Elevate Difference

Rebel Rebel: Anti-Style

I have always been interested in the fashion of subcultures. I've been stenciling my clothes, painting stuff on them, adding studs and strategic rips, sewing random things together and pillaging thrift stores since I was a freshman in high school—which is why designer Keanan Duffty's book Rebel Rebel: Anti-Style originally caught my eye. A style guide with a chick wearing chucks and fishnets on the cover seemed awesome!

Duffty himself has also been embellishing clothes since he was a child and, like most subculture fashionistas, was inspired by the music, particularly The Sex Pistols and David Bowie. His book reads like part autobiography, part look-book catalog, part intro to modern fashion history, and part helpful style guide.

I'd never heard of Duffty before, so his life was a somewhat interesting read, but I did not find myself impressed with the photos of his work included in the book. I'm not sure if it's just that the collection included is mostly from his later years, but to me his style was less "Rebel Rebel" and more mall punk, easily found at your nearest Kohl's. Duffty does include inspiration and scant ways for the reader to embellish and make their own clothing creations, though, so one could simply use his ideas as a springboard and go from there.

I also wasn't too impressed with the fashion history aspect of the book. While a lot of facts were interesting, such as the entire history of the jean pants, some facts were blatantly untrue: No, the Beats were not called the Beats as short for 'deadbeat,' and no, the hippie scene did not spring from the Carnaby Street Mod scene (it had been going on slightly earlier—and in America). There were just so many errors that even I, a somewhat average reader, picked up on that it made me question some of Duffty's more plausible bits of trivia.

Rebel Rebel: Anti-Style could be a good coffee table book, as it's rather large and, again, some of the illustrations are really nice, but I wouldn't pull it out to impress the FIT grads—or sit down and read it again.

Written by: Jen Klee, September 30th 2009