Monday, March 05, 2012

Last Day of Classes + The Fashions of Walter Van Beirondonck

Today was the last day of winter quarter classes.

My boardwork for my LGBTQ lit class
Boardwork for the LGBTQ American lit class discussion on "trans"

Such is this year's calendar that reading week begins tomorrow, and exam week commences next Monday. I shall have many short stories to read, but I decided to follow a colleague's lead and allow students in the literature class to choose between a critical paper or a creative project, and thus I'm hoping for some very interesting submissions alongside the more conventional essays.

I almost cannot believe the classes are over; the writing class was three times a week for 50 minutes, so it felt like a running relay in which I was the only one holding the baton, while the literature class felt like a half-marathon in which I got a second wind after the third class, the advanced fiction writing class, ended halfway through the quarter. That would felt like the 100-yard/meter dash, if a jet-fuel pack were on my back.

I am still recovering from that class, and missing my wonderful students (who I do get to see, even enjoying the benefit of reading with one of them at the final winter quarter student faculty readings last Monday, before the Associated Writing Programs conference blew through town), and the combo, along with Chicago's slightly warmer but still chilly weather has made the past 10 weeks come to feel like 50.

Last night it even snowed, lightly, before the fine lace covering my windows and the roadway dissoved in the sunlight, though outside its grasp a gossamer pane of ice remained. My apartment's radiators crank frequently, but for whatever reason the rooms themselves stay chilly, or my bones are no longer holding the heat so well. At any rate I will have more time to chill: now, no classes, just theses (honors, MFAs, a dissertation to read), final stories and papers and projects, and I hope somewhere amidst all this that I can find time to compete a paper for a spring conference, and my own creative projects, as well as my capacity even for short form entries on this blog. I do miss it.

In lieu of something not even slighly coherent from me, and given that it's still the fashion season (now drawing to a close in Paris, after the spectacles in New York and Milan) and I have always loved watching fashion shows as a way of brightening my day (disidentification, you know), here are three videos of rather male fashion shows by a not very well known but very innovative queer designer and artist, Walter Van Beirondonck. Note that the second video starts automatically (it's an iframe-coded video, and I'm not sure how to turn that autoplay off in html), so turn off the sound or just click to stop if you don't want to watch it right away.  Enjoy!

UPDATE: In the comments section, Jenny (thank you!) links to this note from Racialicious on Van Beirondonck's racial fetishist thrust in many of his collections. I hadn't seen it before nor had I seen his Fall 2012 collection, which it particularly calls out, but I do agree with its ambivalent take on his work, and would suggest it could apply to any number of major designers, from Jean-Paul Gaultier to the disgraced John Galliano to Diane von Fürstenberg to many others who have sampled the "tribal," trafficked in self-proclaimed "exoticism," and engaged in Orientalism,  as a way of creating luxury commodities for the richest among us to consume. Just two years ago, in the Financial Times, reporter Marian Hume, in an article that began by talking about young fashion sensation Doru Olowu, quickly segued into how von Fürstenberg and other heavy hitters were "interested" in exploiting this cultural material as much as they could...

Brothers: Hand on Heart: Winter 2011/2012

Walter Van Beirendonck Winter 2011/2012 from Walter Van Beirendonck on Vimeo.

Billows: Cloud #9: Summer 2012

Bears: Wonde®: Summer 2010 (if you don't like seeing big hairy men in underwear, skip the end)

Walter Van Beirendonck Summer 2010 from Walter Van Beirendonck on Vimeo.


  1. Congrats on finishing the quarter! There was an interesting discussion on von Beirendonck's latest collection on Racialicious recently:


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