Wednesday, 17 December 2014

how did 50 years of feminism end in THIS?

On 4th December, the Daily Mail published an article by Sarah Vine titled "How did 50 years of feminism end in this?" In it Vine explains why she believes that the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is more regressive for feminism than Miss World. Now, I know what you're thinking why am I reading the Daily Mail anyway? Surely it's a recipe for getting unnecessarily angry? What more could you expect from the Mail except the spreading of illogical information on feminism? However, my mum always gives me articles that she thinks I'll be interested in reading, and this happened to be the latest one.

My first issue with the piece is that Vine's opening sentence trivialises feminism, "equality excuse not to brush your hair." I get it. I opened the piece on feminism for my school magazine not in a dissimilar way. It is difficult to address Daily Mail readers about feminism without alienating them completely. However, Vine's derogatory attitude towards the 'stereotypical' feminist- "it is perfectly possible to make it in a man's world without looking like one"- contrasts starkly to her criticisms of the Victoria's Secret models, who, according to Vine are perfectly groomed solely for the pleasure of men.

Personally, I’ve always thought of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show as a fashion event. It’s one thing to have the attention of fashion experts and interested teens and another entirely for a gross old man to watch the show and leer at the models whilst touching himself when it’s broadcast on American television. Despite this, the whole idea of feminism is about not having to change our behaviour to “suit” male reaction.

She refers at one point to the models as “female flesh”, suggesting that that is how the models are perceived by the outside world, especially to men. However, I look at them and I see successful and empowered models with personality. The idea of models being “female flesh” is repulsive. Vine also uses the term “feminazi.” You CANNOT write an article about feminism from a feminist perspective and use the term “feminazi” in a serious manner. Comparing feminism to Nazism? Nope GTFO. Vine states that it is “hard to tell them [the models] apart.” Um, excuse me, have you SEEN Magdalena?!

The comparison to Miss World and the suggestion that Victoria’s Secret makes the former look “almost sweet in its innocence” I also believe to be incorrect. Miss World is about pitting women against each other, breeding animosity between women and breaking down feminism by damaging the unspoken sisterhood. Of course the modelling industry is just as cutthroat, but the Victoria’s Secret show itself is fun and the models are not competing for any title.

However, one point that I’d like to discuss/look into more is the idea that society has coerced women into believing that expression of sexuality is empowering, but that that idea is just another tool used by the patriarchy to keep women in their “role.” Nonetheless, this idea, along with many ideas concerning feminism and gender roles is very heteronormative. Personally, I don’t want to over think it too much because I believe that what we find empowering is down to the individual. I don’t want to stop making myself look nice because I’m worried that it’s just the effects of society “brainwashing” me.

Overall, the article belittles the fashion industry and the women who work within it as dumb, vain and undeserving of any recognition they get. YAWN: that opinion is so old. Furthermore, Vine’s criticism of both ‘stereotypical’ feminists and women who work hard on their appearance limits the choices that women have. Feminism is all about choice. We should be allowed to live our lives how we want without any other voice telling us we’re being “too masculine” or dressing/acting to “please men.” Sometimes I don’t shave for a while. Sometimes I diet. Both of those things are my personal choices and I shouldn’t be seen as a crazy radical or a vanity obsessed bimbo for either of them because it’s nobody else’s business. What I really want to know is how 50 years of feminism has ended in women still being criticised by society for their own personal choices, no matter what those may be.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

i wear black on the outside because black is how i feel on the inside

December has rushed by so quickly. I'm trying to feel christmassy but I've got an essay to hand in and an essay to write in class next week and I've heard that you're not allowed to hum Christmas carols under your breath during a timed essay under exam conditions. Also, the weather has suddenly got really, really cold. I don't think we'll get snow this year, just rain, but it's still difficult to dress for.

Wearing one of my favourite jumpers last week. I wear this jumper way too much and everyone must assume that it's because I love everything christmassy and wintry, but it's actually because it's the only black jumper I own. I'm still pleading my fairy godmother to buy me this Rick Owens one. It's so cold now that anything less than a jumper leads to spending the day shivering and regretting not wearing a jumper.

I always wear sparkly knee high socks when I want to add an extra kick to an outfit. I wore them over tights so that my legs weren't too cold. They look kind of school uniformy; an aesthetic that I can only appreciate now that I no longer have to wear a school uniform.

Besides that Rick Owens jumper, I also love this one by Bella Freud and Helmut Lang's. I think it's relevant to repeat what I wrote about black in this post in October:
Black is a colour I always go back to because it's so flattering. It's pretty difficult to avoid wearing black at all. It's in most items because it goes with everything. Coco Chanel said that black is the best colour because it wipes out everything else. It is a powerful colour.
I was just going to add some of my favourite high street black jumpers next, but some of the Topshop jumpers were such close copies of the jumpers I mentioned above that I couldn't not place them alongside each other:

£42, Topshop

Bella Freud, Topshop

Helmut Lang, Topshop

American Apparel, £62
Would look great as part of a preppy look over the top of a shirt and a pair of cigarette trousers.

ASOS, £22
Very sixties. 

Last night I watched possibly the most hauntingly creepy film I have ever seen. The Innocents is a black and white horror film from 1961, but it features some beautiful shots and terrifying music as well as singing children, unexpected ghosts and a creaky old house. What else could you want from a film?

Finally, some music I've been listening to lately is all on my latest 8tracks playlist if you'd like to listen. I hope that you have a good weekend!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

the death of high fashion?

Okay, now that sounds over dramatic, and like something that a pale, emaciated Eastern European model with bone structure to kill for might contemplate whilst sipping an Americano beneath a delicate black mourning veil. The art of high fashion is not entirely dead, but if, in the future, people look back to find a golden age for high fashion, it would not be right now. The noughties were awful for fashion but, even then, brands were not casting rich kids to walk in their shows or using tacky parts of popular culture to try and make them relevant.

The definition of high fashion is "expensive, fashionable clothes produced by leading fashion houses." It has come to describe the artfully constructed nature of the clothes from classic brands such as Chanel, Dior and Hermes. Therefore, although such brands still exist, if they lose their glamorous appeal, can they really still be called high fashion? The appeal of high fashion, especially for spectators who check for the latest runway shows but can't actually afford the clothes (hi), is that it has a certain level of the unattainable about it. Ridiculous and extravagant? At times, of course. But above all, it's aspirational and motivational. As the late Oscar de la Renta said, "fashion is always looking forward." It is true that high fashion is very elitist and that can be problematic. It presents a level of perfection that is impossible to achieve day in day out, but it does have the power to redefine beauty because, unlike commercial, fast fashion, brands look for much more unique, potentially iconic looks.

Now, the time I guess you've probably been waiting for. The industry is not one that anyone can simply walk into (or pay your way into.) The stir and controversy surrounding Kendull Jenner has so far actually worked in her favour. She is in high demand for the greatest fashion magazines and high fashion brands because they know that Kendull is being talked about. Perhaps you could theorise that this has been approaching since the '80s when Anna Wintour took the helm at Vogue and steered it towards focusing on celebrities instead of models and consequently smudging the lines between the two. Celebrities became models and models became celebrities.

There isn't a single set of criteria for what makes a model glamorous, classy and iconic, but it is blatantly obvious to anyone who pays attention to fashion that Cara and Kendall are hardly Kate and Naomi. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate celebrity culture. I actually thought that Kimye's Vogue cover was kind of genius. It tapped into popular culture brilliantly. However, there is a difference between celebrities getting Vogue covers and them stealing the fashion spotlight away from models in high fashion shows, who got there the conventional way and worked hard for their achievements.

MM6 Maison Martin Margiela Pre-Fall 2015

That all taken into account, the outlook for fashion is never entirely bleak. There is always a constant flow of creativity as well as those legendary designers who are never swayed by transient trends. Now is a very exciting time for fashion with social media making the competition between brands more intense and therefore the creativity more avant garde. Kendull gets brands a lot of attention at the moment, but genuinely visionary ideas and techniques do as well and I think we need to move forward focusing on that as opposed to the more undesirable parts of the industry.  

Saturday, 6 December 2014

i want a love that falls as fast as a body from the balcony

I've really given in to wintry vibes this week. Dark colours, warm coats, chunky boots and the like. I've also started to embrace the festivity of this month. There is a constant buzz of people complaining about how they don't feel christmassy, but last year it really hit me that I can't expect it to be the same as it was when I was five years old because I'm not the same as I was five years old. So, I've decided to reinvent my attitude towards Christmas in a more "adult" way. Don't ask me what that entails because I haven't figured that out yet, but to start with I'm having a festive party tonight and we've got Christmas crisps, mince pies, decorations and the least cheesy of the Christmas music. It helps that I volunteer at the library running craft sessions with young, excited children. Hopefully some of the magic that they feel will reflect onto me.

I've been listening to Lykke Li a lot today. She is so magical. See, already that's something I can add to my "make Christmas magical but don't expect it to be as magical as it used to be" agenda. 

I watched a TED talk on introversion at school last week. It was really interesting and helped me to understand more about myself as an introvert and those around me who fall at various points across the introvert/extrovert spectrum. There's a lot of snobbery around the two "types." Lots of people who also watched it started bragging about being an introvert but life would be so boring if everyone was introverted. Besides, society tends to view extroversion as the more desirable state hence the emphasis on group work at school and team work in a number of office jobs. There's not much you can do to change who you are so just embrace and appreciate your intro/extro/amniversion

I've been looking at a lot of Jenny Holzer's "Projections." Below are some of my favourites.

I don't have a copy of the December issue of W Magazine but I saw a photograph from the Tim Walker shoot with Tilda Swinton on Twitter and knew that I had to see more. Fortunately, the whole ethereal shoot is on the W Magazine website. These are my favourite shots.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

this week in fashion

On Monday night John Galliano presented Anna Wintour with the Outstanding Achievement award at the British Fashion Awards. Anna gracefully accepted the award, her voice wobbling emotionally as she made her speech. It was touching to see a woman, who has a reputation for being icy and who always seems so strong, be moved almost to tears when receiving such prestigious recognition of her life's work. Wintour talked of how she could not do what she does without the young talent that is constantly coming out of London. Christopher Bailey and Mary Katrantzou were just a couple of the many famous London fashion creatives in the audience. Though mainly a celebration of the older generation, there was definitely an inspiring emphasis on youth at the BFAs. This was one of John Galliano's most public appearances since he made the infamous anti-semitic remarks in 2011. Unlike Anna, I've never been a particular fan of Galliano. Putting him back in such an influential position condones being drunkenly racist. There are plenty of visionary new young designers to fill Galliano's role within the industry. Wintour even acknowledged all the fresh London talent in her acceptance speech. It comes back to whether you can like the art whilst disliking the artists but, though many would disagree with me, I never thought Galliano's brilliance was irreplaceable anyway. On a positive note, Emma Watson is killing it this year and she beat Alexa Chung for the British Style Icon award, making her big 2014 news under the headlines of both fashion and feminism. Overall, it was a fantastic night to kickstart this fashion filled week and a reminder as to why the fashion industry and the creators within it make the world a more beautiful place. With so much fashion royalty present, it's difficult to decide who was the best dressed, but here are the people who I think looked flawless:
Joan Smalls
Karlie Kloss
Courtney Love and Lana Del Rey
Naomi Campbell
Tom Ford and Rita Ora
Suki Waterhouse
Susie Lau
Kate Moss
Alexa Chung
Victoria's Secret
The angels arrived in London on Sunday in an exclusive jet; posing for photographs instantaneously and filling Instagram feeds with a constant stream of dreamy photos for the next few days. I don't particularly care for Victoria's Secret, but the angels are so aspirational. I was surprised by the extent that Victoria's Secret coverage overshadowed Chanel. Perhaps due to the famous faces such as Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Ed Sheeran giving performances. However, I did not think that they benefitted the show; especially with the singers walking onto the runway or getting in the way of the models. Honestly, the only performer who would have made the show really strong would be Beyonce. The show is first and foremost about the angels, well it's about the lingerie, but the models are usually more interesting. Magdalena slayed as usual and I died a little inside when I saw how amazing she looked. Although I was not a fan of her uber cutesy blonde hair look, I have to seriously admire Karlie Kloss for attending the British Fashion Awards after a busy day around London with the rest of the angels to present Cara Delevigne with Model of the Year, then going to the gym at midnight for a final session with her personal trainer before the VS show the next day. That's the kind of dedication and motivation I aspire to have in my life.
Chanel Métiers d'Arts 
Clashing with Victoria's Secret, the Chanel Métiers d'Arts show initially went almost unnoticed on social media. In between seasons Lagerfeld never goes as far as the main shows, so no private islands of tremendous ice sculptures. Of course Cara Delevigne and Pharell Williams appeared in a promotional film for the collection, but I found that kind of sickening. It feels as though Lagerfeld is desperately trying to find new ways to Chanel relevant, but he doesn't need overly famous models and mainstream pop singers to do that. Chanel always will be relevant because it is Chanel. The likes of Cara, Pharell and Kendull make the brand seem tacky and more fast fashion than high fashion, without the accessible price tags. Many a recent Chanel collection has left me with a disappointed taste. There are always a handful of chic looks, but that's it. I could select 8 from 88 that are really amazing. the rest of it was too "meh" for Chanel. Also, Karl, you can't keep on insulting fat people if you're putting on weight yourself huh. 
I hope you have a good rest of the week and that is just as fashionable as the first half has been xoxo