Saturday, October 30, 2010

Is it time yet?

Today I asked my housemates when it was respectable for me to finally dive into my winter wear, mainly my jackets because it's getting bloody freezing in Canada. They laughed at me and admitted that people will think I'm crazy if I wear a heavy jacket any time before Halloween... ARE YOU SERIOUS? I'm freezing my buns off here. Thank God November is around the corner

I'm a little stoked to don my winter clothes because they're warm and I love to snuggle into heavy knits and fuzzy sweaters, but also because this is exactly the season to be seen doing so. Usually clothes are meant as a statement and that's it, does the phrase 'Beauty is pain' rings a bell? But this season you don't have to be in pain (the pain I'm referring to in this case is frostbite). It's all about dressing for comfort and convenience, finally.

Coats are a huge winter must: be it parkas, camel coats, trenches, military, aviator, long, short, leather, wool... etc. It's all about bundling up.

The camel - these coats come in any rich shade of camel: sandy, pale, caramel, blush and in any shape/style too: long, sort, belted, tailored. Clockwise from top left: MaxMara, Prada (here you have a leather version... I didn't know that was possible), Michael Kors, Aquascutum, MaxMara and Gucci. Ask me to pick a favorite and it would be the MaxMara coat on the bottom with the sunnies; perfection.

Who knew that you could be safeguarded against the elements and still be very very very on trend. Parkas were one of the new coats that took the runways by storm. No longer just slouchy alternatives for the weather aware, there coats are stylish because of their androgyny and their often minimal tailoring. Clockwise from top left: Rag & Bone, Iceberg, Michael Kors, more Kors, Stella McCartney and Vanessa Bruno. Ask me to pick a favorite and I think I'd go with the Vanessa Bruno.. probably because of the slouchiness, color and it has a nice length to it. It'd look great with my lace-up military boots and dad's German hat.
Military is here. These coats above aren't overtly military in their design but there is a discipline to the looks that fits right in with the combat ideal. Left to right: Phoebe Philo, the genius behind Celine, led the charge this season with the strong, sleek, classy, less is more approach. Her outwear was to die for but this felt/wool trench reminds me of World War II great coats that officers would wear. Next is Dries Van Noten and Burberry. It's a tough one but if it came down to it, I'd go with the Celine coat... there's something about it that I can't articulate.

On a quick detour, Christopher Bailey is making Burberry the go to brand for luxe outerwear. This show was so painful to watch because the coats kept coming and coming and getting better and better. It's hard to say that I have a favorite but I wanted to showcase these three aviator, bomber jackets with the shearling lining. Words escape me when it comes to this show. Every coat is a masterpiece.

I keep spewing about this whole minimal thing and I think I made a comment a while back about how minimal is the new black. Well here you have the best of both: sleek, black,minimally  tailored jackets. We've got a Dolce & Gabbana and Dries Van Noten sandwich. The Dolce show ended with all the models tramping down the runway in different versions of the short smoking jacket on the right.

Let's just say you'd never be cold again in these blanket-like coats courtesy of Celine, Chanel and Dior. Each looks like an extremely inviting housecoat  but infinitely more stylish.
Capes... I think of Dracula but they're stylish. Marc Jacobs, Rag & Bone and Celine all seem to think so too.

There was a big trend of knee length or thigh skimming coats and Dior, Dolce & Gabbana and Marc Jacobs all captured this style with feminine flair.

And finally the belted trench: pretty much the staple I wish I had. It's Burberry classic but Bailey continues to manipulate it with a twist. I chose not to picture the usual beige trench but some of the more eccentric examples. Left to right: Dries Van Noten (I love the kaki which adds a military edge), Marc Jacobs (weather appropriate and plastic chic) and of course Burberry. Hmmm, I think I'd have to go with the Burberry, c'mon it's their thing.
I know I can't afford any of above but I did alittle digging around the English high street (online of course) and I found some suitable alternates that are both affordable and on trend
Go to for all sorts of great classic coat ideas. Parka, military and something I don't know how to categorize... but it's pretty so whatever.
The blazer on the left is similar to the black and kaki Dries Van Noten jacket I put under the military category (I'm obsessed with blazers.) The rest of these coats are all variations on camel coats... here you can see the different shades they come in. For this, do not ask me to chose my favorite, way too difficult. If all was one of my choices I'd be happy.

Moving onwards to Topshop next. Everyone is obsessed with this brand and I have to admit it's pretty great, but I was so shocked when I started seeing adverts for it in Vogue and when I found out that they have runway shows during London Fashion Week... I guess they're not your average high street brand. If you ever get the chance go to the Oxford street flagship store you should go, I spend hours in there and often never buy anything because I fall in love with too much. Say no to impulse buying!
All in rich winter colors like navy, camel, kaki, slate and in longish, comfortable looking shapes. On the top you've got a burnt camel trench and a military great coat. Next you have a soft looking parka and the classic beige belted trench with plaid inserts. And lastly what I think looks like a camel military coat a la Paul Revere and a sailor meets soldier navy great coat.
My other favorite store in the UK is Warehouse. I love their jackets and dresses so much, I haven't seen an example of either that I didn't love and 'need'. 
I have a thing for cropped jackets... I'm not sure whether to call these blazers though. Each is incredibly simple in it's design, but has something small to give it some twist: i.e. the chain applique on the navy example. I'm so in love with these three it's hard to stomach not being able to go home until Christmas.
I'm in love with the Burberry bomber jackets... Warehouse does some great versions but these two were my favorites by far. I would never buy a coat again if I had one of these.... we all know that's not true but I'll keep thinking that.
On Asos I found a couple items that I couldn't fit into a series but that I really felt belonged in this post and definitely this season... Another long camel coat in the style of Aquascutum and MaxMara. A shapeless kaki skirt (one of our wonderful fall colors) and a white jersey man's shirt. I think all together they'd make a great outfit... shirt half tucked into the skirt, with windblown hair and under the unbuttoned camel coat. Add some black wooly tights and combat boots and you're street ready. Feminine, grunge, chic.

Moving on now to my next favorite item this fall... slouchy knits. You'd think these would be pretty self explanatory... knits for winter, c'mon, it's a given. But this year the style is not figure hugging, but mannish and oversized... the way I like it best because it's perfect for all the slouches like me.
This photo by Tommy Ton (Of captures my dream sweater and the knits of the season. There was a beautiful version of this at Zara but I couldn't find it recently. Snug as a bug in a rug.
These are my three winter picks of the Topshop sweater selection on their online store. Left to right: what looks like a slip-stitch knit, a distressed kaki loose wool and cotton jumper and a fair-isle meets ski-wear pattern with a little more shape.
I'm going to move on to the new breed shoes that were a departure from the usual boots that I associate with winter...
From left to right: Burberry, John Galliano and Rag & Bone
They're hiking boots... but with heels? Is anyone else finding this odd and completely wearable? They're fabulous because Caterpillar work boots are coming back as well, so now there's a version for all the construction workers' lady friends. These showed up alot on the runway and they're a nice alternative to open toed shoes with socks that I've been seeing. Comfy feet. Here are some high street examples.
From ALDO: some shearling and you're all set to go plus the very visual treds make the work look. 
More ALDO boots. Kaki makes it military while still maintaing the workboot aesthetic.
These 6 Kurt Geiger boots show the variety of styles that these boots can come in. From deepest black to tan and beige all the wonderfully rich colors emulate fall foliage.
Let the comfort dressing commence, it's officially getting cold in Canada.

- Life is good

Listening to: All Deadmau5 songs in preparation for his upcoming concert
Observations: The remnants of a blond Halloween wig
Craving: Orange juice and a hamburger

Friday, October 29, 2010

All things McQueen

Firstly....Lady Gaga 

Love her or hate her, you have to admit she wears some of the most interesting, avant-garde and fashionable clothes. Just to make it clear, I. Love. Her. She's innovative, smart, ├╝ber talented and passionate about what she does. Anyway, back at the VMA Awards in September we witnessed one of her most beautiful and classic fashion choices. We all know I'm obsessed with Alexander McQueen, so when you mix one of the biggest musicians on the planet with high fashion you get this:
In an Alexander McQueen Fall 2010 dress Gaga looks absolutely regal. Stephanie, sometimes less is more, yes? Let's lay off the meat for a while.
In her acceptance speech for Female Video of the year for 'Bad Romance' she choked up and thanked Alexander McQueen for 'sending me all the beautiful clothes for my video'. While it seems to be a dress from the Winter Ready-to-Wear collection it isn't one of the 16 showpieces from his last runway presentation before his death. Being inquisitive and wanting to look at it in detail  I tried searching for it online I can't find it anywhere which leads me to believe A) it is a one off B) it is limited edition or C) I'm just not looking hard enough. Sarah Burton open your archives to me please? 
 - Photos courtesy of

Secondly... the scarf of my dreams,
Is also the scarf I didn't know about. For the Vancouver Olympics 2012 Mr. McQueen did a limited edition scarf featuring his classic skull motif but with a wonderful maple leaf twist. I read that there were only a very very limited number of these scarves released (something like 250) and they're all gone... I can see why, it's absolutely beautiful, I wish I had known about it, seriously a McQueen Canadian Olympic scarf. Why wasn't I the first notified?

Thirdly... Renaissance Art
How on earth does my slightly loopy professor know about McQueen and his Menswear collections? Ok, that is mean, but it came as a shock to me while in class we were talking about the International Gothic Style of painting during the early 1400s and my prof goes 'And look at those shoes. They look like Alexander McQueen or something.' Very impressive! I guess she associates the brand with kind of odd looking garments, which is fair enough because he does some pretty interesting stuff for menswear. In this image called 'Hyssop' from an illuminated manuscript we see an example of some particularly strange shoes with exceptionally elongated toes, this indicates that the man is of one of the upper classes as these shoes are meant for leisure and not hard work. Also, look at his sleeves; the length is another indicator of upper class status as they are very long and drapey with no functionality at all. Try ploughing in that get up, I dare you.
Here's an example of McQueen's Winter 2010 Menswear. Psychadelic skull prints and sleek suits that are obviously tailored for the elite, non? There were some outfits where the models were wearing S&M type knit masks... scary stuff.

And here are some of his fabulous shoes. If you compare the foliage pattern of the brown leather boots to the man's doublet in the manuscript you can see where my prof is coming from.

Fourthly... Harry Potter [turn back now if you don't want teeny facts to be given away]
- Photo from the Harry Potter website
Yeah, there are only 21 days left, but this particular incident is not the same happy news. This past week some promotional photos were released, some of them depicted the dress that Fleur Delacour to her wedding. Well several bloggers noticed the incredible resemblance to a Fall 2008 dress by McQueen and have gone viral. Jany Temime, costume designer, notes that "Fleur's dress is made in organza and decorated with a pair of phoenixes that face one another on the bodice and form the silhouette of a heart. I chose the phoenix because, like love, it is eternal." While McQueen's dress actually features peacocks as an illusion to India (the collection was a mash up of the British Empire and their colonial pursuits in India), there is no doubt in my mind that the costume designer had previously seen the McQueen dress and used it for inspiration. Check it out...

The organza, the feathers, the design on the bodice... it's all pretty much the same. And I wish she'd just admit that she took inspiration from this dress cause it's very beautiful but she's gonna have McQueen supporters up in major arms.
 - Sources for the Harry Potter story and images: The Telegraph and  Refinery29

Anyway, a short post for a change. Hoping everyone out there has a wonderful Halloween, especially my wonderful family, you know you're the best.

- Life is good

Listening to: 'Zoosters Breakout Remix' - Gorilla A.L.P - again thanks Dad, this one is amazing as well
Observations: So excited for my Halloween costume
Craving: Almost nothing, especially because my midterms are DONE!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

She ain't got no money in the bank-SY

Lazy Sundays are the greatest except I usually get nothing done and plod around in my pjs looking completely disheveled. It doesn't help that it has been raining all day and therefore adding to my complete lack of interest in life. If anything I wish for a thunderstorm cause they're so awesome to watch, especially in front of our massive window... just need to grab the popcorn and mittens (it's freezing) and I'd be set.

What will the practice of art history be like in 200 years? I can't even imagine what the art world will be like in 10 years, so much changes yearly depending on a plethora of factors. I'd like to think that Street Art and graffiti, our vilified topic of the day, will be more greatly appreciated as it's not just vandalism and politically charged statements... it's about being creative too.

It's hard to speak about street art without mentioning this name:
Banksy's appeal is that we don't know who he is and his work involves a level of espionage and secrecy that often results in him being accused of vandalism for vandalism's sake. 
A quick re-wind: Banksy is a British born street/graffiti artist who's work often deals with political satire and makes commentaries on our pop culture in addition to being a social commentary. To create his highly detailed works he uses a combination of stenciling and free hand graffiti, often with graffiti writing to make his point. 
Banksy recently breached a new frontier with his first film Exit Through The Gift Shop which I've finally started to watch. It's received unanimous praise and has some ridiculous approval rating (I think it's something like 97% percent). The best line of the film is the truest to it's meaning: Banksy - 'Street art has a short life span so it needed documenting.' This is the premise of the film, not meant as hype or to cause controversy, but to show you the actual world frame by frame. It also asks you to evaluate the art of now.
It's pretty spectacularly hilariously amazingly interesting and I seriously recommend it. Believe me when I say, the trailer, which had me laughing my butt off, is only a miniscule fraction of how good it is.
The film is narrated by Rhys Ifans and it is not just a documentary following Banksy, but actually is an expose documenting the beginning of the monumental movement that has become Street Art, which Ifans states is 'the biggest counter cultural movement since punk.' Other than Banksy, the pivotal character is a hilarious little Frenchman by the name of Thierry Guetta, who brings this whole project to life... that's all I'm gonna say, you need to watch him cause he's funny as hell.
There are so many stellar moments in this film, I lost count after 40 but one of the best parts is the beginning which is a montage of clips showing many different graffiti artists set to Richard Hawley's song 'Tonight the Streets are Ours' It's a bloody hilarious and beautiful little contrast that sets the film off with a visual BANG! 

Here are a few Banksy works that I'm particularly enamored with at this time... many people know his rat series or the girl with the balloons or the kissing policemen. These are some new ones I discovered on his website (

Something I'm intrigued to find out about Banksy, is whether he takes himself seriously. I'm speculating that he's actually a pretty intellectual guy with a sense of humor. 
I'm taking a teeny detour to showcase Banksy's more intellectual side and that he is questioning... just like everyone else 'What IS art?'

I think this is brilliant, using an iconic image like Monet's Le Basin aux Nympheas and putting his street art, grimy spin on it. It shows that he's not an empty vessel, he's playing with our notions of art and popular culture. 

Here he is playing with Edward Hopper's similarly iconic painting Nighthawks and with a few small adjustments changes the image to be a commentary on English hooligans in his work Are you using that chair?

He has a brain and an aptitude for knowing what is appropriate when and how to catch our interests. This series from his website shows some of his planning process before he carries out a work: canvasing a location, sketching multiple ideas, the final execution and what happens after.
We're gonna say adieu to Banksy and move on to my inspiration for this post: 

JR - he's 27 year old street artist from France who uses photography as his form of expression. His photographs are blown up on a massive scale and then they are put up as posters around the world, often in slums. I'd never really been exposed to his work until this week because he was the recipient of the TED humanitarian award worth $100,000 that he can put towards any charity of his choice. 
Some of his 'exhibitions' include Face2Face - a project where he took photographs of Israeli and Palestinians laughing and put them side by side, often grouping them by occupation or age to prove that we are all equals. Another project called Women saw him travel the world to remote locations in Africa, Cambodia, India and Brazil and put up massive images of women as a testament to their strength in the community. And his latest project is the Wrinkles of a City and is taking place in Spain and China. 
Take a look, they're beautiful especially when people are interacting with them. These next two are two of my favorites because of the colors.
In response to his win JR humbly said: "I go to local communities, forgotten communities or antagonistic communities, and try to energize them and bring them together and make them think, through the medium of art. I would want my 'wish' to be something like that, but on a global scale."
This image is my favorite, the sheer scale on top of the beautiful women is just breathtaking.
His newest project: Wrinkles of a City
He's an example of street art with a message and I'm so proud to see that. I laugh as I write this, but these are some of the moments when I'm supremely proud to be a person. We're capable of incredible things.

I included these next two images for good measure cause they're just so comical and amazingly artistic. These 'transformers' are by a student in North Carolina called Joseph Carnevale. He was arrested for vandalism after and I can see why, it's kinda sorta dangerous moving the pylons... that's beside the point. They're another great example of the many mediums street art can come in and they're a testament to creativity. Powa to you bruva.
- Images from Google
You didn't think I'd do a post that was completely devoid of any fashion comparisons did you? Sorry to burst your bubble... Here are several designers who have employed graffiti-esque looks a la Banksy... kinda.
The effervescent Vivienne Westwood for her Spring 2007 show
Douglas Hannant for this season - Fall 2010 
The design duo of Proenza Schouler for this season as well.
Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel's Resort collection in 2007 - the logo has a slightly streetwear look to it.

Another designer who has employed graffiti in his work is Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton when he designed a capsule collection to commemorate the late Stephen Sprouse - a fashion designer who meshed urban grunge with New York chic. The collection heavily featured Sprouse's Louis Vuitton graffiti logo in neon colors and his graffiti rose. 
- Photos courtesy of WWD

This is a picture I took one day in London a couple years back along the banks of the Thames. I remember being so excited and thinking I'd found a Banksy but after a bit of digging I discovered that it's actually the work of a guy called Cartrain. He and Banksy are friends on MySpace so I guess there's no hostility over Cartrain's very similar looking rats...

- Life is good

Listening to: Rihanna - 'Only Girl in the World'
Observations: How cold it is in Canada and how I can't wait to be tanned and go to training camp already
Craving: for myself to stop being so ADD