Do the clothes make the man? At StyleLikeU, we spend most of our time trying to suss out the connection between the clothes our subjects wear and who they really are as people. Most every time, we find that the threads worn by our muses often have meaning far beyond pure aesthetics. Indeed, we often find that each thing a person puts on their bodies, from socks to an ornate headdress, is there to make an important statement about the wearer to the world. So just how entwined are what we wear on the outside with who we really are on the inside? SLU’s new “Second Skin” feature puts our conceit about our clothes’ self-expressive abilities to the test. Do you still feel like you when draped in another’s garb? How it would really feel to walk a mile in another man’s shoes (or shorts or skirts or dominatrix whip)?
Dani Baum is not a conservative dresser by any means, nor is she the kind of person who sets strict rules for what she likes to wear each day (see: Jane Belfry). In fact, Dani’s looks can range from something resembling one of the fly girls on “In Living Color” one day to a film noir-style femme fatale the next. Says Dani, “It takes a lot to faze me… for me to actually feel different, it would have to be a pretty big change…” When Dani goes for a look, she really goes for it. She is an actress, so she dresses as if she is getting into character and holds no punches – side ponytails, ultra red geisha-inspired lips etc. There is a playful candor to the way Dani dresses herself. She takes her clothing seriously, but it’s also clear that fun and whimsy are important to her when she gets dressed. Her looks are never what one would consider subtle, and the same can be said of Kayvon Zand. While perhaps a kindred spirit of Dani’s in terms of pushing a look to an extreme, Kayvon is the opposite of her in terms of his rules for dressing himself. As a lifestyle artist whose costumes are integral to his identity and message, Kayvon abides by a strict code of dress, and each piece he owns fits seamlessly into a unified aesthetic. Largely a political statement against the strict laws of Iran, his country of origin, Kayvon’s looks include tight, patent leather corsets, black leather tights, powder white skin, and beautiful, ornate, feather-laden shoulder pieces that conjure up images of Queen Elizabeth I if she went goth. There is a very serious and thoughtful tone to what Kayvon wears, far from Dani’s endearing aesthetic frivolity.
So what happens when Dani dresses as Kayvon and takes a trip to Times Square? Nothing short of tears, shortness of breath, immobility, and ultimately deeper understanding. Watch above. – Louis Mandelbaum