Friday, September 15, 2006



Unusual Egyptian print. Notice the tiny ankhs and funerary jars. The seller lists the charioteers as Romans, but they are obviously Egyptian with those pleated white skirts. Whoever made this dress went to great lengths to match the print in a chevron design along the skirt--just splendid.
You can bid on it here: http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-50s-60s-Novelty-Ethnic-Print-Sun-Dress-S-M_W0QQitemZ200026547975QQihZ010QQcategoryZ48868QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

I have a special place in my heart for anything Egyptian, especially faux Egyptian. Blame it on King Tut. Whenever I see an Egyptian novelty print, my heart beats faster. Now I already own two dresses with an Egyptian theme. The dresses are cut differently, one is caftan-like, the other a mini dress, but the print is quite similar: Charioteers, gods, all in profile like this, but smaller, and rendered in red, turquoise, beige, hunter green and yellow. But this one here, with the black, and what looks like avocado color, is special. (Over the past 6 months, I've become obsessed with anything avocado-colored to the point of trawling the internet looking for old avocado-colored refridgerators and the like from the 70's. But just last night I saw 3 different women carrying avocado-colored purses. Coincidence? Or have we all been primed to like avocado over the past year by the fashion-industrial-design complex?)

Here comes the hard part: I think this beauty is about my size. I haven't really measured myself lately, so I can't be sure. Non-attachment is difficult, and I am not a bodhisattva. I am awash in the beauty of the world but must remember that it is just an illusion.

I question the whole premise of this project. Is my virtual shopping in an attempt to curb my actual shopping akin to a recovering alcoholic hanging out in bars? Is it all just too tempting? When will I crack? Am I cracking already? Is the wearable museum really a noble goal or just an indication of how deeply consumerism has earwormed into my psyche? Now I could make a number of fine speeches about how vintage clothing is in fact recycling, and how my whole aesthetic is really about fighting the power, and how I don't buy clothing from big box retailers made in union-busting, human-rights-violating maquiladoras, but in the end I am still locked into a system of self-definition by products bought and consumed. Oy.

Okay, despite all of what I've just written, I can't join the Grey Sweatsuit Revolution. (www.thegreysweatsuitrevolution.com) Though I do agree with them. In their manifesto they state: "We cannot simply dress weirder than the mainstream in an attempt dull our sense of complicity with western consumer society. Dissent through conscious differentiation simply feeds the fashion system by providing it with fresh expression to appropriate." Too true, alas. Also, as they freely admit, you can't really wear a grey sweatsuit to work.

I also cannot join the Little Brown Dress Revolution. (www.littlebrowndress.com). This is a swell website created by artist and dancer named Alex Martin. I am a bit in awe of Ms. Martin, who made herself a cute little brown dress that resembles a Brownie's uniform, and wore it everyday for a year (July 7, 2005-July 7, 2006). She is now re-purposing all of her old clothes instead of buying new ones. Her sewing talents are impressive. At least to me, since I have no sewing machine and mend all my vintage attire awkwardly by hand. I agree wholeheartedly with her recent blog post about the crafting renaissance: She writes:"If I see one more how-to article that suggests I can join the revolution if I stencil a feminist or anti-imperialist cartoon onto my clutch-purse, throw pillow, or cocktail shaker . . . oh, and it will be only $75 in materials that I can easily find at my nearby corporate-owned craft store(!) . . . grrr." Yep, consumerism is a moebius strip, just when you think you are on the outside, you are still inside.

Writing about her brown dress for a year, Ms. Martin also freely admits that it wouldn't have worked if she had a regular office-type job. Ms. Martin works for herself doing website and design stuff and only meets with clients now and then.

So what about the rest of us who have to haul it in to Corporate America to work everyday? And what's with the grey and brown? Dreary!

My Novelty Print Revolution has been fraught from the beginning. The plan was to amass enough novelty prints, preferably in polyester, that I would never have to shop again. The more outlandish the print the better. I would just wear these knee-slappers until they died or I did. The shopping to end all shopping, shopping against shopping, all seemingly counter-revolutionary, I know. And when exactly would I determine that it is done? Then the prices have begun to rise. I wonder who these women are who can afford to plop down hundreds on polyester day dresses printed with say mushrooms and gnomes. I always presumed that people with that sort of wampum aren't into kitsch.

Alas, I am still in Plato's cave. I know that the shadows on the wall are just shadows, but I can't seem to do anything about it.

2 Comments:

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10:47 PM  
Blogger Askinstoo said...

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10:52 PM  

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