Tuesday, November 30, 2010


i'm quite sure i've made it obvious in my old posts how obsessed i am with british youth culture of the late seventies/early eighties. because let's face facts, the music and the fashion associated with the musical movements of that era pretty much rules like cash does to wu-tang (if you don't get the C.R.E.A.M. reference then you are hopelessly lame).
although musically my inclination tends to lean towards the manchester scene, fashion wise i'm all about the butch-ness of skinheads in all their working-class glory. unfortunately nowadays when someone mentions skinheads, most people just see a swastika. damn those white supremacists for hi-jacking the image of a movement that owes much of its visual identity from the influences black immigrants brought to the u.k. in the seventies. i'm not a sociology professor so i'm gonna leave touchy subjects to someone more qualified to go on about it and talk about how much i love photographer gavin watson instead. a man who grew up at the time of the original skins and who, thank god, had a camera to document it.
in his pictures all i see are kids hanging out, holding hands with their birds, drinking lager at a pub, and causing mayhem like most young people do at that age. instead of looking at the shaved heads, union jacks, and doc martens, all i see are friends being friends and boyfriends with their girlfriends. its not that much different from any of our albums on facebook.
i love the humanity in the photos. i love its naturalness, its youth, its honesty. i know its cliche to say "this photograph really captures a moment", but this is exactly what these photographs do. it makes the reality of that time so obvious. not burdened with the negative connotations the word "skinhead" is now attached to.
with the legacy of skinheads forever tainted by bigots and hate mongers, watson's photographs at least gives us a sliver of what was once was. before the word "hate" cemented itself to the culture.

p.s. yeah i know there are no black people in the pictures above, trust me there are some in his other pictures but i just couldn't find big enough images to use.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


there are certain figures that designers, photographers, stylists and everyone else who works in the wacko world of fashion considers to be a constant source of inspiration. the more eccentric, the better. the crazier, even better! and to be bisexual, jackpot!! i don't necessarily consider mexican artist frida kahlo as crazy, but i guess if you can't be bothered plucking your uni-brow then fashion people will consider it rather mental indeed. of course by doing the nasty with josephine baker any fashion faux-pas is easily forgiven.
her highly personal works clouded with symbolisms of unborn fetuses, religion, mexican paganism and social commentary does bring to mind the great surrealists of the thirties, but what sets her apart from the magrittes and dalis is her sex.
the moment you laid your eyes on any of her work, you instantly knew it was done by a woman. a woman who had so much passion it spilled onto the canvas. there was something primal about the nature her sexuality. it is at once, savagely graphic, yet loaded with emotions and naked vulnerability.
her art documented every tortured experience of her life. from her volatile marriage to diego rivera, her numerous miscarriages, and her life long injuries sustained from a horrific car accident during her teenage years, its all there. laid out in all its honest brutality.
her greatest work perhaps, was her herself. the conviction of the way she dressed, the way she decorated her head, even in the act of not grooming her now infamous brows she became one of the most powerful image of womanhood in the twentieth century.
it is that uncensored projection of woman-ness, straddling an extremely narrow line between profound beauty and intense unease that makes her forever provoking, forever inspiring.

Monday, November 8, 2010


i've been wanting to make a post about edmund dulac and kay nielsen for a while now. dulac is responsible for the first three images above, and nielsen the last three. they worked during what is called "the golden age of illustration", the belle epoque. the edwardian age when the rich were at their richest and that sense of opulence enveloped every idea.
you might be familiar with the pictures posted above. well if you haven't clued in yet the illustrations are based on popular fairy tales. now you get it huh? the first one is the princess and the pea, followed by the little mermaid and the emperor and the nightingale. the first kay nielsen illustration is my favorite fairy tale of all time, the twelve dancing princesses. it's not very popular, but who knows. disney might turn it into a full length animation feature someday complete with a soundtrack and a playstation game. i don't know what story the last two images are based on, but aren't they lovely?
if i ever have kids i will only buy them books with amazing pictures. no dora the explorer for them now way!
oooh i just had a marvelous idea. wouldn't it be top notch if dulac or nielsen were still alive and one of them (or both) illustrated all of roald dahl's books. that would've been fucking epic.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


sarah burton has the unenviable task of being the successor to one of fashion's great romanticist. alexander mcqueen's vision was so potent, his work so deeply ingrained in recent memory that it was damn near impossible to expect anything but the worst so as not to be horribly disappointed. from rumours circulating early on after his death that the house was to close, then waiting with heightened anticipation for lee's right hand woman of fifteen years debut collection, it was safe to say that worries about the future of the house was well warranted. at last we can finally breath a sigh of relief because not only did burton live up to the challenge, she managed to inject a freshness, a feminine sensibility that was often lacking in mcqueen's work that had some criticizing the much lamented designer as a misogynist. the strands that made up the mcqueen DNA were all present: the printed dresses cut from a single piece of fabric, the corseted silhouette, immaculately tailored coats with the distinct sharp mcqueen shoulders slashed to give it a softness, and of course the showstopping dresses the summarizes the pagan story underlying this collection. it's only burton's first full season as head designer, but i think its safe to say that the house that lee built is in very capable hands indeed.

photo: style.com


the most iconic of all iconics, there is no denying that monsieur saint laurent was the man! the master of subverted sexuality that dared to cross the lines of gender, social class and race. he was by and large, the most influential force in fashion in the latter half of the twentieth century. a heavy burden on his successor's stefano pilati's shoulders, who has had as much hits as misses as of late but vindicated himself with a stunning homage to the legacy of the house. from the rich jewel tones, the androgynous sexuality, the quiet erotic perversion of unexpected exposed skin, to an almost religious attention to cut, the left bank is still money in the bank!

photo: style.com


nothing like a proper mad galliano story to get us enraptured in an absinthe haze. and of course no galliano story is complete without its leading lady. this season it was maria lani, the saucy minx who tempted all the big shots of the twenties paris art scene and booted across the atlantic with their paintings stuffed in her luggage. perhaps galliano has finally found his archetypal heroine and it resulted to one of his strongest collections in years. cause when johnny-boy is on, he is ON! the clothes never got lost in the narrative, instead they were the script that gave life to this tale of irresistible seduction. and who better else can bring the clothes to life other than some of galliano's original muses. yasmin le bon, angela lindvall, georgina grenville, marie sophie wilson and suzanne von aichinger, oh my!! its like 1997 all over again.

photo: style.com


after years of digging through the balenciaga archives to source out inspiration, nicolas ghesquiere went back to the place where he started his balenciaga journey, he took it back to the streets. opening with a troop of riot girls straight outta 1977 london stomping the ground in teddy boy creeper shoes, it was a reminder to all that ghesquiere hasn't been swept away by balenciaga's storied legacy and his sci-fi/techno/urban girl of the early-mid noughties is still his most powerful statement. what ghesquiere shares most with the great master during his prime in the fifties is what he is capable of bringing in 2010, being relevant, being modern with an attitude that is all his own.

photo: style.com