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If the idea of staring into the abyss of your closet doesn't provoke a profound emotional response, it may be because it's too daunting. Take out just one item – a vintage band t-shirt, a special occasion dress, or even a pair of everyday shoes – and prepare to turn it into a new one with a little help from Netflix's new documentary series To look at light Worn out stories.
Based on the book of the same name by Emily Spivack, an artist, writer, editor and curator, Worn out stories Asks several people – only a few of whom are recognizable to the fashion set – to share the stories behind their favorite piece of clothing. The premise is simple, isn't it? But over the course of eight episodes, I experienced a variety of emotions. Yes, you will laugh, you will cry – frankly, you will likely cry more than once – and you will end the series with a newfound sense of curiosity about not only other people's fashion choices but your own wardrobe as well.
With so many great real life characters, it's hard to narrow down a favorite interview or even an episode. But I found that the worn out stories I remembered most were the ones I least expected: Rudy buying his first new shirt after 41 years in prison; Spirit, a non-binary teenager preparing for his B & # 39; nai Mitzvah; Diane and Paul, a nudist couple; and Shoham, whose pursuit of a misplaced Rachel Comey coat reminds us that it's the journey, not the destination.
Produced by Jenji Kohan from weed and Orange is the new black Fame, Worn out stories offers her characteristic look behind the curtain and finds beauty in the stories of people who are often overlooked by society. Each episode is divided into different themes and loosely connected by threads – or occasionally treads. This confirms the role fashion plays in expressing ourselves, experiencing the world and using our own energy as the main character in moments big and small.
We caught up with Spivack below to discuss the latest take on her Worn out stories Project, including her favorite interviews as well as the future for fashion lovers in the post-pandemic era.
What inspired the original Worn Stories project and how did it develop from its inception to the Netflix series?
I can take you back to 2007 when I was on eBay, and I was in vintage high heels at that point. I was looking for vintage high heels and found this Playboy bunny costume with the puffball tail, stockings, headband, heels and the whole thing. The outfit and heels weren't for me, but what came with them was ID from the woman who'd been a Playboy bunny and had worn it. There was something right now that really appealed to me – that connection between what she was and the clothes she was wearing. There was a mystery to me and I wanted to know more.
[A few years later,] I did a project called "Sentimental Value" collecting stories that I found on eBay. When people sold clothes, they posted about what they did when they wore them and why they got rid of them. I noticed this connection on a platform not intended for storytelling, so I started looking in my own closet and writing some of my own stories to see how that felt and how it felt to have memories like this little to do more concrete.
I realized pretty quickly that I was much more interested in other people's stories than my own, so I started asking friends and family. I loved the stories they shared with me. These were people I had known all my life and they shared things I had never heard before, stories that had completely blown my mind. It was then that I realized that clothing was that overlooked storytelling device and that it was this access point. We all wear clothes, so it was this universal storytelling device.
When I collected these stories, I immediately felt that it was going to be a book. To hold myself accountable as an artist, I created a website and started posting stories on the website. Worn out stories was released in 2014, and Worn in New York came out in 2017.
What I love about the books is that there is some kind of puzzle. You see the garment, you read the text and you imagine who the person is sharing the story. But there were moments when I wanted more for the reader. I liked this secret, but I wanted to see the garment and hear the person telling the story. So I wanted to turn it into a TV show – I think there is more to share.
Is there a specific piece from your own closet that tells your story?
I share a couple of stories in both books. in the Worn in New York There is a story of a torn pair of stockings, some sort of wardrobe malfunction. In the first book there is a story about flip flops that I've had for a million years that remind me of my grandmother and take her to the beach.
There's a sweatshirt I've been wearing lately. It's a gray, utterly indescribable Russel sweatshirt that I've had since seventh grade. I used to have matching sweatpants and I remember going to the rink and taking lessons in that tracksuit. I'm still wearing the sweatshirt. Actually it's funny because you'd expect it to be holey and ragged, but it's in great shape. It was supposed to be a knock-around, and now it's still just that gray sweatshirt, but I take care of it differently because I know I've had it for so long and it reminds me of my childhood and growing up.
I also like the inside joke that I have. In the pre-Covid era, I would go out wearing blue leather pants and high heels or something. And no one would know it was a sweatshirt that I had had since I was 12. It must have been very big for me when I was little and now it has this perfect shape and it just suits me – it grew up with me as I grew up.
What are you looking forward to after a year in quarantine?
I've had conversations with my friends about the big blowout parties we'd like to have after this is all behind us. I dreamed of having a bespoke tuxedo made. I want this beautiful material, a perfectly fitting tuxedo that just feels like it's made for me and I can wear it to celebrations.
It is my hope with Worn out stories in general, and I think this may be the case after the pandemic when we look in our closets and remember when we last wore it and why we want to wear it now. This was a moment to re-prioritize and look at things a little differently. I think we will do that with our clothes and our closets.
But I still think we'll get dressed. Once people feel safe, people will want to be together and want to party, and this tuxedo is on my mind.
What about Ashley Biden's housewarming tuxedo for inspiration? That was a great look, but this is the only occasion we've been appropriate for in such a long time!
I think that's why we ate it, the initiation and everything, because we're just so hungry for beautiful colors and fabrics. Everyone wore such vivid colors. It felt so good to see that.
[Jill Biden wore] This amazing coat with a lot of handwork was very beautiful and symbolic. Everything felt very thoughtful. I think that was the other thing about that moment. It wasn't just flashy fashion; everything had a meaning.
There are stories on the show where someone would purposely buy something for an event, like Tren'ness when she bought the dress for her grandmother's funeral or Timmy Cappello's codpiece that Tina Turner bought for him to put it on to carry the stage.
But then there are other items of clothing like Mrs. Park's yellow sweater that a Buddhist monk gave her. She wore it and gave her confidence when she danced with her Korean dance group. And when she got this sweater, it wasn't the intention.
What inspires you as a curator of Worn Stories in all of its functions for your selection or for the more sentimental pieces, how do you translate this value into a story that someone else can appreciate?
In the books and on the show, it's very important to me to have a real variety of stories. I want the stories to reflect who we are, our collective human experience, told through the clothes we wear. So it is really important to show a range of ages and backgrounds from different parts of the country and different styles of clothing.
I want this to be a show where everyone feels like they are making something out of it. We all wear clothes. You will see it and you will respond to a piece of clothing, a subject, a figure in it. I think there really is something for everyone.
Yes, everyone wears clothes. Well, almost everyone. I love that you included a nudist couple in the documentary. How did that happen?
You have decided not to wear clothes and there is something to be said for that. So it was very intentional to include her story in the mix. It sets the stage for thinking about what we are saying about the clothes we wear and the clothes we purposely don't wear. What do we communicate with our clothes or when we don't wear clothes?
Is there a celebrity or public figure you haven't spoken to but who you would like to interview in the future about a specific or iconic look?
One person I've always wanted to talk to, and I'm sorry I didn't get the chance, is Bill Cunningham. He would ride around on his bike in his blue jacket. And I always wanted to talk to him about it. When he died I was obviously sad that he had died because of his contributions and also because I could never ask him about his blue jacket. I wish I could speak to someone.
And I read the jacket about it. It's very functional and unbranded, but he made it an icon.
Yes, and he made it his uniform. There's an episode on the show about uniforms and he would have been so amazing in it. There is the woman who is the mead guard and the crossing guard. There are also people who made their uniforms for themselves – they said: This is who i am I will represent myself through all of my hats. For Bill Cunningham, his blue jacket became his signature. And yes, it was a French worker's coat, but he wore it to make it useful.
What do you hope readers and viewers will take away? Worn out stories and your approach to looking at fashion through a critical lens?
Some of the most important feelings for me are that clothes are so much more than the things we cover ourselves with. Our clothes are really full of stories and memories, and those stories put together Worn out stories are a way to capture our collective human experience and this sense of togetherness. We all wear clothes and things happen to us while we wear them. This show is a way to share those stories and the human connection we have.
Hopefully at the next meeting where we can all be together, people will sit around and share their own stories. I hope it takes on a life of its own!
Next up: Vintage Fashion Lovers, Rejoice: Netflix's Firefly Lane Is a blast from the past