September 6, 2001

Subterranean Style

Print More

Contrary to what I feel is popular belief, the concept of having personal style is not a shallow or futile enterprise. Just like poetry, painting, journaling, or speaking, how a person chooses to present his or herself can be a very intimate and personal expression of self. It can be as blatant as a message on a t-shirt or as latent as a pink panel peakking out of the pleats of a black skirt.

Style doesn’t mean expense or vanity, although it may in some cases. In a more universal sense, style suggests owernership and distinction. Personal style separates the individual from the pack. It’s the way one communicates to many where they’re from, whothey are, and where they’re going. Of course, clothing has a utilitarian fucntion as well as an aesthetic one, but this doesn’t mean that chosen garb inhabits the figure silently.

Perhaps the most noteable linguists of style are celebrities, the 0.1 percent of the population who occupies the ocular attention of the world. World-class fashionistas like Princess Daina, Grace Kelly, and Michael Jackson all took advantage of an ever present, albeit ever intrusive, spotlight to bring the art of the personal statement to the foreground (no comment on the merit of their choices will be asserted as of yet). However good or bad their couture choices, each of these mega-stars managed to reserve a mannequin in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute by communicating some sort of enigmatic fascination.

Certainly, mammoth bank accounts can help people “express” themselves in a grandoise way. But, there’s a lot to be said about the style of the subterranean. The seemingly non-existent masses that escape the camera’s prying lens, create a colorful and textural landscape of visual stories and personas. However, it is this column’s mission to delve belwo the surface of glossy magazine photos to document the style of the subterranean, the everyday sould with singular style.

Archived article by Laura Thomas