Cassio Prates ︎
© Fizkes / ADOBE STOCK
The plots of the crossings
We are back in November 2020, when apart from any standard fashion week - if that even exists still - Gucci presented GucciFest, an online short-film festival. The idea was to showcase its new collection, not in a catwalk format, but in a series of films that emulated the old new world of the brand, with five stories that took place in a future of their own. At home, in the post office or in the theater, the clothes were presented in post-gender characters, with styling that mixed decades and questioned binarisms, giving the sensation of breaking barriers.
Filled with nuances of freedom and prison, the plot showed scenes of pieces in cashmere and fake fur. Alessandro Michele, stylist of the brand, rescued looks from old collections (from his first as director of the brand, in 2015) to new models, which covered bodies of a diversified casting, in that suggested future, as a kind of plot of the journey. In the first episode, Silvia Caldemore, the protagonist of the films, appeared at home dressing and exchanging luxurious looks, while Paul Preciado was on TV telling his theory and his contra-sexual manifesto.
In his most recent book published in Brasil, “An Apartment on Uranus”, Paul Preciado gathers his chronicles of the crossing, telling us about his process of disobedience and gender experiments, to undo binary constructions pre-established by society. The book gathers texts from 2013 to 2018, a period in which he changes his name and goes from Beatriz to Paul B. The title refers to a dream, in which the philosopher and writer talks to the artist Felix Gonzales-Torres about his nomadic life and his apartments in many myth-planets, followed by the suggestion of abandoning the planet Uranus - given by Gonzales-Torres as a place far away and then, as "a distant and ethereal place where the gods had their apartments". He explains that, according to mythology, Uranus had his genitals cut with an ax, from which Aphrodite, goddess of love, was born. From this, he begins his long journey, as a messenger of the crossing, on the way to many questions.
With these two passages, we advance more on the topic of post-identity, where I place myself more as dedicated to the subject than as someone who only speaks about it. Adding that to the world of fashion, where I can speak a little better, it’s impossible for us not to make this association between what is put as identity, what is assumed as such and what is human, part of the process, of becoming or, like Paul suggests, the crossing.
“Identity” is an important factor for the positioning of a brand. Especially when we think about the luxury market, the word suggests leitmotif for communication: a more chic, more powerful, bolder identity, more and more other things. In recent years, however, the word has been quickly replaced (and why not confused?) With “diversity” in the little fashion world. The vast majority of luxury brands place as part of their identity more diverse paths and different bodies, bringing this in the form of a new image. New bodies, which have always existed in the world, started to wear silk from brand X, cashmere from brand Y and modeling from the other brand Z. All with a “passability” to put luxury in a more plural, more concerned place and more "appropriated". Even if inside that same old place.
What is problematic here is not the fact that brands have assumed this process as a profitable business with a more possible - and “appropriated” - view on luxury-fashion, but rather thinking they have already arrived there (in Uranus, perhaps?). From the top of their ateliers, they continue to throw luxurious fabrics for people to become luxurious from that. The crossing took place with people having to go there, in a colonialist view of raw materials & people.
My (not easy) suggestion of post-identitarianism is just the opposite.
And then you can question the luxury status of a Céline cashmere. It’s true that it costs thousands of euros, but today it needs to be incorporated into other bodies* before we pose it boogie. Otherwise, it becomes old-fashioned - and, like Celine de Slimane, without accent, not only does not adapt to the new world, it also ignores it. On the other hand, a cotton hood from Telfar, sold and produced by its neighborhood and under the codes of their own, or even its vegetable leather bag (“Birkin from Gen Z”) also gains, nowadays, a place of luxury, through a root post-identity. The Martine Rose fashion show, held at a street fair in Tottenham, a London neighborhood populated by Latinos, made by them for them, can - from the same perspective - also be considered fashion-luxury.
As part of it, decolonizing crossings and identities through the eyes of these bodies is what must be linked to the concept of post. "Now that we are, who will we be?" as the opening letter of this Mjournal suggests, it deals with that same issue.
We talk a lot about gender, but here also belongs the black bodies, the fat ones, the dissonant ones and all those who are on the crossroads to demystify the imposed concepts of identity. To cross these concepts is to transgress. Understand, as Ib Kamara already understood, that decolonization will not be resolved with black models wearing silk clothes in colonists' houses and that, in addition to occupying spaces, the next step is to reframe them. That fat people don’t need to only be in tight clothes to represent how much they are wanted by their bodies. That a non-binary human being does not have to be androgynous and that everyone can be what they want and when they want. That they can let themselves be crossed, that those who need to get there are the brands, not the people. That you and I can be the rain that throws the sand of the Sahara over the automobiles of Rome, as the meme (and the song) says.
The concept of post-identity, then, must be to accept becoming, to cross, to face that whenever the crossing is possible, the map of a new society begins to be formed and, with that, a new image and a new fashion that question the geography of the materials placed and the identities dressed under hygienist codes. A journey marked by different borders and with different commanders. A second industrial revolution, which, as Paul B suggests, must assume that it’s capital and not life that reproduces itself, in order to deconstruct this concept and allow a new, less crystallized passage. A new web of materials, a new grammar of bodies and semantics.
The part that makes this tangible is the speech. Talking brings Uranus closer: “with what voice can we speak, we who have been denied?” asks Paul B.
To speak is to invent a language of the crossing, and here I pass my voice to all Camilas, Ariéis, Gustavos, Luanas, Luizas, Luisas, Mels, Glamours, Rosas, Leandros, Giulias, all of those who can speak how this crossing really is, is being and (still) can be.