After (insert here) days in solitude, you may have a pretty finite idea of what’s important. Or, at least, a clearer idea. On a micro-scale: getting dressed is likely to have fallen off the priority list at some/every point. (With nobody around, who's really judging?) On a macro scale, when there is so much pain and confusion around us it’s understandable to question how clothing, and luxury, fits into this jigsaw puzzle. But, for those who ridicule fashion or dismiss it as frivolous, I give you Articles of Interest.
Essentially, it’s a podcast about what we wear. And why that’s important. It’s fun, funny, digestible and highly informative (featuring original field reporting and interviews with experts), and finishing each episode feels like a manifestation of that Miranda Priestly speech (“Oh, OK. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you…”). “I wanted to make a fashion show for non-fashion people,” AOC podcast host Avery Trufelman explains. “I wanted to give fashion design its moment in the sun on our program, right up there with graphic design and industrial design [she also works as a producer on Roman Mars’ design podcast, 99% invisible] and all the arts that are considered more serious or more consequential.” Season one interrogates everything from denim, punk style to the politics of pockets. The highly anticipated second season – which launched this month - explores luxury. With episodes gleaning insight into how high fashion dolls inspired hope in post-war Paris to knockoff culture. Here, Avery shares some lessons she’s learned along the way while making the podcast.
“I'm not going to pretend I'm doing anything close to essential work. But the theme of the second season is Luxury, and in a weird way, the timing is perfect. Because Luxury was already so far removed from normal life: no one can actually relate to the poreless lithe bodies in evening gowns. The point is to set fire to your imagination. It's escapist fantasy. And that ignites desire and covetousness in a way that can be dangerous, but it can also be a buoyant and uplifting force. The first episode of season two is actually about how luxury and fashion helped revive Paris after the end of the Nazi occupation. Glamour and luxury are forces that are not to be dismissed. And ultimately, they key into our more basic desires for love, approval, and security.”
“I wasn't particularly into fashion when I started this thing. Or I thought I wasn't. Everyone secretly cares. It's very much like food- maybe you're not a "foodie" but you certainly have tastes and things you like or dislike or have moods for. And I learned that it's important to pay attention to that. Also, very similar to food, there are a lot of complicated ethics of consumption that I wasn't aware of (listen to the Blue Jeans episode to find out more). After season one, I pretty much stopped shopping all together and fashion left a terrible taste in my mouth. Oddly enough, season two led me back into an open-minded fascination with clothing. I mean, the whole series is just kind of a torrent of fun facts, but I think the first one that we start season one with, is the way that the loom led to the advent of the computer. Fashion has influenced so much of world history, from the creation of the Silk Road to the construction of American slavery to meet demand for cotton. And I know I'm only barely scratching the surface.”
“It was definitely hard to convince people to listen. But I cannot tell you how many people tweet at me something along the lines of "wow I never thought I would care about fashion" and that is everything. That is exactly why I do what I do. Because at the end of the day, these are just really interesting stories. I wouldn't be telling them if I didn't think they could stand on their own. I definitely have an agenda, which is to make people notice their clothes, but I don't want it to feel like work. My goal is to make a show that feels fun and light but stays lingering with you for a while. A spoon full of sugar, you know?”
Want to hear more? Listen to season one and two of Articles of Interest at 99percentinvisible