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Thursday, March 11, 2010
Midway through “Imagine: John Lennon,” the 1988 documentary, Lennon and his new bride, Yoko Ono, are seen prancing through a London airport clad in matching white pantsuits. As “The Ballad of John and Yoko” plays in the background — the tune in which Lennon bemoans that he and Ono are criticized for looking like “two gurus in drag” — viewers get a glimpse of a media-savvy peacock. The world’s constant gaze was clearly wearying for Lennon, but that was O.K. because he didn’t always take himself seriously. He knew how to have a good time and how to work a look.
“He embodied the idea that the personal is political and demonstrated a fearless commitment to his ever-changing vision,” says the music journalist Alan Light. “He was willing to look silly, to reveal himself, to be guided by passion. He wore glasses.”
Nearly 30 years after his death, “the ultimate, uncompromising pop artist” as Light describes him, is still everywhere. In Sam Taylor-Wood’s hotly anticipated new biopic, “Nowhere Boy,” a very young Lennon is seen trying out Buddy Holly glasses and defining the style that would inspire a million mod mop-tops, not to mention pointy black boots. Thom Browne used the title song from 1968’s “Yellow Submarine” (which will soon get a Robert Zemeckis big-screen remake) in the soundtrack of his spring show. Dries Van Noten had vibrant, Eastern-inspired prints that brought to mind Lennon’s global nomad period. And his boho ’70s shag haircut and vintage army jackets continue to resonate with aspiring rock stars — cue Liam Gallagher, the Oasis singer whose line of parkas and urban gear made its debut last year.
It would be nice to think that the current fascination with Lennon is something more than a fleeting infatuation with his aesthetic. In a culture obsessed with irony and hollow celebrity, Lennon’s talent and earnestness — not to mention his strident political views and penchant for grand gestures, like taking out ads for peace — make him a figure worthy of being celebrated, even copied. Still, one can picture Lennon amused by a discussion of his fashion legacy. Not only was he at one time the most famous person in the world (sorry, Jesus), but he was also the weirdest. “I’m not going to change the way I look or the way I feel to conform to anything,” Lennon once announced. “I’ve always been a freak.”
via L4e / NY Times Blog
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