News__ Saw GWAR and Found McQueen

March 21, 2011 | By

New York-based fashion editor and writer, Kelley Hoffman is guest blogging on hearty for the next couple weeks.

How I Saw Gwar and Found McQueen
By: Kelley Hoffman

By the time fashion week is over, I want to get as far away as possible from macaroons, champagne or anything "chic." You can always count on Austin to keep it weird, and luckily enough, SXSW occurs right at the end of the fashion parade. Last year, I treated myself to my first trip to Austin for the music festival. I stayed with high school friends and turned insta-teenager.

The best concert I saw was GWAR. If you haven't heard of them, you may remember them as the sci-fi/horror/metal band Ethan Embry wigs out to in Empire Records. While I'm not obsessed with the music, the concert was the most fun "fashion show" I'd ever been too. First of all, they sang Lady Gaga's "Poker Face." And while I'd known them for their insane, on-stage monster costumes, I had no idea this translated to the their fans.

Apparently, it is a "thing" to wear light denim or white to GWAR concerts. Then, you try to get sprayed by the red and green "alien" blood/semen/bodily fluids as intensely as possible. The soiled clothing is then cherished as a piece of memorabilia and street cred. Usually, this is limited to plain T-shirts or a jean jacket.

But, oh my god, at the end of the show, I saw the coolest girl I had ever seen in my life. She was wearing a white pearl and sequin- embellished wedding gown and long white fur coat. Her face and hair were just drenched, while the red and green liquids had just lightly sprayed her from the neck down. She just held herself so elegantly, especially in the middle of all the metalheads. I took a quick photo of her and thought, "I am done with fashion."

Of course, I had forgotten about a little thing called Alexander McQueen S/S '99. In maybe one of the most iconic moments on the runway, McQueen's finale featured an emotive Shalom Harlow (whom I once saw weep at a Leonard Cohen concert) in a white gown. She spun on a turn table, and after a moment of menacing suspense, was sprayed on her face and dress by robotic attackers. See video below.

I think I get frustrated by the fashion industry when it tries so hard to appear pure, when so many aspects of it are obviously perverse. Shalom at McQueen, like this girl at GWAR, relieved this tension for me. The illusion of delicacy comes with a steaming aggression.

Normally you think about this kind of look with PETA, or "blood" red paint being thrown on editors in fur coats. The soiled clothing is not usually a good look, it's meant to humiliate and debase. But when it's in the controlled space of a performance, the chaos works. Even if it's at a high fashion show, or at a grungy stadium concert in Austin.

Kelley with Gwar

Next time you're in Austin, be sure to check out some of my favorite spots:

Shopping:

Bow's + Arrows (cool girl new wares)

New Bohemia (big selection of statement vintage)

Feather's (great vintage for the glam girl)

Food:
Sandy's Hamburgers (treat yourself to frozen custard!)

Casa de Luz (if you're a sucker for twig tea and sun cheese, here's an all you can eat macrobiotic spot to feel healthy again)

Driskill (chic hotel bar, and great Texas-shaped waffles for brunch)

Curra's (yummy mexican good -- make sure to get the avocado margaritas)

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