room for a queen


Got this amazing jacket a few months ago (at Goodwill! SCORE) but I'm only just now wearing it out. The day before I came across it I was obsessing over a F/W collection on style.com, which had similar jacket details, but now I totally forget the designer! Does it remind you of any collection? Maybe you'll have an idea which I'm talking about. It kind of reminds me of Dolce & Gabbana FW 2012 (the baroque collection).

 Anyway, it's the perfect evening jacket, isn't it? This was the only picture we got in the living room so to show the full detail of the jacket the picture below exists, I just 'shopped myself in front of this castle. I mean, my house. I didn't tell you I was a princess hmm? Must have slipped my mind. 


I think the next time I take pictures in this jacket -- and believe me, you'll probably get tired of seeing me in it -- I'm going to go all out with a crown of braids (I would have done it this time but I couldn't find any bobby pins) or some regal waves and wine red lips. I'm sure they'lll go well with such a regal jacket. Still can't believe I got it at Goodwill for like, $15. 

Hope you're well and happy and whole,

Arabelle

it's not supposed to be pretty


I got this school uniform at Goodwill the last time I visited (and scored some amazing shoes too, if you follow me on instagram you'll know which ones) because it just strikes me as just the right amount of ugly. In middle school, I had to wear school uniforms and I absolutely loathed it, but now I'm glad I can still fit into them (?!) because they go really well with the awkward school goth whatever look I enjoy so much. I look short and my dad says I look hasidic. I see nothing wrong with this, so like, whatever.


I am wearing a Comme des Garcons FW2010 jacket, French Toast Skirt Overall, Vintage Blouse, Zana Bayne harness, and Feminine/Masculine shoes c/o. Lipstick is PBCO. As always, click to enlarge the photos.

Knockoffs, Diffusions, Collaborations & Snobbery

Soo Joo in
H&M x Margiela for Dazed & Confused

Been thinking about it for awhile -- every time a collab line comes out from H&M we hear the same arguments about brand legitimacy coming into question, snobbery, etc. My thoughts on designer knockoffs a la Jeffrey Campbell and H&M, Zara, etc are really mixed and complicated. I wrote this post on tumblr awhile back and had it saved, I'll just copy here:

when it comes to fashion houses and exclusivity and fast fashion, i always hear people  complaining about how combining with h&m will ruin the brand or whatever and I just find it very interesting because: 
mmm and rei and all these high fashion brands that i see, they are really post modern and seem to combine these aesthetics and textures from ‘low fashion’ and street culture and use fabrics that were traditionally considered low brow and they make them high fashion when they combine them with ‘higher quality fabrics’ though we all know full well that that $500, $700 dress is just as likely to be made out of polyester. how many times have i gone into barneys or jeffrey or whatever and played with the fabric and realized they’re asking $700 for a shitty basic ass cotton/poly blend? come on.
you buy just as much for the name as for the clothes you know? people are mostly bummed about the fact their favorite brand won’t be ‘exclusive’ but fashion is for everybody because it is so malleable. you can’t pull something off, someone else can, you can wear something, someone else can wear it differently. style is malleable. you can still retain your private connection to a brand and let someone else who isn’t as aware of the brand culture wear something from it too. a lot of my fav brands, they constantly collaborate with people, but you don’t see people shitting on them for doing so. i guess that is because from the get go, rei threw all the rules in the wind and when everyone was still having a boner over traditional luxe fabrics she was using cheaper fabrics and black and made everyone look like futuristic bag lady nomads or something. i think the more progressive you are, the more willing you are to break the barriers between classes and pricepoints. if you can still be high fashion but operate on multiple demographic levels i.e fast fashion and RTW it should be admired. designers don’t really have any way of protecting their own ideas from copycats and those copycats are fast fashion brands, so the only real way they have of cashing in on someone else profiting from their ideas is to join them when they can and take the money and run.
why throw shade at a designer for making it easier for you to buy something they created? chances are fast fashion buyers aren’t going to suddenly love their new shirt so much they go drop 400 bones to buy the non-diffused line version of it, so the ‘integrity’ of the brand you so love and adore is still there if you want it.


This TED talk is something I watch literally all the time -- probably at least once a month, usually once every two weeks. I can never figure out how to feel about it, but it always makes me think.

What is fashion to you? How does fast fashion and knockoffs impact the way you approach clothing? I think it's such a complicated thing most of the time. Buying knockoffs sometimes fills me with shame and this shame is reinforced by my friends who recognize that they are knockoffs and say it's terrible that the designer had their ideas stolen. This shame sometimes deters me from buying shoes that I think are pretty, even though they're the only ones I can afford because the originals are so out of my reach. Hey man, I would if I could, you know?

That's why I'm totally happy with seeing big brands like Margiela collaborate (and essentially just recreate their key looks) with fast fashion retailers; none of the guilt, all of the look. I think it's messed up when people shame you for your purchases just because you can't afford the real thing, but it also makes me uncomfortable to condone knockoffs of an original and beautiful design, because when you buy it, none of that money you're paying for the idea of the shoe goes back to the creator, just the thief.


*sidenote: this is not a response to the BoF op-ed I linked on twitter a few days ago, i actually wrote this post when the collaboration was just announced.

and then we caught pneumonia


Massiel is basically my blog photographer now, ahaha. It's nice to have someone to dress up with and collaborate with on a frequent basis! Mixed fashion gurls 4ever. 

I have a goal to have 10 pieces of Comme des Garcons before I'm 25, and this jacket marks the 5th piece. I dunno, it's just something to work towards, you know? It keeps me on track in regards to savings and buying my yearly CDG piece makes me feel motivated.  I'm so happy I got this jacket (and at 30% off on Ebay), I'd been staring at it for probably a month once I found it and it goes very well with my other Comme items. It's from F/W 2010, which I gushed a little about on my new tumblr. 

Yes, I'm back on tumblr. Jazz hands? 


On Massiel: Betsey Johnson black dress, Metamorphose blazer, my shoes (seen here). 
On me: Comme des Garcons FW2010 cropped jacket, Comme des Garcons FW2008 Cage Dress (seen here and here), Feminine & Masculine Shoes c/o (also seen here). 

You can see our individual outfits here. Massiel. Me. But you can also just click any of these photos, they'll enlarge. 


We spent a few hours playing dressup, you'll see the other outfits in other posts later this week probably. See ya.

Aspirational Dressing Dreams

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This is a pretty typical dream outfit of mine at the moment. I can't get that stupid jacket out of my head, and I have been obsessed with eyes since forever (Yayoi understands) and like to have an eye on me at all times so I love this bracelet. And I want a classic white shirt I can wear with everything forever. This is just the right amount of weird, you know? It could be a really boring run of the mill outfit, but there is just something a little wrong with all of it. The fuzzy textured skirt, the too shiny jacket, and black lipstick.... space age office goth.

 I think about what style is every day, and how I would define my own when asked. I'm not very good at it; I'm not really good at sticking to one look when it comes to clothes. I have two distinct halves when it comes to what I want. If I had my way, I'd wear CDG for the rest of my life exclusively, and that would lend itself to a very dark closet probably. But since I can't afford that on a regular basis (DON'T I WISH I COULD) I usually buy bright and weird pieces at the thrift store that I know nobody else can pull of. I don't have many 'classic' pieces, like, I don't have a tan trench coat (ah, but I do have a purple, a pumpkin, and a leather one!), I don't have the Perfect White Button Up, nor do I  own  the perfect pair of cigarette trousers. I do have lots of blazers (but not a plain black one) and black oxfords... with a knuckle ring for heels. You see what I mean? I don't do simple, or classic. It's not in me. I wish I could, it's just so hard to find those perfect classics at an affordable price point. Those things are my Wistful Wardrobe Dreams.

From this post. This is as close as I'll get to 'classic'. CDG/TAOXCDG/ZANABAYNE/VINTAGE.

When it comes to dream wardrobes though, that's kind of another matter. I don't care about classic in the long run, like, it's just not interesting to me. I only want clothes that makes my eyes widen and jaw drop. I've been slowly accumulating my 'dream wardrobe' at the same time that I rapidly accumulate a really bizarre eccentric All Statement Pieces wardrobe, and seeing them side by side in my closet is really funny to me; one side is pretty much all black or plaid (I'm a lesbian cliche, I fucking love plaid) and the other side is a rainbow of colors. So different! How do you approach your closet and wardrobe choices? How do you decide what to buy, whether it's a splurge or a last minute purchase? What constitutes an investment piece for you? What are your outfit goals? Do you think you'll get rid of most of your closet when you're older? Will you pass down stuff from it to your children? Will you donate it to a museum if you are rich and have lots of cool stuff like Isabella Blow? (if you are this, be my friend, I wanna see your closet and 'borrow things'.)

I think about this stuff all the time. Aspirational dressing keeps me happy. I want to live to be really old and have a closet that has lived with me and given me so much joy. I call my designer pieces my Survival Items, because I work really hard to save up for them and spend hours and days and weeks looking for the perfect item that would go well with my small collection. It has to be from a collection that means something, it has to go well with my other Survival Pieces, it has to be something I can look forward to cherishing. I mean, the things my Survival pieces have gotten me through... I put them on and I feel so much more at home in my own skin. It's a point of pride that I worked for months or whatever to buy something that means so much to me that I can bring with me everywhere, a tangible piece of love.

From this post. One of my favorites! My first CDG dress, in an homage to my dream Nozomi Ishiguru dress. 

It keeps me going, to have goals when it comes to buying pieces that I will be able to tell stories about in the future to whoever will care to listen. "I bought this dress when I was 17 with my best friend, I spent 6 months of allowance and weeks of wages to buy it and my bank thought someone stole my card because I had never spent so much, and I lived on ramen weeks afterwards, and I don't regret a thing." or, "When I got rejected from my dream school, I wore this jacket for 2 weeks straight and had crying marathons in the local movie theater while I watched Orson Welles movies and it made me feel so much better to have such a pretty sleeve to cry on." These little histories matter to me, I know they're probably boring to other people but I care about my clothes so much and I want other people to care too. I just find clothes really romantic in general. So I guess when I look at my closet, even though it's discombobulated in some ways - my dream wardrobe on one side, dark and goth and strangely, lovingly mutated, and my 'real life' wardrobe on the others (sequinned and patterned and a rainbow of color), it's all so romantic to me because it's all part of who I am, and who I want to be. All of my wardrobe identities are real and totally me, even if they're really different from one another. It's fun to see the $5 checkered blazer I bought without thinking and after a shitty day, right next to the $500 one I spent months saving up for and cried when I finally bought it. It makes me happy to remember the stories they tell, and how much I love them both.

TLDR; I really love clothing.

a dateless dominatrix (can't wait to see my google search results now)

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Was sent a few things from the new Karmaloop Girls Site, MissKL to play with, and I've been behind on showing my new purchases from when I hung out with Celia. Thought I'd kill two birds with one stone and combine everything. I've been really excited to wear this blazer, it's my favorite recent purchase. ♥__♥

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Clear Blazer by American Deadstock, Vintage Blue Sweater, Zana Bayne Harness, Dress by UNIF from MissKL, Sole Boutique Shoes from MissKL, Elizabeth Arden lipstick, Blair Clutch c/o Rebecca Minkoff.

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Was important to me to figure out different ways to style this dress because alone it's definitely something I'd admire, but fussing it up a little with the sweater and even more with the blazer made it less sexy, more #fashun, and more comfortable for me to wear. It makes me feel like a vampire though, I'm very fond of it.

Lingerie Sunday: Mimi Smith

For this week I thought I'd highlight a really cool artist I've actually been reading about in class. Mimi Smith! Frieze Magazine has a good bio on her work.

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Mimi Smith. Timelines Installation (Shoes, Underpants, Undershirts), 1999–2005. Source
Smith was part of the Feminist Art Movement which began in earnest in the 1970's. Most of my favorite artists emerged from that period, Smith is a new favorite but definitely a big one because all of her work deals with the relationship between identity of Women v.s what they wear. It's all very snarky and deals with the cult of domesticity and capitalism and public/private and all these feminist catchphrases and Big Things to Care About. I could wax on and on about these things, but I'm not up for writing an essay. This is just me (hopefully eloquently) fangirling an artist I admire. Anyway.

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Mimi Smith. Steel Wool Peignoir, 1966–1966. Source.
I'm very amused by this steel wool peignoir- peignoirs are like old school lingerie nightgown bathrobe situations, you know, like the ones Golden Era movie stars wear-. This is rad because it looks absolutely beautiful and luxurious but it's made of steel wool. It's so snarky and a nice commentary on the reality of domestic labor and the expectations surrounding women.

 Besides that piece though, she did a series called Protectors Against Illness, which is the main reason I'm obsessed with her. In the 1990's, Smith had breast cancer and did this series. The reason why I'm highlighting her on Lingerie Sunday is because of her "Tamoxifan Bra". Tamoxifan is the medication given to women who have had breast cancer; it is a remission drug. The bra is incredibly pretty, but what is unexpected is that it's decorated with Tamoxifan pills.

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Protector Against Illness: Red Tamoxifen Bra, 1997, nylon, lace, tamoxifen pills, satin hanger, 16 x 15 inches. Source. Second image is a collection spanning 1993-197, fabrics, pills, vitamins, surgical masks, ribbon, lace, hangers.
Source.

 Long-time readers will know that I have health problems and I have what I call chronic sick people humor. I just like things that talk about pills in a smart and funny way that isn't your average "blah we're all on drugs fuck medication it's capitalists way of enslaving the citizens!!11" discourse. For me, medication is a daily and important part of my life and Mimi's way of combining 'chronic sick people humor' with clothing and material identity really hits close to home for me. I like the discussion she opens up about illness, and protection, and luxury and necessity through pretty frilly things like underwear. I relate to it. It complicates things you might not ordinarily think about.

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Protector Against Illness: Black Tamoxifen Bra, 1996, nylon, lace, tamoxifen pills, acrylic paint, satin hanger, 16 x 15 inches. Source.


This edition of LS doesn't really deal with purchasable lingerie which I think people were expecting, but I'm not one to care about other people's expectations. Like I said in my last LS post -- lingerie is as much a method of self care to me as it is a category of clothing. I admire what Mimi did in response to her cancer -- when life hands you some deep shit, you make the most of it. And she did! And it's beautiful. 

Formative Looks: 90's CDG

Anyone who knows me even vaguely knows I am a CDG obsessee - the tag spans the very beginning of this blog, and the brand is one of the reasons I started blogging in the first place, started loving fashion in the first place. It constantly makes me think and it's what I fall back on whenever... well, whenever. It's one of my keys to survival, and the brand shapes my aesthetic and what I look for in other brands. I can not underscore my love for the brand, for Rei, for Junya, and for what they've given me. I thought I'd put together a memoriam of my favorite looks of CDG for my own personal pleasure here for future reference. CDG has been around for ages though, so I'm going to break it up into different posts / decades / eras etc. 

For something to be beautiful it doesn’t have to be pretty.”- Rei Kawakubo

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SS 1995. Rei described the feeling of this collection as this: “Looking for a future with a positive, vibrant energy.”

I enjoy the early era of CDG as the cluttered, learning process of Rei. It's kind of romantic? And romantic is not the first word I would say when I think about Rei....so I'm especially fond of her older collections because of it.


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SS 1996. This was probably one of the most memorable collections of CDG, and I love the campaign  images so much too. Somehow it's really peaceful despite being such a colorful collection? It's one of my favorite incarnations of the CDG woman, because it's so connected to other woman. I feel like it's important to view this girl connected to other girls. They're all on a different level than you. They're looking away from you, they're in their own rainbow world and it's peaceful and full of power you can't understand.


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The rest of the images in this series can be found here.


Comme des Garçons can never, by its nature, appeal to everyone. It would be the end of CDG if it ever did. We have to maintain the paradox of creation [that will never] be understood by everyone, and yet through its indirect power, we are able to continue.”- Rei Kawakubo

  

 Fall/Winter 1996. I like this one so much because it's an amalgamation of everything I'm currently loving! I like the rich, velvet fabrics but the fact they weren't interpreted in a baroque royalty kind of way. It's fresh. And J.W. Anderson reminds me a lot of this era in some ways.

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But my favorite... the true #1 formative collection for me ever of all time is SS97. It's everything. I did an homage here, my feelings haven't really changed from then.

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Vogue Paris, 1997 Comme des Garçons, Spring 1997
Spring/Summer 1998 is wonderful too. It's timeless, I see reiterations of the styling all of the time.

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Illustrations by Upsana Prasad

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I have a pretty low key desk job at school (which is great, because I get to do homework while also researching fashion and feminist stuff while also writing up things for Rookie while also doing things for powderdoom!) and on my surfing in between helping patrons, I stumbled across the work of Upsana Prasad, a London College of Fashion BA student in Womenswear. I was really into Upsana's illustrations, they're reminiscent of Rorschach tests and I'm preoccupied by things related to mental illness at the moment (you'll see health/fashion/feminst themes a lot in my future posts here, I'm just saying).

For more on Upsana and these illustrations, follow the jump.


Lingerie Sunday: Made by Noemi "At Pirate Sea"

Since I have deleted my tumblr*, I decided Magical Lingerie Hour will have to live on in other ways. So I have a lingerie pinterest, and I'll be doing a Lingerie Sunday post whenever I feel like it.
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For the uninitiated, Magical Lingerie Hour on tumblr was me posting my favorite lingerie-related images, favorite lingerie sales, reviews, and spontaneous giveaways of lingerie to my followers for an hour late at night whenever the mood struck. I'm very fond of lingerie and the lingerie blogging community and it was fun to celebrate femme-ness while de-stigmatizing the idea of lingerie just as this sexual thing you put on for other people. I think lingerie is a really wonderful method of self-care and appreciation no matter who wears it and buying a cute set and parading around the house in it always makes my day, night, or whenever. For a lot of girls (and dudes! and people who don't identify as either!) I know that underwear can be a really boring thing you buy when nobody else is looking just to get it over with but I like to treat it as a reward and make a ceremony out of femmeness.


Both illustrations are from this blogpost on Ching Shih.
So! For this edition of lingerie Sunday I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone and introduce you to a new collection I'm obsessed with for obvious reasons: it involves asian pirates, bad bitches, and lingerie. Made by Noemi's new collection "At Pirate Sea"  was inspired by an Asian pirate named Ching Shih.

She was originally a prostitute but she married a pirate captain, and when he died she took over his role, married his son and made him captain . She lead 1800 ships and more than 80,000 pirates were under her command. She was fearless and disciplined her men with strict rules and castrated any man who would commit rape. Thus, a bad bitch of the utmost extent. I love her.

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Noemi describes this collection not as a direct (and predictable) interpretation of a pirate lifestyle, but as something deeper inspired by the toughness of the job and something earthbound. "For the collection I wanted to avoid the classical pirate wine-red-corsett-with-puffy-white-shirt feeling and instead go deeper into the dirty rotten sea colors. I don’t imagine the life on board as glamorous but rather tough and humid. The palette for the collection spins around earth colors and the materials mixed between heavier velvet and delicate mesh and lace."

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I really like her interpretation, it's feminine but in a very wearable and comfortable way. You don't have to like lots of lace and froufrou to be into lingerie, and I think this collection represents that wonderfully and makes something that is at once both really pretty and really comfortable to wear. 

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All above items available here, photography by Ceen Wahren.


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So that concludes the first post of Lingerie Sunday. I'll be conducting interviews of my favorite lingerie bloggers & designers & other things in future posts, including sales and giveaways. What is your fav lingerie brand, if you have one?