Wednesday, October 31, 2012

as ever, on personal style blogs

Natalia Vodianova shot by Mario Testino for UK Vogue 2008

Sometimes I toy with the idea of listing every single style blog I've ever looked at in a special section of my bibliography. We're talking in the hundreds. My 'bookmarks' tab takes about five minutes to scroll down, so thick with names is it, names that rise up and rush together like blank verse as I scroll down:

Most bloggers remain in my memory and when I return to their blogs, I still experience the sense that I'm catching up with a friend. A distant friend, maybe, but one whom I have fond memories of, like someone you went to primary school with and haven't seen since. The passage of time that takes place in between blurs specific recollections into a wash of familiarity and interest to see what they're up to on this day.

I've rediscovered some 'old' gems and found some new favourites lately. This has been pleasant, as for a few months I stoppered my style blog readership, unable or unwilling to engage beyond what I already had. Such is the danger of researching a genre that is constantly multiplying, evolving and shifting focus- you can never reach any kind of  summit or vantage point that will allow you to survey the field in some totality. Instead, you look for the big moments, the bits that stick out, and write to those in the hope that they capture at least some of what you're witnessing. 

And so on I go, always clicking new links, wondering about yet-unseen blogs and hissing a silent 'yes!' when a blogger writes something so prescient or so apt or so perfectly, exactly what I've been looking for. A confirmation or an explication that will help me on my way- which is, of course, to try to explain what we do when we blog. 

Oxblood fever

Lindsey Wixon for Flare, September 2012

So apparently the new trend is 'oxblood'. This is a fresh way of indicating that now we wear anything cranberry, raspberry, burgundy, or any really other kind of food that ripens in the autumn and is best consumed by the bucketful. I can take or leave it- I mean, it's lovely and all but do I want to wear something because I'm told it's going to be the done thing for the next five minutes? Mmm, not really. (And also I'm kind of vibing on all white for summer. White jeans, crisp white tees, white sneakers. So stay tuned for some average outfit posts on that note!) But you know what else I'm vibing on? Matching outfits. Jumpers and skirts made from the same cloth. Dresses and jackets, fabric on repeat. Pantsuits not so much unless your shirt is also made of... you got it. Obsessed.

So it was confusing for me when an emailing list that I never subscribed to just sent me an email heralding the arrival of 'Oxblood October' and I was a bit 'oxblood again?' but also a bit 'Lindsey Wixon, girl, you're looming fine in your burgundy on burgundy on burgundy!' So I was nonplussed. But honestly? This outfit/photograph/everything is fantastic. 

sometimes you just wanna...

Monday, October 29, 2012

That one may recover the sensation of life

This morning in the lecture for the course I tutor Russian literary critic Viktor Shklovsky was quoted. Being struck by the resonance and aptness of his words, I did some incisive research (aka I Googled him) and found the full-text from whence it came: 'Art as Technique', an article first published in 1917 in Russian and translated to English in 1965. 
It is an argument about art and poetry, about what art is and does, and Shklovsky moves to talking about how habitualization dims perception, so that we see not the object for what it is but a 'silhouette' of it. Habit makes our perceptions automatic: we forget if we have locked the front door having just walked through it, we grasp and use a pen without thinking about how it feels in the hand and the particular scrape and spread of the nib across a page. We do and do not remember. And so, writes Shklovsky, 

And so, life is reckoned as nothing. Habitualization devours work, clothes, furniture, one's wife, and the fear of war. "If the whole complex lives of many people go on unconsciously, then such lives are as if they have never been." And art exists that one may recover the sensation of life; it exists to make one feel things, to make the stone stony. The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. The technique of art is to make objects 'unfamiliar', to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged. Art is a way of experiencing the artfulness of an object: the object is not important. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

sporty somehow

I recently had an out of body experience from which I have not yet recovered. Somewhere in America, somewhere between Wrigley Field and US Cellular (and perhaps even transmitted into my bones by a constant feed of ESPN), I became a baseball fan. You know me- me who avoids working up a sweat like the plague, and who can think of nothing more dreary than an afternoon accompanied by the erratic roar of a televised sports crowd or worse, the stultifying mostly-silence of a cricket broadcast, only punctuated by the crack of a ball on bat once every half hour. It's downright unAustralian, right? Whatever. 

But then, then somehow I changed. So now I find my blood quickening when it's game time. I keep ESPN's MLB gamecast open as I read articles on Veblen's theory of conspicuous consumption, eyes constantly flicking between the two. I- and I can hardly even admit to this- but I find myself fist-pumping the air whenever the Tigers score. What is happening to me?

But you know, one constant amongst all of this is the sporty aesthetic which I have long enjoyed and am now embracing wholeheartedly. Which leads me to today's outfit post, featuring some treasures from my time in the USA. He and I found these football britches in a little town in Michigan (the one playing Pina on the single screen cinema, to my surprise and delight) and he bought them for me for the grand sum of five dollars. They're in the colours of the local high school team, the last pair left, and they fit like a dream. 
Sooo nice, right? Pretty much the nicest ever.

Here I am modelling the pants (sideview) with a bassike tee and my new favourite cap featuring my new (and only) favourite team, the Detroit Tigers. This is a cap commemorating the last time they won the World Series, in 1984. If you asked, I could explain what the World Series is and even name half the team so don't even worry about it. And yes, I am watching this World Series like a hawk. The Tigers are playing again and I am gunning (maybe even praying) for a win so... watch this space, sports fans.

 My shoes are Repetto patent brogues in the whitest of bright whites that I bought in Paris and the 'bracelet' is one of the necklaces I make multitasking.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

pink pants (in the afternoon)

Well may you wonder where the heck I have got to these past weeks, nay, months. Fashademic has been bereft of pictures of me with my "trademark" messy hair and my in-depth explorations of, you know, afternoon tea and stuff. Do I feel like a stranger? I know I do (... to myself.) 

The main thing you need to know is that I'm still giving these pink Dries pants a long, hard workout. I love a bright pair of trews and usually I'm all for pairing them with an equally eye-wateringly loud shirt but today I was feeling lazy feeling a different vibe, and so I wore this bassike tee I've been sleeping in lately and a bunch of costume jewellery and these delightful sandals by Lie X Tokuyama which are the most comfortable ever. Some might say that light trousers and a cotton tee are the perfect combo for this mild Spring weather we've been having but secretly we all know that I tend to wear whatever I feel like in the morning regardless of weather practicalities. 

A couple of disclaimers: one. bassike, Dries Van Noten and Lie X Tokuyama are all stocked at the store where I work but know that this is not a covert product placement (promise!) I have never mentioned its name here because I am a little awkward that way but if you want to come and pet the Dries with me come say hi you should pop in to Poepke because it is the most wonderful store and we are very friendly. And if you do want to pet the Dries (or the Haider or the Jil or the Bernhard or the Ann D...), you should just feel free.

Another disclaimer– or, rather, announcement– is that the costume jewellery I'm wearing isn't any old costume jewellery but it's my own (label? line?) called Stripes. What started as a way to keep my hands busy while watching 'Downton Abbey' has now turned into a fully fledged line that you can shop at Lee Mathews if you like. It's all made by hand by my very own self, and the lovely people at Lee Mathews wrote about the line here on their own blog (so meta).

And in case you're wondering, yes, I am still doing my PhD. I have one more year left  and so I'm writing a lot and breaking into cold sweats as I keep finding new articles and books that I really, really, truly must read in order to have anything authoritative to say about style blogging. And yet I am still finding time to eat crispy M&Ms while watching 'Girls' so somehow am managing to maintain a healthy, balanced life.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Kennedy Fraser on the status of fashion

We have long had an interest in pretending that fashion is something more dignified and substantial than it really is. The new status of fashion became obvious some years back, at the time it changed its name to “style” or “trend”. There came to be widespread recognition that fashions of any kind were not merely esoteric and self-contained trinkets but a part of life […] fashion grew until it came close to being equated with intelligence. In the amount of respect we accord various intellectual attributes, a nose for trend now rivals the power to analyze the present and has surpassed the ability to store the past memory (The Fashionable Mind 1981: 147).

Prescient words that pre-dated the development of professions such as cool hunting, streetstyle photography (as we know it today) and stylists for everything from your wardrobe to your home to your lifestyle.

Bailey and the Shrimp

Jean Shrimpton photographed by David Bailey in New York, 1962.

Kennedy Fraser on the union of photographer Bailey and model Shrimpton: 'the image that they have wrought lies deep within each follower of fashion. Miss Shrimpton's pedigree is in her bright blue eyes, her marvelously well-turned head, and her childish, vulnerable limbs. And Mr. Bailey sees that she never betrays her beauty [...] she is unapproachable in her diffidence and ageless in her innocence' (The Fashionable Mind 1981: 40).