Academia Crushes Intellectual Curiosity

These past couple days have been a bittersweet time off from school. On the one hand, the stresses of the past semester should be lifted from my shoulders as I indulge in the holidays, but on the other, more overpowering, hand, all of my irritation regarding school seems to only have been amplified by the newfound time to process the absurdity of it all. Although I've come to this conclusion a while back, this past, unnecessarily grueling semester has reinforced my finding that academia crushes intellectual curiosity. Formal education simply leaves no room for independent thinking. As a rather young, self-proclaimed intellectual, I have experienced many instances in my academic career where creativity in thought could have been useful, but was instead discouraged by the system. Now, I don't completely mean to fuck the system, but sometimes I feel there is no other option. My creative interpretation regarding assignments is graded far more harshly than that of my peers, who merely restate both the question and teachings rather than form their own opinions. Although I'm not exactly one who cares about grades, I do genuinely care about learning, which is why I'm disappointed in a system that only punishes my curiosity. 

I take various honors courses and two languages, which gives me a rather busy schedule and doesn't allow for all A's, but my peers who maintain perfect marks in all their (easy) classes are infinitely praised. I don't crave special recognition or praise and school wouldn't be a frustration for me if it didn't take up so much time and effort. I know I sound like any other average lazy teenager here, but bare with me as I rant. 

My high school is a wonderful, accepting environment and I'm extremely lucky to be there. I don't deny it. But (and there always is a but because no situation is perfect), I find it's crushing out a lot of individuality and molding us into super-children, consisting of a high drive for academics, sports, and sociability. I created this space before high school with very clear opinions and goals regarding my future. Since entering high school, not only have I had less time to explore my well-defined passions, but I've found myself changing into a different person, only to reset to my true self during periods of break and desolation such as now. Ultimately, I'm scared to loose sight of myself and my interests. I know where I want to be in ten years, but I've no idea at all what will come between that time. At the beginning of high school (I'm now in my second year), I determined that my purpose in high school was not to "find myself" but to find where I fit in the world. Right now, that means being true to myself within the inevitably strict social constructs of an American high school. 

Instagram art, embodying my current mood.


Disappointment

This weekend, my father and I painted a huge "I'm With Her" sign to go outside our house. I posted a picture with the same message. I went against dress code by wearing my Hillary shirt to school. I engaged and challenged students, hell, even teachers. Not because I felt like Hillary needed the support, but because I was confident in her becoming our first woman president. I checked the polls religiously and was reassured by the projected 80% chance she would win. I was ready, excited, and positive that Hillary Clinton would become our next president, the first woman. I rejoiced in the idea of feeling metaphorical shards of glass raining down on my face as she shattered the glass ceiling. As I went to sleep Tuesday night, at approximately one, I felt uneasy with the numbers coming in, but dreamt of miracle headlines proclaiming Hillary's last minute win. I could see it.

Then I woke up.

I checked CNN, Instagram, and Snapchat, truly unable to process what I was seeing. All I've seen for the past year mocked Trump for his inadequacy and stupidity, not to mention racism, xenophobia, sexism, misogyny, and words of pure hate, yet now he was suddenly elected president. This all got very real very fast. Donald Trump has won the presidency. I cried. My mother tried to comfort me, saying that he wouldn't be able to execute all his ridiculous promises. But it's not actually him that I'm afraid of. I'm scared of our country, of the people who elected him. All of his words of racism, xenophobia, sexism, misogyny, and pure hate, even if not true, attracted more than half of my country. If that is where America stands, this country built on inclusivity and diversity, then we've a long while to go before we are great again. 

For the past year and a half, I was proudly with her and I'm still with her. I will always stand by Hillary and all she fought for. She may not have won the presidency or demolished the glass ceiling, but what she stood for and achieved will not be forgotten. Trump degrades women, Hillary makes me proud to be one. There are infinitely more cracks in that glass ceiling, in fact, I think I can even see a little light coming through. In this time of mourning and shock for America, we must remember that we are Stronger Together.

In Appreciation of the Jolie Laide & More

Humans exist constantly in search for beauty. We have a natural fascination with beauty, and the strange combination of both power and vulnerability that comes in hand with beauty. People will always gravitate towards whatever the society's standard of perfect beauty is, but at the same time there will always be a place for perfect imperfections. Little details that may be seen as "ugly" when compared to the standard, but make the person or object in question wholly beautiful. Regarding people, the type of beauty we naturally seek most eagerly, the unpolished details set truly beautiful people apart from the cookie-cutter copies of society's standard. Imperfections make room for emotion and character when it comes to beauty. The French have always been a culture to appreciate their little differences, coining the term jolie laide (literally, "pretty ugly") and embracing it.

As a young female in the thick of her teenage years, I can understand the appeal of perfection. But I also see the beauty in the jolie laide and wish to be nothing more. At this point in my life, I'm observing the world around me and figuring out where I want to fit into it and I don't want to be the cookie cutter definition of perfection. I want to have faults and imperfections, and to love myself, not in spite of the fact, but because of it. This post is a little bit random for the middle of fashion month, but I think it shows a lot about where I am right now. Last year I was ignoring my "personal" self and lived through my laptop and this blog, but these days I've been finding myself in the moment more often. And it's been beautiful. Teenage-hood is frustrating and intense and superficial and I can't say I'm enjoying every second of it but I am most certainly living every second of it to the fullest of my ability.

I'm living my own coming-of-age novel before I get old and boring and need to romanticize and capitalize my experiences :)

Frida, one of my very favorite jolie laides

this photo from tumblr


I took this photo at Nan Goldin's Ballad of Sexual Dependency at MoMA. Beautifully moving and intense photos, truly memorable; I cried in the dark of the photo show. (My teenage hormones and emotional perspective is all over the place, mind you, but the show is still moving nonetheless.)




Fashion; It's Personal

This blog is about fashion. I have been blogging less frequently. Does that mean I'm less interested/dedicated/involved in fashion? Absolutely not. For pretty much the first time in my life, I'm living, and not vicariously through a screening of someone else's. I feel youthful and hopeful, and busy in all the right ways. And where clothing is concerned, I've been exploring and curating styles that reflect my newfound sense of youth and also my mature inclination. 

Although undocumented in this space, fashion still remains an enormous part of my life, only perhaps a bit more personal. In the past, I've used this blog as a space to express my opinions on the fashion world and all the tiny moving parts that make it - from runway reviews to business moves. However, my current relationship with fashion is more personal - my own curation and references to fit my life. As a teenager and high school student, my interests are inevitably changing and developing. But fashion still remains and will most likely always, by virtue of clothes existing as a necessity and my intrinsic attraction to beautiful things.

Thrifted Miu Miu heels, fishnet stockings, and frayed jeans. A look indeed.

Chanel Fall 2016 Couture

Chanel remains a constant in fashion's ever-changing game of musical chairs. One can always count on Karl for agreeable, distinctively "Chanel" clothes; the suits, the tweed, and the little Lagerfeld embellishments that allow the clothes to be something of fantasy, just as if his drawings simply lept into life, while other major fashion houses seem to be going through a constant state of disarray. At first glance, Chanel seems completely ridiculous and taken too seriously, but this couture collection made me realize that Karl's material creations are just realized drawings and dreams. Everything from the gaudy patterns to the bulky cut and overdone hair and makeup support Karl's dream of fashion and, in a larger sense, his outlook on the world. After all, no one can have such a long and successful career as Karl Lagerfeld has by taking fashion too seriously. This collection combined genius fantasy with the indulgent decadence of couture, and the result was, if not only beautiful, a reassuring moment in fashion's current confusion. 













The Appeal of Vetements (Spring 2017 RTW)

We all know fashion is a sucker for a little rule breaking, especially when that rule breaking occurs within the power of the industry. Young, buzzy brand Vetements is the current poster child for industry-contained rebellion, with enough nonconformity to make them seem "edgy" and enough obedience to the system to be successful. Vetements sells the illusion of a youthful, DGAF attitude at a price actual innovative younguns wouldn't dream of paying. The actual "cool kids" don't wear Vetements, they inspire Vetements.  

Although Vetements hasn't introduced a groundbreaking form of fashion, the Paris-based brand's way of thinking is something the rest of fashion should pay attention to. They politely question the system of fashion, which often results in special treatment and exclusivity, the most recent and obvious example of which being their latest show in Paris. Not only did they hold the show in a department store, with other brands' logos ironically in the background, but they showed during couture week, a time usually reserved for fashion's elite. To be clear, the show was not couture, but they were invited to show during couture week, which is a strange honor. The clothes were oversized and deconstructed and hard to picture outside of the show. Nothing groundbreaking; nothing special. 

And yet, Vetements is topping headlines in almost all areas of the industry. The appeal of Vetements is their ability to color outside of the lines ever so slightly and in the most controlled manner. They play the game by twisting the rules, and it's confusing and enthralling everyone in fashion. Fashion right now is confusing in terms of rules and boundaries, but Vetements just happens to be using it to their strength. 







Couture is a Breath of Fresh Air

Fashion today is fast, forgettable, and unforgivable. Regular seasons blur with pre-collections, womenswear blends with menswear, resulting in one big, round-the-clock, trendy mess. On occasion, gems of innovation and beauty slip into ready to wear collections, but usually ready to wear collections stay true to the title: clothes that are varying degrees of salable and wearable by societal standards. Ready to wear isn't boring, it just naturally can't be as exciting as couture.

Couture is the most indulgent of fashion; the most time and resource consuming; the most unnecessary. Ideas are executed to the fullest and no detail spared. As I'm writing this, the collection that stands out in my mind as the most refreshing from fashion's usual was Valentino's couture/culture extravaganza last summer. Not only was it some of the most beautiful clothes I've ever seen, but there was a level of culture and taste that is often ignored in fashion today. It was beautiful, but not superficial, just as couture should be. Many question the relevance of couture today and the truth is it's not relevant. No one really wears those clothes, but at the same time the point of the couture is not to be worn. Couture is about ideas and beauty, not practicality. Couture is food for thought; fashion to fuel the mind; style to satisfy the soul. 




Do What You Love; Love What You Do

Legendary street style photographer, Bill Cunningham, has died aged 87. From my time as a little girl to my current teenage state, looking at the collages of his shots in the Times was inspiring for a number of reasons. Bill's undoubtable and impressive eye for even the smallest, most fleeting trends showed his complete level mastery for his craft. But even beyond his notable, tangible accomplishments in the world of street style, Bill Cunningham's absolute devotion to his work remains his most inspiring aspect. He famously labored through the streets on his bicycle up until the very day his fatal stroke occurred. To me, Bill is the most inspiring example of a simple Ray Bradbury quote I try to live by: do what you love and love what you do. Bill Cunningham truly loved his job and it shined through in his work and his life. He will be deeply missed. 



Valentino Spring 2017 Menswear

Earlier today I watched Valentino's menswear collection for the Spring/Summer season live, from the modest comfort of my bedroom floor. I use fashion shows as an escape, a mode of free transportation from my otherwise uneventful teenage life. Runway reviews are just the byproducts of what the clothes, set, and music all work together to combine - a world based off a woman, whether her world be one of fictional frivolities or social justice. Without that element of engulfment, fashion shows exist rather pointless today. What's the point of all that money and effort if the message told by the clothes could just as easily be conveyed hanging on a rack in a showroom? That was the only question I was left with by the end of 50 look collection, created, or rather curated is more fitting, by the brilliant duo that is Pier Palo Piccoli and Maria Grazia Chiuri. 

The clothes themselves were modern, agreeable, and, most importantly, salable, which together create a sure homerun in the ever-changing menswear market. Traditionally masculine motifs such as smart shoes, trousers, and camo, were updated to fit a modern man, with a cropped hem here, a slightly transparent polo there. Altogether, the collection was pleasant enough, but paled when compared to the womenswear work from Valentino. This stark contrast is to be expected due to the fact that menswear is traditionally less adventurous than womenswear, but while this is the case, it is no excuse for, put bluntly, a boring fashion show. There was no excitement or transportation; I firmly believe that the clothes would have been presented just as well if they were hanging on a rack rather than marching down the runway on solemn white boys. 

As I'm sure you can tell by now, in this runway review I am not criticizing the clothes, but rather questioning the effectiveness of the way in which they were presented. Presentation may seem like a minor detail compared to the actual clothes, but at the end of the day I will remember this Valentino collection for how boring the show was, not the (admittedly also rather boring but still highly salable) clothes. Fashion just moves too quickly for one to remember more than impressions.






An Update


With nearly a month since my last post, I felt it was necessary to give my readers (if any of you remain!) a little update on what's going on. I just finished a week of final exams, wrapping up a rough freshman year. It's been a major transition year with lots of bumps in the road both academically and emotionally, but it would be unfair to ignore all the good and progress the school year has also given me. (In the wise, somewhat unoriginal words of my mother, the glass is half full!)

In terms of fashion knowledge and writing, this school year has taken away much of my time and focus, which has forced me to make more of an effort in order to be involved in the community and create content, but in result of that extra effort, the admittedly small amount of what I have created and written about has usually been of a higher caliber simply because it took so much time to actually produce. I also completed a weekend course in fashion journalism at the Fashion Institute of Technology, which has given me a greater understanding of the world of fashion publishing and what a career in fashion journalism has to offer. 

Throughout this school year, I've worked to merge my "fashion self" and my "personal self" which resulted in my being more expressive and open about my "passion for fashion" at school. In bringing together my two worlds, I've become more active on my "personal" Instagram (which is now public if any of you would like to follow along) and less on this blog's Instagram. After all, when I finally possess the official title of fashion journalist, my byline will be under Sophia Nuñez, not Plaid Is My Favourite Colour

Right now, I'm a bit overwhelmed with the plethora of free time in front of me; I have the slightest tinge of stress in making sure not to waste it. My goals for this summer include catching up on all the resort collections I've missed (expect reviews coming soon), reading and writing on a regular basis (whether it be fashion, poetry, or general thought pieces), exploring and creating visual art, and the inevitable, everlasting task of tidying up. 

I'm pretty sure I am going to keep this blog mostly fashion based, with a few tangents in the areas of living and design, which means that most of my poetry and non-fashion thought pieces will be published in other outlets (See: my piece on piece published on Isobel Van Dyke's Living Out Loud.)

It's going to be a long, fruitful summer and I can't wait for all the inevitable unexpected in store.

I visited the Manus x Machina exhibit at the Met's Costume Institute twice

Another from Manus x Machina.

I also bought and raised three chickens: Lupita, Toni, and Candace. I got them when they were two days old and here they are at 8 weeks. One of my proudest accomplishments.




Fashion is In Desperate Need of Simplicity

Fashion, like almost every professional field, is made up of rules, but at the same time the industry is a sucker for rule breaking. In an effort to be different, innovative, or simply more practical, many brands today chose to show their collections at all different times of the year and consisting of all different types of clothes, regardless of the current "official" season. This phenomenon has become more of a commonality than an exception, resulting in a confusing and frustrating fashion week schedule and distribution of the clothes in stores. For consumers, this translates into uncertainty and, subsequently, skepticism when buying.

Simplicity would be the most beneficial to the industry today. Though bigger is, as a rule, better and nothing is never enough for fashion, what it needs most is a bit of clarity. There doesn't need to be more fashion designers and more shows, just better design. At the end of the day, many problems within the fashion industry, including both the artistic and business/ethical perspectives, go back to the age-old matter of quality versus quantity. Society should, ideally, own fewer and better clothes, and thus the fashion industry should offer fewer and better clothes. Yes, variation and options are a wonderful thing, but it really comes down to quality versus quantity. As I've said countless times before, fashion mirrors society, and right now society seriously needs to reassess its priorities. With the environment and ethics majorly in trouble, it's time to address our relentless desire for more. Fashion, much like the rest of the world, needs to take a step back and get some perspective.

via Milk.



Fashion is No Longer Mysterious, Just Plain Confusing

While designers play musical chairs and high fashion struggles to stay relevant against the practical appeal of fast fashion, both conscious consumers and fashion followers are left in a puzzling state of disorganization. 

A BTS Kendall Jenner posted on Instagram.

Fashion is part necessity and part dream, so therefore an element of mystery plays a key role in fashion's existence. In the pre-technology era, the mystery element in fashion traditionally took form in glamorous photoshoots and coveted couture in shop windows. But with every moment behind the scenes shared online and fast fashion brands copying, reproducing, and distributing designs faster than the original copies, the enigma of fashion has died with the rise of digital accessibility. With the alluring mystery of fashion now a rarity, confusion seems to have taken its place.

Take a scroll through Instagram and you're bound to see countless insider exclusives from designers, magazines, and models alike, not to mention a plethora of BTS shots ("behind the scenes" for those of you with the luxury of living under a rock.) With designer positions, fashion week schedules, and the industry as a whole in upheaval, it's hard to see how an industry so transparent and publicized could possess so much miscommunication and confusion. Maybe it's fashion's never-ending strive towards perfection that leaves an obviously flawed and outdated system of scheduling ignored. But almost everyone in fashion agrees, and has expressed, that the system needs changing and stability.

With the abundance of social media today, there's literally nothing left to imagination (how many times have we seen Kim Kardashian's butt?), and yet plenty of questions go unanswered. Personally, I don't have many questions, just wishes for the future of fashion. As a member of fashion's future, I pledge to maintain the dreamy mystery of fashion by utilizing technology as a tool to spread and share ideas, not to overshare. Fashion, you have my word.

The Met Gala Isn't a Party, It's a Social Statement

Ah, the Met Gala; the party of the year held by the queen of fashion herself, Anna Wintour, in the (commercial) fashion capital of the world, New York City. For those of us whose invitation seems to have gotten lost in the mail, the best (and, at the same time, worst) part of the Met Gala is that the entire production is completely shared on social media, from getting ready to arriving to partying, the Met Gala in its superior entirety floods our feeds every year, without fail.

To say that only the best of the best are invited would be a gross understatement; only the most influential and iconic of our time attend the Met Gala. While the decision to invite or not metaphorically lies in Anna Wintour's hands, the guest list of the Met Ball is basically an inventory of today's most popular and powerful within popculture, regardless of Anna's personal opinion of them. 

The most important aspect of the Met Gala, however, is the exhibition and knowledge that it celebrates. The Met Gala is, after all, a museum party. This year's theme of the usage of technology in fashion comes at a turning point within the industry: technology can be either the savior or kiss of death in various areas in fashion. While this theme can be interpreted in either tasteful, metallic ensambles or tacky, robotic arms, it's refreshing to see the commanders and societal stars of our time united under a single theme, under a single roof.

Rachel McAdams in Valentino.

Jared Leto and Florence Welch in Gucci.

Kristen Stewart in Chanel.

Dakota Johnson in Gucci. 


Photos via Vogue.com.

Epitomizing Youth

I know I've said it before but I'll say it again: the concept of youth is constantly being manipulated and twisted to fit a slot that sells. As a teenager heavily involved in an industry that persistently defines and redefines youth, I sometimes find it confusing when it comes to what my own youth should look like. I've found, through admittedly limited experience, that youth is what you make of it, but at the end of the day, youth is an image sold to middle aged women and pressed into innocent minds. Youth is not defined by age or beauty, but rather by a lack of concern for exactly those things. You don't wake up one day and find your youth is gone, but instead it leaves you the moment you worry its left. 

While youth exists in no physical image or definition, I find that the spirit of youth is epitomized perfectly in Kids in Love, a photo series by photographer Olivia Bee, where special moments are remembered and immortalized in the grainy tinge of film.













Hedi Slimane's Place in Fashion

While fashion has seen many designer departures as of late, none were as dragged out as Hedi Slimane's from Saint Laurent.  Rumors of both Slimane's exit and Anthony Vaccarello's appointment have been floating around for months. I've always thought Slimane's work at Saint Laurent was more curation than creation, and therefore unsuitable for a house of such a historically innovative nature, but I can't argue with the numbers, which show quite obviously how beneficial Slimane has been to YSL and its parent company, Kering. In recreating, and arguably destroying, the original aesthetic of Yves Saint Laurent to Slimane's personal, Los Angeles rock n' roll look, Hedi Slimane offered unoriginal, easy to style pieces that fit perfectly for everyday wear. While I don't think his rightful place was at Saint Laurent, I do, however, believe there is a place for Slimane in fashion. His LA-music-cool-kid crowd definitely belongs somewhere in the wide realm fashion, but under an established French fashion house, I'm not so sure. From this short, 5 year renovation, I think it's best Saint Laurent takes away their new success and relevance and Slimane takes away his uncreative aesthetic. Not away from fashion, but just away from the house of Yves Saint Laurent.



Jane Birkin.