What is Clothedom (V)? HIDING
Clothedom is an act of Hiding.
A way for the wearer to hide himself or herself in a motley of fabrics and accessories. The eye of the beholder immediately gets directed to the wearer’s costumery instead of judging the wearer itself by his/her bare self. In a while, the eye begins to register that costumery as a visual shortform for the person. What the wearer wears begin to define the person.
Like a painting. Lawrence Weiner told Ac.Stet during Art Basel Miami last year: that the painting is nothing but a bunch of cloth, dirt and sticks. But you don’t see that, do you? You see the image the painting presents, in the same way as when a person practices clothedom, you don’t see the person, you see a persona, you see the costumes. The person disappears into fashion and clothedom emerges.
Let’s look at say, the late Issie Blow and her use of those Medea-in-wonderland hats by Philip Treacy to hide her original form (she believes she was born ugly) and her host of personal problems (familial abandonment, marital discontentment, loneliness, financial losses, acute insecurity …) from the public and friends around her. For Issie, Clothedom-by-way-of-hiding goes up one notch to reach the level of defense. Her hats are both enchanting and alienating, a foreboding of those who dared venture near enough to be hit by a wayward feathered hat ornament.
Or Kim Hastreiter of Paper Magazine, who wrote in this month’s issue of her 25-year-and-counting penchant for Mao suits paired with Ted Muehling earrings. Why? To disguise her previous incarnate as a party girl, and to clean the palette to make way for her public persona as editor-in-chief as one of the industry’s most important indie op-eds. She calls it Uniform, Ac.Stet. calls it Disguise.
Or Steven Meisel. Like David Sims … So gorgeous, so charismatic, so model-lizardsleek-ly. But N-O. Meisel’s now a serious fashion photographer. No trivia runway history must temper with his golden vision for the clothes he photographs, so he pursues Clothedom. With wide headbands (cut from the sleeves of his favorite comfy Tees), long ebony Pharoah-of-the-Nile tresses and doe-like eyes, Meisel is more artist-auteur than walk-strut-preen clothesman. But if you ask Ac.Stet, methinks Meisel still looks ache-ing-ly beautiful. Like a sit model for Sargent. Like an ersatz Joe d’Allesandro, circa Paul Morrisey’s Trash. That, may also be another type of guise.
But Clothedom by-way-of-hiding need not necessarily be so elaborate, or meticulously orchestrated. It can be a simple juxtaposition of accessories with an understanding of what works best with your personality and body type. Case-in-point? Bruce Weber, he of the homoeroticized Norman-Rockwell boy-art. Weber “disguises” and “hides” with his bandana, his bear jacket, his long cotton scarf and copious amounts of dirty-snow as facial hair. Now when you look at Weber, you don’t see a stocky-barrel-bear, you see a cute cuddly, disarming uncle and you willingly take your clothes off for him when he wants to know which way the wind blows your jewels away.
Why do people hide? Truth, as in the threadbare-once-born-nude body, never comes into the world naked. It is the paradox of Mankind to desire Truth and to fear it at the same time. Truth can heal and hurt. Who can genuinely say they like their own body entirely? We all suffer a certain degree of insecurity where our bodies are concerned. To deal with the double-edged sword, people accept half-truths. In Clothedom, people do this by hiding some parts of themselves, and revealing others. Extreme practitioners of Clothedom succumb completely to the sanctity of another identity, another truth, that clothing provides.
So why hide?
That is not a question. We all do, actually. Some just don’t realize it yet.