Tuesday, October 26, 2010
"Very early in my life it was too late. At eighteen it was already too late. I aged. This aging was brutal. It spread over my features, one by one. I saw this aging of my face with the same sort of interest I might have taken, for example, in the reading of a book. That new face, I kept it. And it's kept the same contours, but it's like it is destroyed. I have a destroyed face."
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
True eccentric style—always unusual, sometimes downright outlandish—exists in a world free from the predictable rules and rhythms of trends or seasons. Yet this fall, hints of quirky chic bubbled up on the runway.
At Marni, the perennial home of the eccentric, unexpected combinations such as ochre Bermuda shorts, knee socks and reading spectacles recall "Little Edie" Beale. At Chris Benz, an acid green fur hat is paired with a punky plaid kilt. For Balenciaga, Nicolas Ghesquière fashioned striped tops with cropped pajama-style pants in prints inspired by 1970s Formica. And Stefano Pilati went to further extremes, dressing his models like sultry nuns at Yves Saint Laurent, complete with medieval wimple headdresses.
It's easy to imagine some of today's outlandish tastemakers wearing these clothes. Anna Piaggi, a fashion-industry icon known for her eclectic ensembles and blue-flecked hair, might wear Balenciaga's bold stripes. Fashion blogger Diane Pernet, who has worn head-to-toe black for more than 20 years, could pull off the YSL wimple.
Rookie eccentrics will find a manageable dose of self-expression by playing with an usual color combination (pistachio and plum, anyone?), or by wearing printed pants with a white T-shirt and bold jewelry.
In the age of Facebook and YouTube, where nearly anyone can—and does—steal the spotlight, doing so with wit and taste has become something of a lost art.
These imaginative looks are actually a potent alternative to what normally grabs attention these days: sex. "Today, the default mode for many women is looking hot," says Simon Doonan, who profiled the likes of Tilda Swinton, Dita Von Teese and the late fashion icon Isabella Blow in his book "Eccentric Glamour." Mr. Doonan continued, "But eccentric style is cerebral rather than flagrantly sexual. It's the antidote to the Jersey Shore."
Before eccentricity became stylish, it was used in the service of a cause. According to Phyllis Madgison, curator of "Notorious and Notable: 20th Century Women of Style," an exhibition on view at the Museum of the City of New York—featuring clothes from limelight lovers as disparate as Brooke Astor, Gypsy Rose Lee and Isadora Duncan—the first known fashion eccentrics used their clothes to make a political statement.
Madame de Recamier and Madame Tallien, two elegant members of a French Revolution rebellion movement called Les Incroyables et Merveilleuses (the incredible and marvelous), showed their support for the French monarchy by wearing flimsy, allegorical Grecian-style gowns that stood in contrast to the formal court dress of the time.
In 18th-century England, Georgiana Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire, used her extravagant tastes to support the Whig cause against George III, wearing outrageously plumed hats to political rallies.
In the glamorous 1900s, intriguing women made their looks extreme to express their personal, rather than political passions.
The Marchesa Casati, a Venetian noblewoman who died in 1957, famously said, "I want to be a living work of art." She wore elaborate gowns by Paul Poiret and Léon Bakst with Lalique jewelry and live snakes, and was sometimes accompanied by cheetahs on diamond leashes.
Millicent Rogers, the Standard Oil heiress who died in 1953, was so enamored of her homes that she had her favorite couturiers create wardrobes for each one. Cristóbal Balenciaga stitched a Tyrolean-themed wardrobe for her chalet in the Austrian Alps. At her farm in Virginia, she wore 19th-century-style puffed-sleeved gowns by Mainbocher.
In the "Notorious" exhibition, Ms. Astor's white lace gown for Truman Capote's legendary Black and White Ball in 1966 and burlesque dancer Rose Lee's snap-off striptease costume from the 1940s vie for attention. Yet the showstopper is the most eccentric look: Mona Bismarck's aqua green Balenciaga gown with sleeves of blooming pink petals from 1968.
"Eccentric women have very strong personas," said Ms. Madgison, the show's curator. "They feel so strongly about their personal identities that they don't give a fling for what others are wearing." With that advice in mind, get dressed and find a camera—and a crowd—to pose for. There's never been a better time to reveal the kooky you.
"He ran his fingers down the spine over her thin blouse, and for a moment he forgot the danger he was in, grateful for the world which purposefully puts divisions in place so that we can overcome them, feeling the joy of getting closer, even if deep down we can never forget the sadness of our insurmountable differences." –Krauss
"She didn't dare to look up, but she could feel their frightened eyes hanging on to her as she hauled the words in and breathed them out. A voice played the notes inside her. This, it said, is your accordion.
The sound of the turning page carved them in half.
Liesel read on."
So, here is something that is in the news a lot lately: GLBT kids committing suicide. I know, right? SCARY. Definitely not suited to an article in which there are jokes. Because, my God. However, here is a nugget I came across in my internet searches, which I will now share with you:
In the Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota, there have been four suicides in the last year alone due to anti-gay bullying. When asked why they do not teach about sexual diversity and enforce any anti-gay bullying policies the district spokeswoman, Mary Olson, explained, “We have a community with widely varying opinions, and so to respect all families, as the policy says, we ask teachers to remain neutral.”
Oh! Right! “Neutral!” You know, in that “explicitly on the side of the bullies who seem to be continually driving kids to the point where suicide seems like the only possible option” kind of way.
I myself am not a GLBT lady. This was not, however, the opinion of Blendon Middle School in the early ’90s! There was a rumor about me; it spread; pretty soon my locker was getting defaced, and my stuff was getting stolen and broken, and once I sat down at a cafeteria table with some former friends and they all stood up and walked away, and folks spit on me in the halls, and during a Learning About Discrimination session, in which we were all supposed to give a presentation on why prejudice is bad — I chose “homophobia,” because I was going to change some minds! — students ganged up on me and posed insults disguised as “questions” until I gave up and left the room and when I came back my desk was covered in ripped-out pages of notebooks with various homophobic slurs written on them, and what strikes me now as I look back on this is how the teacher decided to let it happen. Like, at some point, she was like, “a desk covered in notebook pages? Oh, well! Learning About Discrimination Week is going super well! I give myself an A DOUBLE PLUS on this one.”
I don’t talk a lot about how I ended up getting home-schooled, or about The Rumor, because: I don’t want to co-opt anyone’s experience. (“Hey, you know what would really help this discussion? If a straight person chimed in, about her problems!” No.) I had it bad, briefly, but I’m fairly sure actual queer folks have it a lot worse and all over and for far longer, and also I had an adult in my life who got involved in stopping this terror, whereas lots of kids don’t, BECAUSE THE WORLD IS AWFUL. However: There are a few things I think I might have learned from this. First, queer-bashing in schools isn’t necessarily about sexuality; it’s about policing sexuality. It’s partly intended to punish people who are perceived as queer, but it’s also intended to send a message to anyone else who might be; it’s a way of showing that bad things happen when you break the rules. As such, it is very, very frequently public. People see it happen. They have the choice to get involved in stopping it. If they don’t make that choice, they bear every responsibility for the consequences.
Second: Adults let it happen. Adults are, in fact, responsible for it; even if teachers and school officials don’t participate in it directly, by calling names (and I have anecdotal evidence that some teachers do call names) or using their institutional power to bully the students without consequences (and again, teachers do this; it can be as subtle as telling a concerned parent that their child wouldn’t be bullied if he didn’t “bring it on himself” by “not working hard enough to get along,” or as severe as punishing a student for standing up to the bullies), they participate in it by not taking steps to stop it. These people are in charge. They decide what the rules are. If they don’t decide that hate crimes against fellow students are against the rules, then hate crimes against students are allowed, and they happen. Granted, the kids who participate in it are still hateful monsters, and are responsible for their actions. But they are being taught to be hateful monsters. Every time they are permitted to act like hateful monsters, they are learning that it is acceptable to be this way. Which is why the adults are doubly responsible.
Teachers have the explicit responsibility of punishing violent harassment and bigotry in their schools. You find a kid doing it, you punish him. If the kid’s parents object? Tell them that it’s their job to make him stop doing it, so that he doesn’t receive further punishment. Tell the kid, and the parents, that we don’t do those things in normal, non-asshole society, and we certainly don’t do them in school, and that people who do them often don’t graduate your school, what with all the expelling that tends to happen. If you can suspend a kid for wearing a t-shirt that violates dress code, you can suspend a kid for calling another kid “faggot.” It’s really not that hard.
Plus, if you don’t do it, children die! And I’m pretty sure “killing your students” is the first thing they tell you to avoid, in Teacher School. So, you know, there is that.
The one thing you cannot do, actually, is to be “neutral.” There is no “neutral,” as these things go. When it comes to being a bigot, and engaging in behavior that is more or less proven to kill people — or allowing that behavior to exist — you literally cannot take a neutral position. You can be right, or wrong.
-Sady at Tiger Beatdown
BY THOMAS JAMES
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
"I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn't already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant."
"I never thought about things at all, everything changed, the distance that wedged itself between me and my happiness wasn't the world, it wasn't the bombs and burning buildings, it was me, my thinking, my cancer of never letting go, is ignorance bliss, I don't know, but it's so painful to think, and tell me, what did thinking ever do for me, to what great place did thinking ever bring me? I think and think and think, I've thought myself out of happiness one million times, but never once into it." -JSF