Friday, August 31, 2012

A list of phenomenological reactions I had prior to, during and after my seminar presentation today.

So this afternoon I presented a work-in-progress reading of my Chapter Two: Part Two to my department (I love my department- Performance Studies- but I'll gush about how great and supportive they are later). For now, let me list the phenomenological reactions I experienced prior to and during my presentation today (nothing like reiterating the entire title of your writing in the body of the piece, am I right?):

-Flushed cheeks. This started yesterday during what can best be characterised as an eight-hour writing frenzy. I wrote a first draft of the paper I presented today (over 4000 words, high fiving myself) and it was good. And it led me to a constant state of heat in my cheeks which makes me look like I've been getting stuck into too much red wine but which is really just a product of my- 

-Euphoria. After months of struggling to write anything you are satisfied with (regardless of how workable/accurate/interesting it may actually be, post-grad students always seem convinced that their writing is terrible, absolutely no good... until they go back months later and find that it's usually not as awful as they were originally convinced it was.) That was a long digression. What I was trying to say was that after months of struggling to write anything you are happy with, to have a mega-productive day where you're surprised at your own articulateness and ideas you didn't know you had are suddenly cohering with all the familiar ones you've been avoiding doing anything with for ages- well, it's a great feeling. An air-punching kind of feeling. The kind of feeling that means you can watch multiple episodes of Sex and the City Season Three on the couch with your housemate Grace and not feel guilty and like you should be doing something productive with your life, and just enjoy the moment. Ideally, you would feel this regardless of how productive the day was but let's be real. (Also: Yes, Sex and the City. Go ahead and judge me.) This felt like delight expanding through my limbs, kind of like how I imagine nebulae to expand, with rolling lilac and magenta clouds of starry gas- that kind of ceiling-less expansive happiness.

-Shining pride. In the work. It's not my constant habitus (Bourdieu fans, can I get an uh-huh? Also I know I used it incorrectly but it also kind of works, shh) so I revel in it while I can. But of a contented but probably irritating want-to-share-it kind rather than the self-aggrandising, intimidatory kind. I hope.

-Excitement. The kind that runs on the spot in your stomach because you're eager to get up and present what you've got. That kind of dry-mouthed happy anticipation. That sheer feeling of ability that surges through you- this is it. And then...

-The adrenaline hits. I don't know what this looks like for you- I often get it when I've been priming myself for a public speaking moment and then it arrives and halfway through I start jittering. My legs tremble- no, my whole body trembles. My teeth chatter like I'm a freezing waif selling matchboxes on a street in Siberia. This happened today- I was having trouble forming words without making a "shh" sound through my clenched teeth as I desperately tried to mask the shaking. I know I need to relax my body. I tried  (well, I uncrossed my legs and then crossed them the other way- it was something, at least!) The odd thing was I wasn't nervous at all. Not in the slightest. Like any closet extrovert, I love performing, love the expanse of time you can figuratively stretch out in and inhabit. It was pure adrenaline. I had to interrupt myself to explain it to my colleagues, laughing as I did so, because I didn't want them to wonder what the heck was up with me. Thankfully they laughed along too.

-And post-seminar pride again. Thankfulness for a wonderful department where the academic staff are encouraging, interested and generous in their comments and time towards postgrads, and a lovely postgrad cohort who are in it alongside me, working on their own projects but making time to listen and share on my own. I received some great feedback and I am so psyched to work right now that even though it's 7.30pm, it's Friday night, I know I could clock off and have some red wine and rewatch Clueless (DON'T YOU JUDGE ME) but I'm kind of keen to just stay here at my desk and get started on Part Three. Have this chapter down by next Friday. Which I think is completely within reach and that is SO EXCITING because it means I've written two of my four chapters this year which was my goal. 

Anyway I'm going to stop being happy and borderline braggy (not-so-borderline braggy? Please forgive me, moments of pride like this are few and far between- although the overall experience of doing a PhD is brilliant, really. I'm so lucky to be doing this and I really, really know it) -happy and borderline braggy and get cracking on what's next. But I kind of wanted to share. And for anyone who's interested the paper was called 'The Private in Public: Girls, Style Blogs and Living Online' and it was all about the blur-between public and private on the space of style blogs and the implications this has for girl style bloggers. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Fantasy of Fashion Editorial: 'Kerr Goes Kiwi'

Image Credit: Miranda Kerr shot by Orlando Bloom

So last week the New York Times T magazine published a series of adorable photographs of Miranda Kerr shot in Wellington by her husband, Orlando Bloom. At times a bit tongue-in-cheek, at other times provoking a bit of life envy (just me?), they got me thinking. 
In general, I think that fashion editorials convey their publisher's interpretation of the spirit of the season- who the 'woman' is that designers have been designing for and what her story is. They can also reflect something of the social mores of their time- the exotic escapism of the 70s Vogue shoots under Diana Vreeland, the plush, rarefied world of Cecil Beaton's socialites, the envelope-pushing irreverence of Vogue Paris under Carine Roitfeld, challenging a changing Europe and so on. But a key quality of editorial is that its currency is aspiration. In looking at those images, we simultaneously want to be the model and we want to 'have' her- have what she's wearing, have the world she inhabits. It's an imaginary world, created by teams of professionals using their skills and the clothes at hand to present a fantasy to readers.

What's extraordinary about the 'Kerr Goes Kiwi' series is the way that they conflate 'reality' with fantasy. What I found so captivating about them is the blur-between fantasy and the version of reality that they present. Kerr and Bloom are married, living in Wellington where the images were shot, and the pictures look refreshingly 'unstyled.' The same items of clothing appear in multiple shots, Kerr's hair is loose and slightly mussed as if she just rolled out of bed and her face is fresh with minimal make-up. The pictures are also full of casual touches- here she is barefoot and striking a touristy pose against a mural, here she is almost cheekily mocking model poses, with her hands on her exaggerated hips, grinning. Here she is with her son, both walking with their backs to the camera as if to keep privacy, to keep the viewer at arm's length- despite the fact that the picture was shot on assignment for a major newspaper.
This is the tension of the images that compels us- they bring us into the 'intimate life' of this famous family even as we are aware of their stagedness. To put it another way, here is Kerr and Bloom "performing" their family, creating a fantasy around their own lived 'reality'.

In their simplicity and sweetness, these images powerfully contribute to the myth surrounding this couple- that of happily and effortlessly "having it all"- and I think this is fascinating. Maybe one my favourite editorials of the year so far. 

To see the full story and range of images, click here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A somewhat shamefaced catch-up

Image credit: Willy Vanderperre for AnOther

If I were a mother and Fashademic were my child, the Department of Community Services would long ago have snatched it from my neglectful arms. Luckily for me (and dare I say Fashademic too) it's only a blog and so perhaps I can sneak back onto the 'Compose Post' screen without too sharp a pang of guilt. 

Well, you see, I am now a year out from my planned submission date. I'm well into my incisive, brilliant, hard-hitting study on style blogs (what?) and I have been writing and reworking as only a starting-to-stress postgrad student can. One year left? Sweaty palms. One year left? What have I been doing with my life? ONE YEAR LEFT? How am I going to get it done? And so on and so forth. But you know, I've redone my thesis chapter outline and I now have four (maybe five, let's be real) tight, interesting chapters planned. Then my intro, my conclusion and my prologue (I'm especially excited about the prologue!) and BAM. The thesis is done. Or it will be... eventually. 

So I haven't been updating as often as I ought because I've been writing and the last thing one wants to do after writing chapters and footnotes and appendices all day is slap one's brain into blogging gear and write posts.* Soz. But I have missed Fashademic and I have missed you, gentle readers, so let's give it another red hot go, ok?

So here's what you've missed of late:

- The other day my very clever and very brilliant friend Christopher casually dropped the word 'crepuscule' into conversation and my knees literally buckled. Who knew a reference to Benjamin could have such a powerful effect on one? Yow.

- I have been wearing the same Rittenhouse dress day in day out for, o, a good two months now. It's light black wool, wide through the body, skinny on the three-quarter sleeve and it's just the thing for rolling out of bed into typing and then from typing into old movies watched on YouTube (confession: I only learned how to find and watch movies for free on YouTube three weeks ago. I hadn't lived!) And if you haven't had a good look at Rittenhouse before, YOU haven't lived. Deceptively simple clothes made from gorgeous fabrics in the best cuts- I am a recent convert but like all recent converts, I'm breathlessly evangelistic about them. Go see!**

- I have fallen completely in love with an American man who I'm going to meet for the first time "IRL" in three weeks. I have had to bite my tongue about him on Fashademic before because 1. EW, who wants to hear me gush about my boyfriend?*** (My poor friends have been suffering enough, sorry guys); and 2. it felt a bit strange because it was new and also how to explain that we encountered each other through this very blog before snowballing into a non-stop conversation then dating for five months, all without ever even standing in the same room? Tricky. But I'm covering lost ground here so... there it is. I leave in three weeks. Am somewhat excited.

-I'm doing a weekly segment on FBi 94.5 every Monday morning at 8.15. The segment is called 'Word Up' and it involves me nerding out about words- so far we've talked etymology, fashionspeak, all the words to do with perfume, words we love and words we love to hate, famous last words and palindromes. Get involved, Sydneysiders.

What else? O, nothing really. But I'm back, fashion nerds, and that's the main take-home. Also, I dyed my hair super-blonde (and when I say "I", I mean Sheree at Salon X who is really very good) and I hardly recognise myself anymore. So now we're up to date.

*Am somewhat addicted to the very amusing @Queen_UK and have taken to selectively addressing oneself as 'one'. Makes one feel very polished.
**Disclaimer: the lovely shop that I work in sells Rittenhouse. This is not intended to be a covert advertisement for the label, just a personal recommendation. I like their stuff is all. Besides, I decided not to say where I work and while it's probably not that difficult to figure out, I'm sticking to my guns. I'm not trying to sell you anything here, nerds. Also why I refuse to advertise on Fashademic. End of heart-on-sleeving.
*** Who else thinks that 'boyfriend' is a redundant noun after one's teenage years? Surely we can do better? 'Man-friend'? 'Lover'? 'Partner'? 'Significant other' (ewwwww)? O, help.

Monday, August 13, 2012

That one may recover the sensation of life.

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.
                                                                              -Victor Shklovsky, "Art as Technique" 1965