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FASHION By George, there's a new Boy in town



Published: Tue, February 8, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The former lead singer of Culture Club is, among other things, a designer."

KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS

For those of you who think Boy George is buried somewhere in an '80s time capsule, a punch line in an Adam Sandler movie or touring the country as a nostalgia act, you're wrong, wrong and wrong.

George O'Dowd, 44, is alive and well and as creative as ever. These days, the former lead singer of Culture Club is a fashion designer, a DJ, a photographer and author. In 2003, he composed the music and played Leigh Bowery in "Taboo," the Rosie O'Donnell-produced musical.

When George isn't spinning, taking photos or writing, he's designing clothing. B-Rude, his fashion line, debuted last year in hip havens such as Hotel Venus (Patricia Field's boutique) in New York and Marshall Field's in Chicago.

Different messages

"B-Rude examines new perspectives on human identity and explores our limits, which have been set forth by the fashion industry," George explains on www.b-rude.com. "Each design, though some abstract, suggest different visual messages to each person who views them, and each interpretation is correct."

The skirts, shirts, jackets, jeans, jogging pants and hoodies feature images of cultural icons and graffiti that challenge societal norms. Prices vary depending on how pieces are produced (some are originals; others are mass-produced). T-shirts are $25 and up; knit tops, $70 and up; hoodies, $140; jeans, $200 and up.

"I think that it has the original punk rock kind of look to it. It's not a take-off of a take-off, a 12th generation, like Hot Topic-looking punk rock. It looks real to me," says Hope Nicholls, owner of Boris & amp; Natasha.

"I like his eclectic sensibility and the fact that pieces have so many different images meshed together. That's another real punk rock kind of thing, real do-it-yourself thing," she says. "It's not cliched imagery."

Here's what George had to say about his style and more in an e-mail interview:

Q: Who is your favorite designer and why?

A: For myself, Vivienne Westwood is the queen of it all. I also adore (John) Galliano because he lives it and his shows are an outrage. That high-end fashion stuff is so outrageous, expensive and offensive and, yet, I find it very alluring. I dream Galliano. I also love the Heatherette vibe because it is so much like the energy of 'body map' in the '80s in London. Of course, I am also very into B-Rude (ha, ha)!

Q: Whose personal style do you admire and why?

A: I don't believe it's wise to separate the men or women from their fashion flair, what they think or what they say. Clothing or style is just one part of it. It's not enough to just look unusual because in this age of MTV and stylists on the rampage, you can fool people more and more. Put enough eyeliner on manufactured pop starlet and you can fake cool and then add a vintage Motorhead T-shirt. I honestly admire anyone who makes an effort and dresses themselves.

I think New York transsexual and now pop singer Amanda Lepore is quite amazing because she is a self-created work of art and doesn't have that bitter, regretful edge that lots of transsexuals often have. Amanda loves being Amanda. I feel I have a lot to learn from her. (Also) younger freaks like Aimee Philips, Drew Elliot, Macky Dougan and the Heatherette posse in NYC.

I also love very ordinary dressed folk, too; you don't always need a stylish defensive mechanism to be interesting.

Q: I've read that you practice a sort of "fashion feng shui." What is that exactly?

A: It's called Nine Ki (a form of Eastern astrology), and I guess it could be described as the physical and emotional aspect of feng shui. Based on the date of birth, year, month, day (not time), each person has a set of three numbers which govern aspects of who they are in every respect.

These numbers (mine are 317) also suggest which days are best to travel in certain directions. It has no bearing on whether you fly, walk or roller-skate. The idea is that the human being was not designed for much of the frantic travel we do these days. It can also be used to work out how best to communicate with others you love or work with.

Q: What keeps you going creatively?

A: Ideas are really what turn me on and all that competitive stuff, though it's hard to avoid in this culture of blind achievement. Everything has to be nailed to a demographic, and I find it very annoying. (Forget) gay marriage and assimilation. I don't hate the slew of performers or disco celebrities -- it's more the culture that allows untalented people to reign. Again, simply being able to create a fuss by just being visible is a kind of talent, so you can't just judge everyone. I had a thing about Paris Hilton and now I realize it's not her fault she was born wealthy and privileged.

Q: If you had to choose one career, what would it be and why?

A: (Choosing only one would be) a mistake!

Q: I read that you were working on a recording to benefit tsunami victims? (DJ Mike Read lined up the Band Aid veteran and pop musician Cliff Richard to record Read's "Grief Never Grows Old.")

A: I just did a verse or two of warbling on it on (Jan. 11). I don't really like singing stuff I haven't written but it's for a good cause. I have a great affection for Asia, and I was quite moved by the stuff I saw. People always criticize charity records or gestures by famous people. I think it's better to do something than to sit around being snooty and grand. I hope it helps."

Q: What can we expect from Boy George the DJ?

A: I'm essentially a house DJ. I do love electro-clash (punk-inspired dance music) and where possible I'm happy to drop the most loopy and random stuff from (Marilyn) Manson to Dolly Parton. I love bass and a bit of percussive swish. I guess I try and play music for those who have discovered their hips.




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