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Monday, June 28, 2010

No-one remembers Buster Keaton anymore...

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I love this image of Keaton and Chaplin squaring off from Damian Blake's Deviant Art profile 

You'd be forgiven for assuming that Galliano's menswear show would focus on purposely shabby, frayed materials if you saw the flurry of twitpics before the show of whey faced Chaplin-alike models with curly hair and suspect mustaches.

Instead it seems more like a play on proportions (tight jacket/baggy trousers) that makes Chaplin the perfect fit (ahem) for the show.

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However, when the tailoring and proportions turn more towards the square shoulders and starched collars, the models look more like Buster Keaton, with straw boaters and newsboy caps.

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I wish more men dressed like this.  The world would be a much more interesting place if they did.

Watch video of the show here .
Runway photos from style.com

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Banana-rama-saga

Last Thursday, an initiative was brought to pass in the form of a decree. On the 17th of June 2010, the people of Cork were politely asked by the mayor not to use that word which starts with an r and rhymes with secession. This was ostensibly a move that would 'help drive Cork out of recession and into recovery'. Mercifully, I didn't actually use the word 'recession' in my column on that day. Instead I wrote about people who blissfully ignore the recession and carry on spending whether or not they have the resources. Funny that.

In the spirit of belated inclusion I will instead replace the word 'recession' with 'banana' for the rest of this column and provide a rebuttal to this decree as only a bananaista can.
The banana exists. You cannot ignore the banana. The banana is part of an economic system dependent as much on a bust as it is on a boom. We only have to weather the banana storm that is hailing upon us as best we can, despite the general feeling that we are all on a slow banana boat ride to nowhere.
Nor can we peel back the layers of the banana with an overly-optimistic word like 'pre-boom', which is a notion verging on the tragicomic. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the sense of optimism that this generates and the heartfelt effort by the good people of Cork to wholeheartedly attempt to 'lift (them)selves out of the doom and gloom' - to spend one day out of the shadow on the banana. Personally if I'm feeling gloomy I prefer a brisk walk with some podcasts and a nice, refreshing drink when I get back in, but each to their own.
Here's my point; we can ignore the banana just fine, but what would the response be if we decided not to use the word 'HIV' or 'rape' or 'Nazi' and dress every evil sounding word as something more palatable? I would imagine that there would be outrage on many camps and a distinct feeling of diminishment of people who have been adversely affected by these words. They sound that way and carry that resonance for a reason. We can't just pretend that something doesn't exist or that if it sounds better, that it somehow doesn't make an impact. You have to call a spade a spade. Lest we forget; a banana by any other name would taste as sweet.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Linkage Love Special - online magazines

Like a lot of people, I'm stuck somewhere between online content and magazines.  Both have their advantages; my favourite elements are the tactility of the paper, the layouts and the flip factor, where you can flip from page to page without waiting for it to load or come up all funny because your connection is bad.

In between online content and paper is the online magazine, where you can flip from page to page and not have to throw anything in the recycling bin when you're done, or if you're like me, let it gather dust on your tv.  Here are some of my favourites.

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Antler Magazine
I don't know how long antler has been out or even how old the most recent issue is, but that is a good indicator of what kind of magazine it is.  Fresh, slightly Lula-ish layouts and themes run amok all over the pages and there's an emphasis on Etsy sellers that are otherwise ignored by more established mags.

I Want You
I'm wandering slightly off the mark here as I Want You isn't a fashion magazine but a quarterly that focuses more on up-and-coming artists like Christina Christoforou and Arnaud Loumeau, whose graphic prints wouldn't look out of place on the catwalk.  They also run a limited edition print version that is FREE (!!!).  Sorry, I got a bit excited there.

I♥FAKE
Because this issue the theme is 'grunge' and I have a sick, sad love for anything grungy.  The spreads make me want to dye my hair green, which is no mean feat in itself.

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Pic: Reserve LA 

NOMAG
A great thing about the advent of online magazines is that old mags can be scanned in that would otherwise only be seen by a handful of people.  To mark an exhibition at Reserve LA, three copies of cult early 80's LA punk zine NOMAG were put online.  Plenty of inspirational images to be found.

And as an addendum, you can find a full version of the Size Issue of V here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

They don't make 'em like that anymore...

Another teeny post where I look at something, go 'Ah...' and bung it on the blog.

The first I saw of Mikhail Baryshnikov was when he jumped over a load of bins and ran after the cab in which Carrie left her purse in an episode of Sex and the City.  This is better.

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Vogue Paris Dec '86/Jan '87 (via tfs )

KYRIE ELEISON... In desperation his mother sent him to church.  Surely, she thought, Metropolitan Neuritikoff could exorcise the feathered demons from Siegfried's heart... Prayers were offered... candles lit...  incense burnt.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The good kind of oil spill

Another short and to the pointless post today.  Packing anxiety has made me only capable of oohing and aahing over pretty pictures and cool things since all my cogent thoughts are devoted to how I'm going to manage to pack and transport a hundred or so books... by myself... without a car.

I love nail art, but my nails tear like tissue paper against wire mesh and I spend most of my time typing so manicures are a serious no-go area.  I recently indulged in a Minx manicure for my sister's birthday party and was so hypnotised with the results that I kept the transfers on for about a week longer than recommended.

Now my nails are back to their sad, flaky stage due to shoving things in boxes and maniacally taping labels to bin liners filled with clothes.

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Twitpic via M.I.A's twitter 
I'm an M.I.A fan.  I pretty much love almost everything she does and her nail choices are no different.  This is a new Minx transfer due out this summer called 'Luzion' and when light shines on it, it looks like a rainbow slick of petrol on water.  Pretty cool, eh?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Time poor, Cash, eh... poor

I've been spending a lot of time preparing for the big move from one apartment to another and spending no cash whatsoever on fashiony bits due to a deposit-induced cash squeeze. I can only offer tiny titbits or share things I've found online for the time being...  Apologies for being kinda crap.  I have got a few posts in the works about Etsy sellers and packaging, the vintage jewellery that my grandmother recently left me and the few vintage style books that I've managed to amass so watch this space.

 Today, however,  it's the work of Hong Kong illustrator John Woo.

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You can see all his Star Wars modelled illustrations here (via Refinery 29 ).

Mustard syndrome

My parents are not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but they are of a generation that has carved out a very comfortable life for themselves through a lot of hard graft and a little bit of luck. Like many people of that generation, they have found to a certain extent that the serendipitous circumstances that helped buoy their earning power (that's the construction industry then) have also mutated into the reason why the family belts have been summarily tightened.
A friend of mine told me the following anecdote. His mother had just bought a designer handbag on the reasoning that everyone deserves a treat once in a while - nothing wrong with that... if you can afford it. Said friend went grocery shopping with his mother and tried to put some garlic in the trolley. "We already have garlic." she said, referring to a months-old bulb mouldering away in the fridge. "We have a very limited budget". She then stuffed some quails eggs and Dom Perignon into her basket and proceeded merrily on her way, cackling and clacking her heels on supermarket linoleum.
That last part didn't happen. I'm exaggerating. It was actually Parma ham and elderflower cordial.
As we grow up and out of a global financial situation and our core beliefs are shaken by the very people that we put our trust in, is it not reasonable to question our parents and their financial habits? After all, the Church has scarred us, bankers and the government have stripped us of all semblance of trust; why not look to our parents to totally dissolve any faith we might have left in the ability for a human to live a balanced life?
My friend's mother is merely symptomatic of the older generation of spenders that are obsessed with the trimmings. They spend money on all the little things they couldn't afford before they became affluent and ignore all the important basic needs.
There are people (of all ages, I might add) with racks and racks of designer dresses hanging on hooks because the money spent buying a wardrobe might be better dispersed on a pair of Choos.
I call it mustard syndrome. You know you have it when you arrive home one day and find that all you have in the fridge is fancy syrup, continental cured meats, expensive mustard and one solitary, greenish garlic bulb softening at the very back.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The intrepid journalist on holidays

I've been invited to go on a family holiday on the Amalfi coast in a few weeks and am looking forward to renting boats and exploring random islands, catching up on the reading and eating an unsafe amount of food.

I haven't been to Italy for a few years.  Until recently I hadn't been on any family holidays at all since a holiday with one alpha male and four alpha females can end in tears and most likely, a Borgia-style temper tantrum outside the Duomo.

So, with the idea that holidays are battlefields, I'll be channelling photographer, model and muse Lee Miller .  GI tailoring, well-groomed hair, a camera glued to my hip at all times... and a helmet for any food missiles that might come my way.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

The shoe must go on*

I'm currently sitting through my fourth football match in twenty-four hours (Japan v Cameroon at the moment, the score is zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....) and as a form of creative punishment I may force the boyfriend to accompany me to London in September to watch a dance revue all about shoes (!!!) in Sadler's Wells.

I'm not that much of a fashionophile to go to a po-faced examination of shoes but this is a different creature altogether.  The revue is written by Jerry Springer - The Opera composer Richard Thomas and choreographed by a series of talented people from all facets of dance.

The shoe, sorry that was a Freudian typo, the show isn't a glorification or a fetishisation of shoes (although I think that there is a shoe-fetish song...) but rather an humour-laced examination of the role footwear plays in our lives.  If you're lucky enough to have a subscription to the Times Online you can view behind the scenes preparation footage of the show and read the double page feature in yesterday's Culture supplement.

Subjects that will be touched on includes Imelda Marcos, Sex and the City, Ferragamos, Uggs, Flip-flops, an insidious man in Hush Puppies and best of all:

A song about how utterly shit Crocs are.  Enough said.

PS - The show is called Shoes by the way.  Did you guess that?

*Excuse the pun.  I'm so, so sorry.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Treehouse of Horror - Strictly Irrelevant Saturday

This weekend I will mostly be watching old Treehouse of Horror episodes.  The old ones are the best methinks...  Actually putting these up is kinda sorta slightly illegal so I shan't be hosting them, but you can watch them by clicking on the links.  Loopholes, eh?  Bless 'em.

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The_Simpsons_405_Treehouse_of_Horror_III - An evil Krusty doll and a King Kong parody. Need I say more?

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The_Simpsons_505_Treehouse_of_Horror_IV - Homer sells his soul for a donut, a gremlin only Bart can see vandalises a moving bus and Mr Burns is a vampire.

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606_Treehouse_of_Horror_V - No TV and no beer makes Homer something something...

Friday, June 11, 2010

WWDVD? (What Would Diana Vreeland Do?)

I don't work in an office, but a memo of this kind would really brighten up my day.  Another testament to the genius of Diana Vreeland...

These memos were recently discovered (see full post on refinery29) - I wonder if there's more floating around?

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However, these recently leaked American Apparel employee contracts make me feel a bit ill in that 'something-heavy-like-a-stone-in-the-pit-of-my-stomach' kind of way.

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Full post and information on Gawker.  Please read it - it's very interesting.

The first thing that shocks me (apart from the spelling - Dock Martins anyone? And what is 'chique'? Is that really a word?) is not the fact that they tell their employees what to wear.  As a rule, retailers will make their employees wear company stock.

What is odd is that they don't want American Apparel employees wearing some American Apparel clothing because it "wrecks the image American Apparel are trying to portray".  Without being too crude - are you fucking kidding me?

Employees have been weighing in over at Gawker over unfair and slightly weird recruitment policies, which involve taking several photos of employees and encouraging managers to fire current employees who no longer fit the physical profile (this includes eyebrows, nail colour, slightly scary ethnic profiling and having chests too big to carry off crop tops).

This kills me, because I have a totally shallow love for American Apparel clothing.  I own a LOT of AA bits and pieces.  I love the block colours and the mix-and-matchability.  And I loved it in spite of the ridiculous sizing (European 12, US 8 is a size large).  I loved it even though the dollar to euro mark-up was not inconsiderable.  I loved it even though the founder, Dov Charney is apparently just like this...




There's no clothing quite like American Apparel.  But this kind of news just makes me feel like 1) I'm being told I'm not good enough for this stuff because I'm large of chest and 2) the new standards are abhorrent. This ranks a ten on the Abercrombie and Fitch ranking of creepy high-street retailers.

So, this is a serious question.  What would Diana Vreeland do?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Turn 'what if' into 'so what'

Social welfare is often used as a mode of delaying reality, especially for the hordes of young people who still find themselves jobless or relying on increasingly tenuous sources of income. When you spend all your time in college, on close to no money and an excess of daytime tv to watch, going on the dole is simply another way of extending the college experience without actually having to go to college.
This might work for a short time (one of my friends has been signing on for almost three years; a fact he often announces with bizarre pride) but eventually real life will come-a-knocking and the realisation will dawn that your life is no longer dependent on the largest volume of naggins and noodles for the lowest price.
To quote John Lennon, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans". My plans were to spend the summer tootling along as usual in my house, selling some of my clothes on eBay and hopping on a weekend jaunt to Galway with the proceeds before the clouds went from June greige to September's leaden clumps. So, no-one was more surprised than me when I opened my big fat mouth and asked the other half if he fancied moving in together.
Now, after much humming and hawing, we are both poised on the precipice of doing the most grown up thing I've been involved with since managing to tie my shoelaces independently of my mother's help. It is terrifying.
The mild sense of foreboding that clouds what should be an exciting time has nothing to do with our relationship or how much money we have (or don't have, as the case may be). Our chosen abode is eerily perfect and almost impossibly affordable. The problem is not us. The problem lies with the endless parade of 'what ifs' that stream through our minds. What if the money dries up? What if we lose our jobs? What happens if our savings suddenly poof into nothingness at some unseen genie's bidding?
As a generation, we're only just getting used to having the fiscal rug pulled out from under us at no notice, so niggling doubts are suddenly transformed into looming possibilities.
We've gone from being cautious to shrieking at our own shadows.
My advice? Turn your 'What if' into 'So what?' You'll sleep easier at night. You'll display the blithe disregard and head-in-the-sand financial mentality that means that you have finally grown up, looked reality in the face... and decided that you didn't like it.

Item of lust

Inspired in part by finding my granny's old pictures...

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Available here

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Vintage photos

I moved out of my family home when I was eighteen and my parents have, bit by bit, turned it into a junk room where the only space left is on my bed.  Every time I come home, I find some old clothes or museum catalogues or undies or generally something that I just don't want to see.  This time though, I found a welcome surprise on my bed - a bag of my grandmother's old photos.

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Monday, June 7, 2010

I'm allergic...

... to a few things.  Biological detergent and harsh astringents are the first things I can think of.  But I'm allergic to organising my life.

I'm moving into a new apartment in a few weeks and since I'll be moving in with someone, I have to get rid of all the stuff I haven't worn in forever, including clothing that I have fairly serious emotional attachment to (but that I can no longer fit into).

I'm allergic to eBay.  This isn't an attempt to say that eBay is terrible (it's only bad for my bank account) but I just can't seem to get the hang of it.  It took me three hours just to put up eleven listings.  Towards the end I thought that my eyeballs might actually pop out of my head like Judge Doom at the end of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? 

My listings are here.  And I've got more items on my Photobucket, so if you see anything you like, drop me a line and I'll give you a quote.  everything is priced to move and anything that doesn't go will be carted off to a car boot sale next week, which will probably suit me right down to the ground.  I just can't hack online selling.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Strictly Irrelevant Sunday - Summer Reading List

It's summer and Ireland is getting an inordinate number of nice sunny days that can only occur when people are taking their final exams.  Murphy's Law dictates to these poor specimens that have to do their finals or college entrance exams that, once they are done and can go out and frolic with the rest of us, the sky clouds over and the weather turns crappy again.

I don't have exams (don't be jealous, I barely have an income either) so when I'm not listing items on eBay and wanting to bash my head against my laptop (more on that later in the week) I can usually be found down the park or in my back garden reading a good book.  Here are a few of my summer picks.

Perfume by Patrick Suskind - A tale of Grenouille, a man with a miraculous sense of smell and no odour.  Grenouille cuts a swathe through 18th century France in search of an unattainable perfume, which eventually degenerates into mass murder.  This book is simultaneously hilarious and grotesque, and is written with a wry disgust for humankind.   Fun Fact - I bought this book when I was sixteen because I had heard that it was Kurt Kobain's favourite book.  I'm not too sure if that's true (I can TOTALLY picture him enjoying it though...), but this is one of my favourite books nonetheless.

Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham - If you have ever, ever been in an unhealthy, slightly obsessive relationship, then this book will probably make you feel incredibly uncomfortable at how much Maugham knew about human dynamic.  This book is semi-autobiographical and the writing unnerves me so much that I find I have to put it down from time to time.  It's understandably known as one of Maugham's masterpieces and hopefully a massive re-issue of his previous works will mean that he is no longer criminally underread.

The Classic Fairy Tales by Iona and Peter Opie - I've been reading a lot of Angela Carter recently and her novels are like adult fairy tales, with strong woman and immoral men, magic, comeuppances and twists and turns that are both human and otherworldly.  This is what the original fairy tales were... Peter and Iona Opie compile 24 of the most popular fairy tales and trace them back to their unsavoury, unsanitised beginnings (Did you know that the Prince from Sleeping Beauty was a rapist?  I don't remember that in the Disney version).  This goes back to last weeks Strictly Irrelevant post about Dina Goldstein's work and how, in fairytales, not everything is what it seems...

The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion and Rock'n'Roll by Simon Reynolds and Joy Press - I haven't read this yet, but I'm a big fan of Simon Reynolds' brand of well-researched, passionate musical polemics and his encyclopedic knowledge of almost every popular musical movement.  This book is about rock and roll as seen through a prism of gender - from mysogynistic rock to woman on top.

Alexander McQueen: Genius of a Generation by Kristin Knox.  I don't have this book as it was only released a few weeks ago, so i'm still not sure if it's a cynical cash-in or a loving tribute.  Nevertheless the book is a bit slim at 128 pages, but is chock-a-block full of photos and commentary.  Just a quick FYI though - the book doesn't dip into McQueen's menswear collection, which would lead me to think that this may be more geared towards fashionistas looking for a quick fix rather than a proper overview of the man's work.

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Yep, I'm a big nerd.  What is everyone else reading this summer?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Diana Vreeland and colour



Watch the above clip (ignore the fuzzy audio) and you'll see that Diana Vreeland, former editor of American Vogue and contributor to Harpers Bazaar, had a amazing knack for description - the kind of verbal dexterity that I wish I had just so I could walk around the town talking to myself and being utterly confident that every word I say is utterly engrossing.

I've been reading her autobiography, D.V, and it's full of passages and asides that are precise in their description and beyond camp.

Diana talking about post-Nijinsky Parisiennes on the Bois de Boulogne:

"The colours! Before then, red had never been red and violet had never been violet. They were always slightly... grayed. But these women's clothes in the Bois were of colours as sharp as a knife: red red, violent violet, orange - when I say "orange", I mean red orange, not yellow orange - jade green and cobalt blue. And the fabrics - the silks, the satins and the brocades, embroidered with seed pearls and braid, shot with silver and gold and trimmed with fur and lace - were of an Oriental splendeur. There's never been such luxury since. These women looked rich."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Staycation Summer

The summer of the staycation has finally arrived. At the time of writing, the sun is shining, the ash cloud is still proving troublesome and rumblings abroad (of the political and food poisoning variety) makes a foreign holiday a more stressful prospect than it usually is. It's a good idea, this year, to forgo the passport trauma and take your summer sojourn at home. Here are a few advantages to playing house, some of which you may not have thought of.


1. No World Cup awkwardness. Sorry World Cup Widows, I don't have a solution for you. However a staycation means that you will be relieved of the inter-country tensions that are usually a product of several nationalities packed into one place. I vividly remember the 2002 World Cup final of Germany v Brazil, which I watched in a packed campsite in Italy. Every single Dutch person turned up to the match in Brazil gear and gave the death stare to the Germans, who did a lot of awkward shuffling and floor staring. Unfortunately, the atmosphere was anything but carnivalesque and when the final whistle blew, the camp bar descended into a slanging match and halfhearted scuffles not normally seen out of an episode of Eastenders.

2. Green smugness. Calculate how many trees died because your sister decided to backpack in Korea and casually drop it into every conversation. While you're at it, decry her holiday photos as a waste of paper and a mode of releasing harmful chemicals into the air. That'll teach her for going on holidays.

3. No language barrier. No waving your arms around in exaggerated motions trying to mine 'a baguette, please'. No speaking English in a foreign accent or at a volume high enough to blow a speaker in an Ibiza nightclub in a futile effort to make yourself understood. No looking like a culturally insensitive idiot because you didn't absorb anything from your phrasebook. Think about that.

4. More efficient money spending. Every year without fail, Irish women (including myself) storm Penneys and drop a hundred euros on a summer wardrobe of shorts, bikinis and tees totally unsuitable for an Irish climate, wear them on holidays, then never wear them again. Not only does a staycation mean that you'll be saving money on clothes, but put the cost of flights on top of your accommodation budget and presto, you've magically upgraded from a Mallorcan high-rise to a nice five-star hotel in Killarney or Connemara with enough change left over for a nice pony ride and a 99 on the beach. Happy Staycationing!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Last minute SubbaCouture inspiration



Pure Genius.

Archetypes vs. Stereotypes

Archetype - original model: something that serves as the model or pattern for other things of the same type


Stereotype - oversimplified conception: an oversimplified standardized image of a person or group


There's something about the tactile quality or paper and the sheeny gloss that makes looking at a picture in a magazine much more satisfying than staring at a screen.  I love Stern's Fotografie series, which focuses on a different photographer each issue, and is mercifully spare with words, because my grasp of German is pretty dismal.

The next issue, out on June 7th, focuses on Karl Lagerfeld and Claudia Schiffer's collaborations over the past 20 years and will include never seen before self portraits, polaroids and reminiscences that will probably have me breaking out my secondary school German-English dictionary and wondering what the hell der Dudelsack is.

There will be six different covers of Claudia, shot by Lagerfeld in a series of costumes (see them at the ASVOFF site here).  The price is pretty steep, but I'm looking forward to getting mine in the post.

But wait, what's this?

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Is it just me or is controversy over blackface in fashion editorials the new, er, black?

Hmm, something's not quite right here but I can't put my finger on it...

Granted, someone probably thought that the only fitting way to accessorise classic 80's power shoulders was with an electrocuted expression and a convoluted Diana Ross tribute.

Maybe someone thought that this was delightfully satirical (though off the top of my head can't think of a satirical connection between blackface, 80's Chanel, Lagerfeld or Schiffer).

Maybe this is supposed to be incredibly post-modern and the intention is to somehow reappropriate blackface as a non-racist form of expression (though that's virtually impossible due to the deeply entrenched racist vein of blackface and no such declaration of reappropriation has been made).

The other covers that I've seen are broad archetypes; Claudia the businesswoman, Claudia the 18th century aristo, Claudia the Muscle Mary.  In this case Claudia is the person and the clothing is the archetypal template she fits into.  However, by disguising the things that signify Claudia Schiffer (like her blonde hair or the colour of her skin) she stops being a person in costume and starts to portray a stereotype.  Which isn't necessarily a good thing.

Photo - Stern Fotografie

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How very Insightful

I'm not really a bikini person.  They're just not for me.  This bikini aversion isn't due to low self esteem or disgust at belly baring or the fact that Irish weather is generally so mild that a trip to the beach usually requires a wooly jumper and a thermos of piping hot soup after a brisk dip in the Atlantic.

My problem with the bikini is that I tend to fall out of them.  And I don't play volleyball.  I have to hold onto my sides every time I flip a page of a book while wearing a bikini just in case my strategically placed triangles of cloth held together with floss come loose.  I can't even think about any motion that involves even the slightest wobbling.

Being of the DD+ persuasion (not as much fun as you'd think), swimsuit options are very tight.  Wear a bikini, and risk exposure.  Wear a DD bikini top, and look like you decided to go for a swim in a Marks and Sparks bra.  Most one pieces are either a) utilitarian Speedo-type things, b) high-cut on the hips a la Baywatch circa 1996, c) have those cut outs at the side and front, which make for interesting tribal print tan lines or d) self-consciously retro (which would be my second choice).

Blissfully bereft of all these cliches, I give you the Insight swimwear collection.  I might actually get to venture into the sea this year.

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Photos - Insight at ASOS