Disturbing

Jon Benet re-visited. Put the campaign on blast here.

She’s A Man, Baby!

Taking some time from livin’ it up in Philly with the fam to bring you this pbulic service announcement: Lady Gaga is, indeed, a man.

*Dun-dun-duuuun*

Big surprise, eh? Well, if I have to be more accurate, lemme fill you in on the deets. “Jo Calderone,” Lady Gaga’s alter ego, will be gracing the cover of Vogue Japan, out September 5. However, Gaga has not yet confirmed whether or not that is actually herself in drag and it’s got the blogger world in a frenzy speculating the real identity of Jo Calderone.

Though Gaga hasn’t confirmed it is her, why the hell would Vogue put some random Joe (haha) on their cover??? I read the brief excerpt of Vogue’s interview with Jo and it just seems like Jo is some regular dude who got with Lady Gaga.

Honestly, I’m getting annoyed with Lady Gaga’s fame. I despise fame whores. I read an interview with her in Vanity Fair, and she talks about how she hates Hollywood and yet she is the complete embodiment of a Hollywood caricature. And now that she has this Vogue cover out, I believe more than ever that she’s another tool of the entertainment industry.

It doesn’t mean the cover and photo shoot aren’t fun, though. Check ’em out.

She’s a man, baby, a man!

Where Their Spirits Roam

Rodarte, Rodarte, Rodarte. Oh, Mulleavy sisters. *Sigh* When I started catching glimpses of their Fall line, I was excited; more layers and draping! And they did not disappoint.

The source of their inspiration for the collection came about during a road trip through Texas on a journey to explore their Mexican roots when

“…they became interested in the troubled border town of Ciudad Juárez; the hazy, dreamlike quality of the landscape there; and the maquiladora workers going to the factory in the middle of the night. And that, according to the designers, who certainly know how to romance a pitch, led to this conclusion: They’d build a collection off the idea of sleepwalking.”

It is the romantic, softer version of their warrior-esque Spring line. Instead of sporting a deconstructed aesthetic with a smorgasbord of textures, the sisters rang in Fall with lighter colors, floral patterns and airy, cozier fabrics. 

“The show ended with a quartet of ethereal, unraveling, rather beautiful white dresses that alternately called to mind quinceañera parties, corpse brides, and, if you wanted to look at it through a really dark prism, the ghosts of the victims of Juárez’s drug wars.”

The concept is so simple and the sisters’ execution of their haunting vision was perfect. To top it off, the clothes were accessorized with these unbelievably awesome melted candle-wax heels by Nicholas Kirkwood. One can imagine lost souls wandering in the night with only the flickering flame from a candle to light their way. I would totally buy these shoes if 1) I had money and 2) I wore heels. Come to think of it, if I had money I would buy them anyway just to display on my fireplace mantle.

Because of their dark and slightly off-beat gothic creativity, Rodarte is by far one of my most favorite designers ever. So it was disheartening to hear about their collaboration with M.A.C. in creating a make-up line to accompany the Fall collection. On the surface, it only makes sense to complete the ensemble with a cosmetic line. But the collaboration hits a sour note when you learn that they’ve given the nail polish names like Factory and Juarez.

On the flip side, the controversy sparked by the collaboration actually brought awareness about the devastation in Ciudad Juarez. In reality, the impoverished conditions of those factory workers are neither romantic or dream-like. Far from it, in fact. Jessica Wakeman, one of the first bloggers who made the appalling connection between Rodarte’s Fall line and the women of Juarez stated,

“Juarez is an impoverished Mexican factory town notorious for the number of women between the ages of 12 and 22 who have been raped and murdered with little or no response from police. Most of the young women are employees at the border town’s factories, called maquiladoras, and disappeared on the way to or from work.”

I made these collages to show the cognitive dissonance between my love for Rodarte and my discomfort in their use of femicide as inspiration for fashion. When I started Googling images pertaining to “women of Juarez,” a crop of pictures depicting pink crosses came up and I remembered seeing a similar exhibit at a Day of the Dead celebration a few years back. There were pink crosses and altars for young women who had disappeared or died in Juarez. Ironically, Rodarte’s ghostly portrayal in their collection is an accurate reflection of how the femicide in Juarez is regarded; as surreal events that drift away like ghosts in the night, only to be forgotten. It’s sad, but I think it’s true of how violence against women has always been treated.

The designers and M.A.C. have responded in kind. In addition to a formal apology (and a real one, too, where they actually admit that they’ve fucked up), M.A.C. is changing the names of their make-up. They’re also scrapping their original plan to donate a portion of their profits to organizations serving the women in Juarez, and have announced that 100% of their profits will be donated to programs benefitting these women.

So where does that leave us? I, for one, am relieved that Rodarte and M.A.C. are taking responsibility for their ignorance. I don’t feel that their donation fully compensates for their mishap, but short of cancelling the launch altogether, what else would they do?

The question that remains for me is, when does art imitating life cross the line between acceptable and tasteless? The exploitation of someone’s pain for financial gain is a clear winner. And I always have to remind myself that people mess up, even those who feel the most socially conscious or don’t mean any harm. Before, in my more angry days, I would’ve cut off Rodarte altogether. The problem with cutting things off is in these types of situations is that the journey towards progress stops. Thankfully, I’ve learned to be more comfortable not having a clear answer. And honestly, I still love Rodarte. They’re just not the most socially conscious people out there. If anything, I hope this situation only motivates them to increase their awareness about bullshit that goes on in the world.

Amerykah the Beautiful

There’s a reason why Erykah Badu is the inspiration for a lot of what I do. From being grounded and creative to fierce and political, she’s got plenty. Her latest compilation of brilliance, The New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh, dropped March 30…and landed herself charges for the music video accompanying the track, Window Seat. In one take, the video records Erykah stripping down bare infront of unsuspecting tourists and mimics getting shot at the Dealey Plaza where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Watch the magic here:

Here she is performing with The Roots on Jimmy Fallon.

Window Seat to a Black Woman’s Soul, illustrates Makeda Crane’s perspective that Erykah is commenting on the abuse and exploitation of Black woman’s bodies, a sentiment that all women can relate to on some level. She writes, “My hope is that in some small way Erykah’s bold move would be the beginning of a new moment in history where black women define black womanhood and sexuality for themselves, free from history’s grip on their backside.” For Filipinas, there is a history of sex tours, of surviving the abusive hands of their own men, of being perceived by Westerners as passive, nurturing yet sexual creatures. If Erykah and her stripdown was meant to represent evolution and change, then the mock shooting can be interpreted as others trying to eliminate or shut down positive change. As Erykah puts it,

[Group think!] They play it safe, are quick to assassinate what they do not understand. They move in packs, ingesting more and more fear with every act of hate on one another. They feel most comfortable in groups, less guilt to swallow. They are us. This is what we have become. Afraid to respect the individual. A single person within a circumstance can move to change, to love herself, to evolve.

I love her socio-political nature! KFK and I found this cool performance of her decked out in the most gigantic Afro imaginable, the stage was alive with Beatnik elements –spoken word, bongos, and hand-held electronic sound effect systems as she pumped the air with her fist and declared in Black Panther style, “Hip hop is bigger than the government!”

And just for kicks, because this is where my love for Erykah began, a classic:

Baduizm at its finest, indeed.

What’s Up, Bra?

The Bra-litics
The bra-over-your-shirt has been a trend-in-progress. In the spirit of empowering women through their sexuality, 2010’s Spring Summer runways have seen the trend in full-force. On the surface (haha), it’s a little awkward, kinda like you don’t know how to put your clothes on. On the other hand, fashion must be so much more fun now than it was, say, in the Victorian era, just because there is so much more freedom to break boundaries on so many levels; for example gender and sexuality. In contrast to the bra-burning days of the 60’s, the runways are embracing The Bra as an expression of sexuality. Yes, bra-burners of the 60’s, the bra is constraining, but constraint is also a form of sexual practice/lifestyle (hello, S&M anyone?). In some ways, I think the fiery spirit of the bra-burners may still be alive and well, but with a twist. Wearing the bra over one’s shirt is like a wonderful “fuck you” to those who are threatened by female sexuality and are uncomfortable with it. It’s like saying, “I’m a sexual being. Deal with it.”
When done right, the trend can work out pretty well. I love how Marc Jacobs plays on the bra’s satin texture and creates this almost Asian look with the pale face, baggy pants and split toe-like sandals. What an interesting statement on the Geisha or passive Asian woman. Or, like Jasmine Di Milo, the bra could be incorporated right into the garment for an edgy contrast between structured underwire and soft drapes, a literal rendition of the Madonna/Whore dichotomy.

Jasmine Di Milo//Marc Jacobs SS 2010

 

Needless to say, I’d be send home from work if I showed up in an ensemble like that! The trend is definitely not for the faint of heart. 

The Bra As Outerwear 

I found a pic from J.W. Anderson’s womenswear line for the A/W 2010 collection featuring the trend. Aside from the fact that the first thing that struck me was how hauntingly adorable the model is, I liked how their interpretation of the bra-over-the-shirt phenomenon is actually wearble in everyday life. 

JW Anderson Autumn Winter 2010

 

 Here’s why it works: 

  1. The tone of the bra doesn’t deviate too far from the tone of the undershirt which maintains a sense of cohesiveness.
  2. The triangle shape of the bra mimicks the lines of the sweater’s neckline which provides continuity.
  3. The sweater and the bra sport the same seams which also provides continuity and repetitiveness.
  4. It actually looks more like a bathing suit top which is meant to be seen anyway.
  5. I may be wrong, but I’m guessing the material of the bra is similar to that of the sweater. If not, it looks sturdier than your typical satin number which makes it seem like it can act as outerwear rather than underwear.
  6. The lack of structured support (aka underwire) moves it away from lingergie-city and makes it seem more like a (very) cropped vest (again, the outerwear element).
  7. Also, the lack of support allows it to move easily with the rest of the outfit which, as you can see, is flowing with fabric.
  8. However, it provides enough constraint to create the appearance of an empire waist which is ultimately feminine (and reminds the viewer that this is a bra and the wearer is feminine-affirmative).
I stand corrected though; you’d still probably be sent home from work but at least it looks like it was done on purpose. Just a small style tip for those who like to keep the spotlight elsewhere while still adding interest to their outfit.
Party on, bra.

The (Dis)Embodied Filipina

Argh! It’s so hard to keep up with this blog! What with work and work…oh, and work…Anyway, a couple weeks ago, I was able to catch the tail-end of The Fashioning Domesticity, Weaving Desire: Visions of the Filipina exhibit at the Pacific Asian Museum. I’m on the mailing list for the Filipino American Library and because every corner of my day is swamped, I usually disregard the emails if I know I can’t fit it in. And then lo and behold, I get an email notice saying that the exhibit on fashion and Filipinas will be ending on February 8! I mean, what’re the chances I will be able to catch an exhibit on Filipinas, fashion and culture? Ah-may-zing.

My titas

Terno, Philippines, mid 20th Century, Jusi cloth (banana fiber) The term terno means “to match” or “match” and has been loosely translated as a dress of matching pieces. An evolved reincarnation of the traditional baro’t saya (blouse and skirt ensemble), the terno includes a camisa (blouse with [butterfly] sleeves, a panuelo (handkerchief/shawl), a saya (long skirt), and in some cases, a tapis (short overskirt).

Gorgeous pink jusi. I can imagine this ensemble worn by young women in the hopes of acquiring a suitor.

Matching shoes depicting said woman's bahay (home/house).

It's not fancy enough to be a wedding dress, but I would've loved to wear something like this on my wedding day. It would've been "so me!"

I love the patterns and designs on these dresses! This one is simple and chic.

The red is beautiful! I still haven't found a nice shade of red to go with my skin tone. I wonder if this one would work...

I forget...I think this may be some sort of compact mirror with a little vase for powder...

The eyepiece reminds me of those Viewfinders from the 80's, remember those? If you look through the eyepiece, I believe the images are supposed to be superimposed one over the other.

I loved the original caption under this picture, but it said something to the effect of, "The woman on the right is the wild twin sister of the diva on the left." To be honest, I can relate to both images.

The next few images are artifacts of tourist attractions. Being the "split" Filipina I am, I'm very interested in that fringed bag. Fringe is so in right now, the titas didn't know they got a good game goin on. They'd be hustlin' today!

The thing I appreciate about "ethnic" styles are the rough and contrasting textures, the unique shapes and interesting trimmings like tassels and pom-poms. There's something grounding about these artificats because it reminds me of my roots, what makes me unique as a person, what people of my heritage do for income.

The (Dis)Embodied Filipina: Fashioning Domesticity, Weaving Desire

by Pearlie Rose S. Baluyut and Agnes A. Bertiz

From Ernst Gombrich to Adam Gopnik, the aesthetic and popular theory that style and –by extension– fashion exist only because of contrast is obvious. With perceived and/or meaningful contrasts, differences, definitions, boundaries, and values are engendered. Style and fashion, however, are not construed here simply in relation to sartorial production in ateliers and seasonal performance on runways; rather they are ideological patterns of a distinct fabrication. “The (Dis)Embodied Filipina: Fashioning Domesticity, Waeving Desire” exhibition is an art historical exploration of the contour and couture of the so-called “Filipina” identity” the “civilized/modern” and its discursive contrast, the “wild/primitive.” Two images fused into one, these domesticated and/or desired women are made to behave like violent mirrors, (dis)embodying each other for the viewer through illusions performed by an institutional stereoscope, a spectacular apparatus of colonialism and democracy.

Click here for the rest of the essay on the exhibit.

I’ve always found philosophy impossible to read, but I made it through the essay and am attempting to interpret it in normal-person vernacular. Long story short, tIt’s general knowledge that the Philippines is one of the most Westernized countries in Asia, thanks to 300 years of Spanish and United States rule. The exhibit curators crossed “civilized” tourist items with pictures of indigenous Filipino women in an attempt to show the effects of colonialism on the Philippines. I first felt the schizophrenic “split” between being Filipino and having been born in the United States when I was in graduate school, and the feeling has stayed since then. I’m just grateful that the split is still being addressed and even more appreciative that it’s being shown via fashion and style.

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