Pt. 1: Keanan Duffty’s Rebel Fashion Panel Discussion

The students in the auditorium were hushed by the sight of easily-distinguishable Walter van Beirendonck, member of the notoriously avant-garde Antwerp Six, with his bushy beard and regally bejeweled fingers as he took a seat at the satin-clothed table on stage. He began an inaudible conversation with the other panel members, Joe Haller and Ian Hannula, bay area founders and designers of Nice Collective and Keanan Duffty took the mic. The buzz about Duffty’s roots in the punk scene as a musician and fashion designer (and now writer of the book Rebel Rebel: Anti-Style) quickly faded after a children’s show host-like introduction and a crassly edited video when it became clear that the next hour or so would be little more than a joke.

His discussion questions and accompanying slide-show were shamelessly self-promoting, although quite unconvincingly so. Keanan’s one-dimensional queries to the panel were met with frustration and disbelief. Luckily, Beirendonck’s skepticism and rightfully superior demeanor kept the discussion interesting and inspiring. Haller and Hannula stumbled over their points and actually appeared to be insecure about the credibility of their own company’s rebel-status. What was supposed to be an exploration of the culture of counter-fashion turned out to be more of a name-dropping contest. It started with Duffty’s straightforward references to his days with Bowie, Nice Collective’s collaboration with Gwen Stefani and finally, Beirendonck’s unenthusiastic but obligatory mention of his wrk for U2.

Overall, I have to say that the most amusing part, other than Duffty still believing he had punk cred despite having just finished designing a line for Target, was Beirendonck’s happy powder blue sweatshirt with a rainbow on it.