I struggled for a long time to decide who would be the focus of my entry for the You’ll Never Be This Cool meme on IBC. My first instinct was “black people” because cool was invented by black people back in the 40s when Chuck Berry turned to his cell-mate and said “The blues should be louder and faster.”
But if you don’t put confidence in my made-up illustrative anecdote then instead you can believe all the linguists and historians who figured out through years of research and study that black people did, in fact, invent cool.
But whatever I am not really interested in perpetuating the idea of the magical black person who is naturally cool. Black people are not naturally cool, it’s just that a lot of stuff people think is cool originated in black sub cultures. I have a very vague, half-academic half-high-horse, definitely half-baked theory about the reasons for this that involves the notions of white guilt, black resilience, and Michael Jackson, but that is for another day.
Today is PRINCE day. Because no matter what, you will never be as cool as Prince. The bay area is currently subsumed with Purple Fever, as his Royal Badness is in town playing sold-out shows at Oracle Arena in Oakland.
I was lucky enough to be able to spend my fix-my-truck money on tickets to the Monday night show. I did not bring my camera, which I regretted, because there was some fashion in the will-call line that really should have been documented. There was a girl in booty shorts and a black sequined hoodie with eyelashes out to there who looked like she just graduated from the Grace Jones school of SICKNESS.
But whatever. I didn’t bring my camera on purpose, because it is inside my smartphone, and one thing I did NOT want to do was miss the Prince show because I was too busy updating my status about being at the fucking Prince show. Which I saw a lot of people doing, btw. People standing less than 20 feet away from that little gorgeous blessed man and watching him through their cameras.
Dear digital documenters: There is likely someone at the show being paid to take images of far better quality than what you can muster with your blackberry. Take memories now, enjoy the professional pictures later. Like this one:
Are you cool enough to wear a gold silk ruffled shirt open chested in front of 20k people? Would they scream your name? Didn’t think so.
How about Gold Sequins From HEAD to TOE and blingy ear cuffs?
Do you have an iconic look? Purple + Shiny+ Ruffles = Prince. And check out that super modern collar necklace. I’ve seen similar on runways of late. No surprise there, as Prince has been known to show up at Fashion Week now and again. Here he is at Paris FW in 2009:
No, that is not Rhianna, that is Prince!! I’m pretty sure this is on the set from the Chanel S/S 2010 show where the theme was Green Acres.
Again, that is NOT Rihanna. That is Prince in Paris. Prince has always had a signature look, but he goes through fazes within that look. I LOVE the deep-v with giant arty/blingy necklace iteration of the last few years.
Another Iconic Prince look is the high collar. He’s rocking it in the pic from Paris Fashion Week above, as well as the H2T gold sequin number. I like it best when he’s doing a pirate or edwardian thing.
Edwardian!! In this interview with Tavis Smiley, Prince rocks a shiny white silk shirt with a high collar and matching tone on tone tie. What’s hilarious is that while he’s sitting there wearing that, he talks about how he used to be flashy earlier in his career. HA!
I like Prince’s iconic high collar look less when it’s a turtleneck. Compared to pirate and edwardian it just feels a little lazy. But Prince can do whatever the fuck he wants. You will never be cool enough to wear a shiny turtleneck with bell sleeves emblazoned with an artists rendering of yourself and still have people refer to you as God on a regular basis. Not a God. But GOD. In the week of Purple Fever since Prince announced the shows, I have heard no less than 5 people refer to him as GOD. True Story.
Another look Prince has been rocking of late is Boho Bling. Check it:
Blingy Dashiki!! Prince is a Goddamn Hippie!! As a Norcal native with an inescapable inner hippie, and a blingy baby of the hip-hop generation, I salute this look.
Ok this look is more Eastern-Inspired but Hippies are into that stuff. Hippies like Prince.
In the mid 80s, Prince went through a naked phase. For a “More is More” kinda guy, this is significant.
Ok, Prince is kinda the hottest dyke I’ve ever seen. Which reminds me that I’ve gotten really far into this post without talking about gender once — and honestly, I kinda don’t want to. I mean duh, Prince is totally gender transcendent, to borrow a phrase from my lovely IBC cohort Page McBee.
The thing is, he’s so totally gender transcendent and so genuinely so – that he’s just Prince. I don’t look at Prince and see a political performance, I just see Prince. Oh shut up, I know it’s a political performance whether he intends it to be or not, but like Emma Goldman said, If I can’t dance, I don’t want to come to your Prince & The Revolution.
You will never be this cool.