Thursday, October 29, 2009

Be still my heart, a chess dress, or more realistically, a tunic that could use some leggings. Mod, rainbowy, and geometric. Figurative and yet with moments of abstraction. This was so lovely I just had to post it. The construction is nice as well, with the mock turtle neck, but it doesn't detract from the print which is the real star here.

I've found a number of chess prints over the years, and I had to look very hard for them. Chess prints are rare indeed. One can go months, even years without seeing one.


Fantasmagoric rainbow zebra frock. I was transported to a land of vintage Juicy Fruit gum commercials, which, if I remember correctly, had singing rainbow-striped zebras. I'll look for a link to the commercial to post, so that you can decide for yourself. Perhaps I am having some kind of Singing Detective-style meltdowm. (But happily, without the psoriatic arthritis, or dreadful misogyny of the BBC series.)

This frock is silk, small, and, with a buy it now price of $130, not cheap. But then I am most accustomed to shopping at the Salvation Army on half-price day, so I've got no realistic sense of what things go for anymore. I've seen poorly made dreck priced at 80 clams or so at H&M, so perhaps this is a steal. The ebayer is throwing in free shipping, which is magnanimous.

What I love about this dress is movement. Those colorful zebras are really booking. And the vertical strips of motion invariably evoke Eadweard Muybridge. Do you see it too? But in dazzling pop art technicolor.

Each zebra seems to be captured at the magical moment where all feet are off the ground. Wear this dress to the races, the circus, auditions, or as a contestant on a game show. Where it anywhere you need to talk a mile a minute. Perhaps the zebras would really look as if they were moving if you wore this dress under a strobe light. Perhaps this dress is really a zoetrope? Or it could be that all it needs is you to become a zoetrope.

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Friday, October 09, 2009

Mine. All mine. I know I shouldn't have. Not with my overstuffed closet. But I cannot resist photo prints on Polyester. And this one really delivers. You have to look really close to see that this is a repeat print, its logic is that organic, that fluid. I mean, in this blouse I could lay in the grass and disappear. This is a print for the movie version of my life, where I am a novelty print ninja.

It was on sale at Luncheonette Vintage, the source of this lovely photo and many delectable items.

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

I had planned to post a cadre of style inspiration photos for Muammar Qaddafi’s first visit to the U.N., but Vanity Fair scooped me. You can see their slide show here.

The Colonel is, hands down, the most stylish head of state there is. He manages to combine Bedouin fantasy with St. Pepper. He manages to look luxurious yet rough and tumble. And he mixes it up. He wears novelty prints that he believes in. Just look at that jaunty Africa print and the silhouette of Africa won like a badge of honor. I like the little caps, the tousled curly hair. He has done what I have always wanted to do. He has created a uniform that is both folkloric and modern, regal yet snappy. Does he have a stylist?, I wonder, or just a tailor who really understands him? And then there’s his equipage. He’s got the air conditioned tent, that you’ve heard of no doubt. But what about the squadron of female bodyguards with AK-47s? I mean, that is how to make an entrance.

There is a documentary about Qaddafi's female body guards, made by Rania Ajami in 2004, when Ms. Ajami was 25. Ms. Ajami interviewed the bodyguards, placing them in the larger context of feminism in Libya, has sparked some interesting discussion.

Here the Colonel looks like a rock star and the other guys look like his legal team.

So what can you incorporate from his look? What is your badge of honor? What novelty prints do you believe in? What happens when military and folkloric looks combine?

And no, in case this is not clear, I'm not interested in living under a dictatorship, though there are some stylish dictators out there. I think the cult of personality does a lot to encourage one's sartorial development. And if you are aligned with national sovereignty, then you've definitely gotta include some local indigenous clothing and make it work with camouflage.

As for Qaddafi's speech, it actually seemed pretty reasonable to me, thought I must admit I didn’t listen to the whole thing. I don’t think anyone did, except his translator. Wait, no, I heard some rumor that the translator suffered from nervous exhaustion and someone had to fill in for him there at the end. (However U.N. translating is uber stressful. A friend of mine was a translator there, and says this is not so unusual.) The 5 main points of Qaddafi’s speech have been summarized here.

So what did he say? Here’s what I got out of it. It seems like common knowledge that the U.N. is ineffectual and corrupt, no? That’s hardly controversial. He said that the big 5 (U.S., Russia, China, UK and France) dominate the U.N. and smaller member states don’t get much of a say. Accurate, right? He also said that the U.N. has been inept at preventing war: especially large rich countries bombing the hell out of small poor countries. Well, yeah. So his renaming the Security Council the Terror Counsel is not such a stretch. Next the Libyan President pointed out that the U.N. was formed before many small countries gained their independence, so the charter did not consider their needs. Just the facts there, Ma’am. The Iraqi War did not have U.N. backing so his calling for an investigation seems reasonable. He also called for Israel and Palestine to remain one country. I was kind of a two-state-solution person, but I’ve heard this one-state-idea floated about. Again, not controversial.

What else? He would like the U.N. moved to Libya. I say, why not? Tripoli could probably use the tourism, and it could help with development and job creation there. It’s more centrally located for diplomats coming from Asia. The meeting of the General Assembly would no longer cause a traffic snarl in midtown Manhattan. Tripoli looks beautiful. Smack dab on the Mediterranean, everyone could go for a swim in the afternoons. (As for the old U.N., some intrepid New York developers could turn that Mid Century Modernist U.N. complex into some gorgeous condos. Maybe the General Assembly room could be a concert hall. I’ll bet the acoustics are good. Or roller rink? That would be fun. Oh, the possibilities.) And in conclusion, Qaddafi likes Obama. Well, I think that’s nice, though his encomium is hardly going to do Barrack any good at this point.

If the Colonel had kept within his 15 allotted minutes, it might have gone over better. But on the other hand, talking for over an hour and tearing up the U.N. charter has garnered high altitude publicity. The kind you couldn’t get if you tried to buy it. But unfortunately wackiness undermines credibility. Trust me, I know from experience.

Extra credit question: what pin would Madeline wear to meet with Muammar? And what novelty print would he wear?


This lovely bee broach is from Madeline Albright's collection. The former Secretary of State has a passion for broaches, mostly costume jewelry, with an occassional piece with diamonds or semi precious stones, and has written a book about her strategic use of them as a diplomatic tool called Read My Pins, which she is currently promoting. You can read the New Yorker review, or get more info. Evidently Ms. Albright is funny. Like Carrie Fisher funny. So I imagine going to one of her readings would be kind of a hoot.

I hesitated to include the publicity photo of her wearing a matching set of dove earrings and a broach, as Ms. Albright always struck me as very Kissingery. Both former Secretaries of State have that zaftig Yiddishe Eastern-Europe mojo going on. But Ms. Albright with a dove symbol is like Henry Kissinger winning the Nobel Peace Prize. (Oh wait, that totally happened. Fun Fact: Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 to be shared with Vietnamese Diplomat Le Duc Tho, who had the decency to turn it down especially since the Vietnam war did not end until 1975). And Mr. Kissinger has been quoted by the Grey Lady herself, saying: "The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer." While Ms. Albright made that horrifying comment about the deaths of about half a million Iraqi children due to sanctions. Realpolitik, folks. The Secretary of State is not running for Ms. Congeniality. "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks."

What I like about the idea of this book, leaving all that blood on the hands stuff aside, is a powerful woman discussing something frivolous and framing it with anecdotes and quips about her extremely high profile work. This bee broach, for example, was worn by Ms. Albright to meet with Yasser Arafat. And Mr. Arrafat apparently sent her a butterfly broach after their meeting. Quite charming, no? And then there is the snake pin. Saddam Hussein had a court poet who wrote a humorous verse about Ms. Albright's snakelike qualities. (Akhenaton says that political poetry, invariably in praise of the leader, is a tradition in Arabic poetry and easy to write. Perhaps like Limericks?) Ms. Albright chose a pin showing a snake coiled around a branch and holding a diamond in its teeth to wear to all future Iraqi negotiations.

The other thing I like is the idea of a woman who is known not known for her beauty, who is of a certain age, and whose work came first, writing about her love of these trinkets and how she used them both to signal her feelings and boost her mood. (Isn't it sad that I love that? Isn't it sad that a woman has to be young and beautiful to worthy of an audience in our society? When will the youth obsession die?) At any rate, Ms. Albright has some good tips. Commenting on her ample physique she says that she wore her pins higher and higher on her shoulder to draw the eye up and away from her matronly bossom. Useful info indeed. I just might read this book.