Screw Halloween, Actually.

I'm not feeling particularly gory or spooky, and what I would dearly love is to curl up with the movie which is my gold standard for what singers who want to call themselves actors should aspire to, as well as my gold standard for 60s movies overall - A Hard Day's Night. I mean, Ringo, John, Paul, George (not to mention Paul's grandpa) and their songs, plus it's funny, engaging and sweet - what else can a girl on a nostalgia trip want, really?


I don't particularly fancy dressing up for things like Halloween or Christmas unless there's a point to it (in other words, a party), but a teeny bit of jazzing up for tomorrow isn't something I would mind. Added to which, the cat ears are cute, and my only other option involves chalking up my face and buying a bit of red lipstick to try being Morticia Addams, but the trouble is the chalk keeps coming off - and given that my dress is black, I do not like the idea of looking like I have dandruff.


The Mothership And I

When I first left home to go to college, the thing I probably looked forward to most of all was not having to hear my mum yelling "Comb your hair!" at me every morning- after a combing had been done (my hair and hairbrush/comb will never be friends. Sad, but true). Back then, I'd just chucked my school uniform out and was struggling with the idea that I would actually have to choose what to wear every morning after this- a prospect I found more than a little daunting, since most first-years at college tend to desire inconspicuity of appearance, at least in their first few months there. And frankly speaking, I didn't really have anything by way of style at all. I more or less lived through that first year in t-shirts and jeans and the odd oversized checked shirt, with the addition of equally oversized sweaters when it got cold.
I'm not sure at what exact point I actually started wearing things I liked, the way I liked them. I didn't even realise I was getting that way till I went home for the holidays, and the inevitable Mummy Wars began. My mum is a woman who is a tad straitlaced as far as attitudes to clothing go. She wouldn't blink if I wore fishnets, but she really doesn't get why people mix up the things they wear. Or the aesthetic appeal of anything punky, grungy, louche, loud or otherwise unladylike, which is a bit annoying if one of your early heroines happens to be Corinne Day. She very definitely does not understand why messy hair can be considered hot. We're entering our fifth year of occasional bickerings over the nature of my appearance, which inevitably pop up every time I'm back from college- the last point of conflict was my fringe (too long and thick, said The Mothership: but it has to be, since I'd have to get my eyebrows done if the fringe didn't cover them, said I. Then there was a full-fledged debate about why I didn't get my eyebrows done any more). I do know some of the slightly odder clothing configurations that have emerged from my cupboard in these years- skirts as dresses, chopped-up sleeves and hems, weird hair ornaments, sneakers with anything and everything- would not have been possible had I been living with my parents all this while. It's a lot more peaceful now that I'm older, but I do sometimes wonder what I'd look like if I'd done just that.
In Mum's world, pretty dresses go with pretty shoes and other pretty things- she made that vision work excellently on me as a toddler. In mine, pretty gives me the hives if I don't tone it down with a good dose of ugly first. If we were shoes, I'd probably be a Doc Marten boot (or one of the Balenciaga 'goat' shoes of last year): my mother would most certainly be a stiletto. And just you try wearing both of those at once...


Another Ramble

I've never really been much of a fan of posting about the local fashion scene, or Indian fashion generally. It doesn't mean that I don't think about it (and get annoyed), but it's been a bit of a persistent subject since the launch of Vogue's Indian edition, and maybe this post won't be enough to cover all I have to say about it but I'm posting anyway.
To be brutally honest, nine out of ten Indian designers are actually fairly bad at what they do. With the exception of a handful of people (these include Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Rajesh Pratap Singh, and to an extent Manish Arora- I don't like his kitsch-fixation but the man has a great sense of drama when he tones it down a little), I'd actually venture so far as to say there's very, very little on the runways that could actually appeal to people who aren't socialites or celebrities, largely because (and I might catch hell for stating this) most of them are just so bloody fixated on being Indian. Which, in design terms, translates to a whole lot of loose flowy things, piles and piles of embroidery/prints, and on occasion, kitsch. And frankly, it's starting to annoy me a bit. I know embroidery etc is a bit of a strength as far as these things go, Armani and Valentino love the beading blah blah, and that's all very well because embroidery is a bitch to keep clean, but what bugs me most is what seems to be an utter lack of imagination among the lot, as witnessed in the rather literal runway interpretations of what 'being Indian' is about. It's like all they can think of is the attire of the ex-royals (great inspiration for wedding clothes that weigh in at multiple pounds with all the decorations they pile on- btw, these turn out to be bread and butter for most designers), and kitsch. I mean, come on. It's a huge country, surely there's more to us than those silly clichés? One of the best things about being Indian and interested in the design side of things can be a rather happily freewheeling approach to getting dressed (if only they'd bother learning from that spirit, now). No one's really bothered about what season things come from, and there isn't, at the end of the day, all that much difference between what the designers make and what the local handloom emporiums hawk at much lower prices- except that the handloom emporium stuff has more of a chance at being authentic.
And it doesn't really work, telling me it's concept art and what not, because I do think the disclosure of a presumed par-human IQ level needs to be done via statements that don't sound flat-out idiotic. "concentrating on western wear in a vivid way" kind of took the cake in that department, really. WTF is it supposed to mean?
Which brings me to my next gripe, namely what Indian women want by way of clothes- or rather, since I'm not really a typical example of the species, what Sally Singer (and no doubt a whole lot of other people) seems to think we should want. I've been told I'm rather strident via the written word, so if that puts you off you don't have to read the rest of this, because it (the article) is patronising bullshit. I only put up the page I found most irritating, and all I really want to do is register my annoyance at Ms Singer's easy assumption that Indian women en masse want only to look 'pretty'. That we're not particularly fussed about looking intellectual (rubbish: why on earth do Sabyasachi Mukherjee's things sell like mad all around the year then? Besides, I kind of resent the generalisation including me, to mean that I'd like to look pretty and not particularly firmly in possession of a brain). I mean, I thought that whole eastern seductress stereotype should have died in the nineteenth century, and I do wish I was a bit more coherent than this (though admittedly, I'm a lot more articulate in the post than I was while reading the article: all I could think then was "oh, fuck off!").

To Anon: 12.34 a.m., 25/9/2007

I'm sorry they're so late, but if anyone at all is interested, I finally got them up- Vogue India's first issue and all.
Here's the cover, in both parts...incredibly dull, I thought.

Lily Cole, photographed by Bharat Sikka
Piv, photographed in Jaipur by Paolo Roversi

Methinks they need to be a bit better with the proofreading...I'm an editor on a student journal and even we (college students who don't have all the time in the world to do edit jobs) quadruple-check everything. There is just no excuse for this.
And Gemma Ward, on a film set (complete with actors and dancers in pic#1) by Patrick Demarchelier.

I didn't stick in the annoying articles and the craptastic Vogue US-ish photoshoot, but I doubt they'll be missed. It's practically time for Issue 2, anyway...


Of Girl Crushes (Or One, Anyway)

I've never quite been able to figure out what about the French makes their women as stylish as they are (I know the Facehunter upped and moved to London because he thought Paris was too hidebound* when it came to getting dressed, but it's still a lot less rigid than New York appears to be). It-girls irritate me- it might sound weird, but I really can't be a fan of someone's dress sense if I don't think much of what they do for an actual job (that means talentless actresses with a good stylist are never going to find a fan in me- I'm a rotten snob that way). And a Harry Potter movie is hardly the place I'd expect to pick up a new girl crush(the books gave me an imaginary one- Tonks), but Clémence Poésy has been something of one ever since I first watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire- and didn't realise till I was out of the theatre that she hadn't actually spoken a word till Harry pulled her sister out of the lake. And I've been looking on in what is effectively open-mouthed fascination since then.
I suppose the best part about the way she wears things is the sheer coolness of it all, which probably comes from actually walking around the city (she got Facehuntered last August on the Avenue Marceau- picture above), as opposed to getting dressed up to walk a rat-sized dog for US Weekly. I'm all for trying, and having fun with the clothes, but there's a lot to be said for the point of not looking like you are actually thinking about your clothes once you've got them on- I loved the fact that her boots got a little dusty, and the scarf got uneven-ended, and everything just went a little all over the place but just held together at the same time, and she nearly always looks as if there may be a book- like an actual, readable, non-trashy book- in her bag, which she may pull out when she gets bored. And I realised, I am rambling. I should stop.
*incidentally- how come we don't hear much about street style in other parts of the country?
picture credits: fashion insanity and facehunter.


Of Fluff And Faff

I know I've been a bit neglectful of the whole fashion week scene, but I'm just too tired to really want to run through endless mouse-clicks, so maybe I should just peg up these observations before it's too late:
1. I really loved Oliver Theyksens's work for Nina Ricci this season. Maybe that's because I see beauty as necessarily a bit of a mess (perfection tends to be a bit up itself, to be absolutely honest. One of the reasons my hairbrush and I will never be friends, ap), and his whole girls-wandering-the-streets after a party thing appealed to me in a major way, not least because I love the description. And the show lived up to it- all floaty, dreamy, lovely things that I coveted on sight, right down to the feathers in the models' hair, and the cloud-bottomed (can't call them anything else) gowns on display at the end which reminded me a fair bit of Rochas circa 2006 (what lovely, lovely clothes they were. Pity P&G owned the firm...)
2. Does anyone else seem to think the models don't look terrifyingly skinny any more? I mean, they're still thin (this is fashion we're talking about, after all), but no one looks ready to drop. I wonder if it's a new trend or something- Karl Lagerfeld apparently sent a few girls back to their agency because he thought they were too thin. The last six words of that sentence...honestly, last year this time I didn't think it was possible to use them truthfully. I'm kind of hoping it sticks.
3. The best part of this post...a link to this. It's well worth reading (which is a not-so-subtle hint to GO READ IT), and I'm quite blown away. If you really need an incentive to follow the link, it involves a Beatle. Though the other party is the one who kind of blows me away....


On Search Strings

Two days ago, I decided to track this page via Google Analytics. It's quite a lot of fun to see where the people reading (or, in several cases, not reading since the time spent on the site- zero seconds- can't possibly allow for it) come from. What's even more fun is looking at the keywords people use to arrive here via Google.
Here's a sample, not in any order except perhaps how amusing they were:
1. bangs large nose
2. moonface enid blyton costume
3. removing closed toe from fishnet stocking (whoever it was, must've been disappointed)
4. shirt button stay closed
5. weasley twins scent
6. katie leung is skinny (not particularly, I thought)
7. cartoon of meg with long fingernails (could they possibly be referring to Meg from The Apathist?)

And then, well, there's the flat-out weird, which is not amusing at all:
tiny teens in stilettos (I refuse to dwell on it).


Big Deal!

Agyness with Irina, backstage at Burberry Prorsum SS08
I suppose I'm coming a little late to this piece of news, but- does it really matter so much that Agyness Deyn came into this world three years earlier than she let everyone think she had? I may not fancy the black dye job, but I've said it before, the fact that she was older than your average walking toothpick was what made her cool, because you know what? Having lived- for however long- is a good thing.
And to be absolutely honest, the whole bloody issue shouldn't even be an issue at all. Her appeal may be debatable (if one looks at it as part of the whole 'nu-rave'- awful word- package, which I kind of didn't), but honestly, if her ultimate employers- the designers- thought she suited the ideas they had for their work, why should a number affect that?It isn't as if twenty-four is over the hill. Maybe this whole ageism rubbish just has to stop.

Going Batty

After a fashion, is what I am. Being at my parents' house, with a badly behaved computer that refuses to upload the images I snapped from Vogue India's first issue (it attempted to electrocute me the last time I tried), a festival that makes it a pain in the arse to be out on the streets at most times of the day, and parental units who are liable to lecture me, has rendered the old self
a) housebound and
b) extremely bad-tempered, and also
c) incapable of really posting things that make sense, other than the random observation- doesn't the Corpse Bride's wedding dress, in all its tatters, look a bit like it could have belonged to Miss Havisham?


Not Strictly Fashion-Related

But since the blog is one of my pet reads (if you haven't been to it before, go now! Honestly!), I'm quite curious to see how the book turned out. Petite Anglaise is an incredibly engaging read even on her own bad (experience-wise, not writing-wise) days, and I want to see exactly how similar the book and the blog are. I have no doubt it'll be good- I suppose most people who've read her blog know the outline of her story (a very interesting one, I don't care to put a potted version in this space since it won't work without spoilers), and the cover (both US and UK- the UK one is the one in the picture above) looks really pretty, which make me want to buy it quite badly (that you can do via Amazon, here -it's also where the cover image came from). And until it does turn up, I may as well keep myself happy by leafing through the Petite Anglaise archives.

An Appeal To The Blogging Public

The IHT says, apparently Indian fashion/streetstyle (can't exactly tell which ones they're talking about, get to the end of the article) blogs exist. I ask, where are they? Anything that doesn't talk about how to knock off Bollywood looks, that is. And if they're talking about streetstyle (which really isn't too great except in the north-east and assorted hill stations..or maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places), I seriously want a look.
But back to my original question: where are the Indian fashion blogs? We have a population of over a billion, a whole pile of young people and fashion professionals with access to the Internet- I looked, and I haven't been able to see so much as a peep out of anyone in the blogosphere. If anyone knows of fashion blogs you like which are written by people living in India, please do leave the link in my commentbox.


R.I.P. Magazines

Or more specifically, the ones I miss. I was just looking over the newsstand at the local bookstore about a week back, and couldn't help thinking that none of the mainstream magazines on it (i.e. Vogue, Teen Vogue, Cosmo, Elle, CosmoGirl, you get my drift) looked like they contained things I was even vaguely interested in. In the process of flicking through the lot, I ended up thinking about what wasn't on the newsstand, and why I found it unfair that they weren't, given that they were perfectly well available ten years ago.
I'm not sure why I'm posting this, given that my blog seems to have a grand total of two readers these days, and I strongly doubt (given the fact that they're boys) that they'll get this. The trigger for this is
a) an increasing feeling of dissatisfaction with teen magazines (perhaps that's only to be expected, since I haven't been a teenager for a while now) and fashion magazines in general.
b) the discovery of a few torn-out pages from an old issue of YM (specifically, the one in the photograph above) in one of my bookshelves.
And frankly speaking, I miss them all. My mag spree started off with J17, and then ran the gamut of everything that made it to this country- from YM, Vogue, The Face and Seventeen, to CosmoGirl and ElleGirl (which I feel particularly bad about- it was such a friendly mag. The features were usually fun, the photography was pretty good, and the stories were decently written even if you didn't like whoever was on the cover- I'd never have been caught dead with a magazine cover featuring La Hilton otherwise. And it wasn't all about rich brats or celebrities either. Even though I was sixteen when it started up, and twenty-one when it closed, it was loads of fun, and I loved it. And CosmoGirl just degenerated into a trashy set of increasingly shock-valued real-life stories combined with trashy fake-tanned blonde covergirls, which sent it south as far as I was concerned).
So maybe what I'd like to know is as simple as this: why are mainstream magazines today so bad? Tooth-rottingly bad, in the case of teen magazines? Simply alienating, if the magazine happens to be Teen Vogue? Lacking in creativity of most kinds (and don't give me faff about lack of budget- ElleGirl seemed to do ok most issues, and it didn't use hugely pricey clothes or locations all the time). And even when The Face was on its way out, there were bits that still qualified for greatness. My readings of serialised fiction basically began with Diary of a Crush in J17, back when I was fourteen, and I'd had a soft corner for it even before that. A bit of me actually wishes it would (the magazine, I mean) come back to life or something- I really really liked it. I mean, The Face was cooler, but J17 (which, incidentally, came from the same publishers) was more mine, if you know what I mean. Probably cause I got hooked on it first.
And the last great question that remains: from The Face, J17 and YM in 2004 to ElleGirl in 2006, why are the good ones being shut down? ElleGirl, unlike the others, didn't even suffer a reduction in quality before it folded. Is sycophantic trash all that's fit to survive in the twenty-first century print world? I don't mean to denigrate the surviving magazines, there are plenty of them that I love, but the things at the top of the mainstream tree are just getting more and more irritating by the month.
At least the music mags are still good. I know NME has its fans, but I don't get it here in paper form so Mojo and Q (especially the former) will always have my love, not least because they always came with a free CD that is well worth your while to listen to. I'd probably maul anyone who tried to take the June 2005 issue (Oasis on the cover, featured interview with the people behind Morning Glory) away from me- or, for that matter, any issue. Because those are cool in a way that defies description- their stories don't shy away from reporting anything (and to be honest, they know that they and their readers don't really care a hoot about just how badly behaved Liam Gallagher is)- no more Condé Nasty suckup jobs! yay!, they are, for the most part, really well written, and the photography is quite often really good- they don't shy away from handing entire pages (on lovely paper!) over to particularly striking archive photographs, and the reviewers don't shy away from stating clearly that an album is rubbish. And I love looking over the ads for band gigs (The Libertines! (when they existed, and I suppose when they made it to the show at all) Radiohead! CSS! The Long Blondes! Morrissey! squeeeeeee!!!! coolness is still alive and giving everyone the finger!).


Flower Power

(top to bottom: Balenciaga SS 08, Prada SS08, Dolce & Gabbana SS08)
Excuse the corny post title, but there do seem to be a lot of floral prints or motifs coming off the runways of the four major fashion capitals (and some florals literally on the runway- look at Balenciaga's). That, and some very cool graphics. And some of this season's shows (particularly Dolce & Gabbana, which I always associated with nice clothes that looked a bit too obviously sexy on the runway), are a real joy to look at- I'm still drooling over their big, poofy flower-painted (it looks like it, anyway) dresses, they'd be among the ultimate dress-up dresses that actually have a shot at not wearing you, provided you don't feel bad about potentially ruining such beautiful things via actions as mundane as, say, dropping food down them. And Balenciaga baically topped itself for coolness, though not quite to the levels of AW 07-08- I mean, florals that aren't pretty-pretty and floaty? This collection, to me, looks a bit like things Judy Jetson might wear if she were visiting her grandmother.



A decent, nay, great if I may say so, cover out of Vogue UK...just when I was starting to despair of them ever remembering that good covers aren't a thing of the past. If the text and Adrian at Fashion Verbatim (which is where I borrowed the image from) didn't say so, I'd have just assumed that was Debbie Harry. In any case, this is so much better-looking than anything I've seen on the magazine for well over a year now. And well, it's Debbie Harry-ish, always a reason for loving it. Good one from the photographer, whoever it is.


Because I'm Feeling Bitchy

Remind me never to sit next to Jessica Stam if I get the chance- being out-cooled by a factor of about a thousand seems to be a bit of a situational hazard, which is bound to pinch even for a girl with no pretensions to coolness.
(picture from style.com)


She's known him pre-junkiehood and all, and ten years is ages (does that mean she was fifteen when they met?...mad) but marrying him? I wonder if this is a sham like the three zillion and one times his previous gf was supposed to have gotten engaged/married/whatever to the man in question.


Nouveau Artsy Fart

Stairway of the Hôtel Solvay, designed by Viktor Horta
Stairway, Horta House, designed by Viktor Horta
When I was eight years old and visiting my grandparents, I was acutely bored, enough to go rooting through their stacks and stacks of old magazines looking for something worth reading, and the thing I finally hit upon was a copy of Reader's Digest, which turned out to have two photographs of an impossibly ornate doorknob, and the back of a chair that looked more like it belonged in an art book than behind any human vertebrae. That was the first time I ever heard of Victor Horta: there were more amazing flowy-lined designs in all the photographs accompanying the article, but somehow that chair back and door knob were what really stuck in my head. The chair even has a name, which I've forgotten. It was my first encounter with the words Art Nouveau, and also the first time I had the thought that art wasn't necessarily paint on canvas. And in later years, when the friendly interpipe enabled me to find out more about the man, the thing that astounded me most was the fact that he was the architect behind the Communist Party headquarters- the Maison du Peuple- in Brussels. Communist architecture, as far as I'm concerned, tends to mean fugly boxy buildings which don't bother with basic niceties like decent planning (or, as a consequence, ventilation)- Maybe the most astounding thing for me, was the fact that the building looked that way on purpose- this page pretty much says it all "The choice of the Workers' Party also had its origins in the quest for a style that would deter the conservative middle classes." Art is so often seen as a pricey, snooty upper-class pursuit, it's a bit refreshing for me to think that beauty like this was it, and was meant for people at large. I've learned a bit about Art Nouveau illustrations and other practitioners since then, but I suppose M. Horta is always going to have first dibs on my soft spot. In any case, you're best off ignoring my yakking and looking at the pictures. Or better yet, going here or here.
Foyer of the Hôtel Tassel, designed by Viktor Horta

About Me

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Fondest of upbeat music and brightly coloured sweets.