Fourteen years in the past, Brooklyn-based author and artist Emily Spivack was scouring eBay for a pair of classic heels when she stumbled upon a Playboy bunny outfit replete with all the long-lasting accoutrements: puff tail, bunny ears, stockings. And accompanying it was an ID of its proprietor — a lady who had worn it within the ’50s or ’60s. Who was she? What was her story? Something clicked — a light-bulb second — that prompted Spivack to begin digging for extra tales. Six years later, she had collected about 600. (Unfortunately, the Playboy lady stays a thriller to this present day.)
Spivack herself remembers peering into her closet and remembering the recollections inextricably linked to every garment. “I had this interest in stories that are connected to pieces of clothing, and I wanted to collect them before they disappeared,” she instructed SWF. “I realized that clothing was an overlooked storytelling device, and you can access someone’s life through the clothes they wear.”
With that in thoughts, Spivack began writing a few of her personal sartorially pushed tales, however she knew all of them — so she tapped her family and friends (shocked to be regaled by tales she had by no means heard earlier than) after which expanded her outreach to cultural figures, random folks on Craigslist, and others she admired. She documented these as-told-to accounts on-line, however her dream was all the time to have them archived and certain in a guide, which arrived in 2014 as Worn Stories, then once more in 2017 as Worn in New York. Now, Netflix has turned her anthology right into a docuseries of the identical title, Worn Stories, now streaming.
“You can access someone’s life through the clothes they wear.”
“Quite a few of the stories from the book wind up in the show,” she mentioned. “But they’re told in a different way, using some fantastical re-creations, animation, and archival material.”
The sequence is organized thematically, with episodes that includes 4 essential tales with separate microstories sprinkled all through. The first episode, titled “Community,” satirically spotlights a pair who aren’t carrying something in any respect. “I hate clothes; they’re terrible,” quips Diane, who lives in a nudist colony along with her husband. “It’s so much better being totally naked.”
But why nudists? “It sets the stage for us to think about what we’re saying through the clothes we wear — and the clothing we deliberately decide not to wear,” Spivack defined. “We all have such different relationships with our clothing — it could be something to hide behind for some, like Diane, and it could do the opposite and establish your identity, like Ernie Glam as a club kid in the ’90s (episode three, ‘Beginnings’). It’s amazing that clothes can do that.”
The tales vary from gentle and facetious to poignant and heartfelt (warning: episode two, “Lost and Found,” is an actual tear-jerker), spotlighting clothes which might be each lovely — and fantastically preserved — or beat-up, decades-old on a regular basis objects.
“We all have such different relationships with our clothing.”
“I like taking things that are commonplace and looking at them through a different lens,” Spivack mentioned, pointing to Simon Doonan’s biker shorts in episode seven, “Survival,” for example. “What does it say about who we are individually or collectively?” To another individual, they may appear like an strange pair of shorts, however by means of a special lens — or extra exactly, by means of Doonan’s lens — they signify the cultural historical past of Los Angeles within the ’80s and the AIDS epidemic, on the peak of the aerobics craze. “Clothes are what separate our bodies from the experiences we have out in the world, and our experiences then get mapped onto the clothes we wear.”
Because of those experiences, garments have a outstanding, transportive potential to mark a second in time. And it is already evident how a lot the pandemic has formed our affiliation with sure clothes: PPE as safety or sweats as consolation clothes. Spivack hopes that, in postpandemic occasions, we’ll view clothes in a celebratory means, however her greatest want is for us to acknowledge the tales we see in our closets and be drawn to carrying sure clothes due to them.
“This is a show about telling stories through the clothes we wear,” Spivack mentioned. “It shows us the unexpected connections we have to one another, and hopefully we can bring those into the world.”
Keep scrolling to see a few of our favourite stills from Worn Stories, now streaming on Netflix.