Hand at head, eyes downcast pretty much sums me up right now. My library keeps recalling the books I am right in the middle of and nowhere near being finished with which means that I have been motionless save for my hand turning the page for the past couple of days.
Last week I got an email saying that the university in Norway that sent out a PhD thesis upon my request needed it back. So I took it into the library, desperation leaking out of every pore as the librarian asked if I had got everything I needed out of it.'No. . .?'
Could I borrow it from elsewhere? (It's an unpublished manuscript, so that's a no.)
Had I photocopied it? (It's about 380 pages long- and all one sided- so, again, no.)
'You know,' she said, leaning forward confidentially. 'When we send you the recall notice on document delivered items like this, it only means that the original lender wants it back. You don't actually get fined if you take your time getting it back to us.'
I stood stock still, ears pricked. 'So. . . could I take it back home for a couple more days before you scan it back in?' Lightning fast she grasped the book as if I was about to launch myself at the counter and wrestle it from her arms. 'No, now you've given it back we have to keep it. But you should wait a few weeks then request it again.' Dear reader, it took four months of waiting to get it the first time! Cue much gnashing of teeth.
Would you believe it, only days later, I got another email. O yes. And so, Mr. Michael Warner, and your most excellent theories on publics and counterpublics, we have reached an impasse. Do we want to go into hiding from the good librarians at Sydney University, subsisting only on the energy your theories give my ideas? Do we want to say 'hang it!' to the fines which will accrue with lightning speed and which I will drag my feet for three years about paying (and I am notoriously good at racking up late fees. $60 at my local library in high school was my personal best)? Or shall we wring our hands and say a tearful goodbye tomorrow, as I desperately skim read the last four chapters and inwardly mutter curses at the other student who had the impudence to request you mere days after I hired you? (MERE DAYS!!!! Cue more teeth gnashing.)
Wish me luck, blogosphere. Hereafter I will either be a fugitive on the run with a stolen book or a broken woman, bereft and bitter.
Image of Louise Brooks from Google (thanks Google! You're the best.)
First item on the agenda: so I was flicking through Teen Vogue the other day. I think we've already had the chat about my unashamed affection for this mag? The colourful, clashy-print styling and fresh all-American locations are distinctive and fun- I can leave the Lindsay Lovato/Miley Duff/Joe Pattinson articles though. But maybe that's what your average 15 y.o. Ameriteen wants to buy. (To adapt an old Playboy defense- 'I only buy it for the editorials!') So I was flicking through Teen Vogue the other day- and well, well, well what did I find? This!
Coverage on a Coach collab between Karla (s' Closet), Emily and Krystal with fully glossy pictures of the bags each blogger designed and a photo of them, courtesy of their blogs. Interestingly, Kelly of The Glamourai who also designed a bag didn't get a look in- not "Vogue" enough? Pure speculation. But I just flicked over to her blog and-! Yes, I like it very much. Finding a new blog I like is similar to hitting it off with a new friend- something just clicks into place and two hours later you're reading what they wrote in February last year and it feels like you've known them forever. This is probably a significant point for the old t-hesis- anyone else feel this way when reading blogs?
Second item on the agenda: back to Teen Vogue and hey, who's this? O HAI Susie! I see you, acting as style-spiration (where do these anodyne fashionese words come from? And why is my brain infected with them, why?) with your floral pants and your bloggy je ne sais quoi.
Third item on the agenda: back to the merry old land of Oz. Bunda have enlisted Alexandra Spencer of 4th and Bleeker to be their spokesmodel. I don't know if you can read the tiny print but the text is written in the style of a blogpost: chatty, informal, a bit tongue in cheek, and rife with product placement. Although being an advertisement, it can't really be termed 'placement', I suppose, because the whole point is the product. I don't know how many bloggers would be able to afford strings of South Sea pearls- are they really your target, Bunda?- but I suppose they're trying to step into the youth market and what better way than by co-opting the brands of bloggers whose identities reinforce the brand of the company. So, cool, wealthy, young, jet-setting types: Bunda wants your business.
Fourthly- and we are not surprised, are we, because he is a 'superblogger' after all- but Tommy Ton has done an interview at Dazed Digital. Read it here. Canadian department store Holt Renfrew has featured his photographs in an exhibition- remember Holts from way back when? It looks like the opening involved Tommy taking photographs of the feet of guests who stood on a mat printed to look like cobblestones. As in, (for those who don't yet check jak&Jil on a daily basis) to imitate his photos. And there he is below, playing along- wow. It's just so... weird? Actually imitating his own work at his own exhibition (art) which is held in a fashion department store (commerce) in which both Holts and Ton benefit from the other's branded identity and prestige. And caught up in it, with their delighted grins and their Balenciaga Motorcycle bags are the punters- possibly also his readers- who will quaff some wine and go home happy that their Jimmy Choos were snapped by a bona fide Fashion Person (who, as SNP points out, used to work at Holts in the holidays as a part-time job and is a self-taught photographer.) This blogging game, ain't it strange!
Fifthly, if you are interested in what Tavi had to say about her ideaCity talk (which I blogged about the other day) you can find an interview with her at the Dazed website too. And just to round out the world dominance, the Tavi and Tommy Ton interviews were both conducted by another blogger (slash fashion journalist) Sarah Nicole Prickett.
So ends today's trading. Is anyone else's head spinning?
Regal angel wings ring by Galibaldy UK (um... a heartbeat away from being too late. YESSSS)
A Mulberry Alexa bag. (Uh, never going to happen. And no, I don't want it because it's the latest "it" bag (vom) but because it reminds me of going to school in the 1900s. Not that I did. But I've always like imagining what it must have been like to go to school and write on a slate instead of paper and fish for tiddlywinks in the creek by the schoolhouse at lunchtime and stand on a little platform at the front of the class to recite your multiplication tables. All the while wearing gingham frocks to the knee and ribbons at the end of my long plaits ('course I have long plaits in the imaginary time travel. Don't question the details.) and the Alexa bag slots right in there. I'd stuff in my red apple for Teacher ('course I'd be a suck-up in this imaginary time travel. See previous parentheses) and extra chalk and a dog-eared novel that I'd read under my desk when Teacher talks about Geography. So you see. The Alexa bag is basically ESSENTIAL for my life. But- inevitably, undoubtedly and irrevocably- never going to happen.)
Somebody stop me.
ps. the fast banjo in 'little lion man' by mumford and sons gets me everytime. It's like a runaway freight train just crashed into a country hoe-down and everyone's invited!
I just watched the video recording of a talk that Tavi Gevinson gave at ideaCity, a three-day conference held in Toronto earlier this year. She chose to speak about Sassy magazine and why a publication like that is still needed by teenage girls today. Anyone who regularly reads Tavi's blog Style Rookie will know that Sassy has a special place in her heart. A magazine that was launched in 1998, Sassy broke through the surface gloss of other magazines which encouraged girls first and foremost to make themselves attractive to men- as if this was the most important message young women needed to hear. In her talk, Tavi even cites an issue which advocated going to university to find a husband (forget about learning! That won't make you married. . .)
What I found interesting about Tavi's talk is that she is fighting to claim a space for the kinds of messages that she thinks young girls aren't getting today, and she outlines what 'the new Sassy' would do- 'the most subversive thing that a magazine could do today wouldn't be to feature weird clothes or weird music, it would be being honest and encouraging teen girls to be vocal.'
I wonder if style blogs are already providing this space. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be more spaces where teenage girls are able to exert agency and express their experiences- there absolutely should, to present as many oppositional messages to the dumbed-down, liberated-through-my-aggresively-adult-sexuality message (see: Lindsay Lohan, Miley Cyrus, Hilary Duff) or the my-world-is-clothes-and-boys message (see: The OC, Gossip Girl) spewed daily at girls by pop culture.
What has been interesting to note as I've been reading lately is the new space that style blogs have staked a claim on in the public sphere. They upturn the notion of earning authority on a subject through long practice and learning at the knee of someone older and more experienced- all it takes to be heard now is an internet connection and a keyboard. Anyone can start a blog, the authority they exert made available to them by the very existence of the world wide web.
Style blogs thumb their nose at the notion of a closed public sphere which silently stipulates that personal lived experience has no place in publics. This explains the derision of personal, journal-style blogs as narcissistic and mundane (ergo unimportant) because personal-content bloggers are supposedly absorbed in their boring little lives to the exclusion of all other concerns. And yet that feminist cry that the personal is political rings through my mind, and the very fact that thousands- even millions- of people the world over regularly read style blogs tells me that something very important indeed is going on online. And the majority of style bloggers are young (aged anywhere between 14-30) and female- they are girls and young women writing about their lives, their opinions, their passions, ideas, thoughts- it's exciting because it is already happening. Without fanfare, without someone from above 'ok'ing it- to co-opt a phrase whose origin I am completely unsure of (and hope, as a wintry-white girl, that I'm not causing offence but-) sisters are doing it for themselves.
As a further example of how this agency is already being practised, check out Tavi's list of the approach to fashion she'd want to see in a new Sassy:
Dot point two: see, um, pretty much any style blog around? Independent designers are often more affordable than the bigger established labels and perhaps more compelling to a style-hungry girl than a mass-produced copy of Alexa Chung's latest at Sportsgirl (not that I blame anyone for wanting to emulate Alexa Chung- girl's got some seriously awesome style going on. I'm directing my angst at Sportgirl. My friend Sarah told me last night that they have ripped off my Vivienne Westwood Armour ring- I say 'my' because I have one, not because Sportsgirl have copied me, per se. But, rightly or wrongly, I take it as a personal attack. Yeah, watch your back, Sportsgirl!)
Dot point five: see. . . Style Rookie. . . okay, so Tavi's blog already embodies most of the qualities that she's advocating for. That she is calling for a more widespread reflection of this is interesting because her blog allegedly has a million and a half hits (you read right) a month- already an impressively large readership to be influenced by her alternative approach of fashion and the representation of her opinions on youth, girlhood, style and feminism.
So, to sum: style blogs are a site where we see girls literally creating a space for themselves to speak and to express their lived experience and opinions. This is not the first time girls have done this (see Angela McRobbie's book Feminism and Youth Culture) but it is perhaps the most visible, widespread and publicly accessible manifestation of this that has ever been seen before. And if you think I am being hyperbolic, please come back at me with a counter example (seriously!)
I find this so exciting. Moreover, the ways in which style bloggers share their experiences is not trivial. Fashion is not trivial and neither is someone's passionate interest in it. What makes it appear trivial is the external limitations placed upon girls to be interested in fashion to appeal to boys or to compete with girls. But when girls* own their interest because it brings them pleasure to do so, well, that simply takes the power out of the hands of a patricarchal society that would keep them compliant and quiet and that poses a threat to how things have always been. So style bloggers- keep doing your thing. You're great. It's exciting. And I can't wait to see what happens next.
* I am well aware that there are a number of boy style bloggers too. I'm not trying to exclude them from my discussion of the style blogosphere because they too hold an important place in this sub/counter/whatever-it-is-culture. I haven't really thought through what's going on with them yet, having been more concerned with observing what's happening with women online but I'll flag this right now as something to come back to! And if you want to check out some cool boy style blogs, click on over to BryanBoy or My Clothing Blog to name but two.
The sky is big and bright and blue today, almost limitless and just vast enough to contain all of these ideas flying through me. I met with both of my supervisors this morning and walking home from uni, it was all I could do to restrain jubilant air punches. Luckily my arms were full of books or I would have made quite the spectacle of myself!
So on the one hand- plunging into ideas about whether or not writing about yourself is necessarily a kind of narcissism, the differences between and merging together of public and private spheres, and the authority of girl bloggers who stake and claim their own space online to exercise and express knowledges and explore aspects of their identity.
And on the other- the sprawling flourishing world of fashion theory, tied to art, tied to commerce, tied to thinkers like Barthes, Baudrillard and Benjamin. There are histories there, multitudes of thoughts just within my reach to be grasped and pored over and mulled on. There is a summer coming with days to tempt me out to sit under trees to learn, to learn, to learn.
I feel like I am brimming. And it is a glorious, glorious way to feel.
. . . but I see it as my thesis in one black-and-white photograph. So, if a picture really does tell a thousand words, maybe the key is to photocopy it one hundred times and write my student number on the front of the stack? DONE!
ps. There are too many perfect aspects to this image to pour out, one by one but to name but one- the SHOES! gah.
ps. This was in a magazine ages ago- I forget which one, and now I need the detes for the ole bibliography and am kicking myself for not keeping a record. If anyone has any clue to its origin. . . I think it was when Tavi visited the Rodarte showroom ages ago? Can I get an uh-huh?
A bit of Kristen McNenamy, Naomi Campbell and friend
+ a fashion tribute to grunge's first family
+ a little extra Courtney (cause can you ever have enough?)
= one outfit for a grungey grunge birthday party (with scrunched newspapers in the hallway, pillar candles dripping white wax, neon lollies, red wine in plastic cups and Nirvana on repeat on the stereo)
Vintage lace nightie, old bra, mYpetsQuare spotted vest (i've never understood the arbitrary capitalisations in the name of this label- anyone care to explain?), flanno from Vinnies, old tights I DIY'ed the tears and ladders into, green vintage boots from Melbourne.
Though detailing this outfit is practically redundant. I'm pretty sure part of the whole ethos of grunge style is that it has no labels, is icky, old and loved/lived-in. Unless you're the proud owner of some Marc Jacobs for Perry Ellis in which case . . . as you were.
But life is always better with friends and here is us on the street afterwards.
And if we formed a band this would be the cover of our debut album.
What was great were the reactions of people I encountered before arriving at the party. Like the guy working at the bottle-o who looked at me with barely concealed laughter and asked if I was up to anything much tonight. (With a full face of smeary make-up, unwashed hair and a bra worn outside my nightie.) I should have been deadpan and cool and told him that I was just going to kick back, y'know, unwind after a long week, but instead I got embarrassed, briefly explained the party's theme and hurried outside to call Paul to ask how far away he was because I was getting weird stares. And not the kind I normally get, like when I wear a rainbow of colours, but more of the 'is she completely insane?' ilk. Funny in retrospect. At the time, I felt like I was about to be lynched.
All in all, a good night!
Photos from Google. Obvz didn't take them or own the rights to them. The ones of me are not from Google, but from my housemate's camera. They weren't taken at the party but in our garage cause we were disorganised.
The photographer of these golden syrup images is seventeen. And she's just shot the latest Diesel campaign. Moving on.
Summer time. Almost here. And always mythologised in my mind, a place of endless golden days, dripping ice-cream cones, the shock of diamond-cold surf and the tang of sunscreen mingling with salt on skin. Cicadas loud at night. Heat so heavy it draws you down, pulls you out like taffy, makes you squint even in the dark of night. Everything outdoors- movies, meals, laughter, drinking wine in gutters, reading under dappled leaves. Short shorts with torn cuffs, pastel denim, old lace shirts and long gauzy Edardian dresses. Leather sandals. Braided sun-bleached hair.
Then the reality sets in around Christmas time: of sweating all the time, of sunburn so hot and angry it smarts when you glance at it, too hot to eat, too hot to sit on a bus or walk anywhere or even eat ice-cream. It burns burns burns.
So, for now, I'll continue to daydream and try on every item of summer wear in the ole Ikea wardrobe. This summer the swimwear will be vintage one-pieces, the headwear will be a straw fedora, the footwear will be clapped-out leather sandals, the days will be filled with friends and the satisfaction of finishing a first chapter. But for today, an afternoon destined to be full of words on technology and blogging. That I actually have words to say on these new matters is in itself a small miracle. Onwards, ever onwards.
Beautiful words stolen from a friend, snatched up to spill their truth over here:
We won't solve all mysteries and our hearts will certainly break in such a vulnerable life, but it is the best way. We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we're called home.
I saw 'I Am Love' at the movies last night. The men were dressed by Fendi, Tilda was dressed by Raf Simons at Jil Sander. The whole film was a visual feast, the gleam of light on white pearls, the juicy renting apart of a seared prawn, the langorous afternoon sunshine unravelling a lonely woman- my words seem ridiculously poetic on this grey day, this day with a soundtrack of rain. But escape into a theatre and watch the brittle exquisite performance of Tilda Swinton in this quietly foundation-shaking film and tell me you don't feel poetic too.
A Love Letter for You is a public art project I read about on the weekend. All these murals are dotted between 63rd and 45th street in Philadelphia. It would make my day to see one of these beauties on my train ride home, just slipping into view for a moment amongst the dirty brick and industrial windows.
My day in pictures (and. . . well, words, because who am I kidding? They come whether I plan to write or not):
The morning check of my daily blogroll and Tommy Ton brought this visual feast to the table. There is a delicious insouciance in wearing clashing prints- and I can't promise that I do it with as much panache as this girl- but I'm feeling it.
Articles on blogging. Thoughts sprinting off in all kinds of directions. Took two capuccinos to get through this one, not because it was dull (the opposite, actually!) but because I wanted to take pains to make sure I engaged with the writer's every point. The new thoughts it prompted are blossoming and branching through what I already have, shoving some ideas aside and intertwining with others. . . I foresee an afternoon of writing them out. The anticipation of this just prompted a smile.
Lunch time! I made a Jamie Oliver salad, easy spring vignole- all broad beans, peas, mint, prosciutto and marinated artichoke hearts. I feel disproportionately healthy and smug (it had more than a good glug of olive oil in it and it was easy- as to make! but still.) This smugness is exacerbated by my pleased-with-myselfness at almost finishing the SMH Quick crossword. The Quick crossword has become a bit of a compulsion lately. I lose track of time when I'm doing it, and elusive answers will come to me at odd times (the other night I suddenly thought 'fajita!' in the middle of a film I was at and I found myself hankering to get home and write it in. Weird? Yes, perhaps.) But today! Today I have only one tricky answer left and I suspect that it's a word I don't know because I've listed every wind instrument I can think of including 'bass clarinet' and 'oboe' and am still stumped. Seven words. Egg shaped. This is going to haunt me.*
What else, friends? I have so many ideas to share with you from what I read today but the one I'll drop into our chats now is this: online-journal type blogs are often derided for being narcissistic by their critics. I suspect that this is because the content of such blogs circulate around the life of the blogger- and this is certainly evident on style blogs, apparent in the literally self-centred outfit post photographs, written dissections of their personal clothing and style as well as tidbits of information about their offline lives.
The adjective 'narcissistic' has undeniably negative connotations, harking back to Narcissus' extreme self-absorption which led to his death (and the pining away of poor Echo.) I'm wondering on what grounds blogging about one's self can be deemed 'narcissistic'- is it simply because the content is concerned with the self? And why is this necessarily bad? Such criticism seems to be comparing blogging to something else (which I've never heard articulated) which is ostensibly 'not-narcissistic'. But what is this mysterious other text? Is it a text/s concerned with content outside of the private sphere? And if so, I think that it is hardly a fair comparison to line up two text types or genres that have different purposes and areas of interest and to criticise the one for not being the other. It seems as absurd as deriding a fictional film for being fantastical because it is not a documentary.
I think that we need to find a language to talk about blogging and blogs that is concerned with what they are, rather than what they are not. Thus, this definitional problem raises it's bold head again. It is an exciting challenge, though. . .
* Two down was 'alacrity' and I got it after I took the photo!
I kept Fashademic while I was a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney, conducting my research on personal style blogs. My degree was awarded in September 2014. You can read my thesis, "O HAI GUYZ: Between Personal Style Bloggers, Their Readers, and Modern Fashion" by clicking the link in Press. Fashademic was totes a methodological exercise.