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Tuesday , December 14, 2010
Style Icon: Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead
When I first moved to New York many moons ago, I wandered around the city a lot in little black boots and dark rinse A.P.C. jeans I had bought as sort of fashion insurance for myself at the time. (It worked: they went with everything.) I held a series of freelance jobs and felt incredibly insecure about nearly every facet of my life, not just my finances. I saved up to buy clothes at the old Steven Alan outlet in the East Village; back then girls wore bright little kerchiefs in their hair and knee-length patterned skirts, and they skimmed along the summer sidewalks in Dr. Scholls or those black mule-type shoes with a raised platform heel. Sometimes I was sad and lonely; sometimes I was excited and exhilarated. Often I found myself on a rooftop somewhere looking at the skyline of New York, marveling at how I was actually here. I went dancing at a sort of mod club on 13th Street that played a lot of northern soul and 60s garage, and I was often in love, usually with someone tantalizingly distant or gobsmackingly inappropriate. Everything felt like a great adventure, and I was sort of waiting to figure out what kind of person I was becoming. I was kind of hoping to meet her somewhere along the way, I suppose.
Throughout my little travels in the city, I often saw Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead out and about, living her life like any other person. I think I saw her at an Unwound show at Brownies or Tramps or some place like that; once I saw her wearing Dries Van Noten somewhere, maybe at the Cooler when it was still open? (Ah, the Cooler; how I miss that place, even though it was always so fucking hot in there.) I saw her at Film Forum once with Amedeo from Blonde Redhead; and sometimes I'd see her in Nolita or the West Village, coming out of Cafe Le Gamin or something. Not see her in a stalker way, but in that way where New York seems really small and almost provincial because you see the same people everywhere -- in that nice way when you know you really live in a city. I came to think of her like my fairytale almost-neighbor, not just an indie rock musician whose work I happened to love. In those days of great uncertainty and inchaote longing, seeing her semi-periodically was like a reassurance that whatever strange path I was on must be good if she's floating around it.
Kazu was never the most loudly stylish person in the room, but your eye lingered on her when you saw her, and she always seemed so elusive and self-contained, almost in her own world. And, to me, that is the most appealing aspect to evoke in matters of style: a private, mysterious universe where gestures have secret meanings, where things are worn to illuminate tiny, jewel-like facets of a hidden fantasy that is hinted at but never made explicit. It is a take on style that keeps its secrets close to its chest. So she wears lots of Mayle and her apartment's been featured in Domino in all its discreetly romantic, gentle glory. Those are all nice things. I still like it best when I see her in the corner of a room, whispering in someone's ear, out in the world but really in her own. I always want to be completely uncool and say something when I see her. But then I remember that I'm on my own way somewhere else, looking for what I still look for and will probably spend all the years of my life seeking. Which, of course, no one ever finds, because who ever stops growing -- both in and out of clothes, and in and out of lives?
And of course this entry would not be complete unless there was evidence of Kazu's graceful stage presence. Blonde Redhead playing "In Particular" at McCarren Park Pool last year:
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