Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Graphic Black and White, Episode Two

So few things in life exist in a binary system; black and white, eponymous with the saying, rather trite, are actually quite unique, anamolous. So few things exist with those hard, sharp edges, so definitively and clearly and beautifully delineating one from other, one from opposite. Graphic black and white, my current trusted motif, is being touted as a in-the-moment trend, a label that seems, simply, unfair. Sun and moon rise and fall each day; black and white has never left.

The window pane pattern, that perfection of replicable and straight grid lock, is a classic, a classic that has somehow eluded my wardrobe until recently. This window pane pattern dress, a form-fitting shift with a flattering scoop neck, joins the ranks of my various recent black and white acquisitions. It has a Georgy Girl mod-vibe, an era and an aesthetic that I can always support and am always in the mood to rock. The other week, I paired my new dress with a bevy of black and white bangles; the oblong curved bangle, black and white lines imperfect and asymmetrical, offered a great contrast in texture to the stringent pattern of the dress.

Three neon red spheres suspended from golden rods, deconstructed cherries. These earrings added an unexpected and welcoming bit of color spark to the look.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Graphic Black and White, Episode One

A robust, elegant, and impressive history of style icons, from Coco Chanel to Emmanuelle Alt, have proven, time and again, with beautiful and visually illustrative arguments, that the black and white motif rarely falters. The past few weeks, my daily wear has been heavily reliant on bold, geometric black and white patterns, predominantly in straight lines and sharp right angles, with a sprinkling of black and gold accessories. Despite owning a preposterous volume of black clothing, and black jewelry for accompaniment, streamlining my outfits to this eternal light-dark dichotomy makes morning wardrobe decisions much easier.

Featuring uneven black grid lines, as though hand-drawn with a waning perfumed permanent marker, occasionally interrupted with a black square, this silken-like tunic dress has become a new favorite. Mod-inspired, the gritty imperfection of the pattern lends an updated, more contemporary look to the piece. Unfortunately, the cream backdrop has an ephemerally sheer quality to it, which, pairs fine with opaque black tights, but will not transition well into warmer spring weather wear. The earrings, also new, have a similar tension between polished and rugged, the golden outer detailing encasing the onyx innards as the talons of an owl crush some bewildered black rodent. They were a remarkable find in the rather haphazard bargain bin of a local consignment shop I frequent. A worthy prize, for one willing to hunt.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Leopard Booties and Neon Purple

With the polar-like climate seemingly firmly entrenched in the northeast, it has been increasingly challenging to stay motivated to roll out of bed, let alone rummage through my narrow closet and unearth something interesting and attractive to wear. Mostly, I have been relying heavily on neutrals, which is never a mistake; the other day, though, I decided to combat the dour temperatures with a pair of rarely worn, nearly neon purple tights. Pairing them with my recent favorite booties, leopard calf-hair emblazoned with gold detailing, the bottom part of my look was bodacious and bold, so I kept my torso muted in heather gray and cream. Animal prints, leopard in particular, have the advantage of walking the line between neutral and pattern, playing to each depending on the tone of the rest of the look. I snagged this pair of booties earlier in the season, for a remarkable price, and have been wearing them in consistent rotation.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Matthew Barney, Belated Valentine's, and Bronchitis

To commemorate this past Valentine's Day celebrations with the filmmaker, I had bought tickets for the global premiere of the latest marathon art-film work by Matthew Barney, River of Fundament at the Brooklyn Academy of Music theater. Spending the stereotypically commercial and contrived evening enduring about six hours of visual commentary on the legacy, or lack thereof, of Norman Mailer and the tension between contemporary American culture and mythology, vis- à-vis the text Ancient Evenings and an elaborately staged wake, and resplendent with copious excrement and automobile scenes, seemed rather appropriate. Alas, my dutiful planning was foiled; the filmmaker stayed at home, ensnared by bronchitis. So, I experienced the work alone, viscerally eviscerated, sipping gin and tonic cocktails through a plastic theater-proof, adult sippy cup. While not a romantic evening, it was certainly stimulating.

So, after the filmmaker recovered from his plague and I returned from my brief jaunt in Providence, we decided to have a brick-oven pizza and red wine date at one of our favorite local haunts. Just before dinner, the filmmaker surprised me with a spread of small gifts: a trio of kitschy cowboy boot shot glasses and some earrings, including this rather unique and exquisite pair, some mementos from his trip up north to New Hampshire. I adore the sharp contrast of the milky gray stone, cold and opalescent and pristine, with the sculpted brass, printed with soft ferns, warm and raw. The blend of materials, the almost painted blue shading, remind me of something archaic, something noble and medieval. Bits of jeweled finery that could have framed the face of some young duchess, sent to a neighboring kingdom to lure a landed husband. They are quite unlike any other pair of earrings I own, which I will be the first to admit is quite the feat, given my costume addiction. The filmmaker can be a bit anxious picking out jewelry for me, deliberating over what he supposes I would choose for myself, and I can vehemently proclaim these were an exceptional find.  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Missing my Motor

A few weeks back, two of my friends and I journeyed north to Providence for the long holiday weekend, to visit our dear mutual friend Rebecca. A quaint and occasionally troubling hybrid between college town and depressed rust-belt city, I have enjoyed exploring the cultural nuances and, naturally, having the opportunity to spend time with one of my closest friends over the past few years, a time or two.   

As has been true and steadfast these past few months, the winter weather was brutal. Braving the cold winds in the city, I caught a bus amid the flotsam and jetsam of Port Authority, which tore up the highway, racing against the threat of snow and ice. Just as the storm really began to roar, gained sufficient momentum and snarled with whips of snow, I arrived, safely and on time, to a warm apartment, stocked with five bottles of red wine and a group of beautiful people. Unsurprisingly, those five bottles dissipated over the afternoon and evening hours, imbibed during a fiercely competitive round of Risk and a gorging of lamb with roasted winter vegetables.

Thankfully, both legs of my trip, up north and back home, were relatively easy-going, the bus not uncomfortably packed, the hours of slowly rocking back and forth easily spent with my nose buried in Ancient Evenings. Even with this quiet, devoted, precious time to reading this weighty novel, I am still wading through the meandering, mystic text, simultaneously relishing in and struggling with the reliance on mythology, the labyrinthine narration, turning corners, twisting through pyrimidine pathways into the past.

Since moving to the city, spending my time traveling actually reading, in fact, on public transportation, rather than concentrating on traffic, gripping various books rather than gripping my steering wheel, I have not often contemplated or mourned the loss of my car, a pale silver Honda Accord, a classic from a decade passed, abandoned to the idles of my parent's driveway. Fueled by my pragmatic parents and my own lack of fervent determination to be behind the wheel, I did not earn my license until seventeen. I have never been on a legitimate road trip. I have never succumbed to the sultry beckoning of the open road, wind in your hair attitude. Since that weekend escape, however, I have been feeling restless, feeling that longing, that unbridled freedom to just roam, easily. To just get in and go. To be able to flee the confines of this concrete jungle without buying a ticket, adhering to a schedule. To satisfy a sort of Americana hunger for horizons, a hunger cultivated and heavily marketed to, but a hunger that I admit openly, unabashedly. 

With parking posing such an issue in most cities, perhaps the solution to this lust would be a motorcycle. Something sleek, something dangerous, something somehow absurdly practical.

(image taken from The Pursuit Aesthetic) 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fighting the Blues with Yellow

To speak of the length and the ardor and the fury of this long, long, bitter winter is, essentially, to speak of our inevitable senescence: known, familiar, looming, omnipresent, and no amount of complaining or commentary has the mythic power to induce any part of change. For those with an inexhaustible ability to rant, rave, kvetch, expound, and so forth and so on, certainly much more can and will be said about the unpleasant weather these last months, but, aside from transient and surely ultimately unsatisfactory sense of passive action, nothing will be accomplished. In a way, this beautiful constancy, the weather, as a perpetually reliable source of rhetoric and conversation, is a grand relief, an oasis for those overwhelmed with all the other almighty and potentially more profound life-forces that refuse to be budged. 

Falling into a type of rut, since university there have been a few types of pairs of shoes that I consistently purchase and then purchase again. Black ballet flats, like the topic of weather during those brief introduction moments of a client teleconference, the agenda in pause while waiting for all invitees to join, are always useful. Tall leather boots. Red heels. And, for me, a bit less typical, a pair of pointed toe flats in some shade of indigo or deep violet. I have owned some pair or another of a lush floral blue consistently, finding them the perfect accompaniment for most black, gray, navy, red outfits. In a rare moment of change, at the start of the winter, I took a chance on this pair, a sort of neon jelly bean yellow. They were a steal, with a marked discount, and were leftover from the dregs of late summer, early autumn, which are but a glimmer in most memories these days. I bet they were intended to be worn with cropped white pants or a loose chambray shift; I have been pairing them with monochrome black, a beacon of warmth and light against the sharp winds and cruel ice of this winter.

The latest rendition of yellow against black was this past Saturday night, for an evening of rich barbecue and crazed dancing to delicious 1980s beats with some buddies from work. We were celebrating and commemorating one of our own, the only other lady in our crew, who is moving on to greener, warmer pastures below the Mason-Dixon. While breaking a sweat on the club floor, these shoes got more than a bit dirty. Luckily for me, patent leather is a breeze to wipe clean. I am still coming to terms with the loss of my office gossip-gal, and of a truly gifted designer, but I am glad we and my snappy yellow shoes could send her onto her new adventures in style.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Gilded and Guilty

Most of my jewelry, apparently, immediately evokes those unforgettable lines from one of my favorite poems, "Sailing to Byzantium," describing the "hammered gold and gold enameling" of some gilded mechanical bird, tasked with cooing softly and entertaining a dozing, apathetic emperor, so inundated with stimulation the world is tedious. On quite another end of the spectrum, these earrings also evince the nursery school ditty about sticks and stones, albeit rather lurid sticks, a saying that always aggravated me, a sensitive child, for its flagrant falsity. Certainly words, strung together maliciously, are unlikely to puncture the skin, draw blood, bear white scar tissue, but emotional wounds are often more potent, more profound. These nuances, though more true, are more difficult to rhyme, so they are left ignored by the nursery types and left to more probing wordsmiths. 

Since moving to a markedly more expensive city, I have had to reign in the amount of frivolous spending; sign of growth and maturation. Also, a result of the relative dearth of foolishly and ludicrously affordable consignment shops that offer beauty and quality. A considerably small sacrifice for living in one of the greatest cities in the world. Thankfully, I have discovered a handful of local gems in my neighborhood that satisfy that seemingly carnal urge to peruse and gaze in awe at the glitter and glam of a bygone era.

These earrings are a bit more funky and contemporary looking than most in my collection, and are actually a bit reminiscent of a pair I purchased at a small boutique in Paris, which, apparently, I have done a poor job of adequately documenting. In each of these pairs, I admire the organic quality that directly contrasts with the sharp glint of the metal, that tension of artifice and nature so lurid, as though a pile of sticks were plundered from the forest and were then submerged in some pristine alchemic pool. To complete a full mental circle, returning to a point of childhood memory, they are also rather similar to some unique pieces that I inherited from my grandmother, gifts to her from my grandfather, crafted by a local Baltimore artisan.