the Insiders


May 4, 2010 4:14 PM

Eye, Fashion

Making Noise, Part II

Last Thursday, my colleague Kim Friday and I headed up to Northampton, Mass., for a piece on Kim Gordon, who has come out with a number of art publications and, this Friday, will unveil her second exhibit of the spring...

Last Thursday, my colleague Kim Friday and I headed up to Northampton, Mass., for a piece on Kim Gordon, who has come out with a number of art publications and, this Friday, will unveil her second exhibit of the spring season. (Read the whole story here.) We couldn't cram everything into the article. For starters, there's Gordon's cozy three-story brick house, which deserves a write-up of its own. It's home to Gordon, husband and fellow Sonic Youth band mate Thurston Moore, their daughter Coco and Moore's niece Louise, who lives in one of the many guest bedrooms on the top floor.

Gordon's house is wonderfully lived-in, with random boxes, artsy-craftsy cushions and tchotchkes everywhere. (The latter, she noted, was a Moore hobby; he has a penchant for picking up tabletop odds and ends from his travels.) Walls come in chartreuse, turquoise and egg yellow. And there are books everywhere, including those arranged in neat little stacks on practically every flat surface -- some random, others curated. "Thurston does that," Gordon explained. "He's a book person." Naturally, the music touches abound, too, as in the tiny Joey Ramone plastic figurine on top of one television or the light-switch covers boasting photos of Gordon and Moore performing in concert.

Art? Gordon has plenty, both her own from childhood as well as works by Jutta Koether (a close friend), John Olsen, Ira Cohen, Stefano Giovannini, Justine Kurland, Richard Prince and so on. On the second floor, in 16-year-old Coco's old bedroom, where a Marc Jacobs ad was once shot, Rita Ackermann painted the girlish figures on the lilac walls. "She did it when we first moved in about 10 years ago. But she never finished it," said Gordon. I asked her if Ackermann ever promised to finish the piece. "She did, but you know...," she answered with a laugh. The first thing you see coming down the stairs into her basement, meanwhile, is a plush blue "Little Friend" stuffed doll by Mike Kelley, still in its original box. The last thing you see is a silk print of Ganesh hanging by the exit.

As for Gordon's eclectic fashion sense, a lot of it comes from her mother, Althea, who was a seamstress. "She basically either made my clothes or bought them from a thrift store," Gordon said. "She grew up in the Depression, so the idea of buying new clothes was, 'It's all too expensive.' My early dressing was, like, a black wrap dance skirt mixed with some silk castoff from her sewing room. She also made these caftans, these things she called 'Abbas' that were basically two rectangles, upside down, sewn together. Maybe that's why I'm drawn to some of the Electric Feather dresses." Gordon's style would morph from tomboy to Sixties and Seventies vintage to, in the Nineties, more flamboyant threads -- as in white sequin HotPants courtesy of Patricia Field's old downtown haunt. "I like to shop," Gordon remarked, although she drew the line at calling herself a clothes hound. "Fashion, to me, is a visual outlet. It's definitely a guilty pleasure, but, in one way, I don't really like fashion," she said. "It's so decadent and an engine that creates this desire [where] people feel like they need to consume new things all the time. But I'm just as guilty as everyone else."

While Gordon supports the big-name designers (paging Marc Jacobs), she plugs for the small folk, too. The day before our shoot (her birthday, by the way), she bought herself a leather handbag at a local Northampton store, Cathy Cross, by the designer Cynthia James, who also happens to be the shop's in-house seamstress; Gordon is trying to get Manhattan boutique No. 6 to pick up the collection. Asked if she followed the fashion blogs or Web sites, Gordon said no, but she did admit to enjoying the occasional style show here and there -- Bravo's "The Rachel Zoe Project," for instance. "I'm so fascinated by her," said Gordon.
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