Skattie, What Are You Wearing?: An archive of interesting personal style

  • Posted on December 12, 2010

This effervescent and most deliciously fabulous blog’s musing by the ‘random’ arbiter of style, Skattie-in-Chief/Buyer/Blogger/Blatant-poser/Post-poned revolution - Malibongwe Tyilo offers a refreshing opportunity to further destalibise/confuse our notions of what constitutes an archive. The blog itself started as fun and deliberate attempt to celebrate/comment/criticize the quirky fashion choices of the ‘in’ artsy crowd of Cape Town. It has now evolved to a must-visit blog for those interested in all things art and fashion, as there is an interesting intersection of art, lifestyle living, fashion, theatre and city events in the public and/or private spaces that the blog has managed to document.

The images and the glib witty commentary set this blog apart from other style blogs as it does not take itself too seriously. Yet it uncannily draws our attention to the fact there is continuity in how fashion and/or art is cyclical and how designers often draw upon the ‘fashion archive’ to re-interpret trends from past seasons. More and more, the artificial disciplinary borders between history, art and design are being dismantled by the immediacy of technology. It enables practitioners to draw upon the global cultural resource as one can be influenced by many things from various parts of the world. The vast virtual canvass of the internet, technology and social media opens up spaces (in the virtual and real world) for various creative intersections to unfold. This is the interesting feature of this blog, as it too has moved from the virtual into the real, by launching a quarterly archive of selected style blogs with contributions from various creative co-conspirators.

What then can we say about the making of this style archive in the present and how will endure in the future? For me its evocative of how the photo archive of the Drum magazine, especially of the 1950s, has been used in the present.  Drum’s widespread influence stems from its desire to highlight urban black life, and have more of an investigative focus on the conditions under apartheid.  The photo archive’s meanings and resonances has inspired various exhibitions, films and other creative interventions, over time the images have gained such an archival potency that is unrivalled in the country. An archive of personal interesting style in contemporary post-apartheid implores us then to look at the Drum photo archive with fresh eyes through the lens of fashion and style beyond the ‘documenting’ oppression under apartheid. Dare I say it, we might have to even celebrate the style choices captured by the images in new and interesting ways which the blog seems to be beginning conversation around those visual and style residues from the past.

I asked the Skattie-in-Chief a few questions:

AP: Who are some your favorite designers? Past/present and why?

Alexander Mcqueen is definitely one, I know that sounds a bit cheesy and predictable, he is/was everybody’s favourite after all, and really how can one love fashion and not love Alexander. Dolce and Gabbana coz I think they’ve got a pretty good grip on reality. I am also enjoying Rad Hourani, he is one of the better new school designers out there, clean lines, kind of post-Jil Sander and steeped in high androgyny.

AP: What drove you to start this blog?

I’d been toying with the idea in my head for a while, it was not quite like what it’s turned out to be. It was more about documenting what kind of fashion my friends are into and it was meant primarily for them to enjoy. I also needed some sort of creative outlet separate from my 9 to5. In a weird way it’s turned out to be a combo of my favourite things; hobby photography, the internet, socializing (read drinking) and a sort of free-form writing.

AP: What kind of responses have you had on the blog, as it seems to be getting quite a following?

People have been really positive about it so I’m really happy about that, but then again not too many people can be negative to one’s face. The traffic is increasing steadily. So ja,  it’s working out far better than I thought it would especially considering that I started in March this year with only my cellphone as a camera.

AP: The move from the virtual blog space into a quarterly archive of style? What motivated this?

I had a chat with Jonathan Garnham of Blank projects gallery (http://www.blankprojects.com) who is a fan of the blog and he offered his gallery as a venue for something that would take the blog out of the virtual and into a physical reality, and ja after toying with some ideas in my head the magazine kind of felt like the most logical thing to do, and then somehow it really kind of came together, all the guys that contributed really believed in the project and gave freely of their time and their ideas. I also liked the craziness and audacity of the idea that I could actually start a magazine, so partly i did it to prove something to myself.

AP: How do you see this ‘archive’ developing?

Well, the next step is to get funding to print a few copies, like a thousand or something and distribute it through galleries and other ‘interesting spaces. Currently it is available as a pdf download on my site. I am looking forward to future contributions from more people, I really enjoy that part of the mag especially because I don’t brief them on what to contribute, I just offer a page and it is up to them to decide what they want to do with it and so far I am very impressed with their work and truly grateful to have such talented friends.

AP: Does it surprise you that an initiative like ours would be interested in a project like yours?

Yes, I see you guys as kind of more serious and academic. So I am very pleasantly surprised by your interest in a blog I see as irreverent.

AP: How do you see your co-conspirators taking the project forward? Do you have any interesting collaborations that are coming up in the next volume?

I have not even started planning the next issue yet; I want to focus on getting this one printed in volume first. Most of what has happened in the last few months with regards to the blog and the magazine has happened very organically and I like that, so I’d like to keep that vibe going because I find it allows for more creativity. Ja, so I guess there will be no briefs as with the current issue and we will keep it as a creative space and allow the ideas to flow. I know that answer sounds a bit hey-shoo-woo, but hey.

AP: As I said in my introduction, I was quite struck by the interesting visual/style residues from the past that one can pick in the print version – the Drum photo archive begin one of them – can you comment on how this impacts on what is trendy at various points?

Fashion trends at the moment are in a very retrospective space, I guess it’s been so since the late 90s, so I think it is kind of logical that you’ll always find some sort of residue from the past within current styles.

AP: Related to the previous question, don’t we also need to have a conversation about who decides what is trendy and ‘in’ style?

Personally I hate prescribing style to other people, and what I enjoy about my blog is that I get to photograph what I like and I’ve checked other fashion blogs especially local ones and I find that everyone tends to photograph what they like and we all have different tastes, so I guess what I’m saying is that, I think fashion is in the eye of the beholder. Obviously, there are certain things that are definite trends, the kind of things that will be seen in retail spaces and music videos. I am not sure about the need for a conversation about that, I’m sort of slightly more cynical about it, I don’t think the conversation will change much. Trends will be trends, some will follow, some won’t and voices who want to prescribe will.

AP: What is your prognosis for contemporary South African style?

Honestly, I really do not know but I hope I’m there to photograph it.

AP:  Lastly, Archivists/Academics are often accused of being quite ‘frumpy’, can you offer some advice?

Hahaha… like I said above I really don’t like prescribing especially since I make a lot of dodgy style choices myself (that’s why I hardly ever feature on Skattie). So ja I think people should just be a little less scared to put themselves out there when it comes to clothes. An experimental outfit can be an incredible amount of fun, and when it is a successful one it can make you feel on top of the f***** world.

Please visit SKATTIE WHAT ARE YOU WEARING to check out this very interesting archive of personal style.




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