February 17, 2011

Knitwearawareness Day, or, Crazy. Sexy. Wool.

Winter may be coming to an end, but it's worth reflecting on the recent dominance of knitwear in fashion. Knitwear is of course a cold weather staple, but the range of styles, colors, and knit garment types seen lately - basically the adaptation of knit techniques to so many creative designs - is what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the resurgence of Pringle of Scotland, last season's Prada sweaters, dresses, and tights, and amazingness like this, by Sandra Backlund:

Since living in Minnesota for the past 3 years, I have deepened my appreciation for such things. I was seeking knit leggings 2 winters ago, which led to this prescient post on the topic of this morning's post: 

the emerging brand isobel and cleo.

 I first fell in love the those knit leggings, but the brand is expanding into all sorts of other knit wearables. Here is a sampling from the past couple fall seasons:
More leggings...
I really love the patterned texture on this "pine cone" shrug...


Charlotte, the knitwear designer behind Isobel and Cleo (who cites Backlund as her favorite knit designer) contacted us with some recent news, an update that we were happy to hear about and to share with all of you!

Since the time of my last post, Charlotte has been awarded funding from the Scottish Arts Council, has moved from Scotland to Philadelphia to work in knitwear design for a major company, and most recently has been chosen as a semi-finalist in the Emerging Designers Competition in Charleston Fashion Week, a competition open to anyone living in the eastern states. And that's where you come in...

She is running a kickstarter campaign to raise the money needed to complete the collection for the design competition. Something of note: Charlotte is interested in environmentally conscious fashion (she gives a 20% discount on custom orders who request the use of recycled or organic materials). Fittingly, then, she's also donating a portion of the funds she raises to Heifer International, a charity that purchases livestock for families around the world. She will send funds toward the purchase of a llama, an alpaca, a sheep, and an angora rabbit -- the very animals whose furs she is using to create the fashion week collection.

She sent over these images of some works in progress:
Um, how did she know the way to my heart is with adorable pups?

The fund raising campaign is set to close this Monday, February 21st! I really hope she is able to complete the collection.

February 10, 2011


just PS, I joined the twitter...

Lurking on Matthew Ames

I'm intrigued by Matthew Ames. He lives and works in Brooklyn, and yet decided not to show at New York Fashion Week, suggesting instead that he "will introduce a new direction to the way he presents clothes."

These are pictures from when Matthew Ames did present at Fashion Week, Fall 2010.
^This is my dream look in case I ever actually grow up to be a professor. Imma go practice that scowl in the mirror right now.

Loving this quilted jacket so much I'll put more pictures of it in this very same post.

I am not surprised by this decision of non-NYFW-participation because I lurk his blog, Matthew Ames Journal. His most recent post is a reprint of an interview with Fran Leibowitz, in which she shares her disdain for the whole tent-ridden affair and suggests they should just show it all live online since the whole fashion scene of yesteryear, of which she felt like a special insider, has gone by the wayside in the great downfall of civilized high society due to our shit loving culture. It's a fun read for a contrarian like myself, but I don't take much of what she says to heart. Apparently, Ames does, at least to the extent that he shares her sentiments regarding the shows.

But in the past few months, I've been more interested in the images circulating of the things he makes. Here are some pictures I saved into a folder on my laptop and have waited for a while to show you!

These 3 are from Encens and in each, the Ames piece is the jacket.
The top 2 are my inspiration for working ornate pattern and vibrant colors into the mix with clean lines, draping, and volume... all while not looking like a complete bag lady. Still not sure I can pull it off IRL. I'll show you if I manage.

The Backstory (from facebook):
Matthew Ames was born in Washington D.C. in 1979 and grew up in Illinois and Michigan. He earned a BFA from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago in 2003. After working at the atelier of Jurgi Persoons in Antwerp, Belgium, Ames relocated to New York where he began working as a design assistant to Miguel Adrover. In 2004, he was selected as the first American finalist for the Festival de la Mode à Hyères in France. Ames showed his first women’s wear collection in 2005 and opened a studio in Brooklyn, New York. In 2009, Ames received the 8th annual Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award and in 2010 was nominated as a finalist for The Fashion Group International Rising Star Award in women’s wear design. Ames lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
You see? I lurk hard when I like something. It's not surprising to find on the Journal things like this 1984 article on the "minimalism trend" in American sportswear led by Perry Ellis, Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani, and Geoffrey Beene. I loved this: "the clothes are not so constricting that women have to mince steps." I still get sad when I see young women on their way to the club, perched on the balls of their feet and looking like when you try to get your dog to dance on its hind legs. Which is another reason I'm loving these looks: all are worn with the most perfect simple loafers.

I have some more fantastic images to share with you.
Basically, I wish I could dive right into this picture and be this woman. You would never see more than half my face again.

February 4, 2011

Another blog: Of Another Fashion

I just wanted to spread the word on one of my favorite new tumblr blogs. It's called Of Another Fashion, and appeals to my sensibilities not least because of my nerdy love of historical documentation of culture and interest in work that challenges the dominant, watered down and whitewashed version of history most of us who went to public school suffered through without learning much.

It's written by Minh-Ha T. Pham, "an academic whose research interests include fashion, gender, and labor in the Web 2.0 economy." Pham also writes collaboratively with Mimi Thi Nguyen over at the more in-depth fashion/culture/history/politics/theory blog threadbared.

She describes her purpose as such in a recent interview:
The exhibition and the blog are more specifically responses to the curatorial and critical neglect of the sartorial histories of women of color...Of Another Fashion intends to remedy this historical amnesia... 

So far, these have been some of my favorites:
Howard University flappers at a football game, circa 1920s.

This is from when the Sartorialist ran a vintage photo contest a while back. Of Another Fashion points out that the series featured only 3 images of people of color. 

Model Charlotte Stribling a.k.a “Fabulous” at a Harlem fashion show at the Abyssinian Church, 1950.

Studying in a WWII Japanese internment camp, by Ansel Adams.

 From a feature on the "androgynous" look, from Ebony in the 1960s. 

Of Another Fashion has regularly featured contemporary adaptations and Native American designers who incorporate traditional design and fabric-making techniques. 

The interview at PSFK givea a bit more background about what is meant by this "historical amnesia," which is reflected in some of these great archival finds:
...But probably the greatest discovery I’ve made so far in this curatorial project is the richness of minoritized fashion and glamour cultures that, though they existed in the margins of the U.S. cultural consciousness, have also thrived there. In my academic life, in my research on the digital fashion media complex, I’ve read a lot of fashion histories and a lot of fashion theory. And yet it was only through working on Of Another Fashion that I learned about L’tanya Griffin, a model and the first African American designer to have had an exclusive contract with a Hollywood studio in the 1950s, or about Remonia Jacobsen or Jewel Gilham, two very well established Native American fashion designers in the 1970s or about the fashion model Charlotte “Fabulous” Stribling who was Harlem’s It girl in the 1950s. I also didn’t know that fashion shows were popular activities in Japanese internment camps during World War II or that the Harlem Institute of Fashion even existed!
Together, these ads, family photos, events, and individuals are all part of the rich texture of U.S. fashion history that most fashion scholars and feminist cultural historians barely know. And what is revealed through Of Another Fashion has implications for our understanding not just of fashion history, but also our understanding of women whose everyday lives and fantasies (since we’re talking about fashion) are too often considered not important enough to document or study.
add it to your Google Reader today.

February 3, 2011

A Late Start

Double Happiness, 2009. Swingset billboard, an "urban reanimation device" installed as part of the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Bi-City Biennial of Urbanism and Architecture.
Didier Faustino works "on the border between art and architecture." 
Double Happiness responds to the society of materialism where individual desires seem to be prevailing over all. This nomad piece of urban furniture allows the reactivation of different public spaces and enables inhabitants to reappropriate fragments of their city. They will both escape and dominate public space through a game of equilibrium and desequilibrium. By playing this “risky” game, and testing their own limits, two persons can experience together a new perception of space and recover an awareness of the physical world.
[More at We Find Wildness.]

I love to go on swings. Especially at night. Swinging makes me feel woozy, but if I see an empty swing a magnetic pull forces my feet in its direction. If I'm with someone else, I always timidly ask if we can go on the swings. Sometimes I get pushy about it. I sit and gently twirl, or I challenge myself to go as high as possible. I am afraid of falling out, afraid of jumping. I end up with nausea, a reminder that I'm getting "too old." But that never stops me from wanting the feeling the swing offers.

This image reminds me of how I want to live. It reminds me that I have to create times that change the pace, that slow time down or accelerate it beyond the usual. I didn't feel anything this Western New Year, and so made no lists or resolutions at all. I'm not Chinese and frankly don't know much about the tradition, but I am pretty sure it's important to pause and reflect on the general direction of things. Right now, I could use a good swing.