Saturday, March 27, 2010

it washed over me, this ecstasy, this found connection, and a feeling that I was in the right place at the perfect time.

This post could also be titled ‘How Bloggers Are Taking Over The World.’
When I was living in Toronto last year, the highest of the high department stores in Canada, Holt Renfrew, got on the style blog bandwagon. They hung photographs taken by The Sartorialist in their mensware department, and filled their glass street-front windows with collaged homages to their ‘favourite’ bloggers. Or, as I cynically think, bloggers whose aesthetic tie in nicely with that of Holts. As a result, they unveiled window displays in honour of The Sartorialist, Garance Dore, BryanBoy, I Want I Got, jak&jil and Sea of Shoes as well two windows featuring a tangle of computers, magazines, bags and shoes meant to represent the collision of retail, goods, image, technology and the fashion industry.

I walked out and over with my camera one cool, lush night and photographed everything. From multiple angles. For quite a while. As the cars sidled past on Bloor St and walkers-by stared at me (but in a polite way, it was Canada after all!)

Cardboard faced Scott Schumans showing the men of TO how to dress. Exclusively in varying shades of grey, apparently.

This look could be called ‘contemplative (with knitted pigeon)’.

A display of a Parisienne and what could be more chic, more French than… baguettes?

I find the fact that the Bryan Boy mannequin is placed in a Holts bag ironically symbolic. Never one to shy away from a creative collaboration with brands, BB was the perfect choice. After all, it was he who Marc Jacobs plucked from obscurity to be the namesake for the 'BB' bag on the strength of a fan video he made about the label.

A sea of SOS’s Jane Alridges! You can see it better if you zoom in on the photograph but the ’sand’ was glittery sandals, starfish and scattered shoes. This was my favourite display.

The quintessential ‘Jane.’ Right down to the pose and the smile.

There’s a chapter in all of this about the commercialisation of bloggers’ identities and blogs themselves (and it goes well beyond being realised in a window display.) Thoughts are swirling half-formed in my mind about the ethics of making poster children of under-18 bloggers (a topic canvassed on Footpath Zeitgeist in relation to Tavi), and the way that the commercially driven fashion world is mining another subculture for inspiration and street cred. This is what fashion has done for such a long time, though, and it goes both ways- Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren commercialised punk, yes, but I think there’s a case in that they also drove it further and to a bigger audience.

And surely having your blog represented visually in an enormous window display in a prestigious store on Toronto’s luxury strip has got to do good things to your site traffic, which could then drive up the price premiums for advertising on your blog? And so it goes. But what about the grassroots aspect of blogging? Is some sense of authenticity and community sacrificed through these high-profile, lucrative collaborations or is it just part of the game now? Big questions I don’t have answers for. . . yet.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

the light in the dark

… and her name is Angela McRobbie.

I’m reading Postmodernism and Popular Culture and am finding that she’s hitting all my bases- the perceived differences between youth subculture and mainstream popular culture; how the latter co-opts the former for authenticity; the relationship between commercialism, career, community and subculture (swap 'subculture' for 'personal style bloggers' and that’s my PhD written, right there); the ‘Real Me’ and ‘I’ and fragmentation; and so much else! And the book is due back at the library today and I’m only halfway through (the perils of starting (devouring?) Anna Karenina when you have a library deadline. Though the fault is mostly mine, I doubt we will ever be friends, Fisher Short Loan.)

And a string of other fairy-lights wrapping around my MacBook: the discovery of a whole host of other bloggers including 4th and Bleeker, Fashion Hayley, Style Lines and Zanita who are all Australian and are all high quality (clear photos, distinct authorial voice- what a relief!); my supervisor’s recommendation of Footpath Zeitgeist whose posts I immediately wanted to start commenting on (but when I tried to articulate my responses, I felt like I was rambling incoherently compared with her clearly expressed thoughts- talking of feelings of academic fraudulence, which we were in class this week. Hear, hear!); and finally, the continuing development of my logo by my beautiful and talented friend Lindy who is scarily good at graphic design.

Friday, March 19, 2010

a dilemma expressed, panicky-journal styles

So things have been a challenge, blogosphere. The thrill of starting postgrad is the expanse of time that stretches in front of you, delicious, writable time that you plan to fill with reading books in cafes, thinking profound thoughts that somehow billow through your mind and become startlingly good prose on the page. Time that will culminate in the kind of writing experience that has you buckled up on a wooden kitchen chair at 3AM, hair sticking at all angles because you have been absent-mindedly dragging at it you try to pluck the word that is wilfully receding from you and smack it into your sentence, and forgetful of the fact that o! maybe sleep might be helpful at some stage and o! drinking seventeen cups of green tea in a row doesn’t really count as dinner and but o! you don’t care because you’re in the grip of it.

That’s what I’m working towards, dear reader. But I’m finding that to get there I need to do other things first. First problem- the dilemma of being able to go anywhere you want and not knowing where to go. Second problem- you can choose a direction to pursue and then become paralysed by the choices you didn’t choose. And then, before you know it, it’s 4.30PM, you’ve already eaten dinner (to give you something legit to do to avoid the problem of approaching challenging books) and you’re scouring Facebook for something, anything to distract you from your indecision. Did I mention that it’s only week three?