WORDS BY LEANDRA MEDINE
What’s a fashion rebel these days? Let’s get a bit nerdy for a minute. If you look up the word ‘rebel’ in the thesaurus you get back ‘nonconformist’, ‘separatist’, ‘disobedient’ – synonyms that ring true with early subcultures and their unruly point of view. Always up for a steal, fashion co-opted the word when punk yelled its way onto the scene in the ’70s – integrating a rebel attitude into what we wear day-to-day. Precisely by gentrifying -- or fashionising -- the term, supported by designers like Vivienne Westwood, Jean Paul Gaultier and atypical dressers like, say, you and I, ‘the rebel’ has come to reflect an experience within the boundaries of popular culture.
Because here's the thing about fashion: it is always concerned with what’s current. Any thesaurus will tell you this. It is conventional and it is trendy. It decisively runs counter to rebellion. Fashion and the non-conformist go together no easier, no better, no more fecklessly than do granola and pasta sauce. So how now, in 2015, do we resolve the grand inconsistency that is the pervasively popular ‘fashion rebel’?
Frankly, by forgoing the words and considering the meaning. To be rebellious in fashion is to be neither disobedient or compliant. It is simply to think about what best suits you, no matter how off beat, and how to execute that vision most accurately.
This is something Man Repeller, the website I founded in 2010 as a celebration of trends that women love but men hate, attempts to convey daily. Because to be in fashion in 2015 is not just to be concerned with how you dress, it is to encompass the larger picture of a lifestyle. Putting on clothes isn't quite enough, you've got to do it with great aplomb, with a sense of confidence that is propelled by the overarching question of “who cares?”
Of course, how much we care varies from person to person -- this is fashion, after all -- but in our meditated choices, we emit a sense of confidence-as-set out-by-carelessness and spontaneity, two totems of genuine punk that lose their authenticity because of this level of deep-seated awareness.
If you're looking for a particular example, might I suggest looking no further than my very own wedding, which occurred in 2012 in the hugely traditional ballroom you might expect a wedding to take place. To it, I wore a traditional Marchesa dress which would have abided by the rules of matrimony outfitting with its explosive tulle skirt and ruched bodice, but paired over it I went for a white motorcycle jacket. That and far too many strands of gold chains. And a flower crown. And sneakers. My nails were painted blue. It was obscene. It was my own form of rebellion. It didn't reject fashion, it just demanded that fashion support my choices and not the other way around.
So maybe that's it, right? Maybe to be rebellious in fashion today is simply to stick up for yourself. To know yourself well enough to stick up for yourself. It is to exist to manufacture something so acutely unique, not even the most competent thesaurus could attempt to break it down.
"Maybe to be rebellious in
fashion today is simply to stick
up for yourself."
"Fashion and the non-conformist go together no
easier, no better, no more fecklessly than do granola
and pasta sauce."