This is less an article, more a conversation.
A conversation between myself (Noel) and Mia (my partner in crime).
It’s art; it’s fashion. It’s fashion made art, or vice versa
The background: We are invited to an exhibition. It’s art; it’s fashion. It’s fashion made art, or vice versa. The exhibition is a retrospective of the creations of Gianni Versace.
Yes, Gianni Versace. Hardly an unknown.
Is it indie, though?
I said no. Mia said yes.
Here’s our conversation:
Noel: It’s not indie though, is it?
Mia: Yes it is.
Noel: No it’s not.
Mia: Yes. It is. You know nothing about fashion anyway.
Noel: Or art. Don’t forget art. Let’s not forget that it’s not only fashion that I know nothing about (there is, of course, a subtext, and an ongoing conversation, but we haven’t the space, and neither you nor I have the time, to explore or even embrace that subtext. I; well, we; will leave you to work it out for yourselves. Anyway. Where was I/we?)
Noel: Okay, then tell me why you think it’s indie.
Mia: Well okay, let’s take a look.
Firstly, Gianni grew up broke…his mother was a seamstress, and he was very creative. He started making clothes – his form of art – at a young age…long story short, he did it so well and everyone liked it so much, that he became very successful. That’s indie.
Noel: That’s perhaps one definition of indie.
Noel: I think to be honest it’s the ringlets.
Mia: The ringlets?
Noel: Yeah, you know, his perm. He had a perm.
Mia: Well it was the eighties.
Noel: That’s no excuse. I was alive in the eighties. I didn’t have a perm.
Mia: You’re just a conservative, that’s your problem. You can’t think outside of your own box.
Noel: I’m not a conservative. I’m a conservationalist. Maybe that’s what you’re thinking of? Or a conversationalist. But conservative…
You don’t like perms, fine. But you can’t take away the fact that he was very creative and pulled himself up by his bootstraps.
Noel: Bootstraps? In the eighties?
Noel: That’s what I thought you’d say.
Mia: Your problem is, that something can’t be indie if it becomes successful.
Noel: No, that’s not true…
Mia: Yes it is. It’s this whole crap idea that you’re only cool and uncommercial if you’re not successful, but even if you’re doing exactly the same art and suddenly everyone loves it and buys it, then it’s not indie anymore.
Mia: there’s no point pretending you’re not saying aynthing. Everyone can see through that dot dot dot literary device, it’s just escapist. You’re afraid of stating an opinion.
Mia: Now you’re being obtuse.
Noel: Using words like obtuse is not indie.
Mia: Whatever. The point is, that I think he was indie. I mean come on, he started making brilliant clothes (art), like no one had ever made before, and because what he did was so revolutionary and so…just, good, then everyone loved him.
He defined what everyone looked like that for…for a long time. And it was all music. Elton John, George Michael…all those people.
Noel: Well they’re not indie.
Mia: That’s not the point, and you know it. The fact is that he was a very creative individual who followed his own path and his own vision, without caring what everyone else thought. That, my friend, is indie.
Mia: Yes but what? You have no logic.
Noel: Yeah but it’s naff. Look at that. It’s all horribly bright colours and kind of, you know, look-at-me. That’s not indie.
Mia: Indie has to be sulky?
Noel: No, not sulky. But…cool. Not naff.
Mia: I’m not sure that indie can’t be naff.
Noel: Okay, me neither to be honest. But aren’t we digressing?
Mia: I don’t honestly think that anyone reading this really believes that you are faithfully penning my words as we stroll around this exhibition. I’m sure that everyone will quickly figure out that you’re making most of this up later, based on what you remember of our conversation.
Noel: What? Really? Surely not. But…I mean, I could have been recording you, with my digital recorder.
Mia: That’s a phone.
Noel: Yeah, okay, with my phone then.
Mia: Yes, but you forgot to charge it up and the battery ran out.
Noel: Yes, but they won’t know that will they?
Mia: They do now, I just told them.
Noel: (long pause)…true.
Mia: So: Gianni Versace: indie or not indie?
Noel: Is there free booze downstairs?
Mia: I think I did see a bar actually.
Noel: Well then. Let’s celebrate art, fashion and geniuses!
Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a ‘recovering musician’, he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.