Text, Vivian Kelly
Last night, we attended the screening, “The Guts of Duckie Brown”, a short documentary by Lina Plioplyte, produced by Julie Miller.
The setting was the Norwood Screening Room, a cozy space on the 4th floor of a charming West 14th street brownstone/club.
The crowd was composed of fashion enthusiasts. Many have followed the Duckies’ for years. Front row [I didn’t recognize her at first] was fashion heavy weight, Harriet Mays Powell, Fashion Director at NY Magazine. She looked preppy, professional and composed, even though she was wearing black and it was upwards of 90 degrees outside. She also asked some good questions about the men’s market and about the guys’ new Mrs. Brown women’s collection, and how they would roll it out. [Sorry, no runway show until Daniel and Steven deem it “cooked”, like a well-baked pot of beans].
Watch this shortie clip for enlightenment on the subject of baked beans.
I’ve had the great good fortune to get to know these two talented men over the past year or so. As such, the film was what I had expected. Daniel is sharp, on his game. He’s the street-smart ex-TV guy.
Daniel also gives some of the best quote in the biz. The only other people I know who can regularly do that are Kaiser Karl [Lagerfeld] and my former boss, Michael Kors.
Steven comes off as quirky, sensitive and dreamy and insanely talented – which he is. What is truly wonderful about these two is that they have the capacity to do a yin and yang and trade places, like only great couples can.
This leads into the topic that really grabbed me, which came-up in the post discussion Q&A.
Actually, there were two topics that are really different parts of one issue.
Topic 1.What is a “real man”?
Topic 2.“How is it possible for a gay man to be homophobic?”
These were acutely interesting to me because I’ve been wondering what the answer to #1 was since I started dating while at Greenwich High. Being the adventurous sort, I’ve made quite a few poor judgement calls along the way.
Question #2 has had me thinking ever since the mid-nineties, when Michel Botbol and Joe Zee [then at W Magazine and at that time, seemingly inseparable] came by the Kors showroom and were discussing a yellow Ralph rain-slicker and whether it “looked gay” [or not]. I don’t remember the verdict, just the weird question as it was coming from two guys who are gay and who are amazingly talented fashion stylists. What kind of oxymoron was THIS?
Also of note was how conservatively Michel was dressed, he could have walked out of a Ralph Lauren ad. The Ralph Lauren man is “a real man”, right?
Prior to working in the fashion business, I’d been a sales assistant at Shearson Lehman. The Park Avenue office was a testosterone pit. The most successful dressed in Brioni. The most successful of the lot, Bob Forfia, and his posse of all-male sales assistants loved to discuss their latest choice of “power ties” and what kind of monogram was “the most manly” and which fabric Bob should have his tailor use to make his next custom suit from.
They prided themselves of being “real men” and I had many eye rolling mornings sucking down deli coffee listening to their a.m. chatter about how great strip club X or Y had been and about how easy and drunk girl A or B had been at the Seaport last Friday night. Ugh.
Once in fashion, I thought I’d left all of that “manly/real-man” stuff behind. Wrong.
I was astonished to hear Michel and Joe – two openly gay editors discuss this topic.
Post screening, Daniel, took both topics on by the horns, citing Steve McQueen, who on the surface, sure looked like a “real man”. He scoffed, ”Steve McQueen was a wife beater.” Little-known fact. The room was uncomfortably quiet.
I’ll add my own faux “real man” to his list – Rock , “the Rock” Hudson. I loved ‘McMillan and Wife’, so much so that I negotiated cleaning the cat litter and cleaning my room duties with my parents to get to watch Rock and Susan St. James once a week.
Years later, we discovered that it was all a sham. My former Mother in Law was devastated. She didn’t leave the house for a week. Rock spent his entire career faking it but to my eyes, at least, Rock finally DID become “a real man” when he very publicly admitted that he had AIDS and that he was gay. That took a tremendous amount of courage.
Next up, the part about homophobia in the fashion industry.
Here’s a clip from Lina’s film, ‘It’s OKAY to wear a floral nylon jacket’.
As far as homophobia in the fashion business, that’s a topic for another day and one I’d love to hear comments from you on before I undertake that one.
I’d like to know, IS homophobia alive and well in the fashion business and in the arts in general?
You tell me.