Saturday, June 28, 2008

Photos of Inspiration

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Loose on Top, Tight on the Bottom

So this dress went for $67.50 on eBay, and I could not help but ask myself "Why?" Is looking like a tawdry, clownish hippie so very appealing? What is going on here? I realize tie dye is "back" but I think that really means it now "acceptable", but not a full-on trend. Anyway, after some thought, I decided this flowy mess of a sack dress (which really, you could sew yourself for under $5) went so high because the skank du jour trend is loose on top, tight on the bottom. You know what I'm talking about- those "dresses" that billow to one's hips and then suddenly narrow, leaving a tight band around your thighs. Somehow, this has become the look of the summer- replacing the all-out sack of last year, which was just flowy throughout. I think this dress is popular because it allows all the freedom of a sack, with the added bonus of clinging to your ass, while ending somewhere around mid-crotch. (Ohmygod, when you are not living in San Francisco for the summer, the amount of crotch-grazing dresses you see is astounding. Truly astounding.) You can yank a dress like this up as high as you like, espeically now that the lines between "dress" and "top" have been so deeply, deeply blurred after the introduction of that fashion firecracker, the tunic.See? What a strange sillouhette. And the moral of the story is: People shall forever find new ways (and/or imitate old ways as I'm pretty sure this is imitative of an 80's imitating the 20's trend) to show off the goods.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Steampunks: Not as Cool as I Might Have Hoped, But Could be Worse, I Guess

So, perhaps a few months ago, I first heard the term "steampunk"- I think on a street style website, used by someone wearing striped tights, and then I started hearing it a lot, and then there was an article about it in The New York Times and Gaby and Simone got invited to a steampunk party even though obviously they were way too cool to go, so I guess it's officially a thing, or whatever. Steampunk seems to encompass an aesthetic sense of clothing, art, music, and, uh, video games and graphic novels all based on a time when steam engines were cutting-edge technology, and machines were made up of lots of winding gears. Clothes-wise, it seems to be some kind of mashup of Victoriana, cyperpunk, goth, and lots of buckles, gears, leather and brown.

At first I was interested in the idea, because I find industrial revolution-era London really fascinating, and have read a million books about cholera epidemics and Victorian prostitutes and Art Nouveau romanticism and whatnot. Also, I obviously have a great appreciation for clothing and aesthetics from that era, and my favorite movie is City of Lost Children, which I guess they take a lot from, style-wise. In fact, maybe I can finally publish my young adult fantasy novel under the guise that it is "steampunk," as it mostly takes place in an underground water city with lots of brass instruments and old machines and whatnot (ohmygod I am so steampunk and I didn't even know!)

But- part of what seems pretty crappy about steampunk is:

1) The computer factor. Seriously, it seems like a large amount of steampunkers are truly goth-leaning gamers who create online video animations of steampunk characters, or play them in those scary multi-player online role playing games/anime related things. Yet this is pretty much the antithesis of Victorian aesthetics, not to mention the antithesis of production in those times, which is supposed to be a large part of steampunk. I'm not saying everyone should start using waterwheels or something, but that, artisically, there is a marked difference between art created on a computer and art created with actual, traditional materials, and if you truly are devoted to this look, you should not be creating anything on a computer, because it automatically looks crappy and modern and digital, and ruins any sense of history, craft, or personal touch.

2) Shitty (and sexist!) graphic novels like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen/everything similar. God, I hate that crap.

3) Gluing gears and stuff to various crap. A large part of steampunk appears to be fake-aging and gluing brass knobs onto your iPhone or whatever to make it look like an antique diving helmut. I know collage and clustering was a large part of Victorian decor, but there's just something so sad about creating a little shell for a modern plastic gadget in order to turn it into an old-looking accessory, espeically when said gadget is just going to fall apart like every other piece of technological junk made in the past ten years. At least just buy real Victorian stuff (which is actully available, you know) and use that for display. Ditto buying a polyester waistcoat at Wet Seal. Part of what makes old stuff so much better is that it truly is of finer quality and higher quality material. Spray painting a plastic neon squirt gun as a means of reclaiming the past? No on that! Antique diving helmuts didn't have brass studs on them because some pimply-faced teen who jerks off to anime porn thought it looked cool with his goggles, but because they actually held stuff together.

4) The prevalance of goggles. With everything. What the fuck is up with goggles and certain subcultures? It looks dumb to randomly wear goggles, okay? Even if they're faux-antique, they're still goggles.

5) Corsets. Again, what is it with nerdy subcultures and their association with corsets? Like moths to a flame. Corsets can be worn done right, but most people just put on just a corset (not something actually done in the past) like it's a tank top or something. I know people think it's a classy way to show off their boobs, but those people are wrong. It's a trashy way to show your boobs, and is so not historically accurate.

6) This "official Steampunk band" Abney Park, which features a bunch of dorks and some half naked girls gyrating to some terrible goth-type music. Unique! Also, not only are the three guys in this band wearing goggles in this photo, but their logo is a skull with goggles on it. Just as i'twas in the golden age!

I suppose if everyone could pull it off as well as the girl above in green who actually is wearing a corset in a unique way (as opposed to the corseted, goggled, top-hatted, Tim Burtonesque example at the top of this post), steampunk would be a little more attractive. But there doesn't seem to be enough thought put into it, and there are just too many gears stuck to stuff for no reason. If you're going to commit yourself to such a dramatic aesthetic, you should put time, energy and thought into what makes it unique and beautiful instead of just hopping on the brass-knob encrusted bandwagon.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pregnant Celebs and Their In-Demand Spawn

It certainly doesn't take a "trendwatcher" to recognize the current and hot, hot, hot trend of celebrities under 25, like, getting pregnant. Jessica Alba, Katie Holmes, Ashlee (oh Ashlee), Christina Aguilera, Nicole Richie, Lily Allen, and, of course, little Jamie Lynn are all included in this category, and the media's obsession with, and breathless scrutiny of, this subject is seemingly endless. We are subject to the constant examining of every female celebrities' stomach and whether or not there is a visible "baby bump" -possibly the grossest phrase in the English language. (Which is great, because these ladies aren't really examined closely enough to see if they've recently gained or lost weight.)

Magazines pay millions for photos of the newborns because everyone is desperate to see how exactly Joel Madden's DNA will be transferred onto a baby's face, even though babies all look the same (like little blobs, duh.) At the same time, we get glowing reports of pregnancy from the stars, gushing about how it's the most important thing a woman can do and how complete they all feel.

This fascination with motherhood is pretty disturbing for a few reasons. The first is, all these women are really, really young. While it's certainly possible to be good mother at 22, it's not very far into adulthood to make that kind of commitment. However, young female celebrities have always been coded as older than they are, from posing for photoshoots in their underwear at fifteen to being called out as "sluts" when they're less-than-perfect. In Jamie Lynn's case, the media initially pegged her as a slut, but now since she's keeping the baby (wtf) they're back to reporting what a good little mommy she's going to be. As soon as a female is past puberty and in the public eye, she may as well be 35, nevermind the fact that she's a child herself.

What is most disturbing, though, is the simple fact that it is, indeed, a trend. Female stars historically have not gotten pregnant at a young age because they put their careers first; now, being pregant seems to be a calculated career move of its own. It's like a hot new role for them to play, guaranteeing immediate attention and admiration. How many times have we heard that Jennifer Aniston is a cold bitch for not wanting a family and that's why Brad was driven into Angelina's (surprisingly) fertile arms? A lot! For the "bad" celebrity girl (Richie, Aguilera) it makes them appear softer, more wholesome. Now when they pose naked for a magazine cover, it's in a dreamy, Earth mothery pose, surrounded by their little cherubs or proudly displaying their pregnant stomach. For the "good" stars, like Alba, it's cool to be pregnant too because obvs being pregnant is every good girl's dream, just like wearing a white veil on your wedding day and giving up your career to have a child.

It's hard work being pregnant, and harder work raising a kid, but, more than anything, the media seems enchanted with the ethereal and stereotypically feminine concept of motherhood and how great it is, not its possible drawbacks, multiple challenges, and ultimate reality. Raising a child lasts far longer than being pregnant and the pre-toddler years, but to the media, it's just babies, babies, babies! These women (well, some of them) should be famous for their talents or skills or wearing assless chaps in a mud-filled boxing ring, not because they're fulfilling God's master plan.

Lastly, everyone famous names their kids, like, Wheatley or Savannah 3 or Lula Mae or something retarded like that. All these kids are going to grow up to have coke problems and be in lame LA bands anyway, y'all.