click click 15-11-11

Welcome to click click, the sporadic review of what I find worth clicking on the internet.

These lovely scans are from the JEAN SHRIMPTON tumblr, featuring the 1960s fashion model with that silent, sensual quality, elfin features and exquisite profile. The Shrimp is the spitting image of modern beauty – read some interesting comments on that subject here.

Karma tips for hat tips –

drawing – Technicolor Ultra Mall fan art

I’ve been reading Technicolor Ultra Mall, the debut novel by longtime blog friend Ryan Oakley of The Grumpy Owl. I’m a great fan of Ryan’s blog, but this is the first time I’ve read his fiction. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it – especially as I’m not that into ultra-violence – yet the further I got into it the more I loved it. In between senseless gut-spills, Oakley lands some genuine emotional punches. Most satisfying for me as a reader, it also extrapolates modern media patterns and subcultures – made more textural by cogent awareness of the significance of fashion.

A rude boy is the protagonist, and his love interest is a rude girl. In the mall, gangs function like violent bureaucracies, so I dressed them identically, inspired by classic two-tone gear and police uniforms.


occupy duffle coat

Yesterday I went to meet a friend at Starbucks by Saint Paul’s Cathedral. Like a lot of people I’ve been following the Occupy story for a while with interest. Like a fashion blogger, I thought it would also make a decent backdrop for that most conventional of posts, the outfit post.

Me being me, I showed up 45 minutes early and found a small group of women working on a banner with appliqued poppies for Rememberance Day. I liked how it was apolitical (the women brushed off tacky suggestions to include references to the movement) and how it was something I could do (I miss sewing) so I got on my knees and stitched and pinned as much as I could in the time I had. It felt good to do something meditative that reflects how everyone has a life that matters, no matter what they believe. Discussing the problems of the world is often discouraging – making something with your hands is an antidote – a satisfying, positive act.

My own feelings about Occupy are somewhat ambivalent – there are things about it I like and things about it I find baffling. As something of an individualist and an entrepreneur, I find governance by consensus a suffocating concept. I’m wary of ideologies in general, and ideologies fill the airwaves at Saint Paul’s. I don’t believe that you can change people’s minds by shouting at them, no matter how loud your megaphone is.

Where I find hope in Occupy is that it is a seed of modern counter-culture. Key word culture. If you want to move people, persuade them, you can do it most effectively through emotion. Beauty is a power disruptor. So is music and narrative. I think that if the Occupy movement is able to create compelling cultural artifacts, it stands a greater chance of creating real change.

This is a fashion blog though, so let’s get to the stuff that really matters, eh? This outfit is meant to feature a recent purchase, the duffle coat. I wanted to buy a wool coat that would bridge between trench coats and parkas, and the duffle was the ideal. Not only is it British-ish, it has several qualities that fit perfectly into my style paradigm. Plaid lining, tapered masculine cut, and of course, genuine horn toggles. I was going to buy the Gallagher-approved Gloverall, but ended up going with the Montgomery at half the price, which is also made in England, and has the added bonus of a zipper. This coat keeps me very warm and happy.

I’m wearing it with a knit beanie from H&M, printed scarf by Virginia Johnson, leather satchel by Roots, plaid kilt from Rokit Vintage, and of course cherry red Made-in-England Dr. Martens.

Thanks to Tom Pickering for taking the photos.


great big book of fashion illustration

I am so pleased to be included in Martin Dawber’s definitive yearbook of contemporary fashion illustration. This hefty volume contains so much to admire and inspire. It is an honour to have five illustrations interspersed throughout including a full-page featuring my Jeremy Laing paper doll.

I am briefly quoted in the introduction from a longer email interview I did with the author – the best bits are below the fold. Keep in mind this was written a year ago!

Continue reading “great big book of fashion illustration”

beauty reflects power

Why is there a narrow, singular beauty ideal? Why are the current dominant attributes of beauty always about being very thin, very blonde, and very young? Flip through any magazine on any subject and the beauty ideal stares back at you. The highest earning models, the biggest pop stars, past and future, almost always conform to the ideal. There is an argument that it is a top-down dictation from the beauty industry, but if you look at consumer-driven sites like lookbook or tumblr, the same ideal is still rewarded with the most hypes and hits. Chicken or egg – is the public brainwashed or is the industry just delivering what the public wants to see?

Walk down the street and you’ll see that many women make significant efforts to approximate the beauty ideal in their own appearance – most of the blondes you see are bottle-blondes, everywhere you hear women endlessly discussing weight and how to lose it, and cosmetic surgery to cheat aging has become commonplace. Just as we are losing diversity in other aspects of culture, the beauty ideal is less diverse than it ever was. Worldwide, people of all races and cultures are buying into bleach.

Why is this kind of beauty above all others in fashion? My theory is that it reflects an idealized image of whoever is perceived to hold the most power. In this case, Northern European features have been internationally dominant ever since the Renaissance and the period of colonization that followed. Fashion is innately hierarchical – it functions on the premise that human beings want to be admired by their peers. Wealth and influence, therefore, are what dictates the mainstream beauty ideal. In times where the wealthy are fat, so is the beauty ideal. If a certain race is powerful in a particular place or time, their features will be considered more beautiful. It’s a totally unfair system – just like all the other systems our society currently functions on.

Various missions to promote diversity in beauty ideals are well-intentioned but likely futile unless they address the root source of the beauty ideal. Even then, aiming to change widespread notions of beauty is on a par with reversing income disparity. What will change the beauty ideal will be massive shifts in power structures – for instance if China becomes the dominant world economy, it is likely that the beauty ideal will shift towards Asian features. More mature-appearing female models become more popular if older women hold a greater amount of wealth – this trend happened both in the 1950s and the 1980s. Darker-skinned models benefit more from visibly powerful cultural indicators like the Obamas and Oprah than they do from polite bourgeois notions of political correctness.

There is a beauty feedback loop in place – an ouroboros forms when models like the ones above, who by genetic accident reflect the beauty ideal become some of the highest-paid women in the world. You could even say that there is a beauty bubble – perhaps it will pop.

click click – 01-11-11

Welcome to click click, the sporadic review of what I find worth clicking on the internet.

Fellow Canadian-girl and model-gazer Lynsie Roberts took photographs of London Fashion Week in September, pretty virtual postcards that remind me of one of my favourite-ever fashion weeks to date.

  • Inner City Youth, London – (heads up, music autoplays) a compelling photo-essay about the lives of disaffected youth in London housing projects – the same kids who participated in the riots. Their clothing and music – Grime – is heavily American-influenced, but with a London inflection. HT The Grumpy Owl.
  • The Movie Set That Ate Itself – reality is stranger than fiction is stranger than reality. I’m curious about anti-capitalist cultural backlashes. This example is so far-fetched.
  • When personnel get personal – Gucci designer Frida Giannini has been coy about revealing the man in her life for a while, and now we know why. Romantic/business partnerships in fashion aren’t that strange, but this is certainly a high-profile one.
  • Diving for McQueen – a really stellar video of a conversation between Sarah Burton and Cathy Horyn. Both design and media revelations are made – the essence is that what modern designers are missing is attention to craft, and what modern writers are missing is unique information.
  • A skinhead’s journey from racism to redemption and Reformed skinhead endures agony to remove tattoos. An interesting story about going from subculture to mainstream, and how critical the transformation of appearances can be.
  • Anatomy of a Listening Event – what it’s like hanging out with Jay-Z, listening to “Watch The Throne”.
  • Vreeland: “I see this in lettuce.” Burrows: “Done!” – nice recap of the life and work of New York designer Stephen Burrows. This blog – On This Day In Fashion – is currently on hiatus, but the archives are well worth a browse.

Karmalinks for shared affinities –

  • Doll from the Attic“The Attic isn’t just where we left yesterday, it’s where we’ve relished in the company of a dream or two.”
  • Charlotte’s Notes“Professional Illustrator and Artist based in Surrey, England.”
  • Nextness“Your one stop shop for what’s now and what’s next.”