Thursday, 26 April 2012

Evolution

       As humans we evolve. Like Pokémon - yes Pokémon - we develop. We may not have seven exact stages to our lives, as Shakespeare suggests in As You Like It, but we do play 'many parts'. We grow from babies into toddlers, toddlers into children, children into teenagers and teenagers into adults. We change...and over the course of the past few years Lindsey Wixson has changed. No longer is she the gap-toothed girl that was teased for her atypical looks in prep-school but instead the gap-toothed young adult who storms the runways of Alexander McQueen and Victor & Rolf alike.
       And she is also the girl, who has just turned 18, and whilst I am not an international model like Wixson, I too have recently turned 18. I may not be a fashion phenomenon that poses for Vogue Italia but I too have made the transition from being a teenager to being an adult and, whilst I don't feel particularly different, I have grown. I may not have instantly changed from boy to man but I have evolved. Physically I have changed - I used to be blonde and now am brunette, I used to be fairly podgy and now am athletic and what's more is that I've gone through that awkward gawky stage which almost all teenagers go through.
        Moreover, mentally I have changed. In the space of a few short years I have gone from being an insecure boy who listened to Mariah Carey ballads at night to make himself feel better - Hero, of course Hero - to a young adult who listens to Mariah Carey ballads for a nostalgic laugh - although I must admit I listen to 'Always Be My Baby' in all seriousness, it's beautiful...I digress. Anyway in the space of a few short years I have evolved. But what is evident too is that along with myself, my style has evolved also - one need only look at the pictures below to see that it has changed.


BABY-to-BOY

       Back in the 90s my style was somewhat different. When I was younger my mother did, after all, dictate exactly what I wore. As a baby she put me in twee little all-in-ones to hide my sticky-out ears and exemplify just how cute I was, as a toddler she turned me into something of a poster boy for Polo Ralph Lauren by putting me in little chino/polo combinations and as a child I entered  the obligatory GAP phase, which so many of us do in the early years of our lives, courtesy of her. My style was preppy - but it wasn't mine it was my mothers.


SCHOOL UNIFORM

       Yet come the time when I actually had the capability/desire to decide exactly what I wore instead of chuck on whatever my mum laid out for me in the morning - this slowly began to change. The style of my childhood began to drip away and, in its place, my current style grew. Of course up until the point I realised that a world did exist outside preppy, Jack Wills became my port of call - but in the intervening time between then and now I  dabbled in neon belts, sweat bands and a host of other things. My style became the apotheosis of my mother's  intentions. 


JACK WILLS 

       And now it has been edited with a range of indie delights - not to mention jewellery. My hair has gone from being a preppy floppy cut to an indie undercut and ultimately my style is rather different. Of course the preppiness of my youth is still there be it in a lesser form, it is, after all, an inescapable part of me, but now instead of drowning myself in preppiness, I mix my Ralph Lauren with my Kooples. I mix my indie with my preppy to create a style that is undoubtedly me and expresses both me and the image I want to create for myself. Aged 18 I have found my style.



TODAY - DANCER



TODAY - GENERAL

       However, what is exciting is that I am only 18 - and whilst indie-prep is my style now this will no doubt develop in years to come. In twenty years time I may look back at those electric blue skinny jeans with horror, my fashion and perceptions will no doubt have changed - but that's life. As humans we, like fashion, evolve - in both looks and persona - and quite frankly, in a world where some things never seem to change, there's nothing more exciting than that. 

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The American Archetype

       Don Draper is a successful ad man, his wife Betty is a beautiful home-maker and Sally and Bobby are their two adorable children. Don works in New York and his family live in the suburbs. They live the American dream, a charmed life, and nothing stains their family portrait. They are the American archetype...or alternatively as one series of Mad Men will inform you, both they and their lives are far from the perfect image they seem. Across the veneer of American perfection lie the cracks of guilt, dishonesty and betrayal. Behind the façade of utopia lies the reality of dystopia.


        Throughout history the American archetype has been admired, portrayed and torn to shreds by culture. From films, such as The Stepford Wives, to music videos, such as Britney's If You Seek Amy - we look to the American archetype as a symbol of perfection, a beacon of hope...a suggestion as to what the human race could be but sadly is not. And although the housewife image of yesteryear has perhaps developed into one of a working woman/homosexual man today, the nuclear family and its 'roles' still exist within our preconceived perceptions of perfection today. We still idolise the American archetype.
       Yet, what Mad Men, along with Desperate Housewives and the likes of American Beauty demonstrate, is that, behind the image of paradise, the American archetype does not exist - it is an illusion. Although people do live in nuclear families their situations are never quite perfect. We all have bad days and we all have problems. And yet, nonetheless, we are attracted to the perfect American portrait. Despite it's intangibility, we as children and adults alike, imagine being parts of perfect nuclear families. We seek the unattainable. One need only look at SS's 2012 collections to see that this image has affected fashion too. 


         From Mad Men 60s cuts and styles in recent men's fashion to the Americana trend in women's fashion  this season, designers have obsessed over the American image of perfection. They have used it as a muse for hundreds of their designs. Nina Ricci has modernised its with her exposed midriffs and leather bikers, Proenza Schouler have devoured it with their Diner inspired so-bad-it's-good-taste delights and Prada has epitomised it with her car motifs and cat's-eye sunglasses. Not to mention her roadster heels which, much like her chunky brogues from last year, will no doubt be coveted by all this SS.
          In fact, in all four fashion capitals, designers have utilised the American archetype to transform the perfect image into the the perfect collection. They have created clothes which effortlessly combine the nostalgia of the American archetype's origins with the modernity of  today's fashion and proved that it still holds relevance in society today. They have created enticed their customers with the image of perfection....and perfection is something that we all long for in our lives in some form or another so, that,which we associate it with, entrances us. 


       Marina & The Diamond's sophomore album will be released on April the 30th this year and its focus, much like fashion's now, is American archetypes, be they housewives and beauty queens or homewreckers and idle teens. Her album is set to deconstruct the preconceived American image of perfection and ironically create pop perfection in the process...and, as we can tell from the album's lead single, Primadonna, above, Marina is succeeding in her aims. The single deserves to be blasted from radios worldwide.
         Marina demonstrates the reality that the American archetype is far from that which it seems to be in a time in which the American archetype is culture's muse, and, just like fashion, she illustrates the fact that, whilst we can't necessarily obtain perfection in our lives, we can obtain it in our image. We can uphold the image of perfection...and with all the imperfections that effect us today, why not look perfect. If we can't be the American archetype, there's nothing wrong with looking like it.