Oct 14, 2006

Eighteenth-Century Corsets Sold by Twenty First-Century Businessmen

Lady Clementina Hawarden - Two Women on a Porch (1862)

I'm very interested in the regurgitation of historical styles and our recent generation being largely defined by it's inability to be authentic. And somehow not caring. Everyone is always trying on costumes and searching for the new original style by collaging exhausted styles (leather jackets and Gwen Stefani become tight black jeans and The Ravonettes become polyester dresses and the Scissor Sisters become suit vests and The Killers). The search is longing for the Dada pastiche in being able to wear eighties leggings with a sixties mod dress, topped by an eighteenth-century tailed suit coat and the innocence of a twenties flower-pinned skull cap... all while google-chatting about New Order and Christina Augulilera's new simultaneous hip-hop and jazz references. But the pastiche is actually illuminated in the imitation itself; that the personal "eclectic" style is a folder of sales receipts from the same mall headed by financially inbred advertising executives who are simply paging through history books and re-selling us old ideas packaged alluringly with nostalgia. Our generation is defined by a lack of an artistic style; instead by the fashionable style of business; by deliberate lazy thought paled in the shadows of upwardly-mobile facades of our own empires.

The upcoming Sophia Coppola movie Marie Antoinette soundtracks twenty-first century celebrities in eighteenth-century French corsets with an alarmingly eclectic setlist of the aforementioned variety that includes Aphex Twin, Gang of Four, New Order, Lil' Bow Wow, Air, and the Cure. And how does this all work together? Well I have no idea, but tastemakers (promotions companies) explain that it will all make sense after you buy a $10 movie ticket.

IN FACT, this post is a promotional contest for the movie and all you have to do is
leave a thoughtful comment about this post and one lucky consumer will receive his/her very own Marie Antoinette poster, pin, and jar of nail polish. Don't you love it folks? If all you've got is bread, I'm here to forcefeed you hyper-sweetened cake until your heart explodes.

Gang of Four - Natural's Not In It (mp3) [from the Marie Antoinette soundtrack]


At Sunday, October 15, 2006, Blogger Mike said...

We love to mine the thrift stores (or actual stores peddling the same aesthetic) searching for ever more clever combinations of past styles and delight in parading them before the public. Or at least we’ll get dressed up for the Friday night Beirut show – themselves a symptom of the hip-by-way-of-retro culture our generation has come to define.

But our tidy little rebellion against name brand clothing doesn’t really compare to Dada. At the heart of it all, it’s less an absurdist reaction than it is a desire to be seen, as you put it, as ‘authentic.’ And to be authentic these days is to maintain a carefully-assembled costume of irony and an eclectic taste while also managing to be highly discriminating.

It’s clear these days that ‘indie’ has lost its meaning. Or more accurately, the humble idea of being independent has been gradually expanded to include an entire generational sub-culture subscribing to a well-defined system of dressing and acting. I don’t know what the scene is like in Madison but it’s pervasive down here. I guess what I’m saying is, don’t expect a groundbreaking art movement to come of all this. This isn’t neo-Dada. We’re just playing dress-up and the hipster backlash is coming.

At Monday, October 16, 2006, Blogger Holly said...

I think that rehashing old styles is far from special to our generation; it has been going on for as long as people could identify "style." As time goes on, we just have more and more history from which to mine ideas, and therefore more and more combinations with which to experiment. I think the accessibility and ubiquity of mass media also means that there are more and more "sub-cultures" and an extremely high turnover rate, meaning that hundreds of styles are happening at the same time, and just a short time later, a new cycle appears. The main result seems to be that, because we are seeing a huge amount of information at a very rapid pace, we just catch the superficial gist of them all.

This "Cliff's Notes" grasp of culture and history, paired with our generation's obsession with self-analysis, means that we constantly try to define ourselves from the outside in. We dress ourselves up in the clothing, cultural tastes, and political beliefs that emulate the image we wish to live up to.

There is also so much media these days that you could spend two hours watching a movie, and then 200 hours reading other people's opinions about it. The ratio of analysis to creation is astronomical, and amount of time an individual spends thinking about himself is correspondingly larger than the amount of time one spends actually just being himself, and living his life.

Sheesh, what is all this if not obsessive self-analysis? Authenticity, originality, what do these words really mean anyways? I'll end with one of my favorite quotes.

All art is quite useless. -Oscar Wilde

(Kyle, thanks for the thought-provoking blog!...what, no Marie Antoinette® promotional powdered wigs?)

At Thursday, October 19, 2006, Blogger No Hassle Loans said...

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At Friday, October 20, 2006, Blogger Johnny said...

Just a first note, I LOVE the comment from No Hassle Loans. So great!

I guess it's hard now a days to have your own "look" because so many people are trying there own looks, that they're not that many original things out there. We don't have the buttoned almost cloisteredness (word?), that we have had years ago.

While, yes, I myself think that paying $100 for a pair of ripped jeans because they have Gap stamped on the ass is ridicuolous, if that's your bag go for it.

I wonder if we will see a revival of the 18th century dress with Marie Antonette coming out. I want to see that move. I feel bad for Marie, she was youn gand dumb, and didn't really know what was going on.

Also, she really didn't say " Let them eat cake" However, it is true that the shallow round champagne glasse are modeled after wax imprints of her breasts. Yes, it's true!

At Friday, October 20, 2006, Blogger Paul said...

Wow, Phentramine Diet Pills! Gimme gimme!

At Tuesday, October 24, 2006, Blogger Kyle said...

Congratulations, Holly! You're the random lucky winner of the Cut-Off-My-Head-And-I-Can-Still-Play-Franz-Haydn-On-The-Cello prize package. Please email me your mailing address (imjustsayinisall@gmail.com) ASAP.


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