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HAUTE CULTURE: WARHOL’S FACTORY FASHION

Feb 15, 2014

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Andy Warhol’s infamous Factory is an American subculture referential mecca, mythology manifest into brick-glitter-film-and-mortar. The hybrid time / space installation of living art was a projection of creative culture on the fringe of pop society –– inhabiting everyone from socialites and superstars to hipsters and bands of merry pranksters.

Warhol’s Manhattan warehouse was a mainstay and nerve center for artists and icons; beyond music, film, installation, experimental, and performance art, The Factory established the modern American canon in style for the eclectic community of active creatives.

Who

The scene stars, the rock stars: Lou Reed, Nico, The Velvet Underground, David Bowie, Grace Jones, Mick Jagger; the social scribes: Capote, Burroughs, Basquiat, Ginsberg, Halston, Dalí; the scene elite as a collective…

Beneath, about, within, and without the swarm of bodies surrounding The Factory, the “Superstar” core artist creatives were the epicenter of the fashion-fundamental who’s who: Sedgwick, Ondine, Malanga, Name, Viva, Baby Jane, Candy Darling …

Any and every creative anybody were the living pulse maintaining The Factory aesthetic. The influx and constant interaction between iconic personalities gave The Factory’s fashion signature unparalleled thickness and definition.

The Factory was successfully “culture on display,” and Warhol’s most underrated contribution to modern art could quite possibly be his formative archive of the ready-to-wear installation shows that were his legendary Factory parties. Warhol’s warehouse was the steady “someplace” to be throughout the late-sixties and seventies, and …

“Fashion wasn’t what you wore someplace,” Warhol once said. “It was the whole reason for going.”

What

The Factory was a creative studio / warehouse / residence for Andy Warhol’s interactive life work. Somewhat a cult milieu of art, activity, experimentation, exhibitionism, exposure, life, style, glam, and glitterati. The Factory is a blueprint for modern pop culture and a influential canon for fashion, style, entertainment, art, and media culture since its beginning.

Warhol’s Factory was an entire world unto itself amidst an external scape of political racket and impending chaos.  Escapism transcended Hollywood novelty and became a daily necessity for the creative class. The Factory gave artists, writers, actors, musicians, free-thinkers, people-people, a place to exist in a spectacular realm of art-crafted suspense… it, quite literally, was the concrete manifestation of “life style” for stellar terrestrial residents.

Fundamentally, The Factory was a showcase. It was Broadway for the CBGB scene, it was cloud nine where transplants and natives alike projected their dreams, it was a runway for subcultural renegades… youth-quaking richter-shakers, resisting the grain from beneath the fabrics and fibers of haute couture and worn denim donning signature paint stains.

When

The Factory, in brick-mortar-and-silver concrete reality, emerged in 1963 on East 47th St. in Manhattan, and has since moved to its final destination at 860 Broadway. The Factory’s golden ages were the silver Sixties, and technicolor Seventies edging into the ego-driven Eighties with celebrity, scene, and the creative classes merging into an unparalleled alloy of sheer performance art mastery.

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Wear

Warhol produced his silkscreened works in a studio dubbed “The Factory.” … Painted silver and covered in tin foil by Factory regular Billy Name, this space became a mecca for artists, socialites, celebrities, and members of the New York avant-garde. At this time, Warhol purchased a 16mm movie camera, and, between 1963 and 1967, the Silver Factory was turned into a movie studio where Warhol and his collaborators made more than five hundred films. Many of these transcended traditional methods of filmmaking and consisted of unstructured, unscripted action.

The fashion was, quite naturally, a hybrid of the Sixties tailored, minimalist focus and the Seventies hyper-glam sheen, with an essential sense of stylized ego to mark the scene.

With Andy Warhol, art and fashion merged. The famed painter of Campbell’s soup cans, who began his career illustrating fashion magazines, would show up to black-tie events wearing yellow sunglasses, a tattered tuxedo jacket and paint-splattered pants. His Pop Art influenced paper A-line “souper” dresses in the ’60s, and designers have taken turns transposing his iconic works into clothes.

The Factory Girl: Think minimalist chic with tones of boho-laden accents –– black, white, elemental, geometric, symmetrical with rhythmic structure, straight-edge with echoes of potential free-flow beneath apparent rigidity, softened slim silhouettes beneath surface severity.

The Warholian “Factory girl” look — characterized by smoky eyes, giant accessories, black-and-white motifs, and short hemlines — was inspired by Edie Sedgwick, a muse and companion who often starred in films made at his Factory studio. Warhol considered his entourage an exhibit in itself.

Leggings, geometric a-line dresses, white V-Neck tees and silk blouses, oversized overcoats, statement jewelry, belts, flats, shades to capstone the look. Go for a contemporary twist and swap leggings for coated denim to keep the silhouette, and add an understated sheen to the aesthetic.

The Warhol: Unaffected cool, austere awareness, definitive direction, black-on-black between silver lines and white stripes. Scope the scene, style yourself with a nod to simple standards beyond the erstwhile glitterati seams.

Though Tom Ford’s most recent menswear collection drew to mind an image of David Bailey’s mid-60s monochrome London, there was an underlying element of Andy Warhol’s Factory and a Velvet Underground aesthetic. Ford also built on the pop art influences in his last tailored offerings, with even more vivid and colourful printed suits this season.

Give stock to slender silhouettes with heavy denim, leather, and dark tones. Leverage more-defined builds with, well, heavy denim, leather, and dark tones. Rework the look with white denim to redefine the double-denim style. Shades and frames to break through the shine, always.

The Superstar: Somewhere between the Factory Girl and Warholian one-man show is the Superstar aesthetic; gender-netural, not in a standard uniform Mod tone, but rather in the inherent capture of stellar style from a considered vantage of a well-composed sartorial statement.

Bold is in the hemline of the beholder when it comes to Superstar fashion, and that certain spark illuminating any supernova aesthetic emanated from the figure themselves. Superstar style is not so much about how the clothes work with a model, but how the model defines the costume. Think Factory Girl boho-minimalist-chic meets The Warholian’s prime noir in a haze of stardust … pure Factory: Manhattan matte with a marvel finish.

Warhol’s Factory in a relative flash, as far as style goes: you’re the boss, applesauce.

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