Art, Fashion, Subculture

Things to Read #13 – The behind the paywall edition

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Lists. Lists on lists on lists.

Now that the New Yorker has lifted its paywall before instating a different kind of paywall in the autumn, people are curating (ugh horrible buzzword, I love it) their favourites. Here are 20 classic New Yorker stories written by women, a Buzzfeed collation of music longsreads, a selection of the best baseball writing (don’t knock it ’til you try it) by Roger Angell and a selection from Ana Kinsella – who, again, I am blatantly copying with this Sunday lists thing. And, if we’re going to get really meta, here is a longread roundup of the New Yorker longread roundups.

Eleven downloadable issues and a documentary. The late, great Blitz magazine.

Eros magazine, a magazine exploring sexuality, released only four issues in the 1960’s and was promptly shut down. Here are the scans.

The Baffler, home to journalism that doesn’t shy from controversy – but doesn’t necessarily court it either – has made all their back issues available to read online.

Five documentaries on teen subcultures!

 

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Art, Fashion, Inspiration, The Reading List

Things to Read #11

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Ben Giles’ new collage series, All in My Head, is super.

How do you solve a problem like the Monty Python reunion? This is a great article.

“With visibility is supposed to come admiration, respect, access, affluence – and for most of such men, it delivers. Yet for the rest of us, with visibility comes harassment, stalking, threats, loss of career opportunity and mobility, constant public humiliation, emotional and sometimes physical violence.” How being internet famous (or just visible to other people) can make women a target for online violence.

“Even today, several generations removed from the devastating critique of their triviality that was at the heart of first-wave feminism, Marie Claire and other women’s magazines remain obsessed with the appearance of female public figures, an obsession that still extends far beyond them into leading news publications like the New York Times and the Washington Post. You can take the woman out of the woman’s magazine, but the style of coverage—and it is all about style—remains the same.”

The London Review of Books goes to London Collections: Men.

Diane von Furstenburg talks Warhol and Studio 54 and some more stuff that she’s perennially associated with.

On being a Times Square Elmo (it’s never as much fun as it sounds, is it?)

This Nabokov essay from 1972 is a must for anyone who struggles with writing inspiration.

 

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Art, Fashion, The Reading List

Things to Read #8

One of the very shamefully hipster-y things I like to do is eat and drink out of jars, so these recipes for overnight oats are just the ticket. I don’t know what a chia seed is, but I want to eat one.

DIY faecal transplant (that’s having someone else’s faeces syringed into your body) is a real thing, and it might save lives. “It’s still the same concept of using a microbial ecosystem or community of bacteria,” says Petrof. “But we’re just moving away from taking it out of the toilet.” *shudder*

The ten best uses of body fluids in art (best not to read the last two links with your overnight oats).

Viv Albertine (she of all-woman punk and post-punk pioneering band The Slits) has a memoir out today. It’s called Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys Boys and is, by all accounts, rather good.  Not new, but still worth mentioning, Albertine has unsurprisingly great taste in music.

A profile of Rihanna’s stylist Mel Ottenberg, who is running out of clothes to put on her.

“Fixating on a woman from afar and then refusing to give up when she acts like she’s not interested is, generally, something that ends badly for everyone involved. But it’s a narrative that nerds and nerd media kept repeating.” Misogyny, entitlement, nerds – and Elliot Rodgers.

 

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Art, Fashion, The Reading List

Things to read #4

It’s my birthday today, hooray! My family are over in London and we are eating our way through the city. And the sun is shining and I’m going to go for brunch soon, so I’m throwing up a few things worth reading before I take one more fatal bite and turn into a quesadilla or fancy chocolate mousse eclair.

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Suspended fields of flowers by Rebecca Louise Law.

Caroline Evans on how clothing reminds us of all the people we’ve lost.

“If they hadn’t told me I was ugly, I never would have searched for my beauty. And if they hadn’t tried to break me down, I wouldn’t know that I’m unbreakable.So when you ask me how I’m so confident, I know what you’re really asking me: how could someone like me be confident? Go ask Rihanna, asshole!

In short, her pain became her beauty — and by extension, her livelihood. It was a battle between the reality and the ideal, which would repeat for Hepburn as feminist elements warred with old-world patriarchy, in ways no more obvious than her long series of on-screen suitors. The hidden feminism of Audrey Hepburn.

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The art of business cards.

Charles James, who has a retrospective opening at The Met very soon, was quite possibly one of the most underrated couturiers. Either that, or this is incredibly well written hype.

The secret history of Britney Spears’ lost album.

Twelve books about women on the road.

Why does Anne Boleyn obsess us? Anne of Cleves never had such a following. And Jane Seymour? Fuhgeddaboutit.

One of the best fashion instas this year.

 

 

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Art, Fashion, Film, The Reading List, Things to Read

Things to Read #1

Anatomical collages by Travis Bedel (Colossal)

Anatomical collages by Travis Bedel (Colossal)

Things have been a bit, um, stilted on the blog front recently.

Ever since I stopped writing my column, I’ve been at a bit of a loss. Should I still blog? And if so, what should I write about? One of the simplest things to remember about blogging is that you should probably love it. You should love writing or taking photos or making videos and you should love sharing your thoughts, quirks and the cool things you pick up along the way.

I’ve come to a point, after moving countries and going back to university and getting a new job and dying my hair alternately blue, green and a bruise-ish violet, where I’m at a crossroads. One point, four different directions and no real idea where I’ll end up. More to the point, no idea where this blog will end up.

The trick, really, is to find your niche.

The only thing I did with real regularity, apart from the column, was book reviews. So, Im going to keep doing that.

Over the past year or so, I’ve been getting into longreads; real, meaty articles that are the total opposite of the thoughtless, bland, soundbites that make up a huge chunk of internet journalism. Damn our goldfish memories. Every Sunday, I read Ana Kinsella’s clicks and, for half an hour or so – usually over a pot of tea and a jam donut – I get sucked into a Good Reading vortex. I highly, highly, recommend checking her Tumblr out. She’s a smashing writer too.

When I’m tootling around on the internet and I find something I know I’d like to read in real depth, I save it on Instapaper for later. So, in the spirit of sharing, and because Ana is OK with me blatantly copying her, here are some things to read. This will probably be sporadic (as soon as the Instapaper filing cabinet is full, I’ll write another post), but we’ll see how we go.

The Surrealist Ball, 1972 (So Bad, So Good)

The Surrealist Ball, 1972 (So Bad, So Good)

‘The Devil and the Art Dealer’ – Vanity Fair. “The artworks stolen from the Jews are the last prisoners of WWII. You have to be aware that every work stolen from a Jew involved at least one death.” 1,280 works of art, originally stolen by the Nazis, were recovered in an apartment in Munich a few months ago. The billion dollar hoard includes works by Picasso, Brancusi, Otto Dix, Oscar Kokoschka… pretty much every European early twentieth century painter of note, plus a few Old Masters. Because what’s an art hoard without a Canaletto?

‘Geek Love at 25: How a Freak Family Inspired Your Pop Culture Heroes’ - Wired. Geek Love is one of two books that every person I have ever lent it to, without exception, loved (the other one being ‘Rip it up and Start Again’ by Simon Reynolds). Read this, then read the book. And if you’ve already read the book, read it again.

‘Why are We Obsessed with 90’s Film Fashion?’ – Never Underdressed. An interview with Elizabeth Sankey.

‘Simone Rocha: Just a Little Bit of a Lady’ – The Telegraph. Man, she’s cool.

The Vintage Black Glamour book is one to look forward to (Miss Moss)

The Vintage Black Glamour book is one to look forward to (Miss Moss)

The Detective Wore Prada’ – The Guardian. Guardian writers share their best-dressed of the small screen.

‘Are Celebrities the New Fashion Critics?’ – Style.com. A big, fat, resounding ‘NO’ is the answer here.

‘Showgirls is a Good Movie’ – The Awl. It’s VERSAYCE! Heh. I love Showgirls, though that pool sex scene with Jessi Spano and FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper still gives me the the willies.

‘The Grand Budapest Hotel: The Amazing Backstories Behind Ten Memorable Props’ – Paper.

The Irish Boys of Central Saint Martins – The Irish Times. I interviewed three really, properly, achingly talented Irish fashion grads for this article.

‘How American Pageants are Turning Politics into a Beauty Parade’ – The New Statesmen. It seems that the average American beauty queen can easily segue into a career in politics. Hmm. A big, fat, hmm.

‘Amazing Structure: A Conversation With Ursula Franklin’ – The Atlantic. Scientist, feminist and an all-around remarkable woman.

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Art, Fashion, Licentiate Columns

Licentiate Column 06/02/14: Couture Comedown

photo by Lea Colombo for Dazed and Confused

photo by Lea Colombo for Dazed and Confused

Couture – what does it mean, really? On a surface level, most of us know what couture is; really really expensive clothes for people with more private jets than sense. Couture shows are populated with the super-duper-uber rich, people who sneeze into hankies made of the real Turin Shroud, people who watched ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ and had several painful pangs of nostalgia.  Truly, those were the good old days. That was when all the real excess happened.

Couture has always been about exclusivity; it’s difficult to manufacture, can take thousands of hours to produce and is incredibly costly. It’s not totally out of the ordinary to see a couture wedding dress with over a quarter of a million little pieces of fabric meticulously attached. It is, however, very unusual to see more than a few produced. Like I said, it’s exclusive.

People get jaded very quickly.  What do we, the public, care for exclusivity? We could never afford these fripperies.  You could easily buy a house in today’s property market (outside of Dublin, at least) for the price of a particularly well-embellished couture gown. Why bother? That much excess verges on overstuffed, overindulged, flabby stupidity.

This season, the team behind Maison Martin Margiela’s Artisanal line have added a new layer – history. History is the new exclusivity and history, in this case, will not repeat itself. The MMM team armed themselves with what must have been epic amount of guts and searched the world for vintage materials with some sort of artistic or historical significance.

Somehow, they managed to wangle yards of culturally priceless interior fabrics from the archive of legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. What did they do with this fabric?  Dear reader, I shall tell you.  They wove it into t-shirts. A Twenties-era tapestry inspired by the Tahitian paintings of Paul Gauguin was made into a heavy opera coat. Scarves stripped from a 1930s brothel were sewn into skirts.

In an era where modern technology is in danger of making couture techniques of sewing and embellishment obsolete, this is the new exclusive; the heavy weight of history. It’s desirable, but in an incredibly high-minded way.  Of course, you could replicate that tapestry, but it won’t have the same story. It won’t bear the marks of the passage of time. You can mimic the Frank Lloyd Wright fabric, but it won’t really come from the man himself anymore. It would just be a facsimile; bland and boring.

The modern couture collection is high-minded in its desirability.You could also argue that it is eco-friendly, an able evolution in a couture industry that was barely limping along a few years ago. However, the question remains – is this sort of shenanigan recycling, or just desecration?

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Art, Fashion, Licentiate Columns

Licentiate Column 05/12/13: Hello, My Name is Paul Smith

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Paul Smith doesn’t want the journalists reviewing his new exhibition, ‘Hello, My Name is Paul Smith,’ to get cold feet – so much so that he brings multiple pairs of socks to distribute at the press preview. He also has designer notebooks for the unprepared writer. It doesn’t matter that no-one is even slightly unprepared for Smith’s kaleidoscopic, cluttered, not-quite-a-retrospective at the Design Museum in London. He runs out of notebooks within minutes.

The aura of approachability surrounding legendary British designer Paul Smith has very little to do with his fashion empire and almost everything to do with his attitude towards it. This is hardly unexpected when you discover that his heroes are his wife Pauline (who taught him how to design clothes and remains a source of support and inspiration after several decades together) and his local road sweeper (who, presumably, has done neither of these things).  Wisely, Smith has chosen to dedicate the exhibition to Pauline.

One enters the exhibition, as in life, by passing through a small pink box. This is where it all starts. At three metres by three metres, it is the size of Smith’s first shop. It contains only a mirror and a small case containing a few pictures, advertisements and sketches, with captions handwritten by Smith himself. Dominating the case is a photograph of Smith’s Afghan hound, Homer, who had a layered, flicked-out haircut and an aquiline profile not unlike his owner’s in that period.  The caption reads, “He was my first manager (1970). I was his assistant!”

‘Hello, My Name is Paul Smith’ is drawn from Paul Smith’s archives, but it’s not so much a reflection on the man as it is a celebration of a hugely successful global brand.  Smith’s success, it can be argued, it just as dependent on his personality as it is on his eye for detail or unwavering dedication to structured tailoring. A sense of humour both simple and sophisticated is also vital. It can be seen in his approach to brand collaborations – amongst the striped teapots and bottles of mineral water, a boxed bottle of Paul Smith HP brown sauce (also striped, in varying shades of brown) is put proudly on display.

It is a feat of organised chaos. We see a recreation of Smith’s cluttered office and workrooms, a wall is plastered, seemingly arbitrarily, with buttons. More walls are lined floor to ceiling with personal photographs, fan letters (One from Japan reads, “I like your cloth design, spilit (sic) and your face. I love you”) and award-winning, tongue-in-cheek advertisements.

It makes you wonder.  Specifically, it makes you wonder when such a broad retrospective will happen to an Irish designer. Just this week, both Simone Rocha and J.W Anderson won highly sought-after gongs at the British Fashion Awards.  In thirty years, will we be wandering through a reconstruction of the Rocha office? Will Anderson’s already numerous collaborations take pride of place in some hallowed hall? Will the cult of personality surrounding Smith be replicated in Irish form?

Let’s hope so.

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