Body Rockin’ Rites of Passage

I slipped my father’s aviator sunglasses onto my face under the red bandanna I had tightly strapped around my head. I sauntered through the cold storage doors to the full length mirror in his bedroom. I stared at the 12 year old facing me, complete with fishnet t-shirt and long-sleeved, red matching knit undershirt beneath, blue sweat pants with the corporate logo from my father’s company hidden beneath Bruce Jenner-style shorts. My socks were pure off-white, another product of my dad’s dresser, and the shoes: pink and purple Vans. I was a rainbow of fruit flavors. A costume designer for a John Hughes film could not have done better. It was perfect. I was perfect. I was a break dancer, and I was ready to break.

The rise of break dancing in Lexington, Kentucky hit in approximately June o f 1982, just six years after it became… Continue reading

The Breast Revenge

By Zac Elston

Two months ago my wife and I opened a Body Piercing Studio here in Arlington Va. Now I’ve always loved the stories my wife has to tell from this ‘get me through college’ career choice. Working in the ‘scene’ industry, she comes home with a new adventure story everyday. I think my new favorite hobby is bringing her to parties and letting her silence a room full of wine tasters with “Hey, didn’t I pierce your dick?”

In the beginning I was happy to just be on the side-lines. I knew she had a weird job, but when you’re a German here on a student visa, the USA apparently likes to make it as hard as possible to find a job. Plus she usually makes more then I do, and she enjoys it. Mom instantly approved of her and dad called her “delightful” so I really didn’t… Continue reading

Coed Naked Lacrosse

Vaguely absurd “attitude” T-shirts such as “Coed Naked Lacrosse” were familiar on college campuses during the ’80s, often tailored to the particular school or local geography.

“Surf the Schuylkill” at the University of Pennsylvania, for instance, referred nonsensically to the waveless, polluted Schuylkill River flowing nearby. In 1990 two University of New Hampshire grads bought the Coed Naked trademark and unleashed it on teens.

By the 1993-94 school year the shirts (and even cruder latecomers like “Big Johnson” and “Butt Naked”) reached fad proportions and were the subject of dozens of ACLU lawsuits across the country as schools deemed the proliferating double entendres like “Coed Naked Band. Do It to the Rhythm” and “Coed Naked Billiards. Get Felt on the Table!” inappropriate.

Number of View :2050

Fluevog – British Columbia, footwear company

Vancouver, British Columbia, footwear company founded in 1970 by John Fluevog (b. 1948) and Peter Fox, the partnership split up in 1980. Since then Fox has flourished as a mainstream designer and Fluevog has found renown as, among other things, an early proponent of the platform-shoe revival.

The colorful, outlandishly impractical Fluevog shoes (made in England, often with Doc Martens-made soles) have long been favorites with club kids, but they reached national renown in 1991 when one scallop-heeled model was worn in videos and photo shoots by Deee-Lite singer Lady Miss Keir.

Designers Anna Sui, Byron Lars, and Betsey Johnson have augmented their runway shows with Fluevogs, which are these days sold through boutiques and a chain of self-named stores nationwide.

Number of View :1514

Hairstyle – Dreadlocks

Hairstyle dating back to the ’20s and the founding of the Afro-Caribbean religion Rastafarianism. Rastas outlawed the combing or cutting of hair, citing the biblical injunction of Leviticus 21:5: “They shall not make baldness upon their head….” The name dreadlocks was adopted to mock nonbelievers’ aversion to the look; the term was popularized internationally by the 1975 Bob Marley song “Natty Dread” (“natty,” in this case, meaning “knotty”).

In the ’80s, significant numbers of non-Rastafarian blacks began wearing dreads as fashion, and by the early ’90s, trend-conscious whites followed suit. Those unable to grow the right kind of hair can pay stylists to graft premade locks of real or synthetic hair onto their heads. The resulting pseudo-dreads, sometimes called “African” or “Nubian” locks, allow snowboarders, musicians, and models to sport an exotic look without the pain and mess of, say, body-piercing.

Number of View :2826

Headgear “do-rag”

Tennis star Andre Agassi in a do-rag

Headgear so named because it is used to cover up a hairdo. Originally the provenance of older black women (as on Aunt Jemima product boxes), the do-rag is fashioned from a square of material (usually a patterned bandanna) that is folded, tied behind the head, and stretched over the forehead.

Common among prison inmates, the do-rag acquired fashion currency in the late ’80s and early ’90s through its use as an insignia among feuding L.A. gangs (Crips-blue, Bloods-red). Its outlaw cachet was appreciated by would-be macho types and hairdressers.

Number of View :1140

Don’t Panic – Leave Chelsea Alone

Apparel company founded in 1990 by former stand-up comedian Skyler Thomas (b. 1963) after his “Nobody Knows I’m Gay” T-shirt became a hot seller at that year’s L.A. Gay and Lesbian Pride Celebration.

Thomas has since shown an aptitude for unleashing media viruses: “I Can’t Even Think Straight” and “Closets Are for Clothes” were hits in the gay world before he broadened out in early 1993 with “Leave Chelsea Alone.” This noble defense of beleaguered first daughter Chelsea Clinton reportedly prompted a note of thanks from the president himself.

Thomas conceived the “Bad Hair Day” hat as well as jewelry, bedsheets, and a Christmas tree decoration with the red ribbon of AIDS awareness (a portion of the proceeds go to AIDS research). By 1995 Don’t Panic had annual revenues of over $2 million, with six retail outlets in America and one in London.

Number of View :1125

Doc Martens – Footwear of individuals

Footwear uniform of young individualists worldwide. Doc Martens shoes were invented in 1945 by Claus Maertens, a German doctor who needed a comfortable shoe after a skiing accident; Maertens formed a rubber sole from a tire and heat-sealed it to an upper, trapping a cushion of air.

Patented two years later, the Maertens design found favor as an orthopedic shoe among older women; on April 1, 1960, “Doc Martens” were first produced under license in England by R. Griggs & Co. The company’s original, eight-eyelet 1460 model boots-still a staple today-were adopted in the ’60s by English skinheads, who coveted their potential for violence.

Punk rockers revived “Docs” in the ’70s, and the shoes have been youth-culture staples ever since, in ever-expanding forms and colors. With their simple utilitarian design, Doc Martens shoes and boots are the perfect antifashion statement. According to Forbes magazine in January 1995, the U.S. accounted… Continue reading

Black Dog

The Black Dog catalog (The Black Dog Tavern Company, Inc.).

Logo from the well-weathered restaurant on the New England resort island of Martha’s Vineyard; faded-color T-shirts bearing the understated Labrador silhouette have become a kind of Hard Rock Café insignia for the upper classes.

Most versions of the shirts state the year of vintage in antique type on the back, the better to separate ancien from nouveau; earliest models date from 1980, with a large mail-order business started in the early ’90s through classified ads in the likes of Rolling Stone.

In 1992 Vineyard residents Helen and Paul Hall successfully defended their right to sell “Dead Dog” parodies (originally picturing an upside-down dog), which led to a spate of other knockoffs, including a dreadlocked “Black Dawg” and, to celebrate President Clinton’s 1993 vacation on the Vineyard, a Clinton-headed canine.

Number of View :1161

Birkenstock – The footwear dynasty

Unsightly orthopedic sandals invented in 1965 when Karl Birkenstock, the scion of a German footwear dynasty, combined his company’s molded sole with a suede-lined cork foot bed and straps.

Birkenstocks were first distributed in the U.S. in 1967 and were favored mainly by Deadheads and crunchy types (health-food stores were one outlet) until the early ’90s.

They then went overground with a vengeance, appearing on the feet of designers, celebrities (most famously those of Madonna and Keanu Reeves), and runway models who were swept along with fashion’s supposed swing to New Age values.

The New York Times reported that the Birkenstock company sold more shoes between 1992 and 1994 than it had over the previous 20 years.

Number of View :1755

Benetton – once-trendy fashion

Founded in 1965 near Venice, Italy, this once-trendy fashion line has been eclipsed in America by the inexorable ascent of the Gap and its descendants. In 1996, Forbes magazine estimated that the clothing company “probably loses $10 million to $15 million a year” in the U.S., although it continues to flourish in Europe under the stewardship of Luciano Benetton and his family.

Benetton’s advertising campaigns–supervised by creative director and photographer Oliviero Toscani (b. 1942)–have proved particularly adept at courting controversy (and thus free publicity), favoring stylized visual metaphors–a black horse mating with a white horse, a priest and a nun kissing, a black woman nursing a white baby–and harshly realistic pictures of contemporary tragedy.

In 1993 Luciano himself posed nude for the I Want My Clothes Back campaign, and in 1994 a Toscani ad showing an arm tattooed with the words HIV POSITIVE led to a group of French PWAs… Continue reading

The Beats – 90’s contemporary youth culture

Community of writers (chiefly Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, William Burroughs) who in turning their lives into art passed along an intimate and transparent portrait of a literary generation in the wake of WWII and Korea.

Beats (or beatniks) were often invoked in the early ’90s as an influence on contemporary youth culture; superficial similarities between the decades included fashion statements like baggy pants, sneakers, crewcuts, and goatees; spoken word and coffee bar culture; and chatty, spontaneously composed jazz-hip-hop.

There was a modest spate of associated culture-products, such as re-issued books, a Rhino Records CD compilation, and a Francis Ford Coppola movie of Kerouac’s 1957 book On the Road, which attracted thousands of “wannabeats” to an open casting call in New York.

Meanwhile, The Gap, Cappio iced coffee, and even Wendy’s hamburgers were invoking the Beat aesthetic in the name of commerce. All of which bespeak a cultural time… Continue reading

Naomi Campbell wearing barrettes

Hair clips worn with middle-parted hair or pigtails as part of the “baby femme” style that also includes color-rimmed tight baby T-shirts, baby-doll dresses, and Mary Jane shoes. Barrettes are commonly blue, yellow, and pink and made of plastic with butterfly or daisy decorations; they can be bought at low-end retailers like Walgreen’s or K-Mart.

This post-riot grrrl, almost pedophiliac look sprang from the club and rave scene in mid-1993; it complements the worship of anything childlike, including lunch boxes and wide-eyed, coy facial expressions.

The look was popularized by Courtney Love of Hole, singer Björk, and Deee-Lite’s Lady Miss Kier; in 1994 barrettes spread to fashion-show runways via designers like Anna Sui and X-Girl and to television via the characters played by Tori Spelling on Beverly Hills 90210 and by Nicole Eggert on Baywatch; the hair accessories also showed up on gay male urbanites and even Green Day drummer… Continue reading

Johnson, Betsey

Born a Connecticut WASP, Betsey Johnson made a name for herself in the ’60s designing clear vinyl dresses, silvery motorcycle suits, and other groovy threads for the youthquakers who shopped at Paraphernalia, the trendy New York-based boutique chain.

She opened her own company in 1978, and weathered countless trends by sticking to a distinctive funky, vaguely vintage sensibility, producing lighthearted, inexpensive clothes and reviving her own ’60s and ’70s styles as the looks resurfaced.

Apt to begin her manic runway shows by cartwheeling down the catwalk in a tutu, bright red braids and hair extensions flying, Johnson thrives on spectacle, but take away her models’ nose rings, platform combat boots, and ripped fishnet stockings, and many of her floral-printed baby-dolls and princess-style dresses are sweet enough for a junior high school dance.

Number of View :575

Richard Avedon – 90’s Fashion Photographer

Former merchant marine who survived World War II to become arguably the world’s most influential modern fashion photographer.

After the war, at Harper’s Bazaar (1946-65), Avedon introduced a more naturalistic style of fashion photography in which models broke out of frozen poses to run, jump, and even laugh.

Sports photographer Martin Munkacsi, a contemporary at Harper’s under legendary art director Alexei Brodovich, is credited as an influence. Such was Avedon’s renown that the 1957 fashion-world movie satire Funny Face used him as a special visual consultant and featured a character based on him that was played by Fred Astaire.

Uncomfortable with his role as fashion photographer, Avedon moved into portraiture, producing stark, icon-making, black-and-white images of the great and the good and the powerful and also of anonymous weathered faces from America’s heartland.

Full-page Avedon pictures are a signature of the reformulated New Yorker, which appointed him its first-ever staff… Continue reading