Monday, February 28, 2011

sorry, what?

The day has involved a ten minute rundown of Foucault's entire oeuvre*, an obstacle course to the Arc consisting of hundreds of new students and a speedboat on Eastern Avenue (why, Sydney Uni?), being locked out of the Arc twice because our new student cards haven't been updated yet or somesuch technological something, and following threads of ideas leading me away from what I think I know into a haze where everything is up for grabs.

Have you ever thought about what the 'self' is? What informs it, what limits it, where it ends (if it ends) and where it begins (if it begins)? Can I in my selfhood be encountered in ways other than you meeting me in "real" life?

And then there are chimerical words like 'reality' and 'authenticity' which are deceptively handy because behind their letters lies an vagueness, an undisputed claim of tangibility by a concept that which is not tangible or undisputed in the least. What is reality anyway? (ha! blog pun!) and how can something be 'inauthentic'? What determines its inauthenticity but someone else's subjective reading? 
You see what my morning has been like.

My mind is now a piece of underwear elastic that has been through the wash too many times, you know? Slack and a bit amorphous in shape and it has no more give. But I think that's good because it means we're getting somewhere ('we're' being a euphemism for me... and my brain?)

I think it's lunchtime. 
But before I go, something to tease out if your own mind isn't a piece of underwear elastic too:

"Blogs therefore can be considered important for their ability to capture streams of conscious thought pushing the boundaries of the known and culturally accepted imagining alternatives to today's realities."

That's from a paper given at the 1st Global Conference of Fashion: Exploring Critical Issues by Claire Allen from the University of Huddersfield. It looks radtastic and I have my heart set on going whether I present there or not. A whole conference discussing fashion? Uh. Yesplease.

* hi tommy.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

one year yesterday

Thanks for reading!
Eat some cake, if you like- it's on me.
(It's not really on me- I'm saving to go to a conference at Oxford at the end of the year, so... I'll eat some cake for the both of us if I make it to London after as planned. Deal?)

Friday, February 25, 2011

lost and found

Last night I forward-fell into a world of sporty socks and heeled moccasins, sheer printed dresses, the softest and most divine camel coats with leather stripes down the sides (for speed) and a pair of particularly lovely sequinned boxer shorts. It was Kate Sylvester's A/W launch in her Paddington store... there were models and miniature bottles of champagne, Deerhunter in stereo and a lot of trying on (A. LOT.) 

On fair Oxford Street, where we lay our scene.

The models stripped to lace knickers and bras before getting dressed in different outfits in this little display, everything on show for the unsuspecting passers-by. Love the stunned expression on the guy walking past. I wish I'd got some snaps of the people driving past, all rolled-down windows and mouths agape. 
Part of me cringed as the girls undressed; I wanted to look away and not because I'm a prude but because there was something voyeuristic about watching the women strip and dress even though the point of the display was precisely to look. The models didn't look at us as they changed, as they wouldn't- it wasn't bawdy and cheeky like a Victoria's Secret parade but rather a sort of onstage/off-stage feel, the distinction facilitated by the putting on and taking off of clothes. But the use of nudity in fashion is a whole other topic for another blogpost, I'll wave a flag of discomfort for now and voice the whisper that says quietly alongside the other stuff- the knickers and bras were really nice. There.

 The blue of this dress!

Cue applause (and Kate Sylvester in the middle!)

And then- revelry.
 Tracey and Kate (not Sylvester, a different Kate obvz)

 The lovely Jeremy and myself (did I tell you about the time we found a silk cummerbund by Zegna and a double-breasted Valentino blazer amongst all the Gianni Vuittons and Louis Diors at an op-shop? That was right before I snaffled two pairs of Ferragamo heels for 30 bucks apiece. Yep.)
ps. the dot amongst my hair is a mole, let's just get that out of the way right now. It's funny to see peoples' eyes flicker from my face up and back when I part my hair in the centre- I don't mind having it but I take a wicked pleasure in making people uncomfortable when they tell me I have something in my hair (usually with a vague hand gesture above the crown of their head.) 'Uh, no. It's my mole. I was born with it' and then I fix them with a stare/glare depending on how cantankerous a mood I'm in.

Babe'in it up with Lindy and Katie. Both girls are wearing the new KS collection and I'm in a Lover dress with a velvet ribbon for a belt and those triple-leopard wedges.

The collection was inspired by the film 'Let the Right One In" which was a blogging hot favourite when it first hit the cinemas. It seemd to be a collegiate girl who embraces her darker more glamourous side- Ii think my favourite pieces were the dresses. There was a long silk dress the colour of emeralds and Atonement, and a Sixties long-sleeved sheath made out of moonshine- I mean, sequins- that demanded a cigarette holder and a slightly drunk Julianne Moore to wear it. But haunting the periphery of my mind is the camel swing coat but I want to go to a conference in the UK towards the end of the year and I can't! Can't I...? No, really I can't. 
O man.

and this- just yes.

O look- I know I'm almost twentyfive and girl crushes are so, like, passe unless you're a Strawberry Kiwi Comet Lip Smacking, Bieber poster smooching, gum-snapping, hair-twirling, Miley Cyrus dance-move copying tween but hot dang, Taylor Tomasi Hill!

Girl's got it going on. Walk through this with me: three shades of green. Florals. Utility. Tulle. Jumper around her waist. High-tops. A BLUE PURSE. And somehow, somehow she looks great. She does not remotely look like she ran through a charity shop grabbing everything in the sameish colour because she forgot to get dressed before she left the house. Not remotely.
She looks like she doesn't care, all 'don't you know I work in fashion and I bend style to my every whim?' but also like she's too cool to ever be so wanky.
Right on.

Fridays are the best days until you realise you haven't done enough work and that your Saturday is going to be buried in work.

My days are blurring into a seamless panorama of online shopping, dreaming of home furnishings (last night's reverie involved me inspecting three drawers of colour-coded cutlery and charcuterie shopping), furious rereading of notes to prime me to dive off into chapter two and hasty catch-uppery of blogs and shows. Not having the internet at home is a drag.

You know what else is a drag? Getting your spanking-new T by Wang cotton pointelle boxy jumper in brick shipped all the way from Wisconsin only to find the jerk is too big and baggy. I could've smuggled one of these monkeys under there and no-one would be the wiser...

I kind of want to snuggle him and I kind of want to drape him around my neck like a living, breathing snood. That makes me a horrible person, doesn't it?)

But hey, it's cool. You'll be relieved to know I'm swapping it for a smaller size and in the meantime am imagining the various different outfits it will spruce up... I would include an image but, you know... I don't know how to do a screen grab on a PC. Just imagine a long-sleeved fabric version of  red velvet cake (the texture, the colour, the feelgood vibes) and that's pretty much the mental picture.

And TALKING of online shopping... ahem...

 Thanks ASOS.
ps. but the styling, ASOS. Peach shorts and caramel top? With red/blue/daisy yellow? Not loving it, guys. I'd do... an Edwardian influenced blouse, as diaphanous as possible with structured navy trousers, a little high waisted but straight and tidy through the leg. Maybe a hat. Just for future reference.

And because it's Friday and because it's been a big week here are some delights
My friend Antares threw a German party last week to celebrate the start of her Honours in (German) History. I was going to sauce it up as Marlene Dietrich but had major costume issues so I reworked, nay reshaped myself into someone a little grander, a little more manly, a little more... how you say, Lagerfeldy. I felt more than chic. I felt the spirit of Mlle Chanel drape around my shoulders and press me on towards greatness. I pondered all of this over a Diet Coke and then I left the demode underlings in a haze of my personalised parfum, Karl No. 5

A.Wang's one-year-old niece Aila. (Eeeeeee!)

Silver nails to die for. And a long skinny cigarette and armour rings and hm. I hate smoking but dang cigarettes look cool. Sorry but it's true. (Her hair is full of secrets.)

Ok so I'll shuffle off now, stop in-joking Mean Girls at myself and do some work. if you're reading along, this week the Benjamin group denegrated into afternoon tea at Badde Manors because everyone was away or sick or busy (damn you, O-Week!) So if you read the Nietzsche in [Boredom, Eternal Return] or learned all about Haussmanisation in... [Haussmanisation] well, hold onto those glimmers of ideas until next week.

Images! Jak&Jil (props to Miles), National Geographic, GQ Mag online (props to Jeremy)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

its on

(please excuse the terrible lack of punctuation in this post. I have no internet at home yet so am in the ARC and for some reason a number of the keys on this keyboard dont work. I find that my tone in emails has been strangely stilted without my trusty apostrophes and hyphens and no doubt the grammarians amongst you are going to come down on me hard because of the lack of them. Spare your wrath, in the name of all thats pernicketty!)

So the world (at least the world for some) has been swallowed up in a flurry of shows and flights and late night drinks and twitterfeeds of the latest looks from the latest shows. I say *the world for some* (asterisks instead of quotation marks, lets work together) because heck it aint my world and most of us live vicariously through, inhaling each live feed (Proenza Schouler!!!) like a postgrad student inhales their skim flat white on breaktime from the books. But part of what I love about the mad rush between New York London Paris Milan is the streetstyle and its times like these that throw me back into the arms of the same old familiar names: Scott, Vanessa, Hanneli, Tommy. They dont disappoint.

The colour the colour! Reds and fuchsias and quirky details. Fur is coming back with a vengeance. Seems like everyone is throwing on a pelt and hitting the side/catwalk (the difference depending on ones means, occupation and location.) Also the layering of knickknacks on wrists is unabated and gee I love to see some vintage on the street. I love that the girl in the third image is rocking a totally bygone hat and looking fine whilst doing so. The all red ensemb of girl number one is rad too, it reminds me of that brunettes Lanvin ensemb from ages ago, you know the one I mean, the cute Russian one with the brown hair? In the red Lanvin coat? You so do. 

Also great is the playing with neutrals and greys. 
O listen to me I sound like a fashion magazine. Colours are in but so are neutrals! Black is classic and why dont you try some bold prints as well? With a Louboutin heel or the eternal ballet flat? With messy but chic hair thats down or up or balayaged or red or curly (because curls are so now) or straight (because pokerfaced hair never goes out of style!)

Is there a way to write about what people wear on the street without sounding breathless/hyperbolic/cliched? Perhaps. I think the day is too late and my brain is too fried to go there though so Ill limit it to... 

 Captured by the sartorialist at University Square in New York I wish people at my University dressed like this. Mostly its rugby shirts, shorts and thongs for the college kids (girls mix it up by wearing tracksuit pants *shudder*); pearls and cardigans for the North Shore; scraggly topknots, torn knits and leather shorts for the Russh reading fashion diehards; popped collars and skinnies for the hipster boys; and an assortment of sweet vintage, oversized glasses and plaid for the Frankie.hearts. I should do a pictorial post of Sydney Uni style... note to self. I especially like how she has layered her socks over her tights.
 Floorlength fantasticness. (I cannot say *fabulous* it makes me feel fatuous and fashiony. (I had to add *fashiony* to the end of that sentence so it wouldnt read as an unintentional rhyme... eeeek.))
Stylish lovers for Valentines Day... too sweet.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

the great idlers, the waterfront loafers and the vagabonds.

I know what you're thinking, I do. You're thinking 'gee, Rosie. You were posting regularly, more than regularly, even. My RSS feed was so choked with your deep, thoughtful and inspiring posts that my days started waltzing to the rhythm of your words but lately... well, lately things have changed. You've changed. You're so distant now, and my RSS feed/Bloglovin'/Twitter feed/Facestalking is void of your pithy and timely insights into fashion, your life, embodiment and, well, your life. I feel unappreciated. Post! Post! POST!'

So, okay, here I am, armed with the book giving masseurs the city over cause to celebrate. Benjamin! Hurrah! So we've just had our third reading group and I'm no less smitten by his unconventional organisation of material, brief and beautiful observations and peripatetic mind so this post will be an edit (fashionspeak alert) of my favourites from today. And in the spirit of transposing my notebook into digital form and emulating Benjamin, the post will be a restaging of my battered cardboard-cover Moleskine notebook. (I'm not wanky about Moleskines- it's not a status objet for me (I HAVE TASTE I HAVE DISCERNMENT I HAVE MOLESKINE) but let's face it- their paper is beautiful to write on and the in-betweeny size of the books are a good size. But this is not a post about Moleskines.)

Convolute C [Ancient Paris, Catacombs, Demolitions, Decline of Paris]
p83. Paris 'a landscape built of pure life'- Hugo von Hofmannsthal. 'And at work in the attraction it exercises on people is the kind of beauty that is proper to great landscapes.' Beautiful. City as manmade landscape that is as magisterial and striking as the natural world.

'Paris is a counterpart in the social order to what Vesuvius is in the geographic order: a menacing, hazardous massif, an ever-active hotbed of revolution. But just as the slopes of Vesuvius, thanks to the layers of lava that cover them, have been transformed into paradisal orchards, so the lava of revolutions provides uniquely fertile ground for the blossoming of art, festivity, fashion.'
-Beautiful. What a visual- the layers of a city, accumulated after years of gradual growth, a collaborative effort seen as one at the end but only after the work of hundreds of thousand uncoordinated feet and hands and minds, building what they needed when they needed. The end product as a cohesive unit. Metaphor for blogosphere?

p84. Benjamin had a way with words. The proof:
'One knew of places in ancient Greece where the way led down into the underworld. Our waking existence likewise is a land which, at certain hidden points, leads down into the underworld- a land full of inconspicuous places from which dreams arise. All day long, suspecting nothing, we pass them by, but no sooner has sleep come than we are eagerly groping our way back to lose ourselves in the dark corridors.'

p85. Realising what Benjamin's sense of humour looked like (and chuckling to myself in the Schaeffer Library like the eccentric bat I am) 'Whoever has stood on a streetcorner of a strange city in bad weather and had to deal with one of those large paper maps- which at every gust swell up like a sail, rip at the edges, and soon are no more than a little heap of dirty coloured scraps with which one torments oneself as with the pieces of a puzzle- learns from the study of the Plan Taride what a city map can be. People whose imagination does not wake at the perusal of such a text, people who would not rather dream of their Paris experiences over a map than over photos or travel notes, are beyond help.'

p87. '...All this, in our eyes, is what the arcades are. And they were nothing of all this. "It is only today, when the pickaxe menaces them, that they have at last become the true sanctuaries of a cult of the ephemeral, the ghostly landscape of damnable pleasures and professions. Places that yesterday were incomprehensible, and that tomorrow will never know.'

Out of group discussion off this paragraph, that the arcades were both ruins and places of ruination (people went there to do drugs, to pick up prostitutes or to prostitute themselves) and were sites at which respectability and immorality converged. The conceit of the seller and the sold being collapsed in the person of the prostitute also an apt metaphor for the arcades themselves.

And, an aside- words can contain memories that are triggered in a way as instant and vital as catching the whiff of an important scent. For example, the word 'Chatelet.' Instantly I am standing or sitting on the Metro, engulfed by the Metro smell (that, incidently, the trains in Toronto share) sort of a dusty smoke scent, close, warm and rebreathed; and the narrow whitish plastic seats and the darkness of the tunnels as you are spirited through them, external lights a momentary blur out the small rectangular windows (with rounded corners.) And the voice of the recorded Metro lady saying the name of the next station, 'Sha-tlay. Sha-tlay.' 

And as I end this rumination, an excerpt from next week's reading (Convolute E [Boredom, Eternal Return]) because it cannot wait:
'Only someone who has grown up in the big city can appreciate its rainy weather, which altogether slyly sets one dreaming back to early childhood. Rain makes everything more hidden, makes days not only gray but uniform. From morning until evening, one can do the same thing- play chess, read, engage in argument- whereas sunshine, by contrast, shades the hours and discountenances the dreamer. The latter, therefore, must get around the days of sun with subterfuges- above all, must rise early, like the great idlers, the waterfront loafers and the vagabonds: the dreamer must be up before the sun itself.'

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

old photos, new imaginations

I was working on an article last night and found a stash of photos I took whilst wandering around France. I thought I'd share a few with you in the spirit of 'let's-pretend-we're-on-holiday-in-the-South-of-France.'
Close your eyes (just for a moment or you won't be able to see the photos, silly), breathe deep and feel the midsummer sun bearing down on your cheeks. Smell the soft, red smell of the dust beaten into the air by the feet of hundreds of tourists. Now put your hand protectively over the passport in your bumbag (JOKES! As if we would ever wear bumbags!) and step back in time with me.

Mid-August, 2008. After two weeks gallivanting throughout Paris (and still feeling like I barely scratched the surface) and a few days pouring south down through Chartres and Lyon, we found ourselves in Arles. My travelling buddy Carmen and I knew we wanted a few days in Provence but other than Aix-en-Provence, we didn't know where we should go. So we went to one of the biggish ones and BOY O BOY was it one of the happiest accidents of all time. 
Christian Lacroix, only my favourite couturier at the time (the opulence! the artisanry! the imagination! the execution!), hails from Arles. And he had curated 'Les Recontres des Arles', an incredible exhibition which rubbed shoulders with everything else in that ancient city. Because Arles also became the seat of the Roman Empire after some Caesar defeated some other Caesar and to spite the conquered Caesar the conquering Caesar changed the see from Rome to Arles (you with me?) Cue lots of ancient buildings, in all states of beautiful decay. You could walk through the decrepitude and find moss growing over historied stone; a colonnade rubbing shoulders with a boulangerie. And because the Recontres exhibition was housed in these buildings, you could enter an old empty stone church and find the walls hung with silent black and white photographs of Lindbergh's seaside series. Or you could walk into the pale yellow hospice where Van Gogh was interred and find yourself gazing at streetstyle images by Scott Shuman, Phil Oh, Yvan Rodic and others. 
For a fashion nerd of my particular bent (Lacroix loving + streetstyle loving + Avedon/Lindbergh/Tim Walker loving) it was ecstasy. I spent one intoxicating day wandering the streets.
And what Ii have to show for it, other than the details that furnish my memory, are these sneaky shots I took of backstage images at Lacroix- taken in his studio during some of his Haute Couture fittings. It was naughty of me ('NO PHOTOGRAPHY') but can you blame me?

 It's a crime that he can't afford to show Couture anymore, a crime.

 This gorgeous portrait of Picasso was included in the Recontres too but I can't remember who took it.

Where else did we go but Avignon, pretty Avignon, the old papal city on the Rhone. What did we do there other than laze on the deck of our houseboat, wade in the pool and eat pistachio meringues (and gelato and brioche and Salade Nicoise)? Uh... not much.

O this? O just our houseboat. 
The deck of... you get the picture. My heart burns at the colours, the heat, the clarity, the beauty.The papal palace was downriver from us, on the other side of that bridge you can faintly see. Apparently it's the reason that most people go to Avignon but, well, we did okay for ourselves.

 The view from my porthole.

And flicking through these forgotten photos, I remembered the start of my love affair with classical statues. The photos below give you some indication as to why (but because I can't stem words when there are words to be shared, it's the smoothness of their limbs, the way they fill the space, the way they intimate a bigger story but completely inhabit just that moment, a fixed moment for all time. And because they're beautiful and savage and stately and because somehow emotion streams from them despite that they're inert stone.)

 Diana the Huntress in the grounds of Versailles

 Some classical couple bearing the broken body of their son in Lyon

Sunday, February 13, 2011

sugar cane juice with lime on a hot day.

I'm coming late to the party I know. After all, she's already been nominated for a Bloglovin' Award (Newcomer of the Year) and today was my first time looking at her blog. Her outfit posts are beautifully photographed though, and are contrasted with pictures of collections she likes as well as photo essays of her life. She's also Australian (from sunny Queensland, represent) so you should take a look.

NB: What was interesting for me was trying to figure out if she was Australian. It's a game I play with most style blogs- where do you come from?- because the bloggers' style is rarely a giveaway. For example, Mandy's clothes are from L.A., TopShop and other places not in Australia but she was wearing the garments in a sugar cane field. And then she talked about how long the flight to NY was for the Bloglovin' awards and then-o! photo essay on a QLD summer. Guess the blur just underlines how global style is now. Internet and all that.

Each of these images could inspire a short story. it's details like the white paint in her eyebrow, the light making maps of his spectacle lenses and the glimpse of his arm through the wing that make these lovely. O, and the jewellery's okay too.