It’s been a week since the CFDA Awards, yet I can’t stop thinking about my two unexpected favorite guests at what many call the Oscars of the fashion industries. The first was Seth Meyers, who did a fabulous job hosting the night’s festivities. (My two favorite one liners? “We all know fashion people love hating things more than they like liking things,” and when he said that Karl Lagerfeld was working on a TV show called “Are you fatter than a fifth grader?”) But the second, more long lasting impression was John Waters, the cult film director and couture weirdo. Whereas Meyers had some questionable moments, like his jab at the Dior kafuffle (“They go together like bar mitzvahs and Galliano”), Waters was the consummate gentleman. In an odd coincidence, both Rei Kawakubo and Johnny Depp, the recipients of the International and Fashion Icon Awards from the CFDA, who could not attend the ceremony, sent Waters to accept their awards on their behalf. And he did a splendid job. He was irreverent, eloquent and downright funny. Here are some of the best bits from his acceptance speeches.
John Waters on Rei Kawakubo:
On her absence at the awards: “She couldn’t be here tonight because, I Imagine, she is locked in a self-imposed deconstructed cell, like the St. Theresa of fashion, massacring hemlines for next season’s no dimensional outfits that will be mocked, brilliantly reviewed and worn by the brave.” On the irony that is spending so much money on her designs: “Only you know you spent money when you wear Rei’s creations. In fact, some of the more fashion impaired public actually feel sorry for us.” “Rei Kawakubo gives us undercover glamour. We know how great her clothes look, but others just think we’re poor.” On the lasting power of her designs: “Rei Kawakubo’s work is never funny, but her wit is so ferocious, so elegant, so scary, and sometimes even so ridiculous that her customers never have buyer’s remorse. How could they feel that they overspent when they look so courageous, cult like, superior, and even slightly insane every time they get dressed in one of her outfits?”
John Waters on Johnny Depp, which was the first time the CFDA gave the fashion icon to a man:
On his ability to make nonchalance look like high fashion: “The star who made dirty hair fashionable. A friend who not only has the finest career of any American actor, but also has fashion balls. Johnny Depp never tries too hard. He’s a self confessed hillbilly, a high school drop out, a reformed hotel suite vandal, and he can’t ugly no matter how hard he tries.” On his knack for wearing a plethora of necklaces, bracelets, belts and whatever else he can get his hands on: “Johnny Depp is the ultimate accessory queen too.” On keeping his original look: “Who else features filthy work boots with black tie? Here’s a man who could don the uniform from his first job at a gas station and still look cooler than anybody in Hollywood.” On his innate sense of fashion: “Style comes naturally for Mr. Depp. The man can’t help it.”
In the week since the CFDA Awards, I’ve been nostalgic for Waters’ works. Watching one’s first Waters film is a right of passage for any disenfranchised or curious young person. I can remember the first time I saw the original Hairspray, and had no idea that Ricky Lake, who I only knew as a TV host, has a whole life as a chubby cult icon. (And yes, I love the new Hairspray too, even it’s much more saccharine and family friendly.) I remember the first time I saw Crybaby, and fell in love with Johnny Depp in newer, deeper, darker ways. (Ha!) And I can remember the first time I saw Serial Mom, and laughed so hard and felt so good that there was someone so weird out there creating things. In a fit of nostalgia and appreciation, I present the trailers for those three films.
Crybaby (1990): A hillbilly and rockabilly modern telling of Romeo & Juliet set in Puritanical 1950s. The film is not only ridiculous and amusing, there are amazing cameos. Iggy Pop plays Johnny Depp’s Dad, and Traci Lords (yes, that Traci Lords) has a movie role where she keeps her top on.
Hairspray (1988): Waters’ favorite transexual actress plays a homebody mother in Philadelphia who’s daughter skips school to audition for a guest spot on a local TV show. What follows is fabulous dancing, huge hair and, interestingly enough, the desegregation of a local community.
Serial Mom (1994): This is the amusing, ridiculous tale of a suburban housewife who’s a subconscious killer. Kathleen Turner is brilliant in the title role, and Patty Hearst’s participation as a jury member who dares to wear white shoes after Labor Day sealed her fate as a gay icon.