Archive for the 'Fashion & Style' Category

The day before tomorrow

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Shopping week starts tomorrow, which means a new, and final, college semester for me. What a frightening thought. I’ve loved college far too much to want to be done, and at the same time I’ve barely even scratched the surface of what this school and city have to offer.

And speaking of shopping week, when some departments and professors compete for students, I *love* this email that was sent out on the House open-list advertising Spring courses in sociology… it actually makes me want to take a whole bunch of them (warning, lots of Harvard-speak ahead):

Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2007 12:34:25 -0500
From: [Name removed for privacy]
Subject: [Quincy-open] shopping for courses? or a new concentration?
To: Quincy-open

Hey Quincy,

Still looking for an elective? Or a new concentration? Or one of these new-fangled “secondary concentrations”?

The Sociology department has a lot to offer; feel free to contact me or another Soc tutor with questions or stop by at the Course, Career and Advising night on Thursday!

Sociology 10: Introduction To Sociology (Jay Gabler). At last, the answer to the age-old question: What the @#*! is sociology?!?! It happens to be a way to understand all sorts of social phenomena, from Puritan witch hunts to suburban angst to strip-dancing. All this and more (except the last part, unless you tip the teaching staff generously) in WJH 1, Mondays and Wednesdays from 11-12.

Sociology 19: Reinventing Boston (Chris Winship). Boston was once thought to be doomed to a future of blight and decay. How did Boston escape New Haven’s fate? And can we blame Yale? The answer to the second question is obviously yes. The answer to the first question can be found on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00 to 2:30 in WJH 105.

Sociology 24: Introduction to Social Inequality (Jason Beckfield). Bound to be fascinating, even for Quad residents who feel that no introduction is necessary. Takes a comparative perspective, so you can finally find out why sociologists keep moving to Sweden. Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:30 to 1:00 in scenic Sever 214.

Sociology 67: Visualizing Social Problems in Documentary Film and Photography (Tamara Kay). If you were moved and outraged by Aunt Mitzi’s video of Thanksgiving dinner, just wait until you see the social problems WE have to show you! From war and poverty to environmental degradation, all the stars are out on Wednesdays from 1-3 PM in WJH 105.

Sociology 107: The American Family (Martin Whyte). The American family is often thought to be changing in ways unfortunate for children and society–but if you think families in the 50s used to sit around the dinner table and sing Kumbaya, you’ve got another think coming. That think will be arriving in WJH 4, Mondays and Wednesdays at 1 PM.

Sociology 153: Media and the American Mind (Jason Kaufman). Cassandra Wibben-Meyer took this course in spring 2004, and Prof. Kaufman is STILL quoted in her Facebook profile. What else do you need to know? Mondays and Wednesdays at 10 AM in WJH 105.

Sociology 172: Children, Culture, and Media (Jay Gabler). Three good reasons to take this course: (1) Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys are assigned reading; (2) lectures are held in the new CGIS, which is the answer to the question, “What does Harvard DO with all that money?”; (3) finally find out the TRUTH about Tinky-Winky and SpongeBob! Tuesdays
and Thursdays from 10-11 AM, CGIS S-010.

[Name removed for privacy]
Harvard University Sociology PhD Candidate
[Contact details removed for privacy]
33 Kirkland St. Cambridge, MA 02138

Writing a thesis means:

(1) For the first time you discover that the 15 million items in the largest academic library system in the world are not quite comprehensive enough for your research needs. Currently, the book at the top of my why-isn’t-it-in-HOLLIS-?!?! wish-list is Les Territoires de l’Opium (2002) by Pierre-Arnaud Chouvy. Anyone out there happen to have a copy they could send my way? ūüôā

(to be continued…)

The Paris Menswear FW 07/08 shows are winding down… and I haven’t really had a chance to scrutinize the collections carefully, although overall they seem less interestingthan the Milan collections from a style viewpoint. Some of the same stories from Milan are being extended in Paris – oversized sweaters and trailing knit sleeves, tailoring, futurism, experiments in volume… here are my assorted, preliminary reactions to what I’ve seen of the shows:
– It’s a little shocking that this season Hermes showed all of one bag out of over 40 looks.
– The menswear designer for the house of Lanvin seems to have fixated on a particular shade of violet last seen on Stefano Pilati’s Spring 2007 womenswear runway for Yves Saint Laurent (literally planted with hundreds of violets).
– For grooming, Gaultier showed the most amazing hair, inspired by the 1975 film Shampoo.
– Louis Vuitton, one big yawn.
– John Galliano presented a completely over-the-top menswear show featuring models dressed as post-apocalyptic-road-warrior-samurai-tribesmen, giant metal headdresses and all — but at least there were actual, somewhat wearable clothes shown. At its best moments it reminded me of the most desireable clothes in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, while the low points recalled the worst wardrobe of Waterworld and Planet of the Apes.
Actually, John Galliano is having an especially strong year as a designer/artist. His sculptural creations for Christian Dior–inspired by origami and Madame Butterfly–which showed last week at the Paris haute couture FW07/08 shows were simply breathtaking. I was especially inspired by the towering combination clog-wedges and the clog-stillettos. Amazing.

Back to work… here at HUCE ūüôā

The Big Apple (Tree) and so on…

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

I’d somewhat forgotten how fun New York can feel. I’m still fairly jaded with the city in general, and can’t properly ignore the grime on the streets and the soot in the air. But the people look a touch healthier (and more stylish) than I recall, and it’s also nice to feel like you have favorite spots in the city, reliable sights to see and things to do – shades of being home, essentially. It’s funny how the same actually applies a little less to Singapore, my actual hometown, where almost overnight entire neighborhoods can be transformed; nothing really seems to age there amidst the constant revamping, upgrading and rezoning.

Anyway, back to NYC. Over two nights I’ve seen two different musicals, both recommended by my voice teacher, who seems to see almost everything that goes on in Broadway. Last night I went to The Apple Tree with Ricardo, Ari and Sam, then tonight I saw The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee with Evan, whom I serendipitously met at the TKTS line. Perhaps when I get back to campus I’ll write an proper review of each of the shows. In the meantime, as I type on a iBook borrowed from Leroy in Ari’s dining room, I shall confine myself to brief comments. Kristen Chenoweth’s brilliant starring performance makes the otherwise problematic The Apple Tree worth seeing (for half price), if you go in thinking of it as the Kristen Chenoweth skit-show. Spelling Bee is entertaining and well-performed (it did win a Tony award for Best Ensemble), if not especially fresh in content or eye-popping in production.

And I haven’t had much of a chance to go shopping, although I plan to try again tomorrow after singing with the Dins (and Evan) at a morning wedding reception. I did however make it to my favorite button/trim store (M&J Trimming) and fabric store (B&J Fabrics) today. It was fun to recognize staff and also things I’d bought previously, like the antique-gold cord-and-velvet trim that peskily ran out last year, and the lovely imported heavy-cotton shirting that I had made up over the summer. I found a couple of things that I like; I’ll have to make another trip to buy everything soon, perhaps when my plans for the summer and next year are more settled.

In 24 hours I’ll be back to work at school. That will actually be a bit of a relief, considering what remains to be done in the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, it’s nice to be around Dins and to sing with them too.

Jason Loves Snow (23 Jan 2007)

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

 Jason Loves Snow (23 Jan 2007)

What can I say?¬† It’s fun to *finally* be able to wear my new long coat, courtesy of Mr Pinky, whose exceptional tailoring services are now available internationally online at

Especially since it’s been nearly 7 months since I bought that cloth at my favorite fabric store in London and then proceeded to lug it through another 20 or so cities over the next two months on World Tour.

What did I do today other than see “Children of Men”?

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

Today was supposed to be my first day of productivity.  Whoops.  Maybe I can redeem myself a little tonight.

Don’t worry – no spoilers ahead.

I just saw Children of Men in Boston with Ryan.¬†¬† Overall the film is¬†worth seeing and is quite moving at times, though not necessarily very pleasant to watch.¬† I especially liked seeing London reimagined in this dystopic future on the brink of anarchy.¬† I *heart* London, particularly since my summer there, and not since 28 Days Later have I had the pleasure of seeing the city taken liberties with — London buses girded with protective mesh, electric cars and pedal-carts (a¬†la¬†Bangladesh!) on the street,¬†the Tate Modern as a private residence (or was it a government building?).¬† And there’s a brilliantly executed set of extremely long-running sequences during a violent uprising in a refugee camp – it was difficult not¬†to feel transported to and caught up in the worst¬†sort of¬†urban warfare as seen in¬†Sarajevo, Beirut or Mogadishu at the height of their civil wars.¬† I marvelled at how carefully timed and meticulously executed those scenes were – if you see the film, remember to mentally applaud the cameraman (and¬†perhaps other crew)¬†who had to do all that running with a camera and keep it pointed in the right direction.¬† And what happens to Julianne Moore’s character is cleverly unexpected enough that it sounds an exceptionally jarring and tragic note to reinforce the sense that the world is now a place where there is no real future.

Enough praise – on to the picky bits.¬† The difficulties of translating a book into a screenplay were well in evidence in the inconsistent treatment of the plot which vacillated between being overly pedantic and being excessively oblique.¬† Scattered through the film¬†were¬†explanatory “conversations” where¬†characters¬†had awkward monologues to tell the audience¬†things that everyone in the film sould already know and find patently obvious¬†(the midwife’s rambling about the discovery of the mass infertility, for example).¬† Yet at the same time¬†I got the clear sense that¬†large chunks of information were¬†being¬†brushed aside or skimmed over¬†because¬†they were too unwieldy¬†to delve into properly.¬† And maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention, but I felt as if key explanatory details were lost in the blink-and-you-miss-it introductions to the more peripheral characters and events (and the mumbly accents didn’t help).¬† Overall pacing also suffered from plodding sections where nothing seems to happen, but without any compensatory cinematography, intimacy, mood-setting or revelation of information – the film could have lost about 20 minutes and been better for it, or spent that time developing the story more densely or more clearly.

Like many of the films I¬†am drawn to watch¬†for their premise (think Poseidon, Flightplan and The Stepford Wives), Children of Men¬†is not bad, but doesn’t necessarily deliver it’s full potential in exploring the implications of the central premise.¬† Among the best parts of the¬†movie were those which started to¬†take the set-up through to its logical conclusions¬†– such as the scene in the abandoned school, or the successful evocation of the baby’s significance as a momentous, world-changing¬†miracle.¬† Most of the other parts of the film felt like a (skilful) rehash of scenes from other war or disaster films like The Pianist¬†or Independence Day.

And to answer the question that’s the title of this post, I also bought a pair of sunglasses (to replace the brown aviators I dropped irretriveably into a latrine in Madagascar last Spring Break), and my very own domain name!¬† At $7.20 from, that’s the best impulse buy ever!¬† So now you’ll be able to have the pleasure of reading this blog after being redirected from¬†– congratulations (to me)! ūüôā

PS: I love this video on YouTube – as a very amateur violinist, this video makes me very happy.

More menswear, FW 07/08

Sunday, January 21st, 2007

Milan men’s fashion week has ended, but the late winter fashion frenzy continues – tomorrow the Paris women’s¬†haute couture shows begin,¬†followed immediately¬†after that by the Paris menswear shows.¬† How very exciting.

In the meantime, here’re more emerging style notes:

(1)¬†Designers are experimenting with excess length in sleeves and hems, particularly for knits.¬† At the¬†Burberry Prorsum show, designer Christoper Bailey’s¬†opening look included¬†a slouchy knit version of that house’s iconic trench coat, while several inches worth of sweater sleeves crept out under the coat and blazer sleeves of many of the¬†other models.¬† Over at Prada models were enveloped in mammoth woolly coats and fuzzy sweaters of epic proportions.¬† Even at the usually body-conscious Dolce & Gabbana, loosely-draped sweaters with dropped hems were shown in heavy fabrics and cinched somewhere around the hips with hidden drawstrings.¬†

(2) Worn, faded and distressed denim is completely out.¬† When the key and leading purveyors of destroyed, treated and embellished designer jeans – Dsquared2 and Dolce & Gabbana – present only dark, polished and razor sharp tailored denim¬†on their¬†FW 07/08 runways, you know it’s time to retire the frayed, ripped bootcuts and get a new pair of straightlegs.

(3) Little things I liked from the Milan shows include: the carrying of two unmatched bags seen at Fendi (as women have long known, having two different tote bags¬†is both practical and more¬†interesting style-wise); the silver skinny tie, trainers and gloves as seen at Alessandro Dell’Acqua (and Dolce & Gabbana); the miles of fur seen at Prada (and Burberry), especially the mixing of different pelts and the use of a few feather accents as lapel pins – gorgeous!¬† I¬†now really want (and will¬†almost certainly not get) a pair of yak-hair or goat-hair¬†mukluks, a fur-lined (though shearling will do)¬†vest or coat, and a pair of¬†oversized fur mitts.¬†¬†Of course the ridiculously warm winter we’ve been having here in Boston is discouraging me from seriously considering these purchases.¬† Even with the past three days of below freezing weather,¬†almost the first we’ve had all season.¬†

(4) Little thing I didn’t like from the shows: the prevalence of tights or sweatpants that appeared everywhere, from Marni to Jil Sander to Prada to Fendi.¬† Ugh.

PS: Oh, and on a grooming note, long hair has all but vanished from the runways, leaving a desultory one or two at Alexander MacQueen.  After all, this is the season of the shaved-head Chad White.

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

РMilitary 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!

Holiday Party at the Fogg Museum (13 Dec 2006)

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

Holiday Party at the Fogg Museum (13 Dec 2006)
Originally uploaded by J Y.

It’s the holiday party season!

This was taken at the first “Student Friends of the Harvard Art Museums” event I’ve been to this year – the members holiday bash. Chocolate-covered strawberries, champagne, a jazz quartet…. tres, tres chic.

(I’m super happy about d√©buting a Charvet shirt and a Bergdorf bowtie ūüôā And also because of my beautiful date, of course!)

From left: Judith, me

Semi-productive musings

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

I loved going to Prof B’s office hours yesterday.¬† Everything about his manner, his office, even his name,¬†puts me in a literary frame of mind.*¬† He has endless shelves of books arranged loosely by topic and author (and I recognised a couple, like Prof U’s “Age of Homespun”, from¬†other classes I’ve taken here).¬† He has the kindly face, deliberate and¬†thoughtful speech cadences, and even the comfortably-timeless tweedy coats of the iconic¬†English professor.¬† Very much role-model material (he also founded a new subfield in his academic discipline and is among the best-loved teachers at the college).¬† Maybe minus the wardrobe…¬† or perhaps not.¬†

*Which is a pleasant and comforting escape after weeks of microeconomic problem sets and GRE dianostic tests that have painfully and repeatedly demonstrated a massive failure of any previous quantitative reasoning skill I once possessed. 

I am trying, somewhat successfully,¬†to wean myself off heavily material constructions of myself.¬† So, for example, I’ve essentially stopped going to Starbucks.¬† Which is a good thing, on multiple levels.¬† And what was the impetus of this turn away from materialism?¬† Two weeks ago, the unexpected magnitude of the trauma¬†resulting from¬†the temporary “disappearance” of my iPod and B&O headphones¬†got me critically thinking about, and repudiating, my increasing attachment to the meaning of the things I bought and owned.¬† I¬†suppose I shouldn’t have been¬†so shocked, but growing up I¬†never imagined that I would ever be so concerned and mindful of things like the¬†burgandy alligator-band on my wristwatch.¬† I always hoped that¬†I would continue to be concerned only with utility¬†(my fancy 6.1¬†speakers allow me to better appreciate music), craftsmanship (Ferragamos are simply better made), provenance or backstory (my stash of high-grown Sambhavy¬†vanilla tea¬†can only be bought¬†in Madagascar)¬†and¬†to be satisfied¬†with just¬†the memory of previous possessions (so when my Adrienne Landau animal-print silk scarf flew off¬†my head on a ride in Hong Kong, I just shrugged, albeit¬†a little sadly).¬† Which is why¬†being¬†packed off to the¬†army, to¬†rural South Africa, to Bangladesh and to Madagascar was¬†perfectly dandy for me, suspicious water-quality, latrines, forest treks,¬†jalopy-rides¬†and all.¬†

But in more recent weeks I was forced to reevaluate how entangled I had become in my possessions, and how I was becoming overly comfortable with leaning on them to project an image for me.¬† Where then was there room in¬†my overstuffed distressed-calfskin tote¬†for my¬†character, my humility and my soul?¬† Was I forgetting to burnish my personal traits and condition my heart even¬†while I buffed my boots with mink oil?¬† I certainly hope not.¬† Despite all appearances, I really don’t think any of the things of this world matter much, and I want to be confident that a loss of¬†my¬†collection of them¬†(say, God-forbid, in a fire)¬†would not put any over-great burden on my sense of self.

In other news, last night I was quite revolutionary.¬† I was in bed by 10.30pm, and awoke around 6am to start (and complete) my Ec1010a problem set.¬† It’s nice to feel rested, and heathier for having that knowledge.


I filled out a giant student health survey yesterday, and one of the questions was, “In the last 30 days, have you (check all that apply): (a) exercised to lose weight…” And I started laughing.¬† Then checked “no”.¬†

On the other hand, if they had asked — ¬†
“In the last 30 days, have you (check all that apply):
(a) bought 20 pounds of candy which you are steadily consuming
(b) gained over 5% of your body weight
(c) come to the startling realisation that your grades may be worse than last semester
(d) felt weary, restless and slightly anxious about the future
(e) detected an unusual and unwelcome¬†trend of poor “luck”
(f) worried that your hair was falling out at an unnaturally high rate
(g) felt in severe need of a vacation”

— I could have checked off all of these.

A Cold Front Arrives

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

I wore my chinchilla to my film class screening of Nanook of the North (1919) this afternoon and felt pleased with how apropos this was.

Thank God I wasn’t born an Inuit in Alaska in the early 20th century. Ugh.

I intensely disliked the second film we had to see. I had half a mind to boo (or cheer in relief) when it finally ended.

Just attended a very useful thesis-time-management workshop that left me with warm and fuzzy feelings. Yay.

The urge to sketch is becoming stronger. I really do want it to go away pesky thing.