Peace, Love and Chaos

I think a lot of us are struggling with how to make art under the current political climate, especially when it’s not overtly political. I was in the middle of getting this writing project off the ground when Trump won. And I felt like I had to change the direction of it, or just not do it altogether. I had this feeling that everything but screaming in the streets was futile. I felt so useless. Chaos was all around and I did not know what to do with it.

Then I understood that there is nothing wrong with chaos. It’s just a way of conceiving things. You can decide things don’t look right or make sense and call it chaos. And that’s a judgement we make to express discomfort with what we consider to be randomness. Or you can recognize that sense can be made from it if you just expand. Because chaos is actually just many opposing forces all happening at the same time – good and evil, destruction and creation, darkness and light. And that allows for a lot of potential. Anything can be born in these conditions and that is kind of thrilling. If we take the sixties-those were chaotic times. There was a lot of darkness and I think in that moment, people mostly saw darkness. So many assassinations and wars and -isms. But when we now look back on that decade, we see it more as a time for paradigm-changing and rebirth and revolution and love. 

So I came out of my haze and returned to writing about clothes. Because I think that this is the stuff we are here for.  If we aren’t free to create and think about beauty in the world then what is this thing of life all about? And what can I say-this is my moment on this earth. And it happens to coincide with Trump’s moment. But fuck it-I think I can still feel inspired in his world. So after a few weeks of crying and suffering and dreading what comes next, I just felt that I’d already given him enough power over my personal happiness and it was time to return to working on self-creation and love. Maybe now more than ever.

Clothes tell the story of human history. They express culture and subculture and our own personal or ancestral narrative. I think about Syria and what tragedies are taking place in that beautiful part of the world and the incredible cost of human lives. And among all that, when I view it through this clothing/textiles/cultural heritage prism, I think about the loss and destruction of all those weaving mills and centuries-old souks and the personal belongings…the stuff that stands for a people who live in the cradle of civilization. It’s a huge loss of history and culture.

Clothes are an extension and reflection of our psychic interior and our communal exterior. Trump’s regime is divisive and destructive to personal identity and there is no time like now to assert who we are creatively, ancestrally, culturally, politically, etc under what looks like a New World Order. Because if we continue to live for love and beauty, and remember and practice who we are, there really isn’t actually a New World Order. It’s just a failed attempt. Meanwhile, we can still grow flowers in the dark. That is an expression of resistance.

The Mythology of the Hat

A hat covers our crown, the highest chakra and summit of our selves. It broadcasts who we are, or who we want to tell people we are. When we wear it in deference to a god or team, the message to the world is direct, as on a nun or Yankee. Or it’s symbolism may be associative. The meaning of a chequered keffiyeh can change from an Arab nationalist in Palestine to a hipster in Brooklyn.

It can cloister one from the outside world. It creates anonymity as it hides the physical face; or on a deeper level, one’s individuality, such as the cap of a nurse’s uniform, baseball team, or flight attendant. In a hat, the ego self now represents a unit of many.

Contrarily, a hat may point to personality. A cowboy’s stetson connotes his unyielding individualism and roaming spirit as he sets off on the hero’s journey. A woman in a wide brim has an air of worldly mystique and inaccessibility. A possessor of many hats may be a possessor of many personalities. The suicide of hat enthusiast Isabella Blow shocked-how could a woman with such spirited headwear suffer melancholia?

A hat can signify ideas, which spring forth from just beneath it. An old hat is an old idea. To wear a lot of hats indicates many talents or skills. To keep something under your hat is to store a secret in the dark recesses of your mind. In Meyrink’s novel the Golem, the protagonist takes on thoughts and experiences of another man whose hat he has put on by mistake.

Hats give us agency in an otherwise volatile, ego-attacking world. When we wear our hat, the shield is up and sense of self intact.

Some hats allude to the phallus, such as the Phrygian cap or KKK hat. The mere wearing of a hat may scandalize and we take it off as a sign of respect. Perhaps the feminine answer to such an offense was Schiaparelli’s high heeled shoe hat, that dared to take a symbol for the female sex organ and quite literally turn it on its head.

Not to be overlooked is the practical necessity of a hat-to shield from the elements or danger. Absractly, they protect us from judgement, as we wear them to signal who we are before others can decide for themselves. With this in mind, it stands that hats at once protect us from the physical world and contain us to our own psychic condition of self-defined, ego-driven identity.

Isabella Blow by Mario Testino

 

Dior Was Superstitious!

Magic and superstition have always worked behind the scenes in the world of couture. Anything from pricking a finger, dropping scissors or sewing a hair into finale wedding dresses in hopes of getting hitched are just some of the mystical beliefs woven into fashion lore. Then there were the designers themselves, like Gabrielle Chanel who deferred to her lucky number five or Yves Saint Laurent who thought any fabric that his bulldog Moujik sat on would be the season’s best-seller.

Christian Dior was among the more overtly superstitious of the couturiers. He always kept two hearts, a four-leaf clover and piece of wood in his pocket and consulted his long-time fortune teller Madame Delahaye before any runway show. In fact it was she who pushed him to start his own line when he was approached by a benefactor.  “Accept!” She ordered him. “Accept! You must create the house of Christian Dior. Whatever the initial conditions, anything that they could offer you later on could not compare to the chance of today!”

“The house was temple-like,” says Kouka of the salon Dior.

He wore his lucky heart on his sleeve, so-to-speak, as his talisman become part of the Dior DNA. Lucky number “Eight” was the name he gave to the debut line of his Spring 1947 Collection. The house was located in the eighth district of Paris, in an eight-floor building with eight workshops. Eight resembled the female form, with its sensual curve that emphasized the bust and cinched the waist and it became his signature silhouette that heralded a new era in fashion.

The lily-of-the-valley was his favorite flower (considered a lucky charm in France since the 1600s) and he had a sprig sewn into the hem of each dress of his runway models. He based his first perfume, Miss Dior, on its sweet scent and the salons were sprayed with it before each show.

For the last Spring/Summer 2017, Dior designers referenced the house codes with the number eight, clovers and hearts throughout. Tarot motifs also spoke to his superstitious ways.

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