Thursday, April 29, 2010

I found this and did a virtual jump of joy

It’s a bit mad, isn’t it? It feels like it’s happened all of a sudden and at some shows this season the front row was just all bloggers. I think it will die down though, and people know what they are doing. No one who wants to read a serious review of a show is going to look at what a 14-year-old thinks. But it has become more critical; people can say what they want about anyone on a blog without consequences and that’s quite scary.
-Designer Christopher Kane on bloggers, December 2009

to outfit post or not to outfit post, that is the question.

move over Hamlet. Existential ponderings have nothing on this.
So. Readers. I am having a dilemma that I am hoping you can help me think through. Don't be afraid of the 'comment' button on this one, because I'm in two minds which ain't conducive to action.

The dilemma is this: part of the reason I started this blog is to do a little of what I (okay, what pretty much everyone) like to call 'participant observation'. That by doing the thing itself (blogging, obvz) I will be able to understand blogging in ways that other bloggers understand it. To quote myself- and let me interrupt this sentence to say that yes, I am cringing at my own self-referentiality but also yes, I said the same thing in my research proposal so let's cut a corner and recycle-

(Blogging myself) will reveal everyday knowledges that may not seem important to the bloggers but which would be unknowable without doing it myself- things like the obligation you feel to your readers to post regularly or the nervousness that rises when you fiddle with your blog’s CSS for the first time to achieve the desired appearance of your page.

So anyway, blogging I can do. But a major part of what other bloggers do is posts on their everyday outfits, which is something I feel deeply awkward about doing! 
Of course I love getting dressed for the day, engaging in that old Q&A of how do I feel today and how can that be manifested through the entire contents of my wardrobe? Some of my clothes practically have personalities because of all the adventures we've had together. So showing them off would be like introducing you to my besties (including the newest, coolest girl on the block- the last season but o so timeless Chloe coat I bought three weeks ago from a consignment store in Paddington. Navy, one hundred per cent wool, silk/cotton lining, to die for, to die for, to die for.)

However (and therein lies the rub).

Outfit posting would make me feel like the biggest narcissist in the land. I feel like I'm too old (ha!) to take photos of myself in poses. To push further into that- well, I feel self-conscious in most photos most of the time anyway, so to purposely pose for them so that you can all look at what I'm wearing- ugh. I would feel very exposed, I guess. And as if I was being a try-hard *o look at me, guyz, I can do it too!*, lacking authenticity because I wasn't there from the beginning, I am not as young as a lot of the bloggers... I'm also shying away from positioning myself as the focus like that, and yet isn't that what I'm doing by writing this blog anyway? (The most frequently used word on here has to be 'I', surely!)

But, funnily enough, I don't look at other bloggers' outfit posts and judge them the way I am judging myself. Like heaps of other people, I love looking at outfit posts- I'm intrigued by how the bloggers pose, who takes the photos for them, and what they wear. it's inspiring, interesting, sometimes funny, sometimes odd. 

And, at the end of the day, doing it would definitely add to my knowledge about what doing a style blog is like, which has to be invaluable, right?

I feel like I just found an answer. 

O geez.

To move away from my own ambiguity, here are some of my favourite recent outfit shots. Enjoy. . .

ps. Let's not go getting any high expectations here, though, friends. If I DO cave to the niggling feeling of inevitability, my outfit posts probs won't look as polished and excellent as these. I'm feeling that between my brick-like camera phone and the techonological marvel that is Apple's Photo Booth, you can eagerly await some yellow-toned and slightly blurry shots. Get excited!

Friday, April 23, 2010

start a blog and one day you could be BFFs with these people

From left to right: John Galliano (and Tavi). 
Karl Lagerfeld (and Tavi). 
Ricardo Tisci (and Tavi).

o no she didn't! (o yes she did- at the SS10 Couture collections.)

Image from here

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

relief? or something else entirely.

Um. So I know we just chatted a few hours ago. 
But today was a glorious sunny day, a summer's day stolen from who knows when because it's almost the end of April (why? how?!) and the days should be crisp and cool, not languorous and daffodil yellow. 
Nevertheless, do not read this as a complaint! Do not read this at all, but flicker your lazy, dazy eyes over these photos I took on another stolen day last July. Sandwiched between Toronto-New York- San Francisco and San Franciso-Sydney was nine hours of freedom from aeroplane food trays and sardine chairs. 
I got the train into the city centre and wandered to my heart's content. The bright and faded colours, the energy and the relaxedness still make me grin. Gorgeous day. Gifted afternoon.

you never even saw me on here, ok?

OK, just quickly (because it's T-minus 6.5 hours until the essay is due!):

Two things that might make your day more hilarious, and we can thank the glorious world of style blogs for both. Let's take a moment, and be grateful. . . All right, that's enough.

Number One: Check out these two French boys at P&P. Their blog is a hilarious pisstake on all the style bloggerisms that we've come to know and cherish- the coy foot-turned-in stance on the doorstep, the reach for something just off-camera... and their take on Breton stripes actually made me laugh out loud. (And I kind of hate that I can't say 'laugh out loud' anymore without thinking of the tweeny contraction 'LOL'? *shudder*)

Number Two: Talking of 'bloggerisms', take some time to touch base with our fave big sister blogger Susie Bubble who has written a funny on that very topic! Self-deprecating, chuckle-inducing and accurate- what better combination for a Wednesday morning?

And FYI, if you've been living under a rock (or if you could care less about the style blogosphere and you're reading this because you're my friend and I twisted your arm into coming on here and reading it, hiiiiii!) at RAFW this year there will be two special blogguests- Susie Bubble and Tommy Ton.

Maybe we can workshop ways that I can meet them and ask them lots of deep and interesting questions about their experience of style blogging? And how I can, at the same time, have a prime opportunity to gush?


And Susie? . . .  uh, sorry, i just died!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

i'm going back to the start.

I'm currently working on my first written assignment in two years (thus the lack of posts lately!) but just wanted to share- I forgot what it was like to write like this.

The nervousness of sitting in front of a blank screen, and the challenge that awaits of drawing out things to say that aren't completely banal (the first sentence I write is usually the most banal thing ever written, but it must be got out to get past it!)

The slow build as you realise that there IS something you have to say and it IS coming out, sure enough.

And the quiet euphoria that awakens when you draw back for a nanosecond and realise you have been writing, completely writing, for minutes on end and it's good work. Blissful.

Bliss that's broken by a neurotic compulsion to do something, anything to get away from the desk- more tea (but you don't want one.) Trip to the bathroom? (don't need to- but maybe you should walk over, just in case?) A five minute break- just five minutes, I can take five minutes! (Which is disproved half an hour later when you look at your watch, silently praying that it's not past 11.30am because that will mean you really HAVE come off the rails. 11.42am? really?)

So my question (I do have one!) is this: why, when writing is so deeply satisfying and so essential when a deadline is looming (day after tomorrow, thanks for asking) is it so flipping hard to keep at it? Older, wiser, further-along-in-your-studies-er people, this one's for you!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

a written photograph of one morning.

I was walking home when I was unexpectedly struck by the inordinate beauty of the world surrounding me. A tree (I have no idea what kind) was shedding tiny bright autumn leaves that were spinning lightly to the asphalt below so as I walked underneath it I was surrounded by drifting glimmers of yellow. I looked up and caught sight of the shadow that the branches of a gum tree were casting over a corrugated iron roof. Naked shapes of blue on grey. Curving and rippled like limbs underwater. And all was still in the lambent morning sun, there was not a whisper of wind and no car sounds and no childrens' cries in the distance. Peacefulness reigned all around me, and I felt filled with gratitude to God to have been a witness to such an everyday perfection. 

I reached my destination- a bench in a quiet park near my home- where I had an amazing conversation with Dick Hebdige. Well, he did a lot of the talking, and I did a lot of "WOW, Dick Hebdige! You nailed it! Tell me more!" That's what reading his book Subculture feels like, anyway. In it, he offers a definition of subcultures- why they arise, how they've been looked at by theorists in the past, in what ways they defy hegemony (the social authority imposed by the dominant class over other subordinate classes. It's subtle though, and framed to seem natural and legitimate) and how they are manifested through style. 

He uses case studies of punk, teddy boy and mod subcultures to illustrate his arguments, so it's a really great read for anyone interested in those subcultural styles. As for me, it's more interesting because he is defining aspects of subculture which I've noticed in style blogging but haven't fully articulated yet. He's way ahead of me, and his framework is like a gift I can build on. And what's SO! EXCITING! is that I don't think style blogging necessarily fits within his framework in every way- and I cannot wait to explore those differences more fully.

And so again- I am awash with gratitude that I have this opportunity to think deeply about such an interesting subject, and am blessed with the time and a beautiful nearby park in which to do it. It just feels glorious.

Finally, something to chew on as you continue throughout your own day. Almost deceptive in its simplicity, a quote from Umberto Eco that Hebdige includes at the beginning of Chapter Seven:

I speak through my clothes.

What do you think about that?!

Monday, April 12, 2010

what I want from you. . . is your voice.

I went back to FOXYMAN this morning and found a farewell where before there had been corsets and leather, spiked rings, student fashion show photographs and a helluva lot of don't-give-a-shit attitude. Nadia, the lady behind FOXYMAN, has decamped to establish a label- or, ' a brand, an idea, an image, a dialogue, a strategy, a transformation, a design, this blog, a motion picture, a label, a personality, a website, a quote, a garment, an emotion and an evolution'- with her RMIT partner-in-crime, Cami. I'm going to try and get my hot little hands on a copy of their theses (which sound so pertinent to my own questions, exciting) but in the meantime, chew over this:
Both of us have been, for quite some time, pretty hard into technology and online communication... This probably has a lot to do with how limiting it can feel to be in the Australian market, not only feeling isolated on a geographical scale, but also having inverted seasons to the rest of the world (obviously with climate change, amongst many other things, seasons are becoming increasingly irrelevant). Through use of the Internet, we gain access to rest of the world instantly, it closes the gap between trends in what are considered the ‘fashion mecca’s’ of the world and our own local trends. We’re  increasingly moving towards larger scale global trends because information is so instantly passed through channels around the world. Through online retail, and the ability to buy from anywhere in the world, we’re now able to choose season/trend/culture/style – irrespective of location... The evolution of the online consumer has superseded the industry’s pace. In essence, we recognize that the traditional fashion system lags even in comparison to the counterfeit one. If you acknowledge that collections are designed (give or take) 6 months before the images of them are released and then available for purchase a further 6 months later, it becomes transparent that with the evolution of the web and democratization of citizen journalism, in the form of the blog, this system is outdated...
We came up with DI$COUNT because we refused to change our ideals to fit into the system.
Our idea of fashion stretches beyond just clothing.
We don’t want to focus on just our love of clothing. It’s kind of irrelevant nowadays because of the democratization of media and advertising, and also how autodidactic learning through the internet has provided the means for people to teach themselves the skills they need without necessarily studying it specifically – meaning you can create your own brand without the cost, limitations on genre/field – cross disciplinary work is becoming easier and more expected, to be a ‘jack of all trade’s’ etc. Fashion is becoming an ambiguous term; it was never exclusively applicable to just clothing, yet was popularized by the clothing system to the point where most of us seem to have a hard time remembering what the word actually means.
Here are some of my favourite photographs from the FOXYMAN glory days:
These still catch my breath. The colours, the layering, the imagination! It makes chucking a corset over a t-shirt seem like child's play.
Spot the Vivienne Westwood Armour ring. I found one in Rellik in London, it's incredible.
As it's an XS, though, thank goodness I have skinny fingers ('skingers', according to Meg)

The No Di$count ladies. Keen to see what happens next. . .

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The future of style blogging and other mysteries

hey hi.
I was just rereading style rookie and thought you other fashademics might like to read Tavi's thoughts on the future of blogging. Chicka-check it out:

Also, in other news- writing this o-so-brief post has made me realise that we need to form a vocab for talking about reading blogs. When you read old posts, are those posts called a 'backlog'? or 'back issues'? or just... 'old posts'? And can we think of a verb to describe what you're doing when you reread?And are you 'blogging' when you read blogs, or only when you are writing them?

Actually, now I think about it, a bloggy vocab probably already exists but we can probably slot that into 'THINGS I DON'T KNOW' which is a subcategory of 'FIELDS OF KNOWLEDGE I HAVEN'T ACCESSED BEFORE.' We'll file this whole discussion somewhere above subculture theory and beside anything written by Baudrillard (who seems important? either way, he has a cool name so I feel he should be included in my doctorate. Straw poll- how many cultural studiers are cringing right now? Somebody give me a quick rundown on his key ideas?)

i see red! i see red! i see red!

Is it weird if I announce that I have a girlcrush on Taylor Tomasi?

The woman can dress. And she has THE most lovely shade of red hair. My grandfather was a redhead (curly, thick and auburn, lucky man) and my mum once told me that she reckons I'll have little redheaded children because it "skips a generation." I don't know if she was making that up (can anyone verify this wild claim? Because none of her siblings were red and neither is my brother nor I? And that's two generations, right there...) but I'm kinda hoping it comes true!
I got re-redded today (glorious!) and read Angela McRobbie while the dye set (after reading an old Vogue Australia and a new Grazia, but surely they can be counted as 'texts' too, right? Anyone? Bueller?)

I find it strange, that I feel more 'myself' as a redhead. I'm naturally an ashy blonde and it's a fine colour, but when I first redded up (March 2009, my hair and I just had our one year anniversary) it felt like I was always supposed to be red.
I remember talking about this phenomenon of feeling like oneself in an ethnography seminar a couple of years ago (ethnography is a kind of anthropology which is more focused on understanding experience from an individual's perspective.) My tutor Kate was throwing around ideas such as how it's odd that we often express sentiments like 'I'm not myself today', because who else can you ever be? It's as if your idea of who you are is the DEFINITIVE you, a 'you' that recedes or advances depending on external circumstances or the vagaries of your mood. What is implied the use of that word 'myself' is that you are some other self when you don't feel 'yourself'- but can you ever be not-yourself? And how bizarre, the feeling that something had aligned inside me when I saw how I looked with red hair- a sense of rightness. So much of who you are is internal- and all it took was a look to see myself differently.
I find it amazing and wonderful that being able to alter our appearance has such a deep effect on who we feel we are. That's one of the reasons that I love fashion and clothing so much- you get to play with the identity you present to the world around you and how you are perceived. Perhaps this is all a bit incoherent- I'm just workshopping these thoughts as I write. But it has intrigued me for a while, the chameleon self-making aspect of fashion.

Some footnotes:
1. All the photographs of Taylor Tomasi are taken from my favourite streetstyle photographer Tommy Ton's blog JAK&JIL
2. Please excuse the dodgy quality of my self-photo. It's superbad because I don't actually own a camera and I had to resort to Photo Booth.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

perenially lucky in love

so despite my interest in fashion (understatement?) I don't actually go shopping very often. In fact, I tend to have certain beloved items of clothing that I wear over and over (and over) until they fall apart or I am sick of the sight of them. I particularly dislike shoe shopping because I am very picky, which often results in me wearing the same pair of shoes day in and day out. This has happened with my current favey-daves, a pair of Ferragamo loafers I got for $10 from a vintage sale in Toronto. They had NEVER BEEN WORN before and are perfection in leather. This is what they looked like when I bought them (and consequently had a little photo shoot because I was so enthralled with them. Don't judge.)

This is what they look like now. (Don't judge.)

So it was a happy day last week when I realised that I had budgeted my finances all. wrong. and actually had some spare pennies this month. (Well, I hope I do. There's a slight chance that I have calculated my pay days wrong and am buying clothes with next month's rent, but I am simply choosing to hope for the best!) And I bought some new shoes which are little darlings: these lace-up numbers from Wittner.
The buckskin suede was initially a turnoff because, although very pretty, as mentioned above I wear shoes day in and day out. So buying these shoes actually means I have to break the pattern this winter because you cannot wear caramel-coloured, butter-soft suede in the rain. Therefore, buying against my practical pattern (must be black, leather, durable) might result in more varied shoe wearing? Gotta be a good thing. Why you care I don't know, but this is my blog and you're still reading, so maybe something I'm saying is hitting a nerve with you. Can anyone else relate to my extreme repeated-wearing or am I alone in this crazy?

Another recent buy was these Peter Alexander flannelette pajama pants. I had this ultimate pair of PJs  *give me a moment, I'm misting up* that I got when I was all of sixteen years old. I wore them every winter for the next seven years. Exclusively. They were my happy pants. You know those clothes that you put on and all of a sudden your tense, dreary day seems o-so-far in the distance and you just feel wonderful?
They were not particularly attractive (read: extremely unflattering) but MAN they were the thing. The photo below says it all really. Two minutes before this was taken I was wet (thanks Irish coast in winter) and feeling sick and it was about midnight after a long day of driving but on they went and, well, you can see the victorious glee in my eyes.
(Comments re: the height of the pants are unnecessary. They were simply more comfortable pulled as high as possible and I will not hear a word said against them.)

Anyway- they died last winter. They just saw me through a Canadian winter and came home with me to Sydney, almost threadbare but loved nonetheless. Then they rapidly deteriorated and Granny co-opted them to clean the church brass. No more happy pants, and o, how I've felt their absence as the weather has cooled! So I went to back to Peter Alexander and guess what I found?! Not quite the same but o! so! close! They gave me a wink and a smile and that was it. Happy.

So I think the lesson we can all take from these experiences is that sometimes being terrible at mathematics and mismanaging ones' finances can result in a. more, not less, shopping dollars, b. breaking a long held pattern of wearing the same thing day in day out and c. happiness. And that sometimes clothes can feel like old friends too.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

like gingerbread crumbs

It's not that I'm obsessed with style blogs. More like they're obsessed with me- at least that's how it feels sometimes as they pop up in my life unexpectedly like those cardboard robbers who spring out up in shooting alleys. I'll be going about my business, preoccupied with deep thoughts about what to cook for dinner and calculating when the next RUSSH is due out when- BAM! Tavi on the left wielding a paper hat! SHAMWOW! A four-page spread on bloggers in marie claire (somehow they made room amongst the articles on Afghani women starting nail salons and the former wives of cult leaders who are reclaiming their lives.)
So it was this week when I was walking home from class past Dangerfield, spiritual home of black t-shirts with pink glitter skulls printed on and all manner of tartan bric-a-brac. And who should be staring out at me from the window but Tavi, in a blatant knock-off of the POP tee.

Weird in the extreme. 
I had to stop and take a dodgy photo with my stupid camera phone which is about as useful as Jermaine's camera-phone on Flight of the Conchords. About as bulky as Jermaine's too. Since when have style blogs been so prominent in pop culture that shops like Dangerfield are ripping them off on t-shirts? I know this is 2010, post-bloggers-at-NYFW and post- Jane-Aldridge-being-invited-by-Vogue-to-attend-the-Bal-du-Crillon and post-you-know-,-like-,-EVERYTHING but I didn't realise style bloggers had tumbled out of the pages of fash mags and brief, surprised articles in newspapers, and into the consciousness of people ripping off style-makers to make a buck.
To use a hackneyed fashion phrase, it's like style bloggers are the new Ramones. And there will rise a core of hardened, bitter fans who will be all like, 'I was reading fashion toast back in the day, man, before Rumi got her modelling contract and everything. And don't get me started on all these noobs who talk about how into Garance Dore they are, man! I was reading her before Tim Sullivan started translating, and I had to Babelfish every post!' Or something.