the world is falling apart but at least you look cute
only bell-bottoms survive the apocalypse.
Hey, loves. “wind in your fox fur” marks my official foray into fashion writing. I’ve wanted to write this column for such a long time, to do something very different from my books and essays, something that captured my other passion: styling the shit out of some clothes. So, this is the beginning of a new chapter. An extension of what I’ve been doing on Instagram for the past few years for sure: styling, curating, and just living life, but bigger. Way bigger.
No one thinks about all the money they blew at DSW during the apocalypse. My friend, the amazing poet and comic artist, Sommer Browning, reminded me of that. Which is to say, it’s become really important to have some sort of connection with the things in my life; to account for their purpose and the intimacy I share with them, to make sure I don’t fall for their fantasies. I want to know the stories behind the things I let into my life, to know where they come from and who made them, and that there isn’t another thing exactly like them in the world. There is a certain comfort in that, and right now, I think we all can use a little comfort.
My goal is something reminiscent of the serious whimsy of Diana Vreeland and her iconic Harper’s Bazaar column; something dedicated to style and fashion, but also to how we see the world and not necessarily what we wear in it. I’ve had the great fortune to meet some amazing designers, artists, and musicians since beginning this journey. So, that’s who you’re going to hear from. Badass artisans who make badass stuff. We’re going to explore the role fashion has in sometimes giving us life (or at least personal style), discuss the idea of having a relationship with your things and being inspired by those things and the people who made them. I don’t want to just tell you what I think is cool or where to shop, or who to listen to, I want to start a conversation about much more than clothes and the people who design or wear them (although, the clothes *will* be talked about). It’s a bit subversive when you think about it. Walking the walk and not just talking the talk. But, loves, here we go…
jack and stish.
Artist and designer David B. Smith makes things that reflect the complexity, irrationality, and beauty of the world he sees, images and sculptural installations to explore fantasy, memory, loss, and commodity in American culture. He also designs some of the most beautiful, colorful, and comforting clothing I’ve ever worn.
Smith playfully re-arranges cultural iconography using digital and analog methods of fragmentation, accretion, and reorientation. He isolates patterns and crosses wires, and resulting immersive environments, images, and products reveal, reprogram, and regenerate narratives that occupy the space between remembering, forgetting, and imagining, vacillating between the real and the virtual.
I met Smith through a mutual friend and decided to visit his studio in Greenpoint while I was on tour over the summer in New York. Full of textile sculptures, wall hangings, and works in progress, his tiny artist space above Paulie Gee’s was wall-to-wall pattern, texture, and color. A tactile dream if there ever was one. Even the light fixture, a huge metal sculpture Smith made out of unraveled Slinkies, had a sort of practical fairyland quirkiness.
After a quick tour, he brought out the main event: a giant bag filled with his freshly woven blanket jackets.
I came to find that we had similar philosophies when it came to getting dressed. “Having artist designed items in your life is so enriching. It is not only joyous, but important for us to be connected to those who make the things we live with, that make up our lives,” believes Smith. Woven out of 100 percent cotton and manufactured on a 3-D loom, Smith says, “my jackets are hand-made but feel synthetic, they are based on digital images, yet feel organic. They seem to invoke both the past and the future. They help you to feel present when you wear them.”
After trying on and photographing every jacket he had on hand, I quickly settled on a piece to add to my personal collection: a dreamy off-white number with crisscrossing patches of black, lemon yellow, magenta, sky blue, jungle green, and red, and interwoven swathes of all the colors. The reverse side (every jacket is unisex and reversible!), which had incredibly deep pockets, was more of a jungle theme and just as swoon-worthy.
For Smith, design and production go hand in hand. “I work in a laboratory style where I try out lots of designs and patterns…I cut, paste, stretch, copy, blur, resize, layer, and otherwise distort an image until it is unrecognizable, yet contains a kernel of its original intent and meaning.” He wants to change what people think of as functional. “Instead of gadgets and industrial objects alienating us from our bodies, I want to make soft and comforting things that also speak to a digital realm.”
He freely admits that he takes risks by making things that don’t look like other things. “People often react with discomfort, confusion, or even fear when seeing my art for the first time. But over time they feel the opposite, that I am being more warm and compassionate and vulnerable than they are used to.” For example, Smith made a series of white mugs with compliments written on them in big letters. “One said ‘Those jeans make your ass look good.’ ” Other compliments included, “Your actions move me to tears,” “Your eccentricity is charming,” “You are a good parallel parker,” “You have the power to heal.” Smith says, “I made this series of mugs so that people would feel positive when drinking their coffee or tea. I also thought they would be great gifts for people to give their friends or family to remind them how much they think of them. Also, I thought it would be great for a writer to have a mug that says ‘You are a good writer.’ I should send you one because you are!” There is a sound piece that corresponds to the mugs, too, as well as an artist book, I compliment you.
The jacket does everything Smith says it will do. It was so comforting and cocoon-like while I was on the road wrapping up my book tour. It really made me feel like I was safe and cared for even although I was constantly on the move. So much so, I reworked my travel wardrobe so that I could wear it more often. I even wore it on the flight home to San Francisco like, “this is my armor, this is my shield against returning to real life and real problems” and all of the things that go with living in a city.
My sartorial needs met, I was curious about who Smith liked to wear. “I’m excited about my new J Palm acid bleached sweatshirt that I wore to the opening of my show at Socrates Sculpture Park… her stuff is amazing, so raw and aggressive but comfortable to wear.” About his own personal style Smith says, “I generally wear preppy ready-made clothes like Ralph Lauren and Levis, but mix in vintage stuff and skater wear like Alife or things from Opening Ceremony if I can find them thrifting.” He notes, “As I’ve started to make clothes I am quickly wearing my friends’ stuff like J Palm and M. Carter. I tend to like extremely minimal clothes…[but] I like to build on that simple frame with bold and graphic patterns.”
He counts Missy Elliot as one of his fashion inspirations. “I often like hip hop artists’ fashion. They borrow from various places and make fun of things by changing the colors, materials, and sizes, and combine things that don’t normally go together.” He believes style is an attitude, a stance, a posture. “It’s an emotional landscape that focuses on a certain set of values…style gives an insight into your way of living and way of thinking [and] surviving… I think it’s about being both conscious and comfortable at the same time.”
I asked Smith what he hoped his clientele felt when they wore his pieces. “I hope they feel proud of who they are. I hope they feel comfortable and safe and warm.”
Up next: Smith’s jackets will be up for sale on JackandStish.com. He is also expanding the line to include blankets that correspond to the patterns of the jackets. Until then, his clothes can be found at Ad Hoc NYC in Brooklyn, NY and thedavidsmith.com/shop. His latest sculpture project, “Digital Skin,” runs now through March 11 at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, NY.
miss coco says.
“we need a lot of those jackets right now … chin up.”
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how my style will age as I age. Does it have to age? I still want to be as bold and elegant and chic and crazy as I think I am now when I’m in my golden years. I don’t plan to age gracefully. I plan to age timelessly. Enter Miss Coco.
The first time I met Miss Coco, I just looked at her and said, “I want to be like you when I grow up.” An OG San Francisco style maven, miss coco has been there, seen it, done it, and done it twice. She is the type of lady who has dinner with the former mayor one evening and goes to Haight Street for new ear weights the next. A 60ish silver fox, she rocks the sweetest, most elegant punk do. Born and raised in the city (she still lives in her childhood home in the historic Fillmore district), Miss Coco has lived and shopped all over the world. She favors wearing all black these days and she’s also funny as hell. So, every “wind in your fox fur” column will share a piece of her wildness, beauty, and wisdom. Only she could make a breathing mask look stylish.
sometimes nashville is nashville.
One of the first things I noticed about Nashville singer songwriter Joe Fletcher was how impeccably well curated his look was. Honestly, it was the very first thing that I noticed and one of the things that kept me in awe during our late-night back patio powwow at Drifters Tennessee Barbeque Joint. We talked about everything life had been throwing our way. I checked out the perfect cuffs he’d achieved at the bottom of his slim fitting indigo jeans. We chatted about the Nashville scene and what it was like to be on the road. I resisted the temptation to turn the tag over on the neck of his sweet blue engineer’s jacket. He asked questions about the reading I gave the night before at the launch party for my fifth book, mary wants to be a superwoman. I swooned over his smart black wingtips and wondered how he had kept them so shiny walking around a field and driving his vintage 70s sin bin directly from PJ Harvey’s concert in nearby Louisville, KY. He drove me back to my hotel after Drifters finally kicked us out and we talked about how people come into our lives for a reason. I noted the simplicity of his vaguely school teacher glasses as we drove along the freeway. Maybe it was our hug goodbye in front of the Thompson Nashville that sealed it. To feel the organic softness and weightlessness of that jacket. The anticipation of future flawlessly distressed vintage rock concert tees. This is Americana, ya’ll. Yeah, we can be friends.
sweatpants with heels
short curls circa prince, 1984
vintage silver Saint Christopher necklace
4711 Lemon and Ginger Acqua Colonia
wildfires aren’t cute.
As I write this, California is on fire. Literal fire. 170,000 plus acres are smoke and ash in the Bay Area alone, with smaller fires sprouting up as far south as LA. Not to mention the recent natural disasters in Puerto Rico and Mexico City. So, while you’re freshening your fall wardrobe, please remember that others can really use your unwanted goods. I could go on and on about karma and doing the right thing, etc., but, honestly, bb, if you haven’t worn it in a year, set it free.
You can donate to the Red Cross,which helps distribute disaster relief aid. In addition to online donations, you can also call all 1-800 RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
The United Way has a Wine Country page where you can donate. You can also text “WILDFIRE” to 40403 to make a pledge.
Facebook has launched a “Crisis Center,” where users can donate to a number of fundraisers and offer direct help to survivors.
Until next month, loves.
Stay foxy – e.
follow the journey: @ericalewisfinein
what brings you comfort these days? post up and join the conversation: #windinyourfoxfur