While cruising Brooklyn galleries last weekend looking for information and inspiration, I notice now that spring has sprung the Fedora fetish has come to life with a frenzy! It’s everywhere and anywhere, that little straw hat with the black band perched slightly sideways on heads roaming the streets of Nyc , and particularly dominantly Brooklyn. It’s positioned on hat heads, meaning the head that’s genetically made for a hat, and unfortunately on non hat heads as well. That’s unfortunate. But it does give the hipster look to the non hipster who craves that appeal. Easy. Just put a fedora on and boom! You are a hipster, except now it’s become tired. Used to be the artsy types sporting a fedora with the cocky self assured confidence of the innovator style setter. But that was 2 years ago and now it’s still hanging on with a vengeance but lacking the nouveau allure it had in its infancy.
Some lucky people can work the fedora with swag but the ones who fail give the fedora a bad name . So why do it? In the art Soho days of the 70’s when art was dirty and kind of the way it is supposed to be, nobody would have been caught dead wearing a fedora. Waaaay too affected pretentious and downright silly. But in the Soho of past days, guys wore a lot of hair and girls did too. Remember the Broadway show HAIR? To hide your flowing locks with a straw hat would have been shameful and counter productive! Hair was to be seen in all of its glory – as the artists covered the battered lofts of downtown with their newest inspiration and the subways and walls of Manhattan with the graffiti tags that made them street worthy artists like Basquiet, Haring and Warhol.
Warhol, Mr. Pop himself, never wore a hat. Hair identified him along with the Campbell’s soup can and his ubiquitous dollar signs. Lou Reed in a fedora? I don’t Think so!
But today it’s all about about a Fedora! That snappy down in the front and up in the back look that defines the hat is ambiguous at first glance but historically Sarah Bernhardt played Princess Fedora in a play written for her by Sardou in 1889. Being a cross dresser Bernhardt sported the fedora with style and finesse. Great! Michael Jackson often wore one while performing, and it’s also been as a favorite for gangsters in cinema and otherwise. But today it’s become commonplace by its complete lack of individuality and indiscretion by those who choose to wear one. Like anything too much becomes boring ,overplay, overkill, which causes stagnancy and then proceeds to die a slow death. The attention span of the typical person is brief. Who knows whether or not Warhol would be the icon he is today if he had not suffered an early death and assassination attempt in his prime? I cannot imagine pop art masters Rosenquist, Wesselmann, and Rauschenberg strolling the streets with a fedora on their heads. These were men making crazy innovative art! The fedora just wouldn’t cut it.
Hipsters have a fashion look that’s obvious. Too obvious. Trouble is that it’s all the same. The artists are copycats, paper doll cut outs where one can be exchanged for another. Patti Smith was one of a kind as were Blondie, Iggy, Basquiat, and the rest of the crew who hung at Max’ Kansas City back in the day. There were no mass reproductions and their art reflected that fact.
That’s how art develops – in a wildness where people choose their OWN look without the need to regurgitate a fad lacking individuality or unique choice.
So can we give the fedora a rest? Let it go.
Just. Let. It. Go.