December 31, 2006

Style resolutions for 2007

1. Replace lots of casual, disposable purchases with a few (expensive) timeless, unique pieces.
2. Edit wardrobe to absolutely perfect pieces for more closet space.
3. Get thinks altered to fit perfectly - nothing is worse than ill-fitting dress clothes.
4. Spend more wisely and a little more frugally. Consider having a fashion budget instead of purchasing indiscriminately.
5. Enjoy the hunt.

December 29, 2006

The end of teen fashion magazines...

[Sorry for the lack of updates in December! I was away in SE Asia and some of the countries seem to block blogger websites!!]

Anyway, I found out the other day that Canada's only teen fashion magazine, Fashion18 (owned by St. Joseph Media), is going online-only and ceasing publication. I don't read it or subscribe, so I didn't know exactly when that happened, but it must have been in the last few weeks.

Like the fate of American counterparts Teen People and Ellegirl, the magazine will maintain an online staff and website because that's the direction that this demographic is (supposedly) heading towards. So then I wonder why magazines like Teen Vogue and Cosmogirl! are still doing really well? Also, what happens to women's magazines when this generation grows up?

December 7, 2006

Model Ethics...?

Is it great that magazines are being more realistic or terrible that we're regulating the industry so religiously? Maybe I'm just biased because I'm a 00 and have size 4 feet and can't buy nice shoes except here in SE Asia...

[FROM Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (12-06-06)]

Cosmopolitan magazine in the U.S. has already picked up on the changing thinking. Kate White, editor-in-chief, recently created a policy against running illustrations of women who are too thin. "We were looking at some illustrations for the magazine and I thought, 'We just have to put more meat on their bones,'" said Ms. White, who rejected the drawings and ordered up new ones. "In photographs, we make a real effort to use models who are not extraordinarily thin, but it's tricky because fashion models tend to be thin," she said. Starting with the February issue, Cosmopolitan illustrations of women now have to feature women who look like they wear a size 6 or 8, she adds.

December 5, 2006

Ladies and gentlemen...rev your credit cards!

Sorry for the lack of updates...have been getting married, going to SE Asia for my honeymoon, and writing papers about the commercialization of fashion media online (ie websites for editorial magazines serve as shopping sites in some cases) and research methods (ew).

Anyway, just so you know Top Shop is now shipping to the US and a host of other countries worldwide. Cheers!!

November 22, 2006

How much is your time worth?

Something to think about?

Picard (1989) explains that media industries are unique in that they function in dual product market. That is, although media companies produce one product, they participate in two separate good and service markets. In the first market, the good may be in the form of a newspaper, radio or television program, magazine, book or film production. The good is marketed to consumers, and performance is evaluated in different ways. [...] However, all media products require the use of individual time (a scarce resource) in order to be consumed. The second market in which many media companies are engaged involves the selling of advertising. (27)

Albarran, Alan B. Media Economics: Understanding Markets, Industries and Concepts. 2nd ed. Ames, IO: Iowa State Press, 2002.

November 17, 2006

Topshop online

For only 95 pounds.
Unfortunately, they don't yet ship internationally. Which is a shame.

November 16, 2006

The role of the museum?

The coverage of fashion in museum and gallery curated exhibitions has played a large role in its greater cultural acceptance as an artistic product. Which is why I thought that today's NY Times article is interesting because it points out the key problem with putting fashion in a curatorial/art context - its relations to consumer culture and the world of commerce. How is the curator going to make this exhibit different than the window display of the same fashions at the Bergdorf windows??? Does it matter? In our postmodern world, this is of course the dilemma of practitioners and theorists alike.

Any thoughts?

Couldn’t Make It to Paris? The Catwalk Comes to Boston (Click for full article)

AT the entrance to “Fashion Show: Paris Collections 2006,” the first costume exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in more than a decade, visitors face a video projection of life-size models catwalking toward a recessed door so narrow and shadowed that the crowd assembled there recalls the stylish scrum that forms in Paris, outside the tents of the Tuileries Gardens, whenever a big designer shows.

“Fashion Show” is made up of pieces from 10 recent Paris collections, shown on mannequins mounted to re-creations of the runways on which Yohji Yamamoto, Viktor & Rolf, Chanel, Dior and others originally presented their collections. But any resemblance to the experience of going to those shows begins and ends right at the door.

A museum show about fashion shows provides new fodder for debate among art critics and curatorial purists over the increasingly commercial direction of many museums. Nevertheless, Malcolm Rogers, director of the Museum of Fine Arts, unflinchingly described his strategy in W magazine this month: “I want to make the MFA the style capital of the museum world.” But for those who are tabulating the cultural value of elevating the fashion industry’s most effective marketing tool — the runway — into a subject for serious discourse in an institution of fine arts, “Fashion Show” provides as much unexpected substance as it does eye candy.

November 13, 2006

Beauty Shots

This is slightly off course, but I've been really busy with school and work and a whole bunch of exciting and terrible things, so I thought at least I should share these incredible photos from foto decadent. I've been looking at a lot of glossy, generic beauty photographs lately and these jsut stood out because they're still aesthetically calm and pleasing (ie not punk, surreal or rainbow coloured) and yet quite subversive and original. Cheers!

November 5, 2006

the author as alive and well

so much for Barthes' idea that the author is dead (in favour of the audience).

but then, what does it mean when a designer does a collection for another company in addition to his or her eponymous line? what is compromised and what is gained?

is this the future of financing for young, avant-garde designers? when will a club monaco or top shop designer take over the realms of gucci for a capsule collection? is the star designer only possible at the top end (to start)?

top to bottom: Viktor & Rolf for H&M, Proenza for Target, Roland for Gap

October 29, 2006


"Travel" Photographer: Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott Model: Jessica Stam (From foto_decadent)

Beginnings: Fashion Photography and Art

(Another essay of mine...)

Fashion Photography: Between Art and Commerce

Visual culture, which Nicholas Mirzoeff calls “the interface between all the disciplines dealing with the visuality of contemporary culture,”[1] is inherently about the way that human beings look at the world, and make sense of what we see. According to W.T.J. Mitchell, there is a great difference between ‘looking’ and ‘seeing’ or ‘reading’, because the latter is contingent on “what our eyes have been socialised to see, and our minds to interpret.”[2] In short, our understanding of the visual is a socially constructed process.

Fashion photographs are images, painstakingly constructed or captured on the spur of the moment, that are intended to showcase fashion products, abstract notions of style, and “the relationships between clothes, wearers and contexts.”[3] These images can be simple and pragmatic, as is the case with catalog or stock photography, or highly symbolic and deliberately “fabricated to produce and evoke synesthetic sensations.”[4]

A number of gallery exhibitions and theorists in the last decade have attempted to consider and debate the relationship between contemporary fashion photography and art. From the Museum of Modern Art’s “Fashioning Fiction in Photography since 1990” to the New York Institute of Contemporary Art’s “Chic Clicks: Commerce and Creativity in Comtemporary Fashion Photography,” it seems de rigour to contemplate the relevance of cultural and institutional barriers between these two undeniably related fields.

As bold-named commercial photographers gain greater artistic liberties with their editorial work and exhibit regularly in museums and galleries, and art photographers turn their eye to fashion, and create commissioned works for magazines such as Dutch and Nylon, this is a barrier which has become increasingly blurred.

In ‘reading’ and understanding fashion photography, one may refer to traditional art history terminology and criteria, such as ‘lighting’ and ‘composition.’ But, more often, fashion photographs are popularly discussed in commercial terms, referencing the mannequins and frocks in photos rather than angles or horizons. Within visual culture studies and art history, much has been written and theorized about photography as an art form.

Yet, perhaps as part of the larger divide between art and commerce, there is a cultural distinction between the art photograph which features fashion and even editorial fashion photography. There are distinctive differences between a ‘reading’ of the fashionable image from an artistic perspective and from a trade standpoint.

How does one examine and understand Juergen Teller’s fashion photographs of high society ladies for W magazine? Is the process any different than it would be for his art photos of the old Nazi parade grounds at Nuremberg? As Olivier Zahm remarks in his essay on changes in contemporary fashion photography, how should “a fashion photographer be evaluated? On the basis of what criteria?”[5]

[1] Margarita Dikovitskaya, Visual Culture: The Study of the Visual After the Cultural Turn (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2005) 58.
[2] Tony Schirato, Understanding the Visual, ed. Jen Webb (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE, 2004) 58.
[3] Jennifer Craik, “Soft Focus: Techniques of Fashion Photography,” The Face of Fashion: Cultural Studies in Fashion (New York: Routledge, 1994) 93.
[4] Katya Mandoki, “Point and Line Over the Body: Social Imaginaries Underlying the Logic of Fashion,” Journal of Popular Culture 36.3 (2003): 601.
[5] Olivier Zahm, “On the Marked Change in Fashion Photography,” Chic Clicks: Commerce and Creativity in Contemporary Fashion Photography, ed. Gilles Lipovetsky, Ulrich Lehmann, and Fotomuseum Winterthur (New York: Institute of Contemporary Art, 2002) T30.

October 25, 2006

Conference Alert! Popular Culture/American Culture Association

I'll be presenting a paper here :)


Popular Culture Association
April 4-7, 2007
Boston, Massachusetts

Fashion, Appearance and Consumer Identity is concerned with the areas of clothing, historical costume, fashion aesthetics, fashion and appearance, fashion marketing, merchandising, retailing, the psychological/sociological aspects of dress, cultural appearances as well as any areas relating to consumption and consumer identity. Papers from all disciplines are welcome. Innovative and new research in the areas of fashion and consumerism are encouraged!

Please email a cover letter with contact information and 150-word abstract of your proposal paper to Joseph Hancock:
at Drexel University's College of Media Arts and Design.

Submissions due Nov. 3

October 19, 2006

Round 2

More pictures from Muzik
Info at

October 16, 2006

Toronto Fashion Week - Day 1

I went to the "Fragmented Time L'Oreal Spring Beauty Trends 2007" fashion and beauty catwalk show today and was pretty underwhelmed. The clothes were nice enough, but obviously they were a secondary issue to the make-up, which wasn't, but not really worth going downtown for.

I ran into some old friends and industry acquaintances though, so the evening wasn't wasted.

For more pictures, check out tomorrow.

October 15, 2006

Essay Summary: Teen Fashion Magazines and Postmodernity

This is the beginnings of my first ever cultural studies paper :)

Dressed to sell: Postmodern aesthetics, consumer culture, and fashion in teen magazines

Since Angela McRobbie conducted a “qualitative content analysis and semiological study” of the British girls’ magazine Jackie in 1978 (Duke and Kreshel 52), many scholars worldwide have examined these texts and their place within the lives of adolescent girls. This academic interest is not surprising when one considers that, for example, although the circulation numbers are down significantly from a decade ago, there are nevertheless six magazines targeted at adolescent girls in Advertising Age’s list of the 300 top U.S. magazines (as measured by gross revenue from advertising and circulation) in 2004 (Endicott S1-S8).

In North America specifically, most of the research appears focused on the areas of self-esteem, health, gender and consumption. Some studies have concluded that the authority of the fashion press is limited (Crane, “Gender and Hegemony” 541), while others give greater weight to the ability of the media to influence consumption and lifestyle choices. Regardless, while a great number of content and discourse analyses and ethnographic studies have been conducted, there has been scant attention paid to how the aesthetics of these texts contribute to the various ideological discourses.

This essay will investigate the way that contemporary fashion products and commodity culture are presented in the editorial spreads of three mainstream North American magazines aimed at female adolescents: Teen Vogue, Seventeen and ELLEgirl. Although these publications continue to use traditional narrative and layout techniques primarily, they have also increasingly embraced postmodern concepts such as the death of metanarratives, a penchant for spectacle, and persistent ironic self-reflexivity in their content and aesthetic. As a result, they are somehow both formulaic and unabashedly discombobulated in both appearance and substance.

Contemporary images and layouts in teen magazines utilize postmodern aesthetics in order to promote commodity fetishism and hyperconsumption. This is ironic because postmodernity is traditionally associated with a greater emphasis on fashion individualism and originality for women (Crane 208), and postmodern fashion signifiers with subversive youth subcultures (Moore 325), such as the British punk movement and stylish Japanese Kogaru girls.

These once-rebellious and political youth subcultures, and the concept of youthful individualism itself, have now been commodified and resold to millions of young girls in an ahistorical and superficial package. Furthermore, visual approaches associated with postmodern aethethics such as pastiche, fragmentation and deconstruction were originally used only by avant-garde and anti-establishment fashion publications such as i-D and (the now defunct) The Face (Jobling 41).

How, then, have they been appropriated to promote such trivialities as movie stars and muk-luk boots?

[My conclusion?]

Teen magazines, much like other mass media today, display a host of postmodern characteristics in both their content and layout: fragmentation of subject matter, a lack of metanarratives, and the use of pastiche and bricolage to promote a host of diverse and occasionally incongruent trends, eras and styles. These stylistic elements and techniques are used for a variety of reasons: to distract, entertain, offer up signs in place of real meaning, and, most importantly, to provide the illusion of change and novelty in an age where fashion originality is “dead” (Mandoki 614) but the hyperconsumption of its (empty) signs must go on.

The fashion features found in these magazines, such as “Update your look” and “Where Did You Get That,” are brightly-coloured, visually appealing, and busy with graphics and images. However, they also have very little substantive content, and the sheer amount of visual activity and lack of narrative coherence makes meaning-making a challenge. Ultimately, the only constancy throughout these pages is the pervasive promotion of consumer culture and fetishization of images and fashion products.

October 10, 2006

Karl Lagerfeld

I want this cd!!

Karl Lagerfeld's aural obsession is almost as well-known as his aesthetic one—he owns upwards of 70 iPods and needs every gigabyte to hold his collection of over 60,000 CDs. Now the designer is sharing a portion of the wealth with Karl Lagerfeld: Les Musiques Que J'aime [My favorite songs], a two disc set that is divided into an “at home” mix (anything from Black Mountain to LCD Soundsystem) and an equally eclectic selection of “fashion show” tracks (from Stravinsky to Stereolab). Its US release is scheduled for November, but Karl obsessives can snag a copy right now through

October 5, 2006

Fashion in Fiction Conference!

For all you academics out amazing chance to visit one of the most beautiful countries in the world. See you at Bondi beach!

Fashion in Fiction 26-27 May 2007

An International Transdisciplinary Conference, University of Technology, Sydney Australia
It was Roland Barthes who proposed that fashion was not an "industry" but rather a set of fictions. By this Barthes did not wish to ignore the economic function of fashion, but rather underline fashion's mythic dimension, and suggest that fashion is a literature in itself. Fashion and fiction have long existed in close proximity; writers have been driven by their experience of fashion; fashion has been developed through and by literary tropes. What makes dress and fashion such a fascinating subject for writers? And how are fashion's mythologies constructed and disseminated through fictional texts?

This transdisciplinary conference, a creative collaboration between the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, seeks to investigate and explore the role that fashion has played in fictional narratives from the 19th century to the present. In particular, it will examine specific fashion discourses or conversations within fiction, assessing the role, function, and purposes of clothes, fashion movements, style and image to create narratives within narratives.

Papers are sought from those engaged in the fields of literature, creative writing, media, cultural studies, fashion and design, philosophy and theory.

Selected papers will be published in a peer referred publication.

Abstract Deadline: October 15, 2006
Please send abstracts to:


LOVE the latest Hussein Chalayan collection for SS2007.

Love love love it. Wearable art.

October 3, 2006

The end of fashion? Food for thought...

From Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune [via Fashionologie]

We may be looking now at a situation where fashion is no longer the defining badge of social acceptability. Or more probably, that clothes will retain their importance but in a fragmented way, as, in response to homogenous branding, society divides into myriad fashion tribes.

If, at this start of the 21st century, a design crusader emerges who can trounce all that stands in the way and win a worldwide name and empire, it will be a triumph indeed.

Is fashion over? It will just be different. And who knows if the next new brand will be built in cyberspace?

October 2, 2006

Precesion of Simulacra

One more reason I like to read the blog Counterfeit Chic. Because issues of authenticity and creative patents are everywhere these days! I don't understand why Target would get into this sort of business, since they're a large company that is much more vulnerable to lawsuits than the little stores on Canal St. but hey, I guess we'll find out soon what this is all about.

Also, does anyone else find it funny that such a brand like Coach is concerned about knock-offs and fakes?

Coach Files Trademark Suit Against Target Over Fake Handbag

NEW YORK (AP) -- Luxury handbag and accessory maker Coach Inc. has sued Target Corp., alleging the Minneapolis, Minn., retailer is selling a counterfeit handbag that claims to be an authentic Coach product.

The New York-based luxury goods company claims a counterfeit handbag that is an "exact replica of a genuine Coach handbag" and that bears a counterfeit of at least one Coach trademark was purchased from a Target store in Largo, Fla.
The lawsuit, filed late Friday in federal court in Manhattan, is seeking more than $1 million in damages. Target's media relations department didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment Monday.

Source [via JJB]

September 28, 2006

The lines are beautiful...

...but i'm not sure how Jeremy Laing's SS2007 collection is supposed to be inspired by the "essays of Thorstein Veblen"(V Magazine No. 43, Fall 2006). We'll be talking about conspicuous consumption soon enough on this blog (I wrote a whole essay about it for my Reading Television graduate studies course), but for now, consider the lines and draping of my favourite Canadian designer.

The role of the fashion press

I think it's lame that fashion houses would consider banning a media outlet after a bad review. But the prevalence of such decisions this season at least reminds me that there are some newspapers and magazines that aren't afraid to be CRITICAL and fair in their critiques of the fashion system. If every collection was brilliant, and every review glowing, what would the point be?

From Fashion Week Daily

Dolce & Gabbana reject media elite Thursday, September 28, 2006

(MILAN) Even a reported 54.5 million page views and 535,000 unique visitors during New York’s Fashion Week can do little to sway fickle fashion designers. A spokeswoman for confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that its team covering the shows in Europe—namely Sarah Mower, Tim Blanks, and Nicole Phelps—would not be attending today’s Dolce & Gabbana show. Apparently, Dolce & Gabbana’s PR team was displeased with Mower's show review from the previous season. No review of D&G’s Spring 2007 show, presented on Monday, was posted on the Condé Net site either.

Speaking of, its executive fashion director, Candy Pratts Price, abruptly checked out of the Four Seasons Wednesday and flew back to New York after colleagues described her as being “under the weather” and needing some R&R. Price, however, is expected back in time for the Paris shows.

Meanwhile, Cathy Horyn, who was politely uninvited to the Carolina Herrera show in New York, found herself in the same predicament at Dolce & Gabbana. The New York Times fashion critic confirmed at this morning’s Pucci show that she had not been invited, but declined further comment.

September 22, 2006

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

one of these things is too much like the other...

One of my favourite Cultural Studies texts, of course, is The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Walter Benjamin. I'll discuss this monumental piece in greater detail in future posts but for now, while I prepare to go mushroom foraging in the woods in the rain tomorrow, here is some food for thought:

"Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be. This unique existence of the work of art determined the history to which it was subject throughout the time of its existence. This includes the changes which it may have suffered in physical condition over the years as well as the various changes in its ownership. The traces of the first can be revealed only by chemical or physical analyses which it is impossible to perform on a reproduction; changes of ownership are subject to a tradition which must be traced from the situation of the original. The presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity. "

The entire essay can be read here. Amazing, isn't it, how some Marxist theory from 1935 can still be so relevant today?

How then, can we observe the "aura" of Kaisik Wong (top, 1970s) in the Balenciaga (bottom, 2002)? Nicholas Ghesquière might be a genius for Fall 2006 but I still do not quite forgive him for this trespass.

September 16, 2006

You are seduced by the sex appeal of the Inorganic

I really love this piece by Barbara Kruger. It makes me think a lot about how fashion imagery (and really all commercial imagery in general) is painstakingly constructed in order to appeal to our aesthetic and sexual selves and how in postmodernity nothing is quite removed from capitalism. Which is fine and well in one sense because I love soft leather gloves as much as the next fashionista, but ultimately what Kruger questions is the empty nature of the pleasures promised. How fitting for someone who used to work in the art department of consumer magazines!

Here's her biography from Tate Online:

American conceptual artist, designer and writer. She enrolled at Parsons School of Design, Syracuse, NY, where her teachers included the photographer Diane Arbus and Marvin Israel (b 1924), a successful graphic designer and art director of Harper's Bazaar, who was particularly encouraging. When Kruger's interest in art school waned in the mid-1960s, Israel encouraged her to prepare a professional portfolio. Kruger moved to New York and entered the design department of Mademoiselle magazine, becoming chief designer a year later. Also at that time she designed book covers for political texts. In the late 1960s and early 1970s she became interested in poetry and began writing and attending readings. From 1976 to 1980 she lived in Berkeley, CA, teaching and reflecting on her own art. In photograph-based images she examined the representation of power via mass-media images, appropriating their iconography and slogans and deconstructing them visually and verbally. Such works as Untitled (You Invest in the Divinity of the Masterpiece) (photograph, 1.82×1.16 m, 1982; New York, MOMA) exploit an economy of image and text to articulate and undermine the power-based relations established in such media images. Major influences cited by Kruger include films, television and the stereotypical situations of everyday life, and especially her training as a graphic designer. Her messages have been displayed in both galleries and public spaces, as well as on framed and unframed photographs, posters, T-shirts, electronic signboards, billboards and flyposters.

September 12, 2006

Hello world.

The academic journal Fashion Theory takes as its starting point a definition of ‘fashion’ as the cultural construction of the embodied identity.

This blog, which is not in any way affiliated with the journal, will hopefully be an insightful and whimsical look at the Fashion system and its manifestations through my eyes. Hopefully, I will find time to write about Roland Barthes and Marc Jacobs in interesting ways, and in the process find my own voice as an editor and writer.