Friday, June 29, 2018

"Saturdays" by Twin Shadow feat. HAIM

Twin Shadow (the nom de musique of George Lewis Jr.) has released a new song, "Saturdays" with sister trio HAIM on additional vocals. The 80s-retro sound puts this kicky song in the running for my "summer song of 2018."

Lewis says, "Growing up, Saturdays were everything for me. I spent the morning in front of the TV soaking up whatever caught my eye, before going out on the day's adventure. After dinner I stayed up all night surfing channels, experiencing some amazing images and sometimes some wild sh*t I wasn’t ready for. We may not have the freedom we once had but the feelings of Saturdays remain."

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Happy Pride Anniversary 2018!

Happy Pride Anniversary!

Forty-nine 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 yet another unnecessary, unfair, 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 while a few laws and minds have changed, we still have a way to go (witness the attempted rollback of human rights and the introduction of anti-trans "bathroom bills" in more conservative, backward states, emboldened by the presence and administration of the current Monster-in-Chief), and a lot more irrational fear, hatred, bigotry, and misconceptions to fight.

We celebrate Pride Month and recognize Pride Day because it is a positive stance against the daily shame, social stigma, discrimination, and violence that the LGBT community still faces: gay children are routinely kicked out of their homes and disowned by their families, gay kids and teens and young adults are routinely bullied or attacked or beaten and many end up committing suicide because they are told they are sick or going to hell, and many gay and trans men and women are attacked and beaten and murdered--sometimes in their own homes.

Because the LGBT Pride celebration is about the right of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgendered individuals to exist without being prosecuted, persecuted, or murdered, not about "not being straight."

So 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 to them:

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

"Gold Rush" by Death Cab For Cutie

This driving, mesmerizing song, "Gold Rush" by Death Cab For Cutie expresses a bittersweet sentiment. Lead singer-songwriter Ben Gibbard said the song is about his Seattle neighborhood of Capitol Hill where he has lived for two decades.

"As I've gotten older," Ben told NPR, "I've become acutely aware of how I connect my memories to my geography and [how] the landscape of the city changes. I'll walk down Broadway and walk past a location that used to be a bar I'd frequent with friends, or somewhere where I had a beautifully intense conversation with somebody that I once loved very much. The song is not a complaint about how things were better or anything like that. It's an observation, but more about coming to terms with the passage of time and losing the people and the moments in my life all over again as I walk down a street that is now so unfamiliar."

Not about gentrification, but about the inevitable changes perceived if one has the luxury of being here--here--for any length of time.

The track is out on August 17, 2018 on their release "Thank You For Today."

(Gold rush) Digging for gold in my neighborhood
(Gold rush) Where all the old buildings stood
(Gold rush) And they keep digging it down and down
(Gold rush) So that the cars can live underground
(Gold rush) The swinging of a wrecking ball
(Gold rush) Through these lath and plaster walls
(Gold rush) Is letting all the shadows free
(Gold rush) The ones I wish still followed me

(Change) Followed me, followed me
(Please don't change)
(Stay) Followed me, followed me
(Stay the same)

(Gold rush) I remember a winter's night
(Gold rush) We kissed beneath the street lamp light
(Gold rush) Outside a bar near the record store
(Gold rush) That have been condos for a year and more
(Gold rush) Now that our haunts have taken flight
(Gold rush) And been replaced with construction sites
(Gold rush) Oh, how I feel like stranger here
(Gold rush) Searching for something that's disappeared
(Gold rush) Digging for gold in my neighborhood
(Gold rush) For what they say is the greater good
(Gold rush) But all I see is a long goodbye
(Gold rush) A requiem for a skyline
(Gold rush) It seems I never stop losing you
(Gold rush) Because every dive becomes something new
(Gold rush) And all our ghosts get swept away
(Gold rush) It didn't used to be this way

(Change) Be this way, be this way
(Please don't change)
(Stay) Be this way, be this way
(Stay the same)
(Cranes) Be this way, be this way
(Devour the light)
(Strange) Be this way, be this way

I've ascribed these monuments
A false sense of permanence
I've placed faith in geography
To hold you in my memory
(Gold rush) I'm sifting through these wreckage piles
(Gold rush) Through the rubble of bricks and wires
(Gold rush) Looking for something I'll never find
(Gold rush) Looking for something I'll never find

(Gold rush) Digging for gold in my neighborhood
(Gold rush) Where all the old buildings stood
(Gold rush) And they keep digging it down and down
(Gold rush) So that the cars can live underground
(Gold rush) It seems I never stopped losing you
(Gold rush) Because every dive becomes something new
(Gold rush) And all our ghosts get swept away
(Gold rush) It didn't used to be this way

(Gold rush) It didn't used to be this way
(Gold rush) It didn't used to be this way
Please don't change

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

"Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist"

Seeing as fashion season just ended, and hot on the heels of the Alexander McQueen documentary, "Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist" is a documentary study of the life and extraordinary work of Dame Vivienne Westwood I'd love to see.

Directed by Lorna Tucker, the film's press release says:
"With exclusive, unprecedented access, Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist is the first film to encompass the remarkable story of Vivienne’s life, her fashion, her personality, her activism and her cultural importance.

Since igniting the punk movement with ex-partner and Sex Pistols’ manager Malcolm McLaren, Dame Vivienne Westwood has been redefining British fashion for over 40 years, and is responsible for creating many of the most distinctive looks of our time. The film blends archive, beautifully crafted reconstruction, and insightful interviews with Vivienne’s fascinating network of collaborators, guiding us on her journey from a childhood in postwar Derbyshire to the runways of Paris and Milan. This is an intimate and poignant homage to one of the true cultural icons of our time, as she fights to maintain her brand’s integrity, her principles and her legacy in a business driven by consumerism, profit and global expansion."

The film is currently in limited release in theaters.

Monday, June 25, 2018

BEAUTY: Clothing--Misc. Paris Fashion Week

And here are some details from Paris Fashion Week I found interesting:

Sarah Mower at Vogue called Raf Simons' SS '19 collection "the moment the backlash against streetwear became an inevitability." Amen to that sister. Simons even said, "We need a new outline. I know I was part of it myself, but too many hoodies with prints! You know, something needs to shift." The centerpiece of his collection was hard-to-work-with duchesse satin in 70's-Saint-Laurent jewel tones rendered in large, boxy coats (or Lurex sweaters) worn with spectacular platform boots. Love!

Lucio Vanotti showed some great, simple, wrap skirts. I love how these look...and sometimes I am so tempted to just go to the women's section when I'm shopping...but I don't think anything will fit me.

John Galliano presented an ambitious collection meant to bring impeccable dressmaking to menswear in terms of bias cuts and methods of production. I liked the idea and there were many pieces that were of interest but what really stood out for me were the shoes, again. He showed the clove-toed shoe from FW '18-'19 but also some new creations, all in the spirit of hybridization that the house is known for. Japanese kimono fabrics were made into chunky sneakers and cowboy boots, while another pair of cowboy boots were made from baby blue patent leather. A pair of conventional lace-ups sported a thick ankle strap. This is creativity.

Lastly, Alexandre Mattiussi of Ami presented a show that was just enchanting. While the pieces themselves were quite ordinary--the sense of it was a casual, dressed down holiday--the lyrical, pastoral setting was comforting and lulling...models wandered through fog, and down a wheat field on a hillside. *sigh*

Sunday, June 24, 2018

BEAUTY: Clothing--Wales Bonner

Fashion journalist Sarah Mower at Vogue wrote a concise-but-packed-with-information review of Grace Wales Bonner's Spring Summer '19 collection at Paris Fashion Week. Here is an excerpt:

It’s almost beginning to feel as if the history of ’60s and early ’70s counterculture is replaying itself before our eyes. Since the election of Trump in 2016, the radical impulses of angry “wokeness” have started to metabolize, among some, into a search for inner peace and spiritual enlightenment. The evidence is all there with young fashion designers, the fast-response creative vocalizers of zeitgeist-y collective think. In the past week, Craig Green, Cottweiler, and Charles Jeffrey all spoke, variously, about the search for states of transcendence, and now comes the conversation with Grace Wales Bonner. She has called her collection Ecstatic Recital, and has gone yet deeper, right back to sources that any hippie who lived through the events of ’67–’71 might find incredibly familiar.

“It’s about entering this kind of eastern mysticism through sound,” she said, quietly placing a book, published in 1971, Be Here Now, on the desk in front of her. “It’s by Ram Dass, one of the first people who brought ideas of yoga and meditation to a Western audience. It’s one of the first books which introduced the idea of finding a spiritual path.” Ram Dass had an early association with Timothy Leary (which he subsequently repudiated). It was the tune in, turn on, drop out era. Now the Hanuman Foundation holds the rights to Ram Dass’s works. “And they very kindly gave me permission to work with some of their archive.” Inspirational texts from the book appear printed on polo shirts and cotton pieces. One reads: “The stillness. The calmness. The fulfillment. When you make love and experience the ecstasy of unity.” Wales Bonner says some of the proceeds will go back to the foundation.

Indian-influenced mystical practices might seem a surprising departure for a young woman who has spent her career thus far leading the awareness around black identity, but Wales Bonner found her way into this new phase through the same portal. “I accessed India through African-American artists,” she said, explaining how prayer chimes came to be suspended on the button hole of a cream tailored jacket, and why she’s used patch-worked brocades from India (recycled from scraps) as apron wraps. She started on this path while listening to the “devotional music” of Alice Coltrane, the African-American jazz musician who went on to set up her own ashram in California in the ’80s, and by studying the late African-American sculptor Terry Adkins, whose body of work involved creating fantastical musical instruments. “He was kind of a shaman, I’d say.” There are prints of Adkins’s images on cotton patches that appear on a blue-and-white-striped shirt. She likes the idea of “someone who wears their history.”

Wales Bonner is a practitioner of that which she preaches—she spent time on a retreat in India recently—although she’d certainly disagree with the preachy turn of phrase. “I’m transparent about the meaning of what I do, but it’s not prescriptive,” she considers. In the end, it’s a more relaxed collection, mixing in nylon yoga pants with cargo pockets, and jersey pieces with her more familiar signature tailoring and some of the elaborate embroideries she’s known for.

I read BE HERE NOW many, many years ago and it was a favorite book of a dear friend of mine who passed away 2 weeks ago now, so this is especially poignant. She was an avid reader of this blog and she would have seen this Wales Bonner collection and just loved cher Odette, si vous pouvez le voir, faites le moi savoir. Je t'ai aimé, je t'aime, je t'aimerai toujours.

BEAUTY: Clothing--Alexander McQueen

McQueen for men has always been about tailoring, no matter the concept, presentation, or additional elements. And Sarah Burton has kept that alive at the house, thankfully. For this SS '19 collection at Paris Fashion Week, she took the idea of tailoring, playing with and musing on traditional menswear (the restrictive nature of it, the uniformity of it not only in a business setting but in a military setting where the uniform is literal), and then returned to a past concept for inspiration: that of British photographer John Deakin who photographed the painter Francis Bacon and his inner circle throughout the 1950s and 60s. Both men were gay at a time when it was not only frowned upon but also illegal. So, in a form of stream of consciousness type of fabrication, these garments in the collection speak to a kind of restrictive menswear that has been altered and slightly fetishized (see elongated shapes, nipped waists, and trench coats that have been slashed and re-scaled), the idea of the underground gay "leather man" with leather trenches and motorcycle wear, and finally, not only the sketches (on black and white suits but also on the black leather motorcycle outfit) but the color and paint daubs and washes of artist Francis Bacon. Please notice the paint washes across the blazer and overcoat near the end are not paint but embroidery, with the end threads trailing like wet dripping paint. That is simple but amazing...

And for these last two suits covered in sketches and graffiti, the designs are actually beaded-on-tulle-on-silk. BREATHTAKING.

BEAUTY: Clothing--Ann Demeulemeester

Since Ann Demeulemeester left her own company in 2013, creative director Sébastien Meunier has kept the DNA of the house pretty much intact. No surprise there since he had designed the men's collection under Demeulemeester since 2010. So he knows what he is doing.

And for this SS '19 outing at Paris Fashion Week, the house's lyrical, dreamy silhouettes from the 18th and 19th centuries continued (see previous posts of such collections here, here, and here). Such Romantic, historical clothing is my weak spot and takes me back to my own New Romantic days in the 80s. This particular collection full of tulle, lace, and floppy hats seems to be infused with a dreamy, hazy sense of warm afternoons...spent watching clouds pass by while lying in wheat fields at the edge of a little village of thatched cottages. The structured jackets and coats which reference another era pair well with looser coats that drape like silky bathrobes (I used to have a beautiful blue silk bathrobe I would wear like a lightweight overcoat). The generously cut and gathered pirate shirts are always fun. Soutache details, trailing straps, and sandals that lace up with leather or jute add texture. And of course the pink and gold jacquard pieces add a sense of Bouguereau to the proceedings.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

BEAUTY: Clothing--Yohji Yamamoto

Yohji Yamamoto (previously here), Spring Summer '19 at Paris Fashion Week. Black (as usual), layered (as usual), slouchy Bohemian chic (as usual), flowing trousers (as usual), asymmetrical cuts (as usual), silky, streaks of bright color, Japanese imagery and kanji.