Articles - 1st March 2019

Unfashionably Great

Words by Elinor Potts
Illustration by Oscar Price

Welcome back to the culture clinic, Freelancers!

Now that it’s March, what do we have to show for the month gone? Sweaty underarms and upper lips? A light smattering of unseasonal freckles from some unwelcome solar radiation? If only we’d paid attention to the desperate banners of Extinction Rebellion at London Fashion Week, we might have noticed the rising climes culminating in that record-breaking 20-degree heat, craftily dubbed ‘Fabruary’ in Britain’s Tabloids.

What disproportionately dominated the news cycle in this season’s Fashion Week was instead the loss of a Lagerfeld. In his lifetime, the self-described ‘fashion nymphomaniac’ was a deeply polarising figure. Lagerfeld openly criticised open-door immigration policies, fat women, women who weren’t Mothers and Russian men; in between arduous shifts of shouting at people and wearing expensive cloaks. He dubbed the art of selfie-taking “Electronic Masturbation”, called ugly people “Very depressing”, and declared that “Whoever wears running pants has lost control over his life.”

As someone sheepishly donning a pair of trousers speckled with patches of dried mayonnaise, I am, for all intents and purposes, an unfashionable and thoroughly depressing individual. Luckily, Lagerfeld is no longer here to scorn my muffin-top, split-ends and reprehensible pantaloons. Ecological emergencies and problematic pin-ups aside, I’m here to plate up this fortnight’s cultural picks for the gloriously ugly, pseudo-intellectual, fashionably antiquated masses.

In an ode to the fashion icon’s distrust of intellectual activity (‘I hate intellectual conversation with intellectuals because I only care about my opinion’), I damn hope you’re ready for some opinions.

For those of you who feel the same as myself – that is, grossly undereducated on the world of fashion – where better to take yourself than on an informative excursion to the V&A for a Q&A with master fashion designer Norma Kamali and style editor Gianluca Longo? While you’re there, the V&A is also hosting a sold-out retrospective of Christian Dior from 1947 to present day, named, ‘Designer of Dreams’.

If that’s still a bit too coordinated for your fantastically mismatched wardrobe, Hampton Court Palace have their golden mitts on the costumes from Yorgos Lanthimos’ Academy Award-winning The Favourite until the 10th March. Get your money’s worth and smear your greasy fingers on the glass panels, and maybe, hopefully, we can absorb some of the glamour via osmosis.

For full throttle, unadulterated glam, take your queerest gowns to The Vaults’ Underbar this Saturday on the 2nd March. If that doesn’t satiate your drag needs, continue the party into the early hours at Dalston Superstore’s disco drag brunch on Sunday morning. As their website boasts, we can anticipate “all flavours of drag nonsense”. The cherry on top of this camp trio must surely be followed by a trip to the Battersea Arts Centre for an operatic vision of the socialite, designer, model, businesswoman and stalwart late capitalist, Kourtney Kardashian. I’m not being hyperbolic – It’s an opera, following on from 2016’s ballet Kim Kardashian.

Veering further away from the righteous path of fashionable, snap-able art, steer your wagons over to Dorothea Tanning’s exhibition at the Tate Modern, running until the 9th June.

If Tanning’s low-lit, mangled surrealist fantasies aren’t leftfield enough for your appetites, then try Austrian artist Fraz West’s retrospective at the Tate Modern; a Captain of absurdity and an all-around kook with a fondness for cosmic paper-mache sculptures, inviting onlookers to extend a curious hand.

Let’s at least try to meet in the middle somewhere between on-trend and outmoded with Max Porter’s newest lit-fic offering Lanny (Faber & Faber, 07/03/19), hotly following his debut Grief is the Thing With Feathers. I’ve been impatiently pacing in waiting for the opening of the Barbican’s theatrical adaptation (25-03-19). Elation is anything with Cillian Murphy.

For a safe bet, pick up a copy of one of VICE journalist Joel Golby’s essay collection, Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant: Modern Life as Interpreted by Someone Who is Reasonably Bad at Living it. It’s been flying off the shelves in its first week of publication and going off first hand-experience, is very popular with ASOS employees. Golby holds very little back which makes for a deliciously chucklesome collection of brazenly honest articles, many of which have previously been published online to popular acclaim.

But hell, if you’d rather subscribe to carbon-guzzling fast fashion, slick white ponytails and run-of-the-mill pulp, that’s fine too.

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