Thursday, May 27, 2010

a surplus of words and none spare to name this post anything appropriate.

If you have food in the fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the world. If you have any money in the bank, your wallet and some spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy. If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million people who will not survive this week. If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the agony of imprisonment or torture, or the horrible pangs of starvation, you are luckier than 500 million people alive going through this suffering. If you can read this message you are more fortunate than the 3 billion people in the world who cannot read at all.
                                                                                                             -Joie de Vivre

{I do not know who or what 'Joie de Vivre' is but I know that when I read it in the pages of 'I Love You' magazine, it gave me pause for thought.}

morning time.

We had to venture out early because I had plans and she had plans but we wanted to talk out our lives to each other over breakfast. And she had a new haircut that she wanted to capture before the salon blow-dry faded away. Cool, rain-specked morning. We drove the three or four blocks it took to reach the little hole-in-the-wall cafe because the humidity... you know... frizzy hair and all. Which normally wouldn't be a problem, we'd tramp the way there around puddles and doing that funny dance when a pole presents itself and you and your umbrella have to waltz to get past. But not today.

Plum and butterscotch jam. Apricot and rosemary jam. Crisp-shell soft-heart croissants and a skim cap (always) and sitting on bench seats with little square cushions on, listening to their great music and talkinglaughingtalkingthinking. Laughing.

Out in the misty morning again, rain still sighing around us, and we stood against doors and walls and turned our shoulders so you can see the vine behind and exclaimed over the sometimes funny sometimes incredible graffiti. Housemates are fun people to have around. And ours is a great neighbourhood to be around in. 

{total babe}

The clothing: vintage Coach bag, Chloe coat, Bassike scarf, Witchery cardigan, MudMee black dress, Topshop tights, Ferragamo loafers. She is wearing her lovely romantic blouse from Glebe markets but the rest of her outfit, I'm not sure! But in case you can't see, she wore black ankle boots, black tights and a white singlet underneath the blouse.

The future is now.

Below is an article from The Australian today about the challenge the net poses to the fashion industry. I don't know if consumers are as bothered by the six month lag as Armstrong argues (it certainly doesn't stop them buying what's in store until the catwalk stuff trickles in. And how many people can actually afford catwalk labels anyway?) but the Burberry innovation is really interesting!

The future is now
Lisa Armstrong, The Times, May 26, 2010 12:00AM

IT'S always good to see things from a fresh perspective. Even when you're looking through a lens darkly, it makes a change from the rose-tinted view. So I'm surveying the trackie trousers on brave real-life volunteers, for another feature, and thinking, yes, maybe . . . good case, girl . . . oh, all right then, you've convinced me.

Then again, I also happen to know what next season has in store. And, believe me, it's not track pants.

Next season is all about conventionally smart classics. Don't yawn. They are fabulous, these conventionally smart classics. They have been tweaked and re-proportioned, but most of all, they have been absent. And that does make the heart grow fonder.

I don't want to get bogged down in the wintery details of next season's new love affair with flannel, camel and classic tapered trousers. But this swerve towards proper, grown-up clothes isn't a minor detour. It's not a question of trading in one pair of bondage shoes for a newer pair. It's a whole new ideology: new in fashion terms, anyway, which means that it's a revival, with knobs on. And it's making all those rock chicks and sporty jersey-wearing warriors look a bit dated.

You will be well aware of this if you followed the catwalk reports in February and March. And if you missed them, pictures of all the collections are on the web, which is why the whole fashion system is in the throes of a nervous breakdown, although not everyone in the system appears to have grasped this salient detail yet.

Having Paris (and later London, Milan and New York) declare their hands six months before their ideas would be available in the shops made sense pre-internet. On a marketing level, it created a buzz by allowing the public a preview peek and allowed customers to prepare themselves mentally for a 7cm hike or drop in hemlines. Those six months also gave designers time to manufacture the clothes and get them into stores.

But the perma-presence of next season's collections online, and the race among celebrities to be first to wear them the minute they have been on the catwalk, have proved to be the ultimate spoiler. It's like seeing the trailer for Sex and the City season five before you've seen Sex and the City two, three and four. At some point you're going to give up on the entire franchise.

That can't be good for business. The issue is not so much that we know that this (northern) summer's big trends won't be big by the end of August. We have always known that. It's fashion,

after all, and it comes with a big, fat rider: it's not for life. No, the problem is that we know that this summer's big trends are already on notice and it's only May. The fashion-forward are trying out camel and working next autumn's midis, having decided that this summer's hot trends look a bit tired. (British television presenter and model Alexa Chung has been out and about in them since September.)

Some brands are coming to terms with the speeded-up new order. Burberry did an experimental sort of initial public offering for the first time this year, inviting customers to order certain items online straight after the live streaming of its winter collection in February. This was before most of them had bought anything from Burberry's summer range.

But most of the industry still operates as if women suffer from a collective fashion amnesia, so it shows us its vision for six months down the line, then expects us to revert to the old vision as if we didn't know that everything was about to change. That may just work when everything isn't about to change, when it's the same old silhouettes and idea but reworked in seasonal variations. This year, though, we are about to see a big change in direction and everyone who is interested in fashion - and that's a lot of women these days - knows it.

We have all become futurologists. And futurologists tend to give the present short shrift.

The long-term ramifications of this are headache-inducing. Will Burberry's customers, having spent hundreds (in some cases thousands) ordering a coat from the next collection, decide to forgo anything from this collection, even though the coat won't arrive for months? Will we eventually (not far down the line, probably) reach the point at which we can order an item immediately after seeing it on the catwalk and take delivery within a week? Will trends become irrelevant and fashion increasingly become a rolling buffer of personalised options? And when will I be able to get my hands on those classic grey peg-leg trousers?

Lisa Armstrong is fashion editor of London's The Times.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

the elevator on the lobby floor has a lazy door

I showed Bicky the outfit post. "That's not you," she said. "You're usually so comfortable and casual, and you just look awkward. And your clothes have no life!" She was so right- they are awkward photos, aren't they? It's not just that they're muddy coloured and narrow, but also that I look stiff and obviously uncomfortable- because I was!

If you've followed this blog for a while you'll know that I have felt conflicted about doing outfit posts for a number of reasons. I think my discomfort at being photographed and then posting the images is tied up with my general awkwardness about having my photo taken at all as well as the fraudulence I feel at placing myself so obviously within the style blogosphere and the implicit self-centredness I feel it requires on my behalf- as in, you should look at photos of me because my outfits are so great or you really should admire me or something.

Bicky showed me some photos she's taken on her mountain-biking blog and I was inspired to give it another crack. So out we went- Bicky, her digital SLR (goodbye Blackberry!) and... well, me.
I think we did a pretty good job! Bicky of taking great shots and me of not tensing up my mouth or looking hesitant and weird (well, there were a lot of shots like that, I can't lie. But they have been carefully edited out so you will think I always look natural and joyful on camera. Genius!)

Okay cool. I think we all know that the real stars of these photos are the incredible street art in the streets around Bicky's home and Mum's old green jacket that she gave to me ages ago. (If she tries to tell you that I "borrowed" it and just never gave it back, don't believe it! I am a good daughter and a responsible clothes borrower. And if she tries to tell you about the woven leather David Lawrence belt, I maintain that even if she had to buy a new belt to 'replace' it cause I had it for so long, that only means she ended up with two belts! Win-win in my humble opinion.)

silence+noise black jeans/leggings (I refuse to use the ridiculous word "jeggings." I just won't.)
bassike white loose tank over kookai white singlet top
Witchery cardigan
bassike scarf (told you I'd live in it. Prepare to be sick of the sight of it!)
Camper boots
Mum's old green jacket that I think she got in Singapore
An assortment of wrist loveliness including the mj watch ('course) and a love heart bracelet Tess gave me and a piece of stripy ribbon.

EDIT: Zac also told me, via Kyra, that I looked super awkward in that original post- all the way from Perth! Love it. I think we can all agree that it wasn't my finest photographic hour. But that's kind of what this blog is all about anyway- figuring out style blogging by doing it, stuffing around, and having a laugh at how difficult it really is to stand still and not look like you're just standing still. . . I have a lot more respect for the Next Top Model contestants now, all I'm gonna say.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

blog loving

I'm a renter so I can't put nails where I'd like in the walls to hang my pictures. As a result, I spent the afternoon waiting for the glue on those 3M hooks to adhere to the wall so I could hang my Alice Amsel originals and in the in-between-times, I drank white rose tea (new addiction? perhaps.) and discovered blog lovin'. And therefore discovered many new blogs which I've added to the 'primary sources' blogroll to your right and also to this here post. See if any tickle your fancy?

Go on, then.

And for those playing at home Sara from Harper & Harley and Le Flassh are both Australians- H&H is from sunny Brisbane and Flasshie (can I call you 'Flasshie'? Guess I just did... BFFz?) is from Adelaide.

And for those who would tell me, '3M hooks or no 3M hooks, you'd probably still spend all Saturday afternoon reading style blogs", I reply, 'a tiny, insignificant detail.'*

*It's my blog nd I'll quote Love Actually if I want to.

little musings.

I can't read Anja Rubik's name without instantly thinking 'Anja Rubik's Cube'. Another fashion person's name I love is Consuelo Castiglioni, designer of Marni. It just rolls off the tongue.

Talking of names, isn't it fun to mimic the correct pronunciation of fashion labels in really exaggerated ways? Balmain becomes balMAH, Lanvin = lahVAH, Loewe= Lurr-VAYE. It makes you sound obnoxious and pretentious which is kind of wonderful? 
Especially wonderful if you work it into an otherwise ordinary sounding sentence i.e. "I loved her wedding dress, it reminded me so much of Vlada's final look in the CHRISTY-AH LAHKWAH ORT COO-TOUR oh-eight show- you know the one? Gorgeous." Extra points if you can work a double over-pronunciation into one sentence- try it. KREESTOFF DEHCARNAH for BALMAH. Ha

And, finally, I have a big crush on this man. 

His glasses! His bowtie! The adorable two-hand wave a la Hugh Grant in Love Actually. Alber Elbaz. . . (another incroyable name.)

These are the things that occupy my mind on cool, rainy Saturday mornings when my mind plays tag with my thoughts.

{Anja from here, Consuelo from here, Alber from here}

Thursday, May 20, 2010

look at me LOOK AT ME


So here it is, friends: my first outfit post. Let me talk you through it. And allow me to remind you from the outset that I don't have a camera and a tripod but only a 3.1 megapixel shutter on my phone so you can expect the photo clarity to be poorly. Just sayin'.

This is what I wore on the Bassike run- the Chloe coat I got for a song in Paddington about a month ago, a cotton lace top I got for one whole dollar at Second Chance (best op-shop in the Shire!) about four years ago, a Bassike loose tank underneath, Bassike slate dealbreakers and a badge shaped like a crown. I didn't wear these shoes (Gianfranco Ferre wedges got for another song in Melbourne many moons ago) but my Ferragamo loafers which are, quite literally, down-at-heel.

So this is me taking a photograph of myself in the mirrored door of my wardrobe. Note the look of concentration- it is quite hard to angle the tiny camera to get the head-to-toe shot! Apologies for the fuzziness of the image but... well... this is a lesson in the lengths other bloggers go to to make their blogs look professional, I guess.
Detail shot! Note the white flecks in the picture? That's my mirror which needs a clean (I'msoashamed)

Another detail shot- the lace top and my new Bassike scarf.

Okay, blogosphere. This is what we call a 'pre-housemate' shot. Me, in the mirror. Flash automatically on because in between the first lot of photo taking and this one, I went to class. Now being winter, it's gotten dark and so my head has disappeared into a halo. 
Note too the outfit change- hello, new Bassike friends. (How many times can I say 'Bassike' in one post, do you think? I reckon a few more at least! *Bassike*)

Then Bel came out of her room and took pity on me. Cue:

The classic 'looking at my feet' blogger shot! I feel like a really, truly style blogger now. 

What? I pose like this in my living room all the time, don't you? Yeah, I relax by casually playing with my scarf whilst looking at the floor and smiling at my own thoughts.  
Totally normal, right?

This is actually a genuine laugh (I got embarrassed by the silliness of the activity.)

This is me trying not to smile. Fail. I kind of look mid-sentence instead?

Shoes!!! Love these mothers.

So there you have it! Sadly I'm not gambolling in a field of waist-length grass nor am I standing on a quaint doorstep- only against the only blank white wall in my apartment. But at least you can (sort of) see the spoils of my road trip- grey marle dealbreakers, a khaki loose tank and the skinny stripy scarf which I foresee will be worn every day for the next three months.

just in under the wire.

I woke up to the sound of a message arriving: my ysic telling me to get on over to her place for a last Bassike run before she starts full-time work hours + moves house + keeps on raising two adorable enfants and being a stellar wife to ybic. Scraped the hair back, threw on the Chloe, and I was dashing on over the Bridge, wallet in hand.

Bassike. That siren that sings in Avalon. Avalon which is so, so far away from my home that ysic and I have to pile into a car and drive for up to an hour to get us some premium cotton jersey. Ysic was in her Japanese denims, sky-blue of colour, and a narrow stripe black and white tee, I was in the slate dealbreakers (so called because if a boy has a heart-flutter for you, he sure as heck won't once he sees you in them) and the loose tank with pocket- aka literally wearing our Bassike allegiance on our sleeve/s. Rainy grey day. Skim caps and flat whites at hand. Nick and Becky Drake on the radio to keep littlest happy as she ate a banana and asked for ysic to replay song number six again (and again. and again- sing with me: "our God's generous/he gives to all of us!")

Rain eases enough for us to park the car, walk on over and step into retail (little h) heaven. We fall to silence as we consider each and every item. In every colour. Into the changerooms, arms laden with stripes and khaki and opal print and drop-crotches and hearts dripping with satisfaction. 
The very patient and friendly shopgirl tells us that they recently sent some swagger to Sarah Jessica Parker who rang Bassike HQ yesterday to personally thank them and order more stuff. Added to the general smugness, really. A half-hour later and having tried on most of the shop's contents, we both left with long white bags and spotted swing tags.

Back in the car (OUR GOD'S GENEROUS/ HE GIVES TO ALL OF US!) Home again. Sort of lends a different meaning to the term 'road trip'.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I can tell that we are gonna be friends.

Yesterday morning I spent an hour sitting with Ulrich Lehmann over a large skim cap and poached eggs. Like Dick Hebdige, he led the conversation- in fact, he articulated my thoughts exactly then sat back with a satisfied smile as I, amazed, scribbled everything down.

Further to that point, he is a great writer- I have never formally studied philosophy, which is his entire terrain (his book Tigersprung lays out a philosophy of fashion) but I find his writing clear, nuanced and funny. Funny! Get a load of this tidbit in his Introduction:

Should the work, after being read, be dismissed as facile and "fashionable", I can always defuse critique by pretending that the topic, after all, demands such a treatment.

I found myself devouring this book. It is heavy and clothbound, so it's not a volume that lends itself to stuffing in a bag for browsing while you're on the train to work. But it's so fascinating that I want to keep it on hand until I have memorised every single word.

Lehmann makes the argument in this book that fashion reflects modernity (la modernité, from Baudelaire) in its very essence and, interestingly, that it was in fact the inspiration for the coining of the term 'modernité' in the first place (la mode-la modernité. Comprenez-vous?) I'm sure he says a lot more in the bits I've yet to read- it is, after all, a hefty little tome- but for now, the highlights.

A beautiful sentence: "fashion is the supreme expression of that contemporary spirit. It changes constantly and remains necessarily incomplete; it is transitory, mobile and fragmentary." (xii)

On the transhistorical nature of sartorial fashion: "it always appears as the most immediate present, affecting the future with its constant changes, yet it always quotes from the past. Its creators in haute couture 'anticipate the things to come' so well because they do not anticipate at all- they merely create the perfect expression of the contemporary spirit, which, ironically, manifests itself in clothes whose design is drawn from a past sourcebook. They are able to recognise such expressions before they are generally realised, because of the absolute proximity of their works to the human body and its emotive responses. Clothes are closer to the spirit than intellectual contemplation or analysis is; and in the hand of a truly progressive designer, they can operate on an equally fundamental level." (xviii)

Recently, Phoebe Philo's (S/S RTW 2010) vision of modern womanhood, all clean lines and adept tailoring neatly realised in shades of camel, charcoal, taupe and white, seemed to express a prevailing mood which hadn't yet found articulation. This mood seems more interior than last year's woman- the Céline woman is self-assured, she dresses for herself (this collection wasn't traditionally 'sexy', but contained)- this woman's strength seems to come from what is concealed. She is intelligent- the design details are there, the careful eye for line and shape. 

It seemed to me a reaction against fashion's last resounding 'YES' moment which was unleashed by Christophe Decarnin at Balmain in his S/S RTW 2009 collection. 

His was a sexually charged, mussed womanhood whose ferocious shoulders established a feminine strength which was then undercut- or juxtaposed?- by the distressed jeans and OTT crystal embellishment. It was a finger stuck up at classicism, a defiant statement that maybe women 'can have it all.' (By this I mean, she's strong but she's still sexy. She has power but it's a sexual power, which makes everyone happy? Please note that my tongue is firmly in cheek. But that's what I got from that collection.) 
Where am I going with this musing? Perhaps I am trying to say nothing more than what has been said many times before: that in its very seasonality, fashion is positioned to reflect and commentate upon society as it is in that moment in a way that perhaps no other art form is. I think that what is represented by new designs is more than 'this is what is desirable now'; they can also be a statement of what we value now, how we are feeling now- as rendered through what we want to wear. 

The ability of fashion to connect deeply with self-expression is touched upon by Lehmann when he talks about clothes being closer to the spirit than intellectual contemplation or analysis- there is something beautiful and strange in the compulsion to wear something because it feels right. Because it is a visual expression of what is unseen- the feelings, thoughts, moods of an individual, which can be a collective sentiment as well. Which is why I feel so frustrated when people deride fashion as totally vapid, vain or unimportant- the generalised, negative writing off of this field completely ignores the many complexities and subtleties tied up with clothing, design and expression; I think it misses the point entirely. In fact, I find it interesting that so many people are so vehemently against fashion- but that is a blog post for another day. Back to my buddy Lehmann. 

For those who might scoff at my labelling fashion an 'art form', Lehmann's got my back: "fashion as a topic remains embroiled and disputed because of its alleged lack of substance- in artistic as well as metaphysical terms. The profound and eternal are considered worthy of intellectual analysis; what is transient and fugitive will nearly always be equated consciously or unconsciously with the facile and futile. Yet herein lies fashion's most absorbing fascination: it challenges us to transpose transitoriness, also the hallmark of modernity, into a medium of high regard, while maintaining its distinct characteristics; to theorise and analyse, yet not to petrify." (4)

See why I like this guy? Best.

{Images from}

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"i want happiness"

Further to this post I wrote about Daul Kim last month, Jezebel have posted an article on Noemie Lenoir and her alleged suicide attempt. Read it here. I'm really glad people are starting to talk out: the health of models is an important issue and one that should be a priority for the fashion industry, especially modelling agencies.

the women. {commentary}

You didn't think I could post a volley of images and not say anything about them did you?

Briefly, though, because I have a date with Word today (we're going to be going steady real soon, I just know it!)

I'm curious about what you felt as you looked through the pictures below. Inspiration posts often seem to convey something of how the bloggers are feeling or what has caught their fancy, but as Mel said in class the other day "things mean different things to different people." She was more articulate, though, and she was talking about the wanton and unextrapolated inclusion of quotes in essays. I think the principle works here though, too. And it seems to me that content of any kind will speak to a viewer in a unique way depending on who they are regardless of the blogger's own motivation for posting.

If you felt apathy or boredom as you scrolled down, that's still a reaction. I'm interested in what you felt from the images, how they spoke to you, and why you think you did.

For me- I like to gaze at the beauty of the images. The stark gothic stare of Karen Elson in the first photograph- very Hitchcock, no? The Sasha Pivovarova by Tim Walker shot- her bowl cut! Her lithe limbs! It is as if she is paused, expectant as she perches so daintily on the edge of that bed. I love the way it contrasts to the other bowl-cut brunette above in her tragic love story with the coal-smudged soldier. The woven rug makes me think of feminism- I love the upward tilt of her chin, the hopefulness in her eyes but also the slight datedness of her close-cropped curls- a woman amongst girls. I instantly loved the cacophony of freckles on this model's face, and she reminds me of the description of Ellen in Murray Bail's Eucalyptus ("it was a speckled beauty.") I love the old cinema feel of Gemma's black-and-white closeup, the glamour of her belieing her youth. (Did I spell 'belieing' correctly? To belie/bely... o dear. They both look wrong.) The lost expression on Sasha's face- she looks as if she has just realised that she has lost something or someone very, very precious, and the next sound from her mouth will be  a cry of disappointment or despair. The absurdity of the tulle gown which flows and froths all over but covers nothing- so dramatic! The stare of the Picasso sketch- her glorious simplicity and a sense of self-assuredness that I so admire, even though she is only pencil on paper. And the toyworld skewiffness, the dotty spottiness and tin soldier of the final shot. Karen Elson looks as if she is dressed in fairy floss, a bit bored but playful in this as if she is waiting for the tin soldier to propose that they play a cheeky practical joke on the wind-up tin mouse (not pictured. Imagined by me, in fact.)

The escapism, the fun, the freedom of expression and the confrontation of the self as pictured in the images and what they pose to the viewer are why I posted them. And because they're beautiful.

the women.

(Images from all over. Pulled from a folder of dreamy slips. Most came from a search for 'Tim Walker', one of my favourite photographers.)