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Things to Read #36

Read all of Cathy Horyn’s Fashion Month reviews online. She gets it.

“From Barnum’s correspondence it becomes clear that accepted ideas about the Circassian ‘beautiful white slave girl’ were paramount in his decision to add them to his roster.” Circassian beauties and how the freak show was fashioned.

“That Anna was not invited to Bob Marley’s funeral and spent the day inventing that thing where models layer designer vests over T-shirts.”

The New Yorker style issue is out this week, and that means some great fashion longreads are in store. Online; a photographic portfolio of Callot Soeurs’ dresses and an essay about the fashion makeover of the humble Birkenstock.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche is doing Vogue’s ‘Today I’m Wearing…’ this month.

Margaret Atwood loves Game of Thrones. Unsurprised.

MIA reflects on the tenth anniversary of Arular and unsurprisingly, Diplo turns out to be a Not Great Person. But Arular is still a great album, so I guess the lesson we can all learn is… Shit happens? Even talented people can be horrible? 10 Dollar is still a total choon?

“The funny thing about time in the OR, whether you frenetically race or steadily proceed, is that you have no sense of it passing. If boredom is, as Heidegger argued, the awareness of time passing, this is the opposite: The intense focus makes the arms of the clock seem arbitrarily placed. Two hours can feel like a minute.” But then Paul Kalanithi got cancer, and time started to warp.

Like most young women suffering from a Girls hangover, I have found a new love in Broad City. That being said, it’s almost heartening to know it’s not universally loved – and with good reason.

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Things to Read #35

“This is where Givhan starts building her case for diversity in fashion and where her book zips past the society wives and rarefied showrooms into the gravitas behind the battle. The Versailles show overlapped with an unprecedented moment when the industry realized it was time to reach beyond its fascination with chilly, porcelain runway models. After race riots, the Kerner report, and the ensuing “Black is beautiful” movement, US fashion found new energy with African-American models. Of the 36 American models at Versailles, 10 were African American. That’s more than the number of black runway models you’re likely to count during the entire span of New York Fashion Week.” Good GOD, I cannot wait to start reading Robin Givhan’s new book.

How Instagram has given women a platform to form their own images, and how Carrie Brownstein, Kim Gordon and Annie Clark (a.k.a St. Vincent) frame themselves within that platform.

The stylists have taken over.

The beauty industry is inching slowly away from a whitewashed world.

The weather got a tiny bit better this week, so I unearthed this from an old bookmarks folder dedicated to alcoholic delights. Then it got cold again.

Stuff You Missed in History Class is one of my all-time favourite podcasts, and this week’s one on the Night Witches is well worth a listen.

A comprehensive guide to contemporary fan fiction, replete with infographics, reading lists and pictures of Harry Styles (of course).

Sometimes, it’s OK not to lean in. A new take on the ‘having it all’ myth and how entering the job market can sometimes mean entering a career hinterland.

“It’s 2050, and do you know what science is now? The 1996 movie about teen witches, The Craft. It’s the feminist future, and women are the ones who sit with their knees sprawled out on the subway. Men have to sit on the floor, and if a woman tells them to lick the pole, they have to do it, because Kamala Harris is the eternal Goddess-King of America now. It’s 2050 and January Jones keeps the bones of Bill Murray in a golden cage and it’s illegal to watch or quote Caddyshack. This is what feminism is now.” Bring it on.

Never meet your heroes, and if they’re dead, never catalogue their work; on Man Ray’s Hollywood Album.

 

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Things to Read #34

Happy International Women’s Day! It’s probably the right time to announce that I (and some standup gals) are launching a new website in April and it’s about women and there will be monthly themes and thinkpieces and personal essays and it will be very feminist but it will not be a Feminist Website. *phew* So, if you are interested in submitting, email me.

Very much looking forward to Robin Givhan’s book, The Battle of Versailles. Read a snippet here.

“When I’m at Fendi, I don’t even remember what I am doing somewhere else, and if I am somewhere else, I forgot what I did here. What I do for Chanel never looks like Fendi. I have no personality. Perhaps I have three.” Oh, Karl. You are so opaque.

Shooting, smoking, drinking: vintage photos of dangerous women.

The mechanics of feminine badassery.

“I worry about making pain a ticket to gain entry into the women’s club.” Abuse and violence and how that shapes a woman’s identity.

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Things to Read #33

No round up last week, because I was finishing the final project for my MA (yep, I did one of those), the cover of which you can see here. It took a very long time and a lot of effort and a surprising amount of crying – but that is what happens when you choose to write a personal essays about your dead nan. I always knew that going to Central Saint Martins would be an experience – never more so than when your course director dies suddenly and you see Kanye West at her memorial. And now it’s almost over.

In this week’s Irish Times, I talk about Alexander McQueen’s enduring life and legacy, and a little bit about ’70s platforms. The Irish Times now has a soft paywall, so you may not be able to see it.

Genitalia is a catwalk statement now. The effort it takes not to pun about this is almost insurmountable.

The life of a model can be harsh and unfair. Not ‘just like the rest of us’ unfair, ‘indentured servitude’ unfair.

Experimentation and excess are still the watchwords of London Fashion Week.

Amy Odell is one smart lady when it comes to tech, and she has a huge picture of a cat on her office wall.

Kim Gordon has great taste in books. *pops memoir on to wishlist*

Welcome to the graveyard of good ideas.

Just when you think Kim Kardashian has no problems, you find out that she has psoriasis. Human after all Kim, human after all.

Visual inspiration for novelists-at-work – includes family photos and faces drawn on oranges.

Teenage Bedrooms on Screen is my new favourite Tumblr.

The London Review of Books has unlocked an unsettling Angela Carter story.

“This is part of a larger phenomenon – the tendency for Gen X-ers and those who came after them to be “spiritual but not religious”. Rather than converting to one set mythology, younger people tend to pull spiritual ideas and practices from any source that works.” I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of covens –symbolic and otherwise – this week, and I’m not the only one.

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Things to Read #32

Mad about the boy: Why Alexander McQueen still has a hold on the public imagination.

“When I heard Vionnet was looking, I jumped on the plane that day and by afternoon I signed the memorandum of understanding,” Goga says. “I would have paid three times as much as they asked.”An interesting profile of Goga Ashkenazi.

The racial divide of fashion, as seen from an American perspective.

The relentless pace of fashion design, and the toll it can take on the mental health of designers.

It’s hard to feel sorry for Justine Sacco, but Jon Ronson makes it work.

Flaking, internet feuding and online stalking. A week of living dangerously.

A wallpaper that looks like a to-do list. A compulsive organiser’s dream.

Five Dials, a magazine by publishing house Hamish Hamilton, is free to download and full of good things. The most recent issue features sketches, collages and notes by graphic novelist Richard McGuire is available here.

Balloon Party!

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Things to Read #30

“It was shortly after the British Red Cross arrived, though it may have no connection, that a very large quantity of lipstick arrived. This was not at all what we men wanted, we were screaming for hundreds and thousands of other things and I don’t know who asked for lipstick. I wish so much that I could discover who did it, it was the action of genius, sheer unadulterated brilliance. I believe nothing did more for those internees than the lipstick. Women lay in bed with no sheets and no nightie but with scarlet red lips, you saw them wandering about with nothing but a blanket over their shoulders, but with scarlet red lips. I saw a woman dead on the post mortem table and clutched in her hand was a piece of lipstick. At last someone had done something to make them individuals again, they were someone, no longer merely the number tattooed on the arm. At last they could take an interest in their appearance. That lipstick started to give them back their humanity.”

– from the diary of Colonel Mervin Willett Gonin, among the first British soldiers to liberate Bergen-Belsen.

In this week’s Irish Times – the link between happiness and getting dressed, and I answer a question about underwear.

“I treated them contemptuously because I marveled at their ability to be so naked in their assertion that what they looked like was something that demanded time and money and attention, and because I was afraid that kindness would mark me as a fellow soldier in the fight against physical imperfection, when all I wanted was to be so naturally beautiful I’d never have to ask someone to help me look better.” What’s it’s like to be the meanie behind the cosmetics counter.

Alexander Fury’s wrath is always fun to read (though I did enjoy Gods and Kings, the McQueen/Galliano book that he eviscerates in this article).

“When I heard this story I thought about all the women I know today who falter when it comes to pitching, the writers who have trouble selling their voices in professional settings against established male writers. To know Ager was so ballsy, so aggressively hungry, in the year Nineteen Thirty-Fucking-Three makes me want to step up my game currently.”

The past, present and future of Tumblr book clubs.

What one week of harassment on Twitter looks like.

Ask not for whom the bell trolls; Lindy West’s experience with the troll who impersonated her dead father, and what happened afterwards.

A look inside The Onion.

And things to watch: firstly, a Sundance panel talk with Lena Dunham, Jenji Kohan, Mindy Kaling and Kirsten Wiig (<3) and secondly, a Vice interview with surviving Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Luz.

How to dress happy – with Zoë Coleman

Hey, look! It’s a blog post that isn’t a listicle. Yesterday, I had an article published in the Irish Times about the link between well being and being well dressed and by far, my favourite part of working on the article was reading back over vintage enthusiast and all around stylish lady Zoë Coleman’s interview. When it comes to healthy body image, style and happiness, Zoë’s your gal. She has great dress sense too.

You can read the original article – and see Zoë’s outfit – on the Irish Times website.

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1. What are you wearing in this photo?

I’m wearing a 1950s cotton dress with an Alfred Shaheen print in gold and royal blue. The tights are by Tabio, purchased in their Soho store and the red Mary Janes are by Melissa. The cardigan I picked up in a charity shop.

2. What makes it a happy outfit?
The strong shades of blue and red are uplifting, I love the contrast between the tights and shoes, they’re inspired by an outfit I once saw in a documentary about the British boutique movement of the 1960s and 1970s. I don’t usually wear full skirts but I love the fit and print of this dress – its very well made, and as a result I feel ‘put together’ and inevitably, very happy when I wear it! Wearing vividly coloured tights and socks never fails to lift my mood, living in the city can be so grey, its reassuring when I catch those flashes of colour as I’m walking and find that I don’t fade away into the grimy pavements of this city, I feel vibrant and alive.
3. What do your clothes say about your personality?
I’m rather introverted, and can be shy on first acquaintance. Instead, my clothes make a strong personal statement. I studied Art History to a Masters level and am enthusiastic about good design, the integrity of materials and the social history of fashion, especially twentieth century youth culture – which informs my own personal style. As a young queer woman, my lifestyle choices aren’t conservative and by extension, my clothes aren’t either. I don’t fit in with any crowd, I never have, and my happiness isn’t dependent on conforming. My clothes celebrate my difference. Film has always exerted a strong influence on my personal style, especially films like The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and camp 1950s Technicolour musicals. Marc Bolan is my ultimate style icon, who had a very eclectic fashion journey, from a teenage Mod to a modern Dandy.
4. Do you think, objectively, that clothing can influence people’s mood?
Absolutely, we all have days when we want to pull on inconspicuous understated clothing, go about our business and not see anyone we know. People watching is a hobby of mine and I love seeing people’s personal style, especially in the city where it tends to be more daring – the brighter the better! People seem to dress a little formulaic these days, more than ever before – partly owing to the rise (and peak) of fashion blogs. I wish that people didn’t conform so much to trends as they change so quickly. But the internet has also allowed us to be more playful with what we wear, by giving us instant access to online and independent boutiques, which is especially great if you grew up in a small town like I did.
5. Do you ever use what you wear as a mood elevator?
I dress for myself and no one else, so its OK to not to be in the mood for dressing up when you’re not feeling 100%, like most people I would dress in a way befitting my mood that day. However dressing up when you’ve had your loyalties betrayed is a great way of lifting your spirits, as well as looking and feeling amazing when you bump into someone you don’t want to. On my days off, I take my sweet time over choosing what I want to wear for an event, or for meeting a friend, it makes me feel confident, ready for the world outside my front door. I usually plan my outfit by delving into my treasure chest of hosiery (ok so not an actual treasure chest, but a chest of drawers) and literally starting from the legs up and inside out – wearing colourful hosiery is a definitive mood enhancer! I made one New Year’s resolution this year, and that was to not save things ‘for best’, to wear my clothes and appreciate them, and to feel great in them even if I’m just going to the cinema by myself. You’re worth it, so believe it!
6. Do you have an item of clothing/accessory/etc that you turn to to help you feel happy or positive?
I’m not attached to any one item of clothing in particular (I love all my vintage pieces), but I have a collection of nail polishes that cover every possible colour on the spectrum. If I’m feeling low, I tend to pamper myself, and painting my nails is part of that self love process. Metallics and garish shades of oranges, greens and pinks are my favourites to make me feel happy and dolled up, even if I’m just staying indoors in my PJS. I have a grá for 1960s Welsh wool coats which come in some of the most fabulous contrasting colours, I have two that I wear regularly, and I always feel great when I slip them on. They’re so unusual and I’m always complimented on them, which is gratifying to hear sometimes.
7. Can you think of any instance in which clothing has made a person’s life better? Someone you know personally – it can also be yourself.
Yes! I began collecting vintage clothing when I started uni, eight years ago. It evolved into quite a passion, and through the internet I’ve had the opportunity to cultivate this interest, by joining online communities of people who share my interests, Twitter and Instagram are great for interesting people to follow! I’ve attended events in Dublin where I’ve met people with shared interests in the clothing of the 1940s – 1970s and whom have become great friends. I occasionally sell some of my clothes that have outgrown my wardrobe at markets around Dublin (Dublin Flea & Smithfield Market), and I established the Sligo Flea Market in my hometown. I have a friend in New Zealand that I’ve known for eight years and when we catch up across the timezones, amongst the usual twenty something chatter, we talk about frivolous things like vintage novelty print dresses – she’s got a very enviable collection of 1950s dresses, and lives in a beautiful pastel coloured house in Wellington.
8. Do you have any tips for building a happy wardrobe?
Be brave! Stop admiring and start wearing! Start small, wearing colourful accessories can brighten up more neutral, muted items of clothing, especially if you’re a little shy of colour. Don’t be afraid to contrast colours, dressing yourself should be fun, not daunting! Don’t play by the fashion rules, or wear what is ‘flattering’ for your shape, wear what makes you feel good, you’ll be happier if you do what you like, instead of trying to squeeze into that seasons latest trend that in reality only suits about 5% of the population. Hosiery, brooches and scarves are excellent, inexpensive ways to brighten up your wardrobe – take it from there! Advanced Style is a fabulous life affirming documentary that will almost certainly inspire you.
9. Anything to add to the subject or that you want mentioned?
My instagram is http://instagram.com/illbeyourmirror and twitter is http://twitter.com/acertainsmile – I love having new people to follow!
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Things to Read #28

Hey Girl! It’s been forever. Let’s get drinks! Oh my goodness. Almost a full month has gone by since I’ve posted one of these things. A full month to let the festive dust rise and settle back down again. I’ve just got back to London after an extended stay at home in Ireland, in which I did things that are better not to mention, or not really worth mentioning at all.

But I did do some writing; here are pieces from the Irish Times on 2015 trends and how to craft a wiser wardrobe with a little help from Socrates. And I got street styled for the Irish Examiner! This almost never happens.

On Tuesday, I went to the Egon Schiele exhibition in the Courtauld, which ends today. The Radical Nude is equal parts disturbing and erotic, and the space was full of septuagenarian couples nodding thoughtfully at drawings of women with hoiked skirts and red, pulsing vulvas. It was weird. But the exhibition was amazing.

In the spirit of New Year’s self-improvement (my resolution is to finish what I start this year – also to floss more but that’s never going to happen), here is a link to a jazzy printable to-do list.

John Galliano’s first couture collection for Maison Martin Margiela happened this week, and the reviews are in.

Are fashion models too skinny? Caroline Evans, who quite literally wrote the book on the subject, weighs in (accidental pun and IT STAYS).

Gerry Adams. In Burberry.

Joan Didion’s recent campaign image for Celine has sprouted a lot of think pieces, including this short one by Lynne Segal on women of a certain age, a dissenting essay by Molly Fischer in New York Magazine, and a total humdinger from The Awl by Hayley Mlotlek.

Pearl’s photobook for her friend Sadie.

How the survival issue of Charlie Hebdo was made.

Miranda July’s first novel is out, and she has written an essay for Vogue about falling for a River Phoenix lookalike that evokes a lovely/horrible, nostalgic tummy squishy feeling in me.

Broad City, female friendship and sexing up a stately oak tree. Watch Broad City. Just watch it.

Otherwise, it’s a day for bimibap, this playlist and some sort of inspirational shit.

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Things to read #27

Andre 3000 discussing tour jumpsuits at an art exhibition in Miami.

“When it comes to love and friendship and the normal things in life, I think I am patient. Fashion, however, does not know patience. It’s an abnormal life.” A snippet from a very very very in-depth interview with Raf Simons for 032c.

People have always and will always love checking themselves out. Views from a two-way mirror in 1946.

I met a man whom I soon became interested in romantically. Nothing physical had happened between us yet, but things were going in that direction. When he visited my apartment for the first time and was gazing up at a beautiful fashion photo of my mother, taken by Irving Penn, he said, “It must be hard to have a mother who’s that beautiful.” ‘The Looks You’re Born With,’ by Amanda Filipacchi.

Champagne glasses unfortunately have very little to do with Marie Antoinette’s boobs (and a little to do with Kate Moss’).

The mind-poking work of graphic designer and artist Barbara Nessim, and how it relates to Nessim’s former flatmate, Gloria Steinem.

Oh, Stewart Lee. You get it.

Kurt Vonnegut is one of my all-time favourite writers, but even the best people in their fields can come up with absolute howlers. Rape howlers.

On women and cancer, and being a woman writer with a woman’s cancer.

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Things to Read #26

This is late because 1) I was hungover and 2) I was working but 3) not at the same time, thankfully.

Here’s stuff I wrote for the Irish Times last week on supa stylist Celestine Cooney, who allowed me into her house, fed me cakes and let me flip through her magazines.

Beauty, anti-beauty and Instagram filters.

This post is worth looking at if only for Mae West’s 8 1/2 inch platform shoes.

Margaret Moser, veteran music journalist, on her life in music.

A handy primer on modernism and how modern art has gone a bit zzz.

Reading this New Yorker piece on hoarding, and worrying that you’ll die under a pile of old copies of The Gentlewoman and Acne Paper (they’re very heavy).

Chris Rock is doing the promotion rounds for his new film and he has a lot to say about a lot of things.

In praise of inactivity.