Alix Lambert

Words About Clothing
by Alix Lambert

Here is a poem that I found inside my shirt.

Machine wash cold
With like colors
Do not bleach
Tumble dry low
Remove promptly
Low iron as needed

I have a lot of self-imposed rules when it comes to clothing. Here are a few: I can only purchase clothes if I happen to pass a store carrying said clothes on my way to somewhere else. The store has to fall naturally in the path of my migration. If I am on my way to work, or school, or to meet a friend, go to the movies, get on the subway, go to a doctors appointment, etc. and I pass a window, behind which I see a blouse, or earrings or a bra, or shoes that appeal to me; I am allowed to go in and purchase said item.

My all time favorite clothing to wear is clothing that previously belonged to a friend. There is a feeling of keeping that friend close, keeping myself safe, being watched over or protected, or in the company of that friend.

Of equal appeal to me are clothes that have a special story behind them. Maybe I bought them while traveling, so the trip, country, city or experience is embedded in the DNA of the article of clothing. Maybe the clothes came from the wardrobe department for a TV show or film I worked on. My experience, my history and by extension some portion of my personality are in those clothes.

When I first thought about which article of clothing to write about – I thought of a sweatshirt (zip-up hoodie) that I “borrowed” from my dear friend Juliette Goodwin. I loved it because it belonged to her and I love her. I ended up deciding I would talk about the details of a garment that make it appealing to me other than the above mentioned.

I like sleeves to be longer than normal. Preferably hanging down to my second knuckle, just my fingertips peeking out from the ends of the sleeves. It must be SOFT – I mean really, really soft. It’s pretty much the only word that I said when I was little. I love soft clothes. I don’t like collars or anything near my neck – I always cut the neck out of T-shirts. It should be loose fitting – nothing snug.

I used to refer to certain articles of clothing I had (and to my imaginary Alix-Lambert-branded clothing line) as: Sleep Wear Day Wear. Anything that I would be comfortable sleeping in and could still get away with wearing during the day, qualifies.

Postscript Leaving clothes behind: When I pack for a trip, I always pack at least one thing that I feel like I might be almost done with. Either it is broken or I just don’t seem to ever wear it, or for whatever reason I don’t want it any more – maybe it has accumulated bad karma. During the trip I wear the article one last time. Then I like to find a place to hide it and leave it behind. Maybe I fold it and put it under the mattress at the hotel. Maybe I am house sitting and I tuck it into the back of a closet. I like the future narratives that this creates in my head. “Where did this come from? Who owned this?”

Bio Alix Lambert’s feature length documentary “The Mark of Cain” was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and aired on Nightline. She went on to produce additional segments of Nightline as well as produce 7 segments for the PBS series LIFE 360. Lambert has written for a number of magazines including Stop Smiling, ArtForum, and The LA Weekly, among others, and is an editor at large for the literary journal OPEN CITY. She wrote Episode 6, season 3 of Deadwood: “A Rich Find” (for which she won a WGA award) and was a staff writer and associate producer on John From Cinicinnati. As an artist Lambert has exhibited her work to international critical acclaim, showing in The Venice Biennale, The Museum of Modern Art, The Georges Pompidou Center, and the Kwangju Biennnale, to name a few. She is the author of four books: MASTERING THE MELON (D.A.P.), THE  SILENCING (Perceval Press), RUSSIAN PRISON TATTOOS (Schiffer Publishing), and her book CRIME (Fuel Publishing). She has written and directed CRIME, USA which has been staged at Joe’s Pub in NYC, and the Cairns Festival in Australia.  Lambert is an associate artist with the Obie award winning theater group The Civilians. She is currently in production (as director and producer) on two feature length documentaries: He/She/He (about gender identity in Albania and Samoa) and Mentor (about teen suicide and bullying at Mentor High in Mentor Ohio). Bayou Blue (made in collaboration with David McMahon, about serial killer Ronald Dominique in Louisiana) will have its world premiere in competition at IDFA (Amsterdam) in November. She recently received an NEA consortium grant in order to produce two new works that will be presented at Real Art Ways in Hartford Connecticut. Lambert is a recent MacDowell Fellow.

photo by Alix Lambert

Alix Lambert reference photo

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