Thursday, April 29, 2010

April Showers

Indeed, when it rains, it pours. Here's what I've been doing this April:

My day job;

Writing a piece on an 8-day deadline for my favorite magazine and interviewing some of the smartest, wittiest women around in the process;

Copyediting two books for my favorite publishing house;

Grading 90 essays for (um--my favorite!) outside organization;

Auditioning for and rehearsing with the faculty rock band for a performance next week (eek!);

Speaking at a symposium in honor of my beloved dissertation advisor, the founding American voice of feminist literary scholarship;

Meeting with my fellow cast members of a dramatic play to be put on in June.

Sorry, Mr. Eliot; I think that April is the coolest month!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pucci Wallets

Although I used to wear Pucci headwraps in grad school (those super-wide, stretchy bands), ever since the brand revitalized itself (and spawned a gazillion knockoffs) my desire has waned.

And perhaps the deciding factor for me was the boutique's move from its jewel-box location on 64th at Madison to the tourist belt of 5th Ave and Whatever.

Pucci is not Gucci, and should be, I think, tucked away for a clientele to discover.  (Yes: I know that that strategy is not optimal for sales.  But do let me keep my fantasy.)

However, a quick tour of the company's website today turned up these charming wallets.  They're enough to make me return to my "no bag allowed" mantra of days past and simply carry a pretty, small, wallet in my hand. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Graduate School Daze: Style Memories

This weekend I went back to school: my graduate school, where Mr. C and I married each other almost two decades ago, and where my dissertation adviser and beloved friend, one of the country's--OK--*the* pioneering feminist literary scholar, was being honored upon her retirement. 

Her former PhD students from across the country came, and, in a wonderful day-long symposium, we presented vignettes about what we had learned from this remarkable woman.  I actually taught her to quilt, back in the mid 90s, so my presentation contained a teacher/student reversal.

Because I was immersed in my graduate-student haunts--the cafe where the waitress had a gorgeously tattooed face (rays on her forehead, curlicues climbing up her neck and chin); the on-campus art museum that was the scene of many a rendevous; the fantastic Irish pub where Mr. C and I had our first liquid date--before I move forward, I must return to my graduate school style, since it is foremost on my mind.

So what did I wear back then?

Doc Martens--the lace-up shoes, worn with long, flowery dresses that were unbuttoned from the calf to the lower thigh.

Tiny sundresses--the floatier the better.  I'd sail through the town on my bike and clip the two sides of my hem together to be proper. 

Authentic Pucci headwraps, the better to complement my waist-length blonde hair (see Pucci cloak above).  Or a skyscraper topknot.

No bra.  Didn't need one; didn't want one.

Tight black cigarette pants, with a high waist, nipped at the ankle.  Good with Doc Martens.

My children tripped happily through the streets and cafes, wide-eyed at the creativity and the humanity around them.  If I squinted just right, I could see my two daughters in 10 years or so, tossing their long hair while sipping a cool drink at the cafe, smoothing their skirts as they bent to adjust their Docs.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Even Cowgirls Get the Boots

These Isabel Marant boots have every element that I dislike in footwear:

camo print

side fringe

cowgirl homage

stacked heel

jingly metal things.

So why do I like them? 

It's that French, Beatrice Dalle, jolie laide vibe,

with a good dose of je ne sais quois.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Kilting Me Softly

Descending from a Scottish line (northern Scotland, mother's side), I do love a kilt. 

Intrepid readers will remember that I even wore full Highland dress (was a sergeant[!]) in the Black Watch Cadet Core while in boarding school.

And as much as I love a kilt, I also admire a good kilt pun. 

A favorite is the closing line from Anthony Lane'e review of Braveheart: "Faster, pussycat!  Kilt!  Kilt!"

And while the "Dressed to Kilt" fashion show pun may be a little obvious, all is forgiven with this image of the lovely Miss Scotland, Katharine Brown, wearing a beautiful tartan.  Those shoes!!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Divas Who Think

The lovely Belette Rouge reminded me of Malcolm McLaren's album "Fans," a hybrid of opera and pop (popera?) which I listened to in the 1980s.  The minute she mentioned it, all the lyrics came right back:  "Oh sweet, Butterfly, Madame Butterfly . . . "

That song reminded me of Butterfly McQueen, the actress:  (What a delightful first name!)

who in turn reminded me of this fabulous hat by Philip Treacy for Alexander McQueen.  It's fit for a true opera diva to wear:

That notion reminded me of this film:

and of course, of the wonderful Wilhelmina Wiggins Fernandez:

She reminded me of Kathleen Battle, whom I saw and heard in the early nineties.  She wasn't so kind to her female accompanist, and I have heard it mentioned that the diva's last name also describes her disposition.

But as Pat Benatar sings, "Love is a battlefield":

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Farewell, Malcolm McLaren

Loved your style, your (s)punky ways.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Britt and Becks: Sports and Gender Identity

The photo here is inaccurate (as in Not-Brittney), as was pointed out to me by a reader when I first posted this piece.  But the image did appear when I searched for a photo of Ms. Griner, so I'll keep it up.  And I'll stand by my point herein too.

Yes, I did watch the men's basketball Final Four last night, with a particular eye toward spying Blue II, Butler University's glorious fawn-and-white bulldog mascot.  (I also keep an eye out for Uga, Georgia's glorious white bulldog mascot, though I cannot begin to make it through a football game.)

It seems that basketball is everywhere, even in the style pages of the New York Times, as Guy Trebay writes about Brittney Griner, a 6-foot-8-inch first-year student and player at Baylor University.

There she is, dunking a ball, and far above, with David Beckham at the Espy Awards. I think she looks confortable, attractive, and like a young woman, unmodified, in both photos.

Trebay discusses how traditional female standards of beauty have been vexed for female athletes, and I add how those athletes have often engaged in the "feminine apologia"--dressing up in hyperfeminine clothing off the field to mark their gender, or posing provocatively for Sports Illustrated magazine, among others.

Trebay's article seems intended to be a positive one, focusing on embracing Ms. Griner's beauty, but the quotes he culls are troubling.  Professor Terry Castle, for instance, situates Ms. Griner as a "slightly androgynous female"; the model scout Paul Rowland connects Ms. Griner to "amazing creatures." 

While these expressions are within the context of both sources appreciating Ms. Griner within a feminist dialogue--they and the other sources all agree that traditional beauty, represented by women of a certain height, weight, with particular features, no longer stands--the language they choose is extra-ordinary.  And while I'm down with being extraordinary, I don't want other people to provide those labels.  Let people name their own identities.

It's fitting to see Ms. Griner standing next to Mr. Beckham, as he is a male athlete who has been critiqued for being too feminine--the nail polish, the hairbands, the preening in photoshoots; hence, perhaps the ultramasculine Armani underwear ads: the masculine apologia. 

And yes, she has two of those Espy balls, while he has one.

That elephant in the room, though, is utterly coincidental, a non-symbolic happenstance that coincides with trophies won, not gender identity.  Brittney Griner is a beautiful young woman on and off the court and it's getting tiresome to have to read articles that "defend" or "explain" that fact.  In fact, I'm feeling tired just writing this!

Time for a nap.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

It's the Easter Bulldog, Bill Cunningham

Bill Cunningham knows an Easter beauty when he sees her. 

And it's no easy task to maintain one's dignity in rabbit ears; I know this for a fact.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Color and Pattern for an Easter Weekend

Perhaps it's the onset of Easter and decorated eggs that's giving me this feel for soft patterns.

Who knows, but I've been contemplating color and print all day--not in fashion, but in textures for the home.

Regular readers will know how much I like the Union Jack on clothing and accessories; the above cushion by Angel Linens (made in England from vintage linens) looks to be a lovely spring iteration.

And the detail from the quilt below (shown on, seems to indicate an all-Liberty crazy log cabin design. 

Yes; I *must* complete some of my fabric projects (after I complete all of my writing projects?).

Happy Easter to all!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

OK, But Are Their Gardens Gray?

Although the New York Times posted this story on April 1, it is a serious piece of writing.

I quite like gray hair on young people (though not on 13-year-olds) if they have a very strong aesthetic and if the gray is smooth.

One of my favorite gray--or platinum--models is Jeny Howorth, who was a fixture in ELLE during the 1980s.

She is best known for her super-short crop, which predates Ms Deyne's by a couple of decades.

Here she is, snapped by Arthur Elgort, in 1985:

Yes, I ran out and bought Elgort's Models Manual the day it arrived in my bookstore.  Love his work.  Et vous?