Rock Star Fashion Watch: The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt, ‘French Tourist in Soho’ Edition


Lost in the hullabaloo over the French fashion label Bluedy’s premiere of a Stephin Merritt-inspired line of footwear—”Stephin: The shoe drawn in homage to Stephin Merritt”—is the escalation of a long-simmering war between Merritt and the French.

Back in February, Merritt was caught up in New York‘s Spring Fashion sting, forced to confess his propensity to wear one color and one color alone: brown. “I have brown hair and eyes,” Merritt said at the time, “and I believe in matching.” What followed was this exchange:

So why didn’t you start wearing black?

Unfortunately, black at this point tends to make you look like a French tourist in Soho. It also makes me look ill. I look ill enough; I really don’t need to call attention to that.

Magnetic Fields fans will also recall Merritt’s “The Death of Ferdinand De Saussure,” in which Merritt was similarly blunt: “You don’t know anything,” he admonished the famous French-speaking, Paris-dwelling linguist. “You are nothing.” Now, not only are French people producing pointy, occasionally black footwear named for the reclusive pop star—they’re outfitting French tourists to look just like Merritt, too. Soon, tuxedos will be all this haunted man has left…

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 24, 2008

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