Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mary's Musings: News & Politics

This is from the surprisingly grimly serious yahoomail news system, where I am embarrassed to say I get a certain amount of world news from, except that I think it is a lot better, than, say CNN, which I watched during the elections and Anderson Cooper had a conversation with a hologram of "Will.I.Am." from the Black-Eyed Peas. Seriously! A hologram! It was a holographic interview! I guess they have ten-year-olds from 1986 running CNN. Though I would have preferred a Fergie hologram, given the choice.

Defiant Hamas hits Israel with dozens of rockets (AP)

AP - Palestinian militants sent a deadly barrage of missiles flying deep into Israel on Monday, demonstrating that Hamas still had firepower three days into Israel's punishing air offensive in Gaza.

-Israeli airstrikes kill dozens of Gaza civilians (AP)
-Police: 7 bodies recovered in Canada avalanches (AP) Analysis: Israel keeps objectives vague
-Taliban burning, beheading its way through Pakistani valley (AP)
-Australians angry over bid to ban topless sunbathing (Reuters)

All this news is pretty awful and scary, aside from the last one, which is like a punchline to a Weekend Update skit. Still, kind of funny! I've always thought of Australia as a slightly more interesting parallel to America- a British founded-colonialist country where everyone thinks they're so tough because they threw off their colonizers- except that everyone was white and basically from the same country with the same amount of money and had just trampled allover the natives anyway so whatever. Perhaps the next headline should read America Panicking Because Babies R Us Sales Down.

Toys R Us was always a fucked up store, but Babies R Us? That is even more fucked up! Is it a baby superstore or what?

Actually, according to this photo, it actually is a baby superstore:

But at least they don't sell baby tramp stamps, like their brother store. (The Website with this post is kind of amazing and also features this calender! And this amazing photo! Rupaul as the Obamas! Does anyone else feel that RuPaul has really kept it real over the years? I'm glad RuPaul is a celebrity. I always thought she was sooo beautiful as a kid.)

France doesn't look like it's got too many troubles either! Though there are charges of an "unscrupulous dandy!" in their big news story! Oooh la la! Not to mention a mystery about the heirs to a makeup fortune!

PPS: Sorry the text is so fucked up in this post. I don't know what's going on.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Fugliest Shoes EVER!!!

Whilst browsing through Simone's Elle magazine featuring new pre-spring fashion shows or whatever the hell is going on right now (plus an article about Beyonce where she is referred to simply as "B" because I guess she doesn't go by Beyonce anymore? Is this true?), I came across this page, and I literally gasped in horror at the supreme fugliness of the shoes in the collage below. (Simone scanned it in for me, as these shoes are just so "latest five minutes" I couldn't find a style.com photo.)

Yes, all these shoes are fugly. In case you haven't noticed, the way to create an of-the-moment shoe is to start with a really massive platform, and then start gluing random shit to it. Maybe some metallic, or some fringe. Pyramid studs? Yes, please! Oh, there is some extra space near the toe! How about a chunky chain-link strap, or maybe a dangling robot charm? I think the Rodarte shoes mentioned in this post fall neatly under this category, as do the Louis Vuittons and Pradas also in the collage, and the shoes I have selected below.

But let's get down to the really, serious issue, the blue satin monstrosities in the lower left corner:

To quote the way screams were written in the Babysitters Club series, Aughhhh!!!! It's a blue satin platform espadrille in front- so, it's shaping up to be fugly anyway, because espadrilles are usually ugly and it doesn't make sense to pair the casual, ratty-looking rattan sole with a glossy, fancy fabric, and also the toe and platform (of the moment! of the moment!) are gross and huge and weirdly square, but the really scary part is how, once the back of the shoe is reached, the rattan disappears and we have a spindly, shiny black heel. And ballet strap lacing! Why?! It's like this shoe is the mutant, deformed child of two ugly shoe parents.

God, Marc Jacobs, I can't believe I used to like you! And now you have a Spongebob Squarepants tattoo and design shit like this. He needs to stop working out and get back on the coke and stop Mystic Tanning and start wearing vintage Mickey Mouse sweatshirts with Converse again.

Old Marc:

New (actual photo of Marc Jacobs/not image from gayhotornot.com):
PS (Edited to ADD): I can't believe I wrote this entire post neglecting to mention that Simone literally VIP partied with both B and MJ during her highly glamorous trip to the star-studded Miami art thing, Art Basel. Also, she saw Mystery, Matador, and his various people from The Pick-Up Artist! And they were talking about "the game!" Also, the ho who won Paris Hilton's BFF, whoever that is! God, that is several, several steps up from the Paul Giamatti* sighting I recently had in NYC, am I right? PPS: *Bitch looks no better in person!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

More Mary's Musings: Ferocity, The Subject of

Does anyone want to be my assistant? Sometimes it is just too much work to write a blog post! Basically, you would googleimagesearch stuff and then I'd peer over your shoulder and be like, "No, not that Rick James photo, you fool!" and then I'd throw a diamond-encrusted cell phone at your head. If you are interested, leave a comment!!!

Anyway, sorry my blog posts have been sort of meandering lately, but here's another meandering blog post about fashion blogs.

First of all, a jacket is being passed around in the fashion blogosphere, intended to be styled by various fashion bloggers in their own unique way, as long as said fashion bloggers are a size 2. I guess it is sponsered by the company who made the jacket? Anyway, there's a commercial tie-in of some kind, a chic French commercial tie-in. I don't know. A jacket doesn't even really make sense for this type of thing because it already covers up like half your body so it's difficult to style around and put your own "spin" on; it ultimately looks the same on everybody. If anything, it sort of makes the bloggers look really uniform, and what the hell I can't believe that all fashion bloggers are expected to fit into it! No wonder none of the popular fashion bloggers appear to be over a size 4.

Secondly, I have been thinking a lot about the aesthetics of most fashion blogs, and the current trend of twee, hair-bowed, little-girlish styles. You know, with the hair bows and the white tights and the knock-knees and the Zooey Deschanel and the Erin Featherston.

I do not hate this style, or deny that Zooey Deschanel has great hair/that I have been known to wear a bow or two even though I feel slightly foolish while doing so, but the more I think about it, the more I feel guilty for finding this tweeness personally charming.

Inherantly little-girlish, based upon traditional little girl's clothing, full of empire waists, white tights and smocking and pater pan collars, and the Twiggy/little girl look of the 60's, it is a style for the young, because you can't really wear a bow in your hair once you're out of your twenties, but it also has the potential to infantalize the wearer. It does not jibe well with fuller figures or womanly curves, and even though it obviously has a sexual component, it can easily come across as a passive, gawky, kittenish Lolita vibe instead of something strong and grown-up. It lacks, quite frankly, a certain amount of ferocity.

So, in conclusion, I will not throw away my empire-waisted mini dresses and I still think I need a pair of white tights, but, at the same time, I would like to make an effort to harken back to my real, true fashion idols- the showy, the fierce, the overtly glamourous, the tacky, and the sometimes even crass. It is all very nice to be charming and twee occasionally, and I cannot deny my love of miniatures, fairy tales, or peter-pan collars, but I lately I have felt that my other, non-charming fashion personality (friends may know her as Aquanette, the 70's-era bowling alley whore) is being edged out by the sometimes dangerous cutesiness of this popular look.

We need more fashion bloggers who come from different perspectives and with different looks and bodies and backgrounds, and I think regularly reading the popular fashion blogs can have the same effect as reading a popular fashion magazine- you know, where you forget there are other ways to be stylish besides fitting the mold and wearing the latest trends.

Here are some of fashion icons which I will take inspiration from on the new year, during which I will do my best to advocate for ferocity, glamour, and a lack of lank:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Inspiration: Various/Swimmers

Alright, maybe these aren't so much "inspiration" as "photos that were on an disc from my computer that were saved after the fire and now I just got them back", but whatever. They can be appreciated all the same.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Louis Vuitton-Clad Baby Elephants & More!

Normally I try to avoid posting photos of models and fashion shoots, because they tend to be a dull and typical representation of what fashionable people should aspire to, and are invariably ruined by the knock-kneed, blank faced, clearly anorexic model, even if the concept is good. But, I loved this editorial starring Elyse Sewell, who you may know as the best (okay, aside from Jay and Austin, first season of Project Runway) reality show contestant from the first "cycle" of ANTM, as well as the proprieter of a very funny and great livejournal blog detailing the adventures of being a supermodel in Asia, with lots of food pictures because obviously food is the best part of travelling.

I love this shoot not only because of the way it's shot, but because it mocks an all-too-familiar editorial cliche: the model posing ridiculously in designer gowns among various "ethnic" people. Here's a slideshow from a Vogue shoot starring Keira Knightly, entitled "Colonialism! Fun for All!" in which, notably, they dressed a baby elephant in Louis Vuitton. There are far more examples of colonialist-themed editorials than that, but it's not as easy finding stuff on the internets as it should be in this day and age.

In these shoots, the people are always shorter than the models- mere colorful, exotic props to highlight the incredible, otherworldy chicness of the couture -clad mannequin. She may be standing in front of a mud hut or posing with a starving baby, but the message is always the same: look at this study in contrasts! They are so quaint, so simple and different from the world of glamorous fashion! But, they are fashionable, sort of, in their own, simple way! Not enough to be in their own photo or have their name in the magazine, but they make for a good background, like a pretty tree! It brings to mind those photos of tribesman people used to collect in Victorian times. (Sorry, I can't find a good photo of what I'm talking about here. anyone collect those? Alex?)

Of the shoot, Elyse said:

Furthermore, in Asia, the photographer usually shows the model a "reference" picture- something he's ripped out of Italian Vogue or the like- then asks her to copy the pose. This photographer's "reference" was a bunch of pics of evangelists and faith healers from the 1920s! There was no stultifying pose copying; he just said, "OK, we've dressed you up as a bizarre extraterrestrial evangelist...go!"

Here, all the everyday people are looking at her like she is crazy, highlighting the fact that she is the one acting and looking strangely in the environment. Her swooning poses and facial expressions are intentionally over-the-top, parodying the ridiculous hunch-backed, dramatic contortions so common in fashion editorials. Even though the shots are beautiful and the clothes are kind of amazing, we can appreciate them while acknowledging that they are somewhat ridiculous thmselves. Instead of using the "third world"-esque environment to elevate her, she is the one who comes across as truly exotic.

Okay, I can also appreciate this fashion shoot. I'm not made of stone!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Inspiration: Victorian Children's Clothing

I hate when people diss old things for not being "up-to-the-minute" enough. So many people are obsessed with modernism that they can't see past the fact that everything they think is modern right now will look twice as dated when it is out of style in ten years (if we are ever tired of seeing things shaped like white cubes, that is), just like everyone who threw out all their old stuff to turn their house into a track-lit 80's box probably wish they hadn't now. It kills me that people are still ripping down old buildings to build glass-fronted rectangles with white particle-board walls. I think all these pieces, designed for children many years ago, look fresher, more interesting and more avant-garde than what is usually sent down the runways. Well-designed things stand the test of time. Mark my words!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Time to Do the Man Pants*

Whenever a catalog or whatever tries to sell women something oversized, they always call it "the boyfriend cardigan" or "boyfriend jean" so it's like, "Hey, ladies, there's nothing butch about it! You just borrowed it over the course of your heterosexual relationship!"

Personally, I am all for androgyny in dressing, (not that it's something I personally feel I can pull off) but, of course, only if it's done right. Important things to consider: cut, fit, fabric, amount of tapering. If rarely works to just wear something that was made to fit baggily on someone larger than you, no matter how dominatrixy the other items you pair it with. Case in point: the look above. Even if you pair it with the ever-so hot Chanelish mom purse already harped upon, and a pair of patent leather shoes, and -gasp- a bodysuit, you are still wearing Jerry Seinfeld's jeans. And that's not flattering, to woman, man, or anyone in between.

Here's another lady, this one claiming to actually be wearing her boyfriend's pants. Well, I hope she didn't buy them for herself, because the fit on them is terrible, and the crotch is a saggy mess. Again with the Chanel bag, and this when went for that whole "contrasts" thing that is so hot right now, wearing a polished, ladylike look on top and trying to even it out with some khakis. Ugh. I feel like people are literally afraid to step out of the house looking elegant/polished, so everyone needs to add cut-offs so they don't look like they're trying so hard. It's tiresome!

Here's another one, this time from hated The Sartorialist blog. She is French, and you know how people love to talk about how great French/European taste is, even though you if have ever been to Europe you know that's not true. Or, if you have ever seen a European tourist walking around in socks and sports sandals and a soccer jersey, you also know this is not true. Or, if you consider the ongoing popularity of techno, you know it's not true. But Vogue and stuff is always being like, "Oh, the French girls, they are so effortless and lank and they wear beige and do not brush their hair, they have the je ne sais quas we bourgeois Americans can only hope for." Anyway, this girl falls into that French girl category, but she also fits in to the clicheed items category- ooh, a bowler-esque hat! A blazer with a crest! A plaid button-down shirt! Ugly tapered man-pants! I don't need to go to Paris to see this shit, I can find it all at Urban Outfitters.

I almost don't want to criticize this one, because at least she's going for full-scale androgyny and not sexy androgyny, but it's still real bad. If you want to obscure the female form and all, you don't have to do it by wearing baggy, ill-fitting things that make you look like an 80's gnome. Try a well-structured jacket with a strong shoulder or a nice crisp pair of pants or something. What's the point of trying to look menswearish if you're just going to look like Don Johnson? How about James Spader in Pretty in Pink as an 80's style icon instead?
Who else feels that she should have skipped the annoying Duckie, skipped the "I would only be considered attractive for a short period in 1985" Blaine, and just gone straight for James Spader, clearly the hottest one? (Though, technically, she should have said "See ya!" to all the guys in that movie and headed off to art school, but we all know John Hughes liked to keep the womenfolk down.)

Here's another one with a pair of baggy, tapered jeans. God, the way she has them rolled up over those Big Ugly Shoes just kills me. I just find that shape so weird and wrong. And again, it's that whole "contrast" thing where it's supposed to look good because it's paired with things that don't match, but, really, it just doesn't match.

Anyway, I think I've posted this photo of Katherine Hepburn before, but I'd just like to emphasize that what is traditionally called menswear can look great on women, and women should not be afraid to go for this look of they want. But part of what makes men's clothing different from women's is the added structure, which you're just not going to get from any old tapered pant that you bought yesterday because you saw someone else wearing them, dudes. Secondly, a huge, puffy pair of 501s, even paired with Chloe knock-offs and a bustier, make you look like a squat little gnome, albeit one who's devoted to the early 90's. It seems like so many people are adopting this trend because it's supposed to be so unexpected, and besides the fact that that doesn't make up for it being ugly, soon we really will be sick of looking at it.

*Clearly, the title of this post is a reference to a That Petrol Emotion song. Clearly.