Well, this week’s Street Snaps is about more than just the newfound disco steez that Sebastian here has been into lately. It’s about a lot more than that. Behold a queen and his ‘I’m just out to get coffee’ outfit:
Sebastian. “I’m thirty-three years old. I recently settled and celebrated my Jesus birthday, and the theme was a crucifixion.”
How do you feel about the level of dress that people put on in the city?
“It’s a big mixed bag. Street fashion’s uh-maaazing. And it seems like half of it is disposable clothing from Rainbow, and it works. It really works. Unfortunately the rest of it is schlubby.”
Could you give an example?
“Cargo pants. Cargo pants are yeah, they’re everywhere. T-shirts. With slogans on them. Polos. Flip-flops. College girls with flip-flops, I don’t understand.”
Are you totally against thong sandals or is it like the rubber flip-flop jawns?
“It’s just lazy. It’s just straight-up lazy. Yeah. The men at the gay bar like to wear button-up shirts, but unbuttoned down to mid-chest, with pleated, tapered ankle pants. You’ve seen it. It’s bad. Like dress pants that are high-waisted and make men look like — they’re like harem pants with pleats at the hips.”
Yeah, and they’re slightly drop-crotchy — and I hate that term too but — I interviewed this kid a while ago in the fall who was like, gay men’s fashion in Philadelphia is &mdash
“Tragic. It’s so devastatingly bad. Now, obviously the queer punks are all hot as shit and they all look like Marc Almond…”
What about the way you dress and the kind of style you cultivate? What kinds of things do you take in?
“Well I kind of moved on from my coal miner’s daughter, depression-era, early Joan Crawford thing — it was just the 30s through and through — early Hollywood and torn-up hobo fashion. And I was hitting that pretty hard on the west coast. And it was a very west coast kind of thing, you know. Torn lace, jewels and birds, that kind of thing. Not like that’s necessarily a thing over there, but it really made sense in the context. Like when it’s raining all the time and you’re dripping feathers and broken rhinestones and pointy boots, and it just, you know, it functions. And I’m really embracing trash bag right now. Leggings and lamé. Leggings and lamé…”
Yeah, I’m into this shiny top with ambiguous shape and elastic waistband, is it?
“It’s kind of disco 90s.”
Oh my god yeah it is. So you’re into lamé now.
“I am. Donna Summer is on my record player a lot.”
Do you end up buying a lot of new clothes?
“Not really. Leggings are my major new purchases. And stilettos cause I’m trying to learn how to walk in them. So there’s this shop where I just bought a lot of spandex and some cheap-ass costume jewelry. And all of the — well, A, they have these booty popper pannies, otherwise known as padded pannies, that were on a mannequin when you walk into the place. Like the mannequin is facing away from you, it’s just ass only right in the entrance. And there’s some padded pannies on there. So you know right away like, what the deal is. And there were all these straight ladies and they were giving me some crazy-ass looks when I was trying on some shoes. And I am not the first queen to walk into that place! But, anyway, yeah, they have generously sized ladies’ shoes, close to Jeweler’s Row.”
Are there things that you straight-up want people to stop wearing?
“I mean, cargo pants. There’s no… Unless you’re going to or from a work site, where you need a hammer loop in your pants, that’s great. But. I mean, there’s a lot of travesties, but everything has an exception. There’s a way to wear everything.”
Are there things you get tired of seeing at like, parties?
“Tu-tus. Not tu-tus like ‘I’m a ballet dancer’ tu-tus, but I’m seeing a lot of tulle underskirts. Which I feel like I see it a lot. And it’s usually with leggings that go just below the knee, you know? I mean, it’s a cute outfit — this is not judging at all — but why am I seeing it constantly? I feel like it’s the queer femme uniform of right now, and I don’t get it. I dunno. Maybe I just don’t understand something.”
[We get to talking about other 'uniforms' for a minute and come to John Galiano's recent ousting from Dior & related scandals]
Can you comment on why this was such an intense thing to you?
“Because the House of Dior has been my favorite couture house since, shit, for like ten years at least. I mean I’ve been following them on and off. And Galiano, while not being my favorite designer, has a really strong vision and has been at the helm of this place that I feel has grown the way that Chanel has always like, been sportswear and just sort of became safe. And it’s safe and chic and has always been great for middle-aged ladies who are conservative and just wanna know that they’re not gonna be a mess. And Dior took — they sort of were going in similar places, I feel like, in the earlier third of the century (laughs) — I’m just talking out of my ass. Um, but then [Dior] pushed it into this really amazing direction where, you’re talking about… I don’t even know how to describe it.
“Dior’s the one that brought back those historical silhouettes, that brought the bustles to the runways. Remember that was like seven years ago or something? It was amazing. Pheasant feathers, giant fea — what was that, like two years ago, last year? With the hats with giant plums that looked like they would take up an entire entryway when you walk through the door? Even when it’s not being extravagant, it’s always excessive. And I love it. And it hurt personally. If you’re a sports fan, and you take sports teams really seriously, and you care about them and follow the scandals, nobody’s gonna question that. Some people might make fun of you for it, but no one’s going to question your devotion to sports. So why do I have to defend having an emotional investment in mainstream fashion design?”
I didn’t feel like you needed to defend it, but more why [John Galiano's firing & the fashion industry] important to you, for people that don’t know.
“Why it’s important to me is different than it being a legitimate art form, because it’s so associated with — it’s hyper-consumeristic. The fashion industry has unlimited resources, so people can go to amazing places. They have the materials, the workmanship, they have the skills, they have the slave labor to make whatever they can imagine. And the results of that are incredible. And I get that it’s problematic, that it’s not politically okay. ”
But I think that it’s separate in a way…
“But yeah, you have queer activist culture on the one hand, that likes to embrace a sort of weird asceticism, and it’s kind of dogmatic. Like if this has tainted roots, then it’s bad all the way through, or not worthy of being looked at or invested in. And then hetero-land is like, ohhh that’s really cute and in fashion magazines! That’s really sweet! Yeah but we’re gonna think about really important things like football. Cause we’re in Philly.”
[I LOLed hard at this.]
“That was not a coherent argument in favor of anything, but it was a good ramble.”
I liked it.
“Can I talk about the antlers that I just got the other day that I’m gonna gold-leaf? I don’t know what I’m gonna do with them yet, but I’m thinking I might make a hair piece!”
Do you think there’s a time and a place to wear things like that, and feathers and whatnot? Or do you wanna wear them whenever the hell you feel like it?
“Whenever the hell I feel like it. Unfortunately I’m pretty shy. Like I’m a social person, but I’m pretty shy unless I’m drinking. [...] And when you’re walking down the street being really sparkly, people really wanna talk to you about it. It can get really weird. Especially the disco pants…”
God, Sebastian is amazing. They went on to talk about how Philly makes you lazy when it comes to dressing sharp. We both agreed, it’s kind of nice, but we need something in our lives to make us really step it up and challenge one another. “Give sparkly people constructive criticism instead of just walking up and telling them how shiny they are.”
If you’re looking for more Philly street style, visit Broad&Market, or check out the Street Snaps archive by clicking on the “street snaps” tag just below.