Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Stereotipical Beauty

Personally, I find that the subject of under-weight models is over discussed. We've all read articles, seen TV shows and heard firsthand about unhealthy models and are getting tired of it. However, if this is something of which everyone is conscious, why is still an ongoing issue? If people like Crystal Renn and Portia de Rossi are publishing their heart-breaking stories for the world to read, why aren't people doing more to prevent it from occurring?
Oftentimes, teenagers are blinded by their idealistic views of modeling since it is glamorized by today's media and are easily swayed into the industry. This is not to imply that teenage girls are idiotic or uneducated; mostly, they are simply optimistic thinkers. When young models are scouted, they are usually asked to lose about five to ten pounds in order to appeal to designers and photographers. Models will sometimes stop eating for several days in order for the few extra pounds to disappear before a specific runway show or photo shoot. They have also been known to become obsessed with their weight and the way their bodies appear, pushing them towards anorexia and bulimia. If young girls who aren't models feel social pressure to be skinny, I can't begin to image the kind of pressure that a model would feel; having to keep their agency happy as well as impressing clients and making clothes look good.

To be blunt, I find that designs can usually be more appreciated when they are being modeled on slimmer figures simply because that is what they are designed for. Although I do not agree with models forcing themselves to throw up, not eating and living an overall unhealthy lifestyle in order to stay on top in this gruelling industry, I believe that models can be slim without destroying their bodies and that's what agencies should be looking for: healthy and happy people who enjoy their jobs.

We tend to see healthier people in the plus-size modeling indusrtry. Crystal Renn was a pioneer in the plus size model movement. After struggling with anorexia as a teen model, Crystal decided to stop starving herself. Ironically, this is when her career took off; as she started to redefine society’s idea of beauty. She produces beautiful images that display her curvaceous body and I see absolutely nothing wrong with that. Since plus size models embody a more accurate representation of North America’s population, why aren’t collections being designed to look good on their body types?

If young girls are struggling to survive their modeling careers why aren't we seeing more of a shift in the industry? I believe clothes should be created to flatter the everyday women, not to put pressure on people that don't fit into the stereotype of what we image beauty to be.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dark and Daring: Elle Muliarchyk

Having grown up in Vietnam and Belarus, young Elle Muliarchyk soon experienced fashion oppression. Wearing her school uniform for most of the day, clothes were simply something to wear, not something with which you could express yourself. After moving to New York at age 15, she was soon discovered by celebrity photographer Patrick Demarshelier in a coffee shop. She would sometimes do up to eighteen shows a day during fashion week in New York and adored every minute of it. "Modeling is about finding the medium between letting go and having control in front of the camera,"said Muliarchyk. Realizing that modeling wasn’t enough for her, she soon moved on to photography and filmmaking while still pursuing modeling on a part-time basis. 

Now 26, Elle Muliarchyk has become famous for her photographic fitting room series. She snuck her camera into the fitting rooms of various designer boutiques and captured herself wearing some of the most fabulous creations of the season. On some occasions she would even sneak miscellaneous items from the store into the room to pose with. When asked if she had ever been caught she replied: "I have been asked to leave the store several times, on other occasions they would call the police but I’ve only ever ended up in jail once and it was because they thought I was trying to take drugs." Muliarchyk also makes it clear that the only thing she’s stolen is the soul of the clothing.

Recently embarking on a new project, Elle Muliarchyk worked with designers such as Karl Lagerfeld and Alexander Wang to create outfits for unconventional models.  Muliarchyk snuck into churches across New York City, dressed statues of saints in the designer clothes and photographed them. Elle said that she was surprised that no one objected to it once she started getting caught and that the Vatican actually supported her because they believe it was good publicity.

Many find Elle Muliarchyk’s strong sense of rebellion inspiring. Her dark and daring photographs are getting her on our list of style savvy people to be watching.

Elle photographing herself for her fitting room series.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Style Going out of Style

For about a century now, fashion houses like Channel and Louis Vuitton have used their iconic logos and silhouettes to define themselves as a company; Valentino even has his own shade of red.  These particular traits are what we think of when someone utters the company name. What happens when this phenomenon trickles down to men, women and young people in our society? With social networking, people can manipulate virtually their profiles and change how people perceive them. Is this the branding of the 21st century? Are people developing their own personal brand instead of their personalities? 

Some people walk around today, plastered from head to toe in a company’s logo like a walking, talking advertisement for the brand. As a heavy consumer, I have never felt comfortable sporting a logo. I wish for people to notice style and the thought put into an outfit rather than the brand and the amount of money I spent on it. Are young people allowing a brand to define their personalities, following the companies every trend? Is cultivating one’s personal style going out of style?

In today’s consumer driven world, celebrities are turning into brands and brands are turning into people. What kind of effects will this have on our generations to come? Will infants of the future just shoot out of the womb wearing Gap sweaters? Or will being a real person come back in vogue?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ottawa Fashion Week

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending Ottawa Fashion Week that just so happened to be my very first runway show. I had a blast. The shows seemed to get better and better as they went on and I loved being around people that had such an impeccable sense of personal style. Unfortunately, I bought my tickets the day of the event so I was stuck sitting in the very back for most of the show and of course there was no flash photography permitted and this resulted in very little adequate pictures. Here were some of the highlights of the show that I was able to capture.

Models that shave their heads

I absolutely love the unconventionality of female models that choose to shave their heads. It makes a bold and modern statement that radiates strength and independence. Having no hair also allows for the model's best features to shine though, never mind the convenience of hassle-free styling.

One-colour collections

Although some of the looks from this collection were not my favorite, I love the idea of designing an entire collection in one colour. It allows it to be cohesive even if the designs are completely different.

Innovative styling

I'm really starting to like this kind of out-of-the-box styling. It has a sort of cool, Victorian vibe and gives a whole new meaning to the word "retro".

Theatricality in runway shows

In the finale show, they had these (mostly naked) men escorting the models down the runway with parasols that were covered in gold glitter so that when they walked, the glitter floated off. It made for a very beautiful and mystical effect. Plus, who doesn't love seeing a nice set of abs?

Style-savvy people

I love how fashion shows attract such style-savvy people, makes sense, right? This is fragrance stylist, Sid Cratzbarg, looking fabulous.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

From the clutches of my closet: Falling for Mustard

One of my very favorite purchases that I've made lately is a pair of mustard-yellow skinny jeans that I found for a whopping twenty dollars. It's a great colour for fall and I keep becoming surprised by the number of colours it looks fabulous with.  According to Lauren Conrad's book entitled Style, a pair of skinnies fits you ideally when you can just barely zip the fly (of course without spilling out of them in other areas) and these, I believe are the perfect example. Here are some looks I put together using the jeans for Fall's ever-changing climate.

For warmer weather

For when summer is just starting to turn, I suggest pairing the yellow denim with a cropped jean jacket and tribal print t-shirt. I wore it with striped flats that pick up the colour in the jeans and in the narrow purple head-band. If you feel this is a little too "matchy matchy" for you, feel free to use colours that clash; it was very on trend this summer!

 Getting cooler...

For that time of the year when you finally part with your short shorts for the season, I paired the skinnies with a light military-style jacket, a plain gray scoop-neck t-shirt and a blue and white striped infinity scarf. Fall is definitely prime scarf time. I wore it with a pair of simple black sandals but you could also substitute them for a pair of black flats if you notice your toes starting to turn blue.


For that time of the year when it's so cold that you wouldn't bother stepping out your front door if you didn't look so fabulous while doing it, I would put the jeans together with a long and heavy pea coat, a pair of gray faux-leather boots and a statement t-shirt. This one says: "say it out loud". In my mind, colour blocking never goes out of style.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fur real?

Although fur was one of the first materials with which humans fabricated their clothes, it has certainly had it's ups and downs in the fashion industry. Leading up to the 1980s, fur was symbolic of everything rich, luxurious and fashion forward. It was the epitome of class and social power; every woman simply had to have it.

In the late 80s, organizations such as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and Respect for Animals issued a worldwide campaign against the fur trade. Some extremists went as far as pouring red paint on public figures that wore fur. PETA recruited stores like Topshop and Forever 21 to boycott the trend.  Celebrities like long-time vegan, Natalie Portman who refuses to eat or wear anything that comes from an animal, started to come into the spot light as heros.

It is difficult to play judge and jury since the fur trade employs thousands of people including First Nations that hunt in northern Canada and Russia. However, animals in most slaughter houses and fur farms live in horrendous conditions, often stuffed in undersized cages and never succeed in seeing the light of day before they are murdered. Fur farms have also been known to utilize the most cost efficient ways to kill the animals without damaging the pelts such as poisoning, manual strangulation and occasionally they even skin them alive.

Eventually, the heat of the controversy started to die down and in the late 2000s, Anna Wintour featured fur on the cover on American Vogue. Animal pelts soon started to come back in style. Today, it is coming back in different ways; sometimes synthetic and sometimes vintage which is helping to reduce the number of souls that are lost to fashion.

 Karl Lagerfeld once said that it is "childish" to boycott fur in fashion in a world where it is normal to eat animals. The choice of going for fabulous looking fur or going home with a clean conscious is yours to make. What would you choose?

Design Against Fur Fashion - DAFF
An iconic anti-fur campaign by Respect for Animals.
Here is a link to a video I found on the PETA website, demonstrating how animals are treated in fur farms. Just a warning, it disturbed me and literally made me feel sick to my stomach therefore I was unable to watch the entire clip.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Writing about McQueen in the previous post made me think of his spring/summer 2001 collection for his own line entitled VOSS. Here, he had models sporting his breathtaking garments walking in a glass box that was lit from the inside so that the audience could see them but not the contrary. In the middle of the box sat another, this one's panes were dirty and translucent. Towards the end of the show, a light lit up inside the second box as each side fell and shattered on the floor. The turmoil revealed a naked woman laying on a chaise lounge breathing through a gas mask, her face covered by a mask as well as hundreds of moths that were flying about.

For those who are a little on the impatient side, skip ahead to about nine minutes into the video to see what I'm talking about. 

In my eyes, this tableau was disturbing. It made me feel genuinely afraid but that's what I love about it. Anything that can directly evoke that kind of raw emotion has to be something truly amazing. I love how so many questions pop in your head when you're watching it, even if the question is: "What the f**k?".  I adore the drama and the theatricality; it is so brilliantly and beautifully thought out. This is taking fashion and art to the next level. It makes people think and feel which is something that I believe is being lost in today's society.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Heroine Chic

As previously discussed, the fashion industry can be incredibly grueling. Designers barely have time to take their final bow for their fall collections before they start sketching for spring. Models will sometimes walk up to twenty shows a day during fashion week. It is amazingly daunting to always be expected to be innovative, creating something that has never been done before and for models to be perfectly beautiful and flawless at all times. It has almost become expected that some of the people we look up to the most in fashion get crushed under the immense pressure. They are almost like a ticking time bomb and we just sit and wait for the explosion. Of course, not all great icons are like this, some have endured the fashion industry for years and still manage to come out on top whereas others resort to unhealthy methods to dealing with the stress of it all such as drug and alcohol abuse. 

We have seen some of the most talented people in fashion being destroyed by their addictions or recreational habits. Most recently, John Galliano was fired from his position of head designer for Christian Dior and fined for having uttered anti-semitic remarks to fellow patrons while intoxicated in a Parisienne cafe. The event was recorded and of course, the video went viral leaving Dior no choice but to dismiss Galliano in order to save their fashion house. After making a public apology, little news has come from the designer as he will probably never be able to sell a collection again.

In 2005, super model, Kate Moss who was known for having pioneered the "heroine chic" look of the 90s, was photographed by paparazzi snorting lines of cocaine. Moss soon after lost some of her most high profile contracts with houses such as Chanel, Burberry and H&M,  all denying any further affiliation with the model. Although certain drugs have been known to allow people to lose weight, therefore helping Moss to maintain her lean figure, this publicity flop certainly did not help her attain the next level in her career.

In 2010, the legendary designer (Lee) Alexander McQueen commited suicide in his London apartment only days after the passing of his mother and three years after the suicide of his friend and muse, Isabella Blow. His body was said to be found hung and filled with sleeping pills, cocaine and tranquilizers. He had publicly stated before that he had several demons that he faced on a daily basis and of course, the stress of striving to create amazing collections could not have benefited him psychologically. The fact that McQueen allegedly used drugs recreationally could have also been a contributing factor to his suicide. One thing is for certain, the entire industry mourned the loss of an amazing man and a trailblazing designer.

As we watch some of the most talented people rise and fall, one cannot help but wonder if this industry is just so exceptionally harsh that few survive or is it because it attracts such fragile personalities. Karl Lagerfeld once said:  

“I see designing, running a company, like a high-level athletic activity. I don’t want to hear anything about the fragility or any of those things. If an athlete is too fragile to run, he cannot run. And this is exactly the same. You don’t accept this kind of business if you’re too much of an artist. I believe in discipline, so I’m not the right person to cry about weakness and things like this, but maybe I’m not human.”

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

From the clutches of my closet: All dressed up.

This is by far one of my favorite dresses from the collection of random clothes that I call my wardrobe. I discovered it while on a rambunctious road trip to Toronto this summer, right before my friend almost died of claustrophobia in Forever 21 (you should really choose your shopping companions carefully: it is not for the weak at heart!). This great find cost me only twenty dollars. I always become ecstatic when I win the battle find something so great for so little.

 I love this because its short enough to be considered "flirty" but not short enough to be vulgar or leaving me thinking twice before bending over. I love how the sheer polka-dot fabric overlaps the layer underneath by about an inch and the cut out in the back just makes it absolutely lovely. Its edgy without being completely composed of meat. Plus, cut outs and sheer fabric were the trends that were on all the spring/summer runways.

I accessorized with silver sequined stilettos that have a slight platform and cut outs to match the dress. A small pop of colour such as some red nails would definitely kick the outfit up a notch. I also wore a silver, over-sized ring and my trademark "C" pendant necklace. A longer necklace would have also worked since the front of the dress is relatively simple and would not be offended by some bedazzling.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Mission Statement

When I was younger, fashion had always been in the back of my mind; something I thought was interesting but never really knew anything about. The Christmas I was fifteen, I jumped on a train heading to Toronto to spend a few days with my sister. At some point during my holidays, I stopped by to visit her at work, which was a very trendy and sophisticated little cafe. On my way out, an older man who was sitting, drinking his coffee by himself stopped me. He said to me: “I’m sorry to bother you, but I must say that you are quite beautiful and tall too!” As I started to worry about the direction this conversation was heading and trying to come up with something to say all at the same time, he said: “I’m a modeling agent”.  He handed me his green and silver business card and told me that I should get in touch with him once I grew another inch or two. Perhaps my vanity is responsible, but after that, I became completely obsessed with fashion and its industry. I started researching everything about it and never missed an episode of Fashion Television, with the hope that one day; I could become a professional fashion model.

A few months later, I traveled back to Toronto and met up with Mr. Elmer Olsen (the modeling agent) only to be told that I was still about an inch too short. My dreams of strutting down the most prestigious runways slowly diffused but I never lost interest in fashion. As Carrie Bradshaw once said: “When I first moved to New York and was totally broke, I would sometimes buy Vogue instead of dinner. I just felt that it fed me more.” Not that I would ever allow my passion for fashion to render me starving but very much understand Carrie’s perspective. I’m hoping that by writing about something that inspires me so greatly, I will be able to further my education in this field, as well as broadening the horizons of the readers and perhaps event inspire a few people.

I have always found it interesting how fashion can incorporate so many mediums of art. Designers illustrate their visions before executing them with fabric that someone has engineered. Talented photographers capture models posing in their creations, on the runway or on a set. Then, editors and graphic designers work together, publishing them in all the hottest magazines. It’s the perfect kaleidoscope of modern day art and the perfect domain for someone, such as myself, who has such a wide variety of interests. I hope to perhaps, one day, pursue a career in the fashion industry because it feels as though I am naturally drawn to it, like a moth to a flame. Although it has never been proven that this kind of passion can be hereditary: passed on to you from previous generations, I believe it is a valid hypothesis. My grandfather on my mother’s side of the family had a very keen interest in photography and in the general functioning and maintenance of film cameras (of course he passed before the digital era). Although he was known to be a man of many interests, I recently found a few photographs that he had taken of my grandmother. I was amazed at how wonderful they were and at how talented he must have been. My cousin, Jenn (also on my mother’s side), is now an established stylist working out of Seattle, who also happens to have an impeccable sense of personal style. Perhaps these are just happy coincidences, but I like to consider the possibility that a long line of artistic blood runs through my veins. 

Photos of my grandmother, Eva, captured by her husband.
I believe that fashion isn’t just some silly thing that girls like to fret about but rather a creative outlet. It allows individuals to express themselves through their clothing, accessories and overall style. It allows designers to send shock waves across the planet with their ground-breaking designs; changing the world with their very own point of view. Like the iconic couturier, Coco Chanel, once stated: “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” That being said, it can also be an indicator of the events that are occurring in the world. In the 30s, fashion was basically non-existent since The Great Depression had wiped out every basic luxury. In the 60s, fashion had a very youthful and fun vibe as hippie culture was starting to emerge as a rebellion against the violence the Vietnamese War had brought. In the late 90s, runways had a very futuristic and dark tone as a new century was approaching and Y2K was on everyone’s mind. As celebrity American sportswear designer, Michael Kors, once put it: “Fashion is not for sissies.” It is most definitely an incredibly grueling industry that has been known to cause even the toughest of the crop to wither under the pressure.

I am very excited about this blog because there is still an entire world of knowledge regarding the fashion industry out there for me to discover. My mind is hungry for it. This project has already started to push me to learn more by flipping through the literary works written by designers, models and style icons as well as my beloved style magazines. My brain has already started running wild and becoming impregnated with several exciting ideas. Here’s hoping this project will allow me to pass my grade twelve English class as well as creating some amazing new opportunities for myself.