Archive for January, 2007

Great TV; lousy film.

Sunday, January 21st, 2007

I finished all my final exams on Friday.  So it may be quite inexplicable that I pulled my first all-nighter of the year last night watching back to back episodes of ABC’s Ugly Betty on the ABC website.  With a title like that, it took two different friends’ votes of approval, and two Golden Globe wins for the new show (for best TV comedy) and lead actress America Ferrera (best actress in a TV comedy) for me to suddenly want to see every episode of the show to date.  It’s soooo good!  Seriously, I can go on and on, and I did today at lunch, for probably an hour.

As a preface, I must start with the fact that viewing Ugly Betty is a little bit like getting to watch a much longer remake of The Devil Wears Prada as a TV series, but with much more character development and denser inter-personal relationships.  And perhaps more importantly, compared to other ostensibly similar films and TV series (the long list includes High School Musical, the TV series Popular, and the The Princess Diaries)  Ugly Betty has a considerably meatier and more truthful core message (there’s none of the hypocrisy of trying to pass off Anne Hathaway as an unstylish, un-skinny glamazon – America Ferrera is in fact under 5’5″, has a BMI of more than 25 and doesn’t have the usually obligatory “but I’m really a Disney princess!” eyes).  Go check it out online, and I promise the plots get better and less ripped off from The Devil Wears Prada quite quickly.

And now, I will rant about Pan’s Labyrinth, which I had high hopes for, given the lavish critical praise and extremely positive reactions from friends.  I thought it was severely disappointing on many levels – story, plotting, characters, cinematography…  The post below contains my more extensive analysis of why I disliked the movie, but in the interest of hiding spoilers, I’ve password protected it.  To see the next entry, type “Pan” (no quotation marks) as the password.

It’s now way past my bedtime. 

I had so much fun with the Dins and Pitches tonight at Ricardo’s party!

Protected: Pan’s Labyrinth (spoilers galore)

Sunday, January 21st, 2007

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A time for everything.

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

Today was my microeconomics final exam.  I’m glad that’s over.  Now I have just one left, and it’s in about… 12 hours?  I really should start looking over the lecture notes.

Instead, here’re my notes on this season’s fashion ads 🙂  As I’ve always enjoyed pointing out to high fashion initiates, the truth is that in any given year, about two-thirds of all the glossy, glamorous, gorgeous pictures you see in magazines, on billboards and in high street stores in fact show the same, small group of top models (lensed by an even smaller group of top photographers).  So if you learn a few names and recognise a few faces you’ll suddenly start seeing them everywhere.

Take the January issue of W magazine, for example…  here’s a list of most of the ads, in the order that they appear, with the female models that appear in them, wherever I could recognize them or find the information somewhere:

Louis Vuitton – Scarlett Johansson
Calvin Klein Collection – Camilla Finn (?)
Gucci – Freja Beha (and several others)
Giorgio Armani – Agyness Deyn
Dior – Lily Donaldson
Dolce & Gabbana – Natasha Poly, Lisa Cant (etc.)
Donna Karen – Hilary Rhoda (also in one of the editorial fashion spreads later in the issue)YSL – Karen Elson
Bottega Veneta – Inguna Butane, Julia Dunstall
Escada – Inguna Butane
Michael Kors – Carmen Kass
D&G – unrecognizable (but I assume Shannon Click is in there somewhere)
Blumarine – Suvi Koponen
Oscar de la Renta – Caroline Trentini
Roberto Cavalli – Giselle Bundchen
Versace – Carolyn Murphy, Carmen Kass, Kate Moss
BCBG Max Azria – Malgosia Bela
Prada – Sasha Pivarova
Jil Sander – Johanna Stickland
Fendi – Raquel Zimmerman
Burberry – Kate Moss, Lily Donaldson
Bedat & Co – Carmen Kass
Givenchy – Hilary Rhoda
Chloé – Raquel Zimmerman, Anja Rubik, (Trish Goff, who’s completely hidden)
Valentino – Iselin Steiro (also in a lengthy only-girl editorial in the Jan W)
Moschino – Leah de Wavrin
Mulberry – Agyness Deyn, Karen Elson

As you can see, the models especially grabbing the spotlight this season include American Hilary Rhoda (who’s simply everywhere), and Manchester girl Agyness Deyn.  This makes S/S07 the season of the signature eyebrows – which means Italian Mariacarla Boscano’s extensive editorial fashion spread (shot by Jurgen Teller in Venice) in the same issue of W is quite apropos, considering that Mariacarla was one of the first “eyebrow” girls a couple of years back, along with fellow-Brit Stella Tennant (who was also everywhere last year).  At the same time, this season also marks a return to the girls who have been faithfully putting in their time over the past few years and are finally hitting it big, like Freja Beha, Raquel Zimmerman and Lily Donaldson.  Finally, we’re also seeing the return of some of the grandes dames of modelling, so to speak, particularly Carmen Kass (all of 28 years old), Karen Elson (age 31) and the continuing reign of Kate Moss (an astounding 32!).

Noticeably absent from this lineup: Gemma Ward (oh where can she be?), Daria Werbowy, Heather Marks, all of whom were the “it” models of the last two seasons.  Does this mark the end of the fashion obsession with “eyes” (these last three girls having had particularly striking pairs)?  We’ve already seen lips, shoulders and necks quite recently, so I suspect it’s moving on to limbs, especially arms, which would explain such up-and-comers like Iekeliene Stange and Daiane Conterato (whom I have yet to warm up to).


And now I must start working on tomorrow’s final exam.

Desultory style notes (they’re back!)

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

I must get to bed soon.  But it is Men’s Fashion Week in Milan, so a few random observations are in store:

Early trends indicate that Fall/Winter ’08 isn’t going to be particularly revolutionary (unlike the big volume and silhouette developments during the FW07 season).  Nonetheless, there are some trends shaping up. 

– The biggest news is the Sci-Fi trend, which picks up from the SS07 womenswear shows (see Balenciaga’s articulated metallic pants or Fendi’s plastic dresses).  Dolce & Gabbana showed space jumpsuits in super-shiny gold, silver and bronze, not to mention shoes, belts, bags, suits et al in the same blinding synthetics.  Alexander McQueen sent his models out looking like android warlords a la Spock or Data with plasticised faces and enameled hair.  The look is other-worldly, futuristic and high-tech.  Very editorial.  Expect to see less over-the-top touches filter through to a wardrobe near you – certainly the metallic accessories and high-performance details.

– Bespoke details are also asserting themselves – exaggerated “winged” shoulders were seen in abundance, especially at Bottega Veneta, but also at McQueen and Burberry.  The IHT has already noted the “Su misura” explosion, but the Pitti Uomo shows in Florence that showcased fine Italian (and English etc.) tailoring just prior to the menswear shows in Milan were also a strident testament to the trade.  Just as women were increasingly shifted towards mannered high-fashion looks over the past few years, men are also being deliberately educated on the finer points of fit and construction, so expect high street offerings next year to become ever more rigorous in execution.

– Military looks, as always, inspire many menswear pieces, although the period literalism of FW06 is fading away.  Instead, updated versions of the trench coat, the bomber jacket, the high-laced boot are showing up on almost all runways.

And for right this moment, you should already own: the slim warm-amber belt.  The dusky orange/burnt sienna/rust colored belt (think Hermes) is an essential part of the look-of-the-season, pairing perfectly with the must-have and ubiquitous soft-suede lace-up dress low-boots in warm brown that have become the new wardrobe staple.  And keep it slim for a subtle yet unmistakable injection of chic color to your ensemble.  Don’t worry, no fashion-aware or stylish person will fail to notice!

Today’s tally

Sunday, January 14th, 2007

Number of hours spent reviewing material for the microeconomic theory final exam on Thursday: 3.

Number of hours spent obsessively re-watching and re-re-watching, re-reading and re-re-reading The Age of Innocence (one of my favorite books and films) and marvelling at the attention to detail, the sly inclusion of so many famous works of art into the interiors and the mannered perfection: 10 and counting.

Number of hours spent reviewing material for my silent cinema final exam on Friday: 0.

… and a Happy New Year

Sunday, January 7th, 2007

Belated new year greetings to everyone!

I’m now back in Cambridge, after some 30 hours of travelling and a solid twelve hours of sleeping off the jetlag.

Being home was good. On the final day I was home, the usual just-in-time swirl of events was particularly enjoyable. I drove my sister to school just after 7am, then went to the dentist with my mother. After that, a quick nap preceeded my hurried trip to town for a series of interviews. I was being interviewed for my dream summer internship, which I will almost certainly accept if they make a good offer. The interview cycle was pretty intense, particularly because I was there for a very compressed interview cycle, where each interviewer would decide whether I qualified to be seen by the next, more senior interviewer. So after every round I was left in the conference room to wait for the result as delivered by the coordinating HR officer. Quite the experience. I passed the time by reading “Le Probleme de l’Opium en Iran”, the bit of thesis-reading I’d brought with me. Thankfully I made it through to the final round, which was very pleasant, although I have yet to learn the final result. As I said during the interviews, I’m not worried regardless. I’m sure something will work out for the summer, whether it’s this internship or something else. After leaving the gleaming office tower, I headed to one of the newest (and largest) mall complexes to pick up a few things and also to meet Charles and Lynn for dinner. I’m glad I got to catch up with them (and also to more extensively explore Vivocity). From there, it was a quick ride home, an almost-quicker packing job and then off to the airport for the 30 hour journey back to my dorm.

And now I shall go unpack, in preparation for the next week of paper-writing and exam preparation.

PS: I’m so very happy for Flora and her engagement – congratulations!!