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· Culture Notes: Anti-Grrl
· Fashion Notes: Best in Show, Pre-Fall 09 (Part II)
· Fashion Notes: Best in Show, Pre-Fall 09 (Part I)
· Fashion Notes: Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2004

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Culture Notes: Anti-Grrl
by The Kindly One

I've recently gotten in the mood to compile a playlist. I came up with several ideas, including playlists for the 90s, personal favorites (both of which you're likely to see soon), and a playlist that turns femme rock (Ani DiFranco, Tori Amos, Uh Huh Her, PJ Harvey, etc.) on its head. I cannot stand femme rock, but I quite like songs I would consider the male counterparts, hence this playlist. Note that I took the idea of femme rock more seriously than its actual contents. Not every song hits the nail on the head, but the liberties I took in creating this list ("I Heard It Through the Grapevine" reinvisioned as riot grrl breakup song; Sting and Jason Castro's voices as demonstrations of male vulnerability) make for a far more interesting list than mere replicas of the originals. As for the last song, I just needed something whimsical to break up all the misery. I hope you enjoy this list as much as I enjoyed making it.

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8/25/2009 [0]

Fashion Notes: Best in Show, Pre-Fall 09 (Part II)
by The Kindly One


I am a great fan of bomber jackets, and I particularly loved Givenchy's version. No real surprise. I don't think Riccardo Tisci always knocks it out of the park, but I am generally a fan of his jackets, as he regularly cuts dramatic necklines that frame the face and high, narrow sleeves, design elements I look for as I find them personally flattering.


Finally, a menswear look that doesn't fall back on old, tired notions of sexiness/cuteness/girlish whimsy. This is menswear, period, cut down to fit women without regard to femininity or dressing for men (thank you, Balenciaga). Of course, without concessions to the figure, 90% of women couldn't wear this look, but I didn't choose it for its wearability. I've chosen it more for the idea of taking on laddish cardigans and detailing and the overall aesthetic of extremely boyish clothing, both in look and cut. Turns out you don't need shrunken vests and glen plaid short shorts to look sexy in menswear.


For at least the past five years, probably ten, the film Grey Gardens has been a perennial, at times primary, force within fashion. There are a variety of factors that contribute to this, including the Olsen twins' "Dumpster chic" aesthetic and general advanced skill in layering and tweaking proportions; the neo-boho/SoCal aesthetic in the early 2000s; Marc Jacobs's hugely influential 2005 and 2006 Fall/Winter collections, in which he masterfully culminated a twenty-year obsession with layering, deconstruction, and grunge and basically established The New Order for silhouettes and layering to come; and the general hipsterism/new formlessness/grunge-cum-lately aesthetic currently driving fashion. I don't know if Grey Gardens directly influenced this look, but I do think Balenciaga captured eccentricity here in a way that is appealing and ladylike. The dress is gorgeous and feminine, and while the coat is almost barbaric, it manages not to compete with the dress. Overall, the look is restrained and chic and sidesteps the more overt, sweater-as-a-headwrap influences you'll see.


The thirties are a yearly revisitation in fashion, seen every winter I can remember, though more of an influence some years than others. Unlike Grey Gardens, I'm not really sure why this is so much of an influence. Eighties resurgence aside, grown women don't want to dress in a nostalgic reverie. My best guesses for the constant recycling of the idea is that it is primarily American designers that cling to it (think Ralph Lauren, Donna Karen, Proenza Schouler), and Americans are more guilty of theme dressing than Europeans (and everyone else in the world).
That said, this is a beautiful iteration of the theme from Lanvin. I am a huge fan of black lace dresses, as well as dresses in this cut, and the combination of the two does my heart good. I also love the fur shrug over the dress. Given its cut and color, this is a dress that could easily look dour, and the fur adds a much-needed dose of whimsy and shape. Overall, this is such an elegant look, beautifully executed top to tails.


If this dress looks familiar, Tilda Swinton wore it to an event earlier this year. Tilda - she may have crazy hair, but she wears the best gowns, hands down. I chose this gown from Lanvin as best evening dress because it will never age. It isn't laden with trendiness in cut, color, or detailing. It doesn't rely on a passing notion of prettiness, femininity, or sexiness to sell itself. What sells it is its elegance - the draping, the dramatic shoulder-tie, the overall demure quality of a gown that draws attention to wearer and acts as her frame. I'll leave it at that. This is a dress that explains itself.

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8/18/2009 [3]

Fashion Notes: Best in Show, Pre-Fall 09 (Part I)
by The Kindly One

For this round of collection reviews, I've chosen Givenchy's show as best all-around/most likely to wear. For this collection, Riccardo Tisci concentrated on directional basics, featuring coats, pants and dresses that are essential to the wardrobe, but of enough interest to do more than just fill in wardrobe gaps. The clothes are dramatic, austere, and minimal, the three words I would use to define my own style, with enough sobriety mixed in to be comfortably worn out and about. In addition to its wearability, this clothes could almost serve as a capsule wardrobe for any of the more high fashion/avant-garde editors and stylists on the scene due to its emphasis on the requisite stovepipes, avant-garde coats, and elongation regularly seen on the likes of Emmanuelle Alt, Carine Roitfeld, and Barbara Martelo. But overall, and through no conscious thought, my pre-fall collection picks are more based on my fashion ideals and fantasies of working as a Vogue Paris editor than they do wearability or practicality.


I love that this is a very young look. I don't know how it's happened, but recently it's only teenagers who know how to dress, and I love Givenchy for taking their cues. I also appreciate the mix of fashion-forward with basics. The peacoat isn't audaciously cut. It's even in a subdued hue. Add the peeptoe boots and sheer dress, though, and it's instantly updated from some standard urban winter wear to something youthful, feminine, and fun.


For a more directional coat, wear this one. I love the architectural cut of the lapels, which frame the face beautifully without overwhelming either the face or figure. Despite the strength of the lapels, this is still a very wearable coat, primarily because the length of the coat is boxy and nondescript. Were it more feminine or avant-garde, this would become both unwearable and an instant period piece. I also love the cut of pants with the coat. Clearly not a cut for everyone, but it punctuates the point of wearing one well-chosen accent and letting everything else blend in.


Perennial themes for fall include the thirties and fur. No matter what else is going on in fashion, you'll always see these themes, like the nautical, floral, "ethnic," and safari themes of spring. This is one of my favorite iterations of the theme this year. It's not literal and again contrasts one great piece (the fur coat) with items already found in your closet. The overall effect is ladylike, quite the opposite from many fur-themed iterations emphasizing wealth, sex, or, as we'll see in the second part of the Pre-Fall review, the Grey Gardens effect.


What surprises me about this look is the fact how Tisci was able to turn two traditionally bulky items - the parka and the fur coat - and slim them down to the point of layering them. Wearing a fur coat under a leather jacket is an intensely Fashion look (capital "F") regularly seen on the likes of Alt and Roitfeld and rarely seen on anyone else. It takes the imagination and technical knowledge of a stylist to pull off this look, as the layering could easily degenerate into bulkiness and eccentricity. This look avoids both due to the super slimness of the outfit's cut. Though intimidating to pull off, this extreme slimness and verticality can be quite elegant as it eliminates bulkiness and requires a certain gracefulness of movement.


This look is my every Goth girl fantasy come true and probably why I fell in love with this collection. It is elegant in its stark minimalism, requisitely Goth black, and dramatic in the extreme. Despite the severe styling (and this show is notable for its clever, marketable styling), the pieces themselves aren't overtly Gothic or extreme. The dress is just simple and Empire-waisted, so simple and feminine I'd hate it if it weren't styled like this. The inner jacket is a very cool take on the sweater coat, infinitely wearable in terms of cut and temperature control. And the overcoat, independent of the gloves and feathers, is a light, basic enough cut to almost act as a very fashionable rainjacket. But pulled together? This is where the magic happens. As much as I love McQueen and Galliano, if I am ever in a position to wear a very expensive gown, I will choose Tisci's designs in a heartbeat for their overall eccentricity and stark Goth glamour. I won't fit in, and I'll look good doing so.

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8/14/2009 [0]

Fashion Notes: Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2004
by The Kindly One

Though I've always loved Alexander McQueen's work, there's very little of it I would wear. Generally, his work is much more feminine in both structure and mentality than I feel comfortable wearing, and I think I need more curves to really pull off his beautiful suits. In fact, I only realized recently that the greatest part of McQueen's allure for me is McQueen himself - his image as the iconoclast both of the fashion machine and fighting against it, his incredible and unwavering commitment to his personal design sense, and, most of all, his emotionality and thoughtfulness in his productions. Though McQueen's clothes consistently reinforce his design sense, it's through his productions, not necessarily his clothes, that his character is exposed. Strip away the typical fashion claptrap about his being the "enfant terrible" or "the intellectual" and his shows reveal a sensitive man who feels deeply and offers a very specific, thoughtful response to the world around him, whether he's responding to the fashion industry, the increasing "speed" of life, or political issues. Due to this thoughtfulness and sensitivity, I've always felt an affinity with McQueen and - oddly, since I've never met the man - the sort of emotional connection you have with those who experience the world as you do.

Emotions aside, I also love McQueen's visual sense. He's able to convey thoughts and moods without ever saying the words, something I strive in to do in my work, as so much of thought and emotion in real life is never said out loud. As such, I am particularly fond of his Spring/Summer 2004 show, in which he allows physicality to demonstrate his thoughts on the economy, the war, and the then-pace of the world. The advantages of this are twofold, in that 1) words can always lie, but the body rarely does, and 2) the viewer has the pleasure of watching a great McQueen production.

This show is my personal favorite of McQueen's, as it deals so beautifully and poetically with the misguided assumptions of the time and their inevitable consequences. Before watching the videos above, I would advise starting with this primer from Fashion Television, which summarizes McQueen's thought process behind the show, its historical context, and the show itself. After this, watch the show videos above and get blown away by the show's sheer emotional impact. Though neither video includes the music actually used in the show (the first video doesn't even have music), this show is primarily about visual consequence, the impact of which isn't affected by sound. And what an impact it is - you really get a sense of exhaustion and the inability to keep up a relentless pace. It's a beautiful , powerful display of an idea that outlines itself without words, without intellectualizing, just through experience.

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8/03/2009 [0]

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