February 27, 2008

You're living in the monkey house.

Discuss the new "Project Runway."

IN THE COMMENTS: Pogo writes:
The "monkey house" comment was hilarious. Any design that elicits a gag reflux from Mr. Gunn needs to be rethought.

Human hair? Why human? Why mention the origin if the effect was solely the look itself? Because the desire was to shock, which is the last refuge of a hack. It's the fashion equivalent of Andres Serrano's Piss Christ ("It's repellent, so it must be good! Isn't urine pretty?"). It's a territory best left to 19-year-old rockers.

Chris is imaginative, but the hair idea was sophomoric. It made me think for the first time that he really does not understand people very well.
I loved the hair. First, it looked great. Second, it was a retro allusion to monkey fur, which was used in fashion — exactly the way Chris used it — in the 1920s and 1940s. I remember a glorious monkey fur dress that Eartha Kitt wore in the 1960s. I hope that Tim Gunn realized this before he riffed on the stink of a monkey house and that it was merely edited out, or he is not as great as we like to think he is. Third, using human hair as though it were monkey fur is both humorous and philosophical. If we react with disgust or outrage, we should progress to the next step and ask why? Why does it seem different from fur? Why is it worse? Fur entails the death of the animal, and the skin is still attached, making that obvious. No one imagines that a human being died to contribute the hair to Chris's project. So where does the disgust come from? Why didn't Nina Garcia accept the challenge and inquire into her own reaction? Could it be that we cling to our illusion that we are not one with the animals?

Museum of Natural History

38 comments:

Patm said...

I actually liked Chris' designs better than Rami's...I loved the whole chic 1920's vibe from them.

But I still think Christian or Jillian will win. Christian is phenomenally talented and will definitely have a long, successful career - I can't imagine what he'll be like at 40. Jillian has wonderful taste and she's always original and surprising.

This was the strongest year yet. Lots of great designers. But the finalists should have been Christian, Jillian and Chris.

Ann Althouse said...

Jillian always had trouble with the time constraints, while Christian was notably speedy. So with all the time they had to prepare for the final event, Jillian should be at her best as compared to Christian. What we saw of her work tonight was really inspiring.

Rick Lee said...

I was totally surprised that Rami won tonight. Do you think it was the hair? I don't care if it WAS human hair, that stuff was beautiful... and different and daring.

Ann Althouse said...

I think it was the fact that he was a costume designer, and he wouldn't stop being costumy. The hair was probably not as bad as the dress that the model couldn't walk in.

Hair isn't as bad as fur. It's not as if the hair was attached to scalp.

Jim Hu said...

I liked Chris' looks better. But since we're seeing these compressed into consecutive weeks instead of spread over months, the fact that Rami's coat looked like another version of Jillian's design she did for the avant-garge challenge is probably more obvious to us than it was to the judges.

titussss said...

I want to marry Rahmi and move to Tel Aviv and live happily ever after.

I bet he has a nice hog.

Why nothing about Christian's family? Everyone else's but not much about Christian's, except his sister.

titussss said...

Tim rocks.

titussss said...

How about Chris in drag? That was hilarious. That bitch doesn't give a shit.

Pogo said...

The 'monkey house' comment was hilarious. Any design that elicits a gag reflux from Mr. Gunn needs to be rethought.

Humna hair? Why human? Why mention the origin if the effect was solely the look itself? Because the desire was to shock, which is the last refuge of a hack. It's the fashion equivalent of Andres Serrano's Piss Christ ("It's repellant, so it must be good! Isn't urine pretty?"). It's a territory best left to 19-year-old rockers.

Chris is imaginative, but the hair idea was sophomoric. It made me think for the first time that he really does not understand people very well. Nina said she could not imagine wearing that dress. Gee, I wonder if that's why he lost?

bill said...

No.

Pogo said...

Oh.
Well that certainly clears it up.

Pogo said...

So where does the disgust come from?

Where does any disgust come from?
* It isn't a logical or rational decision, but an immediate visceral response (Tim Gunn's 'gag reflex' comment as evidence).
* It's not universal, because, as is obvious, it bothered some people not at all.
* It can be explained by use of argument, but it is, in the end, a gut feeling that cannot be pushed aside (Nina's gag reflex as evidence). Some people can't stand the sight of blood, but blood is very pretty.
*Human hair not on the head is considered grotesque enough that men get their bodies waxed now. Human head hair not on the head is considered even more grotesque. Wigs are tolerated when they are on someone's head feigning to be real head hair. On someone's lap? Not so much.
*Victorian hair art doesn't go for very much at auctions. Most people in the audience have that ick look on their faces, and do not bid (except for a few fans). So it's not innate, but cultural, and recent.
*I don't write the rules, I jes' follows 'em. Human hair is just eeeew gross to people when it it ain't on the head any longer. In drain traps, for example.
*People don't save locks of hair anymore, except maybe from babies.



I thought the hair was pretty, too, and I immediately got the 1920s reference. But Goth again? God in heaven, reliving the 70s was bad enough, but now both bad styles from my college days are resurging: Prep and Goth. Ugh, and so predictable. Just pull out a fashion meter form the 1980s to see what's next. Shoulder pads maybe? Parachute pants?

Palladian said...

"Could it be that we cling to our illusion that we are not one with the animals?"

Our relation to animals is but a temporary flaw that will be shed in the not too distant future. Hail the coming of the technological Singularity.

Palladian said...

"Human hair not on the head is considered grotesque enough that men get their bodies waxed now."

You're right, the practice is sadly becoming more common. I love men with natural body hair and find smooth-bodied grown men disgustingly pre-pubescent looking.

But I only like hair when it is attached to people. I find disembodied hair disgusting, the same way I am attracted to a beautiful hand but I would be disgusted if I found one lying in the street.

Pogo, your use of wax and hair in the same comment, and this whole discussion about hair and disgust in general puts me in mind of these wonderful sculptures by Robert Gober.

Pogo said...

Could it be that we cling to our illusion that we are not one with the animals?
Shame and disgust arise from this connection. But it is not an illusion. We are not one with the animals, not anymore. We are long past the hominids we once were, when we were blissfully unaware of ourselves. We are animals, but only in part. The man often rejects the ape within.

I would argue that, based on Tim Gunn's response earlier, Chris should have accepted the challenge and inquired into his own reaction, or rather lack thereof. I like my pieces. But why does it make The Supreme Mentor want to puke?

That effort might have served him well. Visceral responses need not be defended; they are what they are. They should be consulted, not interrogated and required to defend themselves logically.

More often, those who do not have that gut reaction ought to be aware how it can lead to loss of human dignity, because it may lead one to treat other people as only another animal, no different than a dog or a dust mite.

"Man is the only animal that blushes - or needs to. "
Mark Twain

Pogo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
George said...

Dr. Herbert Strauss raised his young daughter Jenny on a diet of nothing but human hair.

From Slate.

Pogo said...

Oh God, Palladian!
I actually saw that Walker Art Center exhibition. I remember the stick of butter and the playpen. But that candle! Ack.


smooth-bodied grown men disgustingly pre-pubescent looking
Agreed. I am not a teenager, and do not want to pretend to be one. When I see shorn men at the gym, I always think they must be trying out for a community theater version of Blue Man Group, and want to whisper to them remember man that you are dust...

Chip Ahoy said...

On someone's lap? Not so much.

President Johnson's "My fellow 'merkins" set British people on a giggling spell. See "merkin" for why.

My great-aunt had a stole that was truly repugnant. It could never be worn today. The mouth of a fox clamped onto its own tail. The apparently taxidermied head still in tact. Imagine wearing a dead animal around your neck and thinking yourself chic.

titussss said...

I get my back and sack waxed-I admit it.

twice a month.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
titussss said...

At the spa I go to you can have a back/sack/crack special on waxing but I don't have them do the crack because I feel that is a little to intimate.

As a result I do my own crack or have a friend do it.

I usually spread both my cheeks and he shaves away.

titussss said...

After giving me a prostate exam my doctor said I have the ass of a 13 year old boy or straight man. I was flattered and told all my friends.

I don't get fucked and as a result I am very tight.

I asked him if he could tell the difference in mens asses from those that get fucked and not and he said definitely.

He said the ones that get fucked are generally loose as a goose. And said some other things about those asses that I will not repeat on a family friendly blog.

I have never even tried to get fucked and don't even want to. I don't suck cock either because I think it is gross. I am really selfish but generally the men I meet don't ask for anything in return-I like it that way. Maybe I am straight?

Meade said...

"...because I feel that is a little to intimate"

No. You don't say.

Pogo said...

Re: Titus
See what I mean about shame?

Bullwinkle4Amy said...

As has already been pointed out, we are only one with the other animals in a very narrow, technical sense. The closer any species gets to sapience, the more that species is able to recognize physical disintegration—literally "dis-integration"—and identify it with death. It seems apparent that a species that is able to conceive of the Mind-Body Problem is going to possess—whether through evolution or cultural acquisition—a set of avoidance reactions to dis-integration. Hair is associated with the head; dis-integration involving the head is associated with death and decay. I could understand both Tim and Nina's reactions to Chris' work and Chris' appreciation of its gothic qualities—it certainly put me in mind of old Vincent Price films, E.C. horror comics, and the like.

Ann Althouse said...

"I find disembodied hair disgusting, the same way I am attracted to a beautiful hand but I would be disgusted if I found one lying in the street."

But hair, unlike a hand, is dead even when it is still attached.

I think if anyone is disgusted by something about a healthy human body, they ought to see it as the beginning of a worthy philosophical inquiry. It's a wonder people have sex at all if they are so predisposed toward disgust.

Pogo said...

It's a wonder people have sex at all if they are so predisposed toward disgust.
Dennis Potter's odd and brilliant teleplay The Singing Detective handled that very issue at some length. You're right of course; it is in part why men find porn appealing. Unreal and perfect bodies, animal evidence airbrushed away.

People are disgusted by excrement which comes straight out of healthy human bodies every day. My own philosophical inquiry into this issue led me to take the very presence of this type of shame as a clue to the existence of God.

I kid you not.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dust Bunny Queen said...

I hope that Jillian will win. Her designs are much more attractive and wearable it seems to me. While Christoper's are just too ruffly and unwearable or so black, black, black colorless and andrygynous. His designs also seem too similar to each other and are boring in their avant-gardeness (I know...that's not a real word)

Actually, I like many of Sweet P's clothing designs as well, but I guess she just wasn't gay enough or over the top with shock quality.

Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dust Bunny Queen said...

The Victorians made jewelery and mourning jewelry out of human hair. It was quite popular

http://tinyurl.com/2bvv5n

George said...

I mortified my teenage daughter last night by watching America's Next Top Model with her.

Paulina Porizkova is a judge. Extremely scrumptious. That Ric Ocasek is one lucky guy...

essaybee said...

The judges said that Rami's designs were very sellable. They certainly couldn't say that about Chris's too-tight gown, skirt made of safety pins, and hair-trimmed togs.

It's business.

Patm said...

I dunno, the human hair didn't bother me - I really loved Chris' designs, although I think he went a little much with the silk screening.

Having seen them all, now, I think Rami's was the weakest collection - he blatantly ripped off Jillian's coat ideas. Chris was better than he's given credit for, and Christian was really excellent but sooooooo black.

My choice - I hope Jillian wins. Her collection was chic but whimsical, strong but feminine and I loved every piece - also you could really see how excellently FINISHED every piece was. Good for the girl from Lawn Guyland.

George said...

Cook accused of stuffing hair into steak

Food-tampering charge could result in prison

stylinchicxoxo said...

i think you're right in saying that Jillian's designs will turn out looking better than Christian's in the end. Each of her designs so far have been impeccable and extremely unique. Christian's on the other hand - while he does great work, it is all starting to look too similar. but maybe he'll be inspired by something new and surprise us in the end?

Nicole said...

I really didn't have a problem with the hair either. I thought it was strange, but in a good way. Fashion is all about pushing the envelope. But I did agree with Tim that his designs were a big lacking. The dress though, was awesome! The comment about why we are so uncomfortable with human hair but not animal hair is very interesting too. I don't really know why it is though. I even get grossed out at the beauty salon at the hair clippings on the floor and those are clean because the hair was just washed. Maybe it is because we think of it as more a part of a person, but animals we think of as parts in themselves sometimes. In one context they are meat, in another they are clothing... a cow can be a cow, beef, leather, etc. etc. Just a theory....