Thursday, 31 March 2011

Just Vogue!

Yes, I know I’m late, but I figured that a good way to end out the month would be to do a review of the March issue of American Vogue (aka the Power Issue). Next month I swear I’ll get around to a magazine review earlier, but this month was just so hectic, and I had other things to write about! So, without further ado, on to the glossy pages!

We’ll start with the cover, which features the strangest queen of pop to dominate the charts since Madonna. She’s known not only for her awesome dance music, and prowess as a songwriter, she’s also rather famous for her outlandish wardrobe. If you’re not living under a rock, you know I’m speaking about Lady Gaga. Her cover shot was not really what I expected from her (with the exception of the pink bob), but it actually fits the colour theme of the issue quite well (which is why I presume they chose it). I’ll talk more about how much I despise the neutrals that dominate the editorials later, so we’ll skip right on to the article about Lady Gaga. No one really cares about the articles in fashion magazines, since obviously it’s all about the fashion spreads, but I actually found this article to be rather enjoyable. It wasn’t really anything new, we can wiki Lady Gaga and find out about her past, and there are a million interviews with her out there, but it was well written, and the contrast between the description of the chaos backstage at the Monster Ball, and the following lady-like demeanor of Gaga during a sit-down interview was charming without being too clichéd. If you’re so inclined, go ahead and read the entire article here. The fashion that was featured in the article I found intriguing, but a little bit one-sided. The three major outfits (two ball gowns, and one suit) were all by the late Alexander McQueen. Not that I’m complaining, since I j’adore McQueen, but I would have expected a bit more variety. It seems a bit overdone to focus on one designer, especially considering that Gaga is known for her outlandish fashion statements. Were there no other crazy outfits hanging in the Vogue wardrobe at the time? I find that hard to believe, considering that it’s Vogue!

The single-sided nature of the Gaga shoot is also reflected in the monotonous colour theme of the entire March issue. It seems that the hot colours for Spring are anything but; in fact they’re barely warm, since they’re all either pale brown neutrals, or very muted pastel shades of pink and peach, with a dash of ever-cool navy. How dull! For spring I fully expected splashes of brights that reflected the emerging colours of Spring flowers! I know it’s cliché to want bright flowers for Spring, but neutrals belong to Fall and Winter damnit! I’m so disgusted with this colour palette that I’m not going to talk about it anymore, and I hope that it goes away more quickly than the last spots of Winter snow.

Even though neutrals dominated the editorials in this issue of Vogue (just take a look at the stats below…) there were some that were still gorgeous. I’ve always loved the black and white editorials from Dolce and Gabbana, and the latest set doesn’t disappoint. The overabundance of embroidered finery and multitude of beadwork on their creations adds a much-needed texture to the simple black and white colour scheme. I would love to get my hands on the tiny jacket (far right), and any of the beautifully worked skirts!

The other ad that I was drawn to was from Burberry Prorsum. Not surprising, since I love the classic, yet modern look that the brand always produces, but the new ads took my love to a totally new level of adoration. Burberry is known for simple lines, and classic plaid prints, but the new Spring line is anything but traditional; instead of focusing on a classic look, they went with a very punk, street look, which for someone like me, who likes everything with a bit of rock n’ roll, it was love at first sight. Obviously the punk look has been around for ages, but I’m glad to see Burberry branching out into new areas, since it must be a bit shocking for their clientele.

The fabulousness of the new Spring looks from Burberry is reflected in the first editorial spread in the magazine, entitled “Punk’d.” Try not to think of the lame Ashton Kutcher show by the same name, since the spread is anything but comic. I would buy almost all of the pieces featured in this editorial, but thankfully I already have some gorgeous leatherwear in my wardrobe so my wallet doesn’t have to be gouged! The only criticism that I have of this spread is that Vogue might have used an actual male model, instead of relying on the androgyny of the women in the shoot.

I was less impressed by the other three editorial spreads in this issue, as they were all lacking something key. “Lady be Good” had some beautiful colours, and the concept was cute (if a bit trite), but the photo quality was horrible. I know they were going for a retro feel, but I just can’t stand that texture in film. It makes my eyes feel all scratchy…

“Enchanted Garden” was even more disappointing, since by the title I expected something whimsical and nature-inspired, but instead I got a dash of safari, and a lot of random. There wasn’t really a cohesive theme in the clothing or accessories, and the shoot relies way too much on the setting for artistic unity. I am intrigued by the sparkling silver jacket in the first shot though.

“Rebel, Rebel” was also rather uninspiring. It was meant to show how to dress interestingly for formal affairs, but not many of the outfits were actually interesting! More neutrals, more clean lines, and very little glamour left me wanting to scoff at their lack of creativity. I didn’t mind the red leather jacket that was shown, but a more version of a red leather jacket with more personality was also shown in the “Punk’d” spread. Seriously guys, you must have been overwhelmed by the February blues when you were creating this entire issue…

from "Punk'd"
from "Rebel, Rebel"

Neutral Editorials: 69
Colourful Editorials: 36
Car Ads: 3
Hair Product Ads: 6
Make-up/Skin Care Ads: 25
Perfume Ads: 6
Jewelry Ads: 8
Retailers: 9 (K-mart? Really?!)
Misc. Ads: 3

Last Look: Best ad in the whole magazine for me was from Christian Louboutin, of course :) Simple and gorgeous!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Labels or Love?

Even I, the infallible Riella, is incapable of learning from her past errors at times. By errors, I’m referring in specific to the men (or should I say boys) in my past. Never one to be in a relationship for long, after every breakup I inevitably swear off men forever. Until the next big mistake comes along. Like my Sex and the City counterpart, Carrie Bradshaw, it seems that my problem is that I choose the wrong men. They’re either emotionally immature, unavailable, or “toxic bachelors” (to throw out another Sex and the City catchphrase).

It’s been over a month since my last big break up, and since the official mourning period is over, and most of my rage/depression over the issue has subsided, I feel that it is time to comb the wreckage of this failed relationship for the gold that makes so memorable. And to exorcise the demon, once and for all hopefully.

The latest mistake was really no different when it came down to it. He was still broken from his last two failed relationships (even though assurances were made that he was clean), and throwing himself into another relationship without thinking probably wasn’t his best move. In every relationship there is going to be baggage from the past, since everyone is an ex-something (with some exceptions of course), and as we grow up the baggage only gets more difficult to deal with as our relationships progressively get more intense. So, we’ll allow him an extra suitcase of issues, since obviously I was taking my own issues along for the ride. We all know that my trust issues didn’t just appear one day along with my morning coffee. They were developed due to a lifetime of betrayals by people who I should have been able to trust. But that’s a story for another day.

The main cause of our breakup was because we were in different places in our lives; I was going somewhere and had my future planned out, while he was flailing and not really thinking about anything past tomorrow. There are some things I am willing to compromise for a relationship, but my future is definitely not one of them. Especially since I’ve had my plans in place since grade 6, and have been on a relatively clear path since the beginning. I don’t plan every detail of my life ahead of time – I don’t even know which grad school I’ll be attending in the fall, just that I will be attending – but having at least a loose plan, and having some of the larger details organized is how I deal with the randomness of the rest of my everyday life.

Apparently we also wanted different things from the relationship. I wanted a long term relationship, which is also what I thought he wanted. The few conversations we had about our future seemed to be copacetic, but maybe he was just agreeing with me to keep me happy, and I was the one doing all the talking. This doesn’t seem like a very healthy thing to do, and for that reason I am always upfront with what I expect of my boyfriends, but apprently he had to be forced into talking about what he wanted, and I didn’t try hard enough to get into his head.

As our relationship progressed it became more and more clear that we live very different lifestyles. His idea of a good time is to sit around the house and play video games (which I admit can be fun at times), but I need more than that. I love staying home for days on end, but that’s generally something I do by myself. When I’m with other people I don’t want to sit around talking all the time; I want to go out and do stuff! Whether it’s going to the movies, out for dinner, or just for random adventures, I want to be out being active. At least his constant need to sit around and play video games by himself while we were hanging out gave me time to catch up on my reading. And it was pretty cute that one time he fell asleep curled up on my lap while I was finishing a level of Lego Star Wars.

What really kills me about our breakup is that in breaking up with me is that I lost my trust in him, and because of that I started questioning his feelings for me during our relationship. By no means was I in love with him, but that’s where our relationship seemed to be headed, and I was totally willing to go there with him. Because of the strength of my belief in us, I was willing to try to make our relationship work regardless of what happens down the road with my potential move to grad school. Yet, when the idea of grad school became a reality (when I got accepted to Dalhousie) he bailed because he couldn’t deal with me moving away. This action makes me think that his feelings werenn’t as strong as mine because he wasn’t even willing to try to make us work; he just wanted out before he got hurt. After we broke up, everyone said that I was being paranoid, and that he was crazy about me, and he only broke up with me so that we wouldn’t both be hurt in the future. I can’t quite believe that, since him breaking up with me out of the blue hurt me more than us breaking up because of long distance ever could, since that’s not a sudden random break, it’s a cooling off and drifting apart. If he really was as into me as everyone claims he was, then he would have tried to make it work instead of giving up.

Apparently he still wants to be a part of my life, yet he’s made absolutely no attempt to actually do this (no, talking to our mutual friends does not count, that just makes me annoyed). He made his choice when he broke up with me, and he’s going to have to learn to live with the fact that I don’t forgive people who betray me the way he did without a pretty damned big gesture.   

For the time being, I think I’ll take Fergie’s advice, and go “shop for labels instead of look for love,” since it really is true that “a Prada dress has never broke[n] my heart before” (though the Prada spring collection was rather disappointing…).

Post Script: It seems that with writing this post and getting all my lingering thoughts down on paper I have finally have exorcized the problem. If any of you were surprised at only detecting a scattering of bitterness through out the post, you are not mistaken. I toned down my words, and kept the extreme themes safely confined to the first draft (you're privy to the third edition), so as not to cause anymore drama with my friends. Yes, I do know you're all sick of hearing about it, so hopefully this shall be the last of it. Having written it all down and made an official public statement not fueled by my overwrought emotions, I feel like I'm in a much better place about the whole situation, and I'm almost back to who I was before all this drama came about: someone who was single and fabulous! For all of you who put up with the month and a half of rants, anger, depression, and many many many mood swings: the storm has passed, and Spring has arrived :)

Sunday, 27 March 2011

These Boots were Made for Walkin'

You keep saying you've got something for me.
Something you call love, but confess.
You've been messin' where you shouldn't have been a messin'
And now someone else is gettin' all your best.

These boots are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do
One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you.

You keep lying, when you oughta be truthin'
And you keep losin' when you oughta not bet.
You keep samin' when you oughta be changin'.
Now what's right is right, but you ain't been right yet.

These boots are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do
One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you.

You keep playin' where you shouldn't be playin
And you keep thinkin' that you´ll never get burnt.
I just found me a brand new box of matches yeah
And what he know, you ain't had time to learn.

These boots are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do
Ane of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you.

Are you ready boots? Start walkin'!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Girls we Hated in Highschool: the Fashion

About a week ago I had a moment of huge excitement, because I found out that my favourite shoe company, Jeffrey Campbell, is branching out. They’ve already conquered the footwear world for women, and have successfully created some beautiful men’s shoes, but now they are making a foray into the world of handbags.

Their line of purses, totes, and clutches has (for the time being) been named “Girls we Hated in Highschool,” because it is meant to inspire its buyers to conquer their high school nemeses, at least when it comes to fashion. While this is an obvious marketting catch, it’s really quite clever because it appeals to every girl’s inner diva, as well as is a positive reinforcement of encouragement to everyone were bullied by other girls in high school (and really weren’t we all in some way). While I love the concept of their theme, it is obviously not meant to have staying power, even though high school bullying is never really going to go away. But they also announced that the name of the line is not going to stay the same for every season, so we can look forward to another fresh and sassy theme next year! It makes sense for JC to do this, since they are constantly reinventing themselves with each new collection, and every year it seems they get even more fabulous. God knows, two pairs of fabulous Jeffrey’s could not be more different (they’ve been dubbed the “unicorn heels” and the “Russian pumps”), and with every new creation I fall more deeply in love with Jeffrey’s shoe offspring.

Girls we Hated in Highschool seems to have something for everyone; there are cute little fringed clutches, snakeskin printed hobo-bags, and carry-all bucket purses. My favourite is the fringed messenger-style purse, since it’s just enough. I’m kind of partial to fringed purses (one of my all-time favourites is a silver fringed piece of work), but this one is a little more subtle than I’m used to and would be a perfect addition to my collection. I love the movement, the material looks luscious, and the colour is perfect. Hopefully I can get my hands on one when they finally get released!

Check out the full post from the JC blog to see the rest of the collection, and if you have no idea how glorious JC’s shoes are I demand that you go to Solestruck (one of the best Jeffrey retailers) and explore the psat and present collections. Seriously, no one does it better than Jeffrey!

One last thing before I sign off for the day: make sure to vote in the poll (at top right)! It’s very important, for obvious reasons!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Girls we Hated in Highschool: the Rant

Of all the horrible people who I’ve met in my life, those who take the cake for being the worst are the girls I hated in high school. Yes, I actually hate them more than shitty customers, but only because they were unavoidable and working in customer service is a choice, not a necessity. Everyone knows versions of these girls: they’re cruel, petty, meddlesome, and all for no explicable reason. Unlike in real life, the girls who tormented us in high school couldn’t be avoided; they were in your classes, they were lurking in the hallways whispering nasty rumors, and short of asking your parents to transfer you to a different prison, you were SOL.

Clarence Darrow said, “The world is made up for the most part of morons and natural tyrants, sure of themselves, strong in their own opinions, never doubting anything,” and it is my belief that he was talking about the Queen Bees from high school. These girls seem to think they have this right because they’re part of the “popular crowd” or are deemed to be prettier than most. They believe that their opinions and deeds are infallible, even though they’re really just children, and that anyone who’s different from them should be punished. What I found during my time in high school is that most of these girls acted out of one personality trait: insecurity. They feel the need to put down others because they are in fact insecure about their own abilities and figure that the easiest way to be on the top is taking down someone else. Allow me to let you in on a little secret: the two key factors in life that the popular girls figure they have, they actually don’t. Having a brain, and being able to use it is something that the majority of popular girls lack; they may pass their classes, but they are by no way in the top of their class. That place was taken by me, and the other nerds in my school! The key factor to their success in high school was often looks, but the looks that got them elected most popular in high school will fade with time, and the rest of us “ugly girls” will learn to work our looks as we grow up. And seriously, looks aren’t everything girls; being a good person is much more important.

Avoiding them doesn’t really work in high school, since you’ll eventually run into them, so how should we deal with them? Should we take the matter to our parents or the school authorities, as anti-bullying studies have shown we should, or should we confront the problem person, as our inner badass counsels? The solution is never clear, since every bully has their own weak point, so instead of giving you a fix-all solution that doesn’t exist,  I’ll share the stories of three bullies who I had to deal with in high school. All names have been omitted for personal safety, but anyone who knows anything my high school experience knows exactly who these bitches are.

The first girl, is one who I’ve known literally since I was born. Technically she’s a week or so older than me, but our parents were good friends, and they went through the baby-days together. We went to each other’s childhood birthday parties, and had many a play date, but as we grew up we stopped being friends. There was no falling out between us, we just didn’t have anything in common anymore and when our parents stopped arranging our meetings that was the end. When I went back to public school in grade 8 after 4 years of home schooling (shut up shut up shut up!) my mother informed me that this girl would be attending the same high school. I wasn’t that interested in being BFFs, but I figured we would at least be nice to each other if only for the sake of our parents. For the first year of school we pretty much ignored each other, but in grade 9 the problems began. We were assigned lockers side by side (our last names were beside each other alphabetically in class), so running into each other was inevitable. This wouldn’t have been a problem, if she and her boyfriend hadn’t spent all their time hanging out in front of her locker, and therefore mine as well. It became a hassle to get into my locker, since one or the other would always be standing in front of it, and even though they were well aware of the fact that it was MY locker, they wouldn’t move unless asked. For the entire year I put up with their stupid game, until the last week of school. I had had enough of their petty behavior. Instead of asking them to move, I shouldered my way past them, into the space that was rightfully mine, jostling the girl in question, who happened to be drinking a can of Coke. She immediately piped up “OMG you could  have spilled my drink!” to which she received a glare and the remark “I had to get to my locker and you were in the way, just like you have been EVERY SINGLE DAY THIS YEAR!” Her childish response, was a lengthy pause (I presume from the shock that this little nerdy girl was actually speaking up for herself), and then she promptly threw her can of Coke at me. I stood there dripping for about two seconds, seething in anger, and then proceeded to turn and walk away, after another of my trademark death glares. She may have dumped her drink on me, and I was sticky until I got home, but from that day on she moved out of the way when she saw me heading for my locker. I didn’t have to say anything to her about the pop-throwing incident; my silence spoke volumes, and is what it took to stop her behavior towards me. I’m sure the death glare helped as well :p

The second girl is one who most people in our high school can speak nothing but praises of anymore, and later on I’ll tell you why, but first I’ll explain why she and I did not see eye to eye. She was a new girl in our school in grade 10, and being in the same science class we were actually pretty good friends. We didn’t sit together, but we used to hang out at break time. But one day she decided that she didn’t like me anymore (I still don’t know what her reasoning was), and she walked up to me and informed me of such. This break in our friendship was completely unexpected, so I was obviously shocked. But I moved on, as I had other friends, and wasn’t going to waste my time stressing about her. We didn’t have many big fallouts during our time in classes together, but every once and a while she would pop up (usually in our mutual art class), and get in my face. Usually this bullying took the form on criticizing my art projects, so I didn’t take it too seriously, and told her off since I had no doubts about my artistic abilities. The real problem was when she decided to have it out with my best friend. Thankfully I wasn’t there for this fight, but this girl threatened my best friend’s life. I don’t remember if my BFF ever went to the principle with this information (a death threat IS a pretty big deal), but we made it a point to avoid her at all costs, and we were pretty successful in avoiding any future conflicts. What we found out after high school (being the naïve high schoolers that we were), was that during most of her later years in high school (ie when she went a bit crazy) she was on drugs. And I don’t mean pot, because that’s not generally a violence-inducing drug, and most of our high school was also partaking in the Mary-J fad. I’ll never be sure what exactly she was on, but there were rumours of Meth, and Extasy was also very popular at the time with the rave crowd in Kamloops. During my first year at our local college, I got to class one day, and one of my friends informed me that a great tragedy had occurred: this girl had died the night before. I was initially shocked, until I found out that her death had been because she was involved in a high-speed car chase with the police, and she was under the influence of a drug binge. When my friend informed me of the details he was quite offended to realize that not only was I no longer shocked, I actually cared very little. The words that I remember uttering at the time were along the lines of “Good. She wasn’t a good person, and I don’t really care that she’s dead.” For me, her death didn’t cleanse her of her social sins, and her lifestyle (which was her own choice) was the cause of her death. Just because someone is dead doesn’t mean that the way they hurt people in the past is to be forgiven; it just means that they can’t hurt anyone anymore.

The third person who I will speak about, is someone who I was very close with during all of highschool. She was the first person to talk to me on the first day of grade 8, and she was my best friend through it all. Yet, once I escaped highschool, moved into the real world, and gained some self-confidence, I realized that she was the person who bullied me the worst. From the first week in grade 8, she was already putting me down; she literally told me to “stop following her around like a puppy dog” even though she knew I didn’t have a lot of friends except for her. That conversation pretty much established how our relationship would be defined until gradutation. She was the leader of the pack, and I was just there to be her little sidekick. Occasionally I would go against her wishes, and this usually ended up in us having a huge fight, in which we wouldn’t talk to eachother for a few weeks. Usually it was me who had to make the first move so that we could talk it out and be friends again. Our group of friends was also defined by who she was friends with, which wasn’t really a huge problem for me, except when her love life came between our friendship. Whenever she was dating a guy (there were 3 big ones in highschool), they became her whole life, and I took second seat. Even then, I still considered myself an important person (at least to my friends), so it was extremely insulting to suddenly have her choose her new boyfriend over her best friend. It’s one thing to date a guy who your BFF doesn’t like (and trust me I didn’t like any of the guys she dated), but it’s another to completely ditch them. They’re your best friends, and if you treat them this way, then they won’t be there for you when you inevitably break up with the flavour of the week. Not being an overly social person in highschool, I didn’t date at all, so I didn’t really understand why she put so much emphasis on her relationships with guys, but even now that I’ve had my own experiences with the opposite sex, I still don’t think that her behavior was exucsable. In every relationship I’ve ever been in I’ve made sure to keep up my relationships with my true soulmates, my girlfriends, since they’ve been in my life longer, and will continue to be a part of my life regardless of what happens. Along with breaking the number one friendship rule, this girl was also the biggest snob that I’ve ever met. Just because her family was uptown and lived in a carefully manicured home, and my family was downtown and had too many large dogs, she felt that she was better than me in every conceivable way. She felt that she was smarter, prettier, and had better fashion sense. Sorry my dear, but our report cards tell another story, and unlike you, I never really had to try to get my awesome grades. I will admit that at the time she was “prettier” than I was, and that she knew how to shop, but time has told who the real winner is on that front. I have more shoes, and a better wardrobe than she could ever dream of, my straightened hair doesn’t look fried, and I don’t have to work around a hawk-shaped nose and poor complexion. Last time this girl was spotted in our hometown by one of my little spies, she has straggly, greasy looking waist-length hair, a shiney face with not even the bare make-up minimums, and she was dressed like a sloppy hippy. Last time I ran into her family I was wearing a fabulous form-fitting striped dress, with flawless make-up and hair, and to top it all off, 4-inch cream Guess pumps. Oh and did I mention that she’s dating a guy who’s 25 years older than we are? I may be single, but at least I’m not dating someone old enough to be my father. I think we all know who won this little contest!

I hope that helps everyone with how they feel about their high school experience, or at the least gave you something to be momentarily entertained by. My advice: be who you want to be, and don’t let those bitches get you down! Does anyone else have any stories of girls they hated in highschool that they feel the need to share? Post it on the comments if you do! Trust me, it can be a cathartic exercise J

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Modern Minnie Mouse: A Shoe Sunday Story

First of all, I must apologize for writing about two pairs of green shoes in a row. But it was St. Patrick’s Day this week, and Leprechaun fever took over my brain!

This pair of gorgeous pumps by Naughty Monkey was acquired from Winners, and is one of my more cutesy pairs of heels. The bow on the side of the toe is reminiscent of Minnie Mouse, so these shoes automatically make any outfit adorable! These shoes came in a choice of yellow, red, and of course green. Being the outrageous person that I am, I chose green, since it’s anything but traditional. So I like to think of these shoes as Minnie Mouse with a twist.

The girl who wears these shoes likes to be cute, but she’s still grown up. She still has her childhood Barbie dolls, but she also drives a real life version of Barbie’s convertible (and a little too fast at that). When she’s driving she listens to Hanson, but not that 90’s MMMBop pop stuff; the newer stuff with the indie vibe.

She wears an innocent smile, and her laugh is infectious, but no one can really tell what goes on in her mind, and only the sparkle in her eyes gives her motives away. Don’t expect this girl to bring her Mickey a home cooked lunch at the construction site, but she does own an apron and makes a mean apple pie.

She believes in true love, but she’s not willing to settle on the first man who comes knocking. She likes vintage shops, but hates antique furniture, and she spends every summer weekend perusing yard sales and sipping lemonade from a neighbourhood kid’s stand. She’s a blend of the old and the new, and she’s everything that a modern woman should be.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Leprechaun Fever

Because I am much too tired to be coherent (went to a fabulous party with my fabulous friends last night), I'm just going to give you all a whole bunch of pictures to look at and do with what you will. Oh, and one really funny video of Mel talking about shoes and booze. Enjoy!

Monday, 14 March 2011

A Theory of Creation

“I sometimes think that God in creating man somewhat overestimated his ability.”
~ Oscar Wilde

If the aforementioned quote is true, then it must also be deemed a possibility that this overabundance of self-importance when it comes to creation must also have been passed onto man. Some of the most pompous, and self-obsessed people that I have ever met are people who create art. They think that anything they slap down on canvas or paper should be awarded a prize, that the world should bow down in the light of their brilliance, and they should subsequently be instantly rich in gratification.

Even if their work is good on a technical level, I feel that they’re missing the point of creating something. Using their artistic talents to create art is not about the fame or the money; it’s about expressing yourself in a concrete way. Yes, you are “getting your ideas out there” for the masses to see (and duly judge), but it really isn’t about the audience, it’s about the creator. Worrying about how the audience is viewing your work, and focusing too much on that aspect is only going to make the artist in question stop creating for themselves. I’m sorry to say it, but this eventually makes artists become sell-outs, because they’re only working for the commission, and not for what they truly believe in.

re-drawn sketch of the lost original
When the I create something I don’t care if anyone else thinks its pretty or thought provoking. I’m only concerned with how the piece affects me. I cared a little more about my audience in high school, since I was creating art to be graded for a class, but I came to a point in grade 10, where I felt that my technical abilities  spoke for themselves, and I started to create more artwork that reflected me as a person. The turning point was a project that was loosely based on the medieval technique of illuminating manuscripts. We were assigned to take a letter from the alphabet, and create a picture around and inside the letter that reflected an overall idea. I, like most people, chose to do my first initial, but my subject matter was far from anything standard. I used a portrait of a phoenix as the background, and then filled the hollow letter with symbols of my spiritual beliefs, which at the time included a pentagram, and items that symbolized the four elements. My teacher had no objections to the controversial nature of my symbols, but I had not a few classmates react in surprise at the pentagram motif displayed front and centre. But I didn’t care what they said; on a technical level my drawing was beautiful, and the imagery expressed who I was.

Even more than people who work in physical art, those who work in digital media (ie photography) have even more inflated egos., and every hipster who owns a decent camera thinks that their snapshots are worthy of a gallery show. Seriously guys, composition is something you learn in the first week of any type of art class , and for those of us who do it well, we don’t have to be taught. The majority of their “talents” I find are also due to the plethora of digital editing software that is now available. Just because you  change the colour balance and contrast of your photos does not make them “art.” Anyone can screw around with Photoshop and come up with something interesting. God knows, I use it to edit most of my photos, but just because I can, doesn’t mean that every photo I take becomes a piece of art. Some are just photos that I wanted more visually appealing. And really, the best photos that I’ve taken don’t need editing, whether it’s to change the composition or the photo itself. See the mangled crab photo below? I took it with my little Canon Powershot (which is an awesome camera, but by no means anything professional), and didn’t edit a thing. That composition, and the colour tone is exactly what I saw when I was on the beach that day. It just happened that the shot turned out perfectly. And yeah, it’s a picture of a mangled crab, but I love how it turned out, and someday I’m going to frame the shot and put it up on my wall. So there!

My biggest problem with artists is those who go to art school, and think that therefore they’re professional artists. This is complete bullshit. Art cannot be learned. Technique can be improved through classes, practice, and criticism, but the real heart and soul of art cannot be taught. If you have no latent ability, taking a course or two in from the visual arts department (or even a whole degree) isn’t going to change the reality of you not having anything to build from. If you have the talent, then use it. Don’t waste your time taking classes trying to learn how to be what society deems an artist, just go out and BE an artist. Having credentials is not going to help your ability to blend colours and put lines on paper; it will only make some social connections within the art world, which you can do by making an effort to integrate yourself into the artistic community. As someone who took art classes in high school, and who wanted to be an artist professionally before I made more realistic goals, the transition to art at a university level was astounding. In high school it was expected that we were working on our technique and not so much our ideas. Yet, when I took my first university art class, we were still working on technique, and basic technique at that (seriously I know how to draw lines of different thickness…), it was a huge disappointment. I told myself that I would never again waste my time and my abilities on this kind of drivel. I vowed that I would keep drawing, painting, and taking photographs, but I would never again do so in such a stifled atmosphere. And so far, I’m happy to say that while I haven’t become a professional artist on any level, I still enjoy creating, and when I sit down to draw or paint something I am always pleased with the result, even if other people aren’t. 

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Panda Patterns: a Sunday Shoe Story

Since we last blogged about the importance of patterns and their integration into your wardrobe, I felt that it would be pertinent to do a keep the Shoe Sunday Story along the same theme. The shoes I’m about to tell you about I picked up towards the tail end of high school at the newly opened Winners.

Of all my flats that are not runners, my “Eleanor” Keds have always been my favourite because they contain the two most important features of a shoe: they are practical, yet still generate interest.  Not only do they have a repeating pattern that creates texture, but the pattern is not quite what it seems. At first glance, the shoes look like they have big black and white flowers on-top of the dual-green background, but when you look closer the flowers reveal themselves to be pandas! How cute is that?!?! I absolutely adore pandas, so the choice to buy these shoes over any of the other animal prints available (there are also camels, owls, and ducks) was not very difficult. The background colour was also a deciding factor, since I love green, and green shoes are some of the most difficult to find. But of course, the optical illusion of flowers turning into pandas was the most important because no one can resist pandas!

These shoes are also some of my most practical, since I can wear them with anything, and they stay comfortable after hours of wear. I’ve worn these shoes with skirts, shorts, pants, and of course jeans, and they work with any of the above. The only tricky part of wearing these shoes is that I can’t wear any other outrageous pieces of clothing with them, since they are so interesting on their own. The most common way I’ve worn them is with darkwash jeans, and a white shirt, which is about as plain an outfit as you can get, yet just adding the shoes pulls the entire ensemble together! On a physical level, these shoes are super comfy. I’ve worn them for full shifts at my job where I’m on my feet and walking for the entire time, long shopping trips, and many many adventures through the wilderness with no consequences to my feet. Considering the abuse that I’ve put these shoes through, I’m surprised that they’ve held up so well. The thin plastic coating over the canvas helps to keep the colours bright, and I only have to take a cloth or scrub brush and some soap to them every few months to keep the grime from building up on the edges. Even the panda on the inside sole has held up really well in the 5 or so years I’ve been wearing these shoes! You go panda!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

This is not your Grandmother’s Closet!

Tired of wearing solid colour blocks? Tired of matching black with black? Need to add some personality to your wardrobe? It might just be time to start experimenting with prints. As with every area of fashion, there are things one should do, and even more things that one shouldn’t do. Each type of print has certain rules, and I’m here to explain them for you J

We’ll start with the basics. The most common prints are those that are simple, like stripes and polka dots. They’re seen the most, because they are probably the easiest to wear, and the least likely to go wrong. The key to successfully wearing stripes and polka dots is the size of the print. Smaller stripes and dots on someone who is curvy can often make their clothes, and therefore themselves, seem bulkier, while as larger strips and dots on a smaller person can overwhelm their outfit. My advice is to start with a medium-sized print, since they are the default for all body types, and work either smaller or larger depending on your size. The exception to this rule, is when the material has dots of varying sizes. In this case, I feel that almost anyone can get away with it, since the less regularized size of print does not create a monochromatic material (such as evenly-sized dots do). Stripes do not follow this rule though, and I would suggest staying away from any clothing where the stripes are not the same size or the size does not increase at regular intervals.

this size of polka dot is not quite right for the full-length dress that I found it on

this plaid had glitter in it. ICK!
The second pattern we’re going to talk about is one which is in the same family as stripes, but has a bit more personality. I’m referring to the traditional Scotch pattern that was brought back into fashion by designers such as Alexander McQueen, and one of my personal favourites: plaid! Plaid can easily go wrong in an outfit. It’s a very busy pattern, that generally contains more than one colour, and if worn wrong can come off as either being very retro (not in the good way) or too punk or country. My advice with plaid, is that if you’re going to make the venture, do so carefully, yet commit. If you want to use it to create a punky or country look then do it, but don’t mix genres of style. If you want to keep it relatively neutral, then do as I do: stick to Burberry’s classic tan plaid for handbags and outerwear, or invest in a single piece for your wardrobe. The only piece of plaid clothing that I own is a classic red plaid mini-dress from Le Chateau, and even though I don’t wear it very often, anytime I feel like dressing up like a vampire it comes in handy.

Like plaid, houndstooth is a very classic, but busy pattern. I’m not a huge fan of it, since it often looks matronly and reminds me of an old lady’s style suit (see the pink example), but I do own a tank top in red houndstooth that I am rather fond of. I’ve had to wear houndstooth in a very dressed-down way because obviously I’m not old enough to rock the “professional woman” look, and the only other piece of clothing that I would consider purchasing at this point in my life is a black and white houndstooth jacket.

Now we’ll move to graphic prints, which are some of my favourites. These can be either geometric or organic, and either way they are simply fabulous! Graphic prints are the best way to spice up a plain t-shirt and jeans outfit or a simply cut dress. They also make the transition to accessories quite well, since there is no real restriction concerning size. They may constantly repetitive, but they do so in a more interesting way than stripes or dots, and they don’t tend to have the same problems with adding bulkiness to an outfit. What I like best about graphic prints is the sheer variety. I have so many outfits and shirts with graphic prints that it was hard to choose which ones to showcase, but I think that the white urban-geometric and green organic kaleidoscope are two prime examples of how well graphic prints can work. The white is from a shirt, and the green is from a shift dress, both of which sport clean lines, yet are in no way boring outfits. 

One of the best graphic prints, but one which I see gone wrong more than right are florals. 70s-inspired flower power is never really going to go out of style, especially with the increase in the popularity of the green movement, but there is such a thing as over-doing the greenery. There are three key problems that I see constantly with people wearing florals: the size of the print, the colours of the pattern, and how the pieces are worn. When you’re choosing floral pieces for your wardrobe you have to pick carefully. They are by definition, a feminine style-key, so not every piece of floral clothing is going to work. Dresses in floral are lovely, as are skirts, and shirts, but don’t even attempt to do floral pants. It may sound traditional, but women didn’t used to be allowed to wear pants, and there was a reason why. Pants are not feminine pieces of clothing; they’re masculine, so trying to put floral patterns on them is most likely not going to go over well. Jackets can be done in florals, but I would tread carefully in this rose garden, since it’s hard enough to find a properly fitted jacket, much less one with an interesting motif. Remember the rule I spoke about in regards to the size of stripe and dot? The same applies to floral prints for exactly the same reasons. Flowers can make an outfit look bulky if they’re not the right size. The biggest problem that I see with florals is very simple: colour choice. This may seem like a matter of taste to some people, but contrary to popular belief some colours just don’t go together. You can get away with almost any colour of flower pattern, depending on your skin tone and the rest of the outfit of course, but steer clear of flower patterns that have too many colours (in this case rainbows are not appropriate), and patterns that have too many neutrals. I often see brown as an accent colour, and am disgusted because brown is not a very flowery colour. To me it’s reminiscent of dead greenery, so why would we want to have it mixed in with lively flowers?
all I can say about this is...

An easy way to use florals is to wear lace, since flowers are often key in lacey patterns. The great thing about lace is that it doesn’t come in a rainbow of colours (unless it’s dyed, and that’s a whole other fashion error…), so it’s hard to screw it up. Adding a single lace accessory or piece of clothing adds instant texture to an outfit, as well as class. My favourite are lace-overlay headbands, layered lace flower hair pins, and simple lace wraps.

zebras come in purple,
don't they?
My favourite pattern of all is animal print. I believe that every woman should have at least one piece of animal print clothing, and at least one pair of shoes. Whether it’s leopard, zebra, or snakeskin, all are equally fabulous and adding just one piece to any outfit adds instant glamour. Even if the material is synthetic (like my metallic bronze snakeskin boots) or coloured (like my purple zebra print trench), they’re still beautiful pieces, and are guaranteed to get you noticed. You can wear pretty much any animal print on any piece of clothing, the trick is to not over-do it. If you’re wearing a leopard print top, choose neutral pieces for the rest of the outfit so that people aren’t overwhelmed. Also, don’t try to mix and match multiple animal prints, unless you want to look like you’re a member of an ‘80’s hair band, which I admit would get you noticed on the street (just maybe not in the way you would have hoped).
the classiest of animal prints :)
That should be all for now dear readers, but if I’ve missed a print that you’re curious about, or have any specific questions just leave me a comment and I will totally get back you. I don’t want any of my readers making any fashion errors!