Friday, April 20, 2007

At the Grand Kerfuffle, the Crowd's the Thing

Last night the University of Utah hosted the Grand Kerfuffle with Mos Def. The show went off good enough but I couldn’t ignore the crowd. They trickled in excited and full of energy as Mos Def’s stage time neared. At one point they held up their cell phones, like lighters, honoring the dead at Virginia Tech.

Then the rapper on stage beat boxed the theme song to Sanford & Son. He asked the crowd, “You know that one?” They cheered as if they did. Later similar references to TV shows and music were thrown out at the crowd, and every time they cheered as if they knew what the reference meant. While it has become a normal experience to trade mutual TV experiences with one another, this seemed odd. These kids might have heard of these shows, but the average age of the crowd was somewhere between 5 and 15.

So, never in their lives could they have actually watched these shows when they were on television. The only explanation is that they have seen reruns or worse. Maybe these kids had heard Sanford & Son referenced before by another rapper or a comedian, yet never seen the show. It’s like when some stand up act mentions some weird and somewhat obscure person and you laugh even if you don’t know who they are talking about. HA! HA!

But the crowds' cheers of understanding in references to television shows belonging to another generation seemed empty. It was as if these television shows had become clichés for the young to reference as a way of being authentically televised. Look, I know all about this kooky old show that was canceled, like, 20 years ago, how weird. It made me wonder whether anyone in the crowd was actually listening, let alone understanding what the people on stage were saying. Was there some massive disconnect, some chasm that separating the crowd from the performers--Mos Def strutting around saying all kinds of things and the crowd just bobbing their heads and waving their hands to the beat. (Jonah Owen Lamb)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Large Men in Suits

Here's to the BYU students who are unwilling to allow Cheney's visit here to be quite the asskissfest he probably hopes it will be.

Somehow they managed to navigate BYU's Byzantine regulations in order to stage a protest. When the clock ran out on the demonstration's allotted time, the "free-speech zone" vanished and security thugs quickly moved in to menace the protesters. This footage is from Steven Greenstreet--who created This Divided State, a video documenting the controversy surrounding Michael Moore's 2004 visit to Utah Valley State College in Provo--and his associates.

The world probably hasn't seen protesters as polite as these since demure and conservatively attired pre-Stonewall lesbians and gays quietly carried neatly lettered placards around in circles in front of the White House in 1964. The BYU students preface every statement with thanks to BYU's administration for granting them the "opportunity" to exercise their First Amendment rights.

They follow every arbitrary rule to the letter. They know the alternative, in a time when property rights trump just about every other civil right--including free speech--is to be shut down entirely, if not booted out of school, transcripts frozen. (Brandon Burt)

Psycho Accessories

Please. It's one thing to go all evil and psycho and shoot a bunch of college students. But do you first have to make a video about it? And, really, this pose? It would look clichéd on the cover of a rap video, but when a nerdy, skinny kid tries to go all gangsta it's just ... sad and disturbing.

    Acceptable Accessories
  • Gloves
  • Belts
  • Brooches
  • Baubles
  • Bangles
  • Beads
  • Hats
  • Handbags

  • Unacceptable Accessories
  • Handguns

    (Brandon Burt)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Fashionista: Hatin' the '80s

Who remembers Claude Montana? I have a feeling that only two people I know will raise their hands. At any rate, if you remember Montana, you remember Mugler; you may even be excited that Thierry Mugler is releasing a new “capsule couture” collection this fall. I have to admit that in my attempt to study Mugler—beyond my unique friends who lived through, and, more importantly, in Mugler (even in Utah)—I became a little confused.

When I think of Mugler, I think of Patrick Nagel, a print artist of the ‘80s; we all remember Duran Duran’s Rio album cover. Nagel has been called “formative, yet decorative.” His woman of the ‘80s was “self-confident, a professional who was not afraid to be glamorous.” Nagel's images tended to keep the viewer at arm's length, while also engendering a desire to know a harsher, more self-assured women of the ‘80s. These images bring Mugler to my mind, excepting the fact that I enjoy Nagel in context, whereas I truly dislike Mugler as a fashion designer (although I enjoy him as a costume designer—big difference. I’ll come back to this).

Mugler started in 1974 with his ready-to-wear line for women and 1978 for men. He did not do Haute Couture until 1992. To me, this means a lack of talent (no offense). Given, he has been successful with fragrance. Most predominantly with “Angel” (also launched in 1992), which outsold “Chanel No. 5.” I don’t have a strong opinion about the fragrance. I have been unadventurous, as I’ve been faithful to my scent (a mixture—and a secret) for over 10 years now.

I will give Mugler credit for his success in fragrance (still distributed under Clarins), but I really despise his clothing, possibly on a personal taste level. To me, Mugler is the epitome of all that makes me want to vomit about the ‘80s (even the ‘90s; can you say MC Hammer dreamed of Mugler?). Sadly (maybe), Mugler barely survived the ‘90s in clothing design. His final couture show was in 2000.

At any rate, Mugler really made his mark in the ‘80s with extreme proportions, harsh, bold and solid colors: think wasp-like waists, large shoulders (hello ‘80s), strict lines and silhouettes, and "futurism." I apologize if ridiculously tight vinyl, over-the-top shoulder pads, clothing made specifically for the “body-conscious”, the baroque (a.k.a. gaudy) doesn’t appeal to my fashion pallet; I like classics and I find Mugler anything but.

As far as futurism—or postmodernism—is concerned, it seems that Mugler has set an example as of late. Given, until his coming opening this fall, he has limited himself to costume design: most notably and appropriately, George Michael’s “Too Funky” video, or Cirque du Soleil’s “Zumanity.” However, his influence has reared its head most prominently with the current Balenciaga and the Dolce & Gabanna collections. Even Burberry and Calvin Klein seem to have pieces under the Mugler influence.

In my opinion, Mugler has always been a costume designer. To his futurism, I say “whatevs.” I have, and always will, prefer Gaultier’s vision of the future: the simplicity, elegance, sexiness, and hardness of The Fifth Element and, especially, City of Lost Children.

Essentially, Mugler epitomizes what I hate about the ‘80s. I hope his comeback is small, if anything. I, for one, certainly have not missed him or his influence—note to Balenciaga, Dolce & Gabanna, etc. (Lindsay Larkin)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Fatal Femme Forum

This is a bit late, but certainly worth mentioning. The lovely ladies at SLUG recently launched a monthly networking event for local female entrepreneurs, writers, artists, roller derby girls and other women interested in getting to know each other and furthering their careers. This month, James Anthony opened his gallery to a swarm of curious participants whose nerves settled after a few tiny cups of red or white wine (Anthony and Whiskey Meg later replenished the reserves with Rolling Rock). I initially attended to help out a couple of artist friends who wanted to connect with gallery owners, subjects for various works and potential buyers. I ended up reaping the fruits of Angela H. Brown's labor by meeting a local musician whose latest project, Cavedoll, will be reviewed in the April 26 issue of City Weekly. Check out Fatal Femme Forum for info on the next social. You never know what might develop. (Jamie Gadette)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Sugar House Ocho

THE OCHO Eight new mom-and-pop shops set to move into Sugar House once redevelopment at 21st South and Highland Drive is complete:

8. Koffee Kidz, a coffee shop/daycare center where busy parents drop off children through a drive-up window while picking up a latte.

7. O’Seamus Magilicutty’s®, a traditional Irish pub chain operated by the Olive Garden corporation.

6. The Zillaplex 64, an art-house cinema showing Little Miss Sunshine 2: The Return of Heroin Grandpa on 20 screens.

5. Passé Platoon, a funky used clothing shop that carries nothing but second-hand Old Navy apparel (a division of Gapped).

4. The Breakfast Nook, a classic diner serving up Xtreme Pancake Fajita Blasters™ and free Red Bull refills ‘round the clock.

3. Carcino Jen’s, the exclusive tobacco and accessories outlet of Camel and Skoal.

2. The Virgin Ministore, specializing in hard-to-find niche music like Fall Out Boy and Hilary Duff.

1. Wal-Martlette, a cozy 40,000-square-foot neighborhood grocery store.

(Bill Frost)

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Fashionista: Yves Saint Laurent

I want to talk about why Yves Saint Laurent is a genius (in my humble opinion—ha!). For one, he joined the Dior fashion house at the age of 17 and then became head designer at the age of 21 after Doir’s death. At 17, I was trying to be punk and graduate high school. At 21, I was finally legal to be irresponsibly drunk and working on my thesis in college. Not only was he this accomplished at such a young age, but his first collection as head of the Dior Fashion House was an international success. Only five years later he released his first collection under his own label. At 26, I was still waiting to find a job that I could stand for more than 10 months (thanks, City Weekly).

For me, the most ingenious thing about Saint Laurent is his Mondrian haute couture fall-winter 1965-66 collection released in July 1965. Saint Laurent had the insight to realize that Mondrian’s paintings made better fabrics than paintings. Perhaps this wasn’t his personal view on Mondrian, but it is certainly mine. The Bauhaus style is one thing when it comes to architecture and furniture, but I see it as quite a disaster when translated to canvas. It makes for an absolutely stunning dress, however.

In 1966, YSL released his women’s tuxedo, “Le Smoking” suit, making waves in women’s fashion. Women wearing this design were not allowed to enter hotels and restaurants in London and New York when it first arrived on the scene. He made waves in feminism as well as fashion, crossing gender barriers while maintaining elegance and serious sex appeal.

In 1966, Yves Saint Laurent spearheaded the prêt á porter (ready-to-wear) movement as well. Prêt á porter lines made designer fashion more accessible as the collection is “mass” produced rather than handmade to specific proportions like haute couture. This makes the clothing more affordable (relatively, of course) and available because there are multiple copies and standard sizes of each piece.

The thing about Saint Laurent is that he was an icon. He broke barriers as mentioned with the women’s pant suit, or being the first to present a naked man in a perfume ad (he was the model). He also made fashion more accessible. So much so that anyone with the slightest interest in fashion in the ‘60s and ‘70s knew him whether they could afford his clothing or not. My grandmother would be a perfect example of this. Being hit hard by the depression, losing income due to my grandfather’s WWII induced nervous breakdown, and supporting 3 children, she can spout off about Yves Saint Laurent any day of the week. He was respected as an artist and a star. He created a new world.

In 1983, Yves Saint Laurent was the first living designer to ever have a restrospective of his work, “Yves Saint Laurent, 25 Years of Design” at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC, with many more to follow across the world in the following decades. In the fall of 1998 Saint Laurent showed his last ready-to-wear collection and moved strictly to designing haute couture. Alber Elbaz was brought in to take over the Rive Gauche (ready-to-wear) label.

Gucci bought out the YSL label in 1999, and Elbaz was quickly replaced by Tom Ford. Tom Ford made his big splash in the fashion world with his 1995 ready-to-wear collection for Gucci. Ironically, the most notable piece from this collection, in my mind, was the red velvet tuxedo Gwyneth Paltrow donned at the 1995 MTV Movie Awards. Nevertheless, Tom Ford left no notable mark with his attempts at designing for YSL. In 2002 Saint Laurent announced his official retirement noting much displeasure that fashion, once an art, had become an industry based on commercial gain. Tom Ford was replaced two years later by his assistant Stefano Pilati.

The question on my mind is whether YSL can ever return to what it once was. I certainly wouldn’t want to be designing for the Fashion house of a legend who is still standing over your shoulder. Perhaps this is why the last 3 designers had made almost no impact. Is this the end of an era? Chanel was somehow fortunate to find Karl Lagerfeld who was able to maintain the design and elegance we know as Chanel while remaining fresh and interesting. I am doubtful that the same will happen with YSL. Perhaps the House should die with it’s creator. We will have to see if Pilati can make clothing that carries the distinct signature of the Fashion House, but is innovative at the same time. I’m skeptical. (Lindsay Larkin)