Saturday, February 26, 2011

I'm Blue... And It Wont Come Off

It's my last night at home in England and I really should be packing/organizing my room as it looks as though some sort of rodent has nested on the floor using my clothes, shoes and books... but that can wait.

I have an affinity for color, I've mentioned before that I am the number one resident color magpie in North America and possibly the world so it should come as no surprise to discover that today's agenda is... Blue. I mean, duh, it's in the blog title. 

Once upon a time I touched on another color... red and that set the stage for the second primary color. That blog post also started with this:
So again, how many shades can you name?
I've got baby blue, sky blue, royal, navy, midnight blue, indigo, cerulean, teal, turquoise, cyan, azure, powder blue, cobalt, sapphire, ultramarine... I'm exhausted. 

Let's see now, it's my favorite color and I think cerulean and cobalt are my two favorite shades (You might remember the infamous cerulean belts from The Devil Wears Prada). It is associated with sadness and yet calmness and optimism also royalty, military and boys... (but I reject the notion of pink for girls and blue for boys). It has been the color of the walls in my room since I was 11 and right now the color of my room at university is 'California Sky' - the faintest powder blue that I love waking up to in the morning.

While this is all good and wonderfully tranquil I'm not interested in the lighter, more optimistic shades. I want dark indigo and navy that is almost black... The reason for this will be clear enough.
Designer of the day: the one and only Giorgio Armani
Season: Spring 2011

Allons-y. (These are just several of the 61 looks from the runway)
The inspiration for the collection was the sky over the Sahara at night. The colors were so saturated that they bordered on inky black and the shades were so luxurious and wearable. Blue, like black is a flattering color as it is slimming and Karl Lagerfeld seems to think that navy blue looks better on television. I think the one color collection is fantastic and does not lack in variety. On the contrary it is absolutely bursting with it.
Here are some fabric swatches demonstrating all the different shades, patterns and textures the fabrics came in.

There was one big influence that drew my attention when I first saw this show. The navy and the turbans were a dead giveaway that are very reminiscent of the Tuareg people of Northern Africa. Also known as the Blue Men of the Sahara they are nomads who have occupied the Sahara for approximately 2,000 years. However, despite the nomadic influence the vocabulary of the collection was extremely polished and wearable. There were many clean cut suits jackets, slim legged trousers and his new length of dresses that hit just above the ankle. He didn't use any high heels, instead preferring to use a pointy toed flat that had a Couture elegance. It oozed simple elegance and a minimalism despite the sequins and beading.

Makeup was an easy one: Blue kohl and eye shadow, smudged to create a slept in look that I attribute to his Tuareg theme.

 The turbans were brilliant as they too came in many different shades and fabrics and were styled differently from model to model. Loving the John Lennon glasses.

So the Tuareg. They're famous for their indigo dress which often leads the dye to soak into their skin, thus tainting it an eerie blueish tinge. The only time I've ever come close to this happening is when I wore new Levi jeans (which were dark wash) in the rain. Lo and behold when I got home and took them off I looked like I had massive bruise from thigh to calf. 

Traditionally the men  wear turbans and a veil called tagelmust which are also indigo. The reason for this is that it is believed that the veil wards off evil spirits but the harsh Saharan winds whipping up sand may also be a cause. When a boy begins to wear the veil it is symbolic of his reaching maturity (much like the abaya for young women in Saudi Arabia). This veil covers the entire face except for the eyes and top of the nose, but results in the face being tinged blue as well.
If you look carefully at their hands you can see the effects of the dye. I love this man, all comfy on his camel. Being Egyptian it makes me envious about the fact that my dad is going to force me into an arranged marriage in exchange for a handful of these fellows. KIDDING! But someone told me that as a kid and I cried my eyes out..., about the marriage thing. The camels, totally cool.

Some gorgeous Tuareg women, in their beautiful colored robes.

I just wanted to include these Tuareg leather goods for fun because this post has been overwhelmingly blue and this tribe actually creates these gorgeous goods saturated  in color.
 A leather bag with intricate leatherwork and beading that is probably used during their long treks across the desert. 
No, not a bag... but a pillow. Imagine dreaming on one of these! 

So because I'm a blue freak I went to Asos and did alittle playing to find some great navy looks.

My recipe for a Giorgio look: Pair any of the above dresses with a fine cut blazer (love the large shoulders of this one to offset the dress) and then I would supplement the look with a navy satchel and a pair of comfy brogues. Who says you can't dress in one color?

Last post from England for a while. Off to clear up my hurricane.

- Life is good

Listening to: 'Rhapsody in Blue' - Gershwin 
Observations: The miracle that is seat upgrades
Craving: Snacks, but I need to stop binge eating

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Picasso is my homeboy

He is easily the most famous artist of the 20th Century with a legacy of over 50,000 works. An icon we know intimately and often on a first name basis: PabloPablo Picasso.
Irving Penn's iconic portrait of the painter.

Now, let's play a game... name me a Picasso work. Chances are you'll come up with one of four paintings:
Les Demoiselles D'Avignon, 1907. One of the most iconic images of the past century and arguably the painting that ushered in the Cubist movement as we know it.

 Guernica, 1937. His famous depiction of the bombing of the Spanish town during the Spanish Revolution. Considered an extremely potent anti-war symbol this painting depicts the horrors of conflict and human agony.

Weeping Woman, 1937. Supposed to be a continuation on the theme of suffering as introduced by the previous painting, Guernica. Again reinforcing his Cubist tendencies.

Three musicians, 1921. Represents Synthetic Cubism which is often colorful and introduces 'real world' elements such as newspaper, wallpaper, rope etc.. into the image to often make a collage.

I am not 'art smart', before taking my Art History classes I wouldn't have been able to name many Picasso works, I just knew he was good and that was about it. Then, last summer I went to an exhibition of his work at the Gagosian Gallery in London and it was probably the best I've ever been to. So start with the gallery is a brilliant space, not too small yet still intimate. Then the exhibition itself which, titled: Picasso, The Mediterranean Years (1945-62), was spectacular. It was all works I'd never seen or heard of from his period in the Med. It consisted of small drawings, cartoons, paintings, sculptures, collages, ceramics, exhibition posters and linocuts that gave you a better sense of the artist than only one of his famous paintings could. 

I loved this collection of works because it showed his activity as an artist. While some would take years to make a masterpiece, Picasso was churning art out daily... you could tell he painted for the love of it and I felt that if all you took home from the exhibition was his passion, then you were lucky. The keyword of this exhibition was intimacy, you were getting a very raw and personal look at the man who created such iconic images. There were paintings of his daughter and son, his mistresses and family life, it was a magical place and I really felt suspended in time there.

I wanted to take this chance to showcase some of his lesser known works that I believe deserve as much justice as his famous ones:
Bull, 1945-6 is a series of eleven lithographs (a form of printmaking) where Picasso deconstructs the academic image of a bull - with its line, shape, shading and form - and with each plate he abstracts it until the final image where it is just line. This sequence was so spectacular because it really shows you his skill as an artist and his Cubist roots. I love the middle sequence when  you've got triangles, squares, ovals and many other shapes intertwining to make up the animal.

This is probably my favorite Picasso work ever, Femme au Collier Jaune, (Woman with a yellow necklace). I don't know what it is that really gets me going about this picture but there is something unspoken about the woman that is entrancing and she shares this commonality with Da Vinci's Mona Lisa. There is a strange elegance and mystery to her expression and maybe it's the color scheme with its cool, soothing tones. Regardless, this has definitely been my computer background for the better part of a year.

Another mesmerizing female portrait, whose eyes engage and intrigue.

Another intimate image is of  Francoise, Claude and Paloma, 1951. Don't even ask me why I love this, the children are so darling and it is a rare glimpse of his private life. He wouldn't have been around his children very often, yet their portraits are his most revealing and often the best.

In these two looks from Ruffian's Spring 2010 collection you can definitely see a Picasso-esque print that reminded me of his children.

Paysage à Vallauris, 1952. There is something about this painting that reminds me of  so very much of René Magritte's Empire of Light, 1953/4. I love the pointillistic almost childlike handling of the brush which is so reminiscent of Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night, 1889. 
Magritte and Van Gogh.

Though not a part of the Gagosian exhibition I wanted to include Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, 1932, which is a record breaking work and famous throughout auction houses. The reason? At $106.5 million dollars, it is one of the most expensive pieces of art sold at an auction house ever. Again, I couldn't point out details that make me like it, but as a whole it just really works - really articulate for an art history major, but I'm working on it.

Hope you're inspired to go play online and find your favorite Picasso work. I'm heading to to check up on the latest Fall 2011 shows... as if I haven't had enough winter wear exposure. Ciao

- Life is good

Listening to: 'Rolling in the Deep' - Adele
Observations: I love and miss you grandpa. 
Craving: I can't

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's a Br-It Thing Part 1: Royals

It only seems appropriate that while I'm at home I address something quite important, especially since another spectacular London Fashion Week just wrapped. So, there's 'something' going on in the world and in fashion that is very encouraging for Britain... Anglomania is back on the rise.

I love pretty much everything about England: I love living here, the fashion, the accents, the driving on the opposite side of the road, the scenery, the history, the people etc... so I thought I'd dedicate a series of posts to this resurgence in Brit fever. 


In case you've been living under a rock for the past few months I wanted to alert you to the fact that there is an upcoming event in the UK that has the potential completely disrupt your April 29th... regardless of where you are in the world.
Do I really have to spell it out for you? It will be the wedding of the decade and possible even the century; that of future King of England, Prince William to Catherine Middleton

Congratulations to the pair! Now, don't get me wrong, I'm extremely happy for them and it's exciting. BUT, as exciting as it is, I'm ready for the months of wedding details and speculation as to what she'll wear, who will attend etc... to be over. I understand the hype, she's being toted as the new Diana and he is Diana's son. I'm just slightly peeved that there are events being staged right now that warrant alittle more attention that what Kate had for breakfast this morning, we can be so fickle. Right that's my daily dose of being an [expletive] we can move on.

Right-o! So Miss Kate... I do NOT envy her current position. I mean, marrying a Prince sounds brilliant, if you don't mind extreme public scrutiny, invasion of privacy and the weight of a country's expectations (I'm actually in a pleasant mood today so I don't know why I sound so [expletive]y). However, I do envy her style... she's gorgeous and she dresses really really well. No wonder designers all over the place have royalty on the mind.
Some of Kate's most stylish moments. 

I think she's going to be a great addition to the royal family and she has a similar relationship with clothes that Diana had. She is expected to do great things for fledgling British designers as Michelle Obama is doing for young American designers. 

Now, this obsession with the royals is not only limited to Middleton and her impending nuptials, but a certain film that has been blowing apart the awards circuit. Yes, I know I keep simpering, but The King's Speech is one of the best films of this past year.

The trailer again, because you need to be reminded how good it is.
Other reminders of British monarchs on screen. The Young Victoria was a great vision of the youth of the longest reigning monarch and The Tudors remains one of the most scandalous television shows and my favorite period in British history. I wrote my IB extended essay on the love triangle between Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn and the extremely messy outcome. 

Remember to cross your fingers, toes... even buttcheeks for Colin Firth to win his first Oscar this Sunday.

This whole royal-mania is not limited to Middleton or film but has taken fashion by storm as well. Royal name dropping/ inspiration has been quite popular in the past couple seasons and even more so for the current fall season that just concluded in London.

Yes, I know, I've used Mary Katrantzou's Fall 2010 collection several times to illustrate this whole military/monarchy trend  but this is the last time, I swear. (By the way, her latest collection was unbelievable again, more on this soon.) She really is London's newest fashion darling. Anyway her program notes included Fragonard and Rococo as inspirations for this collection and additionally these dresses and coats screamed English royalty to me. I can see Kate Middleton wearing the blue tuxedo jacket and dress to a royal luncheon. I think it's the sashes, epaulets and medals that get me going... especially after seeing Firth all done up in King's Speech.
Fragonard's famous painting The Swing, which was the epitome of late Baroque aka Rococo taste and elegance.
This 'Miss Lanvin' figurine reminds me of both the Rococo extravagance of Fragonard and bears resemblance to Princess to be, Kate.

'Ooooh, this is a new one!' you exclaim. And indeed it is. This is the Dior Pre Fall 2011 collection which Galliano totes Duchess of WindsorWallis Simpson as the inspiration of the collection which has a very 40s, aristocrat feel. I can totally see Kate rocking some of the plaid and she could pull off any of the many luxurious coats from the collection. It's youthful enough for her to still be fashionable, yet respectably adult.
If the name Wallis Simpson sounds familiar it's because she was a pivotal figure in the abdication of Prince Edward and the succession of King George VI - Colin Firth's character in the aforementioned film.

Meet Christopher Kane, British fashion's current style master. His Spring 2011 show rocked London Fashion week with and he stated his influence as 'Princess Margaret on acid'

Younger sister of the current Queen, Princess Margaret was the rebellious royal who lived a lifestyle that was heavily scrutinized and laced with allegations of varying indiscretions that didn't befit her rank.  

I love this collection for it's hilarity and beauty. These are wearable clothes made edgy through color, fabric and tailoring. The neon, lace and pleather, that almost looks like pvc, lace halter dresses with neon piping... this is a vocabulary of a very sophisticated and clever designer as these are clothes Middleton could wear and get away with while still being completely regal. 

Next time... well I'm not going to tell you about next time. You're just going to have to tune in and see what Part II brings :)

That's all folks, have a good one.

- Life is good

Listening to: 'Lazy Eye' - Silversun Pickups 
Observations: Planning of Part II
Craving: Someone to hand out my CVs for me