November 2, 2012

The world’s greatest fashion critic is writing for NOTVOGUE.com and I can’t find a way to get ahold of him. Her? Them?

My search engine research tells me the site may have been launched by one Steve Oklyn in 2011. Indeed, many of the critiques are signed Steve Oklyn: “FASHION IS THE MILITARY-ENTERTAINMENT COMPLEX,” says Steve Oklyn over a picture from Louis Vuitton for Spring 2013. Above an image of a loaded gun: “BE A CRITIC DECONSTRUCT THE GAME MODIFY THE RULES STEVE OKLYN”.

NOT VOGUE prefers all caps. To a lazy viewer, one who doesn’t read the text, it could look like any other fashion blog. But NOT VOGUE elegantly disrupts the standard blogroll. Using the power of anchorage, of subtitling an image with words that speak louder, NOT VOGUE translates the subliminal messages of the fashion system. This is protest art:

BODIES DEVOID OF MIND ARE STATUES IN THE MARKETPLACE EURIPIDES,” of Kate Moss.

WE ARE ALL THAT MONEY CAN BUY 1985 BARBARA KRUGER,” of Christian Louboutin and Daphne Guinness.

NOTHING THEY DESIGN EVER GETS IN THE WAY OF ART ROBERT HUGHES,” of Alexander McQueen by Sarah Burton.

BASICALLY IT’S JUST SHOPPING WHICH IS NOT AN AVANT-GARDE PETER SAVILLE,” of Vogue Paris editor-in-chief Emmanuelle Alt.

OUTSIDE THESE RAREFIED TENTS THE REST OF THE WORLD BURNS LYNN YAEGER,” of Givenchy Fall 2012.

It takes an awareness of both the world of high fashion and of anti-capitalist and deconstructivist theory to get NOT VOGUE. It’s not the theory that surprises so much as it is the depth of NOT VOGUE’s knowledge of fashion. They are versed. Best guess is that they are in it. Most radical intellectuals leave fashion alone, leave it for the masses. NOT VOGUE seems to actually care about fashion, and about the masses.

As the fashion world talked in circles about Hedi Slimane’s YSL rebrand, NOT VOGUE cut through the talk in a few poignant posts. When Slimane posted his “Freedom of the Press” response to The New York Times critic Cathy Horyn’s fair critique of his show, NOT VOGUE reminded that also on this day: “TURKEY AUTHORIZES FURTHER ACTION IN SYRIA 10/4/2012 5:21 AM ET”. Above a Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane runway photo, we get “NOSTALGIA IS A TOTALITARIAN GRAND NARRATIVE STEVE OKLYN”. I can’t think of a better way to put it.

The banner of NOT VOGUE has a street art style stencil of Muammar Gaddafi beside Anna Wintour (counterculture vs. over the counter culture). Another has Terry Richardson next to… is that Steve Oklyn? The true icon of the site, though, is Man Ray’s Cadeau, a sculpture of an iron lined with 14 nails; rip it apart.

NOT VOGUE isn’t anti-fashion, it’s anti-fashion institution. Its authors clearly have an affinity for Phoebe Philo at Celine and for Alexander McQueen. “I DON’T BELIEVE IN ART I BELIEVE IN ARTISTS MARCEL DUCHAMP,” boasts one of their posts. That may be the key to NOT VOGUE: the human side of fashion is preserved while the money, the bureaucracy, the system gets the iron.

Steve Oklyn or whomever, I’d love to chat: fiona.duncan@bullettmedia.com.

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