Author: Geordon Nicol
Publisher: MTV Press
September 2007, 288 pages, $16.50
A brief point of information before the review: the Misshapes, after which this book is named, are a band-cum-party throwing collective which hosts weekly parties in New York. These parties feature a constellation of sarcastic facial hair and tube socks (trendy 20-somethings and celebrities of a similar ilk often watching indie artists and DJs perform). Ubiquitous at these gatherings is a photographer who documents the glam antics and dress of these hipsterati, keeping the Misshapes finger on the throbbing pulse of esoteric music and booze lovers. This book is a collection of said photographs.
Misshapes is a book which will inevitably offend the sensibilities of almost anyone. Hipsters feel slighted because it portrays the tragically cool as actually tragic, having nothing better to do than dress up in outrageous, self-parodic fashion and attend the same party every weekend. Non-hipsters are offended simply that such people exist, annoyed by the requisite pretention, irony, and vapidity of the people displayed. Celebrities bump shoulders with your average white-bread American Apparel-onesie-wearing-uberchic reminding the reader not only of their less than superhuman realities but their similar sad weekly pilgrimage, clad in their lamé worship garb, to the Misshapes’ hipster mecca.
Does all of this amount to me not liking the book? Absolutely not. In fact Misshapes has earned a permanent place on my coffee table (and in my heart). The photography is gorgeous and the layout is one the cleanest and most aesthetically pleasing I have ever seen. Furthermore, hating hipster culture has become so inculcated popular belief that such sentiments are just as trendy as the sequin bandeaus adorning the Misshapes’ crown. Furthermore, just as haute couture fashion is relevant to the everyman in that its tenants eventually trickle down to your local Kohl’s, the hipster elite’s exaggerated dress will be seen in Forever 21 and Sears in just a few years. With that in mind, Misshapes serves as an exciting catalogue of a flourishing demographic as deserving of attention as much as any other subculture. What do I say to the hipsters themselves who feel the book misrepresents them? It doesn’t. As much as you like to think of yourself as more refined than Pete Wentz (who gracefully makes an appearance), you still wake up, from time to time, in a pile of Pabst cans with your slip-on shoes missing and a girl dressed head to toe in jersey next to you.