Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Don't stop now Monsieur Revolutionary

Hello world! I'm prepping for my 3 hour Renaissance Art History lecture, but I'm also watching my fave guilty pleasure... don't shoot me, but I'm obsessed with Jersey Shore. It absolutely cracks me up, and I can't get enough of it. Say, what you will: It's mindless, derogatory, racist, sexist, cheap, kitsch... etc, however, it is damn entertaining. For those who don't know what this show is about, it's hard to do it justice (probably because it doesn't deserve a ton) but it's about a group of Italian-American's who are self-proclaimed 'guidos' and the show revolves around them spending their summer at the Jersey Shore (although this season they're in Miami, holla). So, yes... ROFL <----- If you can't tell this is my new favorite word. You're supposed to sound the letters out 'rawhfull'... tee hee.

The wonderful and talented cast of MTV's Jersey Shore - no sarcasm please

Moving swiftly onwards, uh this past weekend is a pretty big one for my uni. It was that pivotal the time of year we Canucks and Am-uricans call Homecoming. Ok to be honest, I still don't really understand what it means but basically alot of alumni from the university come back and we have a massive football game and blah di blah blah. Fun times. Especially the engineers.... oh my favorites the engies. They get dyed purple (because did you know that purple is the universal color for engineers? Apparently the engineers on ships would wear purple bands on their shirts and if anything ever happened, they would go down with the ship, so nowadays all the engineering students dye 'emselves to honor their bravery) and they run around slamming their faculty jackets and are just crazy loud and rowdy.... brilliant :) So anyway, yeah it's late but happy homecoming Cha 'gheill!'

This is what's coming to us.

Just one more note about Homecoming at my university... in the past it has been a bit 'glug glug woo hoo' it's been toned down alot. Last year there was a pretty large convoy of police and riot officers (who were riding horses) to control the out of town population who comes to have fun. And as a spoof these t-shirts were release this year, so I decided to included this little image that caused some hilarity at my house the other night. I thought it was a cute play on words

I think that's enough 'pop culture' and random word vomit for today. Again, moving swiftly onwards. I began this blog topic back in May before I was about to leave for my study abroad in Venice and I want to continue or re-start it because this film and this designer I will be talking about are pretty special and by special I mean completely revolutionary and brilliant.

Today, I want to celebrate the career of one fashion's geniuses... the legendary, the fantastic, the stylish, the attractive, the REVOLUTIONARY Tom Ford and his masterpiece film 'A Single Man'. The film stars the exquisite Colin Firth in the titular role as a heartbroken English professor whose long term boyfriend dies in a car accident. The film takes place over the span of one spectacular day and I am here to divulge... but not destroy the mystique of the film and some plot deets... but I'm mostly just going to spill praise everywhere.

Introducing: Monsieur Ford, in his element, dealing with clothes. I'm guessing those ever so stylish sunglasses of his are probably his Tom Ford Brand, gosh they're pretty.

So I've already mentioned that Tom Ford is a genius, but let us count the ways:

1) After moving to Milan in 1990 and after working behind the scenes for four years he was promoted to Creative Director of Gucci - responsible for the complete revamp of the brand. And the in 2000 when the Gucci Group bought Yves Saint Laurent, Ford added Creative Director of YSL to his ever expanding list of duties. He singlehandedly managed to bring the sexy back to Gucci and revive the 'dying' brand to make it one of the most powerful fashion houses in the world. The house, which was apparently close to bankruptcy at the time Tom joined, was valued at 10 billion by the time he left. His 2004 farewell Gucci show is listed as one of the top 10 shows of the decade by

2) Well after some creative differences at Gucci, he moved on to menswear design and the establishment of his own name brand: Tom Ford. His already spectacular design aesthetic enables him to  make the most attractive men look even more delicious (I am NOT drooling, why, does it look like I am...?) 

He has dressed most of Hollywood's leading men and actually outfitted Daniel Craig as James Bond in Quantum of Solace.
'Nuff said.

3) Initially an art history student (!!!!!) at NYU, he transfered to Parsons School of Design to pursue architecture... these two aesthetics probably have some contribution to his fantastic eye for design. (I'm hoping the art history helped with his creative genius....)

4) He's bloody organized. He ran two fashion houses at the same bleedin' time and still managed to earn rave reviews!!!!

5) After mastering design (and not just clothing, but shoes, accessories, eyewear, perfume etc.) he decided it was time to test some new waters. His debut film  'A Single Man' released in 2009, is a freaking miracle. Pure film genius it gets it's own list of awesomeness below later. But, let's be serious. How much talent to you need to have to design and direct. It's by far one of the most poetic and visually stunning films I have ever seen.

The cast of the film (from left to right): Director Ford, Julianne Moore, Colin Firth, Nicholas Hoult and Matthew Goode. I betcha they're all wearing Tom Ford.

6) AND (finally) he's done all this... and is not even 50! I love it. Gosh, why don't all men look this good when they're that age.

I'm kinda in a list-y type of mood today (this is far too much fun). So below is (another) compilation of Why A Single Man is fan-freaking-tastic:

1) Hellooooooo?!?! It was directed by Tom Ford, duhh (Do I really need to include another picture?) Here's the logic: He's a designer, which means he already has an overly active imagination and eye for creative design, so of course everything is going to be beautiful and why the hell not eh?  I mean, making a movie is almost the exact thing as designing a runway collection... NOT! It's bloody hard to be good at one thing, let alone two and by god was this a brilliant first film, I look forward to many more by him.

2) The cinematography is CA-RA-ZY! The camera play is impeccable, really. Everything in the film is visually stunning, there is not a speck of dust or blade of grass that is out of place. The camera caresses the characters so lovingly and pans over some of the more morose scenes with such grace that, there is often no need for dialogue. For example, when our dear Colin Firth witnesses something that momentarily lifts his spirits the screen is diffused with, literally, a warm glow. The color becomes vibrant for a second and then slowly, as the mood changes, fades back to the dimmer tones from earlier. It is really and truly polished to perfection, because as I say again, the man is Tom Ford,  he knows what he's doing. 

3) Colin Firth is heartbreakingly wonderful. It truly is the role of his career. His portrayal of the English university professor, George Falconer, mourning the death of his long-term life partner is spot on. He won the Coppa Volpi - Best Actor prize at the Venice Film Festival and also won a BAFTA. He was also nominated for a Golden Globe, an Academy Award and a Screen Actor's Guild Award for Best Male in a Leading Role. Should be convincing enough to tell you that he does a brilliant job.

Beautiful and brooding. It's this mystique that earns him such rave reviews.

4) Yeah, so in addition to Colin, all the other actors are perfectly cast as well and they make it so hard to part with. 
Julianne Moore (Charley, Colin Firth's best friend from London) was beautiful and its a shame that her screen time isn't longer. She too was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her work. 

The same can be said for Matthew Goode (Jim, Firth's dead partner) who only exists in flashbacks. 

One of the flashbacks in which George likes to retreat, again Ford is playing with us as the flashbacks are in a very stark black and white despite the fact that it is a happy moment for George, so why isn't it in bright color? I feel like chiaroscuro - one of my art history terms applies to this - it means 'light-dark' and was usually used in painting to add volume to figures. Here I feel that it adds emotional volume to the characters, as Jim is dead and while this is a happy moment we cannot enjoy it.

Then there is young British actor Nicholas Hoult (Kenny - a student of Firth who harbors feelings for him) who probably had all the pre-teen English girls rushing to the theatre to see him strip, as a result of his time on 'Skins' (the gritty English version of Gossip Girl... kinda).

And finalement, there is model Jon Kortajarena (Carlos a gorgeous distraction Firth meets at the liquor store). Jon actually was the model for Tom Ford's Spring Summer 10 line above (It's cause he's so great to look at, eh?)

5) The score by Abel Korzeniowsk is incredibly beautiful. This film doesn't have an overwhelming amount of dialogue. I'm not saying that it's a silent movie, but where there is no need for speech, there isn't any. On Korzeniowsk's website (which you should visit, the banner reads 'listen through your eyes'... and I think this is a perfect summation of what the music does to the film. It truly does enhance the scenes where there is no talking. My favorite song from the film is Clock Tick ( but others you should look out for are Stillness of the Mind and Sunset. Oh and did I mention he was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Score (he should have won it, although I love the score for Up!)

6) Ford is not only the director, but he dresses the actors. Yes indeedy, all clothes and suits worn are items of clothing that Tommy boy himself has designed. Goodness me, he is a genius (ha oops, I've already said that)

7) While I'm lauding praise everywhere, it needs to be mentioned that this film is based on a book, of the same name, by Christopher Isherwood published in 1964, and if you're the book first-movie later type you should check it out. While I have yet to read the book, the plot of the film is fabulous and very refreshing. It is one of first books to openly deal with a homosexual relationship and Edmund White (novelist and literary critic, who also happens to be gay) said that it is "one of the first and best novels of the modern Gay Liberation movement". It's a touching story that is a testament to love and reminds us that people are all friggin' amazing regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, age... you name it.

8) It's a simple film. Sorry for all you action lovers, you thrill seekers, you horror enthusiasts. This film is a love story and I'm going to be honest, it is not fast paced at all. It's brilliant, it's moving, it's happy and it's sad; it's a film you see because it is beautiful and it is touching and it's an experience, not because it's full of excitement (Sorry! I actually do think it's exciting but I'm an art dork like that). I'm pouring all these reasons why you should go see it, because I really really really liked it and want you to as well, but if you don't... I guess I'm not a very good salesblogger.

So there you have it, my short little list to persuade you to watch (what I believe to be ) one of the most poignant films of the past year. Wishing everybody well during flu season! I'm stuffed up like there's no tomorrow, bleurgh. Ciao!

- Life is good

Listening to: Clock Tick - Abel Korzeniowsk
Observations: Housemates back from the supermarket.... they bought caramel ice-cream... midnight trips to the fridge required. Shhhhhh!
Craving: The ice cream and I also convinced myself to watch this amazing movie called 'A Single Man'. Ha 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's my party and I'll dress up If I want to

Who said that? Yes, me, the Shak... I'm back? No, not a question, I'm pretty sure that's a statement. I'M BACK (how many times have I said that). 

So, I guess it's time to admit it. Summer is officially over, the other day was the first day of fall. I guess this means I need to retire all my summer clothes, my summer fashion archive (which I've been relying on and took me forever!) and, tear, my summer uniform (despite finishing work over 3 weeks ago.) Now that I'm back in Canada (woop) and back at uni (woop woop), I get to wake up to the cool Canadian wilderness everyday. Like this...
This is an image by Franklin Carmichael, a member of the Group of Seven, the most prolific band of painters in Canadian history. They specialized in painting landscapes during the 1920s and were heavily influenced by the Impressionist movement... across the pond, ya know, "where the history comes from" - Eddie Izzard.
This is another 'member' of the Group of Seven - Tom Thompson. He actually was never an official member (because he died before the group was actually formed... kinda a problem), but he was affiliated with them and many of the members were sympathetic to his style. I love Canadian foliage, yep yep.

Anyhow, yeah with the end of the Spring/Summer season comes... yes indeed, Fall/Winter and oh baby, this season is THE season. I'm not sure if I mentioned that this winter season is all about the new breed of simple, chic, wearable clothes... Minimalist is the new black. 
Here are two perfect examples of the 'new' minimalist that hit the runways. On the left, Frida Giannini threw some spectacular sleek trousers and jackets onto the Gucci runway, but this slate dress with the subtle slits is classic but still maintains it's sexy a la Tom Ford. On the right, Bottega Veneta's mannish interpretation of minimalist = the most sleek silhouette... I guess the whole 'minimal is the new black' may have been said a tad too soon.

With every season Christopher Bailey's Burberry gets harder and harder to handle, the clothes are just so fantastic, it kinda makes me salivate. Marc Jacobs and his many brands brought so much for the table that choosing an iconic look from them all was hard, but this jacket is the epitome of the season... subtly sexy and made for women with real figures.

Designers professed to wanting a return to the basics so that meant clean cut tailoring that came in the form of lush coats and jackets, high waisted, leg lengthening trousers, and long, full figured skirts. 
For the past several seasons Phoebe Philo has been creating minimalist fashions for Celine and it has often fallen on deaf ears, but the tastemaker is responsible for this season's boom in wearable clothes. While many of the trousers that marched down the runway were highwaisted, flared, her cigarette trousers perfectly counter the thigh skimming trench. On the other hand, Prada put out a collection so perfect it made girls everywhere scream and shout, these models and these clothes had hips! Finally

The colors came in a rich palette of camel, rust, plum and emerald and then the neutrals of white, beige, deep brown and navy. When it came to make up everything was pared back, neutral and exceptionally 'clean' <-- there's just no other word for it. 
Stella McCartney, the designer to the stars is adored by many... but this collection makes it all the more clear for those who belittle her for her famous connections. Chloe is responsible for many if not most of the sleek camel looks that swished down the runway. This camel coat is the item of clothing for this season. Go out and get one. Both jackets are stunning and come in the season's hottest colors: iron and camel

This is a bold statement, but there will be no more of this over the top sexed up fashion business (we normal humans can't pull off crotch skimming skirts and vamped up lipstick without looking rather ridiculous. All you glamazons like Freha Beha Erichsen and Karlie Kloss with your toothpick legs and fabulous bone structure, go right ahead, you'll look chic... Grrrrr).

So yeah, this season = simple and wearable... Well scrap that for Louise Gray, our focus for today. She's the new, young, hip Vivienne Westwood of London's East End. Don't get me wrong, her clothes are totally they're chic and very tasteful, they're just slightly out there... and I really do mean that in the best possible way. 
Exhibit A) Spring 2010
Exhibit B) Fall 2010
Exhibit C) Spring 2011

Verdict? Yeah, she's kookoo catchoo ca-razy. And fabulous!!
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Her Spring 2o1o collection "Oh no babe" showcased the textile designer's talents at mixing and matching fabric to create a supremely joyful parade of clothes that I could see in place at a nine year old's birthday party. Electric eclectic clothing in bright colors featuring graffiti type scribbles and prints but in the form of shift dresses, shorts, jackets and trousers that are easy to wear, just very.... flashy.
This is what I call English neon grunge. It's clubby, gritty, peppy, poppy, camp... you name it. One of my best mates went to CSM and she's exceptionally stylish; however, she said she felt suburban and plain Jane compared to her classmates. I'm pretty sure some of these CSM kids probably own some Louise Gray and I bet they accessorize even crazier than Gray.
Pack these separates for a beach vacation to throw on top of a bikini or maybe go to a craft barn play with the glue gun and yarn. Hint, look at the shoes, I'm pretty sure something is nesting in em. Maybe, don't wear the dress on the top right to your job at the daycare... not sure the human anatomy is completely appropriate. 
Gray's playful collection required playful makeup. Case in point, dabbing paint below the eyelids and on the ears (mimicking earrings?). Hair thrown up into a bun is slightly messy, with tendrils snaking out but the majority of the hair is wrapped in cotton candy?!?! Yummy. Honestly I think of cupcakes when I think of this collection. Sweet to eat.
I love the loose sweaters with the knit on top. There's something so childish and innocent about the whole thing, it makes me really happy
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Welcome to the current season, Fall 2010!!!! And trust me, this whole "I'm-gonna-pare-back-and-be-minimalist-and-chic" does not apply to Ms Gray. She's way to cool for that.
This season the prints were less pop and more earth. The fabrics were more organic and while everything was still as bright as ever there were darker tones like a violet in the jacket above left, navy in the tee shirt above right and the olive jacket below right. Even the patterns were alittle tamer... but hardly Gucci or Celine.
The furry booties are particularly cute. I'm not going to lie, I'd love to slip 'em on before a swim practice or during a meet. Oooooooh how warm and you know you lose like half your body heat through your feet. Good idea Louise. 
Awwwww, blankie, so cute and endearing. So Gray is not the only one who showed a crazy furry suit this past season. Karl Lagerfeld and his crazy shenanigans, for his Fall 2010 show he had real chunks of ice brought in to the show and most of his models tromped down the runway in eskimo fur boots, but there was a FANTASTIC fur suit for his mens collection. Well, as a joke Creative Director of Elle, Joe Zee, traipsed around New York in the heat of summer in this suit. You gotta love a sense of humor. Especially from someone that deep in the fashion industry.
Bahahahahaha. Love it, he's so cute, sipping on his Starbucks.

Beauty: Well again, there is the clean makeup with some sort of paint (again) but this time it's plastered to the model's eyebrows. I swear my artsy friend said she met a girl at CSM who went out with sequin eyebrows.... maybe next season Louise?
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Spring 2011: Wooooah.... no I'm not psychic no, as we speak Fashion Week for next season is going on, so I have a ton of designers to canvas and plenty of screen shots to take. 
Gray seems to have taken inspiration from birds of paradise and I personally think of the magpie, despite it being a perfectly ordinary bird... I'm a self professed color magpie. These birds are attracted to shiny things and are complete kleptomaniacs. They build nests with objects that they have pilfered from their surroundings and this is what I see in this collection.
However, another bird I think of is the crowned crane. The models are wearing crested headpieces of purple rafia that are just too similar to the crane's crown to be a coincidence.
A kaleidoscope of different recycled materials are incorporated into her collection: buttons, bottle caps you name it and the raffia headresses add to the eclectic chic. She seems to have revisited her Spring 2010 collection of color inspiration but she is growing when it comes to her clothing construction. They're becoming more wearable (except the outfit below right) and infinitely more eye-catching. 

Anyway, I'm pooched, this took forever but it was so worth it. Kinda like a giant cleanse. Take care y'all

- Life is good

Listening to: 'Miami 2 Ibiza' - Swedish House Mafia
Observations: CSI, HIMYM, the Mentalist 
Craving: Some of my frigging amazing potato pancakes