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Monday, November 12, 2012

Fringe and Syringes: EMP's Worn to Be Wild

Posted by on Mon, Nov 12, 2012 at 11:15 AM

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The black leather motorcycle jacket "reads as cultural shorthand for cool," insists the EMP's press release for its Worn to Be Wild exhibition, happening now. But really, not many of us could pull one off, apart from Capitol Hill's Lather Daddy Laundry's mascot, anyway: the husky soap bubble with a mustache and S&M captain cap. But it has no actual body, and that presents some obvious obstacles. So let's go with the guy in the jeans, the heavy-metal concert tee, and the black tricornered leather hat encrusted with silver skull pins witnessed slow-dancing to Scorpions' "Wind of Change" in the poolroom of Greenwood's Yen Wor Garden a couple weeks ago. And I guess Lemmy can wear one, too, and grumpy aunts. But that's it.

Now let's get back to the exhibition, which begins with '20s-era utilitarian automobile wear, then the WWII bomber jackets, and then other vintage examples of the motorcycle jacket morphing into its classic shape. To accommodate the biking posture, the fit is bizarre: pitched-forward arms, longer sleeves and back, and extra room between the shoulder blades. And the snug chest, built-in waist belt, and snap closures everywhere cockblock unsavory road effects, such as the garment billowing, climbing up, or willy-nilly flapping in the wild, wild winds.

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