A delicate and illustrative poem by Veronica Martin, exploring the fictive potential for fashion in literature, accompanied by images by Poppy Skelley, in a collaborative response to the prose.
The clothes we wear and the items we carry represent us so fully, they can speak of who we are even in our absence. As such they become talismans of our presence, helping to calibrate our selves with our environment.
It was a particular form of masculinity and male expression that Eldridge Cleaver believed had been suppressed through conventional male clothing and through the design of a new style of trousers wanted to ‘free up’. He said, ‘We’ve been castrated in clothing. My pants open up new vistas. I’m against penis binding. Men wear their penis either down the right pants leg or the left […] strapped to the leg.’
As well as a harbour for stories and memories; dress has a protective force, guarding us as we present ourselves to the world each day. There is comfort in this, the act of dressing each day connects us with the social world.
Spending time with Nigel Cabourn is a little like being carried along by a minor tornado. He talks a mile a minute, makes friends with just about everybody, and is, by his own admission, ‘like the fucking Pied Piper’.
The items we possess and clothes we wear have unspoken power in our lives; in function, but as anchors to our stories, memories and identities.
While some would argue the format of the freak show never gone away, the scopophilic frisson of the American sideshow, coupled with the message that internal depravity rather than physical disability is the true marker of the ‘freak’ has largely been absent in popular culture since Tod Browning’s ‘Freaks’ was filmed in 1932.