped around my duvet that was equally wrapped around me I decided to enter the world of Netflix. It kindly recommended a program for me to watch; Bill Cunningham New York.
|Bill Cunningham (taken by Andy Warhol)|
I am in no way an authority of fashion. Not even close. When London Fashion Week would greet the steps of 'wherever' I would simply stare at the professionals that walked past in their 7ft heels or 3ft wide hats. Out of place.
But that is fast paced fashion. Fashion that doesn't apply to everyone. Especially in the real world. It's not the lived in fashion. That's where Bill Cunningham comes in. Mr Cunningham is a fascinating photographer that has been present on the streets of New York for decades. Snapping the real fashions of their day. He is brave in capturing what he considers to be 'real' fashion. The lived in fashion or a brave and bold expression through fashion.
In the documentary he said, 'fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.' I'd never really thought about fashion out of context. Out of that fact that it's a materialistic venture. I found myself wanting to deconstruct the statement he'd made. What does it mean to me?
'Fashion' it's diachronic and doesn't really have any static meaning. I would argue that 'fashion' is the utilisation of material (or not!) to express yourself and what you like. For me I find the notion of fashion being about 'the exquisite' or 'affluent' nauseating. Fashion (as an idea) isn't something big or corporate, it's perfectly simple and when it comes down to it, it's about a single person; the individual.
As individuals we have an external shell. Some are happy with it, most I would say are not.
Excluding the perfectly fabulous and applaudable nudists, most of us feel the need to cover our flesh in fabric. Sometimes layers of the stuff. Since humanity lost their fur and realised the implications of the cold we have adorned ourselves with matter. In the past few centuries clothes have become a commodity and not so much focused on the need to survive. It is no longer an armor from the predator, but rather whatever conventions society has constructed for us. That doesn't have to be a negative thing, it's just a fact.
The idea to survive obviously has negative connotations. That society has molded a fabricated idea of what is important? or what is considered beautiful? Sometimes fashion can be a tool, to look like you fit in, or to feel as beautiful as whomever graces the front page of Vogue. But I think it's more simple than that. In the world today we wear clothes. Clothes like anything in demand is a corporate venture; a money making scheme. As members of society we have no choice but to pay into this scheme. Whether it's handmade clothes, vintage or vegan. We are all going to buy clothes, again not ignoring the nudists! Why shouldn't we have fun with this normal convention of society? It's the perfect platform to utilise expression.
Reality and Everyday life
Expression. Whether its not caring about what you wear. Whether you are like me and care a little about what you wear. Or you care so much about what you wear that it's everything to you. It doesn't matter. In a world of the 'online' I think it's easy to lose who you are. Expressing yourself is so important. At the danger of sounding ironic, I think we express too much of ourselves online; that's no surprise. What we wear is an external 'real' expression. For centuries it has acted as symbolism and now provides great historical fascination. However, I would (personally) always aim to stay grounded in everything I do. Be aware and compassionate towards everything, I always try and live my life by the word compassion. But ethical and moral fashion is a whole different post!
It's interesting to me to think about fashion in a more (dare I say) philosophical way. Most people would simply discard fashion as an overtly feminine or materialistic venture. Nothing is as it seems, and the fact that an 80 year old gentleman photographer from the heart of New York, is still besotted with his work in fashion, fascinates me.
To me Bill Cunningham seems enchanted by other peoples expressions, but yet he doesn't reflect his passion on himself, Visually. What some may call 'simple' clothes, for a very complex thinking man.
It brings about the idea of loving something but not expressing it in exactly the same way. Instead he expresses it through a camera, telling the world how he sees things. And why sometimes its the only thing he sees amongst a world of grey pant suits.
I suppose its like my love for Pre-Raphaelite art. I love it. But I don't proceed to copy in detail their exact works. Instead I express my passion in a different way; through the romantics I read that were their inspiration or my own writing.
I suppose this idea of expressing in an non-manufactured way can relate to one of my favourite quotes by Ruskin:
"You have to take it slightly out of context to relate, but overall it upholds the idea of individual expression. Go to everything, 'the nature of reality' rejecting nothing and selecting nothing, be brave and float there for awhile. Let your judgments fade away in the background. In the foreground lies a new exciting way of experiencing the world. This idea can of course be applied to everything in life. If only this was the way politicians and world leaders would experience the world.
Bill lived in the famous Carnegie Hall with a few remaining 'legends' of their time. All expressors in their own right. A fabulous 96 year old star named Editta Sherman proudly showed off her extensive photography work, snapping the likes of Andy Warhol. I'm always fascinated by the idea of expression and where it can take you. It can even take you to being mesmerised by this fabulous 96 year old photographer in an equally fabulous wig. Expression is an old human art that I feel can never die out, it's something that happens whether we want it to or not.
The next time I see or hear about something that seems to me 'unimportant' or 'materialistic', I hope that I strive to uncover the expressions and experessors behind it before I jump to conclusions.
P.S If you have the chance, try and watch the documentary, Bill seems like the sweetest man ever. - "He who seeks beauty will find it." - I'm literally in love with this man.