Art, Fashion

I Heart De Geuzen

>There’s not really much that I can say about De Geuzen, because when I try to explain it I end up going in circles and confusing myself  The website itself is a bit like peeling an onion, but with much less crying. Every time I click into a section, there’s something within it to explore, then another thing, then another thing…  But I can say this much:

 - They are three women working together on a project basis and can be found at www.geuzen.org .
 - The Geuzen website is a smorgasbord of interesting, interactive bits and bobs that engage and encourage people to think about feminism, fashion, art and communication.
 - My favourite part of the website is the DIY section, where you can find instructions for such useful things as popcorn cones to your own temporary library.
 - My favourite item in the DIY section (see why I keep getting so confused?) is the paper dress.  This isn’t your average paper dress though (if there is such a thing as an average paper dress).  This is part of the De Geuzen Uniform Series.  According to De Geuzen;

“The Uniform Series is a developing line of identity apparel uniquely tailored for De Geuzen. Negotiating the border between guise and disguise the garments suit a plethora of identities and a multitude of occasions. Seen as a whole, the outfits constitute a set of Geuzen vows.

Made in collaboration with fashion designer Margreeth Olsthoorn, this uniform is constructed from a paper pattern. Accompanied by step by step sewing instructions, the pattern requires a knowledge of subtle engineering and basic handy craft. The uniforms come in three different styles (Model Femke, Model Renée, and Model Riek) and promote a ‘do-it-yourself’ work ethic.
Crisp and tailored, all three garments combine amazon armor aesthetics with origami know-how.”

This is the third effort in their Uniform Series.  Keep it white and it’s an austere, clean uniform.  Scribble over it with felt-tips however, and it’s a different proposition – an ability to subvert a uniform into a totally different thing altogether.

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Maybe when I have the inclination and resources to do this DIY* I’ll take my cue from last year’s Grayson Perry collaboration with Liberty on their series of art fabrics. Maybe spice up a floral print with some dolls, gravestones machine guns, and damned-soul-ish face-type scribblings.

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Grayson Perry for Liberty – images from Clothkits 

*Which is never, because I’m one of those people who makes all sorts of grand crafting plans but never ever gets around to sticking Tab A to Fold B.  It’s a curse.

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Art, Photography

Fallen Princesses – Strictly Irrelevant Saturday

>I tend not to write on weekends.  Firstly, er,  it’s the weekend and secondly, I feel like I’m the only person who stays in on a Saturday night and trawls through blogs while the boyfriend plays XBox (we are a very cosmopolitan and exciting couple).  Thirdly, I tend to get a bit frazzled looking at style-related news from Monday to Friday so by the time Saturday rolls around I’m in need of a fairly serious reboot.  Reboots are good.  Reboots are essential to a person’s wellbeing.

So, either I have itchy typing fingers or the XBox is really getting to me but I am now blogging on a weekend.  Since a weekend is a break from the norm I won’t be talking about style but things I like, things that make me go ‘hmm’ and probably a few cocktail recipes (fun fact about me #641 I’m a competent mixologist and have been tending bar since it was illegal for me to do so). 

Weekends will be strictly irrelevant – after all, everyone needs a break from the norm.

The picture below popped up in my feeds and I think any woman with a vested interest in feminism that clashes with a nostalgic love for Disney films will find this relevant. And a bit scary. Just what were these films supposed to teach us?

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Image from Boing Boing

This reminds me a little of Dina Goldstein’s somewhat disturbing series ‘Fallen Princesses’, which plonks the Disney Princesses straight in the real world and royally screws with any little girl’s view that there might be a happily ever after.

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Photos – Dina Goldstein

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Fashion

The best word in the world

>Mamihlapinatapai - a look shared by two people with each wishing that the other will initiate something that both desire but which neither one wants to start.


For example, there is a definite mamihlapinatapai between myself and this €3,600 Moschino jacket.  I get the feeling it’s only a matter of time before someone DIYs one of these bad boys.

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L-R Photo by Tom Munro for Elle, Jacket and catwalk pic @ Net A Porter 
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Licentiate Columns

Mean Testing

>I marvel at government means testing, I really do. Granted, vital statistics such as marital status, number of dependents and amount of debt are taken into account, as they should be. The means test also takes into account all the material gains accrued and emotional ties bonded in your lifetime. It is simultaneously a snapshot of your childhood, your education and your physical wellbeing. It is a governmental biography written in Big Brother code.


It is also, if this is humanly possible, a more demoralising version of a Cosmopolitan quiz, except instead of jaunty titles like ‘What’s your boudoir IQ?’ or ‘How dissatisfying is your career right now?’ the quiz is ‘Just how much are you worth anyway? Not much I bet – you are on the dole, after all, you big loser.’
My score on the multiple choice quiz that is means testing is woefully low. I have no dependents and my only housemate is a Polish man whose name I can barely pronounce. I own no art, nor did I make any savvy investments in the iPad or Chinese based expansion into Africa before the economic slump. Thankfully there is a cash bonus and it is directly proportionate to how badly you do on the test, and thus how depressing your life is on paper – see it as a monetary pat on the back and a reassuring “You’ll do better next time, now go get ‘em Champ! Maybe next time you’ll think about buying some bonds, eh?”
Our lives can easily look insignificant when squeezed rigidly into boxes on a few sheets of paper. Before we get bogged down in the mire of how much we lost or never even had to lose, it is worth remembering that the means test is only an indicator of the present and not of the future. No-one knows what lurks around the corner, at any age. Nelson Mandela was arrested for treason and designated a terrorist in 1956, when he was thirty two. In 1994 he became the president of South Africa and an international symbol of peaceful racial unification. What a difference a few years (and a long stint on Robben Island) makes.
We won’t all be lucky enough to become spiritual figureheads, but the message to my fellow social welfare recipients is clear. Don’t despair, keep your chin up. There’ll always be a tomorrow, and tomorrow is an equal opportunities employer.
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Art, Film, Inspiration

Inspiration 1 – Club Kids

>With yesterday’s post still firmly stuck in my mind, I can’t help but be reminded of the Club Kids.

My obsession started with renting out Party Monster with my sisters.  We watched it once.  Then I watched it again.  And again.  Anyone acquainted with their brief moment at the forefront of cutting edge cool will know the seedy story that overshadows their outfits (in short, movement leader Michael Alig, along with drug dealer Robert ‘Freeze’ Riggs, killed another drug dealer, Angel Melendez and disposed of his body in an incredibly brutal fashion).  Which makes their appearance on the Joan Rivers Show more than a little bittersweet since the phrase “you’re not hurting anyone” pops up all over the place.

Before the clubs became saturated with drugs, however, the Club Kid ethos was a series of Situationist pranks (scatology, mutilation and lactation were common themes for club nights and outfits) and guerrila parties, which took place in McDonalds and Macys departments stores, amongst other places.  To tap into the Club Kid psyche, just listen to your inner freak.  And maybe have a look at these here pictures.

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EDIT – Here’s a few more pictures of Club Kid trading cards, used as publicity tools for Disco 2000 club nights.

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All photos from Collection of All That is Good

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Fashion, Subculture

SubbaCouture – will you be there?

>Spawned from the mind of Ms Blau von T of Blaubushka, SubbaCouture will be the first Freakscene club night to celebrate street style and subculture (so much so that I thought it was called ‘SubbaCULTure’…  derp).  Here’s the blurb.

“Every movement has had its own fashion associated with it; burlesque, MOD, punk, rave, grunge and the theatrical harajuku. Today we can see how all these previous identities are becoming more and more infused in the emergence of a modern street style. Inspired by this, Blaubushka hopes to throw the doors open to all the fashion lovers; be your fashion beginner, intermediate or advanced this is your chance to earn your stripes and join a new Cork fashion army.

Any look that’s inspired you or any outfit that you thought Cork wasn’t ready for, the time is NOW!”

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Freakscene is Ireland’s longest running club night with DJs over two floors and major drink deals.  I’ve been going there every so often for more years than I would like to admit and, in the interests of disclosure, actually used to work in the club.

It’s nothing if not all inclusive so don’t worry if mod or burlesque or harajuku isn’t your cup of tea.   I would imagine that what’s important is originality and balls-out enthusiasm so, if you want to dress like Lady Gaga or Adam Ant – ‘any look that inspires you’.  If anything this event is about self expression and outrageousness in the midst of one of the most non-judgemental nightclub crowds I’ve ever experienced.

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Film, The Reading List

Ritualism

>So last month, two things happened. Someone in my family died and I bought a book. These two things might not seem connected now, but it will make sense soon, I promise.

The book was ‘Isms… Understanding Fashion ‘ by Mairi MacKenzie. It’s a pocket-sized book with two-page spreads explaining every major fashion wave from the sixteenth century to present day. From Baroque to blogging, it’s all there in concise, clipped paragraphs. Precursors, related trends, even lists of where you can see costume archives of a particular trend are organised according to country at the end of every list.

But I’m jumping ahead. A month ago my grandmother passed and I found myself in my hometown with a duffel bag full of glittery dresses, army boots and coloured tights that I must have packed in a peyote trance. The crumpled clothes in the bag look like something a Care Bear would puke up after overindulging in too much sunshine and rainbows.   I went into town to try to look for something appropriate. I picked the first black dress I saw and went home. I didn’t want to make a statement, I didn’t  want anyone to admire my taste, I didn’t want anyone to look at me.

So, for the last month or so I haven’t really cared about anything fashion-y. Last week I bought a dress for my sister’s 21st birthday party to find that I was no longer a small size 10 (6 to you US readers) and that I couldn’t fit into my pre-picked party dress. That was what snapped me out of it. Until then I was wandering around feeling a bit sad, looking very sloppy and totally unsure of what to do.

There are dress guides for weddings, for dates, for job interviews. But no-one seems to set out a dress code for funerals anymore. It would be so much easier if all the hard stuff was done for us. All the worrying about whether you look respectful and proper (probably the only occasion that worries me in that way).  Mourning is so hard that worrying over a trivial thing like what to wear while doing so makes it all the harder. And if only there was a way of letting people know before they bound up to you in the street and breeze ‘How are you, any news?’, with the inevitable awkward, ‘Well, my Nan died there last week’. And then the terrible silence…

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L-R Plate of a child’s mourning dress from an Ackermann’s catalogue c. 1809,  Middle class family in mourning dress, 1913 (analysis here ), Queen Mary in Mourning Dress, 1913.  Jordan take note – homegirl liked her bling.

This is where I tie in with ‘Isms..’. One of the fashion movements the book covers is called Ritualism – the strictly regimented system of mourning during the Victorian era. Women had to jump through a seemingly never-ending set of hoops to show that they were mourning properly and not to do so was a source of public shame. Books and women’s magazines pored through the subject much in the manner of Trinny and Susannah, with less emphasis on Spanx and droopy boobs. One of the American books I found, The Art of Dressing Well (1870) is viewable in full online and is full of bon mots concerning heavy mourning, half mourning and non-fat, sorry, ‘light’ mourning.

Think of it like a school uniform - universally hated, but still useful in deflecting the dilemma of what to wear in what could be an emotionally fraught situation.  I don’t think that we should go back to the days of mourning for women at the threat of losing their social respectability by any means (because that means so much in this day and age…).

I suppose it would just be nice to not have to tell people that you’re mourning, not to feel like a shallow idiot when you can’t decide what to wear, to have something to make you look ok and like you’re holding it together for the first couple of weeks when all you really want to do is wear pajamas all day and watch The Jeremy Kyle Show.

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Fashion

Apologies

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Bless me father, for I have sinned, it has been exactly one month since my last blog post.

A lot has happened in the past month, namely death, birth(days), illness and unwanted weight gain (stupid chimichangas!). Yeah, yeah yeah, the usual excuses… bullshit as usual.

Mostly, however, I just haven’t had anything to say.

Above is a picture of my big fat old lady hand, The minx manicure and horoscope sign rings are merely a way of tarting up a horse after the stable door has been bolted. But look, I’m typing! Fingers at the ready. More to come, I swear.

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Licentiate Columns

Scrooge Among Us

>When I was a kid the notion of the crooked businessperson was as alien to me as a jolly teaparty on the ceiling with ET and Alf. My nearest approximation would have been something close to Ebenezer Scrooge with scoliosis, which would drive me into screaming paroxysms every time I saw an old -an hobbling around with a hunch and a knobbly walking stick. In the mid nineties, when the country was emerging out of a slump into a boom, my reactions were seen as irrational.

Now, I think a Nostradamus award would be in order (if such a thing exists). Maybe my five-year-old self knew what was coming. Unfortunately, I was ignorant to the fact that the new breed of crooked businesspeople don’t carry their crookedness in their spine, but rather safely concealed in skinny Dior suits, flaccid handshakes and oddly glassy, impersonal grins. The businessperson is usually accompanied by the Lesser Spotted Accountant, who can be distinguished by his or her capacity to sweat profusely and worry lines on the forehead that resemble an windstruck beach at sunset. Being the small fry that I am, it would be easy to assume that I wouldn’t be personally affected by such people. Wrong.
In point of fact, everyone is directly affected. The common consensus is, even if you have little or no grasp on current affairs, that the bad guys win and the little people have to pick up the pieces. Why not have a large business? If you make yourself indispensible, then you will never go bust – the banks will bail you out (bearing in mind that this is speculation and not solid fact).
This kind of devil-may-care nonchalant ‘tude looked good on James Dean, but it’s beyond frightening to see it transplanted on people who really are old enough to know better. Just because you can play with fire it doesn’t mean that you can play with other people’s pension plans. The breadth of advantage taken over the little people who are virtually powerless to do anything, the ease with which some people can refuse to pay creditors with no prior warning and the sense of powerlessness that is pervading the national viewpoint is positively Dickensian. Throw in a plucky orphan and consumption and we could conceivably be looking at a 21st century version of Great Expectations. In retrospect, perhaps the childish nightmare of Ebenezer Scrooge wasn’t so far off the mark.
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Licentiate Columns

Side Hustles

>Since it’s brief mention last week, I’ve been on the receiving end of a few tacit enquiries about the nature of the side hustle, mostly texts from friends and concerned members of my family wondering if I’ve lost my marbles. For those conclusion-jumping enquirers and my mother’s peace of mind, no, calling it a hustle doesn’t mean it has to be illegal, nor does it mean that I am planning to go on the game.

In a nutshell, the side hustle is what you do to bring in money when the fiscal glue that holds everything together starts to look less like Superglue and more like that vaguely tacky substance on the back of a Post It Note. The side hustle, while sounding faintly exciting, is not like The Sting. There will be no Robert Redford spouting encouraging, pithy epithets while you go on your merry way towards bamboozling a crooked businessman with a gambling problem – although there really should be a government bureau for bamboozling famous, crooked businessmen – just a thought. Nor is the side hustle boring. It’s not your average part-time job. As a loose rule, the side hustle must be slightly entrepreneurial and an expansion on a hobby or interest. You like baking? Sell cakes to friends. Cordon Bleu in your spare time? Why not set up a guerrilla restaurant in your own home once a month? If you like music, then maybe setting up and promoting a club night or gig is for you.

If you have too many items of clothing in your wardrobe… you get the picture. With Facebook and Twitter, PR via word of mouth is a zero cost way to tout your wares in a friendly environment, and Paypal means that it’s easy to extract payment from potential customers all over the world.

Every so often, whenever my father takes a breath in between queries as to why I’m not working for Barack Obama or Anna Wintour, he comes out with the occasional gem of wisdom. ‘Diversify or die’ is one of my favourites. What’s the one thing that every rich person seems to have in common (apart from ‘an embryonic, glassy-eyed other half’)? Yep, that old chestnut, the portfolio of varied assets.

An apartment block here, an priceless masterpiece there; it’s childs play for the Trumps of the world. For us though, it’s a reminder not to keep all our eggs in one basket – we could well be using some of them to make fairy cakes for profit instead. 

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