Tuesday, August 30, 2011

the stars by which I set my course

In my mind, it's magnificent. It seems sprawling but my ideas surreptitiously intermingle with one another before you realise what is happening and all of a sudden you're three pages into something new, something marvellous, and you didn't even notice my sleight of prose. 

In my imagination, my words are eloquent, my extended thick descriptions are no longer than necessary and my teasing out of ideas is poetic, muscular, deft. You, my reader, are on a set course through a deep space of my own writing but it's so effortless it seems as though you are adrift. Peaceful. Punctuated by flares of excitement like supernovas as thoughts shift into place before your eyes. What I have noted are the stars surrounding you, a nebulous network of brilliance that you dip into, move between. 

Yes, and in my mind it illuminates me as well as you. Things become clear as they pour out of my fountain pen or assume their place in the sentences on my screen. Each word, a small step towards the final word count which will turn out to be the perfect number to contain this majestic work.

This is my thesis in my mind. It is endlessly encouraging to me in periods like this when the vastness and intricacy of my ideas seem far beyond my capabilities to shape into one coherent body. I breathe this hope in the midst of my frustration, trusting that my persistence will lead to the eventual realisation of holding it, a bound, finished book in my hands.

What else can I do but keep on? Keep on dreaming as well as writing.

Monday, August 29, 2011

I'm still not over it.

Watching this video was like an exercise in longing. 
It's not even that I want to own this collection myself (although I wouldn't say no, obviously) but that it's so perfectly rendered. And it looks exquisite from afar yet then the camera peers closely at a detail and it's all, 'WHAT? That lime green section is a zipper that's built up to look like vertebrae? And that bow is a kimono knot that somehow folds seamlessly back into the wings of that bustle? Come on!
I'm completely dazzled. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

shivers down my

Can we just discuss how terrific this dress is for a moment? 
It's a spine. In a dress. 
I repeat: a spine IN a dress. 

I don't know who is responsible for this magnificence. I wanna say McQueen because it's a very McQueen aesthetic but I couldn't find it in any of his collections that showcased skeletons. I did, however, find a snazzy, jazzy number by Schiaparelli on my travels. 

Check it.
The ribs on the back kind of look like giant fingers holding the torso (no? just me?) but I love the way they arc up under the breasts at the front. 
I imagine it would need an emaciated Victorian harridan to really do it justice. Or...

Someone like Helena Bonham Carter. O, she'd be fantastic in this Schiaparelli. 

Hang on... did I just invent the fashion equivalent of Fantasy League Football? 
Fantasy Fashion Styling? All right!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I don't even need your love but you treat me like a stranger and it feels so rough.

I don't usually post links to all the good reads I've inhaled during the week, but over this past week I read so many inspiring, interesting things that I simply have to share. Here's hoping they add some illumination to your mind too. And if you read that last sentence and are all, 'illumination to my mind?" let me defend myself by saying that I'm using all available brain function to draft an article that's due next Thursday so you've gotta throw me a bone. All right? All right. 
Let's go!

Vanessa Bruno have released a new video for their S/S 11 range featuring Kate Bosworth. I've never been one to get breathless over her (though the girl clearly knows how to rock a Proenza dress), this featurette lets Bossie showcase an impressive range of creepy stares and dreamy gazes, as well as letting her indulge a fantastic and downright odd woman-of-the-wilderness vibe that I think the world needs more of. Film directors, take note. You can see it in full below, do enjoy. And then we can whine together about how much we want everything and how we can't afford it because we're poor students and then we can go op-shopping together to recreate the magic, DIY-styles.

Riding a bus at eighteen, Frida stood next to an artisan carrying a pouch of gold dust. When the streetcar hit them, his pouch was broken open by the force of the collision and Frida’s body, ruined on concrete, was covered in what the pouch held. Gold was sunlight on asphalt. Gold was the gleam of metal through an open wound. Magenta, on the other hand, was the color of blood. “El más vivo y antiguo,” Frida called it—the most alive, the oldest shade. “He who sees the colors.” Frida was the one who had to wear them.
-Leslie Jamison on Frida Kahlo for The Paris Review

“Today, you’re not looking for perfection anymore,” says Michael Flutie, the owner of Company Management, one of several new modeling agencies that have been founded in New York in the last decade. What matters more than any particular look is a model’s attitude, her ability to project an inner life for the camera: the inner life of someone whose surface fascinates us.
A little excerpt from James is a Girl, an article by Jennifer Regan which was published as the cover story of The New York Times Magazine in 1996. It may be a long time ago now- break: where were you in 1996? I was in year six at a girls' school, still obsessed with horses (I galloped around the playground) and already the library was my favourite place. Psych!)- but it is a fantastic (I wanna say) expose, but it's more gentle, more a revelation, through the affected don't-give-a-damn front of then-new girl James King. 

I love the juxtaposition of her youth and her affected hardness, her enthusiasm and her weariness. It also reminds me of the erstwhile Tumblr of Cailin Hill, Model Burnbook. Their experiences seem similar in many ways, being perennially on the move and in-demand but so young, both so angelic-looking yet so tough. But Cailin's toughness is more than skin deep, it seemed a clear-eyed hardness that shimmered in her blood and was brilliantly etched on the acerbic Burnbook. Man, I miss that Tumblr.

Killer spread featuring Andrej Pejic and Zombie Boy for Auslander S/S 2012

 On a non-fashion related note, I have recently moved towards vegetarianism. This choice is a luxury I have, living in a country where there's an abundance of non-meat alternatives to eat and enjoy, and is one made because I've been gradually learning about the deplorable ways that animals are farmed for human consumption and I've quite literally lost my appetite for meat. My problem is not that we eat animals, but that I believe that they should be treated with dignity when alive and humanely in death. There are a bunch of ethical animal farmers in NSW and I need to do more research to find out how I can hook up with their products, but in the meantime here is a thought-provoking article arguing for ethically treating animals raised for human consumption- How Animal Welfare Leads to Better Meat: A Lesson from Spain

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"It's a reference to a Chinese meal in Toronto, so I could be wrong." // 'You can be and ARE wrong.'

Dear Rosie,
We are here to blow your mind.
With affection,
Mary Katrantzou's S/S 11 Collection 

 My first thought was an exclamation of silent sound as the construction, line and colours of this garment arrested my vision. And then. And then. I leaned forward, probably scowling a scowl of scholarly concentration as I pondered dimly, "is that a... window?"

Well, yes. Yes it is. And armchairs with pink upholstery, green walls that would make Van Gogh proud, and a brilliant red and white stripey floor that perfectly extends the line of the model's legs. If you look closely (NB: this does not have to be as closely as I looked, wherein my nose was approximately 3cm from her windowsash waist) you see how brilliantly the interior of the print frames the linearity of her body.

And that was just the beginning.
 A mini crini lampshade!
The lovechild of a greenhouse and a dining room decorated by Liberty of London!

Of course, it's not just that the clothes are brilliantly tailored nor that they are a print-lover's wildest dreams come true. It's the cleverness of the concept. 

In this collection, Katrantzou's "almost hallucinogenic" (Tim Blanks) printed interiors enfold the models, subtly realising a couple of foundational ideas in fashion theory- namely, the capacity of clothing to render visible aspects of the wearer's inner self, and the concept of clothing as a metaphorical skin, one that both protects us and serves as the interface between our selves and the world beyond us. Which is not even to touch upon the idea of clothing as a dwelling, an entity that we inhabit, a brilliant idea I first heard from Stella which deserves a proper explanation from her rather than a half-baked one from the recesses of my memory. So basically that's three theoretical ideas deftly communicated by one collection, one that also happens to be executed with impeccable construction and original beauty. Pretty darn impressive.

According to Tim Blanks' review from style.co, Mary Katrantzou had 'been looking at the highly stylized seventies photography of Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin when it occurred to her that the interiors in the pictures were just as important as the models. "With this collection, I wanted to put the room on the woman, rather than the woman in the room," Katrantzou said after the show. You could say Hussein Chalayan attempted something similar ten years ago, but his pieces were elements of a conceptual performance, while Katrantzou's were desirable clothes to be worn. The fact that they were also surreal masterpieces of the digital printer's craft only made them more seductive.'

And now for a couple more looks because they are, quite simply, fantastic and just a little bit amusing as well. I find it kind of funny how straight-faced the models are. If I was one of them, I'd be pointing features out to the audience with a goofy grin- "look! my chest is a mantelpiece! A mantelpiece!" I guess that's the reason I'm not a model. 


All images from style.com

Monday, August 22, 2011

Restructuring my thesis, being led astray by Gaston Bachelard and the fiery blaze of Cy Twombly.

I restructured my whole thesis in the margins of some other notes last week. 

See that inverted triangle? That's my sophisticated chapter plan. One hundred thousand words accounted for by a sketch that looks like a turnip.

It was, however, a very encouraging development. My thesis now has a definite flow and direction and I have made a deal with my supervisor to have chapter one written in three months. (When I typed 'three months' I imagined Ursula the Sea Witch holding up three fingers in front of Ariel- 'Got that? Three days.' I have the entire script of The Little Mermaid memorised (with character voices) and I don't think I'm going to forget it in a hurry.) 

I'm writing out all kinds of lovely enmeshed ideas- the intersection of intimacy and immensity on the style blogosphere. The way that clothing is the interface between a corporeal self and the external world, and the parallels between that and the ways bloggers 'dress' their blogs with their dressed selves. How blogs themselves are an interface between bloggers and their worlds, their offline reality and online presence, and spaces that bloggers inhabit, create and negotiate. And so on (and on, and on.) Exciting!

Yet I'm also still reading Bachelard's beautiful Poetics of Space and it is slow going (because his evocative language is so deftly layered, I don't want to miss a thing. Aerosmith?! Where did you come from?) Well, even though it is slow going, and even though it leaves my brain feeling as lively as a cinderblock, the introduction is like a passionate manifesto for poetry and the soul. 

Consider this:
"Indeed, the soul ... possesses an inner light, the light that an inner vision knows and expresses in the world of brilliant colours, in the world of sunlight, so that a veritable reversal of psychological perspectives is demanded of those who seek to understand, at the same time that they love (a) painting. They must participate in an inner light which is not a reflection of a light from the outside world. No doubt there are many facile claims to the expressions "inner vision" and "inner light." But here it is a painter speaking, a producer of lights. He knows from what heat source the light comes. He experiences the intimate meaning of the passion for red. At the core of such painting, there is a soul in combat- the fauvism, the wildness, is interior. Painting like this is therefore a phenomenon of the soul. The oeuvre must redeem an impassioned soul."

Marvellous, huh? And also evocative (to me, at least) of the late Cy Twombly's work who, although not a Fauvist, also seemed to paint from an impassioned soul.

And that's how I spent the larger part of today Googling images in the exact shade of red I had on my mind and how I pondered deeply the poetics of the soul... and how my word count stymied. I'm just going to blame Bachelard and his terribly wonderful musings and have done with.

the colour of blushes and blood, of anger and love.


Friday, August 19, 2011


I've been torturing myself lately by poring over The Coveteur. I stayed away for the longest time because I well know that, as Adrian said when he looked over my shoulder, "you have champagne tastes on a beer budget." Quite.

But they have featured people that make my breath shorter with (let's just call it what it is) envy. People such as Sally Singer's assistant/fashion writer who received Balmain cast-offs from Vanessa Traina and Teen Voguette Mary-Kate Steinmiller, whose bracelets are an exercise in pre-Proenza lustworthiness. They've even profiled Canadian jewellery designer Maryam Keyhani whose Tumblr is a personal favy dave as regular readers well know. 
Sure, it feels a bit voyeuristic to go behind peoples' front doors and snoop at all of their vintage Chanel 2.55s, top hat collections and Alaia shoes, but you quickly became incogniscent of that you come face-to-face with images like this:

It's practically obscene.

So in the interests of turning those hours into something vaguely relating to work (if it goes on Fashademic it's totally PhD related, right?) here is my list of the most gut-wrenchingly, gorge-risingly, evisceratingly lovely things that I would buy if I had a champagne salary at my disposal. They will either break your heart or your wallet, depending on your solvency.

The way the sequins graduate down the bag SLAYS me.

I imagine wearing this jacket + feathered necklace combo would be akin to looking like you have plumage sprouting from your thyroid.

 I wants them, precious.

And, The Coveteur, if you're reading this I have lots of suggestions of people who you should Covet. Like Michele Lamy, Hamish Bowles and Christine Centenera. And if you want to feature a fashion-nerdish nobody, may I humbly offer to throw open the doors of my own bedroom. I have Salvatore Ferragamo shoes with the heels torn off by the cobblestones at Sydney University, I have piles of junk stuffed into my huge wardrobe that would only take the right eye to be transformed from 'messy' to 'artistically arranged' and if it's jersey dealbreakers you want- well! Ho ho.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

On talking about being a fashion researcher.

Valerie Steele told us this great story during the question time after her talk last Friday. 
Whilst she was a grad student at Yale, she attended a cocktail event where a senior academic asked her what she was researching for her PhD. When she replied, "fashion", he reacted enthusiastically, "Oh, how interesting! German or Italian?"
She recalled feeling puzzled: "Italian fashion- you know, I thought of Dolce and Gabbana, Versace, Gucci- but German fashion? Is he talking about Lagerfeld, Jil Sander...?" 
Then the penny dropped.
"Not fascism," she replied. "Fashion."
The senior academic looked at her blankly, before turning on his heel and walking away. "And that was the end of the conversation!"

Cue uproarious laughter from the audience.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

a very fashademic photodiary

Knowing how supernaturally gifted I am with a camera, you must be waiting on tenterhooks to see my photodiary from the Sunshine Coast. 
However, allow me to gently remind you that save for an impressive effort whilst I travelled the world from Summer '08-Summer '09, my reliability as a visual recorder of events can best be described as "sketchy." 
On this trip, as inevitably is the case on all trips I go on, I pack the camera with the best of intentions then forget all about it until the last night away when I suddenly remember, repent and end up taking multiple shots of myself in various poses in hotel hallways/guest bathroom mirror reflections/what have you. I get on the plane, kick back all of the two inches allowed by those Economy seats (love your work, Virgin) and eagerly... realise how supremely lame my documentation of the trip was. Again.
I vowed that this time, this time, things would be different. I would capture a stream of sun-filtered, pretty shots a la the photo diaries of Rumi, Mandy and Sandra. I would have glowing frames of my healthy lunches and uncannily natural looking outfit shots with me lolling in some cool Cali-girl pose outside of GOMA. 
All I can say is, I tried. 
Can I help it if I don't have the patience to photograph my food before I inhale it? Can I help it that I got a mystery stain on my peach silk pants the very first day I was there? Can I help that the closest I got to 'Cali-girl cool' was twirling in excitement because they had paper, scissors and glue in the kids craft area for us to make Max Ernst-esque collages? 
I cannot. 
So I offer you what I can: 
I looked at the double 'm' and just really wanted it to be a double 'n'. If wishing could make it so...
In which I pose as if I am about to commence downhill skiing. 
I call this "Still Life (With Fries.)"

This is a new vintage silk top which reminds me of Gucci Spring 2011 every time I put it on. Worn here with some very short green denim highwaisters courtesy of the early 90s, a dying ponyskin belt and what looks like lycra shorts underneath but which is actually the closest thing to opaques I had in my suitcase. Setting a nationwide standard for style.

A few things:
-McDonalds fries with Sweet and Sour sauce as a taste combination cannot be beat. Fact.
-Adults can get scarily competitive when there are glue sticks and artistic reputations at stake. I saw some things at that kids craft area I won't be forgetting in a hurry.
-Sometimes you can find a Christian Dior cashmere jumper for $15 in a second-hand shop. I found the best way to enjoy said jumper was to make a chocolate packet cake stuffed with melted chocolate and to eat said cake from the baking tin with a spoon, bucket of ice-cream at the ready. Has anyone ever worn Dior while baking a packet cake before? 

All photos by me except for a few that are by Jamie Davidson.