Friday, October 5, 2007

An Ode to Divine

"He was my Elizabeth Taylor, he was an actor who started his career as a homicidal maniac and ended it playing a loving mother, which is a pretty good stretch, especially when you are a 300 pound man." says John Waters about his muse Harris Glenn Milstead, aka DIVINE.

My first glance at Christabel's website imediately summoned Divine into my head. A drag actor who got his start by pulling THE MOST RIDICULOUS SHIT I HAVE EVER SEEN, Divine was made famous staring in John Waters films. Be warned when i say the THE MOST RIDICULOUS, it is not an understatement, at all. He's the self proclaimed Queen of trash, and actually ate shit (real human shit) on camera in his first film. puke.

But none the less, you have to admire somebody who is so outside the box that he didn't even realize that he had broken it, then walked all over it in 8inch bondage platforms and full body spandex jumpsuit. Oh, and no eye brows. It is this same spirit of uter-non-conformity that makes this Christabel so fantastic.

My only question is how is it possible that there is an artist around toronto, that is chanelling mad sixties misfits Divine and Leigh Bowery, who managed to stay under our radar? I'm disapointed in us. Until now.

Everything Old is New...

Everything in fashion really does go in circles, doesn't it? I clearly remember begging my mother NOT to wear her one piece leopard print leotard in the eighties and here I am posting photos from the same eighties Italian Vogues that she used to read... Bodysuits are the perfect example. I'd say that American Apparel is pretty much responsible for bringing it back - but look at the original by Gianni Versace circa 1982:

I'd take that over the American Apparel one. And over the new Martin Margiela version, too:

And of course, Gianni doesn't deserve all the credit. Julie Newmar, the original catwoman deserves at least a nod:

I love catsuits...

Monday, October 1, 2007

White Night, White Heat

Like just about everyone else in the city, I went out for Nuit Blanche on Saturday. I have never seen so many people on the street at one time in Toronto in my life. Sorry - with the sole exception of a big olympic hockey win a few years ago, I have never seen so many people on the street at one time in Toronto in my life. Barriers were erected along Bloor St. to keep pedestrians off the road, and sidewalks between University and Spadina were so crowded I felt like I was shoving my way through a packed bar... I didn't think T.O. was lacking for things to do but I stand corrected. Apparently all night, city wide, corporate funded art parties were what was lacking.

I stopped at the Art of Fashion: Surreal Journey to see the Paper People Clothing installation by my friend Jenn Fukushima. Jenn graduated last year and has been working like a one woman sweatshop on her line since she was still in high school. Her clothes look just like her. Colourful vintage fabrics, patchwork seaming and wild texture seem like they'd be hard to wear but surprisingly, I'd wear just about anything she makes. Jenn had live models curled up in her installation, whom we immediately joined on the floor with a glass of wine making paper people, funny crowns and feathered headgear.

While I was there, I discovered the incredible weirdness that is Chris Cunningham. His display featured a rainbow coloured KKK ensemble, eyeball covered fetish gear and a dress that incorporated a television into it.
Not exactly a drag queen, I would classify Chris as more of a performance artist in the vein of Leigh Bowery or maybe a designer like Gareth Pugh since he makes his own costumes. His style reminds me of anime or surrealist paintings. I suspect he might be an illustrator as well as a performance artist because of his inspirations, but it's just a hunch. I'll let you know if I find out because I will definitely be keeping an eye on him...

You can find more of his work here: