Thursday, June 30, 2016

"Atomic Number" by Neko Case, k.d. lang, and Laura Veirs

A lovely, yearning song: "Atomic Number" by Neko Case, k.d. lang, and Laura Veirs.

I'm not the freckled maid
I'm not the fair-haired girl
I'm not a pail of milk for you to spoil

Why are the wholesome things
The ones we make obscene?

Latin words across my heart
Symbols of infinity
Elements so pure
Atomic number

I am the spark
Of this machine
Purring like the city bus

Why are the wholesome things
The ones we make obscene?
Well if your mercy's lost
I have enough for us

Latin words across my heart
Symbols of infinity
Elements so pure
Atomic number

My atomic number

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

BEAUTY: Photography--Yuri Andries

Now that it is summer, let's look at the wonderful photography of Yuri Andries. His Drifters and Others series features aerial shots of sandy beaches, rocks, shores, and beachgoers bleached in the sun. It all makes me feel like taking a little trip to the ocean and enjoying the salt and heat...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Happy Pride Anniversary 2016!

Happy Pride Anniversary!

Forty-seven years ago today, a bunch of fed-up drag queens, hustlers, and assorted gay misfits at the Stonewall Inn in New York turned the tables on a harassing police raid. That resistance gave rise to a series of riots and ultimately to the birth of the modern gay activist movement. It seems like a long time ago, and things (laws and minds) have changed--MARRIAGE EQUALITY IS NOW THE LAW OF THE LAND!--but we still have a way to go, and a lot more irrational fear, hatred, bigotry, and misconceptions to fight.

But today, we thank the brave men and women at the Stonewall uprising and the ensuing riots for saying, "ENOUGH. I AM A HUMAN BEING AND I DEMAND TO BE TREATED AS ONE!"

While The Stonewall Inn was already part of the city-designated Greenwich Village Historic District, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999, it became an official New York City landmark on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 in order to preserve the site and honor its historic importance. Most importantly, on June 24, 2016, the Stonewall Inn was named the first U.S. National Monument dedicated to the gay rights movement.

There is a very nice, informative, and moving Wiki entry about the riots and the history leading up them:

Monday, June 27, 2016

BEAUTY: Clothing--Misc. Paris Fashion Week SS '17

Here are a couple of miscellaneous moments that I liked from Paris Fashion Week...

Christophe Lemaire was apparently on the same wavelength as MP Massimo Piombo (here), Alexander McQueen (here), Craig Green (here), Casely-Hayford (here), and Astrid Anderson (here) because he showed a classic Indian kurta in shirting fabric and dark denim, both of which worked quite well.

And Wooyoungmi showed some great wide, flowing trousers...

Alrighty then, that about does it for fashion season. Thank you for your patience. We now return you to our regularly scheduled posts.

BEAUTY: Clothing--Thom Browne

A Thom Browne show is always a spectacle. And as his show is usually scheduled at the end of fashion week--and indeed fashion month--it means that magazine editors, show-goers, and fashion journalists are by that time a little more than burnt out. But this SS '17 Thom Browne show at Paris Fashion Week seemed to perk everyone up. Its lighthearted, comical theme made for a buoyant end to the season and had attendees smiling, giggling, and applauding with glee.

After many seasons of somber grey tones, whether Fall-Winter or Spring-Summer, Browne took inspiration this time from surfing and created a candy-colored collection of his classic tailored suit hybridized with board shorts and wet suits! The runway show started with a typical Thom Browne device: models entered the show space--a square of glittering black sand and monochrome palm trees--in neoprene suits reminiscent of wet suits with the exception of scale: these oversized bags contained each individual look. For his own shows as well as for the collections he creates for Moncler Gamme Bleu, Browne usually has the full compliment of models come out in some sort of covering only to be revealed one at a time during the show. To the accompaniment of models dressed as tropical birds and one single black shark circling the runway area, the models--white-faced with sunscreen, white bathing caps on their heads, and hands covered in white gloves--stripped out of their bags to show the delightful variations on the classic little grey suit Browne first designed some twelve years ago.

Jackets embellished with fabric flowers--a three dimensional version of the classic Hibiscus print found on board shorts--and jacquards featuring sharks (a pun on the little spouting whale seen on "preppy" shirts and trousers) and sunrises (or -sets) were a prelude to a set of hilarious one-pieces printed with trompe--l'œil three piece suits. For the finale, Browne brought out a cavalcade of singlets in wild florals and stripes with matching surf boards!

BEAUTY: Clothing--Undercover

Random Dada-esque phrases and signifiers without a signified. This is what made Jun Takahashi’s Undercover Spring Summer '17 collection lookbook so interesting. But are the pieces meaningless--that is, do the words and graphics have meaning? Takahashi once said in an interview that “Clothes have meaning. Otherwise, it’s just cocktail dresses and bags — and that’s not interesting.” So we can be sure that although the phrases and images seem random (the second look below proudly proclaims "IMPROVISED CONCEPTS"), they are not. Perhaps they take on meaning when viewed? Our brains like to assign meaning in an otherwise confusing world.

These pieces end up feeling like they are covered with emblems or crests of teams, movements, countries, or cliques. But the individual texts seem to explode such an imposed order which is most likely Takahashi's subconscious motivation. A few versions of a pixelated Wicked Witch of the West along with slogans like "romanticism handled with discipline," "waiting for the Revolution," "I CAN SEE MORE THAN YOU CAN SEE," and "offence," "stability," and "attack" below images of an owl, seagull, and raven lend an unsettled feeling of subversion.

"In my work I want to express not something merely pretty or cute, but to find something behind it," says Takahashi.

BEAUTY: Clothing--Balmain

If you are a regular reader of "Oh, By The Way," and have seen my commentaries on the fashion shows this season or seasons past, you might glean that I am not a fan of fashion that is luxe for the sake of luxe. But let me clarify: Would I turn down a butter-soft Giorgio Armani jacket? Hell to the no. Would I sniff at an exquisitely tailored Canali suit? Of course not. But my true interests lie in the artistic statement of clothing--the more unusual and eclectic, the better.

But Olivier Rousteing, Balmain's young creative director, somehow manages to produce luxe clothing within an artistic statement. Since he has taken over the venerable couture house in 2011, he has established a new, rich sense and exotic silhouette. And it is this silhouette that makes his pieces stand out and elevate the luxe brand to something beyond. Take a look at his laced and embellished references for his SS '17 collection shown at Paris Fashion Week: loose fitting Asian tops with sashes, draped Greek togas, and encrusted Roman centurion armor. For the latter, Rousteing studded garments with cabochons of malachite and turquoise (bottom row, left). Even when he is using pale blue denim, it still manages to look sumptuous. And please do take a moment to ogle the gorgeous ankle-covering Roman sandals (I covet the pair on the middle model, top row)...along with some lovely jewelry pieces like long gold fringe swinging from a bar of metal or stone, and chunky bracelets of chrysocolla.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

BEAUTY: Clothing--Comme des Garçons

It is simply amazing to think that Rei Kawakubo has been designing clothing for her company Comme des Garçons for 43 years. Her oblique vision, her effortlessly and esoteric asymmetrical approach, her sculptural consideration of fabric, and her fearlessness in composing her garments has never wavered.

Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” served as a catalyst for her most recent Spring Summer '17 collection at Paris Fashion Week. In that story, an Emperor of a kingdom gets hoodwinked by a pair of scammers into thinking that the clothing he has paid a fortune for is invisible, with the scammers flattering the Emperor into thinking that he looks fantastic. Of course the Emperor's subjects, fearing the wrath of their leader, go along with it all, also telling the Emperor he looks fantastic. This continues until a child, unfamiliar with the ways of mob mentality, announces that the Emperor is nude.

The idea of invisible clothing was clearly fascinating to Kawakubo and she marvelously used semi-transparent or clear rubber and plastic for a series of coats, capes, ponchos, and jackets. Models wore wigs plastered into Emperor's crowns (Kawakubo likes the idea of crowns and headpieces like the floral crowns she showed here, the animal ears she showed here, and the studded black leather crowns seen here) as they paraded not only clear pieces printed with the phrases "The King Is Naked," "Beauty Is In The Eye," and "It's My Fashion," but several suiting pieces made in conjunction with the house of Fornasetti, featuring the themes and variations on the 19th century engraving of the face of operatic soprano Lina Cavalieri made famous by founder Piero Fornasetti. Usually Kawakubo's themes come from incredibly disparate sources creating highly enigmatic collections, but this one seems to be quite "clear." (Sorry...)