Friday, April 30, 2010
i stumbled upon these photos on flickr the other day and am really quite smitten with them. i thought i'd share them with you here. aside from their obvious aesthetic appeal, i think they really say something about clothing's connection to its wearer... that clothes themselves can be relatively meaningless when stripped of their context and the person who has chosen to adorn themselves with those clothes.
in fact, it quite reminds me of miranda july's now defunct project "learning to love you more," specifically of assignment #55 - photograph a significant outfit. but that's an entire post unto itself!
what do these make you think of? do you find them creepy, interesting, inspiring?
Thursday, April 29, 2010
on my way home from my friend karina's place a month or so ago, i took a lot of photos in the empty streets late at night (or rather, early in the morning) as i often do. this was after our second dress rehearsal.
for the vagina monologues i helped organize and performed in in early march, we decided everyone would wear red and/or black for our stage performances (it's a pretty easy concept). when we decided this, i thought about what i could potentially wear. a few years back, a simple red and black colour combination was one of my favourites and i always found it was an effortless way to look nicely put together. this time around, though, i found myself either wanting to dress entirely in black or entirely in red. my character in the monologues is angry, and this being one of my first acting experiences, i was very concerned with the whole "getting into character" thing, and clothing would be a very important part of this. i asked myself, should i wear all red, because red is associated with anger? but red is also very sexual and sexy, maybe too sexy for my character...
so in the weeks leading up to our dress rehearsals, hemming and hawing over what i thought my character would wear and trying to find a balance with a) what was in my closet and b) what i would be comfortable performing in, i started wearing more red and black in my every day life. i dug out my red coat, which was perfectly timed since the weather was warming up a bit. i added my very favourite black mourning brooch and went out into the world, postering for our event.
a better picture of my beloved mourning brooch, which i learned about here.
as our debut performance drew nearer, i finally settled on two dresses: both vintage black lace dresses i love and feel comfortable in, paired with red tights with black designs worn over top. and of course, my badass boots. i wore red heels for one practice but everyone told me i simply had to wear the boots. they really went well with my character.
1960s lace dress with a backwards collar. it's been with me for five years now, i think.
the second black dress i wore, which isn't seen very well in this photo! but i added a little heart pin that says "carmen" on it to queer it up a bit. (sadly i do not have a lover named carmen, but i do have a good friend of the same name!) and that lovely person dancing with me is karina, who kicked ass with her ode to cunt.
you can see the dress better in my performance (which i've been so indecisive about posting publicly... but if you guys really want to see it i'll post it).
and to wrap up and celebrate the end of the vagina monologues, we met up at the local gay bar for some karaoke. what a night! it was so much fun. it wasn't until i was on my way out the door that i realized i had unintentionally dressed in red and black again!
red followed me that night; went for dinner at a friend's place, which has a red door. was offered red wine to accompany the food. and as i headed out the door, i noticed red flashing lights, which, in québec city, mean you aren't allowed to park because the snowplows will be out.
in conclusion: i quite like red and black together.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
on friday, my friend anne-marie and i headed to la musée des beaux-arts to check out an exhibit i've been excited about for months now. "Haute couture. Paris, Londres, 1947-1957. L’âge d’or." enough said, right? i decided to get dressed to the nines (i wore this dress, my new pair of heels my mother bought me, backseam stockings, my favourite new pair of gloves and of course my fur trimmed coat) and check it out for myself. but this post isn't about the exhibit! i'm still working on that.
this week is going to be a productive one; i've decided it so. my boss at the used bookstore cut my hours, my student who i normally teach twice a week is out of town, so i decided to figure out a good way to use all that free time in productive ways. this means: wrapping up all the post- vagina monologues business, writing for this blog, working on articles for calls for submissions for zines/blogs/etc, editing photos, responding to all your (amazing!) comments, scanning found photos and other things, as well as, last, but not least, updating my etsy store. phew! it's going to be a good week.
to top it off, this coming saturday my friend anne-marie is giving me and a few of her friends a lift to montreal to go check out our very first real-life roller derby: BEASTS OF THE EAST. we are really excited and there are even rumours of starting a flat-track roller derby here in québec city. we'll see what happens!
here are some projects ideas i am working on that i hope to share with you guys in the near future, just for a little tease.
- fashion as objet d'art: the place of fashion in museums
- class, race, gender reflections on the haute couture exhibit
- in like a lamb, out like a lion: outfits from winter 09-10 (it snowed yesterday)
- reflections on my tumultuous relationship with my digital camera
- the story of my hair
Thursday, April 15, 2010
writing about cultural appropriation and racism in fashion is potentially the most controversial topic for fashion writers, with body politics (which isn't completely divorced from these issues) following close behind. those of us who identify as critical, progressive or liberal minded want to think these things will just go away, but cannot ignore all the signs say otherwise; in fact, racism and cultural appropriation seems to be selling more than ever as of late. just look at the fact that white models are still the standard on runways and in magazines, and that outdated, undeniably racist things like blackface will come back and rear their ugly heads in the pages of vogue even in our supposed "post-racial" era.
to be honest, even i have hesistated touching this issue. it is the one that infuriates, perplexes and inspires me most, not only as a fan of fashion but as an activist, ally and writer. in fact, one of the first pieces i ever wrote about fashion was in 2005 about the problematic increasing trend of mocassin or "mocassin inspired" boots for winter. i've tried to write about it since, but there is so much ground to cover that it becomes intimidating (brevity has never been my strong point). with so many visceral and bewildering responses to the issue, it has sadly only lead to a half-dozen unfinished pieces tucked away on my harddrive.
but i can't hold my tongue any longer. i am an avid reader and (generally speaking) fan of jezebel, and with the discussions going on there triggered by adrienne's post at Native Appropriations entitled "Feathers and Fashion: Native Americans Is [sic] In Style" i think it is time for me to put pen to paper and give a sort of "the critical fashion lover's guide to cultural appropriation."
let's begin with the original article in question: while i don't necessarily think Adrienne's article is very clear with its specific criticisms of cultural appropriation, and a lot of her points muddy (i strongly disagree that Outkast is at the very root of this trend, influencing bands like Juliette and the Licks, Bat for Lashes, and Ke$ha, and am prepared to defend that stance) i am excited by the conversations it has triggered. i do think she raises questions that need to be addressed by fans of fashion and participants in hipster culture as of late, questions that i hope to elaborate on here.
what i mainly want to address here are the responses to adrienne's article when it was posted on jezebel, which range from deeply insightful to downright naive and ignorant. instead of taking this opportunity to engage in discussions about the history of colonization in north america, native american resistance/response to these issues, white privilege, or the political power that many different kinds of clothing possess, a lot of people often end up reacting in predictably defensive ways. but don't take my word for it. here are a sampling of comments:
"So... should I not wear minnetonka shoes or feather earrings anymore?" sydbarretsaves
"Am I gonna go to liberal-PC-prison for wearing silver and turquoise jewelry?"
"Really? I'm not allowed to wear a FEATHER IN MY HAIR? Come on" ferociacoutura
"now I feel guilty for loving Adam Ant when I was 12 yo."
as one of my wisest university professors Molly Blyth once said, "guilt is useless unless it leads to action." what does it say about this contentious issue that these are the first questions people are asking themselves, instead of trying to get a more complex understanding of why someone might challenge their choice to wear these things? the fact that these commentors are asking themselves these questions is, yes, a step in the right direction, but the fact that it is happening in a guilt-ridden, dismissive way is pretty disappointing.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
lately i've been thinking a lot about how my self portraits fall largely into two precise categories:
1) sartorial (documentation/expression/mirror)
2) emotional (capturing a moment/creating a moment)
of course, these two often intersect, but the more i've been thinking about my own self-portraits the more i feel like that is as concise an evaluation i can sumise.
Monday, April 12, 2010
i visited my (birth and chosen) family in ontario last week and had a wonderful time. seeing my sisters always puts me in a good mood. i also finally had the chance to watch an education (which everyone was telling me i had to see) with my mother which i quite enjoyed and found interesting... triggered a lot of thoughts about own feelings about youth, sexuality and clothing as costume/transformative. looking forward to see what carey mulligan will do next.
more generally, i had a lot of time for discussions and reflections on where i'm at in my life right now and where my friends and family are. it was a really good way to put things in perspective, and one of the things that resounded with me the most was my desire to write more. that i can write no matter what is going on in my life, that i never lack inspiration.
i've always been the kind of person who felt like spring was a better time for renewal than the new year, so a lot of changes are in the works for me right now.
without further ado, here are some more pictures of my trenton adventures:
bike rides along lake ontario
this cat hates me. a lot.
shirt: borrowed from my little sister
key necklace: from an antique shop, chain thrifted
skirt: vintage clothing sale in ottawa 2009, $15
i adore this skirt. it is a simple cotton dress with a floral print, which sounds standard enough, but it's all about the little details. the buttons around the waist, the scalloped edges, the colour combinations. i purchased it in november but have had a hard time incorporating it into my wardrobe simply because it is so unique and i wasn't sure which shirts/colours to pair it with. so far black has been simplest, but i also paired it with a pale blue and a bold yellow told and both combinations looked nice as well.
but the story! i haven't even gotten to the story: the woman who sold it to me told me it belonged to her aunt. (background: usually, when you buy vintage, it is standard to ask if it came from a smoke-free or pet-free home, but you usually don't get this much detail) her aunt was a devout jehovah's witness, who never smoked, drank, or married. this does not make the garment pristine, however. it has little stains around the waist but that makes me love it even more (and made it affordable; it was originally priced at $40, then $30, then i snagged it for $15) and the story makes it all the more precious to me. i feel like i want to be particularly debaucherous every single time i wear it. i love having stories like these.
i also did my hair, on a very, very rare occassion. i want to do things more often but the reality is that i own little to no hair products other than shampoo, conditioner and hairspray and i am terribly lazy. i've often said i wish andi could come give me lessons.
my sisters and i headed to the mall in belleville to visit my favourite photobooth and had a mild shock; for a moment it looked as though it had been replaced with one of those newfangled digital contraptions i loathe. but! it was still there. i forgot it i trenton so i can't share the strip with you but here are some pictures from our wanderings:
four inch studded heels. damn they look hot but i could not walk in them. at all. i don't understand how anyone can.
jasmine refusing to pose in her four inch python t-strap heels.
getting engaged to my sister... yeah.
check out that rock.
thanks for reading!
Friday, April 2, 2010
when i got dressed this morning, i thought i was channeling dorothy from the wizard of oz: a blue and white gingham print dress, paired with a new pair of lovely little red t-straps my mother bought me (ha! as if any shoes i'd ever wear could be considered "little"). but as the day wore on, however, my sister and mother both said i reminded them of alice. i like to think it's more because alice in wonderland is re-entering popular culture in a fierce way right now thanks to the remake, but either way i think i looked pretty cute.
what do you think?
my wonderful family bought me a plane ticket to come visit for easter weekend, and the past few days have been a whirlwind. i landed in toronto on wednesday morning, leaving the snow covered streets of quebec city for the sunny summer-like warmth of ontario. of course it is above seasonal; we normally don't see this kind of weather for another month or so, but this year it almost feels like summer!
early in the morning i took my big clunky cruiser to the gas station to fill up the tires, and go for a little bike ride. on the way i stopped by some old favourite places i used to walk along all the time when i was a kid, passed streets i used to deliver newspapers on, and of course saw the train go by.
when i got home, it was so hot i ditched the socks, the sweater and even ironed my dress. in april! april!
dress: emmaus, $5
slip + poofy underskirt: thrifted
shoes: naturalizer, gift from my mother! i love them
vintage queen pin: emmaus, $2
my sister's cat, who i briefly lived with when we went to university together, still quite dislikes me, even though i love her fluffy erratic self.
so there you have it! what i wear in trenton so that people look at me like i am an alien.
this happens every time i come back to trenton: i always feel simultaneously at home and completely foreign. for those of you who don't know me, i lived on military bases most of my youth, which meant moving every 3 or 4 years. we mostly lived in ontario, and the longest i lived in one place was trenton, for my entire high school years tied with five years in peterborough for my undergraduate degree.
as i alluded to, every time i am back here i feel out of place. my sisters, parents and friends often make (well-meaning teasing) comments like "you're going to wear that there?" but anyone who knows me knows i don't change what i wear depending on who i'm going to be with or where i'm going to be. yes, i'll wear that 1950s cotton day dress biking around trenton even though i'll get stared at. yes, i'll wear those three inch heels because i feel like it, even though it means i will tower over strangers and get comments telling me that tall women like me don't "need" to wear them.
so clearly, in the little over forty eight hours i've been in trenton, i've been thinking a lot about how our appearances are read by others as well as performed for others, in a sense. in the past two days, i've seen friends from a few years ago, from high school, as well as people who have known me my entire life, people who i haven't seen for a very long time. how much can we tell about each other, how much we've changed, based on what we're wearing? i've been thinking a lot about these things we see as "normal" for the most part and trying to theorize around them... i'll let you know once i've fleshed out these ideas in more substantial ways.
ALSO: thanks for all your comments lately! i love hearing your ideas and thoughts. a few people have asked me where my contact information is and i noticed i don't have it posted anywhere! i will change this. in the meantime you can send me emails with your ideas or comments to JULIACARON at GMAIL dot COM