The Debut of ‘re: dress,’ Meredith Graves’ Talkhouse Column on Fashion in Music — and Vice Versa

The outspoken Perfect Pussy frontperson talks Kanye's new line, Beyoncé's boob tape and Lady Gaga's Hillary Clinton cosplay outfit.

How does one sit down and take themselves seriously while writing about “music and fashion”? I’m afraid that, over the last year spent in the thinkpiece mines, I’ve been inoculated against having an actual, thorough thought process.

I have a headache. I hate myself.

OK. So much has happened with regard to music and fashion this week! There’s just so much to talk about!

Of course, you’ll need to disregard any lingering thoughts about Ted Cruz, drone strikes, Martin Shkreli, Boko Haram, honor killings, food deserts, the police- and military-industrial complexes and the rising tide of gentrification, but take five minutes for yourself and set adrift on memory bliss with me. Why not check out entirely? Call it #selfcare. Read this column sitting in a protective ring of Himalayan pink salt lamps. Do you. Good vibes only, right?

Two days from this writing, Kanye West will debut his third Yeezy collection at the same time as his new, as-yet-untitled album. He’s shared preview images of minimal, soft, moth-gnawed knitwear worn over “skirts” (I use that term loosely) that look like beaded drapes salvaged from the ballroom of the Titanic. If Yeezy 2 was MBDTF, Yeezy 3 is Yeezus, in that he’s using far-out reference points that may read as complex (to a distinct subsect of his predictable consumer demographic anyway), and will probably put people off at first.

I’m already assuming people will try to solve for X in the equation of Kanye+Rousteing, given both his relationship with Balmain and Yeezy 3’s similar brand of ornamentation and beadwork. But where Balmain has been tagged for cultural appropriation, Yeezy’s greatest crime would be against fancy lampshades. These low-res Twitter snaps give me the same feeling as Anxious Pleasures: A Novel After Kafka did when I was nineteen and first encountered the idea of “interstitial fiction.” It’s a rewrite of Balmain’s novel, ergo, it’s a different novel entirely.

TLOP. The Love of Power? Time Line, OoPs? Or, perhaps: Trompe L’Oeil, Pitchoune. Teaser images of bisected sweaters are about as useful as fake album titles: no way he’d release something that would actually give away the show’s content. He simply doesn’t have to. I catch myself wanting to say, I have been wearing rotting 1920s dresses with hideous but practical oversized boots for years! I come from the land of ice and snow, where we don’t have the choice of ironically wearing Moncler or Sorel.

And so, I find myself desperately wanting to wear those #wifeylooks (what a great term), especially if they show up paired with those lavender LL-Bean-duck-boot-knockoff shoes, even if their heavenly father should be banned from tweeting.



Other notable moments in music and fashion this week:

  • Lady Gaga doing her best Lhasa apso/Hillary Clinton cosplay at the Super Bowl. What a cool suit. These days, I politely refuse to join the masses in their insistence on referring to popular sports as “sportsball,” which hits like a stack of sliced bologna to the face on even the most fine-tuned of social media accounts. It’s adorable that you feel professional sports are beneath you. But you’re watching it anyway.

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  • Beyoncé’s “Formation” video, wherein she used Black Girl Magic to transform a Pasadena museum into a New Orleans manse, decked out her dancers (and her daughter) in impeccable, regal, period clothing (clothing that actually would have been denied those same women during that time period), proved via leotard that garment tape is stronger than any of us ever knew, and eventually, took the performance to the aforementioned Superb Owl with a cadre of backup dancers dressed as Black Panthers, where they paid tribute (with help from black female organizers in the crowd) to a recent victim of police brutality. The entire video is a testament to black excellence. And lucky for us, there are so, so many brilliant POC (and, specifically, women of color) writing about this video and its importance.


And… that’s it. I don’t know, what else happened — what really happened? Aside from Beyoncé, that is. Did Rihanna go anywhere? She always looks incredible.

There has to be a better way to write about music and fashion that doesn’t involve reflexively jumping for easily accessible rings. We err on the side of pop commentary — but why? For the views? To assure that everyone will have seen the image on which we’re commenting? Is this why Barthes wrote about the Eiffel Tower and professional wrestling and television instead of highly specific and rarefied texts and images (discounting his continued harping on the importance of Werther, which actually was really popular once upon a time)?

We have to go deeper in the weeks to come, to dissect images, to look at the way sound affects textile, and vice versa, to talk with musicians about what they wear, and when, and why, to think about the relationship between gender and labor, between self and Other, bodies and consumption, weights both physical and cultural. We must commit, and engage in the acts of looking and listening with our hands, mouths, hearts, intuition. We must go deeper than “Who wore it better,” because frankly, they both looked good. We must, in a word, slay.

(Photo credits: Meredith Graves by Charlotte Zoller, fashion photos by Kanye West/Twitter)

Meredith Graves is a musician and writer. She also runs a small record label called Honor Press. You can follow her on Twitter here and on Instagram here.