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By Marc Porter Zasada
HERE IN THE METROPOLIS, we say that fashion leads to attitude. If I buy a long, cinematic frock coat and begin wearing sunglasses at night, it doesn't mean I'll become cruel and impassive -- but it helps. If a woman wraps herself in yards of liquid silk, it doesn't make her aloof and unapproachable -- but it helps. And if a young buck swaggers down the street in chains and low-hanging pants, it doesn't make him touchy and dangerous -- but it definitely helps.
Over time, who can resist the personality of his own clothes? In fact, the Urban Man has long wondered if he could actually change the tenor of the city just by changing the way people dress.
I knew I'd have to start small...maybe with an Irish cap. I thought: Can a man be cruel when he's wearing a flat Irish cap? Can he be impassive? Wouldn't you expect him to be a little friendlier? Even good-hearted?
Once I starting thinking this way, I decided to launch an Irish cap movement. I read that book, The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell and learned that if you influence a few key people at a few key events, you can set a wildfire. So I began by wearing a stylish grey Irish cap to a Democratic fundraiser last fall, when some hip young writers were in town.
It sparked no noticeable wildfire, but lately I've upped the ante. When I went to the opening night party for the Malibu Film Festival last month, I took along another friend who owns an Irish cap.
In a town focused on attitude over substance, you won't be surprised to hear the party was not in Malibu, and none of the screenings took place in Malibu. But the party was outside by a pool, and they did decorate with surfboards and tiki torches.
Irish caps might seem out of place in such a setting, but as we stood in line with women shivering in strapless gowns and men primping short moussed hair, I saw many admiring glances. I'm sure folks wondered: "Am I missing an important new trend? Aren't there a lot of caps in Scorsese pictures?" I had promised my friend a real Hollywood party, but we saw few celebrities that night. Instead, we targeted people with high cheekbones and independent filmmakers wearing rectangular black frame glasses. And yes, when we hit the bar, a lady in a beaded top did strike up a conversation by saying she "really liked my hat."
The evening climaxed with a beachwear fashion show complete with a runway and colored lights. Despite a chilly breeze, the music rose to introduce women trying hard to look somehow unavailable in tiny bikinis. These were followed by young men trying to appear slightly bored in baggy trunks decorated with the latest primitive symbols.
Me, I found myself watching the eyes of these young men -- boys, really -- and I was encouraged to see that even though they had the requisite scraggled blond hair, perfect bodies and tattoos, they actually looked pretty uncertain in their assigned role as chic hellraisers.
Like so many living uneasily on the line between fashion and real life here, I think they actually seemed a little nervous and a little cold.
As he applauded, the Urban Man thought: "if only I could get these lads some Irish caps."
Copyright - 2005 Marc Porter Zasada, all rights reserved.
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