Saturday, July 31, 2010

WHAT IS LOVE don't hurt me:


I'm just kidding about the above. Sort of.

I just wanted to reflect because I've been mentally involved in a heck of a lot of things lately (that's just a fancy way to say "I've been watching Pushing Daisies all day for the past three days and got my mind blown by Inception on Wednesday", the former of which definitely requires a fashion post due to Chuck's cherry-pie-sweet 50s/60s ensembles, and also to say "tomorrow is Vancouver's Pride Parade which certainly raises its own contemplations) and, very much, these many multiple things have me thinking about that infamous four letter word, love.

It's such a massive thing to even try and wrap our tiny human minds around so it's kind of surprising actually how often we do it in music, TV, literature. Funny that so much of our time and devotion to life is dedicated to a complicated thing that nobody ever quite understands. But I think it is understandable that so many of us spend time chasing this complicated thing, because after all, complicated things are the ones most often worth chasing.

Still, therein lies the problem: we spend so much time chasing love, as if it's some tricky butterfly we can somehow maneuver around to catch in a cleaned-out peanut butter jar. Magazines are plastered with headlines on how to catch happiness through finding your one true love, and (though I hate to always pin things on that very vague and stereotypically ominous "the media") the movies we watch and commercials we try to ignore extoll the virtues of finding love (often, in the second case, through the use of new aftershave or the purchase of a very expensive piece of jewellery). And there is no problem with wanting to feel loved. There is certainly no problem in wishing that the romance of The Notebook will seep from its pages into our own lives, though it certainly is incredibly unlikely. We script the movies and novels that motor our idea of love; people who need love like any other person are the ones who create that which we draw from.

Here are my love-related thoughts of the day (I say of the day because you can probably expect more on this topic: I always have thoughts on it, for the very reason that, as I said, it is incredibly complicated to talk about).

Love is not loud. It doesn't always shout or jump up and down in front of you; it is not so noticeable that you need run after it. Often, you find it in the least predictable places, and no number of teen magazines advising you on your love life and analyzing your horoscope will find you those places. Maybe you won't have to dust off your magnifying glass and start rooting around for love at all, because it will have been with you from the start. Love will not always make you happy; it will, very often, make you angry. But that doesn't mean it isn't love. And, well, you're right - love is forever. Just not always in one person.

And who is to say that you have to place all your bets on one kind of person? Love isn't a non-transferable bus ticket. Love (very much like an infectious airborne disease) is everywhere and (once you get near the end of the pandemic) in everyone.

But I think that's nearing an entirely different discussion.

much love (oh, the irony of my usual signature really aches with this post),

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real. It doesn't happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.

The Boy's Uncle made me Real," he said. "That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."
Margery Williams

Friday, July 23, 2010


The other day I was perusing various books on Amazon and came across Lanvin by Dean L. Merceron. This is the wonder of the internet, that I can stumble across something and develop an interest I can immediately bring into real life by requesting it through my local library! MAGIC.

Anyhow, I picked it up from the library on Sunday and have since been feasting on a visual cornucopia.

I am following somewhat of a policy of honesty on this blog so here is a note: I have yet to completely read the book, in a manner of speaking. It's divided into several sections like Clientele (which is itself divided into things like Bride and Debutante), Inspiration & Symbolism (Familial, Catholic), and Lanvin Craftsmanship. The text is small and crammed with verbose descriptions of workmanship, history, and direction. Although very detailed and very interesting, I couldn't help but skim.

Because this is the equivalent of a drool-worthy grown-up picture book.

The book concentrates on the life and inspiration of Jeanne Lanvin herself, the mastermind and founder behind Maison Lanvin. It chronicles her journey from millinery in the early 1900s through to children's clothing and then women's couture by the 1920s. I was surprised at how little I knew about an amazing woman dedicated to the finest details of her craft. Considering my undying love for Alber Elbaz and his work, I was blown away by everything mentioned about Lanvin and her life that I didn't know a thing about.

The greatest understanding Merceron was able to convey to me was Lanvin's place in the world she lived in. She was designing at the same time as Chanel and Vionnet; in the 20s women embraced their empowerment through dress. Coco Chanel may be the most well-known story of those times today (think about it - how many Chanel quotes do you find on girls' blogs and Facebook pages?). But Lanvin was in a category all her own.

Although Jean Patou and Gabrielle Chanel introduced a new sportswear sensibility to high fashion that came to characterize the century, Lanvin, unlike the designers who preceded her or were her true contemporaries (both Patou and Chanel were over a decade younger than Lanvin), was able to present not only a convincing alternative to the industrial modernism of her younger colleagues with her emphatic but rarely cloying romanticism ... a paradoxical mix of sophistication and charm. It was a potent combination that a woman might desire for herself. Even at her sleekest, the Lanvin woman never conveyed the hard chic of Chanel. The air of prettiness created in the Lanvin ateliers of tailleur and flou reflected a gentler ideal of elegance.

from introduction by Harold Koda

Is it any wonder that I want to be a Lanvin girl? Full of glossy photos, this book kills me with detail shots and dress sketches from the ateliers of Lanvin's empire. And while I also have a certain perpetual longing to be a Chanel girl, anyone can admit that the brand Chanel brings up images of prim tweed suits, the woman with direction and very high heels. Lanvin, on the other hand, designed for French women who wanted empowerment and who lived for the elegance of someone who knows who they are, but brought in an element of feminine beauty like a tiny breeze from foreign places. Lanvin actually also covers interesting thoughts on her foreign influences - she was a woman of travel and loved Asia and the Middle East. Combined with a nostalgic sweetness borrowed heavily from styles of the 1700s, sewn together with painstaking hand-stitched embroidery and beading, every piece photographed is a marvel. The author himself gives wonderful insight into the details shown. It really is too bad that I was so distracted by the gorgeous visuals!

The above dress may be one of my favourites shown in the book, and its clean lines but decorated detail are a perfect example of the Lanvin aesthetic: pretty, frothy, but sleek and modern enough for the new post-20s woman. Um, not to mention that it is RIDICULOUSLY GORGEOUS. Just saying.

I'm also very much drawn to Lanvin's creations due to the motifs that Merceron discusses - including, of course, the beloved Lanvin bow. He writes some very, very interesting commentary on a wedding dress Lanvin designed that featured pomegranate embroidery as a metaphor - now that is what I adore about fashion and couture as art.

As I said before, I have undying love for Alber Elbaz, so I was very pleased with his foreword and the part written by Merceron about his own contribution to making the Lanvin label what it is now after decades of dormancy. There's a good chunk of the book dedicated to Lanvin under Elbaz, in the form of several full-spread photographs from the runway and from photoshoots with his work. It's also very pretty, though after several hundred pages of vintage attention to detail, detail shots of the overt modern simplicity of his design do disappoint a little bit. The best part of the Elbaz section, hands-down, are his sketches - some might call them abstractions of the female form, I say that his sketches are reminiscent of a child's but that just makes me adore him even more!


all images from Lanvin by Dean L. Merceron. Further credits for individual photos can be found in the book itself.

Here are my parting words regarding Lanvin. If you like fashion and even if you "just like art", you need to pick it up and take a read. If you have money, buy it on Amazon. If you don't (like me), go to the library and see if you can find it. It's beautiful and informative and just so lovely and inspiring that I don't have the words. You don't see anything quite like vintage couture in the world today.

much love,

Monday, July 19, 2010


I've got to be honest and admit that no, I am not a huge movie person. In all actuality, I'm not a huge pop culture person in general - I haven't yet watched Grease in its entirety (though I have watched bits and pieces!) and if I were to attempt to explain the plot of The Breakfast Club other than the fact there there must be some kind of club that involves breakfast, you would be incredibly disappointed.

So you won't be surprised that I've only ever watched the 2007 version of Hairspray. I even saw it in theatres when it came out! The 1988 version, on the other hand, I am completely blind about. I have a "classic must-watch movie day" planned indefinitely and it's probably on the list of to-watch movies - along with all of those movies you'd expect a girl obsessed with all things vintage to have watched (no, I have not watched any Audrey Hepburn movies - I know, I know). So now that I've given that disclaimer about my utter lack of knowledge about the original, I'm going to post about the newer version.

I bought it the other day at the video store because it was on sale (4 movies for $15 total!) and I remember seeing it three years ago and liking how upbeat and peppy it was. Well, when I watched it again last night, I fell in love.

And no, I'm not talking entirely about the plot itself (I have both praise and criticism for the way it dealt with the issues it brought up - though cutely campy and an interesting portrayal of 60s racial tensions, it was overloaded on the schmaltz and very modern robotics as a blockbuster at times). I am talking, of course -

- about the costuming.

I'll just cut to the chase and say that the floral dresses shown in both above images, complete with pastel crinolines and dainty little pumps made my day. Paired with boppy dance numbers and the little moments in the movie that made me laugh, like the snapshot of the pregnant women drinking and smoking in a bar, it's no wonder I enjoyed the movie as much as I did. I'm a sucker for pretty clothes (obviously), peppy dancing and singing that almost makes me cringe (see Glee), and those little moments of irony. Not to mention that Brittany Snow has the most adorable outfits matching perfectly in most scenes with Michelle Pfeiffer's. The matching mother-daughter clothing was like a cherry on top of the sundae.

Look at the image above. The little nautical navy bolero with ruffled sleeves and matching belted dress on Amber I need in my wardrobe right now, and the prints of the dresses of the Collins Council girls are all so sweet. I really love the butter-yellow blouse and patterned skirt of the girl in the back on the left - I wish I had a better photo. And, lastly, the blue cardigan of the girl just to the left of the center - those appliques are so cute!

Frothy party dresses with floral prints and gratituous amounts of tulle? Yes please. The Miss Teenage Hairspray scenes were some of my favourite in terms of the clothing - you can tell how these dresses are such a step up from the more casual cotton sundresses, so it's no surprise that they're all just so gorgeous.

I feel like I need to explain more why I'm raving so much over a bunch of dresses. Watching Hairspray is the same experience I have with Mad Men (or at least those episodes of Mad Men I got around to watching!). As an awkward, very visible Asian girl it's not as if I would particularly like to live in the 50s and 60s; but the camp and the clamouring cuteness of certain cinema moments portraying the 60s, including the entirety of Hairspray, hark back to a time when girls wore beautiful dresses and Zac Efron had beautiful hair. (I'm kidding on the last one. But he should really stick to the dark brown.) It's not as if the era was free of its trademark racism and misogyny and societal expectations that would (and does) shock the world of today... but the clothing chosen to represent the time certainly wishes so.

all screencaps via jeezbee

I just can't help it. The bright colours and the perfectly cinched waists over gorgeous full crinolines of the dresses in this movie made me so envious and so happy at the same time. I really wish I could have gotten better views/caps from the school scenes - you see lovely dresses worn that would be seen as crazy amounts of overdressed today, but I'm loving it. There's just something about the shape and style that looks so pretty on vintage dresses like these!

I'm going to have to go and watch the 1988 Hairspray, if just for the costuming as well, though I'm sure there's plenty more about the setting I'm going to love about that movie! What else should I be watching soon, dear reader(s)? Am I stoked!

much love,

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I write like
Margaret Atwood
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

So according to this meme using a biographical piece I'm working on (oooh, mystery - nah, I will probably post it here once I'm done with it, which may be a while considering how pure my laziness writer's block is right now) I write like Margaret Atwood.

I'm quite flattered, as she is a literary goddess.

However, I'm just going to say right now that I do not necessary endorse the expertise of this thing, as a different sample of my writing told me I write like Stephen King, and seeing as I haven't actually read any of his work I don't know what to say to that. Um, tangent.

Anyway, this got me thinking about written voices. I like reading other people's writing - fiction, non-fiction, fanfiction, whatever. I like that the written word is like a little window into someone else's head, and if you know that particular someone else personally then isn't that just a ridiculously powerful thing? But from what I've noticed over the last few years as I've developed my writing is that, for me, the context really distorts the voice. Is that a good thing? I don't know.

Let me give you an example. After I've been studying and it's so late at night that the house is still and I can only hear the buzz of the air in my ears, sometimes I get a compulsion to write, and when I do it is typically adjective-embellished, feminist and/or romantic fiction. Is that my voice? That is probably the voice that the internet tells me mirrors Atwood's style. But to anyone reading this sentence, right now, do you see that parallel? That's the strange thing, that so easily I could slip out of my creative writing shoes and into whatever this is - probably a more personal voice considering the subject matter. And then of course there is my essay voice, which I am told is pure academia tinged, of course, with my flowery tendencies. To me all of these styles of mine are just so distinct.

This makes me think that maybe I'm lost in my voices, maybe I don't actually have one voice. And maybe it's not just me, because it's so easy to read someone else's writing and think huh. That sure sounds different from how I know them. In a world where being independent and recognizable gets you on covers of magazines, maybe that's a concern. If my admitted style idol Dita Von Teese can look exactly herself in a vintage sundress and red lipstick, if you can see a bunch of funky line breaks and punctuation and know that e. e. cummings was probably the author, if you can see puffed-up shoulder pads on a celebrity and instantly say Balmain - why can't so many of us find that streamlined authenticity, that instantly recognizeable it factor?

images from,; poem by e. e. cummings

I really want to continue this entry and offer you all some huge magical answer to this very thoughtful and slightly depressing quandary of mine, but to be honest I have no idea where to go from here. That's why I'm going to post this as only Part I of some kind of series about figuring out who I am/where my voice is/what the heck a voice is supposed to be anyway - after all, this blog is very much about finding myself, and I think it's something for everyone to think about. What side of you that you present to the world is "the real you"? More unnervingly, do you?

And that's why I'm so flattered and puzzled by the answer of this internet thing. As a parting note, I entered this blog entry itself and got:

I write like
Margaret Atwood
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

So I guess maybe I'm more consistent than I thought.


much love,

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


I guess it's kind of funny that my first post of original written content on this blog is one that focuses on what is perhaps my most frivolous interest, fashion. I, in fact, disagree with that verdict.

You see, I'm in love. Maybe it's because, ever since I was a little kid, my mother would step on the plastic pedal of her sewing machine and the sound of the needle thrumming against fabric feeding through would buzz in the air, like many tiny bees saying pthhhlb! pthhhlb! at my pathetic inability to do what my mother could do. I have always wanted to sew and failed miserably, mostly due to my impatience. But I will always hold a high regard for anyone who can cut out a piece of flat fabric, look at it, and turn it into something three-dimensional.

Just like art on a canvas is meant to be pondered upon, considered, and very often paid exorbitant amounts of cash on, something made of fabric is just as thoughtful, thought-provoking and, for what must be the millions of people who rock happily back and forth on their heels when stores put out new collections, just as loveable.

Art, in all its infinite forms, does so many things. Art makes you think, makes you wonder about the things that are presented as a representation of real life, makes you laugh when it's ridiculously silly and makes you, perhaps, cry when it's particularly poignant. Art is so very much a reflection of what you are and what you want to be.

I know that the fashion industry, as well as haute couture itself, is definitely not without its flaws. But sometimes we need to remember that fashion at its roots, at its ideals, and at haute couture, is art that has the full capability to transport you to beautiful places just as a well-penned novel can.

With that, I want to show you some of the Dior Haute Couture Fall 2010 collection. I was surprised to see a lot of mixed reviews about this season, mostly due to the very Galliano tackiness of the bright colours and ridiculous uses of fabric. Some of the looks were creeping over the edge of bright to the side clearly labelled tacky, but with every Dior show I fall more in love with the New Look reinvented over and over and over again.

I'm going to admit that I've skipped to pretty much the end of the entire show with this photo but, you know, whatever. LOOK AT THIS DRESS. The way the black satin seems to gradually give way to the light fabric is incredible. And the tiny hint of green in the dye? So beautiful, and so evocative of the tenderness of new petals.

The black tulle! The buttery yellow tulle! It's as if a flower was supersized and seamlessly sewn into the dress. I adore the back. Kim looks like a dark sprite slipped into the petals of a flower.

The finale dress. Just look at the colours. I am dying ;_;

Hair, makeup, shoes, and a little detail from one of my other favourite looks. The hair is completely ridiculous and I love it. The shoe in this pretty green is so lovely - like ivy creeping up the model's ankle.

Stephen Jones created headgear that looked like a florist's plastic wrap. Someone else contributed the raffia belts. And nature did the rest. "It's the most inspiring teacher," said John Galliano, after a show that was a hymn to all things floral. Part of his research involved studying real flowers, spending an hour watching the light change on a parrot tulip, for instance. ... Perhaps it was the precision of the inspiration that accounted for the show's clarity, not only in the palette but in the delicate techniques. The fronding, the feathering, the ruching, the ruffling—all duplicated the extraordinary intricacies of flowers. Delicate they may be in nature, but his objects of study gave Galliano free rein to be bold.
Tim Blanks @

I guess it's good this is just my first runway recap post because I am completely incoherent. Looking at these images makes me wish I was a tiny fairy prancing around in fields of gorgeous flowers made of tulle and satin and chiffon, and as expressed much more eloquently by Blanks, that was exactly the intention. This is art at its finest. I'm not going to lie - I am unashamedly a blind Dior fangirl, and most seasons I see very little wrong being done. Fashion very much attempts to display and fulfil our fantasies, just as so many writers also have. Fantasy, whimsy, that sense of childish excitement - that's what I see so often in haute couture.

...Which is good, seeing as I recently purchased a white tutu from the children's section of H&M. For myself. :)


In other news: I'm still getting the hang of this blogging deal! I think my tendency to ramble may be a negative effect but, you know. What you see is what you get - hello, ridiculously long trains of thought! Still, I'm hoping to have something up at least a couple times a week. I do, after all, have lots and lots to talk about (and much more personal thought to be expressed!)

Much love,


My daughter plays on the floor
with plastic letters,
red, blue & hard yellow,
learning how to spell,
how to make spells.

I wonder how many women
denied themselves daughters,
closed themselves in rooms,
drew the curtains
so they could mainline words.

A child is not a poem,
a poem is not a child.
there is no either/or.

I return to the story
of the woman caught in the war
& in labour, her thighs tied
together by the enemy
so she could not give birth.

Ancestress: the burning witch,
her mouth covered by leather
to strangle words.

A word after a word
after a word is power.

At the point where language falls away
from the hot bones, at the point
where the rock breaks open and darkness
flows out of it like blood, at
the melting point of granite
when the bones know
they are hollow & the word
splits & doubles & speaks
the truth & the body
itself becomes a mouth.

This is a metaphor.

How do you learn to spell?
Blood, sky & the sun,
your own name first,
your first naming, your first name,
your first word.

Margaret Atwood