Body Part Clothing Company
hits the runway Thurs, April 26 at 8:05pm 213 Sterling Rd
Underwear exercises an unusual control over gay men’s minds. From Marky Mark posing in Calvin Klein boxer briefs to David Beckham bulging out of Emporio Armani tighty-whities to Toronto artist Will Munro’s knitted art underwear installations — we may love fashion, but we have a fetish for underwear. We choose those that frame us well; like a great work of art the fabric becomes a canvas concealing a masterpiece. But what if art itself is framing your mini-Michelangelo?
Entrepreneur and photographer Kyle Kofsky’s new clothing line, Body Part Clothing Company, which will be shown at this year’s Fashion Art Toronto (FAT), pushes this question in our face. “I’ve always toyed with the idea of wearing other people’s bodies,” Kofsky says. But not in a creepy Buffalo Bill/Silence of the Lambs way. Kofsky takes black-and-white photos of select body parts and hand silk-screens them onto carefully chosen areas of clothing he has had created. A T-shirt, for instance, depicts someone’s chest, while a pair of underwear becomes a conversation starter with the addition of a photo of a mystery cock, vagina or hairy ass. The line includes both men’s and women’s underwear, the men’s being somewhere between a brief and boxer-brief so that there is enough canvas space for the image.
“The idea is fine-art photography meets casual fashion,” says Kofsky, whose photography is greatly influenced by the photo-collages of David Hockney. “Maybe this is why I never became a professional photographer, because I was more of a photo artist. I want to create things with the photos.”
Part of his runway show at FAT will showcase clothing created out of actual printed photos used as fabric. His commercial line, though, will see sample size (code for skinny) models strut down the catwalk in clothing screened with the body parts of people who run the gamut of sizes, shapes and colours. According to Kofsky, this was the purpose of his initial photography: to be inclusive and non-judgmental. But gay men, in large part, are obsessed with body image. We judge. Imposing body parts on clothing seems to feed into this fixation. Kofsky, a huskier, hairier man, doesn’t see it that way.
“As long as you are happy and confident in who you are and what you do, then that will show. It doesn’t matter what your body looks like. You might be buying really gorgeous penis underwear, but maybe you have an even better penis inside. It’s like buying a better or worse version of yourself. Or maybe you’ve always wanted an Asian vagina, so now you can own one.”
In the name of art, 27 men and women were willing to be photographed in the nude. Though there is a sexual element to this collection, “people define sexuality differently,” Kofsky points out. “Some don’t think being naked is sexual at all. Plus, the images aren’t gratuitous.” So if you were planning on getting aroused by staring at someone else’s junk covering your junk you may want to stick with online porn.
It’s about being comfortable in your own skin. Or someone else’s. Whether you’re the only one who knows you have on these underwear, you wear them for that special someone or for a group of strangers at some random underwear party, the canvas covering your crotch could be a much-viewed masterpiece. Imagine David Beckham modelling Mark Wahlberg’s silk-screened shaft? High art indeed.