It is always nice to take a stroll down Michigan Avenue in Chicago. It is especially nice to take a late night walk on a warm spring night. Michigan Avenue with its delightful Gucci & Chanel windows, tourists & well-landscaped lined boulevards is a lovely way to end a perfect night. My dear friend Graunk and I were enjoying our stroll when a lovely couple approached us and asked a simple task. The tall long haired man, wielding a very large camera stopped dead in his tracks & asked for our picture. Graunk & I, well buzzed from Gilt bar, full from a dinner of Zapatista’s Mexican food, & coming of a high from the amazing drinks at Blackbird, had no issues with this opportunity. Graunk, looking very 70’s porn mixed with John Varvatos chic, unabashedly said “Of Course Doll”. I was in normal David Jude attire; Thom Brown cropped pants & bow tie, I looked like an American dandy. The man snapped the picture, his smashing lady friend took our email addresses, and they were on their way.
I love getting my picture taken, it is not because I’m a narcissist (I am a narcissist) or have low self worth, it is because the picture is a form of fashion validation. Graunk & I have do have a fashion history in this city; looking “fashion forward” in Chicago is not easy. Chicago is not free fashion thinking city like New York. People always tell us, “you look so different”, “you have style”, or my favorite “You dressed up”. Who does not love a compliment, but here it is kind of a backhanded compliment. In most cases, the compliment comes with a subtext; the “Jesus, what the fuck is he wearing?” subtext.
We live in a city of mid-west fashion safety; hell people here still think Barneys is a dinosaur. We had our version of 5th avenue condensed in to one city block, OAK Street, that is slowly becoming extinct as well. Our version of a fashion event/show is a mega retailer (Nordstrom’s men’s book party) trunk show, dull. We have our version of Williamsburg too, Wicker Park & those retailers that were supposedly hip are dying as well, really dying!
Fashion wasteland is bad, really bad, what can a good Chicagoan do? We can keep dressing, try to buy locally, support American & local designers, and show the rest of the good Ol’ USA that we are forward dressers. It is not hard to replace your striped tie with a great bright print tie or pocket square, even if your a banker. Try mixing H&M (cheap) with George Greene (high) for a well edited look. As for the local “GAYS” stop dressing like a stupid clone, t-shirts & bad jeans, and look like a sharp dressed man, for once be a positive stereotype. If we band together and try to enjoy the difference in fashion we will all get the photo opp.
*picture by:Zachary Watts & Anastasia V. Shcherbakova- thank you!