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.