Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Story of O

Last night's Yeah Yeah Yeahs show was, to borrow a word from an ambitious guy who recently accosted a very cute friend of mine on the subway, electric. (The poor bloke had no idea how close he was to making a genuine impression until he told my friend that he found her smile "electric." So close, dude. So close.) There were certainly no near misses for Karen O last night. Her vocals were the perfect mix of melodious raunch, at once sweetly pop-y and ear drum-piercingly screechy. In short, just what a Yeah Yeah Yeahs fan signs up for. But as the reigning queen of cool, O was on the hook for her costumes as much as her performance. And once again, she was, ahem, electric.

As my friend (different girl, equally cute) who had recently attended a Beyoncé concert said to me last night, O demonstrated exactly how to do over-the-top outrageous concert wear right. Unlike the Douche of Dereon, O's intrinsic hipness allows her to pull off such ostentatious separates as a red plastic prom skirt, a multi-hued catsuit, a graphic kimono and tiger-printed tights. Paired with her signature Sassoon-perfect jet black bowl cut and rocker red lips she's this generation's Ziggy Stardust. She's a show woman in every sense of the word. And I applaud her commitment to the theatricality and the star spangled-ness of rock 'n' roll. In some very dramatic moments during the concert, as a song reached its climax, the stage would erupt in a cloud of shiny ticker tape, which I later realized were cut in the shape of the letter "Y"; and just before the encore a large greyish balloon sitting behind the drummer was flipped around to reveal an eye. There was something so honest and pure and Peter Frampton-y about it all. There were no overly stylized digital images, no choreographed dance moves, no surprise guest performances and no bizarre renditions of hallowed hymns. Just a cute girl in crazy cool clothes showing us what it means to own up to genuine art and the weirdness that comes along with it. And yeah, she was actually singing.

Not to detract from Beyoncé (apologies for the Douche of Dereon comment but, c'mon! It's kinda good, no?) who I've admittedly never seen in concert. I did, however, recently see an old episode of SNL where she was quite honestly performing her bootylicious ass off and I was mighty impressed. The woman can buh-ring it. But let's call a spade a spade, shall we? She can't dress her way out of a sequin-appliquéd metallic brocade bag and it's becoming a problem. I would like to act as a part time consulting stylist to Beyoncé, Madonna, Gwen Stefani, Pink (excuse me, P!nk) and, oh hell, let's throw Lady Gaga in there too. I'll just swoop in a few weeks before their world tours are meant to kick off and edit the wardrobe. Subtracting, rather than adding, is crucial at that stage. One less lamé bodysuit, houndstooth unitard or crinolined ball gown can make all the sartorial difference.

Or perhaps I could just sit down with their full time concert stylists and share with them the words of my Maker, Coco Chanel: "Before leaving the house, a lady should stop, look in the mirror and remove one piece of jewellery." Of course, in the case of Mlle. Gaga, she should stop, look in the mirror and put on one pair of trousers.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Is time on my side?

It's a well known fact that I have time on my hands. Yes, for the first time in my life I have endless stretches of unaccounted for seconds, minutes and even hours. (I certainly hope none of my editors are reading this or they'll know what's truly at the root of my missed deadlines.) But by virtue of the fact that freelance writing allows for very flexible hours, I can do things like meet friends for lunch, sit by the pool or take a long afternoon run without compromising my job.

But apparently I'm not dedicating enough of my free time to my skincare regime. The lovely folks at Dermalogica recently invited me to a media event where we were given a personalized step-by-step beauty routine. It was very informative and opened me up to a few new offerings from Dermalogica, which is a brand I really love and believe in. It even taught me, a seasoned beauty vet, a new few tricks. But like a best friend on the road to her wedding day, it simply demands too much of my free time. To follow the Dermalogica philosophy, I would be expected to: pre-cleanse, cleanse, exfoliate, tone, moisturize, re-moisturize with SPF and apply eye cream. And do it all over again at night.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm very religious with my skincare, just like I am with flossing. It's very important to me that I continue to be carded at the liquor store, asked what grade I'm going into, when my mommy will be home, where the Hello Kitty section is or barring any of those, hit on by men six to ten years my junior. In short, I don't wanna look old. But tacking an extra ten minutes onto my pre- and post-bed skincare routine? Oh sure, now that I've written it down, "ten minutes" hardly seems unreasonable. Kind of like when I was a youngster in Catholic school being admonished for not attending church every week. Once my teacher pointed out that at the end of the day, "God is really only asking for one hour out of my week" for some good ol' worshipping, it seemed perfectly doable to me. But I still never went to church.

The good news, dear reader(s), is that I've matured since then and I've started to incorporate some of the Dermalogica steps into my daily skincare routine. For one thing, I'm using a special night cream and a whitening solution and a weekly facial mask. I'm exfoliating every other day and being really careful to make sure there's SPF on my face at all times. The flip side is I've also become even more obsessed with looking for wrinkles and pulling my skin back from my temples and tapping the underneath of my chin with the back of my hand. I am, in essence, acting out the same scene that thirtysomething women have been acting out on screen since the dawn of talkies. I'm one of them now.

So I no longer look at those extra ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes at night as cutting into my busy schedule of lunching, lounging and writing. If anything, they're buying me even more time.

Monday, 20 July 2009

So SATC I am not!

I think it's time to clear the air. I'm not really a girl. Although anatomically-speaking I have all the correct software and I do enjoy many girl-related activities like acquiring pretty and expensive accessories, going to the ballet and judging people solely based on their footwear, I'm not what one would deem a girly-girl. For one thing I'm not that keen on pink, I do not have a dizzying puffy white fantasy about my wedding day that I've been clinging to since I was six and I think Justin Timberlake is a loser. Also, I never refer to my best friend as my "bestie", I don't watch Gossip Girl, I swear like a sailor, my gay friends are not screaming queens and I rarely hold my tongue.

Most importantly, however, I do not enjoy Sex and the City. And I especially hate being told that I am "so Sex and the City." Yes, I lived in New York. Yes, I am a writer. Yes, I have curly hair. And yes, I've been known to recklessly dabble in designer goods. But I am not a cliche of a television show that served only to set women back four decades causing our sisters of the female revolution to sink to their knees and wail for our salvation, and allowed men to engage in "sport fucking" all the while convincing us that we, the women, were in control. No, I refuse to be lumped in with that.

Don't be mistaken, I've seen the show. I've seen the movie. If there is in fact a sequel, I will see that too. Why? 'Cause it's pretty. I watch it for the same reason I watch Doris Day and Rock Hudson movies: the colours are brilliant, the clothing is smart and the men are dashing. But it is neither groundbreaking nor brain teasing. It's eye candy.

I beg of people to stop pigeonholing every female foursome out for an evening that includes martini glasses as "so Sex and the City." A few years ago I was involved in what could have been the makings of a "so Sex and the City" summer. We were four single gals out almost every night, at almost every party and everyone knew who we were. Except there was nothing cute or coy or polished about us. We were, as the now live-in boyfriend of one of us termed, the demolition crew. More Nancy Spungen than Carrie Bradshaw, for sure. Not that we betrayed our vaginal heritage: there were trysts and one-night-stands and post-party gossip sessions and loads of boy talk. But we never once ordered a Cosmpolitan in our Manolos; it was more like Jaggerbombs in our Alexander McQueen Pumas. We were not Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte. We were four girls with lax office hours and lots of party invites.

I should also mention that many years ago, when I was a graduate student at NYU, I interviewed Candace Bushnell, the writer and creator of Sex and the City. I asked her about the individual characters and if she had used pseudonyms for them. I could practically hear her roll her eyes as she told me that every character was an amalgamation of several people she knew or came across in her halcyon days of the lower Manhattan party scene. A few months later, as I was sitting in a Toronto spa getting my hair done, I flipped through a Canadian magazine and found an interview with Ms. Bushnell. The same question was posed and the same vaguely irritated response followed. I closed the magazine and smiled, relieved to learn that even the creator of Carrie Bradshaw is reluctant to pigeonhole anyone as so Sex and the City.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Love me, love my psychic reading

A famous arthropodan-themed band once claimed: All you need is love. Is this true? Hell no. You need food and shelter, a steady income, clean water, indoor plumbing, a solid belief system, morals, principles, faith and if you're me, those brown leather studded Manolo Blahnik sandals that are currently on sale at Holts. Then love. But first familial love and friendship, then romantic love.

I have most of those things, except for the Manolos (but I'm devising a plan!) and the romantic love. (And honestly, even the familial love is spotty depending on the day and where I am in my PMS cycle.) But according to Robin Cleland, the Toronto-based psychic counselor and energy clairvoyant I paid a visit to last week, I have "a lot of friends who really love and care about me." Now I'm sure you're asking yoursel(ves)f, reader(s), why I'm seeking out the services of a psychic. And being the textbook cynic that I am, I understand your confusion. But sometimes when we are struggling for answers and all our other traditional sources have been proded, explored and exhausted, we stretch one tentative arm outside of our comfort zone and try our hand at something completely different albeit unorthodox and maybe even questionable, in our quest for guidance.

That, and it was free (thanks DDB PR!).

It must be said that Mr. Cleland didn't divulge this information about all the love my friends have for me until we had almost reached the end of our 30-minute session. And I gotta say, it was worth going through a half-hour of improbable predictions on my career and love life just to hear that. I'm not saying that I'm writing off everything else he said as bunk, I just have a tendency to take things like this with a big fat grain of coarse Mediterranean Sea salt. I admit we had a couple of no-shit-Sherlock moments, like when he boldly declared: "You are grossly underpaid for what you do." Naturally, I deadpanned, "I didn't need to come to a psychic to know that." But the power of suggestion is a, well, powerful thing. I'd be lying if I said some predictions he shared about my career haven't shaped how I'm approaching things today. He gave me a lot of positive professional reinforcement that is currently acting as the kick in the pants that I needed. Bullshit or not, it's working. As for the love stuff, well, let's just say it's going to take a lot more than visions of a smart guy with intense eyes and lots of emotion for my phone to ring, if you catch my drift.

What we didn't talk about was how much love I have for my friends. And yes, there are a lot of them. I've lived in different cities and I've lived different lives in those cities. And in each case, I've had a cast of pals who have left an indelible mark. They stretch from the Americas to Europe and even Africa, and I love each and every one of them. They are my peeps, always and forever. Or as long as Mr. Cleland says so.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

The Emperor's Clothes

I scare men. I don't just mean first thing in the morning when my curls look like Medusa's snakes, my eyes look like a boxer's after a fight and my breath can melt plastic. No, I mean all the time. Without fail. Apparently I'm intimidatingly smart (read: ball-bustingly annoying), frighteningly intuitive (a.k.a. judgmental), and fiercely independent (shamelessly selfish). It seems some men are intrigued by these qualities at first but rapidly come to realize I'm too much of a pain in the ass to put up with. Oh well, nuts to them.

Obviously they have no idea what it means to deal with a difficult character. Which is why I think all men should be made to watch Valentino The Last Emperor ( And ladies, it would behoove you to drag them to it kicking and screaming, if necessary. (I normally don't endorse that sort of conjugal behaviour. I have never, for example, taken a boyfriend shopping with me against his will, forcing him to join the legions of emasculated men who are made to seek out the sporadic chairs strewn about any given department store, handbag in tow and sit for hours as their ladyfriend tries on sixteen different pairs of jeans in sixteen different washes and sixteen different cuts, each time asking "do these make my ass look fat?") Because watching the legendary couturier and all around genius Valentino Garavani in action, chewing out his partner Giancarlo Giammetti and generally causing everyone around him quake in their bespoke boots is sure to make even the most dour woman seem like Little Miss Sunshine.

That said, however, it's magic to watch this man in action. Just like the old belief that it's acceptable for a girl to be bitchy as long as she's really pretty*, Valentino's diva is forgiven once those awe inspiring dresses come down the runway. (*It should be noted that I've only ever heard that belief espoused by my friends in Italy. So, you know, consider the source.) His genius with a ruffle, his eye for a paillette, his intuition with colour is, sadly, something that will die with him. Oh sure, we've all thought this before. Who could ever carry on the legacy of Coco Chanel? No one will ever hold a candle to Hubert de Givenchy. Christian Dior cannot be replaced! And yet those houses carry on, with new and groundbreaking talents at the helm. But couture is a dying art. Or at least the brand of classic couture that makes princesses out of chambermaids is. And if anyone can make a Jackie O out of a hot mess it is Valentino. As Matt Tyrnauer, the movie's director, said to a theatre of fashion lovers last night, Valentino learned his craft in the 1940s from Jean Desses who learned his craft in the 1920s. As this generation starts to take their last bows, a stitch of that authenticity, that art, that passion and that belief that beauty conquers all will unravel and so too will some of the magic.

And ladies, even if all the promises of foot rubs and fellatio can't get you to drag your man to this flick, go alone. Like I said, nuts to them. The Emperor calls the shots.

Friday, 3 July 2009

The last gym to take money from me moved to Florida

Have you ever noticed how one of the key cures to every ailment save for an actual broken limb is exercise? Cancer prevention: exercise. Menstrual cramps: exercise. Headache: exercise. Heart ache: exercise. Depression: exercise. I'm waiting for the day that some maverick doctor — perhaps the same blessed soul who deemed red wine "Good! For! You!" — announces that exercise is not in fact all that and a bag of low cal gluten-free granola.

Of course, I exercise regularly despite my intense disdain for it. Sadly, I was blessed with neither a fast metabolism nor a bird-like appetite. And despite myself, I admit that most days taking a long run along a wooded trail is enough to help me swallow the daily pill of humility that encapsulates unemployment, poverty, singledom and the crushing inability to buy Chloe shoes. I've tried to make myself feel better about working out by trying to look better while working out. But something about the way Stella McCartney for adidas clothes are cut make them only attractive on models and already-toned bodies. Go figure. Besides, I'm not the type who looks sexy when flushed or for whom sweat pools in all the right places. There are those women whose perspiration shows through in the suggestive area between the breasts or on the small of the back. Mine is in the pits.

I've also never understood women who put on makeup before going to the gym. While sure, it's probably the last bastion of meat markets left where you get face-to-face with a potential date without the use of a computer mouse, it just involves too much strategic face blotting once the treadmill starts to get the better of you. Although, and here comes my token embarrassing admission, I would routinely apply undereye concealer and blush before attending my Pilates classes in London. I never thought I would stoop so low, but age is not being kind to me and yes, the ex-footballer Aussie instructors were that hot. And I guess I was kidding myself into thinking that there was something sexy about them coming over to my reformer machine and spreading my legs wide for an inner thigh stretch when in fact it was more likely incredibly awkward for those poor blokes. I suspect most of the Notting Hill clientele, married or otherwise, was doing a lot more than apply makeup in their attempt to bed one of them.

But even as I sit here writing this post in my sloppy running gear, procrastinating hitting the trail, I acknowledge that exercise has cured me, albeit temporarily, from the dark demons that inhabit the back of my mind and from having to go up a size in jeans this season. I've seen my future, my friends, and it is fat. And for that reason alone, I will continue to slug it out on the mean streets of Forest Hill. No matter what the good doctor says.

Monday, 29 June 2009

And on the 73rd Day She Wrote Again

You've noticed my absence, yes? I apologize, dear readers. Ok, dear reader. It's been difficult making the transition from blogger/freelancer/dilettante to full time puppy mama, but I think I may be getting a handle on things now. Over the course of the last couple months I've made some astute observations that I've been dying to share with, well, anyone really. So why not you?

1) Madonna scares me

2) This year's Costume Institute Gala can be summed up in one word: snore. Based on what attendees wore to the fashion party of the year, the exhibit should have been called "Model as Snooze." (Madonna was especially frightful in her over-the-knee boots and turquoise horns. Shudder.)

3) Michael Jackson's passing was sudden and sad. The face of pop music will forever be changed. But if I see Justin Timberlake or Chris Brown do an MJ send up in their next music video, I cannot be held accountable for my ensuing actions. Sadly, my gut tells me it's just a matter of time...

4) Jamie Foxx on MJ: "We want to celebrate this black man - he belongs to us - and we shared him with everybody else." Uh, whut? I guess if we're going on that rationale, I belong to Statler and Waldorf, the heckling critics from the Muppet Show, and they're sharing me with you.

5) Men do not find it attractive when I speak to my puppy in a lispy baby voice. In fact, it could explain why one in particular won't return my calls.

6) May Bernie Madoff rot in jail for eternity. Or at least the next 150 years. Ha!

7) If this Twitter business is going to continue, I sincerely hope the next generation of twitterers (tweeters? twats?) will express themselves in Haiku form: Got wasted last night / Had sex with some random dude / Can't find my panties

8) Now that Topshop is officially on North American shores can we all stop trying to recreate the pantsless London look or has the arrival of Alexa Chung just brought us right back to square one?

9) Jimmy Choo is next in line to design a capsule collection for H&M. Looks like la Mellon is desperately trying to claw her way across the pond, not unlike another skeletal Brit* who pandered to the masses in the hopes of conquering America. (*Name that Brit and win a chance to do my laundry for a month!)

10) The end is nigh. I will never have Gisele's legs. Let's get pissed!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Dear Mom

I don't receive many emails from my mother at all. Despite the fact that I have lived hundreds and even thousands of miles away from home for years on end, my mother's preferred mode of communication has always been the telephone. I prefer it too...when I have caller ID. But the few emails she has sent me over the years prove that she has no concept of the modern speak we have adopted in this 21st century technological era. Her emails read like a Dickens novel, but in Italian. And honestly, there are few other languages in which one can flourish in such an over-the-top manner than Italian. When I read her emails they might as well show up on my screen in her perfect cursive, so exacting and polite and complexly conjugated are her verbs. It's like a letter from Dante. Except I doubt he would write to bitch about my father.

The worst part is that I often react to these communiques like a teenager who shows up to her grandmother's birthday party in ripped jeans and a lumberjack shirt. Last winter, while I was living in London, I received a particularly effusive email from my mother telling me that she and my father had extended their annual winter trip to Acapulco by a few weeks due to the particularly harsh weather conditions back home. She proceeded to paint Toronto as a winter wasteland, an arctic hell of thigh-deep snow, frigid winds, treacherous road conditions and the ensuing implacable rage of cold Canadians. Thus, she and my father decided instead to bask in the glory of Mexico's unrelenting sun and cloudless skies, enjoying the company of their Snow Bird friends with whom they would while away the days playing cards, taking day trips on the yacht and eating a lot. My mother claimed to have (and I translate directly from Italian) "rounded out even more." Her email closed with a "really, really tight hug and lots of big kisses." To which my lumberjack shirted self replied: "Nice life, lady. I'll call you later."

My mother eventually caught on to the fact that my brother and I would snicker about these emails behind her back, but she still can't help herself. Instead, she's taken to adding a post script wherein she acknowledges the formality of her writing and encourages us to laugh openly about it. I guess after all these years of being submitted to our taunting she's learned that she stands a better chance of survival by allowing it to happen rather than feign offense. Thing is, we'll laugh either way.

Much as the emails from my mother can often make my head spin, they don't hold a candle to some of the missives others receive from their dear old moms. Check out this new book: "Love, Mom: Poignant, Goofy, Brilliant Messages From Home" by Doree Shafrir and Jessica Grose. Relentless emails about grandchildren and safe sex practices from you mom? I'll take Dante anyday.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

F Words

My favourite part of Inside the Actor's Studio is when James Lipton pulls out the Proust questionnaire and asks his celebrity guest: "What's your favourite curse word?" Mine would be motherfucker. It's polysyllabic, emphatic and achieves that delicious mixture of profanity, vulgarity and deep, personal insult. I just wanna pour it into a greased 8-inch pan and stick it in a 475-degree pre-heated oven until the whole house is full of its acrid sentiment. But that's not what this post is about.

When I talk about "F Words" — and usually I'm rolling my eyes while doing my best Billy Idol sneer — I mean fashion words. Those obnoxious adjectives and glib turns of phrase that have been so overused that, well, to borrow a stale joke from my schoolyard days, my grandmother farts dust. These are the words that are so often turned against those of us who work in the fashion industry and thrown back in our faces. It's fodder for the ridiculous which is, sadly, perpetuated by ridiculous fashion characters themselves. But we all suffer in the end. Herewith, a list of my most hated F Words:

—also, Fab, Fabu
I cannot stress enough how much this word drives me crazy. Everytime I hear or read it I automatically think of a screaming queen wearing head-to-toe fuchsia and a sequinned turban backstage at a fashion show where the fall collection is awash in shoulder pads and feathers. (I may have just described the behind the scenes at a Heatherette show, but I can't be certain as I've never been backstage at Heatherette.) Or worse, it reminds me of Sex and the City. Also, if I see one more magazine coverline claiming the season's new looks to be FAB! I'm gonna...oh, I'm gonna...oh...well I don't know what I'm going to do, but it won't be pretty for anyone standing around me at that moment.

[Fill-in-the-blank] Is The New Black
Know what the new black is? Nothing! Nothing is the new black because black is always black. Just like red is always red, green is always green and chartreuse is a colour that looks good on NO ONE. So don't you dare ever tell me that chartreuse is the new black. Because that's bound to make me all kinds of angry.

It's All About [Blank] This Season
This phrase is especially laughable today because as anyone who follows fashion knows, it's never, ever, about one thing. It used to be. Twenty years ago designers across the board would draw from the same muse. If, for example, that muse was the Far East, almost all the collections on the runway would use chinoiserie in one form or another. In which case, yes, it was all about Mao. But today, when seasonal must-have lists have gone from "Top 5" to "Top 25", it's pretty clear that muses are a dime a dozen. So I'd really appreciate it if glibby fashion reporters would cool it with the "it's all about" business. The only thing it's all about these days is a 90% off sale.

—also, Stylista, Beautista, Bargainista, Frugalista
Bascially, any English language word with ista as its root makes me want to put on a tuxedo jacket, red sweatpants and topsiders and have lunch at 4 Times Square. What can I say? I'm passive aggressive sometimes.

Are there any F Words that drive you nuts? If so, please post a comment. Because if bittery enjoys company, I'm gonna be your new best friend!

Monday, 16 March 2009

A tale of four cities

As the round of international fashion weeks comes to a close, I would like to take a moment to pay homage to those cities that have raised dressmaking to a fine art, piqued our interest in what we (and others) are wearing today and ignited dangerous bank-breaking passions in so many of us.

To New York I say thank-you for giving us the all-black uniform, Marc Jacobs, Barneys, Seven Easy Pieces, affordable restaurants, beautiful people, cheap cabs, an uptown and downtown Bloomingdale's, street jewellery and 90% Off sales.

Dear London, you so crazy! Only in a city where the snaggletoothed, scrawny and bow-legged are viewed as iconic beauties can girls walk around pantsless, men swathe themselves in leggings and grandmas rock pink and purple hair. Oh Londontown, your trains run late, your bars close early and yet you are ever ahead of the fashion game.

Carissima Milano. What to say to a town where you can't swing a size zero model without hitting a Prada boutique? Where ready-to-wear means so much more than finding something that fits and Sundays are reserved for parading the whole stylish family for all to see? Where clothes are an artform and style a mantra? To her I say grazie, grazie, a million times grazie!

And lastly, Paris. I bow down to the elegant lady who has graced the world with Dior, Balenciaga, Lanvin, Givenchy and of course, Chanel. With your pinched nose raised high in the air, your judgemental gaze cast decidedly downwards, you have told us that la vie en rose looks like couture and smells like No. 5. And we are still listening. Paris je t'aime.

With that, I bid you so long, farewell, arrivederci, adieu until next season.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Screw you, Flanders, er, Combs

Anyone who knows me knows that my television viewing tastes are fairly traditional. I will always stop for The Simpsons. Always. No question. Full stop. Then it's a tie between Friends and Seinfeld reruns, sprinkled with a near-guaranteed Jeopardy! viewing, a now sporadic stopover at 60 Minutes (I miss Mike Wallace) and what is becoming a slavish devotion to all things Food Network related. It sounds like a lot of TV watching, but I assure you it's not. Most of my time is occupied with online "research," which really means surfing the internet for weird news stories and shoe sales.

But I have a soft spot for Ellen Degeneres. Not that I watch her show religiously by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I don't even know when it's on. But I've always liked her brand of humour and frankly, what with her straight-leg jeans, sharp blazers and skinny ties, she's kinda becoming a real style icon for me. So when I got on the treadmill yesterday for a tortuous 33-minute uphill run, I turned her on to distract me from "the burn." Sadly, her guest yesterday was Sean PuffyDiddyDaddy Combs. (Does anyone else think he's taking his moniker cues from Ned Flanders?) I have a lot of issues with S.P.D.D.C., which stem first and foremost from his sampling of a Led Zeppelin riff in one of this "songs." Is nothing sacred?! But it doesn't stop there: I believe S.P.D.D.C. to be part of what I have termed The Problem With America. He, along with the likes of Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie and every cast of every reality television series, perpetuate the idea that with no talent, no education, no ethics and no regard for the law you can become rich and famous. Nay, you can become a STAR. And with waning parental guidance and increased exposure to crime, this is the last message kids these days need to receive. But that's only part I.

Part II: Ellen asked S.P.D.D.C. if he was condoning Chris Brown's actions by hosting him and Rihanna over the weekend, thus abetting their reunion. After defending his actions by saying he was merely opening his house to his friends and being supportive (fair enough, I guess), he asked everyone to pray for them. For starters, I'm not the praying kind, but when I do feel the need to communicate with everyone's favourite upstairs neighbour, I choose to ask for things like: "please feed the starving children in Africa" or "watch over my family and friends" or "help me to remember the eBay auction for that vintage Chanel bag ends in 3d 22m." In other words, shit that matters to me. If I'm gonna be praying for Chris Brown and Rihanna, I sure hope someone else is praying for me that I find a suitable therapist and meds that work, fast. Also, I really wish Mr. Bought My Way Out Of Weapons Charges And Don't You Dare Make Eye Contact With Me! And Where's My Servant With My Dish Of Peeled Grapes And Umbrella Because Damn, This Sun Is Getting Hot, Dawg would stop invoking the name of God. Because seriously, dude, God's running out of proverbial cheeks to turn, and there's talk that Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Louis Pasteur are gonna stage a protest if you get in up there.

Part III: Velour track suits do not a fashion label make. That goes for you too, Juicy Couture.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Foiled again

When I was a kid I had an insatiable appetite for books. I would reread my favourite books over and over again, sometimes two or three times in a month. (A sweet little book by Veronica Tennant about a young ballerina at the National Ballet School who lands a small role in The Nutcracker sticks out in my mind. I loooove the ballet and still wish I was a ballerina. Someone recently told me I had the feet of a ballet dancer and I was so flattered I actually blushed. Sure, it was a drunk on the F train in New York but hey, I'll take it where I can get it.) I did most of my reading in bed at night — my days being occupied with school, homework and getting wailed on by my brother as we fought for the remote control. And anyone who's logged in hours of reading in bed knows that in order to attain that delicate balance of comfortable reading distance/sufficient night light/ample back support you've gotta sit up, thus leaving your upper body exposed. Despite layers of insulation from Strawberry Shortcake sheets, nonna-knitted blankies and a rainbow variety of Care Bears, I would still get cold. I'd be lying if I said this didn't pose a very serious conundrum for me. I tried (on advice of my younger cousin) to lie horizontally, pulling the covers over the top of my book and creating a little fort of sorts, but it made for poor lighting and added strain on my neck. "What if I had a blanket with sleeves?" I would ask myself. "Then I'd be able to sit up and my arms wouldn't be cold!" And so, 25 years ago, my precocious little brain created the prototype for this:

Sadly, back then I had neither the wherewithal nor the dexterity to design the sleeved blanket. And now the makers of Snuggie are reaping the rewards that come with creating a cult product that has gained popularity as much for its functionality as its absurdity. Meanwhile, I'm still wearing cardigans backwards to stave off the arctic chill that sweeps through my bedroom.

And for the record, my Snuggie would have come in a cashmere blend.

Monday, 2 March 2009

GOOP this

This is rich. Gwyneth Paltrow to People magazine in defence of the heat she's been getting for "I think the people who are criticizing it or criticizing the idea of it, don't really get it, because if they did, they would like it." I'm not even sure where to begin, here. First of all, I don't know what it is that I (or the New York friggin' Times don't "get" about the concept of her website, which basically consists of signing up for a daily newsletter that tells you how "nourish your inner aspect." I'm not sure what kind of food my inner aspect craves, but I have a feeling it's not into vegan breakfast muffins. And frankly, G, I don't need anymore sanctimonious reminders about how my life isn't balanced. I have a mother, thank you very much.

But putting aside all the chakra-tastic bullshit she blathers on about, and the poetic disconnect between her life coach-ery (i.e. ground yourself) and her spending habits (I heart Balenciaga!), it was where la Paltrow was when she spoke to People that's the kicker. That is, "at a New York City benefit she hosted for Bent On Learning, a non-profit organization which arranges yoga and meditation classes in the city's public schools." "I'm sorry," you're asking yourself, "but does that say 'a non-profit organization which arranges YOGA and MEDITATION classes in the city's public schools?'" Call me crazy, but it seems to me that kids these days might benefit from more arcane teachings like, uh, math or English or science.

But what do I know? I fed my inner aspect Fruit Loops for dinner last night.

Friday, 27 February 2009

I know I'm broke but....

So, I don't know if you've heard, but there's a recession on. Apparently the asswipes who work(ed) in finance and whose take-home pay was equivalent to the GDP of a small island nation, totally screwed up the economy while the rest of us were being paid in paper clips and good wishes. (Although in my case it was more like shampoo samples and good wishes.) As a result, I'm having a really difficult time mustering up empathy for the bankers and brokers who can't afford their bloated mortgage payments and have to terminate their Porsche SUV leases early.

But the worst part is the domino effect it's had. Now we're all broke. One the one hand sure, misery enjoys company. On the other, screw company! I want next season's YSL cage-pumps, right? In response to this, the shopping-obsessed among us have decided a viable alternative is to have a clothes swapping party with our equally fashion-minded friends, otherwise known as "swishing." Oh, how coy to use a variation on the word "swish", as though resorting to wearing your friend's discarded t-shirt isn't just a teensy bit anti-climactic. It's one thing to pass on a blouse or a handbag to an admiring friend, it's quite another to cull your spring wardrobe from the closets of women you know and hang out with.

Reports abound these days about how even socialites are holding swishing parties, exchanging high-end designer frocks with their pals in an effort to be more money and eco-conscious. Seriously? These women are the reason waiting lists were invented; I find it hard to believe they would run the risk of being photographed in the same coat their BFF was wearing in last month's Page Six spread. Also, we're talking about a contingent of society whose sole purpose in life is to tow the rich-thin-beautiful line. You really think if one of them was feeling bloated one day and bought a pair of trousers in a size 4 she'd be putting them on display for all her bobbleheaded friends to see and judge? C'mon.

But aside from all this, why am I so reluctant to wear my friends' clothes when I've been known to troll a vintage store or flea market in my day? Clearly I'm not grossed out by the idea of used clothing. In a nutshell: it makes me uncomfortable. What if my friend sees a blouse or a blazer on me and regrets handing it over? Will she ask for it back? What if she thinks I'm not wearing it right? Or worse, I'm wearing it better than she ever did. What if I'm not treating it with respect and care? Or I accidentally refer to it as "this old thing"? But worst of all, what if the proverbial shoe is on the other foot and I'm the one thinking all these things about her? We live in a world where women dress for other women, where if our friend is upset over a bad haircut we console her with lies of "But The Rachel is back!", and where oftentimes our greatest fears are realized when the women we think we know so well land up with a mate we cannot stomach. Why make things more complicated? I, for one, will avoid shopping for the time being. And if I'm really jonesing, will dip into my mom's closet for some vintage finds. After all, I'm used to her judging me, quietly or otherwise.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Shooting the chic

In this ongoing section I will be scouring the wires for outlandish, outrageous, cah-raaazy snippets of fashion-speak that deserve to be brought to the attention of the greater consciousness. If for no other reason, because it gives me a chance to (virtually) point and laugh. Won't you join me?

"I am completely drunk with compliments." —Valentino

"Now that hat signifies even more things: the moon, isolation, ambition, showbiz and space travel." —Casey Spooner of Fischerspooner

"I have designed a T-shirt which has more of a street/jeans feeling which I feel fits in with this project." —Paul Smith on designing a t-shirt for charitable organization War Child

"I don't want cherries or strawberries at Christmas anymore. I want to eat, dress and live on time." —Stefano Gabbana

"I don't know Heidi Klum. She was never known in France. Claudia Schiffer also doesn't know who she is." —Karl Lagerfeld

"I'm so involved in melancholy." —Isaac Mizrahi

"You like? You are happy? Yes? Okay, go! Go in the street!" —Domenico Dolce

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Save the models!

Because I have a knack for spotting a shadow of evil in a ray of good: Apparently Premier Model Management in London created a "Model Safety Pack" for the crop of young foreign girls who are working London fashion week for the first time. It contains tips for travelling safely through the city [ya, don't take a cab or you'll have to sell your body to pay the metre fare], emergency address and contact details [how long until some poor Brazilian girl realizes The Hospital is actually a private members-only club in Covent Garden?], and a phone with a pay-as-you-go SIM card [presumably there's no money on the SIM card. So, uh, thanks]. reports that the girls were given a base in central London, provided with nutritious meals and a 24-hour helpline manned by Premier staff to ensure their week went without a hitch.

Here's what I imagine to be a sample helpline phone call:

Premier Helpline: 'ello 'ello

Confused Model: I am lost. I come for meeting with designer and cannot find office.

PH: Right, what you need to do is trot down to Bumrush Road until you hit Cockfosters. Go to the Tit's Nips and ask for Dick, e's my best china. Tell him to give you some judy and punch. He'll probably throw in an oily rag if you're a good ribbon and curl. But whatever you do don't soil your baked beans!

CM: But.... I..... Uh..... What?

PH: Don't. Soil. Your. Baked. Beans. You know what they say, love, how can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?

CM: But I'm not hungry.

PH: Oi, we're all hungry for a little gay and frisky every now and again, love.

CM: I am gay?

PH: Eyes of blue.

CM: O, Cristo!

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Colour me bored

There's an old, really tasteless joke that goes: What's black and white and red all over? A nun falling down the stairs. I don't know who told me that "joke" (is it even funny?) or why I remember it, but it's what sprang to mind during Sunday night's Oscars. Not because there were any clumsy clergy people messing about, but because the red carpet was awash in boring gowns in those same colours.

Black: the safest of them all; revered for its slimming properties, and ability to mask wrinkled fabric, dimpled bottoms and spilled skim chai moca lattes with low-cal chocolate shavings; boring.

White: the riskiest of all colours; reviled for its knack for highlighting the area of the thighs where 4am pizza binges go to die, and its ability to attract stains without being anywhere near dirt or a dirt-wielding tool (I swear, I once got a white dress dirty just by standing in the middle of an empty room and looking to the left); evil.

Red: friend to both blonde and brunette; the go-to colour for middle aged ladies looking to "mix it up"; Valentino's favourite, therefore garnering insta-chic appeal; attributed to Santa Claus during the period of mid-October through early January, and really, who wants to be linked to a fat man with a sweet tooth?; predictable.

I'm not saying there weren't ladies who looked smashing last night — Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Jennifer Aniston (in time, you will learn of my love for her), Amy Adams, Evan Rachel Wood, Robin Wright Penn, Taraji P. Henson, John Legend's smokin' hot date — looked beautiful, resplendent even. I will even tip my hat to the ones I don't particularly care for: Angelina Jolie, Anne Hathaway (though I feel like this young vixen is consistently shopping in the seniors aisle. Wear something flirty and youthful, already!). But I long for the days of swan dresses, backwards tuxedos and sparkly showgirl getups with headdresses. Why is everyone so afraid of landing on a worst dressed list these days? Don't we all buy those trashy tabloids specifically for the "fashion police" and "what were they thinking" sections? Isn't it more enjoyable to bask in the glory of red carpet premiere schaudenfreude? Weren't Gwyneth's pit stains way more interesting than her Pepto pink dress? Didn't we all want Drizella to get the Prince really wasted and have her way with him on Cinderella's bed? I think I've said too much...

Don't get me wrong, there were definitely some stinkers out there. Beyonce, Sarah Jessica Parker, Miley Cyrus and Vanessa Hudgens pop to mind. But theirs were not risks, they were just examples of bad stylists and poor judgement. And in Miley's case a reluctance to exorcize the Disney demons. I long for the Bob Mackies of yesteryear. I'm talking about over-the-top, out-of-the-park, off-her-rocker, forgot-her-meds, just-off-a-bender train wrecks. I want Cher! Bring back Bjork! Where's Cybill? And if one of them could top off her look with Aretha's Inauguration Day hat, that would be really cool too.