Sunday, June 26, 2011

This is no time for the jazz flute.

Anna Piaggi is marvellous. 
Here she is, photographed by Tommy Ton (in Florence? Milan? I forget) in full sail. I spy Rococo makeup, leopard fingerless gloves, shades of Grey Gardens about her crocheted shawl and floral scarf, what looks like an enormous fob on a toggle chain hanging from her ear and all I can say is- I want more, more, more!

There ain't no party like a mixed stripes party! (to be hollered to the tune of 'S Club Party') 

 A brown lace skirt is an adventurous choice, especially teamed with a black biker jacket and a bag that looks like it was a shagpile carpet in a former life. I read this sentence and I think 'it can't make sense! It won't make sense!' but you look at her and everything is right in the (styled) world. 

 Love everything about this photograph including (and not limited to) her furrowed brow, the teal bus in the background, and the racing stripes of magenta down her furred back.

I think the name of this jacket should be 'Vegan's Nightmare.' 
 In other news, my longing for a sheeps fur jacket remains unabated. Failing to afford a Margiela one a la Hanneli, I found a Rodarte X Opening Ceremony cardigan with sheeps fur sleeves, almost hyperventilated, then realise the back of the cardy was made of cotton knots. 
Now that's just silly. 
Because I tried it on (of course I did) and my back was freezing while my arms were toasty and pretty much the hottest arms one could imagine, clad as they were in golden fleece. So I walked away, just that little bit more embittered because I came so close and yet was still so far. Why would you do that to me, Rodarte X Opening Ceremony? I'm all for layering a warmer item over the back bit but what if I want to just be smothered in sheeps fur so I look like a big, melting marshmallow? What are you gonna do about that, huh?
I think the lesson we can all learn from is that when the item you love is by Margiela and you spend all your money on books and coffee to keep you up reading said books, sheeps fur can only be a distant dream.
It's practically a modern day tragedy.
Also: marijuana-shaped jewellery. How do we feel? I'm not convinced. 

images by Tommy Ton, of course. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

"I want to take my pictures beyond the facts, towards poetry."

Christian Lacroix Duchesse Satin Dress, Paris, July 1995  
Irving Penn

Lost, Mad or Lust, Maudlin or Lovers, Mystical or Llamas, Marvellous

One of the highlights of my PhD so far has been discovering The Arcades Project. This immense, evocative, thorough and unfinished work was a project that Benjamin was in the midst of researching as World War Two broke out. Begun as a newspaper article, it soon sprawled into 'the theatre of all (Benjamin's) struggles and all (his) ideas." It is unfinished because Benjamin committed suicide (allegedly) in the midst of trying to flee Nazi-occupied France in 1940.

The brilliance of this work cannot be understated. In writing the detail of 19th century Paris, he both preserves its memory and resuscitates it through the intimacy, immediacy and breadth of his material. As a reader, you wander through a metaphoric Paris, experiencing its multitudinous facets as they are revealed to you in glimpses and snatches- the description of a hoop skirt moving across the footpath to contemplation of the Louis Philippe style of decoration ('the belly overspreads everything') to historical details about the competing omnibus companies and the colour of their coaches to the names of people who were the architects of Haussmann's new Paris and their familial relations to one another. 
For someone who's imaginative, often what Benjamin writes is a match sparking against the striking surface of your mind, so ensuing the weird, the wonderful, the teasing.

Thus it seems fitting that as a celebration of what has been a lovely semester of weekly Benjamining, here I present my favourite excerpts from this week's convolutes (L-Dream House, Museum, Spa and M-The Flâneur) in Benjamin's own style.

L [Dream House, Museum, Spa]

The modern city as a collective place and space for dreaming. In this, Benjamin alchemises the concrete materiality of the city into the intangible, the shared, the ethereal. Some of the 'dream houses' of the collective are listed as: 'arcades, winter gardens, panoramas, factories, wax museums, casinos, railroad stations.' (405) Perhaps they are such because they are places where life happens but does-not happen- places of waiting, of wandering, of passing through, of remembering. Except for factories- places of dreaming because the workers are in a state of waiting for the day to finish? Or slipping into sonambulance because of the repetition of their labour? Or entering an ecstatic state because they are at the cutting edge of modernism, transformed from single units into a collective, unified in purpose? (socialist impulse versus boredom versus tedium)

"Arcades are houses or passages having no outside- like the dream." (406)

Anecdote of homeless painter who hides in a wax museum for the night. So he ends up sleeping in the bed of a waxwork cholera patient for six weeks, waking each morning under the gaze of the kindly waxwork nurse. (408)

"How much I admire those men who decide to be shut up at night in a museum in order to examine at their own discretion, at an illicit time, some portrait of a woman they illuminate by a dark lantern. Inevitably, afterward, they must know much more about such a woman than we do." André Breton, Nadja (Paris, <1928>) (408)

M [The Flâneur]

Paris as "the landscape built of sheer life" (417) Both in the sense that buildings were erected, inhabited and adapted according to need, and also because of how populaced it was- the centre of the modern world and peopled with millions of inhabitants. And the life that was birthed alongside modernism- the machines, the forward-motion of ideas, the turning of the gaze to the everyday (Baudelaire). The city as the new landscape (contrary to the Romantics and their wildernesses)- "(Paris) opens up to him as a landscape even as it closes around him as a room."(417)

"stairs like the train of a dress" (419)
 I think of this Tim Walker image.

"Dialectic of flânerie: on one side, the man who feels himself viewed by all and sundry as a true suspect and, on the other side, the man who is utterly undiscoverable, the hidden man." (420) The dialectic of style blogging too, perhaps- or any kind of personal blogging. That you are metaphorically exposed to the gaze and consideration of your readers whilst simultaneously concealing aspects of yourself that are not hidden so much as non-existent in your online selfhood.

"Streets as domestic interior... 'the shops resemble closets'" (422) Mentally refers me to the old dream of being locked in a store after-dark for hours of playing with the stock, letting yourself out sometime before dawn, armed with thieved swag. When I was a kid, my dream location was a toy store, then from around 10 or so, a bookshop. Now it alternates between bookshop and a department store composed of The Corner Shop, Colette, Barneys, Liberty and Dover Street Market. A dream location indeed!)

"In 1839 it was considered elegant to take a tortoise out walking. This gives us an idea of the tempo of flânerie in the arcades." (422)

"The best way, while dreaming, to catch the afternoon in the net of evening is to make plans. The flâneur in planning." (423) Sometimes you have no idea what on earth Benjamin is talking about. It's like he's jotting down notes to self that only he could hope to decipher.
"O night! O refreshing darkness! ... in the stony labyrinths of the metropolis, scintillation of stars, bright bursts of city lights, you are fireworks of the goddess Liberty!"- Baudelaire, Le Spleen de Paris, p. 113 (434)

And finally, a prophetic word- "The man of letters: 'The most poignant realities for him are not spectacles but studies.'" Alfred Delvau, Les Dessous de Paris (Paris, 1860) (435) 
I wake up and my mind is amidst thoughts, my floor is strewn with books, I come to the ARC and swim through letters all day, I walk home nutting out vague ideas. I fall asleep musing over what I did that day and wake again to do it all once more. 
Often as I walk and think, I am insensible to my surrounds. In this way, I have unwittingly ignored and likely offended many people who I would otherwise stop and chat to. I also get caught out staring at people unseeingly when they start frowning in my direction and I realise they must think I am being rude when I'm actually thinking (and being rude.) So most of the time the world of ideas is more immediate and in this way "real" to me than the tangible world that I inhabit.

it's true.

There's no money in poetry, but there's no poetry in money either.
-Robert Graves

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

In the ARC, after dark, In Vogue.

My book has been recalled to the library. I am trying not to think bitter and unkind thoughts about the crashing bore who has recalled it and instead am taking this opportunity to savour it- In Vogue: The Illustrated History of the World's Most Famous Fashion Magazine. 'Savour' or 'speed-read', what you will.

As I read, I keep coming across tidbits that make me mentally exclaim 'I've got to blog that!' So, you see, even when I'm reading in the depths of PG-ARC in a race of time against the Loans Desk, you are still on my mind. If that isn't true love, I don't know what is. So you can feel free to look at the items I'm sharing with you as mementos of our love (cause it's mutual, right?), if you like, and what's mine is as good as yours.

So I saw this photograph by George Hoyningen-Huene, published in September 1933 

and instantly thought of this photograph by Irving Penn, published in May 2004. 
Beautiful, no? And a nice nod to Vogue's history.

Hoyningen-Huene also took this image
 which looks like it was taken at the beach but really was taken at the Vogue studios in Paris. 
'The models were seated on boxes, and the low wall surrounding the roof, rendered slightly out of focus, simulated the sea and the horizon.' (p71)
I think there's something quite lovely about such an iconoclastic image being a sham- a beautiful sham. Which could be a metaphor for fashion as well, don't you think? (Oo deep. I feel like I can go there with you, though. I feel like you get me, and what we have is for real. Wouldn't you say?)

Also- did you know that this is a photograph?
I know, right?! 

I also have a funny, totally un-PC anecdote to share with you. So Edna Woolman Chase is the longest-serving editor in Vogue's history, running it from 1914-1951. She's the one who really set the philosophy of the magazine according to this book's authors (Angeletti and Oliva for those playing at home) and she was exacting, taking her subject matter extremely seriously and thinking clearly about the image she wished her staffers to embody in representing Vogue. "She believed that to work at Vogue, one must be and look Vogue. "We at Vogue", she said on (one) occasion to an editor who had tried to commit suicide by leaping onto the train tracks, " don't throw ourselves under subway trains, my dear. If we must, we take sleeping pills."" (p23.) 
Nothing like some moral support and pastoral care from your boss.

Anyway, I'd better get back to work. Especially as I'm currently on page 71 of 391. Luckily there are lots of glossy pages of photos or I would be pulling a few all-nighters. 
And I suspect that sleep deprivation isn't very Vogue.

The Incorporation of Bloggers Continues

Bryanboy, Fashion Toast, Style by Kling and the Industrie Magazine blogs are all now being hosted by a new platform, NOWMANIFEST.

I happened upon this development by chance when I was following up reference details for an old post and was surprised to see that such successful blogs have combined under the umbrella of a third party. The manifesto (if I can be so bold) of NOWMANIFEST reads as follows

" “The bloggers have moved from commentators to creators; gone from front row next to Anna Wintour to backstage next to Alber Elbaz in but one calendar year. We have entered the next stage.” - MATERIALWORLD @

Gathering the world’s most renowned bloggers in fashion under the NOWMANIFEST name, we aim to inspire and guide readers around the world. Our bloggers are handpicked due to their strong sense of trends and great impact on their readers. NOWMANIFEST addresses the modern consumer with an eye for fashion and style, and the ones seeking to be fashion-forward.
Throughout history, fashion is known to reflect trends in modern society. NOWMANIFEST should therefor (sic) not only enlighten readers alike all over the world, but also act as a diving-board into the aspiring world of fashion today.
It all happens right here, right NOW."

Not least because they called fashion an 'aspiring world', which is probably the polar opposite of what it actually is (an 'inspiring world', n'est-ce pas?)
The positioning of bloggers is also strange to me- "the bloggers" invoked by the opening quote reads like a massive, silent force, one that has been co-opted by NOWMANIFEST into "our" bloggers. "Our bloggers" who NOWMANIFEST had no part in shaping or assisting to their stratospheric positions- what claim can NOWMANIFEST make on the bloggers it now hosts? And why do these "superbloggers" even need a host like this? 
There's something about this I can't put my finger on- I mean, it doesn't really matter, does it? Some bloggers get their sites redesigned and have another portal at which users can find their blogs. Someone call the New York Times
And yet, there's just something about this seamless incorporation of bloggers that makes me uneasy.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I guess I just have an associative brain.

Not that you care, but the name 'Pitti Uomo' always makes me think of Aunt Pittypat.

I'm sure other people have come to think of Jak&Jil.
This might be why.

fecking yes.

 'Well, here we are again.' // 'But this time we're seniors.'// 'And we're gonna rule the schoool.'

I feel like this time of year in Florence, everyone's working their tan (werking?) and strolling around, all casual, or sitting on concrete fence things.

I mean, right?

And also: 
 This batchel is ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as the word 'batchel.'

 Well, this just defies explanation. And I love it.

 Backpacks like this are poised for world domination.

 You just wait.

You'll see.

And finally:
You ain't got nothin' if you ain't got pedal straps to match your brogues.

all images by the inimitable Tommy Ton for GQ

no, I mean-

Celine Resort 2012


 o heavens. This most of all.

Givenchy Resort 2012

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The best writing advice I've ever heard

My supervisor read this in a new book on writing. 
Some literary luminary (he reckoned Hemingway) gave this as a reply when asked about his writing method:

"I write a sentence. Then I write another sentence."


Tuesday, June 14, 2011


from the house of one of my dearest.

Quite a lot of bile and a couple of moments of brightness.

Blogs have proved an endless source of debate for online media platforms. If blogs aren't overtaking the fashion industry as we know it, they are shallow, whiney spaces upon which self-absorbed teens exercise their narcissism. If blogs aren't these vapid streams of consciousness, they are a savvy portal with a wide, engaged readership which are ripe for access by PR agencies and brands. 
Bloggers have sparked heated debates over attendance at industry-only events, they have been the recipients of a number of vile Twitter attacks, and yet they are still producing interesting, thought-provoking personal content. 
So, without further ado, I introduce the spectrum of what I have been reading online in this past week. All perspectives are present and accounted for! 

Reblogged from BoF

"There is one form of fashion blogging however that I am yet to fully understand. The style blogger. When I say I don't understand, it's not so much I don't get why they are continually taking photos of themselves and sharing them with the world (although their unashamed vanity does freak me out a little). More so I am continually left wondering why so many people admire them for doing it. "
-from Laure Burvill's 'The style blog stigma'
This is a not-particularly-groundbreaking opinion piece on style bloggers and yet what it conveys is a common sentiment- a state of bafflement at why bloggers do what they do and irritation that they have become so popular. As usual, instead of trying to tease apart why people might enjoy reading style blogs, the activity is shut down as 'fawning' done by 'the masses.' This kind of sneering work, haunted as it is by shades of elitism and panic  about 'the industry', bothers me no end. (I'm still trying to figure out if 'style blog stigma' was selected as the title because of the alliteration. What is the 'stigma'? Having a style blog? Odd.) 

And, in a similar (yet much more pernicious vein), here we have Kat George's article 'How blogging got so bitchy' published on the same platform, The Vine, giving an account of two Twitter accounts attacking a number of Australian style bloggers. I would suggest that it is not 'blogging' that has got bitchy, but attitudes towards style bloggers. They seem to be seen as fair game, perhaps because they place themselves in the public sphere, yet I don't think that means that a no-holds-barred attack on them is ever appropriate. As George writes, it is outright bullying- what these Twits are writing is cruel, malicious and snarky, not constructive or thoughtful or even politely critical in any way. 

And then- the break up. Brands break up with bloggers

Yet there are still blog like that of the delightful Roz of Clothes, Camera and Coffee which thoughtfully engage with the personal life of their blogger. Roz is Welsh and has a classically vintage style which she shares on her thoughtful blog. She also writes about her love of books, her daily life and, admirably, her painful and challenging experience with scoliosis. She blogged about the latter for IFB and you can read all about it here: Blogging against adversity.
The blogs of most style bloggers I read do not engage with the furore that surrounds their practice, and it is restorative to escape the internet maelstrom and just read blogs like this. Style bloggers may frequently be written off as vain, shallow, and self-important but I think that often what is being attacked is a straw man that bears little or no resemblance to most style bloggers.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

'saturday morning' or 'of COURSE I'm bossy' or 'it's a referencing nightmare.'

I woke up this morning feeling peaceful. I hope this will be a week of letting loose all of the ideas in my head and not a week of agonising over whether or not I should use the word "real". Which is kind of what happened on Thursday. So, okay; you pick up, you keep going.
As always, I am inspired by old photographs I found while trawling the net for a quote from Anna Wintour I read last year. Note to readers: I like 'trawling' better than 'trolling' to describe what you do when you search the web endlessly (sometimes pointlessly.) The former makes me think of fishing and nets and early morning lakes and the latter makes me think of MMORPGS. Probably because of the invocation of trolls? Anyway, let's just all agree that 'trawling' is well superior and then look at what I found. Because it's Saturday, after all, and what else do you have to do? 

 Bogey on a bicycle. I mean, really!

 Stefano Pilati killing it with sexy layers and ARE THEY LINEN DEALBREAKERS? If they're good enough for the head guy at YSL, they should be good enough for anyone. And all the gents who have asked me how they should dress, print this photograph and stick it to your mirror.

I don't know who this girl is but I know this: that's one bangin' jumper.

 Queen of Babes, Jane Birkin. Do you think she and Francoise Hardy had a Fringe Appreciation Society? I'm imagining an Enid Blytonesque affair with top secret meetings in a clubhouse with an entry password and a 'mascot dog' called Skipper. 

 I look at this image and all I think is 'hair, hair. yeah, yeah.' Thanks, Bad Nineties TV advertisements.

 Lara Stone, Agyness Dean and posse, smoking. Even Aggy's tee-shirt is smoking. What lesson can we take away from this?

 I labelled this file 'dreamboy' for obvious reasons.

I didn't name this file 'dreamman' but if I had my time again...

I did not take these images and don't own them. They're all from Google.