Like art, fashion is a way of displaying some of your skills. Dolores Hydock, for example, performed at the Beaufort Intergalactic Storytelling Festival earlier this month and created a whole world for her audience, with only her voice, posture and an elegant, drapey outfit for her "In Her Own Fashion" one-woman show.
I realized this style and skills connection a few years ago when I first started working with Jenny Rone and Deanna Bowdish at ARTworks. Jenny has a unique wardrobe not identifiable with any club or brand, instead collecting boutique outfits like art for her closet. Deanna's paint-spattered studio garb results in wearable art as well. The rest of her wardrobe is "coastal hardcore chic," with lots of black and hats.
Before the Ronstadt Generations concert and at the storytelling fest, a group of us were standing around with the band discussing the merits of a wardrobe heavy on black. "You can just reach in the closet and start putting things on," Deanna commented to Michael Ronstadt. He heartily agreed. His black jeans and black cowboy shirt embroidered with silver thread across the chest were perfect for a musician with steely gray hair and Arizona still on the soles of his boots. Making it look easy is an important facet of skill and style.
One of the many pleasant surprises of the storytelling trend emerging in Beaufort is that accessories don't include corncob pipes. In fact, the de rigueur of the storytelling fest was the Golden Kazoo all-access pass, seen around the necks of many festivalgoers on a long, slim black lanyard. The kazoos are made at Kazoobie Kazoos. Ask owner Stephen Murray about his washboard tie.
Hydock, who lives in Alabama and is a headliner at the national storytelling festival in Jonesborough, Tenn., first arrived in an entrancing pair of turquoise cowboy boots.
Puppeteer Yostie Ashley welcomed a crowd from the Little Brown School clad in a webbily-knit shawl that resembled Cookie Monster. Kristal Norris, who won the Liars Competition for her re-telling of Hansel und Gretel, wore a "Happy March 2" T-shirt in the first round on that same date, generating a humorous meta-prelude for her tale of acquiring a nickname. Later this month, she will don plaid and a habit for "Catholic School Girls" at ARTworks.
Natalie Daise sparkled while sitting at the edge of the bare stage in the Black Box Theater for her storytelling workshop, wearing a shawl-neck blouse. Collars are so important. Natalie doesn't stop with her clothing; she fills the space around her with beauty, too, reaching out with gestures, hand-painted objects, song and intention.
The weather was cool enough that the crowds could use layering to their fashion advantage. Bess Chappas, a storyteller from Savannah who came up just to check it all out, arrived in an overcoat with a charming ruffle around the hem. Cloaks and wraps, items I'd like to incorporate into my wardrobe, were popular. Cora Newcomb was spotted whirling hers back onto her shoulders after a performance. Perhaps the new textile studio that Rhonda Jordon's opening on Port Republic Street downtown will be my touchstone for that fashion transition.
When the busload of students from Beaufort Middle School arrived, I had another realization -- I much prefer attempting style now than at that age. As Hydock explained in her "Most of What I Needed to Know About Storytelling I Learned in Dance Class" workshop: "Children need to see their parents listening and laughing to know how to listen to a story" and "the goal is not to impress your dance partner, but to share the experience." Dressing for comfort always has been my first fashion rule.
"A bad dance doesn't hurt the earth," replied one of the workshop attendees, quoting a Native American saying. For the purposes of the next storytelling festival in April 2013, I interpret that as "come as you are."