Fashion, like pollution, is a direct result of reckless human behavior. When I arrived in Portland in 1997, fashion was a pair of Dickies and some Chuck Taylors.
That was pre-Strokes, White Stripes, white belts, Red Light, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Seaplane, Stumptown, Suicide Girls, Dante’s, Zoobombers, Paris, Ashton, Pearl District and The Mercury.
That was an era when the entire city dressed like complete shit. Size 40 JNCO jeans with an XL red hoodie, chain wallet and a camouflage beanie? No problem, let’s hack. Girls wearing flared-out stretch booty pants with army fatigues and skate shoes? Holla back. For a peek into the city’s recent fashion past, check out the kids at Pioneer Square.
All is forgotten of Portland’s struggle to recognize the latest trends. Go to a party or show and most every girl has black hair, bright blonde hair or a combination of both (what happened to brown hair?). Homemade T-shirt alterations aplenty, pointy-ass shoes, $200 jeans, that J-Lo hat, even designer cigarettes (Nat Shermans). Not that the boys are any better: black hair, bangs, beetle boots, stripes, $200 jeans, sleeveless shirts and insincere mustaches. DJ’s have replaced bands. Cocaine has replaced heroin.
Rock and roll isn’t cutting it anymore. You’ve got to spice things up and sprinkle a lil’ snow on the evening. So now you get things like the Doom Town Rock ‘n Roll Fashion Show at the Crystal (cocaine) Ballroom last Thursday night.
I’m torn between dismissing this as a vanity-driven event and complimenting the designers on their artistic productivity in textiles. Regardless, the models get zero leeway as their ridiculous Zoolandrical attempts at cat-walking sent a cold shudder of self-importance through my designer spine.
As for the rock ‘n roll part: the humorous duo Punk Group pleased the crowd with their grade school talent show-style performance art, but not everyone was impressed with their costumes and antics. I overheard a bitchy girl behind me fashionably sneer, “Yeah, let’s cover a Devo song and claim we’re gonna steal your girlfriends.” She just may have a point.
The Swords Project, up next, played out too much and sang incessantly in a nasal whine. They have two drummers, which is gimmick overload. Most bands in Portland can’t even find one decent drummer or afford a drum machine, so to have two seems a bit gluttonous. I understand that they’re taking a fresh, avant approach (even throwing in a violinist) but there’s little patience in their music, they’re overly serious and were all wrong for this event.
Glass Candy was the perfect headliner. Known more for their fashion and attitude than their music, Glass Candy makes simple booty-shakin’ music full of, of course, fashionable attitude. To witness singer Ida No and guitarist Johnny Jewel do their duty in front of their adoring followers was perfectly appropriate and somehow saddening. Glass Candy is fun, but limited in their musical performance. Similar to the event they headlined, they’re short on progress, high on looks, and ultimately as shallow as a cocaine party.
Now if Swords Project can lend Glass Candy some of their progressive originality and Glass Candy can shell out some of their patient coolness, we may just have something here. And if the models would hacky sack instead of striking embarrassing poses, we could all stumble home happy.