Bye, 2009

Here's to everyone kicking up their heels tonight like the Toulouse-Lautrec-inspired lady in the picture...or not, if, like me, what you really want is some noodle soup and an anime/movie marathon. Either way, have a lovely time, and I hope 2010 will bring you good things!
illustration by Rene Gruau from artnet


Speaking of Amelie (no, not THAT Amelie)..

I'm so used to fashion photography these days being high on gloss and the occasional slightly OTT-storyboarded-fantasy*, that I think my eyes actually let out a small sigh of relief when they spotted these images by Amelie Chassary in the fashion section of her website. Their vibe swings somewhere between the dreaminess of an open-air swing in summer and the energy of small children on sugar, and whatever she's doing with the lighting (cool in some pictures, beautifully filtered in another- though I know little to nothing about photography) is lovely. I'll also take the opportunity to say that I love the way she uses the backgrounds in her images- they complement the subjects (and clothes) so well...

*though I love those too. Life would be a bit dull if there was no gloss.
all images by Amelie Chassary


Seriously Underrated 90s Movies: The Hairy Bird, aka Lots Of Other Stupid Titles

I've said it before (and mentioned the subject of this post in passing, too) - I have a serious soft corner for school stories, especially boarding school stories. I'm also a bit of a 90s teen movie junkie, and will admit to the blasphemy of not giving a shit about Molly Ringwald . Which is why a pre-Christmas rewatch of one of my favourite horribly underrated early-00s loves is prompting me to write this, in the hope that someone, anyone, will actually read the text of this post, and leave the movie a tiny bit less unknown- even if it is just by one person.
For starters, there's the name: this movie goes by not one, not two, but three of them. In descending order of how much I like them, they are- The Hairy Bird (the best, and true, one, based on a snort-inducingly crass joke between the characters), Strike! (not as funny, but still ok) and All I Wanna Do (sounds like it should star a Disney Channel starlet- ie, like a generic godawful teen flick). The plot is simple: it's 1961 and teenage Odette Sinclair's parents banish her to boarding school to get her away from an unsuitable boyfriend. The school in question, Miss Godard's, is in New England and all-girls, aka Hell as per Odie. But her mostly WASPy classmates- played by Monica Keena, Heather Matarazzo, and Kirsten Dunst, among others- turn out to be, to use an archaic Wodehouseism, good eggs who are nicer than Odie assumes at first sight- and much less stuffy too.
So far, there are more shades of St Clare's* than St Trinian's to the story- until the school's headmistress, Miss McVane (played by Lynn Redgrave) is forced by financial necessity to agree to a merger with a nearby boys' school. The news of this is greeted with outrage by a large chunk of the student body who feel like it's just another attempt at male domination and violation of their space +preparation for their subjugation in later life, while others like the idea of having boys at the school. In the middle of all this, ('all this' including a pervy male teacher and a snotty prefect played well enough for me to want to slap her face by Rachael Leigh Cook) is the attempted loss of Odie's virginity and the stories of the other girls, along with a planned rebellion against the merger. But the real magic lies in the chemistry between the girls, and the dialogue (sample: "Real life is boy-girl-boy-girl!" "No, Tinka, real life is boy on top of girl!").

It's really, really rare these days to find movies that discuss gender-related issues even obliquely, and even rarer for such movies to be targeted at teens. This one has had criminal injustices inflicted on it- first that horrible name, then a very limited release which means that, ten years after it was originally made, hardly anyone knows about it. It's probably too obscure to even have cult status, which can sometimes be pretentious and stupid but is at least one way of getting a good movie known.
Re: the acting, Gaby Hoffman (who plays Odie) does a nice enough job, but she's not enough to carry an entire movie. The real sparklers of the cast are her co-stars, particularly a then 15-year-old Kirsten Dunst, and Heather Matarazzo. Also, anyone keeping a sharp eye out will probably spot Mad Men's Vincent Kartheiser aka Connor from Angel, and Hayden Christensen in a bit part. And if you like the idea of a movie that feels a bit like Dead Poet's Society+St Trinian's with a 60s setting, do watch.

Not a sight expected in your regular chick flick

*Enid Blyton fans should remember this


Comme Again, Store It All Up

I'm not normally a fan of store/business-run blogs, mainly because 9 times out of 10, they're devoid of character and full of badly written puff pieces (this goes for certain magazine-run blogs too). Tokyo Bopper, which I discovered via momus in 2007, is one of the shining exceptions to that rule. It might be written by the staff of a Tokyo shoe shop with a clear agenda to show off the shop's offerings as modelled and styled by them (see pic immediately above), but still manages to look like it's a blog by people, and not by a shop*.

My other recent find of a blog-truffle has had a very, very recent start on the other end of the world from Tokyo- this month, in fact. The BLACK Comme des Garçons store in New York has only been open for six months now and is only intended to last until the recession lifts. The blog written by the shop employees- who don't identify themselves by name but blog as BLACK Comme des Garçons- is mainly about the merchandise, and beautifully-taken shots of it as well as of The Girl With The Topknot (I call her that because I envy her ability to do that with her hair and have no idea what her name is). It'd be very easy, under the circumstances, for this to be just another collection of pretty pictures- but I admire The Girl With The Topknot's styling a great deal, and in fact it's her presence in blog pics that made me take a prolonged look at it all in the first place. I do hope the staff keep on at this- I'm not at all averse to looking at lovely pictures, and I have high hopes of future enjoyment from this blog.

*It also helps that Yama-sama (in the first pic), who models most frequently for the blog and is- like her coworkers- a FRUiTS regular, is unafraid to go against blogland trends, which more often than not feature a sea of high heels. And as a longtime fan, she must get points for consistency on that score.
pics from is-mental.blogspot.com and the BLACK Comme des Garçons blog (pics used with permission of the authors- I was so kicked to get the mail telling me I could use them)


Great Reads, Gorgeous Looks: My Favourite Dress

Anyone who knows me even vaguely probably knows that I'm an absolute nut for a good read, and even more so when the reading material in question concerns clothes. Which is why, when the blog email inbox was found to contain an offer from Michelle at glassloves to review My Favourite Dress by Gity Monsef, Samantha Erin Shafer and Robert de Niet, it didn't take me longer than a preliminary flick over the text and a few images to say yes, please, I'd love to.
Hamish Bowles, Chanel Printemps – Été 1926
Diane Pernet, Haider Ackermann Autumn-Winter 2009-10
Margaret Howell, Spring-Summer 1982
The concept is a pretty simple one: the authors ask a wide range of people (male and female) involved in the fashion industry(predominantly, the British fashion industry) just what their favourite dress is, and why it is so. A picture or illustration of the garment in question, the date when it was created/acquired, and the material used to make it, accompanies each interviewee's contribution.
Giles, "Carwash" dress, Spring-Summer 2009
Peter Jensen, Spring-Summer 2009
Joe Casely-Hayford, Spring-Summer 1987
The names involved are some of fashion's greatest and most interesting: a tiny handful of the people whose favourite dresses are featured include Alexander McQueen, Daisy de Villeneuve, Diane Pernet, Louise Goldin, Oriole Cullen (of the Victoria and Albert Museum!), Issey Miyake, Mary Quant, Stephen Jones, Boudicca, Bernhard Wilhelm, Romeo Gigli, Rick Owens, Roland Mouret, Hamish Bowles, Vivienne Westwood and Zandra Rhodes. As would be expected, the accompanying photographs (of each person featured, as well as of their dresses) are beautiful, but the real joy lies in two things: the accompanying explanations, which explain the choice and meaning of the dress, and the sheer width of the range of dresses chosen. Not only do they span different styles, from Peter Jensen's almost t-shirt+skirtlike SS2009 pick to the ethereal floatiness of John Galliano's 1996 couture piece and the cagey beauty of Romeo Gigli's choice, but also a long, very long period in time- from the 1920s (Hamish Bowles's winkled-out truffle of an unlabelled Chanel dress from 1926!) to this very season (Haider Ackermann, included courtesy of Diane Pernet). It's quite a lot to take in all in one go, which is fine by me because it's nothing short of an absolute treat- and very importantly, not faffy-sounding like the average coffee-table book. I'll be heading back to some happy browsing after this...

Romeo Gigli, Autumn/Winter 1992-93
Boudicca, Autumn-Winter 2003 "Darko" dress.

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Fondest of upbeat music and brightly coloured sweets.