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Things to Read #23

A history of the New York Time Styles section, in which it is confirmed that every subject I write about is seen by the general public as totally inane and useless. Yay?

Before Kim K and her oily full-frontals by Jean Paul Goude, there was Saartje Baartman.

Hipster problems.

Taylor Swift must be exhausted after filming her new video. So many paradigms to shift, so little time.

One man and a forty year search to find his bully (spoiler alert; the bully turns out to be an utter shit).

Self-care: What it is, why it’s important and how one woman does it.

A recently unlocked profile on Madeline L’Engle, whose book, ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ bamboozled the hell out of me as a kid.

Are you stealing your partner’s personality? I’ll get worried when I start playing Grand Theft Auto.

Everybody sexts, apparently. NSFW, but it’s Sunday right now, so appreciate the saucy illustrations at your leisure.

Dubbing films in French is very complicated.

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Things to Read #22

Hello. Here is an article that I wrote on fashion and feminism. HOT TOPIC ALERT! Yes, it mentions Karl Lagerfeld. Ugh, what a total hack.

What’s to be done about the t-shirt problem?

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei makes his first foray into fashion photography and pisses off a lot of people by shucking paint over young designers’ creations (pics here). Robin Givhan has her take on it here.

After finishing off a thesis, working and then taking on even more work this week, I can confirm that work burnout does exist. One unfortunate symptom is that your brain starts to resemble badly-scrambled eggs. A less unfortunate symptom is the impulse to binge watch Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries until the synapses knit themselves together again.

Mallory Ortberg’s ‘Texts From Jane Eyre’ may be the best Christmas stocking filler gift for the funny, socially-engaged woman in your life - note to my Dad, who once got me a copy of Derek Blasberg’s ‘Classy’ as a joke-but-also-not-a-joke.

My Little Bronie.

Was Vincent van Gogh murdered? Well, no, almost definitely not. But this is certainly a well-constructed flight of CSI fancy. Note to future biographers; Theo van Gogh would probably make an excellent 19th century Horatio Caine.

I don’t fucking care if you like it. Yes please.

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Things to read #21

Short and sour this week.

Did I spend most of my Friday, slightly hungover, reading these true-life scary stories and trying not to vomit with fear? Yes. No regrets.

The worst thing my nan ever made me eat was burned porridge, so this is pretty terrifying (but only marginally more than being forced to those horrible blackened oats that got stuck to the bottom of the pan).

What 100 looks like, as shot by David Bailey.

“And with that shift from scary to sexy, all that excitement, that innocent, spooky joy that Halloween had meant for us dissolved faster than the Junior Disprols our mothers had dispensed to us after too many trick-or-treat gummy bears.” One of the better calls to arms over Sexy Hallowe’en.

“I can’t decide which is more depressing: a culture in which a formerly apple-cheeked lovely like Zellweger should become so swollen and polished with “happiness” she becomes unrecognisable – and then vilified. Or one in which we are encouraged to nurture the delusional aspiration that if we “declutter” our lives, we might look like Julia Roberts. Both seem equally rotten.” Jo Ellison in praise of constructive vanity.

Terrifying featured pic via here.

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Things to Read #20

“Still, for the women of Playboy who decided to step back in front of a photographer’s lens for New York, that sense of control, however illusory, was a large part of the appeal of posing — both then and now.” A look at Playboy Playmates from the 50s, 60s and 70s and how they view themselves now.

Joan Didion wrote ‘On Self Respect’ to an exact character count, just as Vogue was going to press. Vogue has republished it here, with the original layout.

A letter to the late Oscar de la Renta.

Eight writers on classic images of fashion, power and women. Chanel, Dietrich and… Merkel?

To live in Alan Moore’s brain.

“I was passionate about school. I wanted to be at Yale forever, holding people, writing down literary revelations, reading from tales of men long dead, smiling from inside out. The idea of returning to a dressing from in a Winnebago, being called Miss Foster, seemed foreign, unnatural.” Jodie Foster’s 1982 Esquire essay on fame, college and John Hinckley Jr.

There are a few good aspects to the ever-worsening weather, and one of them is the opportunity to stay inside and eat more complex carbohydrates. A one-two punch of sweet and starch, the sweet potato, is a godsend. It’s cheap, it’s filling, and it’s the one vegetable you can acceptably eat with melted marshmallows.

 

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Things to Read #19

What We Wore – real street style. First a blog, now a book.

The biannual, international edition of Swedish mag Bon is a must buy for the in-depth conversations that go on within its pages. For the first time online, this is their comprehensive A/W ’14 panel discussion.

The New York City Ballet was limping, but Valentino kissed it all better.

To accompany the forthcoming book and TV series, here is a comprehensive ranking of all 118 sweaters from Twin Peaks.

How the unibrow became culturally unacceptable.

Joanna Coles is a force to be reckoned with and her attempt to retool Cosmopolitan should be admired. However, there’s still a disconnect between the vibrant reader with equal interest in mascara and the Middle East and that cover image of the girl from the ‘Blurred Lines’ video with her shirt unbuttoned to her navel. And it’s a disconnect that is not convincingly addressed.

Iggy Pop does the John Peel lecture.

“For a small segment of women—and the number is small, by any reasonably scientific account—abortion is indeed a tragedy, a trauma with long-lasting reverberations. But I want to tell a different story, the more common yet strangely hidden one, which is that I don’t feel guilty and tortured about my abortion. Or rather, my abortions. There, I said it.” A real account and analysis of abortion in America today.

Walt Whitman and Oscar Wilde hung out. (They drank elderberry wine.)

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LFW Craft 2/3 – Meadham Kirchhoff

Meadham Kirchhoff are notoriously difficult to interview. This is more by rule than by rumour; their distaste for mass media is a sign, I think, that they hate how their message is interpreted.

So, what better way to counter the (usually) well-meaning spin that the media puts on their creativity than to release their own zine? It’s surprising how no-one has drawn on this irony; Meadham Kirchhoff dislikes the output of many journalists, so they craft their own media project.

Their Spring/Summer ’15 cut-and-stick-and-copy ‘zine/show notes are an obvious tribute to riot grrrls, feminism, musician Viv Albertine and pure bloody-mindedness. Full of loves (‘Quentin Crisp’, ‘Jayne County’) and hates (‘cultural appropriation’, ‘Terry Richardson’  – we’re with you there, guys), the Xerox-alike zines have been making the rounds online.

Fashion likes statement, but this zine isn’t a statement. It’s a frustrated, frenzied yowl into a chasm. Meadham Kirchhoff don’t just reject the circumstances of modern living with fashion – they also reject it with words. And tampons.
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(Featured image via)

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Things to read #18

There is much to say about last week’s Chanel show – a rather cruel joke played at women’s expense. A lot of people made a lot of unimpressed noises.

Vogue catalogues the best of the new(ish, mostly U.S.-based) indie magazines.

“My walk-in closet with a rug thick as a blanket. I lie on it and stare at my clothes like they are my psychoanalysts. They are.” Arabelle Sicardi muses on what the contents of her closet taught her.

Judith Thurman’s 2005 profile of Rei Kawakubo has been recently unlocked by The New Yorker.

“A little screen played the footage of Emily Davison going under the King’s horse on loop. Her glorious ‘mistake’; did she intend death, or just distraction? We’ll never know.” Suffragettes at the Museum of London.

Before I came back to London after a summer misspent at home in Ireland, I made a Mexican dinner for fifteen friends. This Buzzfeed piece on carnitas and homesickness strikes so many chords it could be packaged into a One Direction b-side.

The jarring GIFs of Kevin Weir.

The jarring GIFs of Kevin Weir

The women fighting ISIS, and the stopped heartbeat of the editor’s note.

Every book that Daria Morgendorffer read or mentioned – and where to get it for free.

I’ve been reading a lot of advice columns since starting my own humble fashion advice series for the Irish Times (for ‘humble’, read ‘piss-taking’; my mother calls me ‘Mrs Mills with clothes’ and I choose to take that as a compliment). Unf**k Yourself with Scaachi Koul is becoming a fast favourite.

While it’s essentially a plug for a sauce range, this piece on former Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba and his formidable wife Shauna gives me hope for the future of WAGs.

From nothing to something and nothing again. A graphic exploration of one person and his relationship to the universe.

Featured image via.

LFW Craft 1/3 – Claire Barrow

London Fashion Week’s international reputation is that of risk-taking and unclipped creativity, but I think the real theme, especially with younger designers, is that of craft. Not crappy felt-and-PVA craft or horrible faux-naif stuff, but real craft. The kind of stuff that gets your hands dirty with paint, or slightly sticky, or smelling of interesting chemicals.

London has a slightly subversive edge due to the underground-ness of many of its presentations. For Claire Barrow, it was a soon-to-be demolished basement, once the home of the BBC Orchestra. A black void, painted empty space and loose wires. Also, free Jack Daniels.

Barrow’s hand painted visions of nightmarish, anthropomorphic characters are standing at the edge at the end of the world. Stupidly, I was reminded of kid’s TV show Adventure Time, where the world as we know it has blown up and the passing of a thousand years allows magic to grow back again. But much, much more nihilistic. No Bubblegum Princesses this time. Only darkness, with a sheer sliver of hope.

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Photos by Kim Rehnstedt and edited by yours truly.

This Pink Flamingos inspired editorial is a bit of fun.

Things to Read #17

Hello hello hello.

Here is a (very) little something I wrote for the Irish Times on Summer trends that’ll carry through to Winter. Ugh, Winter. When did that happen?

This Pink Flamingos inspired editorial is a bit of fun.

Ann DeWitt on Annie Leibovitz on Susan Sontag.

I disagree with an awful lot of this, but it still raises a few pertinent questions, like, when exactly are we going to get rid of all the clichés in fashion writing?

And on the flip side, why isn’t there more fashion writing like this? Side note – the book mentioned in this article, Women in Clothes, is a real treat for anyone interested in personal style over fashion. There’ll be a piece in the Irish Times (and a review up on this here blog) closer to the European release date.

WWD gathers ten high school girls to talk about their back-to-school outfits. I’m aware this is probably filler for a lot of people, but coming from a country where uniforms are pretty much compulsory, this is weirdly compelling.

Rick Owens, his huge sculpture and his non-existent sample sales.

Part 1 of things that annoyed me this week – people who wear Native American headdresses to festival, blissfully ignorant of the fact that they’re being racist. Who cares though when you look this fab, amirite? Nice one, you guys. Get a clue. I’m begging you.

Part 2 – I really love Susie Bubble’s work, but this article for the Independent, exploring whether you can wear designer looks can be worn in deprived parts of London strikes a really odd note for me. I guess it helps that Susie lives in Haringey (as do I, shout out to all my pals on the 242 bus) but it has a bit of a whiff of poverty porn. It’s a little off – though, as ever, the looks are on point.

Part 3 – Some very unfortunate truths about fast fashion that will probably make you rethink ever buying something with sequins on it again. There’s a reason that Ashish stuff is so expensive – because it’s not made with slave labour. (yay?)

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Things to Read #16

Any excuse to lob up this Harper’s Bazaar editorial. ANY EXCUSE.

Yipes. I forgot to post last week, but the Rose of Tralee festival was on and I was there and so nothing was done. But I did write this thing on the festival for the Irish Times so, you know, silver linings and all that.

For those with nothing better to do on a Sunday, here’s Rolling Stone’s list of the 150 best Simpsons‘ episodes. A must for anyone who still knows all the lyrics to See My Vest.

“So, why write about Slimane now? Here’s why: If you accept that fashion reflects the times — and I do — then you have to concede that in this respect Slimane has been impressive, even prescient. His Saint Laurent collections perfectly capture the mood and values of the present. The need for simple messages. The triumph of branding. The shortening of horizons due to economic factors. The lack of prejudice toward old ideas, especially among young consumers.” Kathy Horyn resurfaces at the Times to tell us how, and why, high fashion is changing.

Dirty, dangerous ravers. The history of the DiY collective.

The man who found Lauren Bacall, mentored Calvin Klein and went sockless before everybody else, Baron Niki de Gunzburg is the subject of a lengthy piece for Vanity Fair.

“I think of the warmth and generosity of evenings in Azzedine Alaïa’s kitchen in Paris, which often ended after midnight with the first glimpse of a new design. How much I learned about Azzedine—and from him too. And I remember a drive I made in Belgium in 2005 with a nearly unknown Raf Simons, the door panels of his Volvo stuffed with empty cigarette boxes. So much for glitz, I thought.” Another piece by Kathy Horyn, this time about friendships in the fashion industry. On a personal note – though I’ve got many good and trusted friends in the industry, my GOD it’s still a murky body of water to swim in.