Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rutger Satchel
(available at Clementine)

(available at Clementine)

Josie in black and bronze
(available at Clementine)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Jaded fantasy: ."The cusp of womanhood? She's hardly on the cusp of prom."

Inspiration. Do you find it is the real or the surreal that inspires you, or a mixture of both? I love fashion and photography, but there are aspects of the industry that at times makes me uncomfortable or question the whole validity and place of it in our society. Such as, the predominance of pre-pubescent young girls having to model ludicrously expensive clothes that few teenagers can ever afford for themselves. Clearly aimed at an older market. So, can a 15 year old really inspire a 50 yr old to invest in Prada? I suppose it's the whole aspirational thing, where one aspires to the dream of youth and beauty proposed by these campaigns. I'm 24, and even I have trouble finding young teenagers in ad campaigns aspirational. If I can barely relate, what does that mean for a career woman in her 30s/40s etc? Why is our culture so obsessed with youth?

Sometimes, these ad campaigns appear to me like young kids just playing dress up. I've met models out and about in Hong Kong, and know that sometimes the girl in that icecream campaign is 19 and actually suffering from anorexia at the time. No joke. I've assisted at photoshoots where the 18 yr old girl from Holland feels pressured to pose topless in front of a room of strangers for fear of not being booked again by the same photographer. [side note: she wasn't really forced into it, but felt it would have been awkward not to go along with it. Apparently modeling was her way of saving up money for medical school. In post editing her twins were pretty much covered up. But still...]I've spoken to male models who say that the best way to make it in the industry is if one happens to be gay and thus become the lover/ muse of a top gay photographer. I had a (very) brief fling once with an italian model years ago who would sometimes lament the fact that he was straight (hopefully for career reasons otherwise that may have been a seriously backhanded insult). And hadn't eaten carbs since he was 15. Seriously. I once watched him eat a Sausage Mcmuffin sans muffin (he really did spoil me with swanky places). Suffice to say, I felt slightly sorry for him in that moment [I think he's in Milan now, so pity is definitely not something one should bestow upon him by any means]. I've had friends encounter sleazy photographers as well. I'm sure there are far more interesting and eye-opening tales of the shady side of the fashion industry, these are just the tip of the iceberg and some of my own accounts. For more scary modelling stories, see here.
My point is, is the fantasy worth the reality? There is all the debate about the improbable perfection of women in the media creating all sorts of problems for the 99% of women not represented, such as eating disorders, low self esteem etc etc. The more we find out about the reality behind the gilded facade, about how young the models are, how photoshopped they are, how sick some of them are, however shady the circumstances (the archetypal sleazy photographer Terry Richardson's sex scandal) the less convincing a campaign might become. In this technological age of mass media, real-time communcation and all-pervasive internet, we now have all this information. The illusion is now crumbling. Do we choose to accept it with a pinch of salt? Is this denial? Or merely an innocent love of beauty which is acceptable as long as it isn't taken too far?

Case in point: the 2010 Miu Miu campaign starring 15 year old Lindsey Wixson. Gorgeous campaign, with an enigmatic beauty. But, so heartbreakingly young. I found a great quote on the subject here:

' A press release about the campaign calls Wixson the "emodiment of a
free-spirit on the cusp of womanhood". The cusp of womanhood? She's
hardly on the cusp of prom.'

What inspired me to write this blog is the timeless beauty of Lauren Hutton. In the first picture she is, in her mid sixties, gracing the cover of Love magazine (one of my favorite quarterly fashion publications). That is what I call inspiring. Quite honestly I have trouble being inspired to purchase expensive skin products when I know that the model in the campaign is in her teens, half asian (ah how I envy the asian/ eurasian ageless skintones...) and has clearly hit the genetic lottery as despite her insultingly gleaming stratified squamous epithelium (say it ten times real fast!) she probably smokes like a chimney and is the inspiration behind that nose candy themed N.E.R.D song. All the girls standing in the line for the bathroom? Yes I'm hating a little. Major white girl skin envy, that's what. I'm not judging what people do for recreational activities, just that I feel my intellect insulted somewhat that I'm supposed to believe that type of ad.

A woman becomes a muse when she is unique, when her beauty is timeless, and when she can age with grace and still look magnificent.

"I'd like to be the first model who becomes a woman. We have to be able to grow up. Our wrinkles are our medals through the passage of life. They are what we have been through and who we want to be".

To me, Lauren Hutton is an aspirational figure. She makes me want to grow old (somewhat) gracefully and to embrace the natural beauty within. Even today, she is regularly booked for campaigns such as Badgeley Mischka and H&M. She is much more exciting to me than a 14 year old Russian girl in Chloe. Purely as I think it's more difficult to look THAT good in your 6os than it is when one is a teen.

One must also note the rise of the use of the eigthies supermodel in many of the recent ad campaigns: Christy Turlington for Bally, Naomi Campbell for Yves Saint Laurent, Claudia Schiffer for Chanel, Linda Evangelista for L'Oreal. Perhaps in times of recession and economic uncertainty, consumers are comforted by the familiar. Plus, the girls from the eighties are now career women (and trophy wives?) and still look up to these women. And who wouldn't? Many of them are now in their 30s/ 40s and looking great. Their fabulousness is not down to teen skin but to a certain je ne sais quoi (with a little help from photoshop, copious workouts etc, I mean who are we kidding?). But at least it's more real than a teen. Which is why I loved the recent Fall 2010 Louis Vuitton campaign starring Karen Elson, Natalia Vodianova and Christy Turlington, perhaps not really that representative of the female population, but a good halfway point between fantasy and reality.

Wow, this little blog about gushing my love for Lauren Hutton turned into quite a hefty long one! Apologies for my liberal use of parentheses - once again I got a little carried away :)

Nat xx

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I'm Leaving On A Jet Plane

I'm packed. I'm ready and raring to go. Thanks for following me over the past five months as I've prepared for this vacation. I've enjoyed your comments and best wishes for a wonderful trip. Thanks for all of your helpful suggestions and to those whose blogs I also follow, I've delighted in all the charms and sights of Paris you've shared.

Catch you post Paris ... over and not for now. I can't wait to tell you all about my trip!

P.S. I leave you with this pretty video from 7 Gypsies that I discovered on Debbi's blog.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Classics - French Style

Who doesn't love Catherine Denueve? She such a timeless beauty, and still looks great today! And how about these CD-inspired fashions? They're timeless, too. (From Lucky magazine)

I recently watched Catherine Denueve in the French film "The Last Metro".

How much of the speech in this trailer can you understand? I need the subtitles!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mom Came Through

My mother isn't a rich woman, although she certainly does have "champagne taste." But she definitely is a woman of her word. Even though she's retired and has a very small monthly income, she always manages to find a way to put a little aside so she can give family and friends a special gift, and no matter how small the gift may be, it is always something thoughtful and from the heart. I guess you could say my mother is a good gift-giver. Lord knows we've all met some of the opposite - people who can't give a good gift to save their life.

Anyway, if you recall, from my first post, I told you how I gave my mother $500 when it was her fiftieth birthday. That was back in 1988. My mother used the money to pay for a trip to Mexico with a friend.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, my mom came out of the bank and presented me with an envelope. I immediately knew what it was! Inside the envelope were five crisp one-hundred dollar bills.

I have $100 earmarked for a special dinner we are having on the night of the 28th. And maybe something Hermes? I think something for me and something for my mom would be nice ...

Hermes cashmere shawls |
Until Paris.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

Yes, I am anal ...* (briefly updated)

INC Silk Motorcycle Jacket - Macy's
I'm bringing a jacket like this when I go to Paris - but how will it fit in with my overall wardrobe? Let's see...

Whenever I'm packing for a trip, a grid like the one above helps me figure out if I'm bringing enough - or too many - articles of clothing. The goal is to get wear out of every item packed - and more than one wearing is optimal when it comes to packing economies. Packing light means giving each item a thorough evaluation for:  versatility, comfort, ease of care (doesn't need ironing, etc.) and very importantly if you feel good wearing it.

So when I had a pair of blue slacks in the mix and saw that I'd only wear them once, I decided to nix them because I already had a pair of grey pants on the list that I was planning to wear only once. Now I can (well, might have to) wear the grey slacks twice. The one-time-wear rule doesn't always have to apply. For instance, the LBD (little black dress) listed for Day 4 free/dinner (free means we don't have a planned activity; we're free to go wherever we want for dinner) is a one-time thing, but I still want to have it with me as an option because it's versatile. And it's good to leave a little leeway in your wardrobe planning for the unexpected (something spills, rips, you just don't feel like wearing again, etc.).

Even though the items I've listed to pack can be mixed several different ways, my list gives me a good overall picture of what should be in my suitcase. While many of you are seasoned travelers who know how to pack light, here are some helpful packing tips for those who are not so experienced ...

1) Create a list/chart like the one I created above and take it with you - pack it right in your suitcase - and this way you will know what you were thinking when you decided to bring each item.
2) Another good idea if you're bringing separates is to try each outfit on so you can see if you're making good pairings. You can also experiment putting different pieces together and see how they look. If you're packing something you haven't worn in a while, by all means do try it on to make sure it still fits AND inspect for missing buttons, etc.
3) Will you be bringing new walking shoes with you on your trip? Be sure to break them in BEFORE you go. You can wear them around the house if you worried about scuffing them up.

P.S. After I posted a photo of the sweater with the ruffles in grey after I bought it in teal, I kept wondering if I should return it to get the grey! But after mapping out my wardrobe with the grid above and trying it on again, I think the teal is lovely and shall remain a keeper!

P.P.S. See my comment in the comments section - the packing list continues to evolve!
Until Paris ... only 19 days!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Down to Days

Twenty days until Paris. That's less than three weeks! The time has passed by so quickly. I've spent the past two nights at the mall looking for a few things to fill in my Paris wardrobe. I needed something elegant to wear for a dinner party we're having at a woman's apartment near the Eiffel Tower and luckily found the perfect piece to mix and match with a skirt or slacks with this beautiful white blouse by Jones of New York ...

I'm bringing my black trench coat, but I also got one of these fabulous long, open draped sweaters which are so popular now and versatile. I plan to wear this over a dress or with a sleeveless shell during the day, when the temps in Paris should be hovering around 69 F (according to the weather chart averages for the city).

I also bought a sweater like this ... in teal.
It's hard to avoid ruffles at the department stores these days - they're EVERYWHERE! It think this may be the only ruffled thing I bring.