I didn’t get a chance to attend JoAnn Berman’s fashion show at the Castle Braid on Saturday, but she sent me photos of the pieces that she presented on the runway. Her store on Metropolitan Ave didn’t last long, but it seems to have given her back the time to be creative and inventive. You can see that in her no-holds-barred riffing and sampling of pan-Asian elements. The photos speak for themselves.
I also wanted to ask Berman to talk more on the subject of the local hipster fashion scene. She said something in her conversation with our fashion blogger Anne Szustek, last week, that I thought was provocative, and needed more clarification in her own words. She said, “I think Brooklyn needs to go crazy and take it beyond tattoos and nose rings. They need to [return] to dressing to promote a feeling.”
Wow, what does that mean exactly? And I asked Berman, in an email, if she would go deeper into that. Her response also in an email, came last night and she says:
“What I mean to say is not the designers, but the general youth in Williamsburg, at least the ‘hipster youth’ is less of a leader and truly a follower. The look of Bedford Ave is so without a general feeling of “SOMETHING NEW IS GOING ON.” The kids are too insecure to make a fashion statement that can visually portray an excitement, a rebellion. Tattoos are not rebellious anymore, they are status quo, and those people who dress really individually get looked at weirdly. People are deathly AFRAID OF COLOR. If my life and research are correct, every movement I’ve ever been a part of—the San Francisco punk scene 1977, the London new romantic scene 1981, the new wave New York scene 1984, has been MUCH, MUCH, MUCH more brave and pagan in dress code. I think part of it is that Williamsburg is a transient population, people move to Brooklyn, they are not born there, and the ”NEO CONSERVATISM” of dress is due to the prevailing feeling of needing to fit in and not standing out too much to cause oneself embarrassment. In the 80s, we lived to dress wildly, and get fabulous, and go to out to the club and we were not AFRAID TO stand out. In fact, if you didn’t stand out, you were not part of the … what I’ll call artistic subculture, rock ‘n roll. ENGLAND has Vivienne Westwood and BROOKLYN HAS ME!
(Berman also wrote a little bit about her creative process)
My line is conceptual. I start with an idea of fabric, and slowly images roll around in my mind, then maybe something like a narrative, a story, a movement, a movie, a song or an historical element comes to me, and I fuse hair and makeup, from a cross-cultural view point, and VOILA THE THEME. In this collection I wanted to pay homage to Japanese culture, its quirkiness, the flower arranging, the geisha, the fruit, and I put it in a pot and mix it all together, and hope for the best! BROOKLYN MUST GO PAGAN !!!!!!
Thanks for your generous response JoAnn. Really LOVE your new collection!