By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Somehow in this city with every level of costume need, custom-made clothing resources have remained a secret. I found out years ago that you could buy decent quality ill-fitting leather pants off the rack for $200, or get them customized to fit like a glove for $150 at Wayne‘s Leather Rack. The same with theatrical costuming: I’ve had seamstresses make Elizabethan-style gowns for little more than the cost of the fabric. Young designers will often make-to-order affordable clothes, and wedding-dress shops from Hollywood to the Eastside (if you‘re going for big) and many dry cleaners have in-house tailors.
If you happen to be a size that is not on the racks and are not happy with the styles offered in Big Girl shops, the choice is to wear ill-fitting clothes, make them yourself or have them madealtered. Bodybuilders have the same difficulty, which is why they’re rarely seen in anything other than workout clothes, army fatigues or, for dress-up, the requisite Sylvester Stallone double-breasted suit. So when I concocted the idea of having an ensemble custom-made for this issue, I thought of Michele Mills, a woman with a wild, unconventional sense of fashion.
Ten years ago I started seeing “Meesh” at club Fuck. She wore different variations of a tutu with strap-on dildo, and a vibrator on a chain around her neck as a “charm.” Later, as a member of the band Cholita: The Female Menudo, she co-designed different looks for the band members: Day-Glo school-girl outfits, quinceañera gowns and cha-cha slumber-party ensembles. Since the early ‘80s, she has designed for indie films, videos, performance artists and bands, such as the lounge-core Crepe de Chine and the metal-thrash Troll. At UCSD she majored in visual artsfilmmaking and minored in costume design, working summers as wardrobe mistress at La Jolla Playhouse. She is currently collaborating with Tami Galindo on a Jungle Red Productions documentary about burlesque costumes and iconography. a
Meesh is known as Nailz in her girl gang, the EpiLadies. Their group statement (see epiladies.com) goes like this: “Our strength is based in the pain of being a bitch. Regular cholos get jumped into the gang by taking a few punches, but could they pass the test if it included a bikini wax and cramps? They think they are hard if they have a couple of gunshot wounds . . . we bleed every month!” Members include performers Bobby Pinz (Selena Luna), Hot Wax (Diviana Ingravulla) and their beloved bitch Scratch (Matt Starkey). As far as I can tell, they basically show up at clubs and parties, looking sexier and nastier than anyone else, and showboat, but I haven’t crossed them.
After consulting with “Method” costume designer Susan Matheson about where to begin, I interviewed Meesh using a series of diagnostic questions Matheson devised for her. Matheson‘s design experience runs the gamut from movie costuming, to toy development at Mattel, to creating meditation wear for gurus.
Ron: What kind of outfits do you look good in? Are there any specific colors you tend to wear more?
Meesh: Definitely dresses or skirts. Something that is more tight fitting on top and less tight fitting on the lower hemisphere. Right now I’m liking bright pink. I don‘t like dusty rose, no antique, no mauve. It has to be bright.
What details, like necklines, sleeves, work for you?
I like cleavage, and definitely no turtlenecks or anything tight around the neck. I’m not really big on collars, but as long as it‘s open in the front I wouldn’t mind the collar. Keep in mind that I like big hair.
Are there any fabrics you‘re allergic to besides cheap?
Actually, I’m not allergic to cheap!
How about shoe style? Can you wear high or pointy?
Shoes are an issue. I tend to go between kinky and a practical as much as I can. I like the way high-heeled shoes look, but I‘m carrying so much weight on them that they’re terribly uncomfortable, unless the heels are wide. And the wider the heels are, the less cute the shoes tend to be. I like boots, but there‘s a problem with boots in that my ankle and my foot are small and my calf is really big.
And what kind of accessories do you wear?
Big, big, big, and noisy if possible. I’m really into either big bright plastic or gold right now.
On what occasion would you see yourself wearing this outfit?
Are we going for something really fash-ion-y, or the tacky side, or both?
I think both, because that‘s you. Transcending tacky into high art.
I would like to wear something that’s sexy, flattering and has my sense of humor. I don‘t want to wear anything that’s, like, if you‘re a big girl you’re supposed to cover all this up. I don‘t care, I can let my arms hang out. I’m not really into my gut hanging out, because that‘s just unflattering. But other than that, I don’t care.
What do you feel tough in?
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