Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Dov Charney Is Don Swarmy

There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.
- Friedrich Nietzsche

American Apparel (AA) has been making a splash in the clothing industry over the last few years. And at the forefront is Dov Charney. Dov plays vital role in AA being sexy, alluring and ingenious. I have so many mixed feelings about this madman that it makes a little mad thinking about it. Maybe it just that he's a genius.

When I visited the NYC American Apparel store on Lexington I was expecting something... more. I had handled a select few AA products. I had read a small mountain of work on their ethos and their marketing panache. No logo, little advertisement... all word of mouth. I knew his highly sexual nature and his penchant for off the wall antics. All of which I applaud.

My first impression to the ultra-hip store was basic nonchalance. I wasn't swayed one way or another. I swaggered through the store making note of the little things. It was well presented. Not like the prom queens of Dolce and Gabanna, but more like the little picnic dinner like mom so thought fully prepared. It wasn't fancy or overly pretentious. At least at first glance.

I think the first thing that really jumped out at me was the 1960s porn magazine covers. Nothing too fancy. It was a celebration of sexuality in its rawest form. No airbrushing. No fake tits. Nothing more complicated than simple fantasies. This is a personal hot button for me. I love it when something's raw. Its alluring and intimidating. Like that old factory your friend lives in. Broken windows and floors still scarred from heavy loads being pushed around. It's raw, but genuine. But that's when my allure with AA started to fall apart.

I expected more from them. I wanted everything to be a little grittier. And nothing was cutting it. The clothes lacked that yearning to be lived in. The people were youthful. Not necessarily sexual; only as attractive as youthfulness will allow. Behind the raw images lay a well placed, all too polished structure. Even the brushed metal clothing racks bothered me now. It wasn't who AA was suppose to be. They were hypocrites at that moment. They betrayed their raw, fleshy persona. They took pride in this. It wasn't like some saint taking up the clohes of a pauper. It was just betrayal.

I don't mind the raw sexuality Dov promotes. I've never really cared for what most people try to pass off as sexy. You know, the ultra-refined bar girl who surprising lacks all sense of self respect. I expect women, men, children, people to lack in some area of their life. It really makes them human. But when they try to paint over their cracks with some thinly placed paint, that's really annoying.

I guess what I see is the reverse in AA. Yes, we're naked. We're chubby. We're raw. We're human. And then not everything in his stores revels in that. He bitch slaps me when he has a polished look to it. Now its just dirty.

This by no means takes away from Dov's genius. It doesn't take a genius to know sex sells. He's a genius for a return to the grittiness of sexuality. And his genius is rooted in his sexuality. Some how I wanted to talk about how genius and sexuality are connected and they are. I just don't know if I'm capable of doing it. But there's so much more to sex than what Dov or Madison Ave. have to offer.

"Sex energy is the creative energy of all geniuses. There never has been, and never will be a great leader, builder, or artist lacking in this driving force of sex."
- Napoleon Hill

Peace all!

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