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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 #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 #31

Mirada July gets the Coveteur treatment. She owns my dream pair of Prada shoes.

“To say that I was not a friend of Alexander McQueen’s would be stating the truth. He certainly didn’t like me. It’s interesting that both writers have quoted his outburst about me, which, many years later, still amuses me. ” Colin McDowell casts a more balanced eye over the new Alexander McQueen biographies.

I really want to read Kim Gordon’s new memoir. I don’t like Sonic Youth (sacrilege!) but I do love her.

What Men’s Rights Activists are like in person.

Beware of writers, for they may write about you – or in the case of my mother and boyfriends both former and current; tough shit, because I’m going to mine your life for material anyway.

AMY POEHLER: I liked the costumes depending on how easily I could take a nap in them. I always pitched a character called Sleeping Bag Lady, who just wore a sleeping bag, but it never caught on. The women of Saturday Night Live.

What the term ‘It Girl’ really means.

A food writer goes to the home of ramen, while I drool all over my keyboard.

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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.

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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 #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 #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.

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The Reading List: The Vogue Factor…

… by Kirstie Clements.

Clements, the Vogue Australia editor who was unceremoniously sacked in 2012, says something in her book that will really hit home with fashion journalists; a newspaper mentality is one that criticises negatively by printing negative reviews, but a magazine mentality is one that criticises negatively by omission. Kirstie Clements has a definite magazine mentality.

For from being the hatchet job that most people were expecting, The Vogue Factor is not a vicious exposé (though the less said about Australia’s Next Top Model, the better), but an informative read through the procedures and practises of a lesser-known Vogue. It’s also a timely reminder that, no matter how high you rise in the editorial ranks, there will always be some kind of invisible pecking order. The Australian fashion industry is beset with problems that are particular to a country that is relatively hard to get to, that relatively few people get to visit, with a relatively small fashion industry (According to Clements Australia has a fair amount of ‘surfies’ and ‘bogans’ – according to a judicious Wikipedia sweep, my new favourite word is ‘usually pejorative or self-deprecating, for a person with an unsophisticated background, or whose speech, clothing, attitude and behaviour exemplify a lack of manners and education). Unique problems means that there has to be a set of unique solutions, and Clements has obviously become, throughout her tenure at Vogue, an incredibly astute problem solver.

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So; not a tell-all. It’s a tell-a-little. There are no juicy anecdotes, no backwards swipes. no secrets spilled like so much Chanel nail varnish. The only sharks here are in the ocean.

Clements is at her writerly best when she’s talking about how hard it is to get tickets for Paris RTW shows, the worrying expectations put on models or the tricky art of negotiating honest content between the PR and the page. It’s very solid, and Clements comes across as a thoroughly likeable person who has no time for slug-a-beds and the unmannerly. A disproportionate amount of the book is dedicated to describing lavish press days and parties in France and New York, which can be a bit discomfiting. Is she promoting the PRs’ products all over again?

Those who want a job in the fashion industry should pick up a copy of this book. If you put down this book feeling disillusioned after finishing, that’s fine. The Vogue Factor, apart from the press day chapters, is free of the filtered, rearranged, idealised bullshit that most magazines are at pains to project to their audiences. It’s an honest look at an industry that deals quite often with fantasy and artifice. Just don’t bank on any tidbits about Anna Wintour.