So, as you’re probably aware, the main reason why I started this column was because I am concerned with the representation of anarchists not only in the media but on the streets, and in this case, in court. As I’ve written before, anarchists tend to fall into the same semiotic traps time and time again, whether it’s the practically compulsory hyper-masculine all-black uniform at mass demonstrations, the déclassé “hobohemian” neurosis or the broken record that is punky punk punk fashion.
While these fashion choices are often portrayed as based on necessity, more often than not, they are nothing more than a desire to fit in and feel a part of a subculture. With such a diverse politic as anarchism, being interpreted and enacted in thousands of different cultures around the world, not to mention the contributions of anarcha-feminism and queer anarchism, it’s totally unacceptable to let one or two subcultures dominate the look and the feel of this movement. It’s not like subcultures don’t have their place and don’t have anything to offer to anarchist fashion, it’s just that we should be aware of how often we pigeon hole (wait, why is a pigeon in a hole!) ourselves and how exclusive these representations can seem to the uninitiated.
So, when Ariel approached Kate and I to see if the Free Boutique could help her dress for her court dates (stemming from these allegations), from my end of things, I felt inspired to help because it was such a good opportunity to subvert the media portrayals of anarchism and of course to help my friend look mahvelous!
For this first look, we decided to go for something more reserved, merging Ariel’s own punk aesthetic with something more formal and appropriate for court, while still maintaining personal autonomy and disregard for conservative court fashions. While elements of her love for le punk remain in the boots, and a little in the pants, we wanted to push the look into more experimental territory, confusing gender lines and creating an elegance that is unique and confrontational.
At first, I wanted to really go for this MMM inspired shiny black top with giant villain shoulders and have her wear this large circle-a pendant, playing off the whole anarchist villian/evil tranny thing, but Kate reminded me that when Marc Jacobs dressed Winona Ryder in court, his inspiration was, not surprisingly, “innocence” and that we should probably tone it down… like a lot. Which is what we did, as you can see, and I think it turned out beautifully. It gives her an air of a sophisticated bank robber, a classic classic look to be sure. As well, in this case, it’s obvious that the overdressed look is the only route that can subvert the sobriety and bad fashion that is seemingly demanded in court without reifying the court’s power over us and undermining our agency as adults. Transcendence by the Free Boutique.
It might be a little difficult to spot in these photos, but that lovely necklace there was made by my friend Madi and her jewelry project faht:::stik, and is a beautiful collection of found scrap metal interlaced with turquoise and copper wire. “Exquisite. Rare. Bricabrac. faht:::stik”
And this is just the first installment, her next court date is November 5th, Guy Fawkes Day ironically, and we are already thinking capes, capes and more capes!