The Current State of Magazines

Has anyone recovered from #CyberMonday yet? I got a ton of goodies coming along my way and I can't wait *claps hand with glee* I wasn't planning on writing about fashion magazines quite just yet but the amount of surprise at the quality of Self Service in the last post's comments prompted me to do so. While I was looking up Venetia Scott, I came across this interview she did with Ponystep on Fashionologie and found this part that particularly resonated with me:
"I find magazines less and less interesting — I don’t really buy magazines or look at magazines. I mean I’ve got a twelve year old [daughter with ex-husband Juergen Teller] and we were talking about it yesterday — she’ll go on the internet and probably look at something like your [online] magazine [Ponystep] more. She would not ever go to a newsagent and buy a magazine. And even here when we get sent ones that I’ve got work in, she’s not really interested in it. In a way I’m doing less editorial because it seems a bit tired now."
You can read the entire interview here. I find it interesting that such sentiment would be echoed by someone who works so closely with advertisers and magazines. [Side note: just how awesome would it be if your mum was Venetia Scott and your dad Juergen Teller, just sayin'.] As a fashion insider, she would have way more insight than I ever will by just looking at the newsstand. I have been feeling this way for a while now, and particularly more and more as the time went on this year. I remember (not too long ago in high school) the excitement of going to sites such as Foto-Decadent and later Fashion Gone Rogue to go check out the latest editorials from different magazines around the world. Alas, I don't feel so anymore. I don't think it's necessarily because I've grown accustomed to the limited ways an editorials can be done because I do find the occasional favourite now and then (i.e. Self Service), so it can only be concluded that the quality of editorials are declining.

It's funny how I failed to include the two biggest yawners of all time up in the picture above, namely Vogue US and Elle US even though I can understand the reason why they want to tone things down so much is because they want/need it to sell to mass audience (I'm looking at you Middle America!). The European Vogues tend to do pretty well, but lately they are yawn-inducing as well. It's not that I need some kind of provocative imagery or naked Lara Stone and Ashley Smith everywhere, except new themes, different locations (no more jumping against grey backgrounds please) or interesting styling. The art of styling is lost somewhere and everything feels so commercial it reads like an advertisement. It doesn't help that most of the looks are entirely taken directly from the runway––might as well go read a catalog or look up the runway photos myself instead.

In search of new browsing material and fashion inspiration elsewhere, I have shied away from mass-market, mainstream publications in favour of smaller, niche magazines like Acne Paper, Lula, Inventory, Kinfolk, Self Service, The Gentlewoman, Monocle, etc. These magazines tend to be a lot more expensive, though it's entirely worth it because of the amazing quality of the printing, the layouts, the lack of ads, and of course, the incredible content. All the blood, sweat and labour poured into these smaller magazines is evident through the utter attention to detail, which does not go unnoticed and is much appreciated. I enjoy these newer smaller magazines a lot more in most parts because they have a much more artistic quality to them and are immensely creative in the way they present things. Perhaps as a result of not having the pressure to sell and dilute their content, they have the full rein to go all out on the particular subject. Because I treat the magazines as luxury items, I want content that I cannot get elsewhere and rather want something with immense depth that I can savour slowly in several sittings like allowing small bites of chocolate melting over my tongue if that makes sense. The only Condé Nast publication I still read is The New Yorker. Does anyone else agree? Which magazines do you read nowadays?

Fall Inspiration from Self Service Issue Nº35

Courtesy of Self Service Magazine
This marks the first and only time I will ever buy such an expensive hardcover magazine, so enjoy this review while you can folks. And only for you Arizona Muse, only my most favourite model in the entire universe ever! I am sure that many of you have seen the main editorial featuring Arizona and Daphne by now on various fashion blogs everywhere (not that I would necessarily know since I have not been reading many blogs as of late).

Above are some of my favourite looks from the ed. I can certainly see why so many people would be quite so head over heels for the editorial. The photography is of course phenomenal, but most of all the styling is pitch perfect. It's got sex appeal without looking sexy at all which I love. The slouchy, boxy, yet still tailored look is most definitely my cup of tea and is close to my ideal aesthetic for my wardrobe. It's probably quite trendy for now because the strong Céline and Prada stylistic influences everywhere nowadays but I can tell that I will still dress the same many many years down the road. Suzanne Koller is the stylist for the shoot and I absolutely loving all her work so far. Sorry Carine and Emmanuelle for picking new favourites! (well Emmanuelle not so much anymore...) A lot of her work is for Self Service so far so I wonder if she is also a fashion editor for Self Service? If anyone knows, please let me know. She is also the stylist for the latest A.P.C. F/W 2011, which I had admired when I was flipping through various other fashion magazines the past few months, and it all the more cements my love for this woman and her work. She was also the stylist for the next editorial featuring Claudia Schiffer, which I liked immensely and now know just why I like it so much. Strangely it's not circulated everywhere quite like the the first editorial even though it's just as impeccably styled. Although again, it was rather short even though it's so utterly chic.

Another favourite editorial is one styled below by Venetia Scott, who goes double duty as the photographer as well. Too talented much? Coincidentally she is the photographer behind A.P.C. F/W 2011 campaign as well. Again, she has a lot of editorial with Self Service, so perhaps she's also a fashion editor for the magazine. The pairing of Suzanne Koller and Venetia Scott is an absolute force to reckon with and I will most likely keep tabs on both of their work. I think the reason why I am so excited about these two is because I am quite disappointed with a lot of print magazines lately and fail to find much––if any at all––inspiration from editorials as I did in the past (the kind that you look at over and over again, and should the magazine fall apart at the spine from wear and tear, take it out and plaster all over the walls or in a scrapbook). I suppose I should save this for another post as there is much to talk about on the state of editorials (I suppose not really magazines themselves en général). The rebellious school girl theme from the first editorial continues down to this one. The strongest part of the editorials has to be the different colour combinations and the vintage silhouttes. The devil really is in the details here, all unmissable in the brooch and the retro hair and makeup. I find this equally as inspirational as the first editorial and yet again like the ed with Claudia Schiffer it's not sadly seen as much.

Moving on, a great feature of the magazine has to be the short and snippy Q&As with the who's who of the fashion industry, featuring the too cool (Pier Paolo Piccioli, one half of the duo behind Valentino) to the too pretty (Joseph Altuzarra, new CFDA fashion fund winner) and many more in between. I always love to know more about the designers themselves and the creative mindset behind the collection. For me, fashion is never 'just about the clothes', which is not that they are unimportant, but the aesthetics, the artistry, the ideologies and personal philosophies are all very much crucial as to why I like fashion so much.

There is still so much left of the magazine to be thoroughly discussed. The essentials Q&As are by far a trademark best of this magazine and the one with Jane Birkin for this issue was also wonderfully interesting (the mother of Charlotte Gainsbourg AND Lou Dillon!). I don't regret buying the magazine at all even though it's so pricey because the quality is absolutely amazing. The visuals of this magazine is impeccable and there are little ads in between to disrupt the flow of things (which could explain the price as we pay for parts of the production and publishing out of our own pockets). The only thing I wished the magazine had more of are articles. Maybe not the ones à la Vogue US or Paris even, but the in-depth profiles on the creative minds like the ones that Acne Paper does so well. Ultimately I do think the magazine is refreshing on how narrowly, and thus also strongly, concentrated the magazine is on on the fashion industry, unlike many others who veer often too much into different related creative industries like art or film, which makes Self Service unique on its own. I don't want to the magazine to lose its original flavour but with more articles, I'd be the happiest camper alive.

Happy Thanksgiving

I am trying to channel a look that is a cross between Mizuhara Kiko + Arizona Muse à la Self-Service front cover here but I probably end up looking like some strange Asian Margot Tenenbaum. Oh by the way, this is the other sweater I got from Oona's at Cambridge. Anyway it's my first thanksgiving with a blog and I want to thank all the wonderful people I've met through the blog. I can't believe I'm blogging alongside such incredibly interesting, smart and creative people. I also seriously cannot ask for better readers and the fact that I have readers at all blows my mind. I also want to thank F. at Greensleeves to a Ground for allowing me to collaborate with him on what will be a monthly series on female styles of the past. F., I'm sorry that I cannot write directly in French and you have to translate everything! (Quel dommage non? One day...) I have to go and stuff my face now full of turkey, stuffing and all that good stuff, so I wish everybody a wonderful Happy Thanksgiving!

Navy on Navy on Navy

Earlier today I came across Susie Bubble's article on originality in blogging and found it to be extremely interesting and insightful. A well seasoned veteran fashion blogger by now, Miss Bubble definitely knows what she's talking about. She cited an article written on, which had quoted Cathy Horyn (of The New York Times):
“I think it’s about bringing something fresh and different to a blog, that’s not really about criticism or opinion. News is good because it’s something you have that nobody else has. If you can be truthful about it, without being shady about the sourcing, then I think it’s good.”
I believe Susie Bubble made more of a valid point in recognizing that original commentary and criticism has it's own place on the web, even if it is not entirely totally original. While I don't usually agree with much of Horyn's ideas about fashion and collections on her column/blog, she does have a point here. As there are more and more fashion blogs created by the day, you would think the scope of discussion would expand. Unfortunately that is not the case and with the growing popularity of the Tumblr style of reblogging, the same material gets regurgitated over and over again. Just how many times have you seen the Zara video in collaboration of The Selby of Lucy Chadwick on blogs this week? Or perhaps all the coverage on H&M x Versace? Tumblr (and other blogging services) has value in being able to disseminate information quickly, but now it's making things almost too easy and therefore all the more harder to separate the new and fresh material over the tired and overdone shizzo. Most people blog for fun so perhaps it would be a little much to expect a "professional" attitude to it from everybody and yet though I don't plan on this blog being more than a personal side project, I can only imagine how much more dynamical and meaningful everything would become if bloggers would just spare a little more time, thought and creativity in what they publish on the web. Even if we are entering an age where 100% original ideas are almost nonexistent (even Steve Jobs, the supposed genius of our time, took the idea of the personal computer from Xerox PARC and is now known as the ultimate tweaker), our own personal takes on things still matter.

The idea for this post, is a perfect example. I am neither the first nor the second to talk about it and yet I am still able to add on my own thoughts and extend it outside the narrow focus of the fashion blogosphere. At the end this is what I love most about blogging is that inspiration can come from anywhere and how ideas that are continually bounced off one another can be always reinterpreted differently everytime. So what can anyone gather from this long winded post of mine? My eyeballs are fried and overwhelmed by seeing the same sort of images everywhere and will in turn drastically cut down my consumption of blogs at least for the time being. Please don't think I consider myself too good to read other people's thoughts (clearly evidenced by my bouncing off other people's ideas to be not true at all–in fact I thrive in it) but that I merely need to disconnect and engage in some introspective navel gazing. The blog would not be in anyway affected by my temporary disconnection (I will still reply to any comment and e-mail that comes my way) except for a renewed determination and commitment to authenticity and honesty in all posts hereafter to come. 

Let Me Tip Tip Tip Away

B4AHPs on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs
Jacket, Zara. Shirt, Vintage. Pants, UO. Scarf, H&M. Brogues, Aldo. || Typewriter, Tip, Tip, Tip - Jakishan

Coincidentally, this reminds me of Bill Cunningham's recent broadcast "Tinted Town" where he commented on how women now start to dress more in fall colours, such as browns, warm neutrals and reds, correspondingly to the weather around them. For a blog about fashion, I sure don't have enough posts on my actual day to day wear and wardrobe, even if I will never become an-outfit-a-day type of blogger. The photos taken by the Macbook built-in cam looked rather boring on its own, so voilà the first GIF I made ever! While I was making the GIF, I was listening to this song on The Darjeeling Limited soundtrack and found it to be quite hilariously suitable.

Because of the sheer amount of workload and of the monotony of going to the same kinds of classes every week, I have dressed more or less in the same way in recent days. This is not necessarily a bad thing as I find myself a kind of a uniform, but at the same time it's the repetitive nature of it all that sapping the excitement and fun out of dressing. I no longer feel quite as inspired or as enthusiastic. Save for two sweaters, a tweed jacket and my new pair of L.L. Bean winter boots (just ordered and on the way!) I have not made any more purchases. Do I just crave novelty in my routine? I am so confused due to being stuck in this awkward position between wanting to be more enthusiastic about getting dressed while simultaneously refraining from new impulsive purchases. I am honestly happy that I have not made any careless additions to the wardrobe, meanwhile I recognize the closet is hardly perfect and needs a few more rounds of purging and replacement. Can I have my cake and eat it too?

Friday Favourites V

Can't remember the last time I've updated this series–oh wait, yes I do remember now, which is uhhh too long ago. Here are some of recent my favourites from Vimeo.

Pelbo - Join the Game by André Chocron J.S. Bach - Cello Suite No. 1 - Prelude by Alexander Chen

Attenuation by kveten

keep drawing by studio shelter

Losers by Everynone

To Wellesley

Outside of her "dorm"
Before I stopped by Jada's in Cambridge, I went to Wellesley to celebrate my BFF from high school's birthday. At first I was a little reluctant in going because I was exhausted by last week's midterm rush before Thanksgiving but I am so utterly glad that I went. Not only did I manage to hang out with Jada afterwards, I was also able to truly catch up with my boarding school pal. As chummy as I can get with my new friends at college, there is something still quite different in talking with someone that you've known for the past five years now. She feels like family in how comfortable it is to be completely frank to her about anything, and feels reassuring that she would not judge me and only listen to me in what I have to say. Since she had to write about the history of Wellesley for class, she was able to give a comprehensive mini tour of the campus, which was both interesting and informative. Too bad she's camera shy or she would have been in some photos below. And did I mention Wellesley looks glorious in the autumn weather?

Notes from November

Jacket, Vintage. Top, stolen from Mum. Scarf, gift from friend. Pants, UO. Shoes, Doc Martens.
There isn't actually too many opportunities to wear the tweed jacket to class all that often as I'd liked. I look overdressed and stick out too much like a sore thumb in the sea of hoodies and leggings that I have given up trying to make it look more relaxed. Thankfully there was an event at the school art museum and I was able to let the jacket out to see the light of the day. I have done/seen/eaten a lot this past weekend so I thought I would just share some of my favourite things as of late in a brief recap:
Did I miss something amazing I should know about + check out? Let me know in you know where :)

The Kids Are All (Dressed) Right

Last week while I was watching The Hedgehog or by its original French title,  Le Herisson (2009) I couldn't help but notice, aside from the beautiful soundtrack (ugh you folks must know that was coming) and warm charming characters, the way Paloma dressed. She wears a uniform of lose denim overalls over a variation of Breton shirts à la St James. The look is classically French French, which is kind of precisely the point when much of the film is about how Madame Michel and Paloma's quiet rebellion against French social norms and expectations. Everything she wears is simple and adorable while also thoroughly age appropriate. What makes me swoon even more is how much I want to wear everything she wears in this film. Function is not sacrificed over form as Paloma looks comfortable but chic en même temps.  I highly suggest both reading the book (The Elegance of a Hedgehog) and watching the film.

While thinking about the way children preadolescents dressed, I also suddenly remembered Briony from Atonement (2007) and what she wore in the film. Though the film was set in a wholly different time period, they share similar qualities in being rather bare with the devil in the details. She manages to look sophisticated enough to denote the upper class status of the character, yet isn't too much that she loses all innocent childish appeal. The silhouette is particularly beautiful and also suitable to the time period, and small touches like the little necklaces and the pair of Mary Janes don't go unnoticed. Although it is the green dress Keira Knightley wore that became most iconic, the basic, enchantingly sweet wardrobe of young Briony Tallis is still most memorable to me. Again both the book and the film is much recommended.

Be Italian

Here are some select looks from Milan Fashion Week S/S 2012, culled from designers such as Fendi, Bottega Veneta, Marni, Miu Miu, Prada and Giambattista Valli! Can you tell which one is from which collection? No prizes sadly, though wouldn't that be awesome if one of the companies did offer something? *drools* What I am trying to show here that there is a clear distinction between two very different "kinds" of Italian styles but this kind is most definitely my favourite between the two. Apologies for the relative inactivity so far but there is tons of good stuff I'm preparing in the pipeline that is coming up soon :) 

I Am Love

From looking at many year's worth of Milan Fashion week and with some observations made from reading Italian style blogs, I surmised that there are two main different branches of Italian style. I know I am generalizing here, but there is a strong unmistakable distinctions between the two: one that is more the flamboyant, wild, eccentric style of Dolce and Gabbana, Gucci, Versace and Roberto Cavalli and the other a more understated, quirky, minimalist type of luxe along the lines of Prada, Miu Miu, Marni, Giambattista Valli and Bottega Veneta. Though it is Belgian Raf Simons of German label Jil Sander who is in charge of the costumes of I Am Love (2009) (Io sono l'amore), there is still an indisputable sense of Italian style that is much like the latter with the clean stark silhouettes.

The fashion in this film also becomes a sort of visual indicator to illustrate the different tensions within the declining Recchi family dynasty in Milan. The harsh, extremely structured clothing worn by Emma (Tilda Swinton) reflects the kind of gilded cage the character is trapped in. A foreigner transplanted to Milan away from her home in Russia, she lives a cold hollow life until she has an affair and experiences romance for the first time. Her lover brings out her other side that had been dormant and suppressed ever since she married into the family. There is no real heart or passion within the family–everything they do is for appearances which makes her feel all the more increasingly like a beautiful yet empty vase. This accounts for the muted palette she wears around the family of the house, and the rich jewel like tones she wears around with her lover. This remains consistent throughout the entire film and it is beautiful to see how she matures and develops externally and internally as the film grows more complex.

Tilda Swinton shares some interesting thoughts on her character and the clothing she wears from the film. From
Which part of the character of Emma did you respond to most?
"We wanted to tell a story about someone who had a really developed inner life but who didn't have much company, and we were drawing on fantasies of silent cinema and a kind of classic novel like Tolstoy, Flaubert, where you have a woman protagonist—who is very often a mother—who has given a part of her life to supporting and loving other people, and not necessarily paying much attention to herself. We wanted this person to be very interior, not particularly communicative, fairly self sufficient, but unawoken. She's not suppressed or oppressed in any way, but she's just not fully alive when you first meet her. We wanted to look into a woman approaching the idea of being not just a mother, a woman, not just bound by the fact that she's there to support her children. We were thinking of Emma Bovary of course, of Anna Karenina, and anyone in cinema who had a sense of untapped inner life."
How significant is Emma's wardrobe to her character's transformation?
"Well, she's somebody who is an avatar. She comes into this world as an alien, and I think that anybody marrying that sort of industrial tycoon in Milan in the '90s would find themselves daunted to assimilated. There's a uniform you need to be supplied with. You know, to walk the walk and talk the talk in a certain way in order to fit into the very precise grid that that world prescribes people. As someone like Emma, who comes from outside that milieu, she really has no preparation for it. She has to learn the code and so her wardrobe, to a certain extent, is everything."

How do you think the color palette of the costumes evoked her life in the country versus her life at home?
"It was designed to do exactly that. Raf Simons of Jil Sander and his team were so responsive to our challenge which was to make a responsive wardrobe for an uncommunicative person. The idea of her signaling with a red dress that she might be in the process of falling in love... Color referencing was really fun to play with.

What message did you want to convey with the very deliberate references to luxury brands?
"I wanted to convey observations about a kind of limitation of a completely false hierarchy in the market and a kind of global availability and domination of certain luxury brands, which is disappointing at best. It's possible to walk into a rich person's house in any city in the world and find the same make of candles, or the same shoes. I find it a waste of cultural specificity and history and myth making, and I would so much rather walk into someone's house, however much money they have, and feel that I'm actually connecting with the culture of that place and the people who live in that place. I'm disappointed when I go through airports and I see the same shops and I think there's a way in which that particular luxury milieu is like one big duty-free shop."

Personally, what is inspiring is her silent but polite rebellion against the strict conformity of the family. It's subtle but she is clearly firm in her conviction. Her simple with rich fine details will be much imitated by me. In past fashion in film posts, I have tended to focus a substantial part of my discussion on the plot of the film and less on the clothing themselves. Hopefully from this posts onwards, they will be much more focused on the aesthetics and of course, the clothes. Last but not least, I am hesitant to bring this up because it has raised a few eyebrows from people who have not seen it in the past, but the film has the most gorgeously filmed sex scene ever. Please watch at your own discretion. Anyway let me know what you think of the new arrangements in the comments below!

Another Original Tomboy

Many have commented in One of the Originals asking "and what about Katharine Hepburn?" Did you have so little faith in me to not include her at all? Of course I couldn't and was merely trying to save the best for the last. While I totally dig and adore Dietrich's "I-don't-care-what-you-think-but-I-know-I-look-hot" attitude, there is something just so approachable and pleasant about Hepburn and the way she dresses that is so utterly appealing. It's amazing that though the two both similarly wear menswear, they give off entirely different vibes. Hepburn feels so quintessentially American in her plucky, chipper, can-do spirit as opposed to Dietrich's more worldly, glamorous, European approach. They both have same natural ease towards menswear yet the overall end results are so different. This only further proves that it is much more about the individual personality than what the person is really wearing (though that still matters).
Personally for what is appropriate for my current age and occupation as a full-time student, I identify with Hepburn more than Dietrich. I tend to associate Hepburn more with daytime wear and Dietrich with the night. I simply only need to be comfortable (though preferably still looking good) for class. Certainly depending on the woman herself, can choose to have an even mix of influences from the two icons or even just Dietrich. Furthermore, I just adore how unfussy (though not unkempt) Hepburn is. Though now the "effortless" style is all the rage, she was modern and way ahead of her time to be so carefree and relaxed in her approach to dressing. There's no calculated false pretenses, but only out just to have fun.

"I never lose sight of the fact that just being is fun"