On Beauty, #menswear, video, and the meaning of art / A movie starring T-Michael, A. Sauvage, Philip Lim and Mr Porter.
“If you can’t convince them, confuse them.”
Harry S. Truman
The Internet is so bottomless and lawless and structureless and ruleless, you’d think it’s Show Time, with brands going all arty and psychedelic, coming up with new things every day, things that will help change our Weltanschauung and open our minds, just like when you watch a movie directed by Terry Gilliam or enjoy a pièce de theatre written by Samuel Beckett or you look at Francis Bacon’s Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X.
Paradoxically, it doesn’t work that way.
The majority of brands online still behave in a surprisingly unsurprising way. Same old story, same old tricks, same old copy, same old content. Social media should work as the lab in which revolutionary experiments get conducted, in order to find the cure to boredom, and to finally synthesise the ultimate recreational and mind-expanding pill. In fact, most of the times we see things about cats, BUY THIS, LIKE THAT, SHARE THIS, REPIN THAT, Rihanna and a couple of photographs with a caption that says something grandma-friendly, but with some sort of rebellious twist. What happened to Beauty? What happen to the motto “Ars gratia artis”, AKA “L’art pour l’art”, AKA “Art for art’s sake”, which inspired Edgar Allan Poe, Théophile Gautier, Victor Cousin and Walter Benjamin? What happened to David Lynch and a bunch of scary, silent bunnies? Where is John Cage, making music with a piano, a few bolts and screws, and a hammer? Moreover, as video is still the dark horse of social media, it allows the inspired one to go even more creative and experimental. But few brands truly exploit the medium, and, when they do, they tend to be quite conservative.
Storytelling through video, then, how should it be done? It’s all about Beauty. GIVE US BEAUTY. Please.
Look at the following examples. Pure Beauty. Art. Cool stuff. Less garments, more message. Quality over quantity. Focus on the story rather than sales. And Vimeo instead of YouTube. Win.
‘Phillip Lim has proved an early addition to the onslaught of spring/summer 2013 campaign videos, with a beautiful spot for its menswear line that demonstrates martial arts tricking.’
THIS IS NOT A SUIT (2010) — A FILM BY A. SAUVAGE
A stunning homage to Jørgen Leth’s The Perfect Human.
FEATURE FILM: THE REINVENTION
From Mr Porter – ‘One Sunday evening in April 2004, 32-year-old professional gambler Mr Ashley Revell walked into Las Vegas’ Plaza Hotel & Casino in a black tuxedo. His aim? To take the $135,300 he’d made the previous month selling everything he owned – including the clothes off his back – and place it on the roulette table in one gigantic, double-or-nothing bet. Pick right between black and red and he’d be twice as rich; wrong, and he’d walk away with nothing. Literally.’
ART COMES FIRST
About: ‘Fashion maybe suﬀers from a reputation as art’s most shallow valued cousin, but that is only because its power is often corrupted and abused.
The A.C.F. is not about fashion in that way. It is about something else entirely. The nobility of the striving and nature mandate that we fulﬁll our responsibility to inspire one another.’
The video has been ‘Written & Directed by Finn-Erik Rognan and T-Michael’. I met the latter when I was living in Norway: a true gentleman, always impeccably dressed, a Über-stylish dandy, way before the #menswear thing became a mainstream trend. A pioneer. He even came to one of our exhibitions, held in a squatted wooden house, close to his studio, in the most beautiful – and somehow hidden – part of Bergen. Bless.
What will the future bring? Hopefully, more Beauty.
Among some interesting new brands devoted to menswear, elegance, and the Beauty of art, there’s one that looks especially enlightened: the name’s Curieux, stay tuned for more.
What do you think?
‘I have nothing to say/ and I am saying it/ and that is poetry/ as I need it.’
John Cage, “Lecture on Nothing” (1949)
Today, John Cage would have been a hundred years old.
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