Few directors have been as prolific in their lifetime as Kenneth Anger. Blending surrealism and the occult with homoeroticism, psychodrama and unashamed spectacle you could perhaps say that Anger’s whole vocation has been an ode to the art of magic. An early follower of Aleister Crowley’s teachings, Anger at various stages in his life mixed with occult practitioners and artists as diverse as Jean Cocteau, Anaïs Nin, Anton LaVey, Mick Jagger and Jack Parsons, and his life is as shrouded in myth and legend as his work is.
Set in a white, upper middle-class environment in New York City, the series follows the life of best friends Will Truman and Grace Adler, a gay lawyer and a straight, Jewish interior designer, and their friends Jack McFarland and Karen Walker, a flamboyant failed actor and a socialite with a penchant for drinks and pills who works as Grace’s assistant to escape her motherly duties. As expected, fashion is central to the characters.
Glenn O’Brien: One of the differences between art and fashion is that, though it has relatively little effect, there still is such a thing as art criticism. Fashion criticism on the other hand is nonexistent because anyone who would dare to write something against a major advertiser would be immediately not just fired but thrown into the East River.
We generally have five appointments a day that happen every ninety minutes. Before each appointment we begin with a brief discussion with the bride: her style, her venue, number of guests at the wedding and her budget. We breeze through this in a few minutes because, most of the time, once the bride comes in everything turns upside down anyway.
The first TV show to feature a transgender protagonist, Transparent’s protagonist Mort, and her transition into becoming Maura, sets into motion a process of self-reflection, dialogue and exchange for the Pfefferman family, who find themselves in the situation of having to reconsider and rebuild their relationships with themselves, with each other and with the rest of the world. Their wardrobes reflect these drastic changes in an organic way: sartorial transitions correspond to the characters’ life transitions.
The Gypsy costume that won me prizes in school carnivals in the late 1970s and early 1980s had little to do with the family stories my grandmother whispered at bedtime and that filled the night with magic or terror. Truth and fiction switched places so many times, I don’t think even she could tell them apart after a while.
While initially the difference in ‘UnREAL’ between those dressing for the part – the reality TV show contestants – and those who dress them for the part, the producers, is quite clear, as the series progresses the boundaries become more loose, and the characters’ ethical concerns – or lack thereof – are reflected in their fashion choices.