Tuesday, January 24, 2012

On Thesis Writing

Image from backstage at Tsumori Chisato, here

I love writing, in general. Contrary to whomever it was who said that she doesn't love writing, she loves having written (which I loved because of the phrasing, of course), I actually do love the process of writing. I love the unfolding of ideas that seems to occur on its own, I love how new ideas spark as you write, leading you in unexpected directions. I love how, when writing fiction, characters spring from your fingers and swiftly leave off to lead their own lives, while you hurry behind, trying to capture their light and shadows before they fade. I love making an argument and proving it, I love rhetoric, I love thick description. 

So why is writing up this material that I've spent the past two years living, reading about and thinking through so difficult? I can literally sit and talk for hours about blogging, but ask me to set it out in writing and all of a sudden, I'm struggling to articulate myself. I start a paragraph, get about one hundred words in and find that I'm writing something that I had planned to put in another chapter. I sit for  a minute or ten, wondering whether I should keep it for the other chapter or whether I should proceed. I have an argument with myself about where this bit best fits. I make a mind map, a new chapter plan, jot a few  points down about the progression of my argument. I decide to stick it out and keep writing because I can always jigsaw it around somewhere else later. I finish the paragraph, shrug the tension out of my shoulders and start the next one... only to have the same experience begin all over again.

I'll go home at the end of the day, having crawled out maybe a thousand new words, berating myself because I was an undergrad student who could research, knock out and polish a 5000 word essay in a two day turn-around. I'll know in my heart the words I did just write are muddy, contracted, vague and dull. I resolve to get up again the next day and keep on, just keep on until they're better.
Overall, this endeavour is like crawling a marathon when you want to be running forward steadily and smoothly- in other words, pain-staking. Satisfying too, of course, but mostly just in glimmers, and usually only when it's done. The key is not to become discouraged but to keep going, to always keep going. Keep reading, writing, thinking, editing, because it's in that slow, constant work that your thesis accrues and strengthens. 

I'm glad to report that chapter one is coming along nicely- I am quite pleased with my history of style blogging, and am looking forward to extricating Part Three (all about the embodied placehood of digital spaces) from the tangled recesses of my mind. To all you research students- courage! And remember when you feel disheartened that we all feel that way at times, and if that fails to hearten you, there's always cake and British Vogue.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

source unknown.

This is how I want to dress right now.

written portrait.

Well, I don't know about you scholars but whenever I get deep into theory and writing, my mind starts sparking off a hundred different ideas for stories, poems, magazine editorials, jewellery and so on.
It happened again today as I was sitting on a wooden bench in the courtyard above the new PG-ARC office space, having just finished a particularly toothsome ricotta cake from Ralph's (apologies if I sound like a wanker with my words; 'toothsome' may be outdated but it well warrants some contemporary use, especially when the object being described is as this cake was, but never mind.)
Anyway, I was sitting in the shade, thinking about my chapter-in-progress, when a story slowly infiltrated into my mind, sort of like a whorl of cigarette smoke, and then I was typing quickly into a blank email on the old Blackberry. Here's what I typed out (minus the image, which was found on The Last Doll Standing, and which is really there for visual appeal.)

Written Portrait on Madison

She is the most precious thing in the world to me. Her hair is like fairy floss. I mean, it's not pink, but it's soft. Her neck is like the stick, and her smile is a rush of sugar in the blood. She has hips shaped like a violin, and long legs and long hands and narrow feet. Her torso is long. She has no bottom to speak of until she turns sideways and there it is, like someone hailing a taxi.
Last time I saw her we were standing under a shop's awning. It was pouring with rain and we had no umbrellas and no raincoats. Well, I had a newspaper but she was afraid the bad news would dissolve off of the pages and soak onto her dress. She kept looking out at the rain. I remember the gleam of her eye-whites and her grin. 
Well, it was coming down pretty hard. All I could hear was the water beating the dust up out of the pavement and the wet roar of tires shouldering through the knee-deep puddles at the kerb. Everything was coming out brilliant in the wash; tree leaves were brand new, and I guess that's why her eyes were so bright too. I took her long hand in mine, careful not to strangle those long, narrow fingers. Her palm was smooth and cool. I guess I felt like we belonged together, just standing there waiting for the rain to ease. Her and her grin, and me watching the cars disappear under the grey rain and the people running for shelter.
When it had eased some, we walked back downtown. Water fell from tree arms and streetlights from time to time, catching on her cheeks like diamonds in velvet. The damp made the shampoo scent rise from her curling hair.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Well hi.
You may have noticed that when you came to Fashademic just now, a pop-up window boasting a survey just asserted itself all over your browser. That is, unless you have disabled pop-ups... but never fear if you have because here is a link to the survey: Click here to take the Reading Style Blogs survey Relief! (NB: The survey is now closed.)

As you may have deduced from the title of the survey, it's all about reading style blogs. I'm currently writing up what I think about reading blogs, but I want to balance it out by hearing what you think! If you read style blogs, if you have a style blog, heck, even if you just read Fashademic (and I love you for it) please consider taking five to ten minutes (or maybe fifteen if, like me, you can't stop the deluge of words) to fill it in. I tried to leave as much room as possible to let you answer whatever you like. Please don't feel like you have to make the answers sound a particular way or anything. I'm the only one who will read them and it's completely anonymous, so I will never know whose answers I'm reading. 

I will use the answers to write about what it is to read style blogs- it will go straight into my thesis and nowhere else, unless I publish it in a journal or as a book eventually (I can dream, right?)
It's worth saying that I have ethics approval from Sydney University to proceed with this and even though I don't know who you are, it would be so wonderful if you fill it in. The more responses I get, the broader and more comprehensive my picture of readership will be.

So, okay... make my day? Help me with my research? Or else pop back over to Fashion Gone Rogue, your choice x

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Clever Dressing.

You know what irks me? When magazines smugly subtitle an image by explaining that 'it's called clever dressing.' I felt compelled to ugh about it to you because a. it's a relatively recent development in the grand lineage of Fashionspeak (for a comprehensive guide, see previous posts one and two on the matter) and b. if there was such a thing as 'clever dressing', surely it would involve wearing a jumper with a tongue-in-cheek reference to Elsa Schiaparelli or, you know, Deleuze or someone, rather than just being another synonym for 'we think this is nice.'

Anyway, there is a point to my grouching, really. Because I think one Australian designer who actually IS being clever and whose designs DO warrant the term (minus the smug, please) is Kym Ellery. I think that her work is clever because each collection has a few features that distinguish it as an Ellery collection, while feeling fresh and interesting every time. Some key Ellery touches are a preponderance of luxe fabrics (leather always makes an appearance, feathers often do, and Kym is no stranger to glass beading and brocades) as well as a distinctive sculpted shoulder and waist silhouette. It's little wonder the label has a devoted following after only two years.

Aside from the clothes themselves, those behind this label have been savvy about creating a world around it- to go to the website is to go to 'elleryland' and each season they produce the 'Ellery Gazette', a compilation of images that inspired the collection (reminiscent of what Phoebe Philo does at Celine, and there's a comparison to be proud of.) Also, after having worked at RUSSH for four years prior to establishing her own label, Kym Ellery is obviously well aware of the power of a well-crafted image as the following Resort '11 lookbook can attest. I first came across these images a couple of months ago but didn't post them, apologies for being late to the party, style blogosphere. They're too good not to share now.

Photographer: Darren McDonald
Model: Kim Noorda
Creative Director: Kym Ellery
Hair and Make-up: Romina Manenti & Tiina Roivainen
images and credits via Oyster  

'Playing With Fire'

Summer is here at last, and while I didn't mind the indecisive weather of December, I am certainly loving the steady, still, golden heat and the opportunity to knock off early from the ARC for afternoon swims, ice-creams, and reading in the sun followed by more swims. Yesterday I found myself sitting on a pontoon, legs in the water, hanging on with dripping wet hands as it bucked and dipped every time some seal-slick kid bombed off the side. My head was still in my chapter but dang! It was glorious.
Even now, sitting back in this stately, cool space, I fancy I can hear the reedy thrum of cicadas (it could be the air-conditioning, though, can't be sure) and it makes me glad to live right here in Sydney, right now. Even with the weird patches of sunburn where my sunscreeny hands couldn't (or didn't) reach, and even as I see summer out the window, knowing full well it's not for me to plunge into today.
But then, a gift from my research (let me believe that my research reciprocates my devotion, please) as I found this great editorial on my travels through the style blogosphere. I find it so evocative of Australian summers, where the days are virtually indistinguishable from the nights, and it's so radiatingly hot that one more degree will spark a bushfire.
For the full series and a brief interview with the series' nineteen-year-old photographer Ryan Kenny, go to Ben Trovato.