My answer to the above question is that life would be pretty boring. I grew up in an era when matchy- match was de rigueur. The mix and match era of my adulthood was a liberating experience. The idea of never having to pick out an outfit strikes fear into the hearts of those of us who adore putting together an ensemble that represents our individuality. It was impossible to resist going to a runway show, entitled A History of Counter-Fashion, presented by Abigail Glaum-Lathbury and Maura Brewer co-founders of the Rational Dress Society. The performance lecture and runway presentation took place at the Museum of Art and Design in conjunction with the Bard Graduate Center. Both institutions currently have exhibitions on fashion. At MAD: The World of Annie Sui (fashion designer ) and Vera Paints a Scarf (The Art and Design of Vera Neuman) and at Bard: French Fashion, Women, and the First World War.
“We define counter-fashion as the practice of dressing as an expression of political and sartorial solidarity. Throughout modern history, brave individuals have come together to fight oppression, to resist co-optation, to express their mutual alienation and outrage. These people have adopted symbolic dress as a way to express their feelings of anger, sadness, and disgust when mainstream political channels fail.” The Rational Dress Society
The clothing worn in the show was sewn by the Rationale Dress Society. The runway show was narrated by Abigail Glaum-Lathbury and Maura Brewer.
On the back of the brochure given out at the event, the following quotes by: KARL MARX.
“Our mutual value is, for us, the value of our mutual Jumpsuits.”
“The philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point is to change
it with Jumpsuits.”
I may hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, and criticize after dinner,
all while wearing Jumpsuits.”
Both of the above costumes were examples of how women rejected conventional dress in “favor of a garments of utility and equality.”
The show continued with the Zoot Suit, the Monokini, an example of the Black Panther uniform, and the jumpsuit from the 1990’s Italian Tute Bianche. As much fun as it was to be taken through a runway show, it was the point of view of the narrative that sent shivers down the backs of the audience.
The story line of the presentation that had a distinct agenda. “We, the members of the Rational Dress Society, propose JUMPSUIT, an ungendered, open source monogarment for everyday wear. We suggest that the rejection of choice (otherwise defined as the yoke of relentless consumption within the capitalist paradigm) might open us up to new possibilities and better ways of living.” About Jump
I rarely read anything that sounds like a manifesto. In spite of the verbiage of the Rational Dress Society; there are significant issues of consumption and the environment to consider.
“Rooted in the visual language of denim and the history of work wear, JUMPSUIT imagines the possibility of an egalitarian garment, liberated from the signs of class, race and gender that inscribe our usual relation to clothes.” Rational Dress Society
The past months have been dominated by the democratic debates. Some candidates have echoed the above language, but have applied these concepts to our lives, not our clothes. The Rational Dress Society rhetoric may align with the current news cycle. After the presentation, Brewer and Glaum-Lathbury solicited questions from the audience.
A very practical question was asked. “I understand what you are saying about the JUMPSUIT, but I have a problem with it. What about the jumpsuit and its relation to using the bathroom?” Everyone in the audience knew exactly what was meant by this question, including Brewer and Glaum-Lathbury. They answered honestly with a smile. “We know what you mean and we haven’t solved that problem yet.” In addition, JUMPSUIT has another initiative called MAKE AMERICA RATIONAL AGAIN. “Despite President Trump’s calls to “Buy American, hire American,” over the last months, more than 53 tons of Ivanka Trump-brand clothing have been imported into the United States from China… We, the members of the Rational Dress Society, propose to take those unwanted Ivanka Trump clothes and transform them into something rational: 100% Made in the USA , Special Edition JUMPSUITS! All proceeds from the sale of Special Edition JUMPSUITS will go to support advocacy dedicated to fair labor practices in the United States.” https://www.jumpsu.it/mara