My So Charmed Life
be quiet, be violent and original
A dear friend I’ve never met recently posted that I had been so quiet lately. For some reason, this singular comment — simply a caring remark upon my being missing from facebook and other social media — made me think. A lot. In a creative slump and feeling stressed and sad for weeks, this morning I thought I’d try to join the threads of my quietude together. A look in the mirror revealed one thing: my hair, never quiet. Not unlike Samson, I tend to equate my creative spirit with my unruly curls, which are this summer blue and growing like a weed atop my head.
Then I turned to the book I’m reading–Look at Me, by Jennifer Egan (yes, she of the Pullitzer-winning Goon Squad visitation). A few weeks ago I’d also read a brilliant, captivating short piece by Egan in the Sci-Fi issue of The New Yorker. Turns out the seed for that short story was planted long ago in this novel, with blatant references to it throughout. The theme of these writings is our concept of beauty, examined. As well as our needs to be exceptional, public, and viewed.
Here is another book of mine, a treasured volume, Extreme Beauty. This book is not about fashion. Ok, it is not just about fashion. Here are two of the spreads:
My quietude has lately taken me to a place of studying adornment from a new angle. I am suddenly drawn to the palest non-colors in clothing — white, ivory, maybe gray, and fabrics that are natural, light, stiff — voile, cotton, linen. The combination of Victorian clothing with tribal adornment is of great interest. And, a certain thing that I didn’t know was even a thing, called Lagenlook, translating from German to “layered look.”
One of the most inspiring designers within the lagenlook realm is Ewa i Walla, from Sweden. Pictured above, three of her Tine skirts, which are so fluffy and starchy stiff they will stand up on their own on the floor. You can purchase some pieces here, but the shipping is insane ($60 from Sweden to the US, OUCH). You can also find pieces — new and used — on ebay, as well as at obscure online European boutiques at deep discounts.
Here is a video of the Ewa i Walla 2010 catwalk. I can not stop watching this and if you can by some chance id the music, please advise.
Bloomers and other legwear is an essential part of the lagenlook.
Pictured above 3 pairs: top left/center, a pair I made from blue thriftstore pajama bottoms; bottom left, a pair scored for $7 at Hells Kitchen Flea Market… they appear to be genuine Victorian; right, an Ewa i Walla pair with their monogram in oxblood red.
The wide double doors of my gigantic closet serve as an inspiration board, with articles of found and created clothing, jewelry, accessories, hanging together in a collage of colors, textures, silhouettes. I stare at and often photograph this wall for another perspective.
This detail shows a very old Afghani artifact I acquired before my recent trip to NYC ($22, which seems criminal, frankly). Wearing this around my hometown and in New York last weekend I was stopped on the streets and asked about it many many times. I have no information about it but can tell you that when I opened the package an evocative smokey scent emerged. Not cigarettes, outdoor open-fire smoke. I loved this smell, and breathed it in deeply, knowing it would quickly and somehow poetically dissipate in its new Western home (it did).
The primary purpose for the recent 6-hour bus trip to NY (just $45 rt from DC), was to see the exhibit pictured above at the Met. I knew I would be disappointed by this exhibit, and I was, probably for the following reasons: 1. I had seen an unbelievable Schiaparelli retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art years ago and thought that would likely kick this exhbit’s ass — it did. 2. Prada is not of huge interest to me. 3. Last year’s McQueen exhibit at the Met still looms SO large and 4. This was a show about clothing, not art.
Of FAR greater interest to me were the Met’s collections of Africa and Oceania art and artifacts (particularly New Guinea, adornment pictured above). I wandered through these vast rooms in a dream, thinking of ways to potentially hide and spend a terrifyingly inspiring night amongst the powerful objects.
The exhibit at the Met will not adversely affect my decades-long abiding love for Schiaparelli. On either side of my bed are advertisements for her perfume, Sleeping. I imagine these figures dancing around my night visions.
One thing to love about Schiaparelli is her signature color, a shade of pink called “Shocking” (I know, I contradict myself!). The spread above, Extreme Beauty again, makes nice use of this exact hue.
Before the trip to NYC I was poking around the Internet looking at available Objects de Schiap, the only two of which I could afford were the neckties pictured above at about $10. Imagine my delight to find them lined in shocking pink with darling labels to boot! I had every intention of using them on some inspired and wearsble creation — perhaps a Schiapesque hat — but that never happened (and still might). I don’t like most upcycled necktie stuff at all. Iggy Pop and I are contemplating ways around this.
However I absolutely LOVE this amazing pannier created by Janay Rose, otherwise known as The Window Lady, and acquired from the artist in San Francisco last year.
Made almost entirely of pleated and ribboned neckties and tulle, it stands out from the body, much like those worn by Marie Antoinette, pictured below across a 2-page spread (Extreme Beauty).
Above is a jacket I started making/altering this morning, the seeds for this were planted awhile back; I’ll post photos when it’s done. The necktie is not Schiap (but of the same time period, I believe), and features an amazing pattern of surrealist eyeballs. I’ll post pics when I’m finished. Goodbye quiet, until we meet again.
Finally, a quote emailed from a dear friend who I have met and which served to trigger a rescue of sorts from my terrible malaise:
“Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”