Friday, September 30, 2022

"A Drop In The Ocean (Paul Corley Remix)" by Frakkur

Some calm transcendence in a troubled world.

"A Drop In The Ocean (Paul Corley Remix)" by Frakkur (a nom de musique our beloved Jónsi from Sigur Ros used to record ambient music several years ago).

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Thought Of The Day

--Quote from Rev. Eston Williams in 2016 on his decision to allow same sex marraiges in his United Methodist church

Monday, September 26, 2022

"Washed Away" by Kelela

Wow, this one totally took me by surprise. GORGEOUS.

Gorgeous Kelela with a shaved head. "Washed Away," a gorgeous dreamy song full of ethereal texture. Gorgeous Ethiopia, with Kelela going from dry rocks and leather clothing to a cleansing pool and all white flowing robes in healing water.


Sunday, September 25, 2022

BEAUTY: Painting--Deborah Brown

I am enchanted with these cute self-portraits Deborah Brown paints of herself while walking her dog. The fact that only their long early morning or late afternoon shadows are seen is whimsical, unexpected, and so unique.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

"Fruit" by Oliver Sim

Singer and bassist for The xx Oliver Sim has released a solo album called "Hideous Bastard." This song "Fruit" (with backing vocals by gay icon Jimmy Sommerville) is moving to me for personal reasons...

Far too femme
Surrounded by rocks
You're gonna look the gem
You can dress it away, talk it away
Go down the flame
But it's all pretend

It's all pretend

What would my, what would my father do?
Do I take a bite, take a bite of the fruit?
I've heard other people say
It can't be right if it cause you shame

Have I made you proud?
Take a look at me now
If I've got my father's eyes
I've got my mother's smile

Wrong or right
You're standing right in front of the green light
Just look at his face, what a beautiful face
How it makes you feel inside

Take a bite, babe
Take a bite, babe
It's an ordinary thing

Take a bite, babe
Take a bite, babe
It's an ordinary thing

What would my father do?
Do I take a bite, take a bite of the fruit?

Have I made you proud?
Take a look at me now
If I've got my father's eyes
I've got my mother's smile (take a look at me now)

Have I made you proud?
Take a look at me now (take a look at me now)
If I've got my father's eyes
I've got my mother's smile (take a look at me now)

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Happy Autumnal Equinox 2022!

Today is the official start of autumn, when our planet begins to tilt the other direction, tipping the northern hemisphere away from the sun. The days grow shorter, nights grow longer, as we move indoors and into ourselves for hibernation and introspection. Autumn is a time of harvest as the earth moves into hibernation as well. It is a beautiful time, a spiritual transition, a doorway between summer and winter.


(And for our friends Down Under, Happy Spring!)

Happy Birthday "Oh, By The Way" 2022!

Congratulations "Oh, By The Way," you are thirteen years old today!

Thirteen years ago, I had a dream in which I started a blog called “Oh, By The Way.” When I woke up that morning, I went to the computer and promptly started a blog called “Oh, By The Way.” Seriously--it was the first thing I did that morning, and yes, I often act out in waking life things I have dreamt.

"Oh, By The Way" is my digital scrap book of things I like, things I would share with a close friend and say: “Oh, by the way, do you know of this artist/clothing or interior designer/model/singer/actor/gorgeous man… or, have you seen this video/photo/film... or heard (or do you remember) this song/band... or, read this book/poem/inspiring quote... or, visited this place/ restaurant/ famous building... or, have you heard of this amazing new scientific discovery?”

Followers and regular readers: thank you so much! I hope you find this blog fascinating, beautiful, interesting, moving, inspiring, informative, and uplifting. Welcome to the birthday party. This year I am virtually serving a gorgeous cake from Sigita at the fantastic Fern Cakery In's a pistachio sponge with homemade passion fruit curd and white chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream frosting. Help yourself to a slice...with or without extra crushed pistachios for topping!


BEAUTY: Clothing--Richard Quinn

This September iteration of London Fashion Week was upended by the death of HRH Queen Elizabeth II and many designers cancelled shows or have rescheduled them for a later date. But some designers chose to move ahead, albeit in a respectful way.

Regular readers know that twice a year--winter and summer--I blog about the marvelous creations designers send down the runway in England, Italy, and France, but for the men's shows only. However, for this posting I want to share with you a very arresting SS '23 womenswear collection at London Fashion Week from Richard Quinn. His intended theme was going to do with surveillance in our modern world and was going to be expressed in his usual riotously colorful creations. But the death of The Queen touched Quinn so deeply that he and his core team of six, plus 20 show-time helpers, worked day and night, in the 10 days after Her Majesty's death to create 22 looks all in black mourning.

Quinn said, "It was a real labor of love, I suppose...It was almost cathartic for us to put all of our emotions of mourning into it. We wanted it to have that kind of real craftsmanship, the beauty of royalty, and to try to turn all of the shapes and embroidery that we do into that kind of that idea of uniform dressing up they did when her father [King George VI] died."

Two ideas strike me about this opulent collection. The first has to do with the sheer amount of variety that Quinn managed to pack into a look that cannot rely on color. His silhouettes are a dizzying lesson in fashion history with cuts and shapes from the Georgian/Regency period of the mid 1700s to the early 1800s, all the way to the 1950s (with references to garments that look as if they could have been by the newly crowned Elizabeth II) and even the mod 60s. But all, masterfully, in black...with complicated layers of beading, brocade, and feathers.

Secondly, I can't help but flash on the idea of public mourning and how Queen Victoria, dressed in black with a veil after losing her beloved Prince Albert, ushered in a style of dressing that lasted for decades with the public in modest black mourning clothing on a seemingly permanent basis. While I don't think the British at large are going to be wearing black for the next thirty years, it is nonetheless a poignant and jarring moment to see so many people reacting to such a momentous, historic shift in culture and society.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

BEAUTY: Clothing--SS Daley

This is my first post of the work of S.S. Daley founded by London based menswear and womenswear designer Steven Stokey-Daley who just this past June won the prestigious LVMH prize (congratulations Steven!). After graduating from the Westminster Fashion Design BA in 2020 and spending time on the teams at Alexander McQueen and Tom Ford, he has taken up the reins of his own label. Stokey-Daley is dedicated--so far--to a fascination with and a particular expression of British culture. He seems to be drawn to a moment in the 1920s and 1930s through which he explores the changing attitudes, social codes, and expressions of the aristocracy and the upper class at that time in Great Britain as seen through the eyes of a working class designer. Yet as a gay designer, he is also drawn to examining codes of masculinity and femininity, and what they do and don't--or could possibly--mean in a wider social context.

While this might only be his third show, this SS '23 collection at London Fashion Week seems masterful. Inspired by the years-long romance between English authors Vita Sackville-West and Violet Trefusis (while both women were still married!--their husbands conveniently looked the other way), the presentation was quite layered. The show opened with what could have been interpreted as a funereal moment for The Queen--models in black carrying candles walked to the sound of a tolling bell--but it had a meaning immediate to the theme. "The idea of forbidden love is central to queer identity, so I was deeply moved by the love letters between the two women. There’s an incredible image of them where they’re both dressed impeccably well in all black – with Sackville-West in a man’s tuxedo – and they’re arm-in-arm in the South of France, gorgeously unbothered." But the women were in love in an age when same sex relationships were illegal and they were forced to keep their love a secret...forced to deny their love in a public context. So this funereal procession was in effect a mourning of the love that could have been.

But the central theme and look of the show and entire collection was inspired by Sackville West’s famed white garden at Sissinghurst hence the lyrical, garden-inspired imagery including some lovely prints of 1920s vintage flower seed packets as well as bluebell-printed deadstock twill (in fact, S.S Daley is committed to sustainability by only using donated, deadstock and end of roll fabrics!).

In their letters to each other which were read aloud in a dramatized presentation by members of the National Youth Theatre, Sackville-West and Trefusis used the word "rabbit" as code for affection, so Stokey-Daley created hare prints throughout (regular readers may recall I have a great affection for bunnies and I love that trench coat, 14th look below), as well as bunny ears covered in leather, corduroy and striped jersey.

Also of note is the very cute use of the classic English souvenir tea towel--the kind sold for events like Prince Charles and Diana's wedding or a Silver Jubilee--as a pattern on shirts and shorts. And special kudos to Stokey-Daley for including plus-sized male models in his show. Larger women have been a part of many shows over the last several seasons in an effort toward inclusion, but this is the first time men have been represented in this demographic.

BEAUTY: Clothing--Edward Crutchley

Edward Crutchley, a graduate of Saint Martin's who launched his own label at Fashion East during 2015's London Collections: Men, showed a fascinating Spring Summer 2023 collection for London Fashion Week inspired by the ancient Greek sea god Proteus who was Poseidon's shepherd for sea creatures. It is where we get out word protean which describes anyone or anything that is as mutable and adaptable. Crutchley invokes Proteus to highlight the idea of fluid thinking and gender fluid behavior. The designer said, "Even though it’s about ancient Greek mythology, there are no references. We’re not seeing a toga coming down the runway. But it’s very much based around Proteus and how he cannot be caught, because his body is always in flux...and I think that’s a very pertinent thing to be talking about now, especially with the hideous take that our new prime minister (Liz Truss) has on people’s bodies and their right to own their own bodies. She has already said that a trans woman is not a woman."

As a gay designer, Crutchley has been pushing boundaries and buttons with his gender-defying collections for a few years now (previously here), so this collection continues that perspective with everyone--men and women--striding down the runway in gorgeous silver platforms. He referenced the fluidity of water with shimmery blue taffeta, sheath dresses with bubble cut-outs, water-y sequined sections, and a special digital print collaged together from rippling images of shavings of mother-of-pearl. A few men sported cupless bras; after all, men have no actual breasts to support, but men do have pectoral muscles and the idea is not so far-fetched as it reads more like a harness, the type worn in the gay leather community, but this one in sequins. "Beauty. I always think that’s the best way to protest. Make something beautiful that expresses your sentiment. That’s the way to win people around to show them what you believe, in the most beautiful way possible," said Crutchley.

Crutchley is an expert in fabric, having worked with Kim Jones at Dior, Louis Vuitton, and now Fendi (Jones was appointed Artistic Director of Fendi's women's collection after Karl Lagerfeld's death) fact, in addition to his eponymous label he also carries the title Director of Fabric for Dior Men. So it is no surprise that he uses sumptuous materials, expressed here with amazingly fine knits, purple and pink crushed velvet, Lurex, and bouclé. But the forward part of the collection certainly comes from the pieces on men that are traditionally seen as more "feminine." Of course, despite historically rigid gender lines, there really is no such thing as "men's" or "women's" clothing. If I own a sheath dress and wear it, then it is a piece of men's clothing because I am a man. It's mine. And I can't help but think that if those rigid gender lines did not exist, if the definition of what it is to be a man, of what it is to look like a man, if what is allowed to be associated with men could be more inclusive, there would be room for gender non-conforming people to express themselves. Imagine if the paradigm of what a man is ran from A to Z instead of A to C,...then someone could wear a piece of clothing that is perceived now as feminine but proudly claim to be a man because that expression would be included in being a man. Maybe the work of designers like Crutchley and others are advancing us toward a better, less restrictive future.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

BEAUTY: Clothing--Daniel W. Fletcher

London Fashion Week is--was--is scheduled for September 16th through the 20th, but of course with the death of Her Majesty and a national day of mourning for the funeral, many houses have scrambled to reschedule or have simply outright canceled shows. But LFW has vowed to continue, while recognizing such a momentous occasion and shift of the British cultural landscape.

So the first few shows have continued, and Daniel W. Fletcher opened his show with a morning coat and black armband in honor of The Queen. He said, "I think it’s important to be sensitive, because the Queen meant so much to a lot of people in this country, and having lost a number of people in my own life this year, I have a lot of empathy for people dealing with grief...There’s a really strong relationship between British fashion and the royal family, so I think it’s fitting we continue. I’m very glad that everyone’s pulled together."

Even before The Queen's death, Fletcher was taking inspiration for this collection, entitled Stand and Deliver, from quintessential English silhouettes to include pieces resembling corsets and patterns like Prince of Wales checks. The palette features a lot of black to reflect the somber mood of a country in mourning. But of great importance is the fact that this entire Spring Summer '23 collection was fabricated from only deadstock materials from Nona Source, a fabric resale platform backed by LVMH. Fletcher says, "I’m a firm believer in producing what is necessary rather than just churning stuff out." I agree. No fast fashion. Buy well and buy what you need so it lasts.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

"Vetiverol" by Jónsi

I am currently lost in--and weeping from--this exquisite, transcendent track by Jónsi. From his album "Obsidian" released last year, "Vetiverol" captures the sound of ultimate's full of a gentle wistfulness, a sense of an ending, of letting go without regret...

Monday, September 12, 2022

BEAUTY: Painting--Igor Moritz

The gorgeous colorful portraiture work of artist Igor Moritz recalls Fauvism, as well as Matisse and Picasso in form. But it's his color palette that is sublime...

Top to bottom: Boat Trip From Hoxton To Wick; By The Canal; Charly In Grenoble; Guglielmo; Kuba Drinking A Beer; Moonlight Over Haggerton; Mother With Cat; Scarlett; Self Portrait With Bell Flower; Twisted Tree