There’s a new bar opening in my neighborhood. Normally, I wouldn’t consider this news. I live on New York City’s Lower East Side, which is tantamount to saying that I live in a theme park for drinking. On my block alone, there’s a wine bar, a speakeasy, and a dubious lounge with red leather banquettes. Just across the avenue, there’s the old standby, a seedy dive no one ever really wants to go to, but where everyone always winds up. Go east, and it’s a sea of hookah bars. The hookah bars are a fairly recent development, but they don’t worry me. This new bar is different. The dudes from Fall Out Boy own it.
A diamond is forever, but jewelry designers seem to have another kind of eternity on their minds these days: Eternal rest. Skulls made a style comeback a few years ago now, and at this point the motif is so mainstreamed it’s lost all sting. Then there were the dagger pendants, still a favorite in certain circles, mean little stilettos of metal meant, I think, to give wearers a campy sense of gangland danger. The campiness exists, too, in jewelry such as Alex + Chloe’s plastic “dead Chanel” necklaces, which sees the infamous double-C logo stabbed through its heart or shot to pieces, in either case spurting blood. It’s a good joke, but it’s not really morbid. More elegant, and more tenderly dark, is Alex + Chloe’s antler pendant, especially poignant in its oxidized silver incarnation. The designers are one of a few working a taxidermy theme these days, alongside, for example, Thorn, which makes an oxidized mouse skull pendant and a ring cast out of tooth, and goldsmith Gerard Tully, whose miniature buzzard and bunny heads have a disturbingly lifelike quality. None of these pieces seem inspired by irony, and they don’t wear “cute,” at least not yet. Maybe it’s just one of those things in the water, a result of Lower East Side and Brooklyn designers all having brunch at the same couple spots where antelope heads are mounted on the wall. But you can’t look at Alex + Chloe’s antlers, for example, and not see the lovely, accidental geometry of nature, or consider, at least fleetingly, all living nature’s inevitable decay. Many times I’ve seen a trend and thought it passing; rare is the trend that makes think: This too shall pass.
I’ve become obsessed with looking for fabrics to recycle and use in my sewing projects recently. With my increasing awareness of being eco friendly I’ve become more aware of the materials I use. How were they made? From what were they made? Who made them? Where were they made? How did they get to me? What impact on the environment will they have? What will happen to them in the future? Because of these questions I ask I’m now taking more time and effort to find fabrics to reuse. Where do I find them? Well, mainly thrift stores, but this is probably no surprise to you and I also accept clothes from others that are clearing out their closets. When I go to the thrift store I head straight for the fabric, you’ll be amazed at what you’ll find. For instance, last week at my local thrift store I found a heap of great fabrics in 2 metre lengths, how do they get there? Who knows? I’m thinking that some sewer has cleared out her stash or a family has donated their Mother’s/Grandmother’s/Aunt’s stash after she has passed away. You will also find heaps of notions such as buttons and zips for next to nothing and ribbons and trims. In the heap of great fabrics that I found last week was some pink wool which you will find I have used for my project this week, Zoe 8123 B. It cost me all of $6 for the 2 metre piece and I had a zip at home that matched although it was an inch shorter than required, not a problem though just a slight alteration needed. The zip by the way came from one of 6 archive boxes given to me by a friends mother who was having a stash clear out, lucky me huh?! In those boxes were dozens of zips and other notions and endless amounts of fabric a lot of which has been used already.
Other ways of finding fabrics are to check out the bedding sections of the thrift stores. I’ve made tops from sheets that feel wonderfully soft against my skin as they are so worn from their previous life. I’ve also made nappies for my youngest child from old flannel sheets, they usually cost me around $4 and I can make 4-6 nappies depending on the size of the sheet, what a bargain! And, like I mentioned in my last post you can use clothing as fabric, either by refashioning the item to fit or by cutting it up and making something entirely different from it just like my Franzi vest. I’ve recently been eyeing up the curtain rack, it’s coming into Winter here and I need a new coat!
I spend very little on fabrics by recycling although I do cave in now and again and buy from my fabulous local fabric store. I now usually buy only for my quilt project or my heart skips a beat when I see a beautiful pattern and I just HAVE to have some, but that’s ok, I figure I’m doing a pretty good job recycling so I’m allowed a little splurge now and again, aren’t I? Please say yes! Maybe my next quilt will be made entirely from recycled fabrics? Hmm, I’m liking that idea, I wonder what it would look like.
The BurdaStyle team is happy about Nichola’s second column ! Please check out her new creation Zoe 8123 B.
Of all the music videos I’ve watched in my life, the only ones ever to give me nightmares were directed by Chris Cunningham. Cunningham is probably most famous for the video about robot romance he made for Bjork’s “All is Full of Love,” the sweetest-tempered thing Chris Cunningham has ever committed to film. The ones that give me nightmares are my favorites, though, and most Cunningham videos are nightmares, already, perverse and magnificent, and proceeding according to their own rigorous illogic. The video-cum-short he made for Aphex Twin’s “Windowlicker,” for example, is a troubled night’s sleep mapped out for you in advance; it’s also a jaw-droppingly irreverent send-up of hip-hop vids, and any Freudian analyst’s wet dream. Cunningham’s been off the radar for a while, but he returned, recently, with a scabrous addition to his oeuvre, the video for The Horrors track “Sheena is a Parasite.” As best I can make out, The Horrors are a better-than-good glam-punk band getting a lot of traction in the U.K. on the back of their catchy guitar hooks and crazy haircuts; the song “Sheena is a Parasite” boils down the Ramones reference of its title into about a minute and a half of pure sneer. But that’s almost beside the point, when acting goddess Samantha Morton is in the shot and Cunningham is directing her in the world’s most abbreviated exploration of vagina dentata. The video is revolting and hypnotic, and goes by so fast you barely have time to notice the punch it’s landed to your subconscious. Welcome back, Chris. We’ll see you in our dreams.
Now that the dust has settled, and after a month of letting the fashions jangle around my head, a sense of the seasonal mood for fall has begun to take shape. Mood, in fashion, is a different thing from its trends; it’s the quality of clothes that’s most difficult to piece out into “buy this, skip that” tips or notes on silhouette or styling. The distinction is similar, in some ways, to the difference between a hit single you can’t get enough of for a month, and an album that doesn’t make sense at first, but to which you keep returning; the analogy breaks down, however, when you consider that, unlike a record, which is made to abide, every fashion collection is designed for eventual obsolescence. And consider too, a premise of fashion so obvious, it almost doesn’t bear writing: Fashion exists to be worn. Clothes are functional in a way music isn’t, and thus extracting the meaning of a dress is complicated by one’s judgments of its dress-ness, e.g., if I wore that, would it make me look fat?
Two of my more visceral fears relate to fingernails. For your sake, and for mine, I’ll spare the background on how I came by my terror of having a fingernail displaced. Let’s just say that blood was involved, the terror exists, and leave it at that. The other fingernail fear predates the first, and goes so far back with me, I can’t remember where it came from and couldn’t background it even if I cared to: Acrylic nails give me the heebie-jeebies. They gave me the deep creeps well before they sent shudders down my spine as a matter of style. I hate them.
Once upon a time, before MySpace, people I knew started sending me these curious email messages, which I routinely ignored. The subject headings read: “So-and-so wants to be your friend!” Invariably, the people from whom I received these messages already were my friends, and so I assumed I’d been caught up in a weirdly flirtatious go-round of spam. Then I’d run into one of my friends at a party, or I’d call some other friend to make a plan, and these friends of mine would ask: “How come you won’t be my friend?” The whole thing began to take on the aspect of a “Twilight Zone” episode. Eventually, I figured out what was up: Friendster. This was my introduction to the brave new world of social networking.
Here, in no particular order, is a list of my fears:
Random violence. Rodent infestation. Flying. Getting a fingernail ripped off. Rejection. Hard drive crash. Al Qaeda. Running into a particular ex-boyfriend on my way home from the gym. Identity theft. Death in the family. Mayonnaise.
Let’s just say I have mixed feelings about Karl Lagerfeld. On the one hand, yeah, the guy’s a force of nature; he’s, like, 70 years old and a trendsetter anyway, a dude with admirably catholic taste and a work ethic that could put a Navy Seal to shame. On the other hand…I don’t know. Something about Karl rubs me the wrong way. The old-world sneer, the pallor, the hunting eyes hidden behind oversized shades. I think he’s a vampire. I know how that sounds, but hear me out – how else does he stay so perpetually au courant, if not by feasting on the blood of virgins? Karl, they drawl after him, his newly-minted zombies, so…genius…
Several years before my family moved to Orlando, we took a trip to Disney World. I don’t remember much about this trip other than the ride to the park, the six hours or so from Miami. I was nervous, impatient and exhilarated; I had been overtaken by the sense that I was about to meet my destiny. What that destiny was, I had no clue. But I was tingled with foreboding.
I am a total pack rat. My apartment is decorated with the hundreds of books, CDs and magazines I’ve amassed over the years. I refuse to part with my collection of VHS tapes, despite the fact that I no longer have a VCR. There’s a box under my bed filled with drafts of forgotten scripts, old rolodexes, outdated headshot postcards, and instruction manuals for printers, cell phones, Palm Pilots and laptops I’ve long since upgraded. I keep Altoids tins around on the theory they’ll come in handy, the shelves of my medicine cabinet sag under the weight of all the tried-but-didn’t-like moisturizers I figure I’ll pass along to friends, and I have never, ever, thrown away a shopping bag I thought I could re-use. In my own defense, I do re-use them, the Altoids tins have come in handy, and I am pretty generous about letting my friends shop my beauty closet. But every so often, like, when I’m turning over my apartment for a copy of the credit card bill with the never-resolved, still-disputed charge, I wish I were a minimalist. I wish I were one of those people who could pack my life up into a rucksack, hop on my vintage Ducati, and set out for parts unknown. I dated a guy like that. It didn’t work out.
A couple years ago I liked a boy I also sort of hated. He lived on the West Coast, I’m pretty sure the like/hate thing went both ways, and as though the miles separating us and our mutually ambivalent dynamic didn’t throw up enough space, said boy was also a wizard at the dark art of withholding. Like, for example, I’d dash off some relatively snappy email along the lines of, “Hey, did you see this article relating directly to X thing I know totally obsesses you?” And he’d write back something along the lines of “Yup.”
“Man, that girl is ten miles of bad road!”
A ridiculous confession: I’ve always wanted someone to say that about me. I’ve always wanted to be described as ten miles of bad road. Fasten your seatbelt, guy, drop some lead on the gas and get ready to rumble. This chick was built for speed. And so on. It’s a ridiculous confession because I am not, realistically, the kind of girl anyone would describe as ten miles of bad road, or even two miles of bad road. Maybe a quarter-mile, but “that girl is a quarter-mile of bad road” doesn’t have the same sexy ring; it’s more like saying, “Watch out! Speed bumps!” Still a good idea to buckle up, but no man’s gunning the engine.
The number one thing I love about New York: I don’t have to drive anywhere.
The number one thing I miss, living in New York: Driving.
Not always; not every day. I certainly don’t relish the idea of fighting the traffic around here, braking my way crosstown then circling the block 17 or 18 times before I find a parking space, halfway back the way I came. I’ve rented cars in New York; I know the score. But then a certain heat comes whispering through the air, not warmth yet, but its harbinger, and the familiar, pedal-to-the-metal urge comes over me. Spring fever. Wanderlust. The need for speed, after months of cooped-up winter. It’s so American, that feeling, the burn to get up and go, head West, put some miles between you and your history.
As a trend-watcher, I feel it’s my duty to blow the whistle on criminal style. Technicolor denim is on the right side of the fashion law, though I’m sitting the trend out in deference to the axiom that any fad you wore the first time, you sit out when it comes again. Like a cop at a broken stop light, however, I’d like to halt fashion traffic for a moment, and point out where history tells us this particular fad is headed. When I was ten, my babysitter had a pair of pink jeans she liked to wear on Friday and Saturday nights, when she was going out later.