Monday, November 30, 2009

Dye Job.

In India, the most mundane tasks are beautifully colored. This video on the process of dabu dyeing fabric is a gorgeous example.

The women singing as they work is really something to see.

Straight To The Heart.

Rodarte for Target. Rodarte for Target. Rodarte for Target. Rodarte for Target!

Ah, the diffusion line gods have answered my unyielding prayers for Rodarte frocks that I can afford. I must admit that my excitement for Target collabo's has ended in dashed hopes for cool gear before, so I'm approaching this seeming godsend with a little hesitation. But, I can't help be quite excited--especially when a small pic of one of the dresses in a mag I leafed through looked so darn cute and was labeled as $39.99.

A blurry, leaked photo (l) of the $40 Rodarte for Target dress I spotted in the mag (r) this week.

Let's just be excited for now and leave the disappointment for later, k? That's the only way life can work sometimes. The collection hits Target locations and the Interwebs on December 20.

Who Do You Look Like?

Artist Nikki S. Lee in her own clothes.

The thing about clothing is that it transforms you. Most people don't even realize how much what they wear says about them, but think about it: You are a walking identity billboard. Maybe you are in fact more complex than your jeans, t, and sneaks would convey, but no one passing you in the street would know that. You are read all the time. What you wear can classify your gender, class, music taste, occupation, subcultural affiliations, marital status, and more. Do you realize that? That your shoes say something about you? Yeah, again, most people don't. But Nikki S. Lee, the artist who hides herself in plain sight, does.

The hip-hop project.

The Skateboarders Project.

The Yuppie Project.

The Punk Project.

The Hispanic Project.

The Tourist Project.

The Seniors Project.

The Swingers Project.

Her process goes like this: She observes a subculture, taking note of everything from their outer appearances to their nuanced gestures and then she adopts them. She dons the clothing, hairstyle, makeup, and accessories (perhaps a poodle, perhaps a nosering) and lives among them for a number of months. While she's blending in, she asks a new friend of the group to take snapshots of her with a regular little point-and-shoot. The results are like a Where's Waldo of fine art. Nikki's own ethnic identity as a Korean-born American eventually gives her away among her new crowd, but only after close inspection. The woman is that good. Whether she's living with punks, yuppies, Mid-Western farmers, or countesses, her appropriation of the most subtle aspect of their dress goes beyond costume and approaches absolute authenticity. Her work elucidates exactly what fascinates me so much about clothing, about fashion. It isn't frivolous at all. Even when you say you don't care about style or fashion or clothes, when you hate to shop, you are still getting dressed. So, why that shirt? Why that color? That style? Why aren't you wearing a Black Flagg tee instead? Who taught you how to get dressed? What did they tell you? If you took that outfit off, and put it on the ground in front of me--what could I reconstruct about your life; about who you are? Probably more than you think.

You can peruse a selection of Nikki S. Lee's photographs at her gallery's website:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Stand Corrected.

Dear Ms. Lady Gaga,

I have to apologize to you. I didn't give you a chance. I saw you hanging from the ceiling at the VMA's like a used feminine hygiene product and I was revolted. I used my cringing discomfort to shut the door on you and what I thought was your manufactured kookiness. I figured that was it forever, and I told people I hated you. I said I couldn't stand your heart attack serious demeanor, your allegiance to Perez Hilton, or your lack of pants. And then, I heard the opening"Rah rah..." of Bad Romance on Alexander McQueen's Plato's Atlantis runway and something shifted. The song sounded scary, like a Manson refrain out of the mouth of a blond dripping in this cracked veneer of sexuality. I instantly realized that you weren't trying to be a Hilton, whether Perez or Paris, but that you were holding up a mirror to them and their universe of fame. You weren't pants-less because you wanted people to ogle your goodies, you were showing your legs and donning a disturbing headdress at the same time so people would feel turned on and confused, so they would question the boundaries of their own sexuality. There was something ugly about you and I'm not being mean. There was something intentionally ugly about you, because ugly is beautiful..."I want your ugly, I want your disease...I want your love," right?

Then the Bad Romance video hit and I was sold. Gaga, let's be truthful, you appeared kind of needlessly self-serious and bitchy in the beginning. But in that epic video you were beautiful and impassioned. You were rocking an impressive array of high fashion: a head-to-toe crowned, latex suit, a pair of McQueen's alien platforms, and then the clincher: you were joyous in that red lace get-up at the end. You cracked a smile and I saw your fulfillment, your enthusiasm, your energy. You weren't posturing, you were emitting light. You won me over-- not that you have any obligation to win me over, but you did nevertheless. And now? Every single performance you do outshines the last. The AMA's were yours. The show sucked overall, but you owned it and taught it to dance for your five minutes. That glowing, skeletal face mask worn with a nude bodysuit? Perfectly weird, new, different, scary, sexy, cool. Oh, and you can sing too. You can really belt it out. You even made a segment of the Jay Leno show worth watching. That's it...I'm passing on to you my Madonna fandom. May you accept it with knowledge that I loved her dearly in her day. I've held out so much hope that she would rise again, but you've changed the game and I don't think she can catch up to you now. I can only hope that you will age with more grace than our formerly dignified Queen of Pop. I have a feeling you will. Your support of the gays, weirdos, goth kids, and electrified trannies is awesome, and important. Your fashion is fresh and so strange and for all of that, I also salute you.

With love,

PS: This interview with John Norris helped me understand you a bit better. I loved it.

Little Girls Lost Together.

Lolita is a style of dress with roots in the Victorian era and Japan's notorious Harajuku District. With frilly dresses, pigtail ringlets, parasols, bows and underskirts, the girls of Lolita are enacting a femininity that many see as sexualized kids stuff, but they swear it's not a matter of kink. Rather it's their form of self expression. Learn more about this subculture in this excellent student documentary made and presented by four University of Chicago film students.

I'm so interested in how the internet has allowed all of these subcultures to have a level of connectivity that never would have been possible before. It's also exposing us to so much non-conformist style that you have to wonder what will really be out of the loop in the future. I foresee radical separatists living with no technology in small communities in hills and valleys. Hmmm, I wonder what they'll wear...

She's Done Every Do (And Dont').

Guanabee's round-up of Oprah's hairstory.

Oprah's life story (abused little girl born to unwed parents in Kosciusko, Mississippi grows up to become Queen Of The Modern World Who Gives Away Cars) is always inspiring to me, no matter what any of you haters say. You know what else is inspiring? Oprah's ability to become Queen Of The Modern World Who Gives Away Cars with all of the bad hairdos she's rocked over the years. It's really something. The good people over at Guanabee put together a retrospective of Her Majesty's hairstyles over her TV career, and I just had to share them with you. Click the pic above to see Oprah's hairdos and don'ts.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Zen Thread.

This picture made me exhale.

A box of sewing thread from Dapan's Flickr photostream.

Gift It: Buttons.

Buttons make everything better. Pinning something great to a great thing can only make the great thing great squared, right? Basic intermediate math laws don't lie. I have a couple of cute buttons that I make good use of. I pin them to my coats or I hook them onto a necklace, or I bobbypin them into my hair and I swear they always make things better. Therefore, I think they are the ideal gift to give; it's as if you are giving better to someone. Plus, besides for being useful as all heck they are not permanent. Sick of a buton? Just open the latch and set it free from your garment. A great place to find buttons is Etsy. There they are made by crafty mofos who love to make things and deserve to make a living as well. One of my favorite button makers? Caitlin Kuhwald. She's a talented illustrator who makes her big, beautiful works into bitesize buttons for you to not eat. Don't eat them...wear them.

The Queen big, The Queen lil.

Various creatures, cute as buttons.

Ira Glass big size, Ira Glass bitesize. You know you have someone in your life who lurves Ira.

Individual buttons will run you $1.50, pairs will cost you $3.00, and variety packs will be $5.00. Perfect stocking stuffers, right? While you are perusing the buttons from Ms. Kuhwald, please check out her amazing illustrations and paintings. She's good. Real good. Here, I'll show you some:

So talented. You can purchase prints of her work for about $30 each. Check out her full shop here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

We All Float On.

Stephane Sednaoui's film Acqua Natasa (2002)

He Works It, You Watch.

Gareth Pugh is constructing a garment live from Somerset House n-n-n-now, and you get to watch him work his couture-style magic via SHOWstudio. For anyone who ever wondered why high fashion costs the prices it does, watch the man work and tell me it's not the same exact process as an fine artist in his studio. There are rulers and x-acto knives, paper templates, pencil marks, all laid out on the work table. It's beautiful to watch. If you can't tune in today, you'll have another chance on Monday and Tuesday. Also, you can ask Gareth questions as he sews.

Click the image to go to the live feed of Gareth in his element.

Just for a second, my dear fashion fans, I want you to consider how lucky we are to be in the age of live feeds. We are literally watching over the shoulder of a top designer as he utilizes his hard-earned techniques in plain view. Forget about being a fashion fan, all of you design students out there, SHOWstudio's Somerset House is your new university. Watch carefully!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Musical Interlude: Rap Genius

Here's a little story that must be told, and it goes a little something like this: When I was in that sacred stage of human development known as adolescence, rap opened my eyes to just how words could be used. I was on the verge of tearing my everything out in fits of angsty, pre-teen rage, when I realized that what I really needed to do was write. I needed to get out the crazy build-up of everything and put it on paper, which I was actually decent at. That realization came to me when I walked into my older brother's room and heard his Wu-Tang tapes (yep, I said tapes--as in cassettes) blaring out of his speakers. It was the most amazing thing to me to sit and listen to these wordsmiths that just spun a story to a beat; quick and dirty. The rhythm, the rhyming, the references, the metaphors, the similes! I was a dorky, English-class-loving sixth grader and I was in mad, passionate love with this hardcore rap that spit rough lines about grabbing girls and smoking blunts. It was like some secret version of poetry that I wanted to know all about. But, that was easier said than done. Pre-Internet (Yes, I said pre-Internet--as in perhaps you had a dial-up connection on the family PC days) lyrics were hard-won information when you were sneaking listens in your big brother's room and had no idea where he kept anything, let alone cassette cases (and were afraid to look because one time you found pot and thought you could get arrested for simply knowing it was in the house). So, I never knew what anyone was talking about most of the time, and my initial interest gave way to the embarrassment of never feeling cool enough to like what the older bro liked.

The Wu.

Cut to many years later when songs are downloaded, the Internet is wireless, and I don't care about being cool: I love rap more and more all the time. Good story telling is such an admirable talent, and good rap songs are stories the way folk songs are stories. Jay-Z? Lil Wayne? Ghostface? They are amazing with words, and it's awe-inspiring. With the advent of lyric sites coming out the wahzoo, I'm now able to perform most good rap songs as Karaoke numbers (I said I wasn't worried about being cool), meaning that I know what the words are. But, as a white, suburban girl by birth, I still don't know what most of the words mean. Enter Rap Genius.

Click it.

This site breaks down the lyrics of a growing number of rap's greatest songs. It provides all of the background info you need on any mention of anything that isn't 100% straightforward. I kind of think I'm the target audience (white girl from the burbs with no refernece point for the myriad of urban insider secrets that she's fascinated by) and I'm honored. The site delivers the goods a la Pop Up Video, with floating blurb boxes explaining what it means to be "faded to brown" (drunk off of Hennessy or high on heroin!) or to have a "thick knot" (lots of cash!). The best part? You can listen to the songs as you read along! I have a feeling the hardcore rap fans won't like their lyrical secrets all spelled out to outsiders, but I think it's a perfect idea, executed hella well with mad humor, yo. Check it before you wreck it. (I'm kidding...kind of.)

Lick it like a lollipop like Lil Wayne, or spread your B.I.G. love (it's the Brooklyn way).

Once you "exegize" the lyrics, take your favorites and make them into t-shirts via any one of the custom tee design sites, like Cafe Press and wear your new words like the bottle poppin' baller that you now are. Word.

Gift It: Rub It On.

An old school Letraset transfer sheet of type.

Do you remember Letraset decals? Plastic sheets of "paper" printed with little graphics or text that you could rub onto other surfaces? Usually you used a coin or the back of a spoon to do the rubbings. I used to love them and I have a feeling anyone else who used to love them would still love them. The creative geniuses over at Third Drawer Down, which is an Australian company that is best known for having artists print fun things on tea towels, thinks you'll like them even if you don't remember them. Decalomania was a trend with the Surrealists back in the day. It's the process of printing, drawing, or painting images onto one surface that can eventually be applied through pressure, moisture, or heat (depending on the materials) onto another surface, usually paper or ceramics. It's kind of like rub-on tattoos for art purposes. In an attempt to reignite the craze, Three Drawers Down has a few versions on offer via their excellent web shop which are all done by artists with their own take on the tradition. At $12 a piece, I think the sheets of decals would make fine gifts for your crafty, artsy friends...or your friends who really like to rub things on other things. What? What? Don't you have friends like that?

These are sheets full of decals to rub on things. $12

If you'd like the gift to be a bit more substantial, you can purchase one of the rub-on books that's a coloring book of sorts with a sheet of decals all your own that you can go crazy rubbing on ($16). There's a really fun looking one where you get to but colorful undies on some scribbled dudes and dudettes.

It's like kidstuff for kids over the age of 18.

Get Me A Ticket.

A Single Man is fashion designer and all around hedonist Tom Ford's cinematic debut. I must say, if the trailer is any indication, his directorial vision is eye candy laced with arsenic and bourbon and I want some.

I don't know about you, but I could watch Julianne Moore eternally. Her face is like a million emotions under pounds of pretty pressure that you are sure is going to crack. She is utterly watchable. This is pure preview heaven. Tick-tock: I can't wait til it hits theaters.

Gone Too Soon.

The Korean Model Daul Kim was found dead in her Paris apartment this morning. Her striking work always made me think, wow maybe models can be superstars again. She's gone too soon for all of that. Sad. Here's a look at her legacy of images.