Thursday, September 28, 2006

Three cheers for Tsumori Chisato! All right, this is not vintage. And I'm not sure if it's love or saturation, but I was looking at Japanese fashion magazines yesterday when I discovered a version of the sled dogs and snow scene print on--get this--a cotton mini dress. I plotzed--this woman is a genius. I ran back to the computer and googled and found all these lovely novelties, something for every season even.

Okay, I know the owl is a very tired motif these days. I have both an owl necklace and a dress with a owl print on the bodice that are currently off my rotation due to owl saturation. But don't you worry, this is from Chisato's 2005 collection, as is the sailor stripes 'n ships frock--before pirate-theme over-saturation.

The outer wear really shines. I hope the rain cloud cape is waterproof. Novelty prints for winter are almost non-existent. A snowflake motif woven into a Norwegian sweater is often as novel as winter gets. (Yes, I eschew all things related to xmas kitsch: the horror, the horror! I urge you to do the same, along with shunning the consumerism of the season. Check out Buy Nothing Day and the like.) This is why Chiasato's coat is double fabulous. The print is a winter scene that is both whimsical and full of color to brighten any grey day. When the hood is down it's a capelet. Now a capelet on its own is quasi-useless, but as part of a coat and adding the functionality of the hood, I want to applaud.

It is one of the great joys in life to be able to locate my winter coat at a house party without even a moment of digging in the pile of black wool and parkas on the bed. This coat would not get lost in the shuffle. Unless it too is at saturation point. I believe however that this is a limited edition, and so probably out of price range. But with the print on cotton dresses, I smell a saturation coming.

I am dismayed to hear the term "Eskimo Chic" over and over again in fashion reviews. The prefered terms are "Inuit", or "Yup'ik" depending on whether someone is from Canada, Alaska or Greenland, or Western Alaska/Russia. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

So what to do when your favorite motif reaches saturation? Many friends of mine have long been devotees of the skull accessory and have mixed feelings about seeing the old bones of poor Yorick plastered on every middle school student and business woman. Some advise buying up the best of the current trend and adding it to the collection. But being so omni-present in the mainstream, naturally something gets eroded. Since the skull is the new happy face, as the New York Times described it (David Coleman, July 27, 2006, "The Heyday of the Dead" I can't seem to link to it without a fee unfortunatley), is it forever sullied?

There is an even darker side to novelty prints: the offensive kind.

Just to avoid getting to this topic too late, feministing has a post today about the
sleazy-slogan t-shirt, which unfortunately falls under the novelty umbrella. To paraphrase Blanche Dubois: I cannot bear a naked lightbulb or a vulgar t-shirt.

I see these tacky monstrosities marring the scenery of my city quite often. Most of them are sexist. Some are simply aggressive. Just yesterday I saw a man wearing a hunter green t-shirt with the words "Up Yours" emblazoned on the back in large block letters. The comments on feministing seem to show an age divide: the under 30's see less of an issue, the over 30's find them repulsive. Why the younger set seems to find irony and humor in the oppression of women, I simply don't understand. There is nothing empowering (to use a media-speak and suspect word) about being a porn star. Young women have been sold a commodified version of sexuality and they mistake it for power. Surely there are young women with some insight who will weigh in on their comments soon. I heartily endorse Ariel Levy's excellent book "Female Chauvinist Pigs" for further reading.


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