Director’s Notes

I am not a designer, (a really traumatizing sewing machine incident in junior high home economics class solidified that would never happen).
I am short so I have never modeled in a fashion show.
And, I am not one of those surly girls that pick through your clothes at consignment shops and judge you.
To be honest, I got kind of sick of those girls.

So I started throwing clothing swaps.

An event where all my friends would get together and swap what we had cleaned out of our closets and trade like ravenous animals.

After years of pretending that I didn’t study fashion magazines voraciously -because that wasn’t what “serious feminists” did, especially punk feminists- I hid my joy (my salivating junkie joy of clothes).
Never speaking of the time spent digging through any vintage/consignment shop and those magazines.

So I started swapping and then finally, it felt OK to like clothes.

Correction, love clothes.

But with that, for me, there was also another twist to my whole interest in style subversion.

Growing up in the suburbs of the city in which I was born, New York, I spent most of my youth with my nose up against the glass wall that divided this myopic tiny town and the city of which I knew I was really meant to be.

I yearned for the summers where I stayed in the city to bounce around in subways checking out museums, films and just walking around downtown keeping my eyes peeled for these people I only saw on Geraldo and Sally Jessy Raphael called “club kids”, this exotic androgynous breed of art youth phenomena who went to the most ultimate extreme of style to be the fixture of the party.

On one of these trips, I saw a free magazine called PAPER with three of these club kids on the cover. They were a group called Deee- Lite and one of them was actually a biologically born female named Lady Miss Kier just like me but in head to toe Pucci prints.

They spoke of dancing and feminism and eco consciousness and acceptance  and those were all things I could use a little bit more of so I was just like…..sign me up, I want to come to New York and hang out with them.

But in the meantime, I got a subscription to this PAPER to stay on top of their world while I simultaneously watched them blow up on MTV getting profiled on “House of Style” and bopping with Bootsy Collins in the “Groove is in the Heart” video that seemed to be on every 20 minutes.

It was going to be a really good time.

But by the time, I got to NY , the dance clubs were being closed down. The drag artists were getting more rock and roll and pissed off. It was more CBGB’s than Danceteria.

People were dying ( my beloved uncles included)  and the culture of the city was getting very us vs them (uptown meeting downtown).

Less dancing and more thrashing but still…..looking fabulous.

Then the first dot com boom brought money, which made things pretty wild but still pretty white and hetero and it got even more so after 9/11, more hetero but less money.

There were less places to go out and be over the top but a girl still had to get dressed and I found myself finding community in the swap scene as I found myself wanting to do other things besides hang out all night.

I was making new friends while cooing over decent thread count and commiserating when pieces didn’t fit quite right, passing it along to our neighbor that it did look good on with words of support and admiration.

Now this….. this felt revolutionary.

Swaps were a breath of fresh air and I personally didn’t want to ruin it by thinking about it too much. There was already so much to think about and personally I was exhausted from being pissed off all the time.

But then something started to happen.

I turned 30, and my clothing identity was changing again.

I started following the chart that VOGUE sometimes show of various trends and how it translates to the 20s, 30s and 40s into the 50s.

My predilection for knee length skirts from miniskirts started to feel more like the departing of an old island to a new.  And according to the chart, I was right on schedule.

In wanting to make more sense of this for myself,  I wanted to know how it was for other people.

Like, what does it really mean to identify as butch lesbian in your 20’s and then morph into a femme in your 30’s, and do guys go through the same thing, etc…also I guess in a way, I am trying to make sense of what I was looking for when I was skipping school to hang out at Pat Field’s to learn about how to be  feminine ? I mean, what was that about ?

Which just leads to the deeper questions, Who have been all the people I have been and why is it that I can always define her by what she is wearing ?

This feels more relevant than ever when I talk to the subjects in the film because I see  parallels in how basically everyone I know is in one way or another re-assessing their priorities and who they really want to be based on how we once were.
Our personal style from these moments are the markers, the reminders.
The itchy shiny feel of thrift store polyester, the subtle summer breeze across the back of your legs at you strut down Ave A in sequined hot pants, the sassy comfort of overalls, a well fitted vintage Chanel suit for a job interview that could change your life…..all in one way another, a defining variation of what it means to be self accepting at the current moment.
In bringing this all to the present moment, it is almost impossible for me to not think of the process of making….because we are the generation constantly redefining what we make, how we make and what are the most conscientious means of distribution.
Subject Pacale Gatzen’s theory is that the process of making the clothes should only be a communal construct and then I hear in the back of my head the catch phrase du jour  ‘open-sourcing’ as the best means to moving forward as a society.
Sharing seems to be the way to go. We need to work together. Blah blah blah.
So, in making this, I am analyzing the actual clothing swap event, as something more  than exchanges of clothing but also as a metaphor for the vulnerability that we are all at one level or another being asked to confront in our lives and how we as a society, seem to be dealing with this collectively.
That is personally what is keeping me engaged in the exploration. This is why I am listening to Deee Lite so much right now and this is why I know I am making more than just ‘another fashion documentary’. I am discovering that my generation has more at their fingertips than we really give ourselves credit for. I am trying to explain that by talking about what we choose to wear.

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