Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Your Morning Paper

Artist Sarah Nixon created a paper dress dance piece for dancer Inge van Huijkelom.

I want to wear paper.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


There is part of me that doesn't want to share these photos. In a way they are the documentation of a striking violation, but they are so powerful and intriguing that I share them with sensitivity and compassion for their subjects.

As a soldier in the French Army in 1960, Marc Garanger chose to exploit his photographic skills to avoid direct combat, but in ways his military task turned out to be just as direct and disturbing. His assignment was to take portraits for photo cards that were going to be used to identify 2,000 captive Algerian women. Marc's commander ordered that the women be stripped of their face and hair covering veils, their cheichs, so that they could be identified clearly. Demanding that they remove their veils was tantamount to forcing them to commit a grave sin. The veils were signs of honor and fidelity to their God. Taking them off in public, or in front of any man other than their husband, was considered utterly shameful for them. It's as if a foreign soldier asked a western woman to strip naked so that he could snap photos of her. And, with no verbal communication because of a language barrier between the photographer and his subjects, the women were left unaware of why they were being shot.

The unveilings and the subsequent photos elicited tears, defiant glares, and expressions of fear. The set of photos that resulted is now considered a strong testament to the less obvious perils of war, the more psychological torture that can occur when ignorant cultures clash. There is no blood in these photos, no open wounds, but if those faces aren't signs of injury, nothing is.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Somewhere Soft.

If the trailer for Sofia Coppola's latest film Somewhere is any indication, it's filled with the diminutive director's signature soft colors. Sofia's pale palate is the perfect embodiment of a femininity that isn't quite girlie (it's not frilly, not pink per se) and definitely isn't fierce. Her pretty protagonists, Elle Fanning included, have the most natural beauty. At the same time her male leads have that boyish-grown-man charm that makes them soft too, in the most beautiful way.

The movie poster for Somewhere (top); Sofia's Milkfed cuties (above).

Any film by Coppala is a fashion film. Her sense of clothing has been evident since her Milkfed days in the '90s. Yes--lest anyone forget--Coppola's pre-Oscar days were spent designing clothing. The girl's got a sartorial pedigree that includes having interned for Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel as a high schooler. When she launched Milkfed with a friend in '98, she'd already had top tier training. Sofia is that rare breed of style star that actually understands clothing construction, color choice, print, and pattern making, and it shows. Her personal wardrobe is always simple and chic, and her costume department is always impeccably run. Somewhere isn't the grand couture fete that was Marie Antoinette (although my favorite part of that movie doesn't really involve much clothing...le sigh), but the subtle side of Coppola's aesthetic a'la Lost in Translation is just as enjoyable. You'll have plenty of time to ponder whether the clothing will make the film, it's not released until December 22nd. Until then, you can shop Sofia's still-going Milkfed line out of its Japan store.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I Wish I Knew How To Shred.

Marilyn Minter's 2008 Supreme Decks.

The coolest kids on the skateboard block--the folks at New York's Supreme--have a talent for reigniting my adolescent envy. I had an intense love affair with skater girl style back in the 7th grade (purple hair, baggy everything, x-Girl tees, and most of all, Bikini Kill blastin' in my ears) but never had the guts or the coordination to actually get on board. Now, I wish I had stuck with it so that I could weave down the streets or kick sick tricks on rails (or whatever the youngsters are doing these days) just so I could be in rightful possession of the amazing decks the company has released over the years. Supreme has collaborated with some of the art world's top contemporary artists to create supercool art infused boards: Marilyn Minter, Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami, Ryan McGinness, skate artist extraordinaire Sean Cliver have all put their stamp on Supreme skate gear.

Ryan McGinness' Pantone Paint series.

The catch is that the boards are produced in limited editions and cost more than a pretty penny, in fact it would take a lot of ciggy re-selling to rack up enough bills for a sweet one. If you are dedicated you can find resold editions on Ebay for the equivalent of a shitty used car, but think of how much cooler you'll look traversing the concrete jungle on a Minter rather than behind the seat of a clunker. Also, if you are like me and still have no coordination, nothing says the boards can't be hung on the wall like the art they are.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

In Almost Every Picture.

In Almost Every Picture #6.

Ad-man and photography fanatic Erik Kessels is a partner in communications/publishing company KesselsKramer. It's a Dutch house dedicated to producing unique media products and also printing limited edition books featuring found photography. One of the company's ongoing series is called In Almost Every Picture which assembles estate sale, flea market, or gifted photos in single-subject books. With eight issues, the subject matter has been as varied as a rabbit with a flat, object-balancing head (the pre-cursor to those wacky Stuff on Cats pic books), to a carnival gun toting woman who rigged a camera to snap her photo whenever she shot at a target at the fair game booth.

She was married to an adoring photo enthusiast. #1.

The photos are always part of a series that tells a story over time. The first issue published many of the hundreds of pictures snapped by an unknown husband of his fetching, anonymous wife over their loving marriage. Kessels found the 400 or so photos in a box at a Barcelona flea market and saved them from the rain. He held on to them for years before printing them up in the premier In Almost Every Picture. The brisk sales of the now sold out issue, and a well-attended gallery exhibition of the book's contents proved that people love to look at others' memories on paper.

The twins in issue #4.

In Almost Every Picture #4 a set of twins are shown on their vacations, holidays, special occasions, and photo worthy days dressed nearly identically over a number of years. In the WWII time frame, the series takes a mysterious and seemingly tragic twist when the photos become portraits of one sister, an empty space marking the absence of her other half.

Passport autobiography from #6.

The sixth issue of the series is a vast collection of a single woman's passport photos over a period of sixty years. It's an autobiography in tiny black and white photobooth snaps; a no frills life story.

A slide show of the fair game femme from issue #7.

The simple notion of this series is so richly engaging. Boxes and boxes of photos are ubiquitous sights at flea markets and antique shops. I love thumbing through them, and you all know how much I enjoy the Flickr universe. Looking at others' photos is the ultimate in people watching, but having little to no information beyond the images themselves make the activity of photo viewing a lovely foray into storytelling. Who? Why? What happened? It is what you think it is. Open endings from beautiful beginnings.

All images from the KesselsKramer website.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pop Goes The Yum.

I'm officially obsessed with People's Pops, and while you should avoid wearing them, you should definitely eat them.

Look how pretty.

Made with fresh, local ingredients by a few skilled freezer chefs based in Brooklyn, the ice pops are simply delish. Flavors on weekly rotation are simple combinations of quality ingredients that serve as each other's perfect compliment: Blueberries and Cream, Rhubarb Mint, Plum Sour Cherry, Pear Jasmine (a personal fave); they will all dance on your tongue. Refreshing, dazzling, and so tasty, there is nothing better for a hot summer day, or a rainy day, or a blah morning, or...whenever.

That's what's in the pops. Mmmm.

I admitted my obsession to the lovely fedora-ed pop seller behind the counter (who I'm sure politely pretended not to recognize me) at the Chelsea Market bar, and he said, "Well it could be worse, at least it's not drugs." Believe me buddy, if I could mainline those pops, I would. My ultimate justification for my new near-daily cold treat is that it licks the fro-yo competition by miles. At least I can enjoy these with the knowledge that they are full of organic fruit and not polysyllabic isolated starch filler things. My previous Tasti-D-Lite habit (I know, it's inexcusably bad) had me worried for my unborn children. I'm not worried anymore, but let's just say I wouldn't be surprised if my first baby popped out on a stick.

Visit the People's Pops website or take a trip to the Chelsea Market to get your daily yum. See ya there.

All images grabbed from the People's Pops website.

Gaga Makes Madonna Eternal.

Just a few short years ago Lady Gaga's Alejandro video probably would have sent my inner Madonna fan into a borderline rage. There are so many spot on references to the Mad one; the video is directed by Steven Klein a'la Madge's 2003 "Unbound" W shoot, has a strong bullfighter influence a'la Take A Bow, is filled with half naked muscle men a'la Express Yourself, and sports so much religious symbolism that it nearly matches the then-shocking Like A Prayer in tone. Madonna's greatest hits are all there and an argument for style biting would make a good case in court, but here's the thing that staves off any resistance to Gaga based on her appropriations of Madonnaisms: Gaga makes Madonna eternal.

Madge has been disappointing her long time fans for years now. Her product has been undone by her ego and her refusal to grow old. She's not a twenty-something pop princess anymore and while I encourage any woman of any age to do whatever they want, the repeated close-up, jumbotron shots of her crotch humping the air (then a guitar, then a few backup dancers) during her Hard Candy Tour that I witnessed at MSG was more than a little cringe worthy. It wasn't sexual age-defying rebellion, it was debasing convention that reeked of "Hey, Rhianna, I can do that too." desperation. But, the sight of Gaga mounting a dancer from behind in her Alejandro video is, well, radical and titillating.

Gaga is the continuation of the seeds that Madonna sowed. She progresses beyond the mere button-pushing and eroticism to something a little more accessible and democratic. Madonna made way for ubiquitous female sexpressionism, but Gaga embraces the freaks among us and isn't afraid to look weird. Madonna was adored by a pretty public. Gaga is the LES glamgoth princess gone mainstream. Madonna licked, Gaga bites. Careful.

But, there too is another thing worth mentioning. Madonna is legendary for her epic ego. Her mountainous "I'm gonna rule the world" ego that created a library of stories of demands, quirky behaviors, and big-headed bitchiness. Again, in order to create the path she did, most of this empathy-blind bulldozing was necessary, and it was her bitchiness that made way for Gaga--the pop star with a heart of gold. My love for the Gaga was sealed, and then resealed in two separate instances. First up was the Bad Romance video which still thrills me, second was the moment she cried on Oprah thanking her Little Monsters for their support and fandom. Heart-felt tears never tipped over the lids of Madonna's bot-eyes. They didn't have to, but I'm happy to have a softer version of my hero to watch. Gaga can keep biting, because she's doing it for all of us who love art, fashion, music, dance because it makes us smile and maybe well up. Is it weird that Gaga makes me cry as an adult? She certainly woulnd't think so. I feel like if I cried in front of Madonna she'd smack me. Which I'd take like a woman raised on her, but I wouldn't prefer it. That's just my girlie truth. Ok, enough. Watch the video.

Madonna should be proud.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Stripes Forever.

I want to live in Breton striped shirts from France. They've been hot since Bardot was a fresh young bombshell. See?

If it was good enough for Bardot, it'll do me just fine. Also, the Breton stripe isn't your typical simple shirt, it has a histiore all it's own. In 1858 the shirt became an official part of the French sailors' uniform through an act of law. The blue and white stripes were seen as an overboard man's best bet for visibility and rescue. As Ms. Chanel (that's Coco to you) brought her clothing revolution to the masses in the '20s, her most resounding message was that of comfort and suitability rather than etiquette and pinching formality. The work-wear clothing of sailors became perfect resort wear for her fans--trendy St. Tropez beach goers that sported their stripes as freedom fashion in the '30s and '40s. The '50s and '60s saw the shirt adopted by the avant-garde, like many symbols of the working class. Next up was Warhol, who made a habit of donning stripes because he thought they were pretty. From Sartre to Picasso to Warhol to Gaultier to you, the thread of the Breton is knotted all through pop and practical history. It never loses it's hip. There should be one on your back, or at least in your closet. Get the real deal from French purveyor Brittany Boutique, or pick up one of a million striped facsimiles and make it a staple of your clothing stable.