Thursday, October 30, 2008

Photos of Inspiration


Monday, October 27, 2008

Vince Vaughn + Fat

I recently saw the preview for whatever wacky, unbearable holiday-themed rom-com Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn are in this season. You know, the one where someone gets a fruit cake in the eye and an obnoxious kid who swears kicks Vince Vaughn's shin hahaha.

Anyway, it brought to mind that Hollywood phenomenon of actors aging, gaining weight, and veering into middle-aged, metabolism-slowing bloat, and, overall, just not being groomed and looking like a truck ran over them. It inevitably happens, and, inevitably, it is ignored. While female actors have to contend with every half pound gained being subjected to a zoom lense and "baby bump" rumors, actors can gain twenty-five pounds and still star as the desirable, romantic lead.

Vince Vaugh is such a good example of this. Sure, he's always seemed like an obnoxious, overindulgent alcoholic cokehead with dubious acting skills, but during, you know, that horrible Swingers movie everyone loved so much, he was pretty foxy. and also when I was thirteen at I saw the unmemorable Clay Pigeons, in which he wears a cowboy hat. Here are some example photos!

And now, the first photo that comes up when "Vince Vaughn + fat" comes up. (In his case, I think the decline of his looks has a lot to do with being a lush):

I was going to post photos of some others, such as Tobey Maguire, Adam Sandler, Tom Hanks, and the like, but I feel I've already used my picture quota posting photos of hot young Vince Vaughn. Another excellent example is Leonardo DiCaprio, who is a terrible actor and obviously coasted to fame on his pretty-boy good looks, (which have been completely lost) but is still considered both a sexy romantic lead and, for some reason, a "Great Actor" cast in "Great Movies" by "Great Directors" like "Martin Scorsese."

I'm certainly not saying that people need to remain slim to be attractive, just that it is completely aggravating how women are held to a superficial standard and a constant level of both dieting and general upkeep that men are not. (Especially when a lot of female stars look a lot more healthy and normal when they gain weight, as opposed to the Jim Belushi-esque nosedive men tend to take.) Reese Witherspoon, for example, is six years younger than Vince Vaughn already, and has obviously dieted extensively to keep up her current physique in the movie, and was often considered too "fat" when she was what is probably her normal weight. She never would be cast as a romantic lead twenty pounds heavier, so why should he? Also, do people even like Vince Vaughn anymore? Doesn't it almost seem like he stopped being famous and became famous again for some reason?

Friday, October 17, 2008

WTF: Rodarte

As I have said in previous posts, designer fashion often just seems like a big hullabaloo over nothing. One of the hottest-right-now lines is Rodarte, designed by sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy. I remember when Rodarte first came out and their photos started appearing in Vogue and stuff, and I used to think, "Wow, I wonder how these two normal-looking women feel about working in the evil fashion industry?" Fitting with my last post, how did they feel about designing clothes they probably couldn't have worn? Well, apparently, Vogue magazine challenged them to lose weight. And, not surprisingly, they did.

That all being said, I don't really get the whole thing. For instance, these shoes, from their new spring '09 line: To me they look like the same big, ugly shoes that everyone is wearing, but with Claire's jewelery stuck to them:

Or this shapeless blue satin dress:

Or this all-cream outfit:

You can see the whole spring '09 line here.

All I have to say is, I would like to see Beyonce in the following spring '09 Alexander McQueen outfit:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Who Is Fashion For?

Recently, the New York Times style section wrote a breathlessly positive review of "the next generation of style bloggers," naming such bloggers as the aforementioned Style Rookie blog, as multiple other teens who maintain their own blogs.

Before reading this article, I'd been thinking a lot about the popular fashion blogs (as I posted here) and how they 1. Are all basically the same 2. Represent a view of fashion which, far from being liberating and personal, have driven away many people from fashion for a long time. 3. Mention Teen Vogue far too much. Teen Vogue, I say, blows hard.

The typical blog is written by a young woman 25 or under. The typical blogger is thin, white, extremely trend-conscious and goes shopping a lot. One positive thing about blogs is that a lot of the finds are thrifted, but aside from that, the inspiration for these blogs usually comes from either fashiony street style blogs like Face Hunter, "it" girl types (post about Daisy Lowe forthcoming), magazine spreads, or designer looks. Rare is the style blog written by someone non-white, non-thin, and non-designer-inspired. Rare as well is the blog that delves into anything resembling the problematic politics of fashion; they are typically style journals featuring magazine editorial-style shots of the girls posing dreamily and the latest thing they bought that looks like Luella. In short, they are strongly imitative of a dominant fashion paradigm.

(By the way, I have TOTALLY thought about how, if I switched to this format, I might rise in the fashion blog ranks or whatever. One appeal of this format is that it's easy. It's light on text, heavy on artfully shot photos, and entertaining to read. and I certainly have enough elaborate daily outfits and thrift store finds to keep it going. But, you know, that would be against everything I stand for and stuff. Also, I post on wardrobe_remix occasionally.)

This is not to say that every fashion blog is like this, or that there isn't room for being interesting within this format. One notable exception is Tricia Royal's Bits and Bobbins blog and wardrobe_remix community. Royal is one of the few popular fashion bloggers who constantly questions the ethics of fashion, from inviting readers to discuss body image to poor labor practices to affordability to everything in between, at the same time showcasing a personal aesthetic and style that clearly owe more to artistic expression than to the latest trend. Fittingly, she created flickr's wardrobe_remix community, an egalitarian version of the typical street style blog, where everyone is allowed to post what he or she wore today. When posting her recap of favorite wardrobe_remixers, we get to see that not everyone who likes clothes looks the same or does it in the same way, and it's obvious she takes care to post people with unique personal style who don't necessarily fit into our idea of what fashion is, or who it is for.

At the core of the NYT article is the argument that blogs like these are special because they express unique, personal style, explaining that "their sites are not just paeans to mall finds that look like what celebrities wear; in these digital parts, the celebrities are the likes of Erin Wasson, Ashley Olsen and Emmanuelle Alt." So, in other words, these girls are imitating celebrity style, only the celebrities are like, way cooler and more chic and possibly French and stuff. (Who is Erin Wasson? She's a model who supposedly stole the idea from her stupid jewelry line from someone else and notably, recently told Nylon that "Homeless people have the best style." Yeah.)

Essentially, these are teenagers trying to look like models, actresses, or Vogue editors. Yet, even though bloggers like these are constantly posting images from fashion shows or of Chrlotte Gainsbourg, writer Spiridakis argues that, "Because these bloggers often live outside fashion capitals, they fuel their own online trend cycles." Of course, many of these trend cycles feature the trendy, mass-produced look repeatedly, but you know, there's more than one way to add Bill Gates glasses to your look: "There are trends and items that make the rounds, with everyone posting her own take, such as glasses without lenses; baggy, rolled-up pleated pants; a blue H&M blazer seen on countless Swedish street-style girls; or a Luella-esque floral dress from Primark."

So, in other words, these girls, who mostly cannot afford designer clothes, do their best to imitate both street-driven and designer trends with what they've got- until, presumably, they really can just go out and buy that Marc bag. This method has certainly gotten the eye of the mainstream fashion world; in 2006, several famous bloggers were flown, all expenses paid, to Chanel headquarters in Paris to meet some bigwigs and watch that perfume commercial with Keira Knightley before anyone else. On a more widespread level, fashion bloggers are often contacted by companies to promote and receive free stuff; Lipidakis mentions that "some companies that trade in teen whispering, like Urban Outfitters, are starting to contact the writers to promote items like hoodies." Teen Vogue regularly promotes fashion bloggers in between reporting on what daughters of socialites are wearing and what fifteen year old model is hot right now.

The reason a lot of people don't like fashion is because Fashion with a Capital F leaves people out. Designers are supposed to dictate fashion, but designers make a very limited range of sizes. Designer clothing is so ludicrously expensive that pretty much no one can afford it. Walking into a designer store or upscale department store like Barney's gives me an idea of how steerage passengers must have felt upon viewing the first-class cabins onboard a ship- you know, like you are just a bit too dirty, cheaply clothed, ungroomed, and, yes, poor to even step foot into this gleaming world.

And besides there being a massive lack of accesibility to the fashion world, I personally find there to be a strong "Emperor's New Clothes" phenomenon within the realm of designer fashion. Back when I was in high school, for instance, people wanted to wear Abercrombie. No one knew about the Chanel logo or what made a Louis Vuitton purse authentic. Somehow, though, things started getting marketed differently, and it became superhot for teenagers to worship at the alter of Chanel and co. Nobody wants to examine whether they really want something or if they just want whatever status comes along with the garment, or whether designers really are all amazing, artistic innovators or just running a pretty succesful racket. I personally would much rather find a box of 30's dresses than have a boxful of Marc Jacobs, unless I was alowed to sell the Marc sack dresses to buy more 30's dresses.

But designers, thiness, and trends shouldn't be what fashion is about. Everyday you must get dressed, and more likely than not, you are not a model wearing designer clothes and attending a fashion show. Therefore, there should be a wide range of inspirations for you to draw from, from sea creatures to old movies to burlesque dancers to everything in between. To me, anyone with a strong personal style should be at least slightly offended, at times, with the way fashion is presented to the world.

The promise if the personal fashion blog is that it delivers what a mainstream magazine does not; with no commercial interests or loyalty to advertisers, bloggers should be free to critique fashion and everything within while offering a singularly unique style perspective; after all, a magazine has to appeal to a wide audience, but a blog can sustain itself on a smaller, more speicalized, and more unique readership. But fashion bloggers all too often just become the vessel that all these typical, trendy, mainstream ideas trickle though. Half the time, I might as well just open up a issue of Teen Vogue.

Joan Rivers Is Alright

It is shocking- simply shocking that Ms. Lauren "LC" Conrad has not only maintained her level of fame from when I made a post about hating her an entire year-ish ago, but her fame level has actually risen. MTV's The Hills really feeds into our culture's obsession both with faux-reality TV and the blandest and shallowest of female archetypes. Whereas once MTV had shows like Daria and played Hole videos, today it's a horrifying amalgamation of My Super Sweet Sixteen, Katy Perry's astoundingly weak-ass take on retro glamour, the botoxed 22-year olds of The Hills and beyond, and the occasional Hannah Montana visit. Nice outfit, LC! Real unique!

Just like your fashion line, which we can see an image of to the right. Loving that sag! It must have taken a lot of hard work to design this one.

All I have to say is, may god strike down anyone who buys anything from any celebrity fashion line, except the Joan Rivers line on QVC (For some reason, my mom got in all this Joan Rivers brand jewelery into her store, and people would look at it and then look at the box and be like, "Joan Rivers?" and I wasn't really sure if I should pretend it was a different Joan Rivers or not. It was not a different Joan Rivers.)

On the plus side, I'm enjoying the photo of Beyonce below. She is bringing it in a way it so rarely brought in today's dire media landscape. Let's have a little more of this and a little less of this, please.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Just Say No (To Pants)

The Olsens look like they're dressing up in their mother's clothes, and their mother is a dominatrix from 1996. First, let's start with Mary Kate, my fave Olsen. She is wearing a long, boxy, 1996 blazer. Underneath, something flowy and scarf-like that is dangling out beneath it. En pointe, she has done away with pants, which we all know is chic, chic, chic for the MK set these days.

One trend I really hate is the Lucky Magazine-driven, "If you're wearing something flowy, put something boxy, like a shoulder-padded blazer or leather jacket on top. It'll toughen it up!" You don't need to put something "opposite" in top of something else to make it work! It's called a "mismatch," and it looks dumb. Have the confidence to embrace an entire look.

MK has added a pair of boots that also look kinda '96 to me, what with the square toe, and these boots are scrunching all over her teeny calves. Seriously, if you didn't know who she was, but saw this photo, would you not think she was somebody's kid? Also, are oversized blazers really going to come back because I would have to be held at gunpoint to get into one of those. I will say it right now to both the Olsens: They're no good on short people. Actually, they're no good period, but short people can't even pull it off in a nod to 80's power suit-dressing kind of way (which we all know was really a nod to 1940's Katherine Hepburn power suit dressing.)

And then Ashley, who lately has been going for some kind of severe, minimalist chic thing (whoa, way to button only one button!), and is wearing a corset, leather leggings (godamnit if I see one pair of shiny/metallic/leather/pleather leggings...) and pointy toe shoes. All very vixenish, except she has it all covered up with some large flowy cardigan (speaking of which, if I see one more oversized cardigan...) and, it's just so bland. No one ever wants to have fun with campy seperates! What's the point of dressing like a skank if you can't even enjoy it?

Here they are with models wearing their "fashion line," The Row, which I saw at Barney's this summer. (Though, supposedly, Ashley has asked Mary Kate to leave the company because she doesn't do anying.) Bleh. The models, despite being really tall, look dumpy in these looks too. MK, on the other hand, now looks like a tiny seventy-year old who's had one facelift too many. She's very versatile.

Some assorted looks: A tweed mini and ankle boots with a puff sleeves blouse? Another oversized blazer with skinny black pants? A flowy kimono thing? I prefer the Olsens who wore long capes and lots of bracelets and teetered around on really high platforms and looked crazy. (Check out my Olsens tag for more on that.) There's nothing worth than an attempt at minimal, tasteful chic, especially in an era where you can dress like a total uncreative slob in one neutral, semi-long shirt, put on some high heels, and call it a minimal, tasteful day.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I Love Simon Doonan

After hearing Barney's creative director/writer/witty commentator Simon Doonan and interior design guru/Top Design judge Jonathan Adler got married, I was filled with a rare sense of happiness for them that rarely occurs at a wedding. Even though I obviously hate Top Design because it's totally boring and just features boring people raiding some Pier One-esque warehouse to arrange stupid furniture in boring room, I have nothing against Jonathan Adler, and have always appreciated his bright color combinations both in the home and on his person. Simon Doonan, on the other hand, I totally love. In an age when it's super-popular for fashiony gays to sweep into people's lives on TV and "fix" them, Doonan has always advocated for quirky, personal style and celebrating who you are instead of looking trendy, neat, plastic, and boring.

Here's a great quote by him on plastic surgery: "I am completely opposed to it. I understand it with performers who might want to extend their careers, but the whole concept of being antiaging (sic) is very questionable to me. Regular people torturing their faces, it's nasty. Learn to glue on false eyelashes. Don't become Jocelyn Wildenstein when you can be Louise Nevelson." (Photo of sculptor Nevelson below)

On fashion designer Donna Karan's new age tendencies: "Donna Karan, who spends more time casting runes than casting fashion shows." (Bitch names names! Love it!)

On accusations that Marc Jacobs' [The MJ of olde, I assume] clothes aren't sexy enough: "Shouldn’t he be given some kind of Bella Abzug feminist-empowerment fashion award for helping girls to say no to “ho”?"

On Disco Bloodbath: "It is the best book I have ever read."

Should this not impress you, check out the photo gallery on his website, featurning some pretty amazing drag. Doonan encompasses everything I love in a celeb: sarcastic, bold, witty, and committed to fabulous, with the all-important dose of not-taking one's self too seriously. Todd Oldham, Amy Sedaris, Simon Doonan, and Jonathan Adler (all connected, in some way) should invite me over for a dinner party at their house. That is my dream. I hope he and Jonathan Adler live out the rest of their lives in intense, hilarious glamour.