The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

New York is often thought of as the most magical place to spend Christmastime, which is a statement that definitely rings true. Despite the evident commercial undertone to all the festivity, the entire city seems to light up like a Christmas tree, which elicits the same response of its people - a brightness that is foreign during the rest of the year. But the magic of New York during the holidays is nothing more than an illusion of magic. The forced perfection of New York's decorations give the city a strangely, merry feeling rather than a natural, cozy one; the homeless were pushed off the streets and replaced by giant nutcrackers, an action that reflects the city's true intentions and priorities.

At this time of the year, I believe that we should not turn a blind eye to the sadness in the world in an effort to be merry, but instead make it a top priority to share the spirit of the season with those less fortunate. No matter one's religion, ethnicity, sexuality, race, gender, or circumstance, everyone deserves to feel the raw happiness and thankfulness of the holiday season, not some artificial representation of it. 

Wishing you all a happy holiday season.

The Perfect Practicality of Pre-Fall

Pre-fall is my favorite season. Although, when compared to the regular autumn and spring seasons, it most certainly lacks in theatrics, bold headlines, and all around attention-seeking, it is for those exact reasons that I appreciate pre-fall most. Just as couture represents fashion in its most indulgent, purest form, pre-fall is the epitome of the business part of fashion, as it exists as the most salable of all fashion seasons. The ideas woven into pre-fall collections aren't usually the most innovative or intellectual, and for that reason are normally looked at as more commercial than creative, but just think about the creativity that goes into concentrating big, abstract ideas into concrete, commercial clothes? So I may be giving designers the benefit of the doubt here (which I do rarely), but I believe that the process of watering down beautiful ideas for the sake of business is an artistically sacrificial one that deserves both recognition and appreciation. It is true that ideas are watered down for ready-to-wear (and clothes in general), but at least the grandness and attention that the major fashion weeks elicits makes up for the dullness of ideas, whereas pre-fall demands almost no attention and achieves the same level of thinned creativity. 

Pre-fall is done best when it explores already introduced ideas from the regular seasons; my favorite example this season being J.W. Anderson, the abstract and inflated of last season left undone in a concise, crisp way. Relative to the fantasy "girl" that a brand ultimately creates, couture is the deepest contents of her imagination, ready to wear exists as her wardrobe when she's feeling most confident in herself, and pre-fall and resort act as what she actually wears. 

J.W. Anderson.

Maison Margiela.



photos via Vogue Runway

The Birth, Death, and Resurrection of Fashion Shows

Fashion shows. Depending on who you are and where you're coming from, those very words can evoke vastly different images. From slow, prowling models elegantly and plainly making their way past members of the industry, to the empowered steps and stomps of the 90s, and, finally, to today's simple walk, not unusually offbeat to the music (and even more offbeat to the clothes.) Because fashion itself is a reflection of the times, it only makes sense for fashion shows to be as well; just as fashion is a medium for ideas to be expressed on to, fashion shows are the greater medium, even more space for ideas to be conveyed. And just as fashion's origins are strictly linked to practicality, so are that of the fashion show's.

What started out as simply an event for editors, critics, buyers, and illustrators to see the latest trends, more business than play, has become a fit label for the wonderfully-overblown spectacles of John Galliano, the chillingly-thought-provoking of Alexander McQueen, the social-norm-challenging of Rick Owens. The words "fashion show" equally describes the most extravagant and expensive of productions, and also those most straightforward and simple. While we all know what they supposedly look like, what passes as a fashion show today is becoming more and more amorphous.

 Fashion shows today aren't just technology-friendly, they're created for technology. Sometimes, these technology driven shows are a total miss - i.e., when a brand makes the clothes/setting solely to look good on a screen. But other times, albeit few and far between, technology is used in a way that is helpful to fashion. The most recent example of this was Gucci, recently a frequent, all-around "good example" under Alessandro Michele, which uploaded their Pre-Fall collection in a nice little presentation on Snapchat. It was convenient, easy, and true to all that is the Gucci Girl, which normally doesn't include technology. I hate the idea of other brands using the "Gucci Success Story," which is, I believe, part of the reason so many seasoned designers have just recently departed from their positions, but Gucci has offered one of the best combinations of fashion shows and technology since the initial, and now a bit old, live-stream video; the original merging of fashion and technology. Fashion shows will never be finished changing, but I think Alessandro Michele has achieved a significant change for the better.

Christian Dior.

Yves Saint Laurent.

John Galliano.

Alexander McQueen.

Screenshots from Gucci Pre-Fall on Snapchat.

Screenshots from Gucci Pre-Fall on Snapchat.

Bad Taste

There's something inherently charming about intentional bad taste. Not actual bad taste or a genuine cultural/sartorial miss, which are true to their bad taste descriptions, but decisions made in full knowledge of any faux pas's or clashing colors or acknowledgment of good taste in general. Bad taste done not in ignorance of good taste, but in spite of it, is, indeed, good taste, or at least something near it. What is good taste, anyway? Critics, both established and otherwise, are always quick to label something as being in bad taste, but the requirements for good taste seem to be a bit more elusive. Good taste, clothing-wise at least, is usually present in pieces that in some way coordinate in proportions, colors, materials, textures, or references. "Good taste" looks put together, thoughtful, and fresh; a slight risk to start out with that was tackled with the smallest bit possible of originality to keep it somewhat new. (Because an outright copy would be the very worst of bad taste, but anything too challenging on the eye wouldn't make the cut for good taste.)

Intentional, acknowledged bad taste is funny, stylish, and acceptable. Pure bad taste is, well, just plain bad. A tackiness of taste is never a good fashion statement, whereas intentional bad taste is. The line between bad taste and tacky is a thin, overly-bejeweled one, but if one can tread lightly in their neon platform heels then bad taste can really be quite easy to manipulate.

When it comes to taste, I live by two quotes, the first being Good taste is better than bad taste, but bad taste is better than no taste (Arnold Bennett), and then good ol' All or nothing. So basically, I'm either wearing good taste from my head to my Stubbs and Wootton-clad toes, or I'm in prints so clashing that Miuccia Prada would sue me for copyright with taste so bad that even John Waters is jealous. There is, of course, some gray area, or rather gray outfits, where I mix and match good and bad taste, as exampled by the fact that I referenced so many levels of taste in the above sentence (I never thought I would get to use Stubbs and Wootton, Prada, and John Waters all in one sentence), but it worked.

Ultimately, an outfit on its own can only be in good/bad taste so much, but the end identification of said outfit really lies on the wearer. The same outfit can be worn by, say, Tilda Swinton and Mama June and it's not hard to imagine which one would be in good taste and which one bad. (Heck, even Tilda Swinton in two different characters could be two totally different levels of taste. Just think of I Am Love Tilda versus Only Lovers Left Alive Tilda. Okay, so they may both be in good taste, but still.) Taste, like style, is not something that can be bought off a mannequin, but rather something that develops inside of you, bubbling in your sartorial soul.


John Waters is often renowned for his bad taste, which he does better than most do taste in general, if at all.


Anna Wintour and Suzy Menkes in matching Versace. (photo: Niall McInerney)
I recently had a bit of an Instagram argument over this photo, but I'll always defend Anna and Suzy. It's one of those ironic iconic moments and if it's not #twinning goals than I don't know what is.

Absolutely Fabulous! 
The name, jauntily held cigarette and alcohol accompanied by the red lipstick, pleather, and pink feathers speak for itself.

What's the Point?

I was feeling quiet and melancholy and reading The Danish Girl after a long week at school when my mother came downstairs and informed me that Paris was under attack. My initial response was obvious shock, but I remember it was a duller feeling than it should have been. For the past couple years or so of my life, as I became more aware of the world's happenings, I would hear of some act of terror every few months or so. Grisly details of school shootings overheard over breakfast, news of beheadings surfacing with lunch, and various other hate crimes making their way into the casual dinner conversation. Terror, death is not the rare tragedy it used to be. We've become desensitized to it, promised by the media that this time is the worst and this time things will change. Unnecessary killings happen daily, yet it takes one in Paris to hit home. When monstrosities like these occur, they make one wonder what the point is. What's the point of art; the point of fashion; the point of language and communication. What's the point of indulging in happiness when it could be stolen from you and replaced with so much misery in an instant? That's exactly the point. The point isn't to live life in fear, but to life life in spite of the fear. The attacks on Paris weren't personal attacks on those innocent people, but instead on the nation's way of life as a whole. The response to any attack on a way living should not be to shrink back in fear, but to rise up in unity. The point of life is to be lived and any attack on that should make one grasp onto that even more, as the people of Paris and the world have been doing.

Original photo from Ashley Hicks' Instagram.

At Home at MoMA

Being the self-proclaimed cultured 14-year-old that I am, I consider myself quite fortunate to live about 45 minutes away, traffic depending, from the Museum of Modern Art, or, more familiar and fondly, MoMA. This past year, I've held a membership there that not only allows me to skip the seemingly endless queues, but also attend members-only viewings and "parties." Parties meaning a congregation like-minded, cultured individuals ranging in all classes, races, ethnicities, and ages, though I am usually the youngest, gathered to listen to masked bands, enjoy artisanal sweet potato chips and an open bar (again, I am usually the youngest), and, albeit occasionally, view the art itself. Although I have only made it to a handful of these, because of a little, bothersome thing in my life called school, I have sufficiently enjoyed every moment I've spent at MoMA, as well as the prospect of going brightening up my hours before, and, to a lesser degree, my time contemplating after. Those short hours I spend engulfed in the cultured and curious nature of the MoMA crowd both feed my mind at the moment and fuel my thoughts for the coming days. The art parties normally take place on a weeknight, the following morning of which I will inevitably be found gazing at the city skyline from the window of my math class. I crave an intelligence beyond that which is taught at my school; I crave an intelligence that comes from the mind rather than the brain, from thinking rather than being taught. 

To be honest, I don't often think about the art itself, but rather the type of people attracted to it. (Art, like fashion, is on one hand about the visual meaning/representation, but on the other meant to evoke something within the viewer, so my interpretation of art is usually related to the people I feel it strikes a chord with.) Since I'm currently going through my first year of high school, I'm experiencing and observing the way people connect and attract to each other. If one took a look at the cliques and friend groups in my school, one would notice that there is, with few exceptions, some visual connection between the members of the group. My school is considered very diverse and progressive, but somehow all the white and black girls still sit at separate tables. I am neither black, nor white, and I do not speak fluent Spanish, so I've never quite "fit in" with any one group. I have "friends" but I can't bring up obscure references and connections without facing first a blank stare and later mockery. That's why I've felt my most at home in the sculpture garden of MoMA, surrounded by cultured individuals who all look distinctly separate and are yet attracted to each other through their shared knowledge and interest in knowledge. 

At the time of my writing this, it's been about two and a half weeks since I've been to MoMA and I feel culturally starved. My, albeit short, time away from the museum makes me feel more lonely than uncultured. My trips to MoMA reassure me that there's hope for those like me, that I won't have to live vicariously through online and print publications my entire life, that I will, eventually find friends with whom I can argue the importance of Patti Smith or Alexander Fury's latest piece. Until I can find a "home" like MoMA, MoMA will have to serve as my home.