11/03/2008

The Negative Zone: Lay Off Von Furstenberg's Wonder Woman Line!

The er, Dave Sim-like level of vitriol aimed at the fashion industry--and implicitly, women at large--because of fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg's for-charity line of Wonder Woman clothes and accompanying comic book is pretty silly. Not that something being for charity makes it not subject to criticism, but falling back on the "fashion's silly 'cause it costs too much" trope that fucking comic nerds that wear JC Penney Pocket Ts in earth-tones and plain-ass Reeboks every day of their life invoke when mocking fashion is especially wrong-headed here because well, the 25 dollar comic book is priced that high because you kinda expect to pay more for something going to charity. Same with the $46 shirt and $165 bag.


The equally misguided and condescending response to this line is directed towards Konstantin Kakanias' really strange art for the project. With a focus on the way Kakanias eschews conventional anatomy and proportion as if it's not an artistic choice. What's interesting about the art is how it looks nothing like contemporary comic book art and doesn't even have much to do with Silver-Age comic art either. The main influence here is clearly Pop-Art and Roy Lichtenstein and it's almost as if the art's giving you some weird backwards, inside-out speculative comics history where it wasn't Lichtenstein swiping from comics but if comics swiped from Lichtenstein. Out of its current context, I'd say plenty of comics fans would give it the benefit of the doubt and see the weird too-big heads, angular necks, and Pop-Art signifiers as just some crazy interpretation of Wonder Woman and nothing more.

The nit-picky argument against the art's especially frustrating because one could easily argue that the clothes aren't that good or interesting and certainly be onto something. Again though, maybe that has to do with maximizing their appeal so more people buy/donate, but it also has to do with the sort of populist intention of the clothes and the yes, message. A message that yeah, is a little played-out and obvious and is nothing more than loose platitudes about female empowerment, but is exactly what wearers of Von Furstenberg's clothing would want and more importantly, is a powerful and still-important message for the people benefitting from the charity: victims of domestic violence.

A problem with people ignorant of fashion and the fashion industry is lumping all designers and clothes together, as if there's not a different between Von Furstenberg's clothes which are found in a place like NORDSTROM and like, serious, couture-ish high-end fashion stuff, which the shirt and bag from this Wonder Woman line most certainly aren't.



To be real, while domestic violence certainly is not relegated to the middle and lower-class, it's effect on women of that social strata is significantly greater--financial dependence or inter-dependence is a big reason why women stay with abusers--and in a sense, these are clothes for that kind of women, but slightly better-made and slightly nicer.

3 comments:

Maré Odomo said...

What the crap is this terrible art.

brandon said...

Huh? I really don't understand the vitriol for this art-especially from someone who cites Kochalka as a favorite? Care to explain?

samuel rules said...

this is old, but i just read this, hilarious.