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Andrea Crews m'excite! - click opera
February 2010
 
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Sat, Mar. 31st, 2007 12:54 am
Andrea Crews m'excite!

My fashion contacts tell me that this week Hedi Slimane got kicked out of Dior Homme. I wish him all good fortune for his future projects, I really do. But for me, the big Paris fashion story of the last five years isn't that rather boring 60s-retro skinny black suit and tie look. It's Andrea Crews, a fashion collective grouped behind a fictitious persona and operated from a threatened Belleville atelier-squat called La Generale.



Andrea Crews -- the brainchild of Maroussia Rebecq, an art school grad from Bordeaux -- is a recycling clothes label. Working closely with charity shops like Emmaus, the Crews crew cuts up and repurposes huge heaps of secondhand clothes, re-investing dead and ugly heaps of cloth with playful panache. They stage big fun events where dozens of amateur models are transformed into garish and sometimes grotesque creatures, and all the clothes are given away to the audience at the end of the show. Most importantly, and against all the odds, many of their creations actually look excitingly good. It's a philosopher's stone sort of deal -- Andrea Crews recycles base materials into pure fashion gold.



I went to one of their Berlin shows back in early 2003, an event called Berlin M'Excite held in a warehouse in Kreuzberg, and did a bit of DJing as the clothes were chopped up and playfully repurposed (by, amongst others, Jean-Marc of label Pelagique). It was actually one of the most fun things I've seen in Berlin -- some guerilla fashionistas called Additional came up and restitched my eyepatch with pink thread as I played. Above all, there was a sense of people having fun with clothes, and emboldening each other to pull off ever more ridiculous, splashy, weird and flamboyant looks. It's the kind of thing I do in thrift stores like Humana anyway, but it was nice to meet people who took it further. (And I don't tend to chop stuff up -- my splicing all happens at the original seams.)



"Andrea Crews values creative energy more than form," declares the Crews website, but I think that's perhaps unduly modest. And while there's lots of talk of social concern, ethical fashion, sustainable development, alternatives to consumer society, and even relational aesthetics (the Crews people were invited to take over the temple of RA, the Palais de Tokyo, as you can see in a video on their MySpace page), I think that's merely the ethical icing on the aesthetic cake. Many of these spliced secondhand clothes are simply fun, inspiring and desirable -- covetable enough to warrant the rather high prices they're pegged at on the Crews website.



While more elitist fashion houses hold their defilés in central Paris in the presence of invited guests and the world's press, Andrea Crews holds theirs out on the street in Belleville -- and gives the clothes away at the end, as you can see in the videos on this page. Just like in "real" fashion shows, there's a bride in a white dress to end the show. Crews also has a widow's veil -- but she's a bloody merry widow, naked and primed for fun.



President-presumptive Nicolas Sarkozy doesn't like Andrea or her kind -- he's been cracking down on Paris squats and "doesn't give a shit about artists," according to this Guardian piece about La Generale and its troubles. But gay Paris mayor Bernard Delanoe does, and the threatened takeover of the collective's headquarters has been averted -- for now.



La Generale gets no subsidy of any kind, though, and survives thanks to donations from the people who work in its lofty spaces, and bar takings from the odd event -- so maybe that's why the prices for Andrea Crews bomber jackets are as high as they are. (They're still a lot cheaper than Bape.)

In the longterm, though, the authorities plan to turn La Generale into a mental hospital. If, like sarky Sarkozy, you hate these people with their parties, their ethical aesthetics, and their garish colours, if you think their ateliers de creation need to be cleaned out with Karsher, well, there's a set-up for your punchline right there.

64CommentReplyShare

tupacashakur
tupacashakur
bum
Fri, Mar. 30th, 2007 11:27 pm (UTC)

so wonderful! the colours are brilliant! i especially love the large hair elastics round the neck. thank you so much for posting!


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Mar. 31st, 2007 02:55 am (UTC)

On the internet nobody knows you're a negro


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cerulicante
cerulicante
cerulicante
Fri, Mar. 30th, 2007 11:50 pm (UTC)

If that is fashion gold, then my cat craps fashion silver.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Mar. 31st, 2007 12:12 am (UTC)
Grand Lodge 2


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autokrater
autokrater
Metallic Lampshade
Sat, Mar. 31st, 2007 12:26 am (UTC)

yeah andrea crews is maybe the only interesting fashion thing i have seen in awhile


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pay_option07
pay_option07
Sat, Mar. 31st, 2007 01:50 am (UTC)
fashion gold

It is a definite advantage to do a hair show with the clothing. Hair people are trippy and then you'll have relational aesthetics.


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obelia
obelia
Oliver Jellyfish Twist
Sat, Mar. 31st, 2007 01:52 am (UTC)

some of these items are hilarious, some are incredibly disgusting (I see little humour in the widow), their saving grace is the notion that it's all done for a bit of a lark and I don't hate them at all.

Sometimes being stared at and judged due to your 'peculiar dress' is annoying though, and one can never discount the challenge of wearing banal mass-market clothing in a different manner- what makes my a4 sheet of white paper better than yours? It's sort of like guerrilla dressing. I do it often with clothing from my workplace. At most, if the workmates see their familiar signage, they ask if it is a design from one of our overseas siblings ('no! it is from the Australian range!') and I watch them totter off muttering in confusion and blank disbelief.

At that price point, the clothes Andreas Crews sell are definitely nothing special though. :(. Who do you know, like and respect, can afford to purchase something from Andreas Crews, and not be on a diet of water and sloppy gruel for the next few weeks ? As much as I like it, fashion is stupid and fickle, like our minds. $AUD8 is my limit for clothing, and for that, i damn better be getting some old school embroidery, silk or metallic fabrication. $AUD12 if I know that certain fabric is no longer manufactured anywhere in the world.
Those special buys' are once a year.
Ofcourse, I am also the addle-brain who thinks nothing of spending $350 on a couple of metres of fabric. Just because it's nice. Infact, I tend to weigh things against the wholesale price of silk organza - "Hmmm I could purchase these boots for he low price of $40, or i could buy 3.5m of silk organza..."
That piece of information sort of voids all my opinions doesn't it? hahaha.




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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Mar. 31st, 2007 03:56 am (UTC)

Dandies don't hitch their values to the gold standard, but the organza standard! Nice!


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zzberlin
zzberlin
hh
Sat, Mar. 31st, 2007 03:53 am (UTC)

I'm going to have nightmares about that person with the large pink bat, but that unpleasantness will be offset by imagining myself in the fabulous green cowlneck, where can I get one of those?! jk, couldn't afford it : )


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akabe
akabe
alin huma
Sat, Mar. 31st, 2007 06:39 am (UTC)

post-modernism folded upon itself. neutralized.

the green piece is really nice.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Mar. 31st, 2007 11:15 am (UTC)

I think I love the bride best.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Mar. 31st, 2007 11:20 am (UTC)

And actually, I'm amazed nobody has yet uttered the word "Electroclash". Because that would be the surest put-down. But I think there's more going on here, because Paris has more than that up its sleeve. Paris has a world culture, it has Africa, it has the Islamic world, it has Norman chivalry (visible in the green piece everyone liked). So it does a lot more than your standard Electroclash Williamsburger or Prenzlauerberger would do with 80s style. I'd say this is one of the reasons I love what's happened to electronic pop music in Paris too -- the whole Active Suspension thing mixes predictable Anglo-Saxon influences with stuff -- an attitude, a way of combining things -- that you could only find in Paris.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Mar. 31st, 2007 11:24 am (UTC)

(Also: look at the number of veils in this collection, and think of the huge French political debate around la voile. Are they connected? Of course they are. A political debate about a "right not to be veiled" or "no right to be veiled" has been turned around into a trend for veils, and a recuperation of Western veils, like the widow's one.)


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electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Sat, Mar. 31st, 2007 01:19 pm (UTC)

Clearly balaclavas are the future of fashion.


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zzberlin
zzberlin
hh
Sat, Mar. 31st, 2007 04:04 pm (UTC)

Are you John Cale?


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Mar. 31st, 2007 06:16 pm (UTC)
mess

about time old chap!


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la_belle_poupee
la_belle_poupee
la belle poupee
Sat, Mar. 31st, 2007 08:24 pm (UTC)

oh so pretty


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Mar. 31st, 2007 08:39 pm (UTC)

I wanted to say one more thing, which for me personally is very important (maybe tomorrow I'll go into why), which is that Andrea Crews shares something with Palais de Tokyo architects Lacaton and Vassal.

"For Lacaton, 90% of what you need to make a building is already present on the site. In Africa they learned from people’s resourcefulness and how existing materials are endlessly used, reused and hybridised with very little waste."


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zzberlin
zzberlin
hh
Sun, Apr. 1st, 2007 03:06 am (UTC)
my latest fashion statement

I've stopped zipping my pants. I pee a lot, and operating zippers takes too much of my precious time. I wear underwear, so this is not exactly scandalous, but people always look at me funny when they tell me my fly is undone and I'm like yah thanks


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zzberlin
zzberlin
hh
Sun, Apr. 1st, 2007 03:10 am (UTC)
also diapers

Brought to the forefront of fashion's sensibility by that crazy NASA chick. But lots of women pee a little when they cough or laugh too hard and then there's the trapeze. When I fall into the net on the trapeze, I almost always piss myself. I started wearing a plain white dinner napkin stuffed in my pants for trapeze and am now thinking that not only can I wear it all the time, I can use part of it to fluff out my flat rear end

So what I want is a high fashion (disposable?) diaper that has a connected piece that makes your rear end rounder

I think I missed my calling, software development is so tedious compared to fashion fantasy


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