click click – 31-01-13

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

indigo 1

Gorgeous images of indigo dying found at A LIFE WITH DENIM.

indigo 2

Because karma is kind –

  • Frank – I got captured on audio gabbing about London hustling, live runway sketching, and the fashion media meltdown. I can’t remember what-all I said but it was fun to do.
  • I am Moon ((O))“Finally finally finally, after much blood, sweat, tears, moisture (or how hot a woman) and finger calluses she is there: I am Mon


style development

trung web

In my portfolio, my illustration work has had two distinct, very different styles. The paper dolls are tightly-rendered, the live runway sketching is loose. For a long time, these two styles seemed almost unrelated, but lately, I’ve been experimenting with combining different aspects of both styles in a single illustration. The results vary, and I find it very interesting.

Recently I completed two sketches for friends (Trung and Tara), which gave me the opportunity to experiment in a way that I don’t usually have with clients. These two drawings combine the fluidity of live sketching with a deliberate composition. It takes a series of iterations to develop the motor memory, and then the final sketch is like a dance, where I’m performing a series of steps in sequence.


tara web

click click – 19-01-13

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

andy warhol objects 1

Objects, photographed by Andy Warhol between 1977 and 1983, via The Factory. The first few links relate to the world of objects in some way…

  • Artistry and Agency in a World of Vibrant Matter – what does it mean to be ultra-sensitive to the autonomous desires of inanimate objects in an era where objects are so abundant they’re virtually worthless? A provocative and slightly loopy lecture. Via Timo.
  • Daniel Eatock – splitting the difference between too simple and too clever, this conceptual artist’s work (including many object-based punchlines) reveals its brilliance when viewed in chronological sequence.
  • How Tide Detergent Became a Drug Currency – good branding works in the black market too. Did you ever think soap could be as much of a status statement as the clothes it launders? This story makes you consider the those fluorescent containers in a whole new way. Via Matty.
  • Joe Eula fashion illustrations for Halston – a wonderful collection of design sketches from the keen eye and quick hand of the master.
  • “Privileged White People” and Art – fascinating conversation on the absence of narrative or political comment in modern abstraction – and a theory of how growing up in the nineties produced such polite young bohemians. Via Brittany.
  • Retro photography from the future – viewing nostalgia through a futurist’s lens.

andy warhol objects 2


Because, karma.

  • Tara Aghdashloo – the first sketch of the year, inspired by my vivacious friend Tara.
  • Ana Kinsella – includes one of my posts among some excellent fashion-focused long reads.
  • A Sewing Life“At twenty I knitted, at thirty I worked in an office, in my forties I sew.”
  • Forever out of place“many think I am a scientist. But I am not – I just love to mess up in the lab!”
  • youlookfab“Share outfits, chat about style and get advice from a friendly community.”
  • Dossie Bubble’s PAPER DOLLS “FREE CUT-OUTS”

the new studio

toronto studio

My new studio is in a shared unit, located near the diverse and lively Bloor and Lansdowne area in Toronto. The space is lovely and light, and I’m surrounded by a variety of friendly creative people in various fields. It’s been exciting and strange to unpack what’s left from the old studio and adapt it to how I want to work now. I’m pleased to say that I installed everything myself, power tool in hand. With all this space and all my sewing equipment ready to run again, I am ready to get back to working in three dimensions. I have ideas to realize.


the metaculture spiral


What’s your culture to metaculture ratio? I think I consume about 1:1. To be honest, I don’t understand the academic explanation for metaculture. In my own simple way, I think of metaculture like an eddy formation, where culture turns in on itself like a whirlpool.

Metaculture is when something is about the thing that it is. So like, a movie about making a movie. I saw a gallery show once which was all black paintings. No colour, no narrative, no context, nothing but brushstrokes. The paintings seemed to be about nothing, except the act of making a painting. Or a book that calls attention to itself as a book, like a novel with footnotes. Or a tuxedo t-shirt – trompe l’oeil is nothing but clothes with clothes on. A tweet about tweeting. And so on.

Since metaculture is culture about culture – that also includes criticism, comment threads, panel discussions, blog posts, academic writing, and so on. The culture out there is now so massive and complex, I need help to understand and navigate it all. Sometimes I listen to reviews of books and movies I have no intention of viewing or reading, just so I can feel like I’ve got a handle on the cultural zeitgeist. I’m consuming secondary culture in a primary way.

Metaculture feels necessary and inevitable. It can also feel like a downward spiral. Like a trap. The scary thing about metaculture is that it doesn’t open up possibilities – it shuts them down. For instance, literature about literature is appealing to writers and critics who spend their lives immersed in literature, but totally fails to connect with people outside of that small, rarefied world. While metaculture is often acclaimed within its own sphere, it has little universal appeal. Metaculture sections off and isolates its participants.

This has a homogenizing effect, creating stagnant pools of static culture. I’ve noticed this in personal style blogging, clustered around websites like IFB. Since all of these fashion bloggers are following each other, along with the same set of media outlets, and using the same resources for advice, that particular niche is suffering from a certain pervasive same-ness. This is one of the reasons that my advice to young people interested in fashion is to consume a broad and varied cultural diet (and to be wary of advice). In fashion, there are many people who only take inspiration from within the realm of fashion itself – the result is a dearth of novelty and a certain tone-deafness to the rest of the world.

I think all culture moves in spiral formations. For myself, I am now trying to avoid inward-facing metaculture spirals and move toward spiralling out. There’s something that unites great culture – it takes on the big, universal unknowns – what is this life? Why are we here? The things we all share – love, hate, joy, pain, beauty, death, loss and discovery – that’s where the real stories are. Great culture is inclusive, not exclusive – it offers something any human being can access. There’s something so much more exciting and expansive about culture that attempts to be bigger than itself. Culture about itself delivers diminishing returns – taken to its inevitable conclusion, it becomes absurd.

Another quasi-metaculture trap that seems to trip up female creatives in particular is turning themselves into the subject. How do you make your work bigger than yourself, when the work is yourself? Even as a blogger, I’ve noticed that posts about myself attract much more attention than posts about abstract ideas, or the visual work (where I am not the subject) that I spend most of my time creating. It’s easy to see the temptation to put yourself on display in some way, if it gathers more eyeballs and reactions than anything else. And yet, I resist it, for two reasons. One – just because the mainstream culture rewards women for being contained (or chained) to their physical bodies, doesn’t mean I have to pander to it. Two – because it can turn you into a parody of yourself, quicker than you’d think. The end game is not pretty.

There are so many reasons why we are living in an era of metaculture. We’re still grappling with a new communications technology revolution, so it makes sense that much of what we create is so concerned with the particular devices we’re creating it on. The sheer volume and complexity of culture, now so easily accessible, makes referencing like a medium unto itself – the mash-uppers, the collage artists, the curators – all necessary and interesting developments.

I don’t think metaculture should be feared – even if it does seem like a harbinger of our own end-times. Just as we are consuming the planet until there’s nothing left, perhaps human culture is mirroring that entropy by turning inwards and consuming itself.

2012 redux

2012 was the year that my illustration and writing shifted from naive to mature. It was not a dramatic change, and I’m not sure what led to this ephemeral graduation. Something inside of me changed early in the year that gave me a greater clarity of purpose and a more nuanced understanding of what I am trying to accomplish. Once that realization settled, I spent a few months reworking my online presence to better reflect who I am now. This process led to career acceleration at the end of the year.

This was also the year I turned 30, and I moved from London back to Toronto.

In my 20s, I was struggling all of the time, and often felt fearful. I was a poor judge of what was trivial and what was important, and much of my energy was misdirected. I was always doing things I had never done before, and of course not doing them very well. I often felt like a fraud.

I loved turning 30. I love having experience to build on. I love the sense of earned confidence. I love knowing who I am, what I do best, and what I want. It’s good to be capable, now it’s time to achieve virtuosity. I’ve got a lot of work to do this decade.

Anyway, here’s the best of 2012 on Final Fashion. Enjoy!


Trend theory…

  • red dress blue dress – “If you’ve ever doubted the capacity of clothing to transform, just try on a red or blue dress and see what kind of heroine you can be.”
  • toe to type“They say that you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their shoes, and leading that line of thought is the shape of the toe.”
  • street style signals – key to reading your standard street style poses.
  • the indefinable decades – “I remember looking forward to the end of the century so I could see the 20th century laid out in a row of 10 clearly defined figures”
  • the masculine renunciation – “The sacrifice that the abandonment of fashion symbolizes is less often considered.”
  • thoughts on contemporary fashion illustration – I think this one of my more under-rated posts, a sort of state-of-the-union address on my chosen craft.


Live runway sketching…


Paper dolls…

Trend enders

  • the half-tuck“the ultimate in plausible deniability. The idea is to look put-together and undone at the same time, artfully dishevelled.”
  • mullet skirts“the high-low hem will go the way of the mullet when the economy starts making sense again.”
  • neon“perhaps since fluorescent is tricky to spell, fashion editors prefer the word neon.”
  • nail art“one of those rare little luxuries that is accessible to everyone.”
  • flatforms“they’re politically as well as proportionally incorrect, but maybe that’s the point.”

Independent creative career realization…

drawing – House of Holland SS13

A friend asked me to contribute a few images of the House of Holland Spring 2013 collection for a video project, which offered the opportunity to try something a little different. I mashed up my two main styles; I quickly pencil sketched from runway imagery and video, and then hastily inked, scanned and quickly coloured in Photoshop.

The hybrid of my two disparate styles has ended up being very pleasing to me. It was fun to do!


annual renewal

sun trees snow

At the end of 2012, I spent 10 days at my parent’s place in Eastern Ontario, offline, off the grid, and out of cell phone range. This is what it looked like outside. I stayed inside mostly, experiencing something like a physical collapse and a brainwipe. I read a 600 page book by Jeremy Rifkin, a history of notable Americans who lived in Paris, and a half a dozen back issues of The New Yorker. Rolled in the snow with my niece and nephew. Played Scrabble with Mom and Dad. I slept a lot.

On January 1st, I moved into a new apartment and a new studio in Toronto, where I’ll be living at least a year. Since then, I have been unpacking what remains of the old studio, installing, furniture shopping, email deficit spending, etcetera. Once it’s done, I’ll lift the curtain.

I always love New Year’s… this one is newer than usual.

Danielle Meder by Stella Zheng


My mind-cleaning left me with a ton of new ideas, and I’m really excited to collect a best of 2012 once I have everything organized. This studio is going to be a launch pad. In the meantime, check out this wonderful photo of me by Stella Zheng, who also interviewed me about live sketching. This photo was taken during the Fashion Fringe show at London Fashion Week on September 18, 2012. I’m going back to New York for fashion week in February… hopefully this scene will be repeated.

To every visitor, thank you sincerely for your readership, interest, participation and support. Wishing you a beautiful annual renewal of your own!