On clothing and choosing
Living in a house with three women (no, I’m not a polygamist, two of them are my daughters—you’ve been watching too much reality TV), I have long had ambivalent feelings regarding my gender and our relationship to clothes. On the one hand, having seen how much time, thought and energy goes into keeping three women clothed in the basic necessities, I am generally happy that my clothing choices basically boil down to whether to wear my clean jeans or whether my not-so-clean-jeans are wearable for another day; whether to wear the blue socks or the dark grey ones; and whether to wear a t-shirt with a design on it or just a plain one. The time I spend not picking out outfits can be spent being productive. Or at least reading the paper. In my jeans.
On the other hand, once the women have spent whatever time they need ensuring they’re happy with what they’re wearing, they come out looking fabulous. I, who have spent all of thirty seconds finding my jeans behind the bathroom door, unsurprisingly, do not.
Which is not to say that men can’t pay attention to their appearance and their wardrobe; and perhaps if I didn’t work out of a home office, I might too. Still, women have men beat when it comes to choice in clothing—they can wear everything we can and much, much more. And while I’m perfectly happy not having to make daily choices about my wardrobe, it would be nice to have the option sometimes . . .
A few weeks back I read a piece in The Vancouver Sun about an artist who had just spent a year wearing only clothes (and accessories) that she had made herself. I thought it was a fascinating story and was happily surprised to find out later that she was one of the four artists taking part in the Kizuna exhibit at the Japanese Canadian National Museum and that I would be interviewing her for this month’s issue.
Natalie Purschwitz’s decision to spend a year dressed only in what she could make herself may have been in retrospect a tougher job than she could have imagined (as you’ll read inside) but it was a brave and crazy thing to do. And in my book, brave and crazy makes for far more interesting reading than safe and steady. And while fellow artist and Kizuna participant Greg Masuda may appear on the surface to be very different than Purschwitz, he too has made some hard and some-would-call-crazy choices in his life for the sake of his art and, he would probably say, his integrity.
Whether it’s our sense of style or our lifesyle, the choices we make add up to the lives we make for ourselves. These two artists may not inspire us to follow in their particular paths, but they at least can make us think about the paths we lay for ourselves and the choices we make along the way.
I spend more time writing about upcoming shows than actually attending them, but I do occasionally get out. Last year I attended the opening night of After the Quake, a play based on two Haruki Murakami stories. The show, produced by Pi Theatre and Rumble Productions, was truly wonderful and I was happy to see that it is being remounted in October, this time at The Cultch. The cast, with the exception of one substitution, is the same and features some of Vancouver’s top actors including Manami Hara, Alessandro Juliani, Hiro Kanagawa and Tetsuro Shigematsu. The show is highly recommended. If you’ve never seen a six-foot-tall talking frog, now’s your chance!