Friday, June 20, 2008

Everyday Life and Observations

Today feel like late October. Its dark and cloudy and theres a chill in the air. I feel like I need to be about very chunky knit sweaters a la Stella McCartney, by way of Dorothy Szbornak-- or what I and Fatimah are referring to as "that Szbornak Steeze".

Its a real "Quiet Storm" day. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, its a musical genre comprised of "slow jams" or smooth, mellow, mid to low tempo R&B songs. Its the black 1st cousin of Adult Contemporary, and maybe 2nd cousin of Singer/Songwriter or Soft Rock. If you are still confused, I have decided to add some videos to clarify as well as to celebrate my "quiet storm" mood...

First up we have Mtume's "You, Me and He", followed by RJs Latest Arrival's "Hold On". And to see what is quite possibly the best example of Quiet Storm music and video, Rene and Angela's "You Don't Have to Cry", click the link:

Friday, June 6, 2008


While doing a Google Image search for Lord Snowdon photographs for the "Everyday Life and Observations" post, I came across this photograph by Snowdon from 1958 of Babe Paley that I have never seen before. Now, knowing how I quasi-worship Babe, the idea that there is a editorial photograph of her that I have never seen or knew existed is like finding a lost book of the bible!!!
This is truly a great day for me!


I LOVE everything on this page!!!!
This goes out to you two specifically, B. and Fatimah :

Everyday Life and Observations

I noticed something so beautiful and inexplicable and effervescent today. Its actually happened several days, but this was the first time I realized my sub-concious expectation of its occurence, and that made it all the more beautiful and surreal...

This morning- as most mornings these days it seems- I realized I needed something I had left in my car the previous evening. So, I put on my sandals and swanned out the front door in my billowing caftan. As I hit the first of a 4 steps down the walkways, a small coterie of butterflies took off, floating up and out toward the bright, warm morning sun. It was absoulutley magical in the Disney sense! Or like a photograph by Lord Anthony Snowdon, so popular in British and American Vogue in the 50s and 60s...full od spontaneity and vivre and glee. And always chic.

I can't wait 'til the morrow!

Semper Chic!

Black Orpheus

Here is the theatrical trailer for Black Orpheus

Everyday Life and Observations

This past Tuesday, I was having lunch with my infinitely chic cousin B. at a little asian mangerie on the campus' border. If you know anything about the area, its very hilly terrain and the restaurant is at the bottom of a steep hill and parking is halfway up the hill. I had left something in the car and had to go back up to retrieve it. The day was was too warm, a dry 90 degrees, and the sun was ablaze and high in the noon sky. I was wearing creme colored pants and a tan button down, with bronze, tan and white embroidered dashed lines acroos the chest, and my ubiquitous oversized sunglasses.
As I was climbing back up the broken, uneven sidewalk, I had one of those frequent and vivid flashes of surrealism that adorn my daily life. I envisioned myself as the character Sebastien Venable in "Suddenly Last Summer". For those of you unfamiliar with the work, it is a brilliant, tragic, and morose play by Tennesse Williams set in last 1930's Louisiana and (in flashbacks) Spainish Riviera. The play was made into a 1959 film starring Elizabeth Taylor, Katherine Hepburn, and Montgomery Clift. In the play and movie, there is a scene at the very end in which the trip to Spain is recounted by the character Catherine, where Sebastian is climbing up a steep hill, in the "white hot" heat of the sun, wearing a white exquisitely tailored linen suit. And as I climbed, I instantaneously thought of him and how in that very moment I was him; ever-chic, in the heat, ascending.
On my return trip back to the restaurant, I thought of yet another aesthetic imprint of a cinematic nature. I recalled another 1959 film of Brazilian origin called "Black Orpheus". The film was an adaptation of Greek tragedy Orpheus, set during Carnival in the favelas (ghettos) of Rio, and starring Breno Mello as Orpheus and Marpessa Dawn as Eurdice. The opening scene of the movie is iconic. Antonio Carlos Jobim is singing/playing the Bossa standard "Felicidade" as women work their way up and down the the infamous hills of Rio carrying their bundles, again in the white hot heat. As anyone who has ever tried to navigate their way down a path of questionable stability, while maintaining any measure of poise and wearing slick soles, knows there is a certain sway of the hips and shifting of weight in their walk that they must affect to make it down safely. Noticing my gait, I thought of Marpessa/Eurydice elegantly swaying downhill with her bundle diadem precipitously mounted upon her regal head. In that moment I was her; ever-chic, in the heat, descending.
Such are the scenes of my life. Snapshots of elegance emblazoned upon my memory, enhanced and insribed the mundanity of life as supreme and utter sophistication.

Semper Chic!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sex and the City- The Movie

I wrote this Sunday afternoon, June 1st...

Ok. So I just saw SATC the movie. It goes without saying it was very entertaining, the plot and dialogue were more than satisfying to any longtime fan , and the fashion was obscenely profuse. I had a lot of thoughts and emotions leaving the theater....

1) It is very difficult to take in so much current fashion at one sitting. With the series, it was 30 mins once a week. Even if you have the dvd and do a 2 hr marathon, its still not as fashion saturated as the movie is. Don't get me wrong, I loved every minute of it...the way you love every minute of eating half a flourless chocolate cake. Its great in the moment, but you will become light headed from the rush. It was so visually stimulating. I would liken it to the new Speed Racer movie in the visual stimulation category, but in a far more sophisticated, adult way. The reason I italicized "current" before is because the deluge of fashion in period pieces, whether the setting is the recent past like the original "The Women" or more distant history like "Marie Antoinette", the space of time re-conceptualizes and re-contextualizes the impact of the costume and becomes less inundating, while still intoxicating and thrilling.

From start to finish, SATC label and trend heavy. A live action Vogue magazine ( a long-time dream of mine). 2+ hours of unadulterated, unapologetic fashion. Anything in that amount can become heady, even for the indoctrinated such as myself. I have attended, virtually and in person, breathtaking fashion shows that were almost orgasmic with the escalating beauty and drama of the clothes and their presentation (Chado Ralph Rucci), but even the longest fashion shows last maybe 20 minutes. That's about as much as the mind can process. Its only been 2 hours since I saw the movie as I type this, and I can only remember two handfuls of key looks and pieces. I got the overall feel and look at work, but I think the nuances that make fashion great, the nuances that great costume designers work hard at achieving, the nuances that we know a character to express, were greatly missed by the audience because of the quantity. Or more simply, the breadth overpowered the depth. For example, the bird that Carrie wore in her hair for the wedding. Most people thought they were feathers, but it was a bird. They mentioned it later in the film that it was a bird, but I actually, but just barely, caught that it was indeed a bird during the scene. But the even more hidden nuance was that the bird was blue and represented the bride's something blue. You see what I mean? With the action of the plot and dialogue, plus the barrage of gorgeous, detailed clothes and accessories, little meanings like that are temporarily lost...I know it was not happenstance the bird was blue and prominently seen. Those nuances are definitely there, but it will be upon 2nd, 3rd , and 10th viewing that they will be fully exposed.

It also left no downtime. Even the most fashionable people, real or fictitious, have to have down time...if only to stay on top of it. But when the girls were packing up Carrie's apartment impeccably dressed, it came off unbelievable. They never would have done that in the actual series. There was plenty of downtime in the series. The series had ebb and flow fashionably. Granted the downtime in the show was still fabulous, but a more quirky fabulous than a stunning, statement fabulous. I chock it up to them knowing this was going to be it forever and so they wanted to give it to us, once and for all. So I can live with that. Another discrepancy with the show and movie, is that I don't recall them being SO accessorized. Yes there was always a great shoe or bag, sometimes a great shoe AND bag, or a important brooch, bangle, necklace, or earring, but rarely, if ever, do I recall them doing it all at once on any one character. In the movie, every accessory commanded attention, from head to toe. You didn't know what to look at first. And the accessories sometimes competed with the garment, not complemented, and vice versa. Things that every stylish person knows not to do (although admittedly I have done it and every stylish person has done it when they were really in the groove and needed to be over the top that day!) But again, I forgive it, knowing it was the last time. I also forgive it because I know it will give me lots to look at and reexamine in the future and who doesn't love seeing something new each time they watch something they've seen before? I am not criticizing the film, I am just giving my observations.

2.) I thought, what a perfect and robust time capsule this film will be. It wholly captures this moment in fashion for posterity. It will be the iconic film people will look at in 50, 60, 70 years and remember the first decade of this century. The SATC girls will be looked at as the Gibson Girls of the 21st Century.

3.) My most profound thought was, Can you ever tire of fashion? Or more aptly, Can one ever have done it all fashionably?

That movie ran the gamut so well, its like, what more is there? A movie like SATC makes one think about whether they themselves are fashionable enough. If they are indeed realizing their full potential sartorially. It makes you wanna try harder and be more creative in your dress. So I thought. How could I be more fashionable? How could I take my look(s) to new heights?

The answer was that I couldn't. I have tried everything. I have worn every conceivable silhouette available. I've done minimalism, I've done excess. I've done monochrome, I've done technicolor. I have pushed myself as far as I can go. I have reached self-actualization (the highest peak of Maslow's pyramidic Heirachy of Needs), fashionably speaking. I know what I can do and what works for me. The only thing I could do is wear more expensive clothing, which will be a welcome and much anticipated luxury, but it won't be any different(especially if you are like me and you covet and regard thrift store finds as highly as designer goods). But even if my future diamonds are real, they certainly cannot add any more chic than my paste jewels have for so many years.

At first, this realization upset me. As a true lover of fashion, the idea that there could be nothing truly new for me was...disturbing. Then I understood what it really meant. That I can only perfect my style now. I have spent 25 years figuring it out, discovering and experiencing the wealth of possibilities. Now that I know what I love, I can begin refining my look and taking it to new heights of impeccable style.

This, my chic friends, is the greater part of the journey into style. When one reaches that plateau, one has focus. They are no longer beset or distracted by ALL the world's fabulousness, but can concentrate all one's vision, efforts, and resources on a single path of style righteousness. While you may dabble in a trend here and there, you are no longer tossed and driven by the seas of ever-changing fashion. The pursuit is no longer about the latest, but the greatest. I think I have always known this, but seeing SATC was like looking at a mirror and realizing that there's more. You may start of as Carrie, but you have to grow to Carolina (Herrera, that is)!! That's when the days of daring fashions are traded in for stunning classics, no less adventurous, but infinitely signature and identifiably you.

Comparison: Carrie and Carolina

Timeless Chic:

And the beauty is that dressing becomes so much easier at that stage. The struggle over what to wear when, where, and how? Gone. The despair over the haphazard, incoherent, or periodically undesirable/frustrating state of your wardrobe? (You, Caroline.) No More. The in-store debate of where and how this new purchase will work in your wardrobe? A thing of the past. It all becomes clearer. That doesn't mean it won't be difficult at times because, as I said, it is a journey and you must learn the special kind of discipline necessary to achieve perfection. Its like D.V. said, "Elegance is Refusal". So while at first it may be difficult to not buy it or to figure out what to wear, as you acquire the disciplined eye (the eye already being keen), these trifles of dressing will fade.

Me after my fashion show last August in vlack and white silk tweed duster
I, like the Apostle Paul, may not have yet attained, but I press toward the mark. And with this knowledge and foresight, I look forward to the journey of perfected chic!
I'll keep you posted on my sojourn.

Semper Chic!