Archive for the ‘Fashion’ Category

Milking Mayfair: Daphne Guinness at SHOWstudio

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Daphne Guinness milking video

Nowhere is the possibility of milking as self-annihilation more evident than when it involves a beautiful woman with flawless styling. Daphne Guinness remarks later that ‘self-annihilation is a prerequisite to growth’. The milking of a model is the fashion equivalent to Pete Townshend smashing his guitar. Here, Guinness performs a wipe-out gesture of her own.

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Milking began as an in-joke among young male Newcastle University students, a little light relief during exam time. Young people took bottles full of litres of milk and emptied them on their heads, for no discernible purpose other than that, for a time, it seemed like the thing to do. Milking quickly caught on through YouTube, generating tens of thousands of views, and spread to other British cities and towns, including Edinburgh, Oxford and Cirencester. People milked in trees and from a second floor window, soaking the man below and his cereal. Participants competed in choosing the funniest, most unexpected locations for their milkings, just as others had done with the phenomenon of ‘planking’.

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Planking involved lying stiff as a board in a surprising spot, and became the quintessential Internet meme. Because of a rush to outdo other ‘plankers’ in choosing an outlandish site, a variety of injuries and one fatality resulted. So far milking has proven harmless, unless you consider the fate of the milk itself.

In fact, milking was displaced by the invention of ‘porting’ at Durham University, in which male students pour a bottle of port over their white dress shirts (which are thus ruined) and dark suit pants. Although port is much more expensive than milk, no one can construct much of an argument regarding the importance of its preservation. It is hard to argue that those who waste milk are improving the world, but some might see a virtue in those who waste alcohol. These competing memes (from competing universities) can be seen on YouTube, which critic Wayne Koestenbaum refers to as a kind of ‘shame-kiln’ in his book Humiliation (2011),[1]

Porting

Director Nick Knight’s suggestion began as a joke on the geographic spread of the milking craze, from its origin in Newcastle to Bruton Place, Mayfair, one of the most expensive neighborhoods in London. Multimedia artist and model Daphne Guinness hadn’t heard of milking before, but quickly latched onto the idea and saw that it was the best way to celebrate a pending move. Location was on Knight’s mind.

In fact, on the next day (1 February 2013), SHOWstudio itself moved to a new site on Motcomb Street, Belgravia. Milking Mayfair had the adults paying tribute to a meme developed by youth, and restaging it in a formidably expensive, grown-up context.

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The Fashionable Lady Gaga

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Before she had an audience, it was just Gaga and her mirror.  And for a while, it got weird.  Four years ago, she was living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, after leaving school and her parents’ financial support.  In her shitty little apartment, she would order a bag of cocaine from a delivery service, get high, and work on her hair and makeup for hours.  She’d get it perfect, and then come down from the coke and do it all over again.

—-Rolling Stone[1]

”The biggest misconception about me is that I’m a character or a persona.  That when the lights and cameras turn off, I turn into a pumpkin.  It’s simply not true.  I make music and art and design all day long.  Yes, I wash my face and go to sleep but when I wake up, I am always Lady Gaga.”

—-Sydney Morning Herald[2]

 

“Lady Gaga has been sent to Earth to infiltrate human culture one sequin at a time.”

—-“Transmission: Gagavision” from the weblog at LadyGaga.com

Lady Gaga arriving at London's Radio One, 2009.

Lady Gaga arriving at London’s Radio One, 2009.

Over the last two years, a small young woman has appeared in popular culture, asserting her riddling persona in ways that have nearly every critic engaged. I have scrutinized hundreds of photographs of her, and I am still not sure precisely what she looks like off-duty, as it were, such is the extremity of her disguises. Her plainness (she lives on the border of beauty and not) gives her viewers the satisfaction of serious feeling (since her appeal is not universal) and gives her an immediate passkey to the world of High Art (her appeal is exclusive). Her extraordinary costumes, so nutty and witheringly chic, so embarrassing and fascist, so meticulous and creative, transform a quick dash from the limo to the television studio into performance art. You never see her photographed in jeans and a tee-shirt, or bouncing through Central Park in a track suit. Only recently has she hired a permanent stylist. Instead, she has an obscure group of helpers and designers called the Haus of Gaga, a place where I imagine that Sacha Baron Cohen’s Brüno mans the phones.

Lady Gaga in London, April 2009.

Lady Gaga in London, April 2009.

Lady Gaga is better than traditionally beautiful: she is genuinely riveting to look at. (As Karl Lagerfeld remarked about Anna Piaggi, elderly resident of the avant-garde and a revered editor at Vogue Italia: “She’s not pretty, she’s worse.”) It is a rare thing to get an unobstructed view of her face, which is covered in distracting makeup and decals, a collection of sunglasses of considerable antiquity or extraordinary construction, and scene-stealing hats and hairstyles (including hats made of hair). Appropriately, one of Gaga’s great heroes is the ultra-reclusive, ultra-fashionable Belgian designer Martin Margiela, a former assistant to Jean-Paul Gaultier, another Gaga icon. Maison Martin Margiela goes so far in its effacement of the perfect faces of its models that it often sends them down the runway veiled. Lately, the Maison has created the Islamic Revolution-esque censor bar sunglasses (“L’Incognito”), which cancel the eyes in a vaguely Star-Trekky way as much as they shield them. In the improbable setting of the 2009 Malta Music Week, Gaga met the press in a studded black dress, her face covered by a black S&M mask, which she called a “contemporary art piece”. Likewise, at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, Gaga sported a red Alexander McQueen crown with lace face mask.

Lady Gaga in bondage mask at MTV Malta in Floriana, Malta (July 2009).

Lady Gaga in Alexander McQueen Archive, MTV VMA show in 2009.

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