Gossip and Garments
by Madison Duddy
Photography courtesy of Alexander Wang
“Don’t worry, gossip blows over in a week.”
This is probably something most people have heard once or twice in their life from a parent or friend trying to lie away the pain caused by salacious rumors. However, in reality, it is nothing but a comforting lie. Although gossip might lose its relevance in the media or among groups, with inventions like the internet and social media, every story is as good as eternal.
When looking at a magazine stand, scrolling through a Facebook feed or swiping right on Snapchat to the media section, one finds story after story of outrageous rumors from celebrity baby bumps to breakups, affairs and so on. Although almost all deny it, everyone enjoys their fair share of tantalizing gossip.
In a research study called “Visual Impact of Gossip,” psychologist Eric Anderson and his colleagues explained that gossip is easily learned and remembered.
“There is a general bias toward negative information because, as evolutionists, if we miss something negative, we believe we are missing something dangerous,” said Anderson.
Because of this bias, Anderson was not surprised that people learned negative information more quickly and remembered it for a long period of time, even when it was about people they did not know.
Boston University student Summer Willerth (CAS’19) agrees that rumors never really go away.
“I feel like gossip is easily forgotten but easily brought back up to criticize.” Willerth said. “News never really dies.”
With an understanding of these findings, clearly it is not only computers that hold onto scandalous gossip.
For forty years, the leading source of gossip on politicians, celebrities and the elite has been Page Six of the New York Times. To celebrate decades of dishing juicy gossip to the news hungry public, Alexander Wang launched a new limited-edition men’s line, Page Six x Alexander Wang. This Spring/ Summer 2018 line of shorts, sweatshirts, shirts, and jackets celebrates the Page’s early years with vintage eighties articles and advertisements printed on the garments. While the designs alter the newsprints in order to keep the subjects anonymous, they still highlight the public’s obsession with gossip.
Like many designers, Wang chose to make a statement with his new collection. By incorporating public information, he reminded people that the world is full of news and gossip that never goes away. In his collection, headlines from the 80s like “Burger ‘Kink’ Day” live on. Another headline reads “if you don’t want it on page six, don’t do it,” emphasizing the power and permanence of the media.
Parson’s School of Design student Mathis Ekkebus does not see Wang’s line as revolutionary, but understands the unique statement a designer can make when using news in their designs.
“I don’t think he [Wang] is the pioneer of newspaper print; John Galliano did it. The idea of incorporating public information is interesting, though, because it shows the importance and prevalence of news and political statements,” he said. “Using Page Six is a cool contrast too because his usual client is the ‘party girl’ who is all over Page Six.”
Wang’s collection of “old news” becoming art emphasizes the permanence of information, whether true or not, while turning negative stories into something positive.
As said in the television series Gossip Girl, “the only thing thicker than blood is the ink on Page Six”, but in this case, the ink is fabric dye.