October 19, 2013

Racial fashion... deaf fashion... blind fashion... deaf music....

As long as I've started on the topic of fashion this morning, here are Tom & Lorenzo on last Thursday's finale on "Project Runway," where [SPOILER ALERT] finally, after 12 seasons, a black person has won. Here's how Tom & Lorenzo dealt with the racial element:
Anyway, major congratulations to Dom, not just for winning, but for being the first black winner in the show’s 12-season history. The reason this is notable is because typically, the fashion world has a distinct problem recognizing black (and especially African-American) designers and styles. We’re gonna leave that there, though. Dom doesn’t deserve to be designated a standard-bearer by us or anyone else. It’s enough for us to note it, but the deeper congratulations are for a job well done....
And — because, I guess "enough" is never enough:
... Dom’s origins and background have an influence on her work, but not in an overt way. She has a fantastic facility with prints and loves to use saturated colors in her designs. Again, not to make her a standard-bearer, but these are elements (along with shiny fabrics, also seen in her collection) that help define African-American fashion. Once again, it’s notable that the judges gave a win not just to a black designer, but a black designer with a distinct, if subtle, African-American sensibility in her work. The world of fashion is primed to wrinkle its nose at shiny, bright fabrics and wild prints, after all.... Dom did it her way and forced the judges to see the value in her work. Can’t argue with that.
There was also a contestant this season who was deaf, and he continually referred to the fact that he was deaf. He chose to be a "standard-bearer," with a mission to teach the world that a deaf person can succeed in fashion. It was an unexamined premise that people had told him he can't, but who were those people? Viewers were rooting for him, not laboring under the notion that deaf people can't do visual design and manual handiwork. It seems to me that a deaf fashion designer almost has an advantage, like a blind musician.

(I say "almost," because I realize that interacting with people, explaining your work and understanding their response, is a big part of it. But I wish his explanation of his work wasn't so much about his being deaf. The winner, Dom, never used race to explain her designs or her character — never, at least, in the edited footage that made it to our TV screen.)

Now, show me a blind fashion designer, and I might get excited about what he'd do. Seriously. He'd have to concentrate on form and texture that could be perceived with the hands and in the mind. He might care about the subtle sounds and smells. I'd like to see that.

As for deaf musicians, you can begin and end the conversation with the name Beethoven, but here's an article about 6 modern-day deaf musicians. Watch Evelyn Glennie:

14 comments:

EDH said...

"Standard-bearer" is the new euphemism for stereotype?

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

pm317 said...

Obviously this fashion thingy is all a liberal world -- you know, in that world who else upholds the rights and dignity of the downtrodden, even when it is not called for? The liberals are paranoid that the world may forget if they don't repeat, lather and rinse the sentiment in every competitive endeavor of life. Right now, blacks have to win at everything, and if they don't, the world is racist. They will make me racist for feeling this way but I am a brown person from a third world (for them -- I don't feel I am a brown person) who made it here thanks to no liberal.

{And, Beethoven was not deaf when he started and he was a genius to begin with}.

TMink said...

The bottom line is that liberals and progressives believe that minorities are inhrently inferior. So when they achieve something, it is bigger cause for celebration because of the inherent handicap that they believe minorities to have.

Conservatives see people as inherently the same, and see no reason for special consideration based on tiny distinctions like the shade of our skin.

Trey

Ann Althouse said...

"and he was a genius to begin with"

I await the season of Project Runway where a contestant pleads for special regard because he has the disability of a lack of talent.

rhhardin said...

Deaf musicians necessarily do jazz.

betamax3000 said...

Big Deal. Tommy Was Able to Be a Pinball Wizard Despite Being a Deaf, Dumb and Blind Kid.

Steve said...

Dom won because she was black not in spite of it. The crazy blond woman was far better.

Dear God find us a handicapped person that isn't annoying. If there had been an "I'm deaf" drinking game the whole world would stop be hung over.

CWJ said...

Let's just say this was a particularly weak season. In addition to a number of designers with really off-putting personalities we had more than a couple of "standard bearers".

We have gone from an early season where the judges and contestants were made uncomfortable by one designer's proclivity to break into tears to today where everyone cries on the runway when asked to speak.

This year it came down to the most likeable contestant with the weakest collection against a dislikeable contestant with a stronger collection.

William said...

Sadly, my addiction to Internet porn does not allow me sufficient time to follow trends in the fashion world. To a superficial observer, however, it does seem that the fashion world welcomes outliers. If I were gay or extremely anti Semitic,, I would certainly consider a career in fashion design.

CWJ said...

I'm not buying the racial angle. Perhaps after the fact, for those who are particularly sensitive to it, Dom's being black will be seen as somehow decisive and/or "standard-bearing."

But bottom line if there was any decisive factor outside of talent, it would be that Dom presents as an extremely likeable attractive person. She's exactly the sort of person Toyota, Proctor & Gamble, and whoever makes Dannon wants to be associated with. Being black is only bonus points if at all.

She may be a piece of work in real life. I don't know. But there's no doubt that the TV camera loves her.

lemondog said...

Meet the BLIND designer who has had his own fashion show in Paris... and now he wants to crack Hollywood"

Youtube

Mason Ewing

Ann Althouse said...

@lemondog

Fascinating, but...

1. Is he completely blind? (Apparently not.)

2. Is he working alone?

Ann Althouse said...

Watched the video.

Answers to both questions: no.

Ann Althouse said...

But great example of the internets power to prove that if you can think of something, it's already been done.