The show simultaneously embraces capitalism and activism at once. Queens are both encouraged to build their own brands, while also engaging with the ostracism and trauma they have faced from their families and wider society. A tragicomedy ensues, in which persecuted queer men are made to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get on with whatever bizarre task to promote their brand is in front of them.
In modern hats and dresses the details always have a point – to bring out the color of the eyes, to create the illusion of a bosom, to lengthen, to shorten, to call attention to the waist, to annihilate the hips, etc. The details of old Chinese clothes, however, were astonishingly pointless. They were purely decorative, and sometimes rather obscurely so. No artist could, for instance, have hoped for anyone to notice his intricate designs on the soles of women’s shoes, except indirectly by the imprints left in the dust.
Picasso has not yet been honoured with a retrospective on his personal aesthetic, nor has the one-time Comme des Garçons model, Jean-Michel Basquiat. The Brooklyn Museum did though, have one on Georgia O’Keeffe, ‘Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern.’ Women’s work is still viewed through a different lens than men’s; their lives are more closely associated with their art, and their art is oft-seen as inherently more personal than their male counterparts.
There were twelve mannequins at Jeanne Veron’s: six of them were lunching, the others still paraded, goddess-like, till their turn came for rest and refreshment. Each of the twelve was a distinct and separate type: each of the twelve knew her type and kept to it, practising rigidly in clothing, manner, voice and conversation.
‘As a young teenager I was already making all these garments, clothes for a much more glamorous life than the one I had. I remember my sister being really freaked out and telling our mother, “You must stop her, she looks like a fool. I’m not going to school with her.” I’d made myself this version of a Yves Saint Laurent gypsy costume with a big flowing skirt and a peasant blouse. I really must have looked like a freak. But both my mom and my grandmother kept encouraging me. My mom had this famous saying – “Let’s go shopping for ideas!” It was basically window shopping.’
The Pierrot-Eel, seated, casual, tapped the marble balusters with a dangling heel, revealing only its two satin slippers and a black-gloved hand bent back against one hip. The two oblique slits in the mask, carefully covered over with a tulle mesh, allowed only a smothered fire of indeterminate color to pass through.
What lesson are we to take from this evidence of profiteering from human servitude in the foundational years of Brooks Brothers? This is a question that other American institutions are being asked recently. Perhaps due to their nature as loci of inquiry and self-reflection, many universities have been on the forefront of exploring their connections to slavery and atoning for the ways in which they profited from the labour and sale of enslaved peoples. Brooks Brothers, and other for-profit entities, have not.