Remember when Doogie Howser, M.D. sat each night at his computer by the window, pondering his entire day’s work at the hospital, typing on his electronic journal, reflecting about his smart braniac maneuvers of saving lives, performing heroic gestures”¦in a white overcoat that covered his awful choices in bad clothing? I do, but I didn’t have a computer, nor was I the braniac Doogie was. I was more like Vinne Delpino, his loser best friend who snuck in and out of the house with greasy slimy hair.
Growing up in the ”˜80s, MTV was a staple in the fashion industry, as kids awaited shows like Cindy Crawford’s House of Style, as well as the ultimate VMAs with people such as Madonna, George Michael, Paula Abdul, and Michael Jackson, who paved ways for future superstar appearances of Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, and so forth””the cycle continues today as newer faces are greeted by the old faces of yesterday’s fashion icons.
My birthdays ran every October, and each year my family helped put together a yearly costume party. As I grew older, the costume parties slowly came to an end. The last birthday I threw I asked each of my friends to dress-up in their best ”˜50s attire””I don’t think the neighborhood kids understood the time era; they dressed up like Alfalfa and the Little Rascals. I had slicked rockabilly hair filled with mousse and wore my dad’s flannel shirt with jeans. The party was a bust, needless to say; it was the last party thrown. I was 10 years old, and dress-up seemed to end after that””Cyndi Lauper became an unusual friend.
I grew up on the Navajo reservation where satellite TV didn’t come around until the late ”˜80s, providing future memories of George Michael’s “Faith” and Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” ””the two videos that came on. I wasn’t that much of a fan, but boy was George Michael the epitome of a man’s man in fashion””“Oh, you gotta have faith.”
My brother emulated George’s stonewashed look, but because he was Indian his stubble didn’t create much of a shadow. He was an athlete, who hung with his athlete friends with their cool athlete girlfriends; I wanted to be him. He listened to rock, so I tried listening to rock””fail. He dated the most beautiful girl; I tried and they laughed at me””fail. He dressed amazingly, and I was still developing””fail. Even my choice of friends did not amount to the coolness he exhumed””fail. So, I joined the band””DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince suddenly became cooler than me.
My choice of music changed unusually, as my eyes were fixated on that one Navajo gal who came to school with striped stockings and a leather spiked jacket; her hair was sheared with a Chelsea, and I was enamored with her gothic white face and laced black lips. Her name was Becky Begay, the only Goth-girl in Kirtland, NM. I remember her from afar, near the gym, where she stood sometimes with liberty spikes. My inner-Goth wanted to come out, but the conservative community pushed my admiration back in the closet. Kids would mention her style and I would stare intensely””New Order was “Close to Me,” as was the Cure.
The years went by and Zack Morris’ hair slowly faded amongst the boys and soon the school at 90210 was in session. My choice of fashion fluctuated, as the community around me was still old-fashioned. My fascination with music was hidden from the kids around me, who listened to pop-radio. The only radio station in the area was Kiss 97.9””Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus was a personal favorite and always in my brother’s tape deck.
My father’s flannels finally became a hit, as well as his old combat boots, for which he happily showed me the technique to keep them gleaming. They were snug, yet they were cool. School ended; adult life began. Pounds and pounds later, the clothes became snug””less and less people talked to me. It was mid-school all over again because my fashion sense grew tight, so-to-speak””Weezer and Radiohead were my only friends in my heads, my inner-nerd began to rock, but Nevermind that.
Now, in my 30s I look back and smile at the different stages of my life reflected in photos, where each era is being reinvented, but in different ways. Looking around the IAIA campus, I see the different eras of my life when dead fashion is brought back from the dead: The jock, the social nerd, the hipster, the hippie, the slacker, the outcast, the goth, and the punk. It’s fun to see that my youth is not dead””Brody Dalle from The Distillers proved that when her spunky voice brought back a taste of punk.
Standing in the lunch line before me are different types of hairstyles, dating back to my youth. The colors, the fades, the bobs, the a-lines””I was brought back into my mid-twenties where fashion became more accessable after shedding a few pounds. Vintage 70s pearl button shirts made an appearance in the late ”˜90s, then different types of colors of retro-punk hair revived in the early millennium. People gawked at the weird fascination of my retro-chic style and by the mid-2000s, my style regressed back into that childhood curiosity of the 50s rockabilly era. In my late 20s, Crybaby Walker reappeared””Both Wanda Jackson and Billy Holiday play together on my iPod.
I am no longer a closeted music freak, as New Wave and Trip-Hop are amongst my favorites now. But in all honesty, I am not biased. I like all types of music. Dressed in blue jeans with a white v-neck tee, and red flannel shirt underneath a vintage army green jacket””my plaid green scarf hangs loosely wrapped around my neck. Parted to the right, my hair is glued to the side and is styled in a retro-school boy-cut. My corduroy paperboy cap lies in hand. I am still a Fashion Victim and these IA students are my friends””Currently, my playlist is laced with Metric, Lykke Li, and CocoRosie, each of whom keep the fashion vibrant in my life.
My life suddenly seems to be a faint memory of Kevin Arnold’s recollection of his Wonder Years that played fuzzy on my family’s wooden RCA boxed TV that turned green if not kicked. I stand before you draped in layered winter clothing, it is almost December and I stand to witness the student population scurry to their next class. Watching the girl with blue bangs and tattoos, I sometimes wonder whatever happened to Becky. I wonder if she still dresses in that beautiful gothic outfit or if maturity had taken over? There is one Pixie left.
Who needs MTV for fashion anymore? Times have changed; we are our own fashion””cue music.