words chez moi – photos by Lilly Creightmore at the NOKI x COLD LIPS party for LFW 15th Feb 18 (artwork below by me for the Tweet Me Up show at the Tate, 2012)
The artist NOKI’s work is Fashion AND anti-brand – ya – confusing, right 🤓🤪😫🤯 (you can read more to understand his work on Cold Lips, and i-D, or in the exclusive interview in the third issue we created for the show – Paypal: firstname.lastname@example.org with £2.99, and a bit for postage if you can afford it, or visit the www.coldlips.co.uk shop), and in the same way, I don’t really know when a zine becomes a magazine, or a fanzine becomes a zine, becomes a magazine. Sometimes Cold Lips gets called a zine, sometimes a magazine, sometimes a fanzine. Labels fuck everything up as much as money, and our desire to have the beautiful things in the world. I mean – I’d wear some of that new Fendi garb… But my conscience battles with the lameness of existing to an index of any kind – negotiating my life through stupid tokens of success, and signals of others. OM! Be gone! Whether we want to become collectors of water-chiselled bedrocks from Korea, or a piece of Vetements bearing a DHL logo – let’s not be slaves in a battered joke of a vehicle that’s cruising towards a major crash in a post-Colette world of slavery to pop-up distractors. So when I see content from fashion lifestyle magazines doing little else but promote the production abilities of their glorious advertisers: LMVH (who look after Loewe, Louis Vuitton, Moet, Fendi, Celine, Dior, Pucci, Givenchy, Kenzo, Mark Jacobs, Thomas Pink, Nicholas Kirkwood, Edun and more) or Chanel S.A. (who own Chanel), or Kering (who own much of Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, McQueen, Stella McCartney, Christopher Kane, Puma, and more) – or the mega-firms of Proctor and Gamble, L’Oreal and Unilever, all pushing ideas of beauty upon my information-pummelled eyes, just to keep the cash circus circulating, I get sick, and I want to withdraw. Because that’s just one idea of Fashion. Not only do I want some of the clothes and the wedge from holding those ads, I don’t wanna compromise anything we’re doing in COLD LIPS – which I started to perpetuate the subculture that created it. Which I’ll come back to – but meanwhile, rather than bemoan the luxury oppressors who I adore, we shall party. Which is good. As I’ve always enjoyed a good underground night out. So it was an honour to be a part of the propaganda team for the NOKI private view on the dawn of London Fashion Week this February – and later all laugh on WhatsApp seeing FENDI do what FILA do, throwing the South London streetwear irony back in the face of the kids that created that look, and see Feral’s look parade down the Gucci line eleven years late…
We had performances from Anne McCloy, who was a resident at the spoken word night that began Cold Lips, she’s toured with Peter Doherty, made merch for many, and lectures at St Martin’s, asking people to challenge what fashion is, daily. Gary Fairfull stepped up with his NHS poem, he gave the original spoken word night its platform. Feral Is Kinky – a fashion subculture stalwart, known most for singing Everything Starts With An E with Boy George – but currently slamming it out of the underground gay scene to River Island commercial mainstream brilliance, and back again. We also had the word artist Robert Montgomery and poet/filmmaker/model Greta Bellamacina who are the forthcoming cover stars for Cold Lips IV – it’s SUCH A HOT SHOOT by Lilly Creightmore (we turn Robert into the muse of Syd Barrett as per Madcap Laughs, and dress Greta in Vampire’s Wife). I also put down some lines. And the beatbox supremo Killa Kella, and DJs Q Boy and Ladylaw.
But we’re partying against a machine – as all good propagandists know – if you control the knowledge economy, you can corrupt from the core. Concepts and philosophies of faceless shareholders seep through the skin of Facebook, Insta, Vero – influence is everywhere – it surreptitiously manipulates into our socially sensitive souls, like we’re stalking boardrooms, faster than you can say Cambridge Analytica are raving on the top of a hege-demonic pyramid of abuse.
No one takes responsibility in short-termism. Few of us are free from co-dependence upon the hand that feeds us. So remaining a conscious objector to the barrage of reactive artillery used to deafen the silence they force us to be complicit in is hard. They yank open our purses and minds until we submit in competition to become producers of content and audiences – we do the work of promoters of our ideas (and theirs, becoming their Brand Fans) yet the independent become relegated as ‘createurs’ to an Etsy economy, sidelined in flux, playing on the same field as the rulers that govern us, belittling our blockchain belief, as they snidely invest privately, watering us down. On a bad day. Ha.
Sometimes I don’t know why I start writing – but it’s the only way I know how to get things straight in the vacuum of my head. Subculture is culture, and as equally valid as any of the rest of it. This is what Bruno Aleph Wizard taught me, for sure. Fuck Them, follow us. We are the world we live in – we are who we follow – we must create the world we want to be in. We all create our world, our society. The language we use, the behaviour it creates. We are the fashion. We may not be here to be billboards for others but you can buy a Cold Lips T-shirt, or tote, in our shop now…huh huh, please. This was the subject of my work at the Tate. It’s all about digital existentialism as we traverse into the anthropocene – and upload our behaviours to the cloud…FORWARD!
Cold Lips exists to showcase the people who don’t fit within that mainstream paradigm. We are the human capital which perpetuates our system. We are all publishers of information if we are on social. We are the Media, maybe not the medium. But They. They. They. They. They that make us powerless against our NHS, that we pay for, turning it into an insurance scam. Most of us receiving little more than when we started working in Their game. They kill us with the fear of Austerity, and tell us Debt is fine for them to get into, so why not join Them in the slavery of property ownership and credit cards and say that’s freedom? They who steal our pensions. Sending us out to slavery. We are integrated at our peril. To seek our answers through random peers who become our communities, purely through ego-dripping prolificacy disguised as status updates or cash boosted content, individualism in our atomised self-obsessed Millennialism is happening in a tsunami of publishing, led to believe we are new wave of the media, only to be disrupted in the terror attack from those that denigrate our power. Publishing anything – it comes with a responsibility…wah – I’ll press Publish soon, and stop this rant. But I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER.
I don’t want to call us rebels, I wanna rule rather than be oppressed, and that is the problem with the optimism of the human condition. We’re romantics, truth-seekers, people who can’t really suck up bullshit, lies, and corruption. Yet we are judged by the size and scale of our networks, and think, maybe we will make it to glory – yet if we are to survive on art alone, to create those networks takes time and energy. And, to curate ideas publicly always carries risk. So isolation becomes ever preferable. Douglas Hart says words along these lines in the COLD LIPS III interview (only available in the print edition, £2.99). Algernon Aloysius – a one time sound tech for The Clash and the Sex Pistols, and publisher of Jock Scot says the same. Subculture has to exist in a vacuum of our own making. The struggle to do anything else but suck soup from the system that imprisons us has never been more real. That’s how it is.
[ya – I not finished yet…👇👇👇]
I’m co-opted to the world at large as much as the next, but why it was particularly great to support NOKI’s art show for London Fashion Week, curated by OLLYSTUDIO with photographs by AXEL HOEDT, is it highlighted the simplicity of fashion – often a complicated beast – full of desire – the Fashion Industry vs fashion as a tool of expression, either to go to war in the world, or to harmonise within it. My friend Fee, aka Mrs Jones, or Fiona Doran had a tagline, love clothes, hate fashion – she collaborated a lot with NOKI, back in the Shoreditch warehouse days of yore when we rode BMXes alongside horse-driven carts on Old Street. I love fashion, I hate the consumer industry and slavery beyond doing what I want to do at any time, but I fetishise well-made products. Same as everybody I know who works in the rag trade. But Fashion is more than a label, it is about creativity. It is also about choice: to dye one’s hair, to make our faces appear young, or older; to simply not give a fuck and wear a duvet to the shops. And what became clear from the NOKI show – is it is as simple as: Aspire or resist false needs. Wear that. I’ve made clothes for a lot of people. Over the weekend, I made something for me – I’m sure NOKI – and being around his spirit encouraged me to return to my sewing machine. I created a velvet suit out of the ends of a pair of curtains that hang over the doorways to the temple in Peckham. (I ripped all the doors out when I moved in, beyond the back and front…) A close friend once said, ‘There are a lot of people who SAY they work in fashion, but they just WANT to…’ That’s the problem, it all looks so good, I’m not saying this new velvet is perfect – far from it – it’s a prototype – as everything is – but it’s good to be back in something I’ve made myself. It is all about content. And to feel dressed in my own is strong.
I briefed the Cold Lips’ assistants: don’t cover ‘shit’ fashion over LFW – I needed to define ‘shit’. I attempted to explain the remits, the boundaries, the purveying mafia, the underclass – those that will fall after a single season, those that will strut it out, faking it till they make it – the people you need behind you to make it work, and the publications that you have to have on your side to get the sales in the shops that may allow you to stay in the hotels that the editors are flaunting at you. Same as any game. Music, media, writing, hotels making content, places doing events to drag the money through the door – events are the best PR for getting your consumers to do the work, after all. Presentations are the new situationist catwalk &c &c &c… There is some extreme talent in Fashion but that shouldn’t prevent us from owning our own. If you are doing it, you are doing it, if you’re getting dressed, you are saying something. So be the Media you want to be, and be the Fashion you respect. We are all Fashion. Fashion is far more than a label, or clothes. Fashion is how we change the world, it is a manner, it is a class, it is a behaviour. It is what we own. And believe: the influence of what we create can only be strong if we separate ourselves from the masses, and become conscious of our place in this catwalk of life…
I only get as far as London here – but New Orleans and New York will follow 👉subscribe for updates… by buying Cold Lips, or coming over to Patreon, I’ll give you new stuff, new ideas, all the time…