Gaga Stigmata: How has your personal style evolved? What style phases have you gone through?
Tommy DiVita: It starts with idealized images. How my style really started was that there was, and still is, a forced structure concerning male and female that is present in our society. My style evolved from not fitting into socially normative constructions of gender identity. I felt like I did not fit into the standardized male role.
The idealized image of being male has been forced on me. Then, because I did not fit the mold, I started identifying with characters that I saw on TV shows and movies who also did not fit some particular standard that they were being held to. My style stems from these characters that did not fit – like Edward Scissorhands. What is Edward Scissorhands? He is an outsider brought into this constructed normative community. He is not accepted for the way that he is and looks. Anyone who is a minority of any sort can watch Edward Scissorhands and identify with that character and find parallels with the things that Edward goes through.
Gaga Stigmata: You’ve talked a bit about the pressure to conform – to gender roles, to conventional ideas of beauty, etc. How much are you influenced by either the pressure to conform or the desire to rebel?
Tommy DiVita: Even though I was doing things that I felt rejected conventional ideas of beauty, I still felt the pressure to be thin and have clear skin.
Gaga Stigmata: Who are your fashion icons or influences?
Tommy DiVita: There are so many that I don’t know where to begin. I feel funny because I may leave a lot out. The sources of my inspiration for fashion are not typical. I am inspired by costumes that I see in films, for example many sci fi films, like the character Pris from Blade Runner, and characters from TV series like The Tribe. I always really liked many characters from Tim Burton films, and also classic horror movies. I like looking at Ancient Egyptian symbols, and art. Particularly the way the faces were decorated. I love masks like the masks from the Punu tribe in Africa. I saw the club kids from the 1990s and was inspired by many of them, especially Walt Paper and performance artists like Leigh Bowery, and drag queens like RuPaul. There are many musicians I’ve enjoyed listening to over the years whose styles I’ve liked, from Marilyn Manson to Lil’ Kim to David Bowie. Comics, cartoons, and Japanese anime characters also inspire me. I cannot tell if these things really inspire me, or if I just really like them a lot. I think there is a very thin line between liking something and being inspired by it.
|Pris, from Bladerunner|
Gaga Stigmata: You’ve also talked about Lady Gaga’s mainstreaming of outsider fashion. How do you feel about "The Little Monsters" as a group of "outsiders" who follow one of the most famous pop stars there is? What effects does the mainstreaming of radical fashion have?
Tommy DiVita: It is a part of a cycle. What was once radical slowly becomes the norm. It will be replaced with something that will be the new radical. The Little Monsters help to move that process along. What is radical today becomes cliché tomorrow. The followers who adopt radical fashion do not make the new radical. The followers make the radical commonplace. The new radical is created by someone else. The positive outcome of making the radical the norm is that it diffuses the tension between the radical new and the old norm.
Gaga Stigmata: What have been some public reactions to your fashion?
Tommy DiVita: There are aesthetic ideals of male and female that are completely constructed by society. And it seems our society likes to keep those ideals very separate and apart. One aspect of my style is to bring those ideals together. In some situations I have been appreciated for doing that, and in other situations not so much. I have definitely experienced people being very phobic toward my fashion choices, and these experiences have led to some threatening situations.
Gaga Stigmata: Any sort of general personal philosophy?
Tommy DiVita: Everything starts with gender. I cannot think of a decision that somebody makes that is not informed by their gender. As soon as someone gets up in the morning, people are making choices of what they want to wear. I believe the way a person puts themselves together and the way they are perceived is an act of performance, whether they are aware of it or not.
Tommy DiVita was born September 22, 1988. In 2003 Tommy began painting wall clocks, sculpting, drawing, creating clothing, and making dolls. In 2007, Tommy graduated San Dieguito Academy High School in Encinitas, CA. In 2012 Tommy received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in Valencia CA. Tommy experiments with many different mediums.
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