As I set out on this brief journey to discover the essence of American Apparel’s ‘Classic Girl’, there’s a pair of underwear lying next to me on the bed. They’re recently shed, artfully crumpled –maybe tossed aside in the chaos of some sexual urgency, or maybe slipped out of in the casual intimacy of a girl’s dressing routine — and the tag remains perfectly legible. In black Helvetica it reads: “American Apparel.” And I think to myself, “This would make a great ad.”
Notorious younger sister of the Kardashian trio, Kendall Jenner posed sans-clothing for David Sims in Love Magazine’s 12th issue. Within the graphically risqué issue, Jenner seductively poses donning only a fur hood or draped necklaces over the shoulder. Immediately after seeing this particular spread, I felt an overwhelming wave of ambivalence. The 18 year-old reality star turned model is undoubtedly a mainstay in pop culture. But how does that translate into her being a paragon of the “American girl”? The concept itself is an elusive archetype that ultimately builds a distorted cultural context and delegitimizes the notion and the individual.
“’Ugly is attractive, ugly is exciting. Maybe because it is newer,’ says Miuccia Prada. SHOWstudio explores fashion’s fascination with deliberate awkwardness and vulgarity. Just as Umberto Eco asked in his celebrated work ‘On Ugliness’ SHOWstudio will question if, when manipulated by the right designer or when backed up by a luxury label, repulsiveness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.” –SHOWstudio
The other day I happened upon a new SHOWstudio project that dissected our current fascination with “ugly.” After reading through the various essays, I phoned my friend to get a clearer perspective on the subject. The discussion, which I’ve posted below, is our input on the matter.