"The most beautiful makeup for a woman is passion, but cosmetics are easier to buy."
                                                                                              —Yves Saint Laurent

If you're new to this blog, then read our guides to the basics: Skin (Part I), Skin (Part II), The Supernatural, Color Theory I, Color Theory II, Eyes, and Brushes.

Also, check out the blogsale.

· Culture Notes: Closed Systems

Art Tattler
the glamourai
The Non-Blonde
Perfume Shrine
Lisa Eldridge
Garance Doré
Smitten Kitchen
Into The Gloss
Grain de Musc
Res Pulchrae
Drivel About Frivol
The Selfish Seamstress
Killer Colours
Bois de Jasmin
Glossed In Translation
Jak and Jil
Toto Kaelo
Worship at the House of Blues
I Smell Therefore I Am
Food Wishes
The Natural Haven
Messy Wands
1000 Fragrances
Moving Image Source
The Emperor's Old Clothes
M. Guerlain
Colin's Beauty Pages
Barney's jewelry department
loodie loodie loodie
The Straight Dope
Sea of Shoes
London Makeup Girl
Sakecat's Scent Project
Asian Models
Ratzilla Cosme
Smart Skincare
Illustrated Obscurity
A.V. Club
Tom & Lorenzo: Mad Style
Eiderdown Press
Beauty and the Bullshit
La Garçonne
Flame Warriors
Everyday Beauty
Fashion Gone Rogue
Now Smell This
The Cut
A Fevered Dictation
Nathan Branch
101 Cookbooks

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Culture Notes: Closed Systems
by The Kindly One


I was pleased to read this recent interview with Louise Wilson on Cathy Horyn's On the Runway blog. I enjoy Cathy's interviews, and I found this interview particularly engaging as it touched on cultural themes that are very personally familiar, primarily the enormous amount of cultural stagnation we are facing:

"Did the industry plan that everyone would travel to the same countries, that everyone would have disposable means of income, that everybody would be quite bland? I recently interviewed someone coming to the MA program and they said the last film they had seen was “Valkyrie,” with Tom Cruise. I said, “You’re joking, aren’t you?” ...There are immensely talented people around but I feel huge vortexes of them are sucked into this mediocre world where nobody criticizes and it’s all terribly politically correct." [cite]

Despite the unprecedented level of access our culture at large now has to information, communication, material goods, and luxury replicas, I don't think it's making us any smarter, more critical, more thoughtful, or more imaginative. Instead, we're facing the Tumblr effect, in which all information gets virtually posted and re-posted without end, both in the sense that it never stops being posted and in that the information never reaches a culmination. Really cool pictures of audacious styling, inspiring quotes, viral videos - it's all shared endlessly. But what do people do with it? This is my question. I don't see a real response to various media or a progression of ideas. I only see replication of the idea, literally (that cool picture on every blog) and passively (one hundred different people on one hundred different days taking the same photo of a tea set with the light bouncing off the saucer). I never see any real action take place - a rebellion against stylized realism, an incisive satire of "edgy" fashion, anything that doesn't feed directly into the trends, thoughts, and assumptions of our times.

Years ago, Marc Jacobs gave an interview in which he shared that the role of designer was drastically different from even a generation before. In addition to designing, there was so much information the designer was expected to know, so much culture the designer had to engage in. Designers were now expected to read the same books as everyone else, keep up with pop culture, basically maintain the same references. At the time, I thought these very notions were ridiculous and the observations were mere complaints, the symptom of some anxiety. And I was right, though I didn't realize the anxiety was both cultural and personal. At times when less and less seems stable and controllable, when self-definitions crumble, the notion of safety in numbers can appeal, and I think it's this conceit that's partly responsible for the navalgazing the culture at large is currently engaged in. We may not know what it is to be American anymore or what the future will bring, but by God, we can all know and share in our experiences with the Kardashians/Rihanna/Octomom. Maybe no one looks good in Margiela's shredded jeans because they're ugly, but they're cool, so we'll all wear them. It boils down to safety, and it's all the more vicious and virulent a notion of safety not just because it's ultimately based in fear, but, more potently, because we're choosing to do it to ourselves.

I am not part of the fashion industry, but I enjoy reading my favorite fashion/style blogs daily. It has become a chore. I'm only an amateur, and yet it seems there's so much information you need to know just to keep up and be relevant. It's a daunting task just to keep up and nearly completely absorbing to get ahead, and this isn't even a description of skill, merely of retaining information. I cannot imagine the intense amount of pressure I'd feel if I were in the field, or the boredom, because all the information's the same. In a culture in which knowing and demonstrating the right information determines safety/competence/relevance, information itself quickly stagnates and discernment takes a vacation. It's less important to dress oneself well and appropriately for one's body type and lifestyle than it is to keep up and do as the Romans, a fact Wilson speaks to when she mentions the decline of style. As much technological innovation we have now and sheer possibility, never before witnessed, to create our own movements, speak for ourselves, and express our individual potentials, the effort is wasted on perfectionism and bleating to the beat of one collective drum. And while sharing the same information is crucial to a culture's survival - this is how culture gets transmitted - so is updating that information and infusing it with new life. Otherwise, you have a closed system in which nothing can get in or out. And as any systems analyst can tell you, without the exchange of (in this case) information, systems will fail.

"It might be very good for fashion if fashion goes out of fashion, and maybe nothing does happen for awhile and a few companies shut down. When the light turns away that’s when the new work will be done." [cite]


7/16/2009 [1]

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]. Or
follow on bloglovin'. If
you'd like to contact Dain,
feel free to email me.
I'm also on Pinterest.

The Mnemonic Sense
Most Wanted
The Beauty Primer
Consumer Diaries
Closet Confidential
On The Label
Beauty Notebook
The Hit List
Color Me In
The Makeup Artist
Wedding Bells
Globe Trotter
Desert Island

perfume notes
beauty notes
fashion notes
culture notes

chypre arc
floral arc
fresh arc
masculines arc
   & orientals arc

August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009
January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
August 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
March 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2012
June 2012
July 2012
August 2012
September 2012
October 2012
December 2012
January 2013
February 2013
March 2013
June 2013
July 2013