September 13, 2007

"Hip is an attitude marked by louche self-satisfaction, superiority and exclusivity."

"It is rarely an expression of bold ideas and challenges. Hip starts out enticing and desirable, but it soon just becomes an aggravation." Writes Robin Givhan. She's talking about fashion, but the subject of "hipness" goes beyond fashion.

And do click on the link, because there is a photo of a shoe there that is really upsetting me. It's ugly, weird, and dangerous.


Jeff said...

"Hip is an attitude marked by louche self-satisfaction, superiority and exclusivity. It is rarely an expression of bold ideas and challenges. Hip starts out enticing and desirable, but it soon just becomes an aggravation."

Sounds like a solid description of "progessiveness"!

. said...

fashion is not hip.. it never has been

Joseph Hovsep said...

Thanks for highlighting Robin Givhan. Not having much interest in fashion, I never would have read her otherwise, but she's great.

Jeeves said...

Jess says: Sounds like a solid description of "progessiveness"!

Actually, it sounds like a description of a blog called Althouse.

Palladian said...

Ahh, "Jeeves", the same person as "Jonah" and countless other usernames. But in reality, it's AJD (compare the Blogger profile for "Jeeves" and "AJD", it's the same one). Remember that old loser? He just can't stay away!

Palladian said...

What a great piece. I have a burning hatred for hipsters and this piece articulates what is so irritating about them. "Louche self-satisfaction" indeed. Perfect.

Galvanized said...

I also like Robin Givhan's writing a lot.

As for that disturbing shoe, for some reason, it makes me think of the Japanese custom of binding the feet and the little shoes their wore. Plus, it seems to defy gravity...and sensibility, which is irritating. But that's coming from a heel-walker.

Ann Althouse said...

That shoe makes me picture guys horsing around with the pieces of a shoe, joking about how there are only so many ways you can put the pieces together, and then somebody demonstrates that you can put the heel on this way, and everybody laughs hysterically.

How can "exclusivity" describe a blog called Althouse if Jeeves gets in?

rhhardin said...

I'm debating whether clogs properly go with Bermudas. I think so. They're both very comfortable.

Where is the everyday man's guide to fashion? You have to work this all out yourself.

Ron said...

Bonus points for use of the word "louche!" If only "recherche" and "inchoate" were used, there'd be triple word score!

Sarah said...

Beautiful clothes, awful shoe. That poor model is lucky she didn't snap her Achilles tendon when she turned.

I really love Givhan's writing when she covers the shows, instead of the people.

jane said...

"Hip is an attitude... but it soon just becomes an aggravation."

Yes, hip replacement and sooner than they think.

Hazy Dave said...

"Louche self satisfaction" is a wonderful phrase. (One of the things I really like about Joanna Newsom's song "Only Skin" is her use of the word "inchoate".)

It pays to increase your word power...

Trooper York said...

In 1963, Brian Wilson had a little louche coupe which was the very epitome of cool.

john said...

Thanks for the memory Trooper. As kids we sang it as "litte douche coop, you dont know what I got". Until my sister and her friend put us straight.

Im just posting this to see if LOS is going to show up and start stalking again.

Robert Cook said...

"Hip" has come to be used as a synonym for "cool," but it did not mean that originally. I've heard it said that jazz musicians and drug users back in the 40s and 50s would ask if you were "hip," meaning, "do you smoke weed?" or "do you shoot dope?"

In a broader sense, if you were "hip," you had secret knowledge, or were a member of a select few who shared arcane knowledge, or were on a path that was divergent from the mass of people. (In that sense, a monk would be "hip.")

One can see how this desire to be seen as part of a rareified elect became transmogrified into a defintion of "cool," but it does not necessarily follow; after all, it has to become considered "cool" to be a seeker or possessor of arcane knowledge, or to be one on a nonconformist path. At the time when "hip" was first used, such people were not considered cool by the majority of Americans, but were seen as marginal weirdos. (Think William Burroughs, Alan Ginsberg, et al.)

By definition, those who strive to be "cool" are not hip, and those who are "hip" just are, by virtue of their own eccentric independence, and they have no interest in being "cool," which is a superficial and meaningless concern with popularity and fashionability.

"Hip" became "cool," I think, when scads of young people decided to reject the social constraints of mid-century America and emulate Burroughs, Ginsberg, Kerouac and the others of that cohort who presented an alternative way to live; as usual, when a mass of people are attracted to that which had been a niche interest, most of them miss the essence of it and merely ape the surface...the style or the slang, etc. ("Punk" started out in mid-70s NYC as an ironic, intellectualized play with the forms and fashions of pop music and pop culture, a pop "art music," yet many who came to it later were attracted only to its (mis)perceived "violence" and "fuck you" attitude, much of which was brought back from the Brits, whose version of "punk" had little to do with the original American style. "Hardcore" punk, originating in L.A. and influenced somewhat by the British model, really brought in the oafish, bullying creeps who saw the scene as a place they could act out their violent impulses. A far cry, indeed, from the bands in NYC who had brought art school or music fan sensibilities to their musical endeavors.)

"Hip," like everything else, has simply become commidified; it now is an ad slogan, a label used as a selling point, a means to sell "exclusivity" to the masses. In short, it's meaningless.

paul a'barge said...

I see no shoe.

Trooper York said...

John, the little douche coupe is the car that Tiki Barber is driving to the studio these days.

John Stodder said...

This brings me back to Berkeley, mid-70s, and the East Bay band Tower of Power's meditation on the topic of hipness:

So ya wanna dump out yo' trick bag.
Ease on in a hip thang,
But you ain't exactly sure what is hip.

So you started to let your hair grow.
Spent big bucks on your wardrobe.
Somehow, ya know there's much more to the trip.

What is hip?
Tell me, tell me, if you think you know.
What is hip?
If you're really hip,
the question, "Will it show?"
You're into a hip trip.
Maybe hipper than hip.
What is hip?

You became a part of a new breed.
Been smokin' only the best weed.
Hangin' out with the so called "Hippie set."

Seen in all the right places.
Seen with just the right faces.
You should be satisfied, but it ain't quite right.

Hipness is. What it is!
Hipness is. What it is!
Hipness is. What it is!
Sometimes hipness is, what it ain't.

You went an' found you a guru.
In an effort to find you a new you,
And maybe even raise your conscious level.

While you're striving to find the right road,
There's one thing you should know,
"What's hip today, might become passe'."

Think about it y'all.

What is hip?
I'd like to know!
What is hip?
Is it in the style of your hair?
What is hip?
Is it in the clothes that you wear?
What is hip?
I'd like to know.
What is hip?
I'd like to know.
What is hip?
What is hip y'all? Hey!
What is hip?
Hey! Oh!
What is hip?
What is hip y'all?
What is hip?
I wanna know.
What is hip?
What is hip?
I wanna know what hipness is.

john said...


I had to look up Tiki Barber. From Today Show: "Barber has never been the stereotypical jock, and if you look past the Tiki Time clock, the Tiki hand towel and the Tiki dart board scattered throughout his home, there are more subtle signs of the Renaissance man who plans to make his mark in morning news."

OK, now the car makes sense. Wait till he sails across the Pacific in a his own Tiki raft.

Trooper York said...

John, he is so freaking arrogant, he thinks the Brady Bunch had a statue of him in their house.

Chip Ahoy said...

The shoe. A demonstration of what I mean by actuality appearing to come pre-Photoshopped.

Barry Kearns said...

there is a photo of a shoe there that is really upsetting me. It's ugly, weird, and dangerous.

Ann[a] knew she had to have some new shoes today, and Carlo had helped her try on every pair in the store.

Hector Owen said...

I see that the shoe is a Marc Jacobs design. He also did the Al Gore for President T-shirts pictured in my post Another Gore campaign event. Surely the shoes are a joke; maybe the shirts were, too.

ricpic said...

The hip are lost without the square.

blake said...

I also see no shoe.

Unless Barry Kearns' link is showing the same shoe.

Then...I am amused.

Joan said...

You had to click on the slide show to see the shoe, which turns out to be Marc Jacob's "backwards" shoe, as opposed to the one I saw recently based on a snowboarding boots, or something.

Manolo the Shoeblogger posted on this a couple of days ago; pictures at the link, along with the Manolo's excellent and amusing commentary.