Clearly I am all for life imitating art, art imitating life, art in life, and style driven in equal parts by beauty, enthusiasm and a good sense of humor. Still, the two are not entirely interchangeable and it seems lately like some people could use a little reminding about where the line is, however faint it may be.
On Tuesday, for the London premiere of Snow White and the Huntsmen, the stars showed up decked out in full Gothic glory. I have been waiting not so patiently for the movie to come out. I love that kind of dark Gothic drama. On film. And I admire actors like Christian Bale, or even Sascha Baron Cohen, who stay in character when appearing in public while promoting a film. But Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron’s dresses weren’t in character, they were simply misguided. Somehow when Rooney Mara tries this type of thing, the whole look is so completely of a piece, and so genuine to her style, that for me it works. But Stewart and Theron have their own looks which work for them, and this is not it.
A few weeks ago a friend was telling me about a rapper he had come across who he felt was poised to become the next big thing. Catch was, her hit song “212″ was explicit and raunchy enough that it couldn’t really be played on mainstream radio. Banks has a very strong cult following and promises to become ubiquitous soon, but has yet to gain solid footing in the mainstream. But, even in the two weeks since I first heard her name, curiously, I have found that Azealia Banks does seem to have emerged as the fashion world’s new it girl.
The harlem native with, as the London Financial Times put it, “Lil’ Kim’s filthiness, Nicki Minaj’s colourfulness and Missy Elliott’s darling” was a mainstay of London’s fashion week. She was the featured performer at the self-proclaimed “party of all Fashion Week parties” hosted by Topshop to celebrate 10 years of the high street giant’s support of NEWGEN.
Azealia Banks performing at Topshop's Fashion Week party at Mayfair club Le Baron in London via Insideout the Topshop blog
Clearly, my comfort zone lies with visual culture. There are many other areas of aesthetic experience which are a part of the overall concept of “art into life” but are generally woefully neglected on this blog. I am no music critic, so I am generally reluctant to go there except when music edges into the realm of performance art. But today’s news of the passing of the inimitable Davy Jones seems to demand a moment of reflection on boy bands and teen idols.
I’m not sure why I feel quite so apologetic about the possibility of writing about the dresses on the red carpet at the Academy Awards. For someone interested in fashion and aesthetics, there is no question that it is an exciting event. And I was, predictably, at a party with a slew of girls last night watching the evening unfold on E!. But there are two problems. For starters, it wasn’t that exciting. I’ve been trying to figure out all day why it felt like such a let-down (except for the moment when Sascha Baron Cohen poured Kim Jong Il’s ashes all over Ryan Seacrest … that was truly funny … most of all when the security team swooped in like lightening and whisked Sascha Baron Cohen away). Second, writing about it seems too obvious. Everyone is writing about it and who needs to hear 50 opinions on the same 8 dresses?
I think much of the issue, in both cases, is that the dresses just weren’t that interesting. Many were lovely, to be sure. Sadly, none was really outrageous in that oh-my-god-did-she-look-in-the-mirror-before-she-went-out? kind of way. As one of my companions noted last night, long slit like cut outs on your triceps ultimately just look trashy no matter how you dress them up. Yes, Jenny from the block is beautiful and looked stunning and sexy, but if you ask me, at the end of the day the dress seemed a little trampy.