Wednesday, July 28, 2010

synonymous with hot air balloons, Orient Expresses, powder, crinolines and boxing gloves.

You actually need to go to Jak&Jil to see the full collection of images that Tommy Ton took backstage at John Galliano during the recent Mens' Paris Collections. As per the reposting of The Sart's Jazz Age photos earlier in the week, I have selected my favourites to share with you here. Which is every other photo, basically. Enjoy. . .


This shot makes me think of 'Un Chien Andalou'. I think it's a combination of the exposed white of his eye, his Dali-esque clipped moustache and the proximity of the scissor blades. All we need for the perfect re-creation is a quick cut to a moon slipping through cloud (SLICE!)

These images strike me as extremely masculine despite the gendered activity happening around the models, obviously here the usually feminine practice of applying make-up. It seems almost as if the 'feminine' aspect only serves to underline their manhood, in that it persists despite their soft curls, reddened lips and smoky eyes. 
Theirs is a particular refined masculinity hearking back to the 1920s, verging on a Modern dandyism. 
The tulle veils are an exquisite touch.

There is a timeless beauty to the stillness and contours of his profile. Couldn't he be a bust in the Louvre or something? And only the woman taking a digtal photo in the background and the dresser's 70's shirt locate him in the present. But- o! The boater, the tulle. His red lips and cheeks. His pallor and his tan. Galliano, it's a visual feast you have dreamt up! And proven here by Tommy Ton that there is as much to fascinate a viewer backstage as on the catwalk.

sometimes a lady

The sky is twelve shades of crushed pearl today. 
A day for dreaming and wandering thoughts. A day for endless pots of tea, for whistling kettles, for cosy light-filled homes. Books in knee-high piles. Jonquils stowed in every spare glass, their intoxicating, indulgent perfume overflowing, over-ruling even the kindled candles. A day for beautiful images from another realm where baby elephants are pets and where girls float by on their toes and where people in greyscale worlds flow on to mysterious, unknowable destinations.

Not a world where anyone actually lives, of course. These images are intimations, fantasies, spun out of silk and celluloid for drifting into on days like these. For making believe. And, for a moment, for feasting the senses before picking your book back up, before completing your tax return, before deciding what to do about dinner. But for just this moment, allow yourself to disappear.

All images by Arthur Elgort.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

To keep learning, always.

Semester Two started today and walking to campus I felt the same old thrill. The rush that comes from knowing that I get to sit and listen to someone talking at length about something that they're passionate and knowledgable about, and the familiar jolt as what they're saying triggers a million responses in my head which I try to capture whilst listening with another ear to the ongoing lecture.

Sometimes when I meet new people and we do the inevitable 'so what do you do?' dance, they look perplexed when I tell them that I've started this program. "But why?" and "how long does that take, a year?" And in the face of my explanation that it's because 1. I love to learn and 2. three and a half years, if you're super organised, they look even more surprised. "Three years? What will you do afterwards... I mean, what does that make you?"

I want to reply that the purpose of doing the PhD is to do the PhD. That it's the learning, the researching, the delicate fight to make the writing right, the meeting of like-minded souls who want to sit together to deeply contemplate the hows and whys, and the rigour of finding motivation somewhere, anywhere to be disciplined in the face of offers of coffee meet-ups and gallery wanderings ("but you're just at home, aren't you?")
I want to reply that the goal is the pleasure of doing the thing itself. 

I can't see what lies at the end of the next three or four years and I'm happy to leave that discovery to whenever I get there and, in the meantime, to soak in every single moment of this enormous challenge. Today I learned a few new terms to pepper my prose with ('citizen's media'; 'individuated' and, my favourite, 'technate' which I think means to be literate with technology?) and was presented with the notion that a few of the precepts we base our understanding of the internet on- such as that it democratises knowledges and  allows us to enact communities across the globe- are not actually accurate. I can't wait to delve further into this!

And as I walked to the library to borrow the textbook before any of the other nerds could beat me there (made it! yesssssss!) I literally felt a bounce in my step. How fortunate am I to be able to access education like this- to simply sit and listen and learn for a time? So, so fortunate. I hope I never lose a sense of that. And the best part? When I got to the borrowing desk, I got told that a thesis I've been waiting on from Oslo has arrived! It's all about the practice of dressing and clothing in Norway- and it's been flown over just for me! What a day!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

High five!

I've spent this week working on a chapter summary of my thesis and I'm starting to worry that I won't have enough to say. I know it's early days and all (being, what, five months in?) but. . . the spectre of 100 000 words lingers on the edges of my mind. And as I bullet-pointed all of my salient points (and, an aside- isn't 'salient points' a fantastic phrase? Do you think 'salient' is etymologically tied to 'saline' or 'saltiness'? The points that have the most flavour...) -anyway. As I bullet-pointed all of my salient points I began to wonder how many dot-points would be enough to span that many words.
And if I have six chapters then that's fifteen thousand words apiece, give or take. . . which. . . isn't so bad! O hang on-that's like a long-ish essay for each chapter? Totally do-able! I feel so much better!

This was going to be a whingey, whiny post about feeling intimidated by the amount of words but if I only have fifteen thousand to play with for each of those chapters... well, I'm going to have to edit the heck out of it instead! PHEW!

Wow. OK, is your head spinning? Mine is! From relief! And all it took was some division to make the humungous number not-so-intimidating after all. Happy days!

play it sweet, jazz man.

It's that time of year again!

Once a year The Sartorialist photographs the swinging cats and dolls attending the Jazz-Age Dance Party on Governor's Island. These photos are always really inspiring, really joyous and full of exquisitely realised vintage outfits. He's just put up his shots from this year- here are my favourites, but head to The Sartorialist for all of them. . .

The only fitting word for this man is 'debonair.'

It's the subtleties at work here that excite me- see his pencil moustache? The way his watch graduated to his (cuff-linked) cuff to his gorgeously coloured plaid jacket? His yellow bowtie which should really clash, but somehow works? And the dedicated panache with which he blows that trumpet!

I am just gushing now, I think. But- just look- he's wiping his neck with a red pocket handkerchief!!! I ache to live in the jazz age! Or at least to go to Governor's Island one day. . . But really, the men seem to trump the women in the style stakes each year, so my role would be simply to admire. And listen to the smokin' hot music. And drink gin.

His tatts speak of his allegiance to another kind of self-expression, which just adds layers and different meanings to this ensemb, don't you think? I'm intrigued. . .

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

your love will be safe with me

And, for the record, the other night I donned The Skirt once more, which I haven't donned since this day:

which was way back when my postcode was three letters and three numbers, the ground was crunchy-white, and my hair was still taffy-coloured. Back then, our hands were so frozen we had to depress our whole finger on the shutter (not just our agile fingertip) to take the photo. Back then, my shoes slipped on the icy snow as I twirled and twirled, the heat under that velvet belying the nip of the minus-degreed air. Back then, back then.

Since finding the skirt (a vintage Louis Ferraud silk-velvet swing skirt, taffeta-lined, heavy as a heart) I have played with it in my mind. Do you have beloved items like that? Which you simply thirst to wear but which you can't imagine having the right occasion or the perfect 'others' to team it with. My problem was I was thinking 'dressy'- but as soon as I threw a cotton leopard-print nightie under and an old denim jacket over, my late 50s-early-60s Gin-Sling-and-stuffed-olive skirt got taken to a whole other place. Wearable. Wearable not to an opera nor a Don and Betty Draper 'do but a late night hot chocolate.
Before I got in the car I spun around so that it came alive. Running across the road (no pedestrian crossing in sight) I gathered handfuls of velvet up and instantly found myself as a lady in a ballroom. What magic clothes create around us, in us, simply by being worn!

costume cavalcade

A world in which all the girls dress colourfully/ with texture/ with shape/ with effortless panache like Shala Monroque,

and all the boys dress with whimsy and old-world charm like these fellows!

{that's all}

Images from, jak&, backstage at Galliano (seen in Acne Paper) and here

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ink is the new grey marle.

o my goodness. My first thought when I woke up was, 'what would a good nannying outfit look like?'

I am helping out my dearest ysic during the school holidays, and so have spent the past two days having fun with Four and (Nearly) Seven. Shouldn't have put too much thought into the ensemb, though, because my casual-nanny "look" (all Bassike layers of grey, green and white) was brought up-to-the-minute with eau de hot chocolate on the way to the park this morning!

It's simultaneously exciting and exhausting to join them in the world of children and discover that life happens moment-by-moment. They don't care what we're doing next, only what we're doing now, and if it involves discussing our favourite kinds of puppies and what we would call them if they were a boy or a girl, so much the better.

But I know y'all are dying to hear the outcome of the latest Bassike road trip, am I right? Um.
The one to the left (to the left.)
Except mine is a deep velvety-inky navy. 

They've actually been a bit creative with the styling here because it really sits more around hip height on, unless I just have the longest legs in the world? (NB: Unlikely.) It's more of a long tee than a knee-length little-dress-number but who the heck cares? It's soft. It's slouchy. And it's going nowhere near either babycino sized hot chocolates or nuclear-pink cupcake icing. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I'm going to Bassike tomorrow. . .

. . . and I'm not responsible for what happens there!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I just demolished an entire pot of beetroot dip and I may feel a little sick but I also feel so, so satisfied.

OK, so there's a new girl- I mean, man- in town and you would be hard pressed to miss him (her?) on the blogosphere. Have you met Gary Pepper yet?

(blaaaaaaack haaaaaaat! This is beyond a joke.)

Here he is! Confused? That's because Gary Pepper just may be the new frontier of style blogging. I have been meaning to write about this blog for quite some time now- Gary Pepper Vintage is a vintage clothing company; Gary Pepper also has a blog- and is written by Nicole Warne, an Australian lady  who sources and alters every one-of-a-kind item on the site.

So, Nicole finds and reworks the clothes, then she models them before posting them online to be bid over. She also writes a blog about her everyday adventures and does outfit posts- in which she appears in her own clothes. She also posts select images of items for sale in her shop on her blog- confused yet?

 Shots off the blog of clothes for sale

Outfit post/promo for her current giveaway: a YSL ring. (Notice the pose? So similar! Not especially significant, it's just interesting...)
The overlap is extraordinary- here her virtual identity is bound up in blogging, modelling, sewing and selling, and the clothes that are for sale and the clothes that are not are almost collapsed into one big branded enterprise. That's not to critique her industry- I think that what she is doing is extremely savvy, and seems to me to be a very clever way of capitalising on both the highly visual and representative nature of style blogs as well as a way to further her label. Why design a guest collection, why not just start your own and promote it on your own (wildly successful) blog? Fascinating.

And, on a side note, the clothes are so cute! I never buy clothes online because a. I like to see how they fit first; b. I like to see how the fabric feels; and c. I am super-competitive and get too worked up over online auctions to enjoy the experience. Shopping for me is slow, solo browsing, looking at everything (yes, everything) and thinking carefully over what I might like and why I don't like what I don't (this is partly why I like to shop solo. You don't want to come shopping with me unless you have stamina and patience, friends.) 
But. Gary Pepper is tempting me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

only love is all maroon.

To continue the Haute Couture love-in (though Givenchy's collection had by far and away the most personal impact), here are my favourite looks as shown by Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel. Sometimes I love what Kaiser Karl does, sometimes I feel choked by the saccharine lace and austere boucle creations. That's not to say that they aren't wonderful in their way, but that they are a contrast to the times, such as this very time, that I am building a wild wishlist in my head and devising ways to recreate the looks with my own wardrobe. (This time it's kind of possible!!! HURRAH!)

Let's begin:

Excuse me while I scrape myself up off the floor. Desperate perfection. The boots with the featured toe, the colour, the fit, the shape, her messy hair and her insouciant expression.

A glamour from another time. The high, cropped fit of the coat around the torso is beautifully juxtaposed by the full swing skirt. 

Red again. The only colour I want on me all of a sudden. It makes me think of these lovely photographs of Miroslava Duma on

(p.s. this Lanvin dress? This Lanvin dress? I sigh a sigh.)

OK so obviously not quite the same shade of red, but the head to toe-ness of it? The bold warm rush of it? yes. yes. yes.

This dress is so wrong it's right- mutton sleeves! tweed! buttoned-down conservatism! totally concealed sexiness! It's all here, it's wonderful.

(I love the weird pose she's pulling in this shot! It's probably just a case of unfortunate timing, and she was about to turn to go back up the runway and the photog just happened to snap her then but- tee hee! Stiff swingy arms! Splayed legs! It looks like she's in the middle of the 'Thriller' dance. Love love it.)

And finally- and don't get any ideas, anyone- but finally. Best till last. If I ever get married, can I say my vows in this, please?

All images from except the two of Miroslava Duma which are from

porcelain bones, silken senses and palpitating hearts.

I saw Ricardo Tisci's Haute Couture collection for Givenchy and my first reaction was "freakin wow." 

It is as though he has drawn the skeleton out from underneath its everyday womb of muscle, flesh and fat and has appliqued it into fabric- the network of bones radiating out and branching into recognisable shapes- the diminishing arch of a ribcage, the gentle swell of a woman's hips, the armour-like jut of shoulder blades.

What blows my mind about this dress is the way that Natasha Poly's body becomes part of it- the vision and form of her skin and limbs through the dress literally give it it's shape, and brings its meaning to life. She might as well be dressed from the inside out. 
On a side note, the perfection of the fit makes me ache a little.

See how the feathers melt into being out of the fabric? 

From a lace skeleton we see muscle added to the form- the feathers and construction of this jacket are like sinews exposed to the air, visually as meaty, as latently powerful as flesh.

I can't actually articulate how this look makes me feel. Try to deconstruct a gasp and you will understand my difficulty.

This is like skin to me. Her skeletal form is rendered invisible though the construction of  garments that hint at her shape, that there is form and order underpinning the loveliness that we see. 
The lace puts me in mind of the network of cells that make up skin- this is a surface composed of a minute and exact of cells, each perfect and contained. Together there is a unified whole, but brought into being by a thriving microcosm. 
(Does this even make sense? I would never have thought I would one day regret dropping high school science because I would need biological words to help me describe an haute couture collection!)

 Would you just look at the spine detail!

 The construction of this look is exquisite.
See the perfect symmetry of it? The way that she is framed by the clothing?

To pull a Tavi: hfegfef efbxhlsbdljwGD LYGXWYTXBE KWHJHygfwewf wyggyewq
(Translation: my mind is completely and utterly blown apart. And my heart is actually aching at the perfection, vision and realisation of this collection. It is just too. much.)

Thank you.

Thank you.

All images from