28 februari 2010

Knit yourself healthy

Knits from 1972.

As always, when I'm not citing a source, I scanned the images from my personal collection for educational purposes.

Beauty and fairness

The beauty ideal has never been as egalitarian as it is today. All it really takes is fitting into a size zero, a severe bronze, Brazilian bend and a cheerleader smile. However, at the same time as asymmetric faces such as Sarah Jessica Parker grace the covers, the expectation on each person to attain such "perfection" as displayed on the cover increases.

You frequently hear that size 0 is a bad ideal because it is unattainable. That is, of course, nonsense. It is attainable, but it costs a lot to attain for most people (mood swings, pain etc) - and therefore, only those most keen to attain it succeed (though, of course, exceptions exist).

The reason why the size 0 ideal is bad is because it is attainable through, for most people, blood, sweat and tears. Beauty is supposed to be something wonderful, diffuse, hard to define yet undeniable, not a objective competition.

There are two main reasons why it is undesirable with a beauty standard of this objective sort. First, of course, that it's not healthy, but in a world swamped by obesity such arguments fall pretty flat. The second argument - when you set up an ideal that is difficult to attain, but within most people's reach, you end up idealizing the people who make the most effort, whose only interest, really, is to be admired and seen. The result is ugly photographs of people with knobbly knees, crossed eyes, asymmetric faces, narrow set eyes etc etc - on covers and magazines. This is what has happened, that is why there are hundreds of magazine covers featuring Renee Zellweger despite the fact that her eyes are half the size of a regular person's and she looks like she just swallowed a lemon.

What is absolutely unattainable to most people, however, is the body structure of Cindy Crawford or the odd sculptural perfection that is Kate Moss. These are people who only need to pull a comb through their hair and get up in the morning in order to look drop dead. It has always been this way, and it will always remain. Life is not fair. If we're going to idealize beauty, why don't we idealize that type of person rather than those who devote their lives trying to look good enough for a cover shoot?

You could argue that because beauty is important and unfairly distributed, why not make it a fair competition - the one who makes the most effort wins? At the end, this depends on what you think is most important.

Is beauty as an aesthetic experience more important than being fair in every respect?

24 februari 2010

The war of the Add-ons

Queen magazine, of which I only have a few brittle issues, had been around since the mid 1800s. And Harper's Bazaar was of course the first American fashion magazine, but its UK flavor was first published in 1929 (no less). In late 1970, Queen and British Bazaar joined forces to form Harper's and Queen, a fashion and socialite magazine that has been of varying quality over the decades.

In September 2007, the British Bazaar hybrid took the name Harper's Bazaar and is, for convenience sake, referred to as British Bazaar or UK Bazaar in the fashion community. Under the guidance of EIC Lucy Yeomans, the magazine has steadily produced high quality magazines and the March 2010 issue is a respectable 370 oversized pages.

Now, in fact, the standing of British Bazaar has become in just a few short years, on par with that of British Vogue itself. It's almost as if we're back to the stand off of the mid 60s.

The drama? UK Vogue claims that UK Bazaar is helping their ever increasing sales by the help of cheap add-ons.

Grace Coddington
, then model, now editrix of American Vogue, shot for the cover in 1962.

Earlier from 1962,

1964 shot by Dormer.

1963 by David Hurn.

23 februari 2010

20 februari 2010

What do you get if you combine Garbo, a sensible early 70s schoolgirl and a Ramone?

Why, the Marc Jacobs F/W 2010/11 collection of course - the most interesting collection from New York this season (as most).

This was the archetype of the collection: Subtle grey/purple hues, matching exquisitely with the light pink lipstick and the shading of the glasses. An outfit that looks very cozy, which I could coil up in it right now. The medium-matte hair that blends with the stringy collar. The bulky knit, akin to the stuff of 70s Burda magazine, and the contrasting elegant pants, something right out of a 30s movie with Garbo or Dietrich. The outfit is wonderful.

The second most grasping outfit also had that color scheme where grey goes into blue. Rustique, but executed in a romantic way, with a soft hint to the patterns that matches the fabrics. At the outset, the patterns of the top and the skirt should not be combined, but because of the delicate symmetry in the execution of the prints, it miraculously works. Disharmony turns into harmony.

And then, of course, those hairy handbags and those shiny beautiful boots.

Summer of 69

You've heard about it, but what did the fashions look like? Or what was it supposed to look like according to Diana Vreeland? Look no further for a little sample:

Of Serpents and Models

In 1981 Natassja Kinski posed for Richard Avedon for a seminal shot featuring herself in a cold embrace with a boa constrictor. Though she looked like the innocent, Natassja herself had allegedly suggested this particular prop, with the idea of herself portraying Eve.

Now, 29 years later, Lara Stone is on the cover of Interview, shot by Mert and Marcus, in another serpent embrace, this time considerably more lustful on the part of the model. Instead of looking like the sacrifice in a satanic ritual, like Natassja, she looks like Cleopatra toying with an accessory. Or, awaiting that deadly chest bite.

Natassja Kinski, Richard Avedon, 1981

Lara Stone, Mert and Marcus, 2010

Images from nostalgiakinky.blogspot.com and thefashionspot

11 februari 2010

That all important Shrimpton head tilt

The 60s, pervaded by hippie models like Pattie Boyd, amazons like Verushka, waifs like Twiggy, oddities like Penelope Tree, exotics like Peggy Moffit. A true smorgosbord of diverse moods - but the first one, to bring a dramatically different mood was, of course, Jean Shrimpton, who came around in a time of absolutely perfect creatures (Dovima and Suzy Parker come to mind) with her deep blue eyes, sort of stubby nose and rather approachable look.

Jean in 1962, perhaps photographed one of the first times by David Bailey, with a distinct deer in the headlights aspect.

Jaded, cool and endowed with an incomparable head tilt, Jean is photographed by her now ex-partner Bailey surrounded by their previous, intense, sincere work. 1968.

8 februari 2010

Remembering Olive

We have almost come full circle now, from the days of Olive Thomas. The contrast with today's celebrities starts with the idealization of Olive's sad, yet knowing, look, pale skin and thin lips. But more significantly, her life story stands in sharp contrast to current celebrities. Today, most stars make a spectacle, and indeed become stars, by degrading themselves. Olive, in the beginning of the 19th century fought poverty with her body. And we are talking poverty here, as in life or death. From child prostitute (or something like it) to model to Ziegfield girl, and finally, wife of one of the most famous actors of his time, Jack Pickford (brother of Mary). Olive's image was scrubbed clean and she became America's sweetheart, sweet and serious.

The wild couple took some time off from their hard living ways and went on a little tour to Europe (Paris and London). After a night on the town, Olive accidentally ingested her husband's syphilis medication (liquid mercury) and died a few days later. Shortly before her accident, she had a sitting with Vargas who later completed his work naming it "Remembering Olive".

flickr, tumblr, liebemarlene.blogspot.com

6 februari 2010

The tales of the Last Rock Star - Or the only thing keeping Astrology alive

It is well known among those sane among us that there is one good argument for astrology: Axl Rose. Born in Indiana this day in 1962, he came to be the last rock star, from what it looks like right now and excluding those who would rather have been poets (Kurt Cobain). The day he was born is the most extreme day as far as conjunctions of planets go....virtually all heavenly bodies coincided into one beautiful position in Aquarius right at the moment he was born. Obviously a sign of things to come in more ways than one....

For the idea of the person as art - Axl Rose, William Bailey - is one of the prime examples. As most of these demigods, there is not just a perfect body moving aesthetically pleasing in space, evoking sounds that could make ovaries override the menstrual cycles of all women - it's also about the inside - for this man clearly has a complex brain in his possession, judging by the actions, thoughts and feelings that have emanated from him in the now 25 years he has been famous. And of course, one of the reasons he is so famous, is for his blatant, unforgivingly, politically incorrect statements.

I used to love her, but I had to kill her
I used to love her, but I had to kill her
I knew I'd miss her
So I had to keep her
She's buried right in my back yard

@The Late show ca 1988 with the "misogynistic" song "Used to love her (But had to kill her)". I choose to ignore those Marquis de Sade rumors, believe Axl's assertion that this is really just about a sick turtle and enjoy the show:


A small collection of some the best pictures taken of him form around 1987-1990.