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May 20, 2012

Monochrome Men

Approved by the King of Monochrome himself

Venture into the men's grooming section of a typical store and you will find that the vast majority of men's skin and hair care products are packaged with the same sober, manly colors: gunmetal grey, bleak black and minimalist white with the occasional daring forays into colors such as navy blue and Chernobyl orange, the latter two colors suggestive of the ruggedly manly endeavors of military service and donning a radiation suit to heroically battle through clouds of radioactive smoke respectively. Contrast this to the women's grooming section, where you will find near-identical products packaged in a much broader and vibrant spectrum of colors ranging from delicate pastels to vivid jewel tones. Indeed, somewhere along the passage of time, the culturally normative ideal of masculinity in the Western world has shifted from the colorfully bewigged, ruffled and powdered aristos of old world Europe (think Louis XIV, or perhaps the Swiss Guard) to the comparatively far more drab dudebro-type creature today. This is perhaps indicative of how far we as a species have diverged from our animal kin, as it is the males of the animal kingdom that tend towards biological ornamentation (e.g. the peacock vs. the peahen). Exactly how and why this shift has occurred is best left as a subject for another blog, but what I'd always enjoyed about figure skating was the fact that it was a rare exception to the contemporary sea of male drabness, where a man could wear something like this on a mainstream international public broadcast and still be taken (somewhat) seriously:


There have been times, however, I've wondered if the tides have turned and that the majority of men in figure skating have indeed plunged into the dreary sea of black, stony grey, black, olive brown, black, navy blue and black that is pervasive in so many other sports and other spheres of life. For example, consider the following examples from this season:
















....and so on. Alas, in terms of color, there are times when it feels like I'm watching C-SPAN more than a figure skating competition. Of course, all this sartorial sobriety in skating is not necessarily a bad thing--Beelzebub knows how long figure skating has struggled to be taken seriously when its participants were gliding around dressed as giraffes, hicks and other assorted oddities. Yet insofar as figure skating is more circuses than bread when it comes to mass appeal, I suspect that I am far from the only one who secretly enjoys the spectacle and pageantry of more flamboyant costuming choices. Well, I suppose that's all the more reason to start watching more ice dance next season, especially with the Yankee Polka selected as the short dance pattern. 

10 comments:

  1. One of those great posts that transcend figure skating and venture into the sphere of cultural observations. I enjoy those very much. Thank you, and let me tell you, Mr. Morozombie, you never cease to amaze me with your prolific and very articulate posting.

    Onto the subject. Of course, there is the well known fact that if you're not sure what to wear you can always default back to black and it'll look at least ok. But then again, in terms of accepting an image of successful tier 1 flamboyance, how much can we expect from a sport where it would probably cause an uproar of epic proportions if a male skater wore anything other than black skates.

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    1. Thank you, Anon! Your kind words are a good incentive for me to deal with the backlog of half-formed posts and ideas I have in mind. Unfortunately I am very lazy when I'm not busy (it's a miracle this blog has lasted this long, honestly) so it's nice to have some good feedback to stroke my ego, haha.

      "how much can we expect from a sport where it would probably cause an uproar of epic proportions if a male skater wore anything other than black skates." - Alas, so true, so true. I long for the day when a male skater will have the freedom to wear lavender skates à la Pasha Grishuk!

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    2. You're very welcome, Mr. Morozombie. I usually don't bother leaving positive comments but I reckoned without feedback even the most ambitious blogger might ultimately succumb to the boredom of one-sided communication. As I really approve of what you are putting out here, it would be a shame if this blog ceased to exist.

      I also want to communicate my hopes to you that you will at least stay around until after the Sochi Olympics. Those events are usually very demanding on my psyche and I would be thankful for a good blog to see it through with me. So you see, every praise I can offer to you springs ultimately from my selfish desire for opinionated entertainment and a larger perspective that helps me deal with the myriad kinds of madness that skating has to offer.

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    3. I love feedback in all forms, whether positive or negative! Your kind words are very much appreciated.

      And I too also hope I will be able to continue writing on this blog, but to be honest, its future is going to be quite nebulous starting next season. I do enjoy writing about figure skating but I unfortunately will probably not have much time to blog starting this summer. I will try to maintain the blog to the best of my abilities, but there's only 24 hours in a day.....

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  2. Another AnonymousMay 20, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    Does Yuzuru Hanyu get extra points from you for his (relatively) bright plumage? On the flip side, I prefer Mr. Amodio in black if the alternative is his trashy tiger getup.

    Johnny Weir's comeback might help with the monochrome problem.

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    1. I do like the blue ombré of Mr. Hanyu's SP costume, though I think the draping, etc., can be improved somewhat as he looks a bit too skinny in the costume sometimes.

      I refuse to approve of Mr. Amodio's all-black costume for his LP because I have a paranoid suspicion that he only wore the drastically different costume to try to convince the audience/judges that his LP is substantially new and improved. At least the trashy tiger outfit matched the LP in terms of quality....

      Johnny Weir's comeback may indeed help with the monochrome problem, but it may be counter-balanced by the possibility of Evan Lysacek coming back (not like I think he actually will but I'm growing more paranoid everyday).

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  3. I don't know if you like looking at a lot of bad skating costumes (including Amodio and Lambiel), but you might take a gander at http://skatingfugly.tumblr.com/.

    I still love Evan (and his skating), even with those stupid snakes. WTF, Vera Wang? At least he's had some good, more colorful outfits in the past.

    A lot of Johnny Weir's costumes have been black-and-white; is that so much better than all-black? I have too much to say on this subject to keep going. Love your blog!

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    1. Thank you for the link, I love looking at bad skating costumes! Is that your tumblr?

      Has Mr. Lysacek had many good, colorful outfits in the past? For most of his senior career, I remember overwhelming amounts of black.

      A lot of Johnny Weir's costumes have been black and white, but he usually as lots of glitter and some more 'interesting' elements to jazz them up: Camille in the Swan, for instance, and also fox fur, feathers, sequins, etc. The plainest black and white outfit I recall him wearing was that chess one....

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    2. No, not mine. I just follow it, and another one called Figure Skating Costumes. Apparently I'm obsessed. Well, now I fear I have stuck my foot in my mouth regarding Evan's love of black. A Google image search shows me all of the black stuff he wore the past few years. I could have sworn there was a red outfit I liked, a blue one, a toreador kind of thing, etc.

      I haven't liked any of the Vera Wang iterations of grey with black shoulder cages, the snakes, or the black with feathers. I kept waiting for his costumes to get better, and they never did! Johnny's stuff is definitely more interesting in terms of materials and sparkles; I give you that one :) I love me some sparkles!!

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  4. P.S. Kevin van der Perren. You can always count on him.

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