Riley Davidson (Gutter Gucci) by J. Astra Brinkmann
Riley Davidson – otherwise known by their Instagram handle Gutter Gucci – and J. Astra Brinkmann were introduced by a friendly waiter in a cafe in Kreuzberg last September. Since their accidental meeting, Brinkmann has worked on documenting some of their performances as well as a namesake fashion shoot for them. Reconvening at that same cafe for an in-depth interview a week ago, Astra asked Riley to shed some light on their experiences as a non-binary performer as well as their thoughts about personal fashion.
KALTBLUT: What is your name? Gutter Gucci: My name is Riley Davidson. I’m also known as Gutter Gucci.
KALTBLUT: Where are you from? Gutter Gucci: (I hate this question) I am from California.
KALTBLUT: How long have you been in Berlin? Gutter Gucci: I have been in Berlin for two years. Two very beautiful years.
KALTBLUT: What is the story behind the name Gutter Gucci? Gutter Gucci: The concept is “Trash, but make it fashion”. Growing up as a poor kid my clothing was always second hand and this encouraged me to create my own sense of extravagance with what was financially available to me. Gutter Gucci means “I may have found this in the gutter and I still look fabulous”. It is a reclamation of the aesthetics of high fashion for people like myself who were not raised believing that it is something accessible to me.
KALTBLUT: Found fashion versus sustainable fashion – what do these labels mean to you? Gutter Gucci: Found fashion is my favorite fashion. It means that I found this thing in a box or on the ground or in a friend’s pile of old clothing. Most of my favorite pieces of clothing I havefound on the ground – including the shirt that I am wearing for the look in the second set of images. I found that shirt in an actual gutter in Oakland, California. It was for a small child, so I had to rip the arms off to be able to wear it and it is still to this day one of my favorite crop tops. For me, sustainable fashion is mostly about mindful purchasing, so I would say 98 percent of my wardrobe is bought second hand and the following 2 percent I purchased from small and local designers who create their things by hand. I want to be mindful with how I am supporting the fashion industry because I think this practice of fast fashion where the piece may cost 13 euros from H&M but is made poorly and will fall apart in the wash in 6 months is… irresponsible.
KALTBLUT: How do you feel that your profession has influenced your fashion? Gutter Gucci: I have always had a flair for performance and being a show – I have played this social role for as long as I can remember. And when I stepped into my career as a performance artist, it opened up even more space for being as extreme as I want to be. I feel that I’ve grown out of letting society’s general disapproval stop me from expressing myself as I want to and performing has supported that growth.
KALTBLUT: How do your fashion choices reflect your experience with being non-binary? Gutter Gucci: For me, gender identity and gender expression are two different things that may or may not influence each other. The way that I see my gender expression as non-binary influence my fashion choices is that I feel free to express masculine and feminine aesthetics simultaneously. Sometimes that is a subtle thing: I am wearing a dress but also boxers underneath, or maybe it’s a baggy pair of shorts with a little boy’s top that I have turned into a crop top plus some lipstick. Each day is different. The way that I want the world to perceive me is shifting and my fashion choices reflect that fluidity.
KALTBLUT: What is your experience like being dressed this way in public? Gutter Gucci: I mean, I think as a female bodied person, I have crafted the skill of blissful ignorance when walking down the street just to tune out any interactions that I don’t really want to partake in. It took a while of being an expressive dresser to understand that I was getting attention for different reasons now. The weirder that I have started to present myself, the more I have wanted to offer moments of acknowledgement to the people who are witnessing me. If they look at me and smile, then I also want to be able to look back at them and smile because I feel like there is beauty in those brief moments of connection. I want to bring an element of absurdity to people’s daily lives via the way I dress as means to help the process of deprogramming my female socialization.
Credits Model, styling & make up: Riley Davidson Instagram: @guttergucci Set Assistant: Lauri Lohi Instagram: @ooh_lauri Photographer & Words- J. Astra Brinkmann Instagram: @astratakesphotos Photo Assistant – Brett Hall