LINER NOTES: Fashion
A quick housekeeping note: I'm hesitant to even share the Spotify playlist because so much of what was played isn't available through the service. Nevertheless, a lot of y'all use it, so I'll share it anyway. Just a head's up...
When Nate and I reworked our approach to creating themes for the 92nd St Y sessions, Fashion quickly stood out as one of our strongest ideas. There is a clear connection between the costumed modeling and the music. The brand is loaded with mostly entertaining expectations ("YASSS," was a pretty common response when we first announced the theme). There was 'synergy;' the date overlapped with Fashion Week. There's also the general timeliness in how fashion is a great reflection of our current state of First World brand and consumption obsessions. It is the perfect theme for a doodling session.
Surprisingly, I had a difficult time finding solid songs that comment on fashion in a substantive way. Many songs name-drop designers or labels without expressing any real thought, so most contemporary pop tunes got cut. That said, Pizzicato Five's "Fashion People" is a modestly novel list song in that the group cycles through various Japanese tastemakers from fashion to film. What brings this song together is the quick tag that these are beautiful people and "I wanna be a friend of fashion people." "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" is the better example, but aside from The Jam's "Carnaby Street" (which, more or less, covers the same territory, albeit a decade later), I'm hard-pressed to find other songs that step to that level.
Which explains why there are so many cuts about clothes or sartorial style. Footwear is a fun example of kicks being a signifier of flyness since back in the day. Tommy Tucker's 1964 hit "Hi Heel Sneakers" is a great mid-century reminder of the importance of stepping up one's shoe game to properly step out. However, in the interest of including a diverse cast of voices, I went with one of the myriad covers, this time being Cleo Laine's smooth version from 1973. I'm not familiar with the I. Miller brand, but whatever stylish Betty Davis points to, I'll take a gander. And, what do you know, Israel Miller was a New York footwear institution. The Nike sponsored "Classic" is the sensible way to round out this set, as the song further expands our notion of what gender, culture and class would embrace footwear.
Unsurprisingly, an article of clothing called 'pants' has inspired far fewer notable songs. "Fancy Pants" inspired a couple chuckles. Rightfully so, the Crank Yankers version is a joy!
The dress is another fun article that dredges up all kinds of feelings from out the closet. I didn't get to the Wedding Present "My Favourite Dress," but the dress is often given power for clearly illustrating a woman's place in a man's memory. Instead, I tried bouncing between two ideas of the dress and sexuality. On the one is Depeche Mode's deeply sensual and (thanks to Martin Gore's melodramatic approach) sexually ambiguous "Blue Dress," which is just fun. Then there's PJ Harvey's "Dress" reminding us that it can make a woman swing like a "heavy loaded fruit tree."
At one point, models served as explicit muses, so Duran Duran and Kraftwerk were easy entries. More interesting to me are the models that dipped into music. I produced Karen Elson's segment at WNYC's Soundcheck, so she first came to mind. A quick dig unearthed the far more amusing and quirky Twiggy cut. Why didn't that make the Pret-a-Porter soundtrack?
On a side note, I realize a lot of people probably expected the Pret-a-Porter soundtrack when we said we'd do a fashion night. I suppose that would have been fine if we had models doing constant movement poses. But listening to club music during 20-minute poses does not make a drawing night.
The night closed out with songs about being stylish. I'm mostly happy with being able to move from Kid Koala cut-ups to Fred Astaire cutting a rug. The Namie Amuro cut is the other gem to point out because it's J-Pop and shockingly absent from Spotify. The joint is not even current, but she's been a staple idol for years. "New Look" sounds like a silly Sol-Angel-era Solange knock-off, but you can also peek behind the bubbly lyrics to see white fashion's impact on women's self-image across the Pacific pond. And big shout to Das Racist for rhyming Todd Solondz with André Breton -- who's sick now, son?
Pizzicato Five "Fashion People" [Çà Et Là Du Japon (|さ・え・ら ジャポン| Here And There in Japan]
Jacques Dutronc "Mini-Mini-Mini" [Jacques Dutronc (Et Moi Et Moi Et Moi)]
Syl Johnson "Dresses Too Short" (Complete Mythology)
Jorge Ben "A Menina Do Vestido Coral" (Sacundin Ben Samba)
Charlie Parker's Jazzers "My Little Suede Shoes" (South of the Border)
Cleo Laine "High Heel Sneakers" (I Am A Song)
Betty Davis "Steppin In Her I. Miller Shoes" (Betty Davis)
She & Him "Brand New Shoes" (Volume Two)
Kanye West, Nas, Rakim & KRS-One "Classic (Better Than I've Ever Been - DJ Premier Remix)" (Classic 12")
Ween "Fancy Pants (Crank Yankers Version)"
Smog "Dirty Pants" (Rain On Lens)
Jackson Jones "I Feel Good, Put Your Pants On (Pilooski edit)" (Dirty Edits Vol. 2)
WC And The Maad Circle "Dress Code" (Ain't A Damn Thang Changed)
Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels "Devil With The Blue Dress On / Good Golly Miss Molly" (Breakout...!!!)
Depeche Mode "Blue Dress" (Violator)
PJ Harvey "Dress" (iTunes Originals)
Tracey Thorn "Long White Dress" (Love And Its Opposite)
Duran Duran "Girls On Film" (Duran Duran)
Kraftwerk "Das Model / The Model (English Version)" (Die Mensch-Maschine)
The Dylans "(Don't Cut Me Down) Mary Quant In Blue" (The Dylans)
Ladytron "Seventeen" (Light & Magic)
Twiggy "When I Think Of You" (Beautiful Dreams / I Need Your Hand In Mine / When I Think Of You / Over And Over EP)
Althea & Donna "Uptown Top Ranking" (Uptown Top Ranking)
Kid Sister "Pro Nails Remix (Feat. Kanye West)" (Pro Nails 12")
Sleepy Brown "Dress Up" (Mr. Brown)
Kid Koala "Fashion Lesson" (Scratchcratchratchatch)
Fred Astaire "Top Hat, White Tie And Tails"
Frank Sinatra "All I Need Is The Girl" (Francis A. & Edward K.)
安室奈美恵 (Amuro Namie) "New Look" (BEST FICTION)
OutKast "So Fresh, So Clean" (Stankonia)
Carl Perkins "Put Your Cat Clothes On"
Adam And The Ants "Stand and Deliver" (Prince Charming)
Todd Barry "Todd's Shirt" (Falling Off The Bone)
The Kinks "Dedicated Follower Of Fashion" (The Kink Kontroversy)
Das Racist "Fashion Party"(Sit Down, Man)