Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Carrie Bradshaw

For those few who haven't already heard her name, Carrie Bradshaw was a ground-breaking character from HBO's hit show, Sex and the City, of which I have watched the entire series... twice. Carrie's character was the child of Candace Bushnell's column that ran in The New York Observer which was eventually turned into a book and later, into the sitcom. The series broke many social barriers in the 90s such as speaking openly about sex and highlighted several feminist views. Carrie, played by the infamous Sarah Jessica Parker, is a modern, fashion obsessed woman living in Manhattan. She is intelligent, notoriously witty with words and writes a column for the New York Star entitled Sex and the City. Through the many, many ups and downs in her romantic life as well as in her sexual endeavors, she is always left standing tall in her Monolo Blahniks. Throughout the show, Carries wardrobe evolves along with the major men in her life, whether it be Mr. Big, Aiden or her 'Russian', Aleksandr Petrovsky.

When the show first debuted, Carrie was a self-confessed love virgin in day one of Sex and the City. This was reflected in her clothing. She would often wear pretty, soft, feminine colours and styles that projected her purity as demonstrated in the opening credits when she struts down a New York street wearing a modern, white tutu and a pink top. Her outfits remain somewhat inconsistent throughout the first season, displaying Carrie's youth and her search for her true identity. Mr. Big and Carrie meet in the very first episode of the series when her bag is knocked over in the street and he kindly helps her clean up the contents of her purse, including an  astounding amount of condoms. He is a very successful, handsome and mature business man that had been known to exclusively date models. When their relationship begins to flourish, we notice her wardrobe starts to mature. She still knows how to have fun with her clothes but she takes it to the next level and we start to see her experiment with romantic evening gowns on her very formal dates with Big. When heart break becomes Carrie we see her style take a major nose dive before she steps up her game when the opportunity arises to try to get back with Mr. Big. Although the roller coaster that is their relationship takes its ups and downs throughout the entire series, we never quite see the innocent, pretty-in-pink Carrie again.

When Carrie flirtatiously buys a chair from Aiden, the hunky country-boy carpenter, it doesn't take them long to fall completely head-over-heals for each other. At this point in the show, we find Carrie making major ajustments to her life. She quits smoking (sort of) and much to her chagrin, she even gets up the nerve to scoop his collie's poop. Her style also takes a turn and we see her start to take a more relaxed approach to fashion. When she is whisked away to Aiden's country house upstate and even wears plaid flannel, which if you didn't know was a major risk in the 90s.  Carrie struggles to adapt to the country life and despite their profound admiration for each other, she finds herself constantly fighting with her hunky man. Later, Carrie is devastated when she loses Aiden due to an affair with Big. Here, we see her pull out all the stops when we she gets back on the dating scene. She sports huge broaches, asymmetrical lines and pastels are nowhere in sight. This, in my mind, mirrors all the craziness and confusion that is going on in her life.

In the last season, she meets Mr. Aleksandr Petrovsky. The intense eye contact that was made at a contemporary art exhibition between Carrie and "her Russian" stuck in her mind. He was a well-known artist with a swanky penthouse apartment/studio and an old-world romantic charm.  Although uncertain at first, Carrie found herself in love once again, this time, with someone much older and experienced. With a book and dream freelance job with Vogue under her belt (or should I say Gucci hip bag) she is pushed towards a more classic style, dipping into old Hollywood glamour and a more refined look. She is tempted by the thought of settling down with Aleksandr in Paris (who wouldn't want to be with a man that buys you Oscar De La Renta and wants to live with you in France?). Tempted but not convinced, Carrie ends up with Mr. Big once again in New York. Here, she reverts back to her fur coats and her sometimes-unconventional-but-always-amazing outfits.

Throughout the show, Carrie's amazing sense of style breaks all the rules of fashion. From her feathered heels to her very over-sized flower broaches, she is never afraid of taking chances with her (very large) wardrobe. This is something that I absolutely love about her character because she always has a lot of fun with clothes and doesn't let the idea of comfort stand in her way. After all, very few of the most amazing style icons like to follow the rules. Throughout the sitcom, her style evolves, usually depending on the man in her life and the words that appear in her column.  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

On the Cheap

As a teenager making student minimum wage at a local deli, I have gotten quite good at what they call "shopping on a budget" or basically just shopping for normal people. I almost never buy anything that isn't on sale or that isn't already really cheap unless, it is an investment piece. An investment piece is something that you are absolutely sure that you want (probably because you have wanted it for a while), that you know is versatile and can be worn in several different ways. It is also something that you are sure will last you a very long time, in the sense of durability, and that won't go out of style in the next five minutes. These are items on which it's okay to splurge.

I like to shop a lot at stores like H&M, Forever 21 and Winners mostly because they have clothes that I love that are normally already pretty cheap. However, I am also on the emailing list for stores like Urban Outfitters and Madewell because they will actually send me notifications when they are having a sale, convenient, right? You can also add your favorite stores to your social media feeds like Facebook and Twitter in order to receive updates. Never forget to look at the sales rack in the back of the store and if you find something that you love that isn't in your size, don't be afraid to ask a salesperson if they have the right one in the back somewhere.

This is a great example of an outfit "on a budget". The brown, faux-leather moto jacket was purchased at Dynamite originally $65 on sale for $35. The off-white pashmina was inexpensive from the start, $10 form Le Château. The pale turquoise jersey style t-shirt was originally $30 on sale for $10 at Garage. The dark wash Volcom jeans were a great find from an independently owned skateboard shop in my hometown, on sale for $40 from $70. Finally, lace-up the boots were my investment piece of the season for $80 however, I did save $10 on the taxes because I have an SPC (student price card).

Monday, November 12, 2012

R. Kelly Clipperton

I met Mr. R. Kelly Clipperton about two years ago (or something like that) when my lovely sister suggested him as a hairdresser. I think it's pretty safe to say that I haven't trusted another human being with my hair since. I very quickly discovered his many other talents. Kelly, having dipped into modeling, theater, script writing, styling, hair dressing, photography and of course, music. He formed the band: Kelly and the Kelly Girls in 2003 and hasn't looked back. I met up with him at his downtown Toronto apartment/ studio while he was colouring a client's hair to talk about him and his opinions on the relationship between fashion and music.

This is a cover of Britney Spears' Toxic from Kelly's live album that was released in 2011
For more information about his music you can go to :

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Made in China

The Olympics have slowly become a way for big-name designers to expand their market and for small-name designers to be discovered. For last summer's Olympics in London, England, iconic American sportswear designer, Ralph Lauren, was chosen to design the U.S's outfits for the opening ceremonies. However, the entire country was horrified to discover that the uniforms had been fabricated in China. Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, even went as far as saying "I think the Olympic committee should be ashamed of themselves. I think they should be embarrassed. I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again." These uniforms were, in my opinion, a complete embarrassment to all Americans as they represented a very dated view of fashion, they completely destroyed any feminist progress that has been made in the past twenty years as well as failed to provide thousands of jobs to the American population.

When I first laid my eyes on these uniforms, I thought: "God, it's like a cross between a dated version of Air Canada's flight attendant outfits and something from Hitler's Youth." They really looked awful. Berets came back in the early 2000s and have not reappeared since; with good reason. Could they really have not thought of a more modern way to present a suit? I always thought that the U.S was about leading the way in technology and in culture, not about taking us back in time to something that we've seen a million times before. I also thought that the over-sized Ralph Lauren logos on the lapels were tacky; everybody already knew who the designer was, they didn't have to scream it from the mountain tops. Lastly, why would they make the women wear those god-awful, high-rise, white socks with those terrible shoes; they give the entire look a very unnecessary, juvenile vibe.

I find it appalling that Ralph Lauren did not include pants for women in his original designs.  Did he really expect all the female athletes to attend the opening ceremonies of a sporting event to wear skirts? The idea, in my eyes is completely ludicrous. Also, I find it odd how the female models are represented in the image preview for the uniforms (above). It is strange how there is only one woman and three men and how the woman seems to be set apart from the others, kind of like the outsider in the back. It really seems as if Ralph Lauren took his inspiration from a time traveling adventure back to the 1950s but not in a cool, retro kind of way.

I would be truly embarrassed  to say that my country produced their Olympic wear in another country. The Olympics are meant to be about proudly showing everything your nation has to offer, not taking short cuts to save money. That decision literally cost Americans thousands of jobs at a time when the unemployment rate is so high.

Ralph Lauren eventually apologized for his actions and promptly promised that the next Olympic uniforms will be manufactured in the United States, healing some of the country's wounds. However, the designer still managed to disgrace the nation's name by creating uniforms that were unattractive and requiring a modern make over, that were a step backwards in the feminist movement and that cost Americans money. Overall, the designer simply reinforced the often untrue stereotype that U.S citizens are dumb and uneducated.