Friday, July 29, 2011

Harry Potter X Jak&Jil

Is it just me or has Harry Potter fever infected the entire world? I certainly have broken out in Hogwarts (har har) and am seeing echoes of the boy wizard in everything... even fashion. 
Let me walk you through it.

This image just speaks for itself. I'm thinking dress robes...
...I'm thinking someone clearly wanted to score an invite to the Yule Ball.
Am I right?


This is like Fenrir Greyback meets Buckbeak the Hippogriff. 
Some might say I'm drawing a long shot. I say the jacket speaks for itself.

This girl bear more than a passing resemblance to Cho Chang. I saw it when I first came across this image and now I cannot un-see it.

Let's compare: Cho Chang.

Not Cho Chang. Or is it?

Maybe I'm dazzled by the fringe and her pretty smile. 

Maybe I just have Potter on the brain.

 Either way, this?

images from, Google, Tumblr and various Harry Potter fanblogs.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Conference Season: A Recap.

Last week Yas said Taylor Tomasi Hill kinda looks like me. I carefully appraised the photos I have of her and realised that indeed, yes, we do. The similarities are striking. Let me walk you through them: we are both fake redheads, we're both women, and as far as livestock on jumpers goes... anyone remember this little treasure? Practically twins. 
All I'm saying.

Actually, that's not all I'm saying. I just spent the last month in a PhDaze (I'm not sick of this contraction yet, not even close) which partially explains why the majority of posts have been image heavy and light on, well, original content? Because my mind was being stretched in every direction except for its customary ones which include trawling Tommy Ton's slideshows for and appropriating designer names into film titles (like Lagerfelds of Glory. I never said I was any good at it, guys.)

So let me talk you through the madness. First up, I flew to Auckland for POPCAANZ, the annual conference of the Popular Culture Association of Australia and New Zealand. It was rad. All of the papers were organised into categories like Fashion, Popular Design, Popular Music, and Popular Science (I kind of wanted this section to constitute of a marathon of schlocky science film classics like Weird Science and Young Einstein but, sadly, it didn't.) 
No prizes for guessing which section I was in.

My paper was a presentation of what I've been working on for most of the year so far, which will be my second chapter. It's all about the interanimation (beautiful word- thanks, Keith Basso) between clothing and the person wearing it and how this is manifested on the style blogosphere. The paper gave me a prime opportunity to enact some 'bloggerisms' (your classic outfit post poses) for the bemused audience who had perhaps never seen a knock-kneed 'I forgot my sun visor' downward stare in such close proximity before. I am here to educate, what can I say.

It was awesome hearing all of the other work presented too- there are people all over the world researching fashion, dress and clothing in various ways from really different perspectives. I heard, amongst others, a fantastic paper on Michael Jackson's empty white glove from a researcher at Central St. Martins, and a scathing indictment of the fragmentation of the image in popular culture by the London College of Fashion's Pamela Church Gibson, who took that wedding as her example. My favourite part was when she said that the media's representation of the wedding was reduced to commentary about The Dress and 'Pippa Middleton's arse.'  Pru Black and Jan Idle also presented a brilliant and personal paper about revaluing the labour of mothers who sewed their families' clothing, positioning this work as a means for them to demonstrate their love and care for their children as well as a complex struggle for self-definition as daughters and mothers tightly negotiated how the finished garments should look. All of these amongst a multitude of other engaging papers on fashion photography, The Sartorialist, Lolita cultures in both Japan and England, and many more. 
I repeat, it was rad.

I also met lots of other really lovely researchers right before I gave away the program with all of their contact details in it (idiot!) so if any of you are reading this, please drop me a line, I'd love to hear from you!

How was Auckland? Auckland was grand. And cold. And hilly. My legs didn't know what had hit them. My tip for you, gentle reader, is head to St Kevin's Arcade and make thee a home there. The coffee shop up the back (Alleluya) is tops- great coffee, mismatched sprawling wooden furniture to cluster around, and a glass window offering a panoramic view of the park leading to downtown Auckland. There are also a heap of vintage stores in there- I found a beautiful vintage gold snake chain and an amazing choker of enormous glazed ceramic beads which makes me feel either like Josephine Baker or that I am wearing a string of gumballs around my neck. 

I then spent the next two weeks tripling the (rather brief) paper into a proper journal article, adding footnotes, writing up a bibliography, adding in-text referencing, reworking my language, drafting new content, changing the footnotes to endnotes, restructuring it, proofreading it, getting feedback from my supervisor and honorary associate supervisor (hey Stell), and retweaking until I got to the point where I was agonising over whether apostrophes go before or after quotation marks. But it was worth it, utterly worth it, because now I have a lovely chunk of writing done as well as my first (impending) publication in a peer-reviewed academic journal! Which is a huge deal/honour/delight. I may or may not have loudly and excitedly exhaled in the ARC when I got the acceptance email. (Loudly exhaling is all you can get away with in the ARC before someone leaves you a passive aggressive note. We're a highly strung lot.)

So then I was off to Adelaide. I had been pulling 18 hour days to get the article done (in between starting a new job on campus and being inducted as one of the editors of a student literary journal) so hadn't really done much towards this paper before I got on the plane. I had brainstormed, had a great chat with Stella (thus why she is my honorary associate supervisor), and pulled every relevant article from the folders of research I did last year, but as of getting on the plane, my paper constituted of a few PowerPoint slides and a blathering 1000 words that spoke more of my mental exhaustion than the sociality and identity of girls on the style blogosphere (snazzy title, eh?) Luckily, I had an hour and a half of enforced sitting in that tiny JetStar seat and so wrote most of the darn thing then and there. Tweaked it on Thursday. Listened to brilliant talks all day Friday. Presented Saturday. 

The conference was Consoleing Passions, a feminist new media conference that was brilliant and lovely. There was such a friendly vibe to it, and the audiences were engaged and full of good questions for each speaker. I've heard horror stories of audience members ripping presentations to shreds, or using their "question" to talk about their own research, but that couldn't have been further from the case here. I came out feeling proud to be a feminist and proud to be a woman, and more convinced of why it is important for women to consider the ways in which who we are and what we do are represented and valued (or not valued) in the public sphere. I think this is something I need to think more about before trying to articulate, but for now let me say that if you think 'feminist' is an outdated or shameful claim to make about yourself or that "the struggle is over", let me strongly encourage you to think again.

So now I'm back in Sydney and my workload has simmered down. I'm currently writing the Benjamin-inspired beginning of my PhD for something fun before I return to the work I just did at the conferences, which will become chapters one and two  of my thesis.

In other news, I'm obsessed with tangerine coloured nail polish. I'm fairly certain that this image has everything to do with it:

 We're practically the same person.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Some of you may remember that a few months ago my lovely and extremely talented friend Lindy made a documentary featuring me, my research, my blog and... me. In a wind tunnel. On a pylon in wedge heels. Jumping on slabs of concrete in chiffon pleated plaid pants. There's nothing I wouldn't do for fashademic her.
So here's your golden opportunity to hear my weirdly inflected 'talking about my research' voice, listen to the gorgeous melodies of sleepyhands, and marvel at Lindy's incredible talent. But mainly to hear my weirdly inflected 'talking about my research' voice. 

This film was made for a university assessment and is not for commercial purposes. All images from style blogs and fashion sites remain the property of the bloggers and photographers who produced them. 

stick 'em up.

Only CdG could make what is essentially a frilly cage 
look so inviting. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

I used to go to 'Project Runway Parties' every Tuesday night so it's kinda like the circle is complete.

Of course, that was back in the day before Australia got it's own version, back when it was all about Danny V. versus that guy who looked like Rasputin (Santino! The memories, they're flooding in.)
 And then there was Jeffrey's McQueen-esque plaid gown for the Parisian couture challenge? Still remember it, fashion losers, and I'll bet I'm not the only one.
So it's lovely to be featured as a guest blogger on the official website of Project Runway Australia. And slightly weird as well. But mostly lovely.

I have no words to explain how much this baklava means to me right now.

 No, seriously. Remember that line in Mean Girls about girls who eat their feelings? That line was a single-sentence biography of my life. Well, not 'feelings'- just stress. So I'm walking home with that wild-eyed nothingness stare particular to PhD students and trainspotters, and I anticipate the mid-evening lag. The terribly sad moment when I realise I need something sweet to help me feel human again and no sweet something is to be found so I end up sucking a teaspoon of caster sugar to keep body and soul together. ("That was like one time!")
So, yes, I bought me some baklava. And I loved it. You know what else I loved? Finishing the latest edit of my article which came back from blind peer review on Sunday and needed some more dusting, some tweaking and, oh, about twenty-four more consecutive hours of work. 
I totes slept for about two of those hours.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that at this point in the mid-year marathon (also known as conference season also known as the two months where everything happens at once every year) it's the little things that help me get through the day, like sucking rosewater syrup off my fingers and coming across more pictures of my fashcrush Taylor Tomasi Hill. It makes me happy to know that somewhere in the world she is laughing with neon fingernails. ("Once she punched me in the face? It was awesome.")

DISCLAIMER: Am not really that stressed, guys. Certainly not as stressed as, say, when I had to write a 5000 word essay in one day- that shiz was stressful. I'm just on a skintight deadline for the next month or so. 
So don't you worry, now. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Gaga's Monster Hall (and Microwave Jenny)

The text read: "Hey. Up to anything this evening?... I'm here for gaga. Had a spare ticket if you were able to use it(?)"

um. OKAY.

Which is how I ended up witnessing Gaga's take over of Sydney Town Hall for her 'Monster Hall' (geddit?) show. It wasn't ticketed- if you wanted to go, you had to compete for a ticket by taking a photograph of yourself in your best 'little monster' costume and sending it into a radio station. 
Which also explains the visual feast on display that night. I saw people who had papier mâched their hands into claws, who had sewn dolls heads onto the shoulders of their Eighties-inspired jackets, and every shade of biker Judas, disco queen and Gaga video clip permutation. I'm talking faces stitched up with tulle, thigh-high boots paired only with red lace lingerie, and bows made of hair stretching to the heavens. It was magnificent. 
And I say that as someone who gets a kick out of observing what people wear. I don't think I've ever seen people as costumed as this in an everyday context before. It was like being dropped into an alternate reality, a Halloween meets dead-of-winter commuter drag kind of thing as monsters staggered out onto George St post-show, misting the frigid air with glitter eyeshadow and feathered wigs.

 How was she? She was bitchin'. I am pleased to report that her voice is as ballsy as her attitude, and that I heard most of the songs primarily through the soles of my feet, such was the smarting reverb through that old mosaicked floor. She worked the word 'Australia' into at least three of her songs which drove the crowd wild, as did the moment of mass hysteria when she told us we looked 'so fcking brand new.' Don't even get me started on the reaction when she apologised for being away for so long before promising never to stay away from Australia for such a long time again. Cue screams and an instant forest of 'monster hands.'

Since that night I've had so many conversations with people who have criticised her for being so derivative (listening to her songs can be like playing Eighties Musical Icon Bingo) and who say they don't get anything out of her music. Well, sure. I never really got the mania either. I loved dancing to a few of her early hits in my bedroom (don't even pretend you don't do this too) but all the furore over her iconicity and how 'avant-garde' she apparently is kind of irritated me. 

Isn't an essential part of being 'avant-garde' that you're beyond commerciality? That what you're striving for as an artist is a kind of pure expression of artistic vision that shouldn't be sold because that would undercut the artistic integrity of what you're attempting to do? So Gaga's schtick- a very commercial and widely embraced brand of pop- could be seen as self-defeating, as well as a very public attempt to have her cake and eat it too. 

But what makes Gaga intriguing is her utter commitment to her own show. I'm not just talking about what she puts onstage, though that's definitely a huge part of it- she says that she is bankrupting herself by spending all her money on staging spectaculars, that there's nothing else she wants to spend her money on. I'm talking about the show of being Gaga. Everything she does contributes to her own myth: the symbiosis she evokes between herself and her 'little monsters', her costumes (the meat dress, the de Castelbajac kermit dress, the corset that shot sparks from her breasts), her entrances (the Hussein Chalayan egg at the Grammys, for one), and the messianic prose she spouts to explain who she is and what she does. 

It's this incessant myth-making, wearing as it is, that makes her avant-garde. It's not that her music is so ground-breaking, but the way that she does "superstar". She does not operate on the fringe amongst artists but at the centre of the red carpet, in sold-out stadiums, all over her music videos on MTV. She is the site at which the machine of pop music and the bizarre, discomfiting, esoteric heart of avant-garde art intertwine. She is the 'monster' born of the matrimony of these phenomena, and standing amongst a sea of fans lip-synching along to her (fairly banal) power ballad 'Edge of Glory' as if their lives would cease if they stopped, I began to understand that maybe it's not about the music for them either, but it's about what she does with it*. About the spectacle. And, let's be real, it's outrageously fun to watch.

* No blogpost is complete without a reference to 'The Castle.' 

Thursday, July 14, 2011


 Arthur Elgort
Tommy Ton in Paris

Industrie blog backstage at Givenchy Haute Couture

And this little monster was part of the inspiration behind the image below of Natalia Vodianova in Versace by Testino for the Naked Heart Foundation's Fundraiser Ball. Each table was named after a Soviet-era cartoon like this little guy here.

And some vintage Brando to send you on your way.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


"The experience of sensing places, then, is thus both roundly reciprocal and incorrigibly dynamic. As places animate the ideas and feelings of persons who attend to them, these same ideas and feelings animate the places on which attention has been bestowed, and the movements of this process- inward towards facets of the self, outward toward aspects of the external world, alternately both together- cannot be known in advance... the physical landscape becomes wedded to the landscape of the mind, to the roving imagination."
-Keith H. Basso in his essay "Wisdom Sits in Places", 1996.

Is there a fuller illustration of this dynamic, reciprocal experientiality of place upon self and self upon place than in fashion photography? The fantasy of being and being seen is the shimmer over the version of reality being portrayed. 
The reality that Veruschka truly stood in a desert somewhere in 1968 with Francesco Rubartelli and Giorgio di Sant'angelo, her skirts flared like the preening plumage of a male bird in the still, ceaseless heat; she, a magnificent, anomalous presence balanced en pointe between the vast red earth and that infinite cerulean sky.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Day in the Life

I have chosen this image for two reasons. One is because that's how my eyes feel after eleven odd hours of quality time with my computer screen. Red and glowing and hot and fiery and lovely. Except not lovely, more just fiery and red and glowing and hot. And maybe a little bloodshot. 
Two is because it's rad. She looks so obsessive and dark and sort of how I imagine Abigail Williams would look if The Crucible was costumed with the wardrobe from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

So on that note, HAI. I know, I know. It's been ages. Totally my fault, too. But you would not believe how busy I have been and it's really not a very interesting story suffice it to say that I actually skip into bed with excitement because I'm so stoked to go to sleep. Yeah, I AM that hardcore.

I spent all of today shaping up an article and thought it might be fun (read: am too brain-frazzled to write any other content) to blog my tweets so you can get a sense of what the process was like. 

first tweet. circa 9am.
have been up editing for three hours already and it's still not done. DIE, ARTICLE.
So I started the day off on a sparkling top note.
relying on Sarah Blasko, Modest Mouse and a large skim flat white to get me across the line. #comeonbrain
See also my classical tune-out playlist feat. the best bits of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances, Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez and Alexis Weissenberg playing Debussy from The Darjeeling Limited soundtrack which, might I just add, is one bangin' soundtrack.

'Man is a half-open being'- Bachelard.
O yeah. I came upon this cool quote from Bachelard while I was rereading my notes. Disclaimer: I don't know who Bachelard is. I'm going to go with French philosopher. 

nothing like a little piano accordion to help you on your way.
A little helping hand provided courtesy of the intro to 'Interlude (Milo)'. 'Good News for People Who Love Bad News' is a great, great, great album. I will not be argued with on this one. Also: it is impossible to keep a train of thought unbroken when 'The Devil's Workday' comes on. Consider that one a lesson learned the hard way.

Maria Callas' voice just brought tears to my eyes. Like that line in Dr. Zhivago about Lara's hair, 'it's beauty stung his eyes like smoke.'
Did I mention I listened to 'La Boheme' as well? What you need to do is listen to Maria Callas singing 'Si. Mi chiamo Mimi' and you'll see what I meant. I wasn't even exaggerating, my eyes actually started to sting with tears. I attributed it to Callas' voice but now I think about it, it could equally have been my eyes smarting at the seventh straight hour of reading off a screen (optometrists of the world, look away. I'm sorry, I am. It's just how it has to be.)

So I took a lunch break around 2pm, feeling the sweet ebullience that comes with earning a break. Then reality came crashing back around my ears as I stalked the microwave and happened to overhear the conversation of two other postgrads.

Overheard: 2 intnl postgrads talking about whether their scholarships cover cost of repatriating their bodies if they die while PhDing #grim
Cause of death: prolonged exposure to PG-ARC. 
(I jest, I jest. It is a useful place to work, even if it does feel like it's patrolled by dementors. SIDENOTE: WHO'S EXCITED FOR HARRY POTTER THIS THURSDAY?)

Immersed in stupor of writing. Time is elastic, eyes unseeing, mind furious, nonstop, running #homestretch
This was funny to try to articulate. I realised as I was eating lunch that I wasn't quite 'with it.' I was still just thinking about my work, nutting out what needed to be done and how I was going to make it sing. But my eyes were staring ahead, unfocused even when I was looking at things. I felt a bit as if I were sleep-walking, my limbs slow and disconnected. It was almost like a half-narcotised state of being. And you know what it told me? That work was getting done even though I reread my paragraphs and felt like I had argued the same point four times in a row. 

so close to finishing this sucker I can literally taste it. Like how you can taste snow in the air before you get to the skifield. POETIC.
Self-explanatory. Am clearly poet laureate-type in lineage of Coleridge, Keats and the rest of the gang. 

not that I ski #ewsports

If I have to write the phrase 'style bloggers' one more time, I'm going to go mad. 
The sad state of my mental health at 5.30pm, having been at it since 6.30am. You know how sometimes you look at a word and the more you stare, the odder it looks? Take a moment with 'bloggers.' Then multiply that moment by eleven hours and you begin to empathise.

But it was so satisfying to stick with it even when all I wanted to do was push my chair back from the desk and yell 'UGHHHHHHH!' (protracted 'h' fully intentional and necessary.) But it gone done(-ish. The ending still needs something else but I'm not sure what yet) and I am now going to go and get dumplings before starting on the reading for the next one. THAT'S RIGHT. 'The next one.' 

ps. If you want to read these gems of invention in "real time" join me on Twitter. There's a link up on the side there or you could be tech-savvy and search for @fashademic.

image by Arthur Elgort or Terry Richardson, Google was being very vague.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

If I were a menswear designer...

This would be front and centre of my moodboard.
It was used in a fantastic paper on Jackson's single sparkly glove at the POPCAANZ conference, and even though I was listening hard to the paper, which used Lacanian theory to argue that the glove was a symbol of intimacy and distance between Jackson's nascent celebrity and his fans, as soon as this image hit the PowerPoint, I was all, "lamé socks with boat shoes! YES!'

Monday, July 4, 2011

'Northern Women in Chanel'

All images are from 'Northern Women in Chanel', a book produced by Swedish stylist Ingela Klemetz-Farago and her photographer partner Peter Farago featuring top Baltic models shot throughout Scandinavia.

the bride wore decadence

On the way to the POPCAANZ conference in Auckland last week, I read the May issue of UK Vogue on the plane. It was the bridal issue, released to coincide with some wedding in England, and was full of white dresses, society do's and don'ts, and Vogue's perspective on the most fashionable weddings of the past. Amongst the flouncy sleeves, dewy eyes and floral maxidresses that are apparently the staple of an English country garden wedding, there was this delectable anecdote from the wedding of socialite/Vogue Contributing Editor Lauren Santo Domingo (nee Davis) to Andres Santo Domingo.
The bride wore a dress by Nina Ricci's Olivier Theyskens (if I was a society belle I would beat a trail to his door too. Remember his work at Rochas? I mean, seriously.) 
It looked like this:
O yeah- her wedding was photographed by Arthur Elgort. No big deal.

But 25m trains can be such a bore on the dance floor so she shimmied into this little number to take care of that:
Too easy. Or still too long? No worries, Theyskens was on hand with his scissors, don't even worry about it.
And that was the night she cut up her wedding dress.

Interestingly, I heard papers on weddings and dresses at the conference (I research fashion, surely this is not a surprising turn of events.) During one presentation, a researcher was talking about the memory inherent in the fabric of clothing that has been worn and loved. She and a colleague repurpose garments into wearable art which tells a story significant to the person to whom the original garments belonged, and in her question time someone shared a story from her own wedding day. She said that she and her husband had eloped but that she cut the hem off her wedding dress and snipped it into little bits, sending a little bit to each of the women she would have wished could have been at her wedding. 
I thought that was an elegant and meaningful gesture to involve friends in something so intimate. The communicative capacity of fabric to draw you in.
There were different purposes driving the cutting of each dress, but the two stories are nicely synchronicitous, no? Which only proves that reading Vogue really does concretely contribute to one's education.

images from Vogue via Google

Saturday, July 2, 2011

michelle jank in paris

can we all please just take a moment to savour Michelle Jank's ensemb? 
Into a world filled with 'dressed down', she quietly sweeps. The dressiness of her vintage lace (correct me if it's Prada or D&G but it looks too ladylike for their recent lace?), the fullness of her skirt perfectly and neatly counterpointed by her buff, patent-toed ballet flats. 
She's all class.