(photo courtesy of elitedcmag.com)
So here’s the thing: Modeling is hard. I’m not being facetious, I genuinely mean that. Well ok, maybe hard isn’t the right word–it’s tough I guess one could say. At any rate, the point is it’s not easy. There’s pressure in the air, tension afoot and it’s essentially one big, fancy endurance test of sorts. I should start from the beginning, I worked backstage for a fashion show last weekend–Fashionably Loud DC to be specific–using it as an opportunity to entertain my interests in fashion and to dabble in something I’m only partially experienced for. I was not ready for this at all, but I think I handled it like a champ.
Given what we (we being the other backstage helpers, the models and the designers) had to work with it well better than one would expect. The biggest trial I had to deal with was the models getting in and out of their clothes. Some payed me no mind, some felt a little uncomfortable. Both reactions are valid: I wasn’t about to be THAT guy at this time, yet at the same time, there really is no way for me to argue that I should be in there–it’s more than professionalism or trust, it’s about comfort. I think I handled it well all things considered, but then again, I can’t see my own face.
The actual clothes themselves were interesting: from simple sets of evening wear to more experimental showcases. Much like most fashion shows geared to the black audience, the sets seemed almost trade-like. Not so much worried about being provocative or abstract but mainly geared toward showing off things ready to be bought already–which is fine. Sometimes, simple is the way to go. A worthwhile activity for sure and one that served to better get me out of the trappings of my comfort zone. Also, I fell in love. I don’t know her name but I know she looked like Whitley Gilbert and when she did her walk in a full out wedding dress, I never wanted to recreate this more than at that moment.
There’s a scene pretty early in the film Looper where a futuristic mobster, played by Jeff Daniels, has a chat with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character. In this conversation, Daniels spends the beginning of it making fun of Levitt’s fashion—his outdated tie especially; I’m paraphrasing but he essentially makes the comment, “Even in this advanced world, you’re still dressing like those old movies.” It’s an interesting moment—both in the film and for me personally—because it points to the fact that with all the advancements made in modern society, high fashion still emulates the Hollywood of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. As someone who’s obsessed over every kind of film I could get my hands on and watch, it’s not without good reason. People still wanna dress like James Dean because James Dean is still the coolest guy in any room and that suit you think you look so dapper in, I’ll bet money on the fact that you wish you could wear it like Sidney Poitier in Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.
I grew up loving movies, especially ones from the 60s and 70s. Saturday mornings were spent by the TV watching weekend double features on the local channels—a time in life that introduced me to Burt Reynolds, Bill Cosby (before The Cosby Show), Robert Deniro and a cavalcade of Kung-fu and Blaxploitation films that helped to warp my young growing mind. I loved these movies and the characters in them like they were close friends and all I wanted in life was to grow up to be like them. They owned their style, 100 percent. Everyone owns a white shirt, but Dean made it his and nobody I’ve seen has worn a fedora and turtleneck sweater as good as Cosby—hell, I don’t even smoke but I still think about smoking a cigar just because of that guy. I know these guys were stars and they had stylists and make-up artists and all types of people who made them the gods they seemed to be on-screen, but that’s a moot point. At the end of the day you can where whatever you want, if you don’t have the flair to pull it off then you just don’t have it. It’s a lesson I learned early on as I started buying my own clothes trying to look like them. I may have bought the right things but I couldn’t make it work for me. (Not at that time at least.) It was especially rough considering that I was trying to dress like actors in the 70s while being a teenager during “the baggy era” in black culture.
Other than the fact that my parents found it deplorable, I never got into that phase because frankly, I just didn’t find it cool. Shirts as long as evening gowns, shorts sagged to the point where you might as well just be wearing pants; it was a dark time for everyone. Meanwhile, I’m still stuck on nostalgia for a time that I never even experienced, watching films like Lady Sings The Blues and Mean Streets, wondering why my own generation couldn’t embrace the essence of cool that Hollywood still obsesses over to this day—and also wishing that I could have just an ounce of the swagger that Deniro had in his younger days. Nonetheless, despite ridicule about the slimness of my jeans or shirts, I carried on (and thankfully enough people got out of that “all baggy everything” phase) and as I transitioned to college and adulthood, I started to discover myself more and more when it came to fashion. I became focused on finding my identity within the clothes I wore and began to deviate from wearing things just because they were popular. This was probably the moment that I realized just how influential those movies were on me; I would go shopping thinking about scenes in Easy Rider or 8 ½ or hell, even The Mack, trying my best to figure out how to take what I liked about characters there and how I could adapt it to my own sense of style—and my budget especially. I may not have it all together but it’s definitely coming together nicely, merging the past with the present and putting my own personal stamp on what I wear. Contrary to popular belief, style is not effortless—it involves trial and error but most of all maturation. Anyone can wear clothes and look good but what makes it yours. I can look at the same exact outfit on 5 different people and it will look different on each of them; clothes don’t make you stylish they only make you trendy. So at this stage of my life, I find myself trying to express who I am through what I wear; and as I still figure out who exactly I am in this post-grad life of mine, I’m also figuring out what to wear. That’s the one thing I think learned most from those movies I spent every weekend watching, you do what’s for you and make your own path.
Hey all you sneaker nerds out there who study Jordan numbers like it’s math homework and speak about 90s NBA sneakers like a war historian on the A&E channel. If you’ve got some time to kill you should really do yourself a favor and check out The Nike SB Museum, a complete collection of every Nike SB ever released in commemoration of their tenth anniversary. I’ve always been partial to the SBs; some of the best, most inventive and eye-catching sneakers out and after spending the past hour perusing the site, I realize I have a lot of shoes to catch up on getting. Oh consumerism, you win again! Check out the collection here.
While I sit here, listening to Weeknd songs and wishing I could go on a syrup-filled bender instead of searching for shit on the internet to write about, I find that I have something I must get off my chest. Most of these lookbooks that seem to come out everyday suck. Maybe it wasn’t for the fact that tumblr exists I would be more interested in them, but the fact remains that none of theme step out of the box or stand out enough to separate themselves from these street style shots menswear bros get their photographer friends to do for them in order to get their likes and reblogs up. Also I could be wrong but I think it’s safe to say that we’ve taken photos in every wooded area on this damn planet, and maybe this is just from the overload of these things but man are they all starting to look the same (oh check out the paisley or safari pattern on the pocket of that pocket tee, I haven’t seen that in almost two minutes). Seriously bros, something must be done to make these tings interesting again, I mean I get it it’s about selling clothes at the end of the day but dammit make the shit fun, I have too short of an attention span for the bullshit.
The new Raised By Wolves lookbook for Fall/Winter 2012 has arrived and I’d just like to take a moment to say goodbye to having money.
“Listen, it’s been a good run and we’ve had a lot of fun together but I think it’s time that we part ways. It’s not you… or me… I mean just look at these things–the crisp 5 panel hats, that pocket tee with the pendleton wool, the muttonhead crewneck–oh money, you never stood a chance. Now before you start crying understand that this hurts me to and… look stop yelling… listen you would’ve been spent on things like food and bills anyways so don’t get in my face alright. I didn’t want it to be like this but this is how it has to be, so goodbye”
That wasn’t so bad. At any rate, make sure to check out the entire lookbook on the Raised By Wolves site. All the items are officially on sale now, so head to the shop and prepare to break up with your money to.