Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bodies and Fashion aka Sartorialist Fail

So I really don't have time for a long, verbose post (as much I would love to vent my spleen on this topic) so I will try and not go overboard. As I was doing the rounds of the fashion news sites earlier this afternoon it came to my attention that there is a minor shitstorm brewing online over Scott "The Sartorialist" Schuman's decision to pass judgement on the body of a young female blogger he recently featured on his site. Angelica Ardasheva (who is really rather gorgeous) was the subject of a post on Schumans blog where for some reason he felt it necessary to pass judgement and comment on the shape of her figure - which he then described as curvy, bigger and (of all words) solid - and compared her to all the numerous thin bloggers.

"I saw this young lady in Milan several times this past season. She is one of the crop of new bloggers. I loved that she’s a bigger, curvier girl than most of the other bloggers who you see in the press and tend to represent the genre.
The subtle thing she achieves so successfully in these two looks is to complement the sturdy but beautiful shape of her legs with an equally strong shoe. A daintier shoe would be overpowered but these shoes create a beautiful harmony for the lower half of her body."
 To add insult to injury is the fact that he rarely ever adds commentary or verbal description to his posts and usually keeps it brief and visual - like "love the red here". The shape and weight of subjects has never been a part of The Sartorialist before, so why is it now that he feels it okay to make a comment on one particular young woman? Especially baffling is the fact that she really is quite slim, healthy and gorgeous. The post generated over a thousand comments - the most by far of any other Sartorialist post lately - and many of them were negative and critical of Schuman's commentary. Although he did write a response, it centred around the issue of semantics and the word "curvy" and ignored the fact that most comments were criticising the choice of his to use the word "sturdy" and the fact that he felt the right to comment at all.

What is your opinion on Schuman's comments? Am I the only one who finds myself enraged by the fact that he felt it fine to comment on a young woman's body in a public arena and seemed blind to the fact that many of the words he used were not only uncomplimentary but mildly disturbing (sturdy should refer to furniture, wood and concrete. Never ever a woman's figure). Personally I don't think a woman's body is ever really something that is free to comment on - especially not in a public arena. It is too personal, too conflicted and too tied up in self worth and self esteem to emerge unscathed from comments no matter how well intentioned they were.

This has also made me think about the relationship between bodies and fashion - for me I find that well considered and executed clothing, design and style has the power to affect the value I place on my body and the confidence and security I feel with what I have been given. To me the most powerful garment is one that gives me comfort and strength in my own skin.

Do you find bodies (both yours and others) has much influence on the garments you wear and the opinons you form of others? Is a brilliantly designed garment the type that will look amazing on many or the type that can only be truly worn by a select few? Do you think we will ever move past peoples size as a novelty? How many plus sized models have been lauded in one issue of Vogue a year, photographed naked and then never seen again - or alternatively dropped the weight quickly and then landed Chanel (I'm looking at you Miss Renn). As fashion has gotten turned into a more accessible and democratic dialogue we see style on platforms other than models in magazines and on runways. "Real" people are playing an ever increasing and more influential role. At least that is what people are saying about the new media. Do you think this is a fact? Or is the physical ideal accepted by fashion still relatively homogeneous (give or take a few inches and kg).

Please do share your thoughts. I know I'm probably an over-sensitive female at times when it comes to size, shape, value and criticism but I think they are all so integral to the state of a persons self worth and also, unfortunately, so tied up in the world of fashion.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Colour Blocking With Mr Porter

I love the combination of bright colour blocking with slick menswear. It adds a light hearted sense of fun to what can so often be quite a serious topic of discussion. Naturally, Mr Porter does it with just the right ammount of playfulness and whimsy - whilst still making you take pay it quite earnest attention and respect. It probably helps that precisesly folded garments and pristine leathergoods are displayed with the solemnity of a museum.

Source: Mr Porter

NZ Fashion Festival

I'm a whole week late posting this, life and it's business got the better of me lately. Last Monday I was lucky enough to go to the first night of NZ Fashion Festival to see the Fashion Quarterly sponsered show which featured Zambesi, Moochi, Cybele, Ruby and more. It was great to see looks from collections seen at NZFW again, really reminding me what I liked about them the first time around. It was also great to see looks on the runway from stores that don't usually present in such a way. One of the best examples of these was Moochi's winter offering - of which one long white dress stood out particularly strongly. So simple and elegant, it was definitely one of my favorite pieces from the night.




Click through for more.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Cowboys are at their best when they are dark and moody and there is a storm brewing on the horizon.
Vogue Paris April "Wanted!" Isabeli Fontana by David Sims
Source: Fashion Gone Rogue

Days Of Heaven by Terence Malick

Robert Redford and Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid

Brad Pitt in The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Second Look: Dries Van Noten Menswear Fall 11

Because we all need to take another look at the genius and beauty that is Dries' fall menswear collection.

Source: Jak & Jil

So Much Rain!

It has been so rainy here the past few days and is only meant to get worse this week. It looks like the Indian Summer is nearly over Auckland's winter is finally coming - a winter that basically consists of rain, wind and sometimes a combination of both. The shock of the nasty weather has made me realise what dire need I am in for some sensible weather-protection, namely a good raincoat. When I was young I was adamant I didn't need one (oh the naivete of youth) but now they are starting to appeal more and more. It also helps that there are so many decidedly attractive ones around lately - with the strongest contenders coming from Sherie Muijs' winter collection that is in stores at the moment. I think I may have to go have a word with her and dig into my savings (it is a sensible purchase after all). The question is however, to get a bright fun colour or a more sensible grey? There is also a great orange anorak in Karen Walker at the moment.
Sherie Muijs' raincoats 

 Karen Walker "Perfect Day"

Looking Forward

Creepy, eerie and looking to the desert skies, from 1998.

Vogue Italia October 1998 "Looking Forward" Angela Lindvall and Tanga Moreau by Peter Lindbergh
Source: The Fashion Spot

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Picture Perfect

Waspy, overly happy and mildly dated editorials involving eerily perfect children are my favorite. Actually.

US Vogue November 1997 "Simply Perfect" Kylie Bax by Arthur Elgort 
Source: The Fashion Spot

Quick Questions with NZ Fashion Festival's Dan Ahwa

NZ Fashion Festival has been in full swing this week in Auckland - with shows hosted by the likes of Fashion Quarterly, Viva, Remix and Cleo, it features all the inseason, instore winter collections of a great selection of local designers and stores. I went on Monday night (have not had a moment to upload photos and blog yet though, but stay posted) however I did manage to grab Creative Director Dan Ahwa and ask him a few questions about this years Festival.
Congratulations on your role as Creative Director of NZFF this year! Has it been a big job organising multiple shows and countless designers?
It has been a huge task as it is really only the second year and people aren't necessarily sure of what to expect, so understanding the benefits of showing in a group show for the public has been something the designers have been adapting to. Many of the designers that signed on have been easy to deal with and supportive of the event as a whole, so it's been good co-ordinating and working closely with a wide range of labels for this particular event.

What has been the highlight so far of being involved this year as Creative Director?
The highlight for me is seeing the camaraderie between the designers and how supportive we are as an industry. It's also been great co-ordinating overall looks with the hair and make-up teams from MAC Cosmetics and Tressemee; as well as casting the best runway walkers in the business from familiar faces like Grace Owen, Ngahuia Williams and Penny Pickard to the next generation of runway stars, thanks to all the modeling agencies involved.

Each show has a different host this year - does that extend to the flavor of the collections show at each?
Each show is unique in their own right and the four publications hosting each night do have a certain flavour with regards to the designers in their line-up.

What do you want people to take away from the event?
I'd hope people get to see some of their favourite designers in a runway show capacity, something that is usually reserved for trade and media at Fashion Week. These are the customers who spend their money on these designer labels, so it’s a great way for designers to acknowledge their customers and generate more awareness and business in the long run.

What inspiration do you think people take from the NZFF shows?
Hopefully the opportunity to see how labels can be worn in different ways, key pieces from each label for the season and the opportunity to feel involved in the local fashion industry; Hair and make-up teams will also be providing a lot of inspiration for people during the week.

Fashion Festival is more for the buying public and "civilians" so to speak. Do you notice their reaction/attitude differs from the typical fashion crowd?
The shows are purposely designed to appeal to the public, so there's a sense of excitement and a definite party atmosphere amongst the public each night; for the fashion crowd, going to a fashion show during fashion week is more work than pleasure, so there's definitely a noticeable difference.

Do you think NZFF has a significant impact on retail during and after the shows?
To be honest, clothes are probably the last thing on people's minds at the moment. There's so much going on in the world right now, so having a festival like this is significant mostly for the fact that it's reminding people and introducing people to certain labels; as well as supporting retail sales where it's needed, so any impact on sales during and after the shows is dependent on how much the public are involved and behind our designers.

Do you think events like these help encourage the buying public to invest more in local designers?
Yes. We've got some pretty talented designers here in New Zealand, and having a shows in this format allows the public to have a look at a wide spectrum of labels as well as giving them the opportunity to learn more about what labels are out there or how there might be certain pieces from a designer that could work for them.

What's your opinion on the industry being more accessible and inclusive these days with the innovations of events like NZFF and Social Media?
Having a fashion festival is great as it's only once a year and allows brands to re-enforce their place in the market; working with Social Media is also good as it connects designers with customers direct, but there needs to be a balance.
There are some things about our industry that need a sense of exclusivity maintained because it creates a sense of excitement and curiosity for the consumer. By being elusive, you’re making your customer actively research your label; however there's a fine line and you can't be too accessible or too aloof. The internet has created a lot of stress on the industry and created an instantaneous approach to fashion which isn't necessarily a good thing, so designers need to be savvy about how they can get the most out of these mediums.

Thanks Dan!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

School Ties

I'm all about school inpired style at the moment - and always have been. You can't beat that blend of nostalgia, uniformity, teenage angst and status quo. Whilst the recent Marie Claire Italia editorial I wrote about did a great job (worth of Dazed And Confused even) no one has a patch on vintage Moss. "School Ties" from a '98 issue of US Vogue is like the perfect lovechild of Jil Sander, American Grafitti and Selma & Reese in Cruel Intentions - all against a backdrop of eerie suburbia.

Vogue US March 1998 "School Ties" Kate Moss by Maro Testino and Camilla Nickerson
Source: The Fashion Spot

Bagged at Fabric

There are some pretty sweet bags in store at Fabric on High Street right now - all of which would  do agreat job being lugged around uni full of books and necessities. And who doesn't have a soft spot for durable canvas and leather - so classic and so functional. This is all obviously a great justification for at least checking them out. Go on. Do it.

By Noun
 Click through for one more.

Monday, March 21, 2011

High Style

I think the older you get, the more you love those school-inspired editorials. It's probably the nostalgia talking. It also all depends on whether they are done well or not - it's a fine line, and so easy to stray into cheesy, cliche territory. Surprisingly, Marie Claire Italia has done a great job on this one - evoking all the right parts of Dazed And Confused, Fast Times At Ridgemont High and The Virgin Suicides that we know and love.

Click through for a couple more.


Lauren Hutton is the epitome of that particularly American aesthetic of health, a tan and a big smile - before it became comercialised and contrived however. She is The Original. And the best part is she only gets better with age.

 Vogue US January 1969 Lauren Hutton by Richard Avedon
Source: The Fashion Spot

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dotty for Juliette Hogan

I picked up my new Juliette Hogan dress last week. It's the spotty silk Marina dress from her winter collection and is the perfect balance of simple, ladylike and fun.

Question Time with Zoe Walker

Zoe Walker writes for The New Zealand Herald's weekly fashion supplement Viva, is one half of the duo behind the fantastic blog So Much To Tell You. She also happens to be one of the friendliest, most down to earth people in the industry. And shares my love of sensible flat shoes. 

Favourite flower?
Any flower, as long as it is white.
Sweaters or cardigans?
Cardigans - I love the Guardian's Jess Cartner-Morley's description of them as "buttered crumpets in sartorial form".
Favourite historical person?
Any of the suffragettes.
What is your idea of happiness?
Being in a new city and exploring. Some of my happiest moments have been while travelling.
Who is your favourite literary hero/heroine/protagonist?
Roald Dahl's Matilda.
What is your favourite style of jeans?
I don't wear jeans.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, Anne Of Green Gabels or Jo March?
Jo March.
Favourite artist and/or artwork?
I don't really have a stand out but I do like Henry Darger's Vivian girls, Yayoi Kusama and her polka dots, Degas' ballerinas, the fantasy lands of Tim Walker. I also like commercial work that some people wouldn't consider to be art - and not in an ironic way either - like the pastel illustrations that James Mathewuse did for the original Sweet Valley High covers, Sara Moon prints, the cover illustrations on old-fashioned vintage annuals.
Do you have a sartorial uniform? If so what is it?
Yes, 90% of the time you will find me in a dress with flat shoes. I'm also partial to exactly that: uniforms, especially things related to school uniforms - blazers, crests, pinafores, ties, plaid, headbands, shirts, pleats, the colour navy...
Who is your favourite hero/heroine/protagonist in film?
Just one? Well, when I was younger I was obsessed with Vada from My Girl, and used to dress like her. And I love Jenny from Love Story, for her wit and wardrobe.

Favourite male style muse?
My style is quite feminine, so I tend to focus on women in terms of style muses. But I find a lot of inspiration in the images of male preppies in Take Ivy. And on the topic of men's style, I am really, really impressed with Mr.!
Favourite female style muse?
Women like Twiggy in the 1960s, Anna Karina, The Like's Tennessee Thomas, Kirsten Dunst, Leith Clark, Luella Bartley.
What's your favourite Meryl Streep film?
I'm really looking forward to seeing her play Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady!
Is there a particular place in a particular era that resonates with you?
London in the 60s: two of my favourite style inspirations combined.
What is your favourite name?
Jonathon or Robert Kennedy?
I like an underdog, so let's go with Bobby.
Your favourite qualities in a man?
Kindness. Ambition. Intelligence. Humility. A dry sense of humour.
Your favourite qualities in a woman?
Strength, confidence, intelligence, a dry sense of humour.
Are you a summer girl or a winter girl?
I am obsessed with thick tights and coats, so definitely winter. I don't know how to dress in summer!

Dream bag?
I'm not that big on designer handbags, but I do love Celine's simple totes, and the Proenza Schouler PS11. Although a dream bag should really be one that you have been coveting for more than two years, so that would be the Mulberry Bayswater in very sensible black.
Do you have a favourite Mitford Sister?
I'm just starting to get into them to be honest - I bought The Mitford Girls biography from a secondhand store recently, and it's next on the reading list. Ask me again in a few weeks.
What is your starsign? And what of it's attributes do you possess?
Sagittarius. They're always described as blunt, honest and independent, which I think pretty much sums me up.
Favourite sweet treat?
I am a complete sugar fiend, so choosing one favourite is impossible. Chocolate log cakes and brandy snaps remind me of childhood birthday parties. Hokey pokey icecream sums up summer. Old-fashioned hard-boiled lollies. Any dessert from the Laudree Bar in Paris.
Favourite savory?
Mum's "Maori" (or fried) bread.
Who is your favourite Austen heroine and why?
Totally predictable, but Lizzy Bennett - because she's smart, sassy, and 'delighted in anything ridiculous'.
What natural talent do you wish you had?
A photographic I wouldn't have to transcribe interviews or learn shorthand.
Alber, Karl or Marc?
I love Alber, and his Fall 2011 collection made me swoon. But I have to choose Marc Jacobs, the man and the brand. This [link below] New York magazine profile on him is one of my favourite pieces ever; I read it whenever I'm feeling uninspired about fashion and/or writing. I don't know if it's necessarily true anymore, but I love this this description of the ultimate MJ girl - "She’s not a wallflower, exactly," he says, but close to it. Or she’d like people to think she is, in her $4,000 dress and artfully mussed hair. Vuitton is all "hot starlet, homes all over the place, candy shell," while the Marc Jacobs "girl" (and they always say "girl") "is not going to suffer. She’s like, ‘I bought a nice dress, and I’m going to wear it tonight.’ She’s the awkward little sister."
If you were stranded on a tropical island, would you prefer your experience to be like Lord Of The Flies or Castaway?
Lord of the Flies.
Acoustic Dylan or Electric Dylan?
I'm not really into Bob Dylan...

Mini, Midi or Maxi?
I go between the mini and midi.
What are you currently reading? Or wanting to read?
I'm reading a book called Power Dressing, which examines the impact of how female politicians and first ladies dress. It touches on the argument that it shouldn't matter how politicians - female or male - dress, but because fashion can be so symbolic and powerful, often it does. There are some inspiring woman (Hilary Clinton, Helen Clark, Michelle Obama), and a lot of style inspiration - Madeleine Albright's brooches, Yulia Tymoshenko's plaited crown, Carme Chacon's controversial black trouser suit, Quentin Bryce's poise, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned's turbans, Chantal Biya's ridiculousness, everything worn by Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.
Do you have a book that you keep going back to over and over again?
There are a few on my bookshelf that I revisit now and again - The Beauty Myth, Valley of the Dolls, Hadley Freeman's book The Meaning of Sunglasses. I'll flick through The Gentlewoman for inspiration. And I recently finished D.V by Diana Vreeland and imagine that's going to be read again many times too - this paragraph is my favourite part:
"One never knew what one was going to see at a Balenciaga opening. One fainted. It was possible to blow up and die. I remember at one show in the early sixties - one put on for clients rather than for commercial buyers - Audrey Hepburn turned to me and asked why I wasn't frothing at the mouth at what I was seeing. I told her I was trying to act calm and detached, because, after all, I was a member of the press."
The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
The Beatles. I like The Kinks even more.
Linda McCartney, Yoko Ono or Patti Boyd?
Linda; wholesome and unaffected, plus she raised Stella McCartney.
What's the most underrated garment?
Flat shoes.
Jane Birkin or Brigitte Bardot?
What do you want to see happening in the fashion sphere this year?
Two things that are unlikely: I'd love to see the fashion cycle to slow down a little, and a New Zealand publishing company launch a good mainstream fashion magazine.

Thankyou for answering Zoe!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I Still Keep Going Back To This Editorial...

... And I'm still loving the bright sneaker look lately. Especially when it's paired with the unexpected - femininity, monochromatic minimalism, soft tailoring, long hemlines.

 Click through for a couple more.