Monday, October 14, 2013

John Waters and the Sack Dress

Harper's Bazaar September 2014
Several celebrities were asked to write about "The Dress That Changed My Life,"  in Harper's Bazaar and most were ... so silly that I didn't read to the end of their musings. Except for this one ... the one man asked to the party: John Waters.

His inspiration: the sack dress. 1957 Balenciaga. What I love most about the remembrance is that it isn't that Waters wanted to wear the dress as some might suppose; rather, he adored it because it gave him the courage to exercise his own fashion sensibility. As he said, "as a preteen I didn't want to wear a sack dress myself; I just wanted to be friends with a woman who did. She'd be smart, sophisticated, witty, and brave, and together we'd bond over this haute hoot." The sack dress, apparently, was an affront to men. Songs were sung, surveys were taken, as the sack was ridiculed. In an AP survey, one young man said, "I'd strangle my girl if she ever bought one of those things. Worse, I'd ask for my ring back."

It all sort of sounds like it's come straight from a John Water's film. Could it be that one dress would be the inspiration for a lifetime of pushing the envelope, embracing and exploding stereotypes, and celebrating groups often themselves ridiculed. Waters put a sack dress on Divine in all his movies. It is a symbol of what made 'adults angry.' And that reaction is exactly the point of it all ... in a sack.

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