This wonderful man is Friedensreich Hundertwasser from Austria. He is one of my absolute favourites as an artist, architect and thinker.
He lived on a houseboat named Regentag (Rainyday). He had a manifesto against using straight lines in his paintings and architecture. He was far before his time when it came to thinking about the environment and ecological considerations.
There is so much to say about him. He is illustrating my blogpost about clothes because he made his own, he even made his own shoes.
But more than that, he said that the human being has got five skins.
1.The individual human body´s skin
2.The clothes you choose to put on
3.The house you live in
4.The country you live in, or your social network
We live within each and all of these zones. They mirror us, they are central in us forming ourselves an identity.
A lot can be said about clothes and identity. Uniforms, signs that tell the world you belong to a group…security needles signifying anarchism, punk rock…tie dye and bell bottomed jeans and suddenly you are seen as a hippy, white shirt and tie there goes an office worker, a loyal servant of the state… we read these signs subconsciously, and we are probably way too quick at generalizing, judging, thinking we know a lot about a person just from the clothes he or she is wearing.
A lot of the time there will be some truth to our generalizations. But not always. And never the full truth. A human being is far too complex to be categorized from just looking at the clothes.
Myself, what do I wear?
I often choose the day´s outfit from an intuitive need for a colour.
I will reach for the purple, or the green, blue, dark orange… sometimes red. Hardly ever yellow. Sometimes anonymous stuff like grey or black. Don´t have much brown. Not much white either.
Apart from colour, I dress for the occasion. A touch of formal elegance when I feel it will gain me. Other days I feel in the mood to wear my cheaky, very worn light blue jeans, with a hole on the right knee.
Most days, as I have the priviledge of working at home, I choose something comfortable, that does not cling to my body or feel tight around my waist. Wide pants, topped with a tunika. Or wooly jumper. Colourful scarf.
I like wide, relaxed dresses, in soft textiles. But I absolutely HATE IT when a skirt decides the ways I can sit or walk, small steps and polite leg crossing isn´t my forte…
I like to feel free. To sit in a lotus on the chair while I eat.
So no. I don´t wear high heels either. Sure I can see they make me look taller, and wearing them straightens my back somehow. But honestly I prefer stilts. I´m quite good at stilts. It´s a fun challenge. For half an hour. Whilst tip toing on high heels for hours on end… all my weight resting on my poor toes, squeezed into those far too narrow shoes… no thanks. I can´t run after a bus either, in “shoes” like that! Can´t dance properly. Simply a restraint of movement. Is how they feel. To me.
I respect every person´s choice of clothes. Don´t get me wrong.
I don´t pay much attention to what people wear. I do notice, when someone shows a nice sense of colour combination. When someone´s outfit shows a sense of humour or a political attitude.
Saturday morning, I was making my way through Copenhagen on the metro and train, to get to my course. (See the post Vocal Sound Therapy for more info). It was 08.30 in the morning, so not a lot of traffic. I looked around at people as I strolled, and was surprised. Everybody was wearing black coats! Really! I counted eight people on bikes who passed me. All in black! I kept looking around. Even young Africans were wearing black overcoats. Amazing.
After a few minutes I realized it was not 100%. Thank Goodness. But ok, 85%, then. How did they all come to his agreement? My dark purple coat suddenly seemed very colourful in these surroundings!
Is it because it is a big city? They all wear black because it feels nice and anonymous? They don´t want to disturb eachother by being too visible?
Is black the new… black? Is it the same in all cities?
Black on black… that was a great song, from the late eighties. Dalbello. Interesting woman.
Yeah, identity… Since Elvis came around in the 50s, we have used music genres in our self definitions.
Am I a rock´n roller? (If there is such a term)?
Well yes I guess. The Rolling Stones, Little Steven, Queens of the Stone Age, the Clash…
But I love pop music more maybe. Or is it funk? Prince, Culture Club… The Kinks, Beatles, Beach boys, Radiohead, Michael Jackson as well… so many…
And more than that do I love old school reggae from Studio One, Jackie Mittoo, Lee Perry (I guess that´s more dub), Peter Tosh…
Oh but where to put Marianne Faithfull, Leonard Cohen, Pink Floyd, Nina Simone, Snatam Kaur…
What is such a taste as mine, called?
I am a musiclover. Will that do? I share many hippy values, but not all of them. I have sympathies for punk philosophy too. A bit.
I am a rebel. Against non peacefulness. For justice, freedom and equality. Solidarity, compassion and brothersisterhood.
I don´t know if there is a label for my kind. I don´t feel that I need a label, though, so. No worries.
When I was younger, meaning until I had my first baby (age 32), I always wore jeans and a t-shirt. Different jeans, different t-shirts. But 99% of the time, these items of clothing. My body was slim, athletic and pretty perfect, in my view. I felt at ease in jeans and a t-shirt.
I used to go out dancing a lot. Many times I would be driving home afterwards. So I didn´t drink. I never do when I drive. Don´t want to cause someone´s death. Simple as that. I respect traffic rules.
I remember one time I went to the disco straight from a christmas family party. I was wearing a red dress.
The next day I told my family I had not been left alone for a minute at the disco, lots of men asked me to dance all the time! My mother said with a smile that “yes, men do like women who dress up”. And I had to explain to her that I was not interested in men who came running after me because they could see my legs. I was interested in the 2-3 guys who would approach me when I was in my jeans and t-shirt. Those who could see my personality, not just my clothes and my body.
I´m still that way. Well. My body has carried three babies, so it doesn´t look as perfect as it used to. But then again. Perfect, in context to what? I mean, my body has created three living, healthy children. What is more perfect than that? It has also provided milk for all of them. This makes my breasts perfect, actually.
There is a cultural view on how the female body is to look to be judged as attractive. This view changes with time. Different centuries, different beauty ideals. Different decades different fashions, both to clothes and to body beauty.
In other words, one can´t take these ideals too seriously.
I have a slogan. Which I created myself, I´m very proud to say. I hope to print it onto some t-shirts one day. Maybe tunika-shaped t-shirts, so that people who have birthed 3 kids can feel good wearing the shirts too… 🙂 Here goes, listen up:
Function Fucks Fashion.
It even has a double meaning.
1.That something works, is more important than the way it works.
But that´s not my intended meaning.
2.That an item of clothing keeps you warm, or safe from the sun or rain or wind…which is the primary function of clothes… is way more important than the opinion of the fashion industry about the item´s “trendyness”.
I made this slogan while I was wearing a boilersuit from a fish factory where i worked. It was a blue boilersuit, very old and one might say ugly, after a decade or so in daily use in a fish factory.
But I grew so fond of it, that I actually took it with me when I quit the factory.
Ok, then. Yes I did steal it I guess. But it WAS very old and ugly. The other workers had newer boilersuits.
I stole it, and I wore it when it was snowing outside, in the morning as I made my 45 minute long walk to Piraya Film Company. Yup. I wore it to my fancy film company job. Of course I took it off when I arrived. Nice and dry, normal clothes underneath the blue suit. But.
Still. I´m pretty proud of that.
Getting that job did not make me stress and struggle to find a “suiting” style of clothes.
Then again, it was a rebel company. Jeans and t-shirts were wide spread. Nobody there ever commented on my fish factory uniform.
I actually miss that boilersuit. I gave it to a homeless shelter one winter, and I regret it. I thought at the time that it would stop me from walking around in the city looking strange. And it could also keep a homeless person nice and warm. But I regret it. Ever since then, I have wanted to purchase myself another boilersuit. One winter I´m sure I will.
The fashion industry. I think they are…a sign of sickness. Society consumer mentality imbalance.
“This spring it´s these new colours that matter. Different from last season´s”.
Just so that you can´t fake being up to date. You have to buy stuff you don´t need, in order to look like you´re trendy. Following the fashion.
Love this song about it.
Well, I´m not a follower of anything. Least of all fashion. I don´t see the point, to be honest. To look like everyone else? Isn´t that a bit fearful? Afraid to stand out? To be different?
Hey, we are all different! Every one of us is unique. Like snowflakes are. What´s the big deal?
Afraid others won´t accept us?
I remember high school without Levi´s jeans and Millet jackets. No, I was not accepted. I was even mildly bullied about it. But.
It didn´t change me. Or even rearrange me.
Could you be loved?
Is that the question that gives the fashion bizniz its central place in our consciousness? That we do not feel good enough? We try to show we are worthy of being loved?
“Look at me, I´m in with the in crowd, I have this expensive label on my trousers…”
I actually think fashion is old fashioned. It is doomed. Because earth can not maintain it. If we do keep up the consumer culture pace…then we, as a species, will die. Maybe that´s just as well. I´m sure the earth and its flora, fauna and wildlife has a better balance and far less pain without us humans here.
If we want to survive, though, to be the fittest, as not Dickens but…Darwin yes…claimed in his theory… (Same first name)…then we have to stop throwing away perfectly functional stuff just because the fashion guru says on the telly that the cool thing to wear is not like he said yesterday. Yesterday is so out. And blue is the new puke.
Sorry. Yes it does provoke me. I find it so brainless.
Then we rush out and buy the new textile items. And we empty our closets and throw away the stuff we bought and found so cool only a year ago.
What is it good for?
For the economy? For the profit makers´ economy.
It is not good for your private economy. But that´s your own problem. The real problem is that it is just not good for our planet!!! All that cotton, all that colouring… it is killing our mother earth. Together with the other pollution.
Soon we can´t eat the fish. Can´t drink the water, can´t breathe the air. Then what? Die pretty in pink? Die in our brand new, shiny car?
What about the children? What are they supposed to inherit?
A broken planet. Radioactivity. Fracking. Oil spills. What are they going to eat? What are they going to breathe?
I don´t really mean to preach. It just comes sprouting out. Like a bean stalk. Coz I do actually believe we need some saving if we don´t shift our direction soon.
And who will shift it? The industry of ProfitMaking?
Of course not.
Vote with your feet, as they say. There will be no consumer culture if we are not willing to be consumers.
End of story.
Myself I have textiles in different colours. And some items a bit more elegant, a bit more feminine, a bit on the funny side, a bit on the cheaky side, or the political side. My clothes they show my personality. And there is only one of me. So I appreciate diversity, non conformity. There´s the start of a song right there.
If and when I get plenty of dough, and money flows like golden honey everywhere I go… then I will go shopping for clothes. But didn´t I just say? No i didn´t. We all need clothes on our bodies. And my wardrobe has housed the same old items now for many many years. Once every decade or so, it´s okay to renew a little.
I would go to London. I love Camden town, the market there.
What´s it called that fancy expensive street? Oxford street?
Doesn´t feel attractive to me. Too stiff and plasticy, non personal, rigid, and stupidly overpriced.
No, I would go to the secondhand store. And hunt myself some funny stuff, colourful things, special items that someone ditched without having used it much. Good quality stuff. That does not look second hand. So much of it out there. That´s a much more creative way of shopping. Challenging my own taste and judgement of cool, instead of just buying into the mythology of the fashion industry. “Buy this…people will like you and dig you and desire youuuu…” It´s like a hypnosis trick! Consumer trance. “Stop thinking for yourself. Just do as we tell you..”
No thanks. I´m quite okay thinking by myself. I even prefer to. Makes me feel alive.
Following fashion is irrational. It is to allow other people
to decide the way you look. The signal you send out.
“Hello, I´m one of you, don´t be afraid, I´m just very ordinary, a fashionfollower like the rest of you…”
Am I too harsh?
I am not belittling. I respect everyone the same. I do.
I just don´t understand the need. The why. Follow fashion.
If it wasn´t such a disaster for our planet, and our children´s future, then it would just be amusing.
But if we don´t collectively wake up from this consumerism… it has serious consequences. It threatens our existence. That´s why I get edgy.
Sorry if I hurt your feelings. I just want us to realize what the bizniz of clothes is costing us.
Don´t I have a suit-able (pun intended) music video that would make a funny or elegant ending to this post?
Hmmmm…Nooo…. I just searched youtube…there are some recycling raps but… nothing exciting, or juicy or fresh… and none of them mention the recycling of clothes, either. Sure, paper and cardboard is important. Without trees, we don´t get oxygen. But. My issue here is clothes.
Wonder how big a percentage clothes is, of our trash…
Not a small percentage.
So let´s recycle our old stuff, clothes included. And let´s also go searching for new stuff in second hand stores.
Save the planet.
And show the world you create your own style. Your skin is as unique as your inner self is. You don´t need to look like everyone else to feel safe and good enough.
This turned into a bit of a rant. I´m searching for Benjamin Zephania, the poet, on youtube, without luck at the moment.
Oh, internet working again… Found lots of different interesting Zephania pieces, about money, and immigration… but not the piece I was looking for, called “Everybody´s got a Rant”.
It is late now, midnight soon, which is very late for me these days when I mother three… (usually I stay up write in the night when the silence is quiet… I will do that again as soon as my youngest child is old enough to not wake me at 5 o´clock demanding a cup of cocoa)! Hehehehe…
Let´s wear it, enjoy it not fear it, and let´s try to not make our ways with clothes be a burden on our mother earth.
Oh, I just found this on youtube now. Search and you shall find. This is f***ing awesome… 🙂 …