As a child I was frightened and excited by a lot of things in Labyrinth. It wasn’t just Jennifer Connolly’s peach-fuzz moustache or the soft whorls of her unplucked eyebrows, although these things did stir a primeval longing I’m still dealing with… But more than Connolly’s budding charms, the Bog of Eternal Stench, Hoggle, or ‘Dance Magic Dance’, the thing that left the deepest impression on me as a child was David ‘Goblin King’ Bowie’s tights, and the magic lunchbox they carried. In the cinema, where I was first ‘exposed’ to its glory, that crotch was ten feet high. There was something truly monstrous about those tights, something that revealed more of their contents by ‘hiding’ them in sheer grey nylon than any kind of ‘revealing’ would have shown. All they did was cling, but with this one simple act they proved that some kinds of clothing are capable of producing something more naked than naked… a kind of supernudity.
Flashback to ‘93, and everything’s cut of a decidedly different cloth. These are days in which it is conceivable to have an undercut, an ear-ring and a goatee and still be just behind the curve of the cool. Cobain was still alive, JJJ still played interesting music, and Porno was for Pyros. In ‘91-‘92 there were Stüssy beach pants (which my music teacher called ‘harem pants’) which produced in the wearer two very pronounced buttocks and a soft whooshing effect when walking. By ’93, people were still wearing them with Doc Martens and flannies in some horrible condensation of ‘Big Audio Dynamite’ and ‘The Year that Punk Broke’, but by this stage, skate culture had already claimed more than a few hips (and cracks) with baggy jeans, which reached absurd proportions with rave-influenced atrocities like Kepper and Cross-Colours. It was a great year for those of us with stubborn paunches and stump ankles. For skinny people, it was a disaster. Whole groups of people seemed to flail in their clothing like panicked children trapped in a collapsed tent. Fat pants peaked somewhere in the Western suburbs in ’95, but the influence of their bluntness traveled down the pantlegs of the culture so that, by 1999, people were wearing skate shoes like Osiris that looked like the wearer had on a scuffed pair of Audi TTs. And looking back, I can’t help but wonder whether a whole generation were living in a fashion universe whose bagginess was conceived due the repressed trauma of seeing David Bowie in tights.
But now we’ve come full circle. In the past week I’ve seen two young gentlemen wearing pants tight and tapered enough to make David ‘Goblin King’
But this is another century, and in 2007 on
© Peter Chambers 2007