ALL MASHED UP: FROM PUNK TO THE CLOUD è il titolo di un workshop condotto da Ted Polhemus, che si è tenuto da poco allo IED di Roma.
Si, avete letto bene, Ted Polhemus!
Un genio, un mito, uno degli antropologi più importanti al mondo, colui che ha rivoluzionato lo studio delle teorie sulla diffusione delle mode, l’uomo che ha dedicato agli stili di strada e alle subculture gran parte della sua vita e del suo lavoro.
Miei amati followers, non avete idea di quanto possa avermi fatto piacere riuscire a fargli l’intervista che trovate qui sotto. Che soddisfazione!
Così come immagino sia stata una grande soddisfazione per i ragazzi dello IED, quella di poter lavorare insieme ad un uomo così importante realizzando dei mood – boards ispirati al punk.
Vi mostro le singole immagini delle tavole su cui trovate anche i nomi dei rispettivi “creatori”.
- Ringrazio lo staff dello IED per avermi aiutata a contattare Ted realizzando così un mio piccolo sogno… e ringrazio Ted per aver trovato il tempo di rispondere alle mie domande, grazie davvero di cuore!
Se vi interessa sapere qualcosa di più sul lavoro di Ted Polhemus sappiate che su www.lulu.com e su www.amazon.com troverete, tra gli altri suoi testi, la nuova edizione di Fashion & Anti-fashion: Exploring adornment and dress from an anthropological perspective e il suo ultimo libro BOOM! – a baby boomer memoir, 1947-2022
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————- Ted, what do you exactly mean when you talk about the “bubble up process” in fashion?
Traditionally the fashion system work by means of a ‘trickle down’ process whereby the new looks of the fashion and economic elite worked there way down – slowly – from the rich to the not so rich. One of the great events of the 20th century was that, for the first time, we saw the reverse process whereby the streetstyles, music, graffiti, accents which came from ‘the wrong side of the tracks’ and from black and Hispanic urban neighbourhoods began to ‘bubble up’ to influence the rich. This is a great triumph of democratic culture (now free of the capital letters of High Culture) but, sadly, it has also sometimes meant that the original power of streetstyle has been watered down and rendered meaningless in becoming a fashion which can be bought by anyone with enough money.
Let’s talk about one of your most successful ideas; what do you exactly mean by Supermarket of Style ? When did you first get out with this concept?
If you have ever seen the film Blade Runner you will understand the phrase ‘Supermarket of Style’. This was not only the first ‘futuristic’ film to go ‘retro’ but it saw all sorts of different retro, subcultural and ethnic styles all jumbled up together. Once upon a time fashion obliged one and all to follow a single ‘direction’. Today it no longer has this power and no one wants to be a passive, submissive ‘fashion victim’. We sample and mix different, often contrary, styles, brands and looks from the Supermarket of Style which exists all around us – in the process making a unique, personal style ‘statement’ (a ‘statement’ which is ‘in the mix’ rather than a product of the design of specific garments).
These days, more than ever, and definitely thanks to the Web, young people create their look blending their styles from different cultures all over the world. Sampling and mixing, you would say… How do you visualize the youth style in twenty or thirty years? Let me put it to you this way; what kind of outfit will we wear in the future?
Just as today, there will not be a single youth style. Indeed, there probably never has been a single style which all youth followed: In the seaside town of Hastings where I now live there were in the summer of 1964 battles between the Mods and the Rockers. At the same time there would have been young people who were ‘dedicated followers of fashion’ or who dressed conservatively, in the styles of their parents. Today is different only in the near infinite range of options of contrasting styles on offer. And if you don’t see something you like ‘out there’ then just kick something off yourself.
Why clothing is so important in subcultures? Is it maybe because clothing itself is among the causes of social identity?
Clothing is so important because it is portable. We home owning adults may express ourselves in our choice of kitchen but you can’t take this with you to a nightclub. But let me raise another question: Are subcultures still important? Do they exist? Journalists and market researchers delight in spotting new ‘tribes’ but for me the key question is whether individuals will actively identify with being an Emo or a Skin head or whatever. Interestingly, many subcultures are alive and well in places like South America and Eastern Europe but when I look around Western Europe, the UK and the USA I find it hard to find those who explicitly assert their membership in some ‘style tribe’. Increasingly we are and want to be seen as unique, self-created individuals in a post-fashion and post-subcultural world.
Tell us, why did you decide to focus so much of your work into street styles? How many different street styles have you found? Which among them are mostly connected to mainstream fashion?
I began by studying anthropology. When I was doing my graduate studies in anthropology in London in the early 70s I became interested in how human beings use (and have always used) ornament, body decoration and clothing to express themselves – but, throughout most of human history, to express their traditional group affiliations rather than their individual differences. Many of my professors drew me aside to suggest that I would be wise to study something more ‘serious’ than body decoration. I think I have demonstrated that how human beings present themselves visually and how they ‘read’ the visual signals sent by others is at least as significant, as complex and as ‘human’ as our verbal communication capacities.
We are witnessing to a punk comeback ( fashion, exhibitions…). Why?
Punk never went away. It annoys me when Punk is reduced to specific garments or styles. What was so extraordinary about Punk was that it was never reducible to a specific, stereotypical look. Arguably the first popular expression of post-modernism, Punk taught the world (yes, the mainstream too) how to sample & mix different looks and styles – and to do this with a ‘We Can All Join In’ confidence which, today, makes everyone a stylist.