29 August 2008

masculin, féminin

Tilda Swinton doesn't captivate me, the way she does the entirety of the art world (So kooky, so avant-garde, such an actors actor...)

But I couldn't pass up this photo from September's BlackBook. It's just too perfect.

28 August 2008

Slathered in Foie Gras

Grant Thatcher on Luxury:

"So much time and column space gets devoted to the fast-losing-its-luster subject of “luxury” — really I’m so bored I could cry. The simple fact is that luxury was, is and always will be centered on bespoke goods and custom products. End. Finish. There is no such thing as “new luxury.” That’s a silly concept invented by desperate marketing execs and their harried clients. Luxury is the precise intersection of high-quality materials, perfect form, functional design and the utmost skilled craftsmanship. Luxury is not lots of diamonds on things. It’s not everything slathered in foie gras, and it’s certainly not the latest starlet with her own scrubby fragrance that smells like floral bog cleaner and will end up down the pan in a year."

It's really a terrible word, isn't it? Almost as bad as classy.

Inattentiveness. Vague. Hollow.

Masao Yamamoto has a cool new series called "Nakazora."

The photographs are gorgeous, yes, but I'm becoming obsessed mostly because he sounds hilariously Lagerfeld in his description of the relationship between the work and the title:

"I would like "Nakazora" to be thought of not as a title with some definite meaning, but rather as a word to somehow describe my feelings at that time. I don't have a reason to explain why it has to be "Nakazora."

I have a feeling that "Nakazora" represents a broader space...more vaguely, more ambiguously, and still more obscurely, but yet a distinctive scent is there floating. It would be a delight for me if this "Nakazora" turns to be such a thing as to leave the viewers, including myself, a drop of that floating scent."

And, then, of course there's the wonderfully bizarre dictionary definition of Nakazora: The space between sky and earth, the place where birds, etc. fly. Empty air. An internal hollow. Vague. Hollow. Around the center of the sky. Or, emptiness. A state when the feet do not touch the ground. Inattentiveness. The inability to decide between two things. Midway. The center of the sky (the zenith). A Buddhist term.

Come to DC, please!

24 August 2008

Something Bigger, Something Brighter

You'll have to trust me when I say that I have little income to waste on silly trends or extravagant statements...I do work in publishing after all. This fall will be a challenge, certainly, as there is something about the fall that just compels me to want a new wardrobe. The first day of school outfit complex, I guess.

And with all the whining about the recession and spending and gas prices and all the rest of the blah, blah, blah, it seems that others are in a similar situation. Magazines and stores aren't helpful, they are of course trying to get us to buy things still by confusing consumers into thinking that our purchases are akin to investments if they dub them "classics." Please. Every white oxford you buy will turn yellow...that black cashmere turtleneck will pill...and the slushy winter will take it's toll on those perfectly tailored trousers. Neither clothes nor jewelry are investments and it's cruel of these editors to make these claims. Buy some stock if you're really concerned about a return. Fashion is fun and frivolous and there's no need to give it such weighted responsibilities.

So this fall I've decided that my updates will be colored tights (black, brown, plum, dark green and white) and a bold necklace. Both are simple and affordable and can make an outfit look new. But the goofy hat is best left behind, Burberry Prorsum.

J.Crew has an amazing piece for $150 (below). And for tights, don't feel compelled to buy Wolford...department store brands will work.

I'll get my newness fix through my upcoming item of the week posts.

20 August 2008

Vicky Christina Barcelona: Show, Don't Tell

I've never had the expat experience, and therefore am a little smug about the concept (part envy and part skepticism towards those who have/claim one.) In Woody Allen's latest film, Vicky Christina Barcelona, two well-heeled American 20-something girls flit off to Barcelona for the summer, and although the friends are follicular and romantic opposites, they both become enchanted by the Bohemian/Spanish lifestyle as embodied by Juan Antonio.

The film moves along nicely thanks to the beautiful shots of the city, a feverishly catchy score and the help of the disdainful narrator, who all but loathes the dramatic absurdities of his heroines, giving the entire film a slightly tongue-in-cheek feel.

But, I don't really see Mr. Allen's point. This isn't a film written for or really about youth (kind of in the same mold as Tom Wolfe writing about a college age girl.) And for all the hype about threesomes and whatnot, the sexual exploits aren't even shocking. Plus, everything is so pristine and everyone is so inexplicably wealthy, carefree and quirky, that it is really difficult to accept this world as reality. Everything is overdone – over explained, over analyzed and the audience is given little to discover on their own.

Woody Allen is praised for his ability to write vibrant female characters, but all the women in this film are shallow and unconvincing as real people. Maybe his reputation comes from writing characters outside of the "hooker, victim, doormat" mold, which is an accomplishment, certainly, but his heroines in this film are disappointing.

Vicky (the brunette) is feisty and delightful at the beginning of the film, rejecting Juan Antonio's advances and balking at the pretensions of her friend. But her character is ruined after spending a hot night with Juan Antonio. She spends the rest of the movie skulking around, pitying herself and admitting resigned defeat to a life of banality, country clubs and Westchester homes. Suppose she'll just have to get back to work on her thesis on Catalan culture (seriously).

We're told to believe that Christina (the blonde) is a restless bohemian, who rejects the mores of American society. The narrator tells the audience that she "holds her own quite well" amongst the painters and poets. As far as the viewer is concerned, Christina is a lot of talk with the singular demonstrable talent and quality of being seductive. The rest we're just asked to accept as truths. At first the desperate grasp for artistic credibility seemed hilarious. I thought that we were all in on the joke (“Christina stayed up late, drinking coffee and writing poetry…”). But then, halfway through the film, it's “revealed” that she has a great talent for photography, and she charms the brilliant Juan Antonio and his insatiable ex-wife Maria Elena to somehow becomes a nymphish muse to both.

Scarlett Johansson is merely repeating her temptress performance from Match Point. At least in that movie she had a somewhat more believable character (a struggling American actress who wants to "prove" herself to her middle class Colorado hometown by trying to make it in the tragicomic city of London.) In Vicky Christina Barcelona she just doesn't make sense. Her character probably looked great in the pitch, but Miss Johansson isn't given enough to work with to really convince the audience of her value or much of anything.

Mr. Allen doesn’t seem to know what to do with an attractive cast in a film about lust and passion...lost without his standard formula of the wacky, witty, sexless antics of urban intellectuals. Also, I don’t think Mr. Allen could make up his mind on whether the tone of the film should be earnest or self-mocking, so he settles for a disarming combination of the two.

As a friend pointed out, critics are calling this film “his best in decades” which means that he made good films once, then made a bunch of bad ones and then this….well, it’s better than the bad, but not quite good.

18 August 2008

"Back then a lot of girls like her were disappearing..."

The wonderful Caitlin Flanagan has an article in the new Atlantic on Patty Hearst, and the lost girls of that era. It's actually heartbreaking.

15 August 2008

California Dreamer

Watch this. It won't disappoint, especially for those grasping for indie legitimacy.

SUVs, shaggy hair, wrinkled suits and Los Angeles ennui set to Wolf Parade's six minute epic "California Dreamer."

It was even an NPR song of the day, if you care to read the write up.

12 August 2008

Hell of a damn grave

Dear Harper's Bazaar,

I am not amused.

Also, this is offensive. And this might just make me cancel my subscription.


11 August 2008

The Golightly Complex

In high school, a friend of mine declared that she had a "Scarlett O'Hara" complex. Since Scarlett is possibly the biggest brat of all time with hardly any redeemable qualities, I pretended that it was based on Scarlett's attitude towards her waistline, and not on my friend's desire to get away with anything.

Hopefully there aren't many out there who pride themselves on being Scarlett O'Hara or one of the Daisys (Buchanan or Miller - I'm very glad my parents decided against naming me Daisy, lest I be fated to turn into one of these horrors.) The more pervasive complex that has afflicted girls for almost 50 years is that of Truman Capote's Holly Golightly.

Is this subject at all timely? Nope. But I was thrown into a rage last night when browsing photos of Leighton Meester in an attempt to rationalize why she looks amazing as Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl, but uninspiring to cringe-worthy in her real life public appearances. I found this photo (left) from an episode of Gossip Girl. In Season 1, Blair is often shown in dream sequences (well, 2 or 3 times) where she is Holly Golightly...looking for Cat in the rain or gazing into the Tiffany's display case, coffee and pastry in hand...and I can't understand why.

Is the show trying to tell us that, like Holly, Blair is really just a phony, lost in a dream world of repressed sadness, cocktail parties, paying suitors, and a manufactured identity? Blair might be lost in her own sort of dream like world, but her wealth, status and privilege are very much a reality. Her issue is ultimately an inflated sense of control over her own world (which makes her more like a bitchy Emma if anything.) Blair isn't a glorified call girl or a mafia informant. She doesn't have an impoverished country background, a creepy rube husband or a questionable childhood. And her financial situation seems pretty solid. So all I can conclude is that Blair loves Holly because she is elegant and brunette, showing a complete misunderstanding of both characters.

The perennial lost girl, Holly was glamorized by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 film adaptation of Capote's novella, and her rich, bizarre character was forever ruined. Women today (like Blair and the Gossip Girl writing staff) see Holly as a stylish, quirky gamine....traipsing around Manhattan in her over sized hats, pearls, and Givenchy dresses. And who can blame them? Ms. Hepburn's beauty and grace make it easy to overlook the tragic nature of Holly's character. It's kind of infuriating that she was reduced to this family friendly character, where her affairs are only alluded to and ultimately seem quite innocent, and she just sort of wafts through life in a Technicolor haze. The film Holly isn't immune to tragedy, disappointment, and reality, but everything does seem to work out since she gets an inexplicable happy ending with the emasculated George Peppard (does anyone actually think they'll stay together?)

To be quite honest, I don't know that Holly's fans don't understand the nature of her character. Maybe they get it, and love her in spite of the flaws, or in fact because of her delusions. It might explain the persisting allure of Edie Sedgwick.

Anyway, I think we can do better than this. And if we're choosing a new, New York girl, let's not make it Tinsley Mortimer.

09 August 2008

Farewell, Scattered Pearls

My oh-so-clever blog title "Scattered Pearls" that I unabashedly stole from a Casiotone for the Painfully Alone song was about a girl who's pearl necklace breaks when she's out one night.

"And as we rode the bus home I thought surely
I'd wake up tomorrow just to find
that I had dreamed up everything,
there'd still be pearls on a string,
I wouldn't smell like smoke & I'd still
have the cash that I had spent on drinks."

It's an unbelievably catchy song, sort of precious and just obscure enough. But apparently there are some other, more controversial associations as well (thanks(?) to my mother's concerned Google search).

So I had no other choice than to change it to something much more pretentious.

07 August 2008

The Fake Waif

Katie, darling, everyone agrees - those jeans are not flattering. The look she's attempting is bold, fresh and incredibly alluring...cool, slouchy and boyish. (Please see the J.Crew model to the right.) Who doesn't want to appear that effortless?

But they don't work on Katie Holmes at all, and I'm not sure exactly why. Though I suspect it's for the following reasons:

1) Katie is actually walking, not posing in a predetermined to be flattering manner.
2) Katie has leg muscles.
3) Katie isn't completely flat (If you're nothing but bones up top, slouch IS flattering. Any curves at all and you may as well be wearing a mumu.)

Essentially, Katie thinks she's a waif, and therefore feels the right to experiment. She really needn't though, since she simply isn't one. Sorry.

Wicked? Possibly. But please, if you are any of the above, don't delude yourself into thinking that you are Kate Moss in 1994.

06 August 2008

Manic Pixie Dream Girls

"That bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures."

~Nathan Rabin, The Onion A.V. Club

05 August 2008

An empty fallow fount

Coming off a recent bout of snobbery towards Los Angeles, I've grown to adore the city. I find the grayness and decay very romantic and fascinating mostly because it's essentially the complete opposite of the aesthetic that I've been conditioned to find tasteful and desirable. That said, though, I've been limiting myself to areas that I'm comfortable or at least remotely familiar with - the hipster haunts of Los Feliz and Silver Lake, the overgrown Laurel Canyon, the garishly pristine Beverly Hills and the carnival like Hollywood. But I had yet to experience the Universal Studios CityWalk.

I went with innocent enough intentions, to see the new Batman movie on IMAX (which I found out is more interesting than merely super-sizing a film.) And, I was familiar with the concept of the place at least, thanks to a key scene in Shopgirl, but it's shot with the same serenity as the rest of the film - everything is somehow peaceful in Anand Tucker's Los Angeles.

My friend took me there knowing how I'd cringe at the crowds, the restaurants, and the outfits. Before the movie began we spent exactly 9 minutes dodging through the crowds to take in the entire strip...and that was quite enough.

Nothing horrible actually happened. I wasn't robbed. No one spit on me or glared (maybe someone glared, but it was probably deserved or in response to my scowls). And I didn't go into a neon light induced epileptic fit or contract any diseases. It's just all such forced excitement with the flashing lights, the up tempo music and the smell of sweet fried food literally everywhere you turn. The outfits were tight and logo-ed, the obesity statistics rang true and the spending was excessive. CityWalk is a PG-13 rated, video game Vegas - less strippers, more flash. I can't imagine an entertainment venue that would make me feel as anxious as I did there.

And hundreds of people buy into it and poured into the place with entire families in tow even on a Sunday night at 10PM. The offerings were abundant, but indistinguishable. 18 fast food restaurants, 13 kindofmorelegitimate restaurants (Panda Inn is different from Panda Express?), retail shops like Hot Topic, Billabong and Harley Davidson, and of course the essential novelty stores (in case you want an Audrey Hepburn license). I cut my tour short for obvious reasons. Besides, I had to go wait in line for an hour for my movie to begin.

The chaos, the cost and the banality of the activities were just too much. Indeed, I've found my hell, and it is CityWalk. David Foster Wallace should really do a chapter on this place.

01 August 2008

The New Literati

"We want to explain culturally how ideas evolve."
- Mary-Kate Olsen on her new book Influence (co-authored, of course, with Ashley)

Truly brilliant, MKO.

PS - She's totally vying for an Atlantic gig.


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