Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ice Capades

When I moved to the United States, some twenty years ago now(!!!), I left behind an important part of myself that I grew not to miss. 

For somewhere in the move I must have abandoned or lost my ice skates.  I don't remember which, but I do know that I was without skates throughout grad school, but it really didn't matter, as ice rinks or ponds or Rideau Canals were not on my mind.  And I biked to class all winter instead of skating.

Today, however, that lost past came rushing back as Mr. C and I took our three children to buy their first pair of ice skates and to replace my long-lost pair.  And then, of course, we skated all afternoon. 

It was my five-year-old son's first time on ice, so I spent much of the afternoon strengthening my quads in a less intense version of this position--

--as I guided him around on a "walker" for new skaters.  It reminded me of a repurposed ab roller (from the 1990s).

But from time to time I was able to cut loose and skate some laps.  I quickly felt like I was in the film The Cutting Edge (1992 version) as I realized that my old skates of yore had their toe picks filed off.  But these skates would allow me to dig my pick into the ice and leap into the air, if I wished to do so (I didn't).

On the way home, my children all remarked that this was the best day ever, and that they can't wait to find a local pond.  I promised them that we will do so tomorrow and then saw in my mind's eye my childhood PEI back yard, which my father had flooded and transformed into my private rink.  Perhaps that's next.

And I'm really, really glad to be skating again.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mad Men(icures) II

For me, the overt sexual appeal of January Jones in this accessory ad is undercut by her manicure, as I've written about here.

But isn't it amusing to see "Betty" don Versace?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Alices in Miss Rumphius-land

Tonight I watched Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and although it was full of effects that are no doubt special, my eye and mind were drawn to the final scene, during which Alice boards a merchant ship bound for China.

It reminded me of an illustration from Barbara Cooney's Miss Rumphius, my favourite picture book, in which a little girl, also named Alice, goes to visit her grandfather, who carves figureheads for ships, among other things.

Though we see only a glimpse of the harbour, the ships peeking around the buildings are enough to let my imagination soar.

In fact, I think I may begin to believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast.*

And why stop there, when lunch and dinner are still hours away?

* adapted from Lewis Carroll

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Just Glovely

These occasional gloves just might be my "black sheep sweater" for the forthcoming spring royal wedding.

Unlike Diana's wardrobe, Kate's does not inspire me to fashion an homage but these witty gloves possess just the right amount of cheek and cheese.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

By the Light of the Silvery Shoon

Truth be told: I looked for silver shoes so that I could use the archaic plural of shoes (shoon) that I just learned via a Frank Norris essay.

But I do think that these Manolo Blanhik shoon are lovely.

If I wore jeans, I'd pair these shoon with some skinny blues.

And these vintage shoon from Canada's virtual shoe museum have a pretty silver accent.

Borrowing from myself on Twitter:  it would be a pleasure to buy some new shoon soon.  And yoon?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Voids and Vitrines: A-Dressing Female Sexuality

It's not groundbreaking to make fashion from a psychoanalytical perspective; Bella Freud did that capably a couple of decades ago with her famous Freudian Slip dress.

This floaty frock boasted a large image of the designer's grandfather, Dr. Freud, on its front.

I am, however, currently intrigued by two dresses that call upon the latent Lacanian scholar in me, dresses that appear to represent perspectives on female sexuality by depicting portals at each garment's midsection.

For his spring 2009 collection, Christopher Kane printed enormous heads of gorillas, baboons, and apes on tops and dresses, each with a wide open mouth.

Notice the placement of the gorilla's mouth

Is the gaping mouth on these dresses suggestive of a Freudian abyss, a void?

If so, there is a cheerier prospect for spring 2011, via the designer Mary Katrantzou.

Katrantzou's portals are well-appointed rooms (wombs?) with a good view.

in Vogue's Index, January 2011

worn with a cozy

Her images come from photographs by Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton, photographers who knew a thing or two about picturing female sexuality themselves.

Which portal do you prefer, gentle readers? Kane's black hole?  Or Katrantzou's "dress-ing room"?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Juxt-A-Poses by Miss Moss

Juxtapositions are an art and Miss Moss, a South African graphic designer, works them to perfection.

Here are a couple of my favorites, from Erdem's latest collection, above and below,

and from Atonement, a visually gorgeous film, about which I've written here.

Just loverly.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

For the Birds: Bottega Veneta Nesting Instincts

Why is this bird circling this woman?

Is it because she is a modern-day Tippi Hedren, vamping her way through a Hitchcock storyboard?

No: it is because her Bottega Veneta woven bag reminds the bird of its nest, a gentle place to rest its weary feathers.

*Apologies for not mentioning the photographer/artist, Alex Prager!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lunettes and Lunar Dressing

Walking to work this morning I was enveloped in darkness, the white snowy drifts around me providing the only light. 

I felt like I was walking on the moon, my gigantic vintage Coach Soho bag a flag to plant somewhere in this lunar snowscape.

But coming home for lunch those (still white) drifts proved blinding. To my delight, I had an accessory in my bag that enabled me to continue the moonwalk: a pair of "Space Race" sunglasses (lunettes) by the ever-talented Christian Roth (see below, second from top).

My first "good" lunettes, back in 1989, were from Mr. Roth's Optical Affairs (see far above), and when I finally broke them, in 2006, I was miserable. 

Mr. Roth's design partner, the gracious Eric Domege, recently sent me the Space Race lunettes (after connecting with me via the lovely WendyB's comments section!) and I was delighted to take them on their maiden flight/moonwalk today.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Spring Bags 2011: This Time It's Pursonal

Perhaps it's the mountains of snow in my back yard, perhaps the shorter days, but I felt a welcome breath of spring waft through the house when I opened February's Bazaar (with the original, subscriber cover, thank you; no Kate Hudson redux here).

It's a rare bag (I never say "purse") that will set my pulse racing, but I felt myself drawn to the terrific use of colorblocking for Spring 2011. 

I like these bold chunks of color so much better than, say, Louis Vuitton's other forays into color via the monogram bags.

(Eeek!  Hide this one, please! It is an impursonator!)

But will these cheerful bags be easy to find come spring, when I want to take them on a test carry?

I guess I'll have to be pursistent.

Hidden In Plain UK*

Sure, Dr. Freud may say that sometimes a stripe is just a stripe,

but we overly interpretive types may see

a deconstructed Union Jack in this Fendi bag,

with shades of this genteel watery-colored

Vivienne Westwood pillow.

* If my titular pun is overly obscure, it references the phrase "hidden in plain view."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Going Into the Woods

I'm going Into the Woods for the next few months, via the Stephen Sondheim wickedly funny musical. 

Even though I'm not playing Red Riding Hood, I wouldn't mind conjuring her in "real life," with a red satchel like this one (I still carry a great schoolgirlish affection for satchels).

I'd wear Latvian mittens too, though probably ones more colourful than those pictured above. 

Like these.

In fact, I'd knit a pair, but the one time I tried to knit mittens, I couldn't figure out how to make the thumb. So I ended up with pretty cuffs, which can actually be quite pleasant, like this pair below from Norway's Oleana.

One can be rather existential in Oleana . . .

Or quite cozy . . .

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Revelations in New York

The title of this post refers to the glorious ballet "Revelations," created by Alvin Ailey, and first performed fifty years ago at the 92nd St. Y in New York.

A couple of days after the NYC blizzard, my daughters and I dodged the super-slushy intersections to see the Alvin Ailey company at City Center.

I've seen AA a number of times, both in Canada and in the States, but never "at home" in New York.  And it was my daughters' first opportunity. 

The opening dance was a premiere, with a haunting score by Moby.  Then there was a blistering solo, which explored aspects of femininity, followed by a powerful trio of male dancers.

As usual, the show closed with "Revelations," but this time with a brief contextualizing film, which included footage of Alvin Ailey performing in the baptismal section of the ballet.

It was inmpossible to sit in our seats for the Revelations encore and we loved the sense of community that formed, as every audience member clearly felt the same way.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Fairy Flats: Desiring Vera Wang

It is no secret to me that Vera Wang shoes do not look pretty in photos but are utterly desirable in person.

Saturday I saw two pairs that I adored--two fanciful pairs of ballet flats, all kid-glove leather and wrapped satin and jeweled and fairy-footed.

But as gossamer wings are not my usual accessory, said fairy slippers will remain in my imaginative realm. I didn't even try them on.

But I also didn't try them on because I wanted to cultivate my fantasy that Vera Wang flats are the most ethereally perfect shoes possible.  For my fear is that in reality they have a very narrow cut.

Chastizing lesson: Remember these "perfect" ballerinas from last summer? 

I could not wear them once because they were too narrow when the gauzy haze of summer-vacation happiness cleared.  I actually returned then, in "perfect," completely unworn condition, last week.

But how I loved them when "I did not have them"--that wonderful state of yearning long before the disillusioned state of "I do not have them because I cannot wear them."

So with the Vera Wang fairy flats, I am reminding myself to nurture the desire, because sometimes desiring is much, much more satisfying than having.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Craftswomanship at the Mall

Today I ventured out to an enormous mall TWICE, once for my daughter, once for my husband avec famille in tow.

While Mr. C. was getting what he needed, the children and I snooped around the accessories department of Nordstrom. My two daughters liked the headbands; my son (age 5) was bored to tears until we went to the boys' athletic shoe section. I liked a pink/plum tartan Burberry rain hat that would not fit on my generous head.

Somehow I herded all three to see what was old and new in scarves: lots of plaid cashmere looking forlorn on sale tables, but high up on the counter, a welcome burst of citrus color greeted us.

For I had come upon a orange silk oblong scarf that was elevated into covetable territory by a smart placement of texture and color: three primitive bands of fuchsia wool that were worked into the silk.

The SA saw me return to the scarf a couple of times and gamely began a conversation. "There's wool in that silk scarf," she said.

"Yes," said I. "Felted wool."

"You're good!" she exclaimed with true shock. "The wool *is* felted!" (This was uttered as if she were just realizing it herself.)

"Well, textiles are my life," I responded, which must have been confusing, given my post-workout Cape Cod sweatshirt and three tired children.

But this encounter illustrates exactly why I do not enjoy shopping in department stores. I wish that we could buy directly from artisans or designers so that we could have meaningful conversations about the techniques, the fabrics, the cuts, rather than superficial ones where the client knows more about the product than the salesperson.

I bought the scarf (closeup of the texture above) because I really liked it but also because I wanted it to be owned by someone who was passionate about the craft that went into it.

How do Gentle Readers deal with this issue?