Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Crumple. Crush. Cram.

Artist Stephen J. Shanabrook is making pretty things ugly. In a series of works he calls "Paper Surgery" he takes c-prints of magazine photos and fold/crush/presses them into Franken Images of mutational proportions. [via Goldenfiddle aka love of my internet life]

Everything can be pretty. Everything can be ugly.

Crack Is Whack.

State Senator Eric Adams is on a crusade to end crack abuse and I wholeheartedly support his campaign. The Huffington Post posted a piece on this PSA announcement the statesman scripted and starred in an effort to end the epidemic that is taking over city streets, causing humiliation and ruin for youth across the island of Manhattan and it's boroughs. It's terrible. It's crack and it's whack.

Yes! Stop the Sag! I swear, I--in all of my infinite fashion wisdom--cannot even begin to understand how these boys keep their pants up, let alone how they can be walking, productive members of society in that state of partial dress. I'm all for freedom of expression, but I'm just thinking of the kids. How can you concentrate on math problems when you are trying with all of your might to keep your pants around your upper thighs? Hmmm? Stop the Sag!

I Love You, Now Change...Into This.

For all of its raunchy ramblings, Vice Magazine is one of the most brilliant sources of non-trad fashion stuff in the new age. I love it's endlessly perplexing mix of gross guy humor and intelligent studies in cultural curiosities. One of the latest bits of bestness that's come out of their fashion issue is a portfolio of photos of regular couples dressing their better halves in outfits of their choosing. The before photos show the couples in their own garb, while the after shots feature them rocking wares chosen by their mates with the end goal of sexy in mind. For instance, meet Ashley and Charlie in the clothes they normally wear when they are in charge of their wardrobes:

Now, check them out in the outfits they chose for each other:

She likes how those stripes emphasize his shoulders. He likes how that dress shows her...well, everything.

Here are Max and Elle in their normal gear:

And here are their lover-styled outfits:

He picked out that power suit because she calls the shots in that thing, and she wanted him in his jammies because she likes how baggy clothes hang off of a skinny boy's body.

Here are Crista and Jess before their makeovers:

And here they are after:

That was the first outfit Crista thought Jenn looked super hot in, and Jenn loves a pair of gray pumps with that purple top that she doesn't think Crista wears enough of.

Here are the lessons learned:

1) Everything is sexy to someone.

The next time you think you have to fit some mold of pre-arranged sexiness, think of that guy up there whose girlfriend loves his skinny ass in baggy jammies. Isn't that amazing?

2) You are sexy. Yes, you.

How much does this portfolio show how manufactured most images of sexy are? The brooding, muscled, oiled, long-legged, big boobed archetypes of perfection are not our reality.

What is sexy to you? Do tell...


The best part of Erykah Badu's slow motion video streak to her new single Window Seat, is all of the fearful, look-straight-ahead, shock in the stiffened bystanders who are watching her strip in broad day light. It still confounds me that we are so uptight about human bodies--about their nudity and about their sexuality--that we clutch our chest and gasp at the sight of one. With all of the hijinks and stunts pop culture's seedier side serves up, getting naked on tv is nothing new, but walking strong among crowds as a black woman with your thick ass all out and out, your tattoos blazing, and your shaved head held high, is a statement. In fact, in Badu's version of this statement, it is so radical that it can't possibly exist without invoking a violent end.

The lyrics Badu sings, in their needy honesty (I need you to want me/ I need your attention/ I want you to need me) are vulnerable and in high contrast to her romp&stomp. Yet the vulnerability and the desperation of the act of stripping down in public somehow fit so well. The video says you are a body, you are alone in skin, but you need others. Isn't that the human condition? Something about shedding clothing makes that message so clear. From hiding under a trench and a hoodie to blazing naked. From separate and wanting attention to standing out and getting it. Evolving awkwardly through risk. Badu, this is badass.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Thanks To My Fellow Fashion Nerds.

Ladies and Gentlereaders,

I just found out I've been admitted to my dream program for grad school. It is a Museum Studies MA program at F.I.T. that trains its candidates in fashion history, textile conservation, and exhibition design with the goal of setting them free into institutions like The Costume Institute At The Met. I'm beyond thrilled to have been accepted into this competitive program, and second to none I have to thank you all. I started my blog as a creative outlet for all of the fashion/culture/theory/art/pop stuff swirling between my ears. I thought this site would be an excellent way to spend more time on my creativity when I was stuck behind the desk of a pretty miserable 9-to-5. I knew I would be accountable for that goal because it was a public venue. What began as a readership of nine (all of whom I knew...very well) has blossomed into a supportive community of like-minded fashion nerds. I am so grateful to have a loyal audience, it feels amazing and your support as readers gave me the courage to put this blog front and center in my application. So, thank you. I promise that now that the knot of anxiety has left my gut, I'll be posting more and more and more. I love you. No, really--I do. Will you marry me? At least go steady?


By Covers Alone.

It's ok, you can judge these books by their covers. We all--as a US school system educated cohort--know their insides are classic literary goodness, but no matter. Aren't they pretty on the outside? Penguin publishers produced a series of tried and true tomes with a little jacket design help from fashion illustrator (and I want to wear it. favorite) Ruben Toledo.

You think I can figure out how to wear those jackets? To get yourself some picture book classics, head on over to Barnes and Noble.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

More Than Just a Shoemaniac.

Imelda Marcos is best known as current history's best example of extravagant corruption. Her infamous collection of nearly 3,000 shoes is her legacy amongst most who know her name; however, David Byrne (former Talking Head and current bike warrior/music producer/music maker/art installer) is trying to change all that. He's made an entire multi-media project called Here Lies Love that weaves the tale of the early life of Imelda and Estrella Campas, the woman who raised her.

The project includes a lushly orchestrated double disc set of songs written by Byrne and Fatboy Slim which feature quite the stunning stable of guest vocalists. Sia, St. Vincent, Santigold, Natalie Merchant, and Roisin Murphy are but a few of the voices that lend their pipes to telling a story of a singing Beauty Queen who became a political fire storm by looking the part and oozing charm. Her signature strategy was her brand of Handbag Diplomacy, which she employed in times of stress. Basically it was the theory that if there was a problem, all she needed was to grab her cutest handbag, board a plane, and show up to charm her way into being. Apparently it worked for a while...until her husband's corruption brought the walls down around her and revealed her massive fortune of footwear that kind of angered the starving Philippino population she was representing.

Santigold's sings while found news footage of Imelda's charm in action reels.

For the record, Byrne makes not one mention of the shoes in his project. Instead, he's interested in what drives a powerful woman to craft a life of show. Also, Imelda had a thing for disco that fascinated Byrne. Regardless of the music's background, it stands on its own. So listen to learn, or listen to listen. The album is released on April 6th and a gallery presentation of the videos and book it inspired follows.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ring, Ring.

I wanted to give it a minute to settle in to the universe's subconscious before I started singing it's praises, but damn! Bey and the Gaga made one brilliant video. At a near 10 minutes, the short film for the duo's Telephone is packed with visual punches that left me wanting to hit back just so I could get arrested and thrown in the slammer with all of those L-Word extras (shout-out Rahul). Gaga's demon is such a great kick in Beyonce's fairly conservative booty. It's so much fun to see this unlikely pair get all Thelma and Louise. The fashion high points in this vid definitely fall in the first act, where Gaga goes to jail in some serious couture, takes payphone calls in leather studded garb, and rocks ciggy goggles sure to get her whatever she wants on the inside.

Smokin' eye wear.

Gaga's leather studded kiss in the sand.

Rockin' not much more than hotness.

The fun only gets more fun as Bey bails Gaga and the two start offing people. It's sick and twisted and oh-so-clever. Even the product placement shots have their tongue shoved so far in their cheek that they are funnier than they are distracting.

You slather that Wonderbread in Miracle Whip, baby! It's all good. Better yet? Get all Wonder Woman and I'll love you forever.

Mighty fine job, Ga+Bey. Rah rah.
Ooh la la.
Roma. Ma Ma.

Get Graphic.

National Geographic was my spongy, dorky mind's playground when I was a youngin'. Other than Liz Tilberis's Harpers Bazaar relaunch (What? It's all about fashion between these two ears), it was my favorite magazine to read cover-to-cover. Where else could one learn about the dolphins of the Yangtze River, poverty in Virgina, and Viennese cobblers all in one afternoon perusal? Nowhere, that's where. These days you can take a virtual tour thorugh villages, cities, cow country, and church with National Geographic as your guide. Click through the photo index on their site and stumble on great photos of the world's population, including great shots of just how they dress themselves.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sparkle and Shine.

Liberace liberated gold lame from a stripper's closet and brought it to the piano bench. Bless him.

Who's up for a road trip?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Angels and Demons.

I almost can't look at it. At McQueen's last collection, it's gorgeousness feels a bit sour, a bit lacking--but not for lack of flourish or astounding tailoring. Seeing the clothes is seeing the loss of him. I want to love the wonderful wovens, the folded/draped/gathered gowns, and gold-kissed jacquards. They are beautiful and expertly assembled into a cohesive angel-kissed Dark Ages collection about the handcraft of traditional fashion construction vs. the machine tech that starred in his last brilliant go-around. But all I see is an end of some kind of magic. Sad isn't a word that sums it up, but I can't think of any other. It's gorgeous--and sad.

In the words of Gaga: "We miss you so badLee."

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Alber Teaches Us Something.

There's fashion, and there is fashion design. Fashion exists in image only--stalk-the-streets-attitude, what's next now, give it to me, make me a star. But fashion design is in the cut, the cloth, the way a garment hugs the body. Alber Elbaz is a fashion designer of the highest order. His work is crafted and thought out and reality-based; even when it's bigger or bolder than you might wear, it's still something that someone might actually wear. However, the electricity conducted by even one of his well-cut dresses is enough to fuel the Lanvin resurrection and keep things exciting at the same time. What do women want? Here, let Alber give you his take on things:

Is he not the most huggable designer you've ever seen? I mean really.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Let's Hand Out Some Awards, Shall We?

The Award for Best Impersonation of Marisa Tomei goes to:

Sandra Bullock!

This was a tough category, but Sandy's reenactment of Marisa's win for My Cousin Vinnie had everyone demanding a recount. Well Done!

Best Mia Farrow Redeux:

Carey Mulligan you are too stunning. Your short haircut and long earrings made my night.

Best point about costumes in movies:

Sandy Powell, that quirky looking lady who won for costume design. Her speech included a shout out to all the hard working costume designers who don't do the period piece, scifi films but still labor over every detail of their characters' wares. Such a good point by such a crazy looking lady.

The Taylor Swift Sparkly Dress Award goes to:

Cameron Diaz. That red-haired, crazy lady should have Kanyed Cameron. That would have been full circle.

The You Made A Kick-Ass Movie and Got What You Deserved Award goes to:

Kathryn Bigelow.

I don't know who dressed you, or why you wore such an unflattering color, but man, you made a stunning filmic ode to suspense and you deserve the gold men. Nice job showing Cameron who's boss.

More Oscar coverage to follow! Hold on to your fancy dresses folks!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Brow Zing.

Balenciaga wants you to bleach your brows for Fall 2010. Better yet, dye them Easter egg colors.

It'll be fresh.

One/One-Thousand: Peggy Sirota

I bet Peggy Sirota is a huge dork. I mean that in the nicest way possible. In fashion photography there is such a push to make things cool, sexy, hot, desirable. Untouchable really. Peggy makes things sweet, sunny, fun, and full of smiles. Some of her images--especially her recent work for GQ--proves that her brand of dorky can be sexy too. But mostly, Sirota's work just feels genuinely happy-making. Her career has spanned decades. She used to be a heavy presence at Rollingstone in the '90s, and she gave Jane magazine it's aesthetic in its beginning days. Smiles are timeless though, and as long as she continues to shoot shining shots of beaming kiddies and pretty faces, I'm sure her portfolio will just grow and grow.

C'mon and get happy.