Sorry to be a bummer but, did you know that as of 2015, over 650,000 people have died of AIDS in the U.S.. Thirty plus years ago AIDS hit the creative community as writer Simon Doonan says in his 2013 book The Asylum: A Collage of Couture Reminiscences … and Hysteria “like a sledgehammer”. As he puts it;
“To those of you who were not around, I can only say this: You have no idea how lucky you are.
One after another, the brightest and boldest succumbed to this horrifying disease. Our creative pals —some famous, some infamous, most unknown and just starting to hit their stride— perished after being unwittingly infected by the disease of the century. Many died agonizing deaths in the hallways of hospitals without hope or familial support. Back then, in the early days, AIDS really was just like a medieval plague. ‘Who is next?’ was the question on all our lips.
Patrick Kelly, Angel Estrada, Isaia, Adrian Cartmell, Clovis Ruffin, Halston and so many more. AIDS decimated a broad spectrum of the fashion universe. Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos, Tina Chow, Robert Rose, Peter Lester, Tim Hawkins, Sergio Galeotti, Robert Hayes and Laughlin Barker.
Photographers too: David Seidner, Barry McKinley, Tony Viramontes, Herb Ritts, Bill King, Steven Arnold, Stevie Hughes, Kenneth McGowan and Doug Coder.
And so many of my window-dresser pals: Bob Currie, Michael Cipriano, Cliff Murphy, Colin Burch, Bob Benzio, Stephen Di Petrie, Talmadge the one-namer, and so many more.
These names are just the tip of the iceberg. I cannot list everyone. This book would turn into War and Peace.”
The fashion industry was one of the first to bring attention to the crisis, but as Simon says;
“fund-raising is one thing, and remembrance is another.
When I saw how beautifully the victims of 9/11 were memorialized, I could not help but think also of my fallen heroes. I thought of the bright lights of fashion who were cruelly snuffed out in the 1980s.
And I thought about how important it is for us to keep the flame burning for our friends who slipped away from us over a quarter of a century ago, not just for ourselves, but also for the upcoming generation, many of whom were not even born in 1981.
Upcoming generations need to know that Perry Ellis was a real person, not just a brand name, a beautiful, generous man with long hair and a uniquely poetic vision.
They should know that Moschino is not just a made-up name on a label in the neck of a random frock. Franco Moschino was a true innovator, an Italian surrealist with a wicked wit.
We need to share our memories of talented and inspirational eccentrics like Klaus Nomi, Tommy Rubnitz, Leigh Bowery, Way Bandy and Ricky Wilson of the B-52s. And we need to share the magic and the bravado and the positivity of great fashion designers like Willi Smith.”
And so many more. Those of us who lived through the war and those who weren’t even born yet, should not forget. (via Slate)