Fashion Statements: you can look, but not much | Calendar | Chicago Reader

Fashion Statements: you can look, but not much 

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We met this art dealer posing with her paintings at an opening soiree. Her outfit, short and to the point, whittled down the cocktail party's universal little black dress code to its bare essentials.

Our Fashion Gestapo, alarmed by her terse statement, took an interest in hearing more. Their interrogation turned up a suspiciously serpentine tale.

The yarn begins with a knit top, unraveling in sinuous mesh shoulders that slither right into the Gorgon's-head hairdo, popular in Greece circa 400 BC and revived briefly around 1800 as the Medusa wig.

The sweater snakes into an abbreviated mini paired with plenty of thigh and a kick-ass pair of Doc Martens. According to Colin McDowell's shoe book, old Doc Klaus Maertens designed the air-cushioned boots (Air Docs?) in 1945 to ease his aching arches. By 1960 a German manufacturer was pumping out truckloads of sturdy Docs for the loading-dock set. It took London skinheads to transform utilitarian work gear into useless intimidation wear, and overexposure to dull the storm-trooper image. These days, Docs stamp out a ubiquitous postskinhead high-fashion fuck off.

The look, evening wear slashed to its fig-leaf briefest, accessorized with snakebite and a toe-crushing stomp, evokes Medusa's own predicament as a mere mortal endowed with the power to freeze-dry oglers. The Fashion Statement? "These boots were made for gawkers."

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Yael Routtenberg.

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