Reflekt Muse: D. Bene
Tell me your life story.
I grew up in south Orange County and was home-schooled until 7th grade. I had lots of opportunities to rampage around and develop away from the mass influence of whatever was cool with all the little kids at the time. That helped me become pretty independent and self-motivated in many ways, and gave me a foundation for looking at popular culture & trend waves from an outsider's perspective. South OC is a cultural wasteland full of bland people and I immediately knew I was one of the weirdos as soon as I was unleashed on it. I eventually moved to LA, adopted a bohemian musician lifestyle, and am still a total weirdo. I've pretty much fully accepted that position, taken it to certain extremes, and generally have a lot of fun with it!
How did your style develop?
Well, I'm pretty interested in humanity and all the things that humans do to express themselves. I don't like to limit myself to just finding my one little thing and sticking with it. I want to know why other people are expressing themselves in the way they do, and through learning that I often learn to appreciate elements of that style of expression for myself as well. So my personal style has developed as an amalgamation of a bunch of styles, sometimes separately, sometimes all mixed together.
How do you think people react to your style?
The reactions I get are pretty varied and depend a lot on the context. One time I was walking down the street and someone drove by and yelled "Faggot!!" out the window, then less than five minutes later someone drove by and yelled "You're hot!!" Eccentric style tends to be polarizing, especially when you're out in the raw public. Among the cultural scenes, my appearance sometimes confuses people because I don't adhere to any sort of fashion "thing", which is how many people signal themselves as part of one tribe or another, and also how they try to categorize you at first glance. On the other hand, it also interests people who like variety and creative appearance outside of the group fashion consensus.
Do you dress for yourself or others?
I view fashion as art, and to me art is both fulfilling on a personal level and also a communication with other people. It's like drawing a picture you really like that you don't necessarily intend to show anyone, except with fashion of course you're inherently showing it to other people by simply being around. In some ways I feel there's an imperative for me to follow my personal aesthetic, both so that it might help other people feel more comfortable doing their own thing as well as to generally condition the world to more variety. I think people contaminate really interesting aspects of their individuality by catering too much to their ideas of what peer groups want. It kind of waters down humanity as whole, since perhaps a person could have created something really unique and interesting, but instead they dumbed it down to be more acceptable to others and that creativity was lost forever. So anyway, yeah both to an extent.
Do you feel your personal style reflects who you are?
It does in a sense, but at any given time it isn't reflecting all of who I am. It reflects different aspects at different times. And even then, primarily the aspects of myself I feel are best reflected through fashion. I think you can draw some conclusions based on appearance to a certain degree, but not necessarily all that much. Like if I am wearing something that looks "punk" in some way, it doesn't mean I'm into all the typical things a punk is into. But it's probably safe to say I share some similarities. And then I look completely different the next time I'm around...
Do you consider yourself fashionable?
Not really... I very rarely follow the "in" thing, though sometimes I use it as an inspiration. I tend to have an all-encompassing vision of what is aesthetically pleasing and it doesn't really change with the seasons or go in and out with trends. So while occasionally stuff I'm into might match up with what's fashionable at the moment, whatever is fashionable tends to be a lot more fickle than I am!
Personal styling trick?
One of my favorite things to do is wear items of clothing originally intended for females, like skirts or dresses, but without "cross-dressing" or actually trying to look female.
What are your hobbies?
I love making & performing music... that's less of a hobby & more like a fundamental life activity. I also like making sticker art, learning about native plants and herbalism, writing philosophy, and a lot of other little things I do whenever I'm not doing my main things!
What are your current projects?
Any last words?
Be creative & confident in doing your own thing & don't be afraid to shake things up! There's more support out there than you might think. Ok thank you and good bye!
Follow D.Bene on his travels and projects here: @dbenetleilax