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One of my ever smart and sophisticated readers made a comment about the fun of playing with the different perceptions of young creatives and older ones like myself. I thought it would be interesting to show the same garment and see what I made of it and what the fabulous duo of Carmen Daneshmandi and Alnardo Perez did (see how you inspire me?). I think both photos really "get" the real me but in such very different ways. Have you figured out I am a Gemini yet?
I have come to know that all exciting and initially innovative long term endeavors at some point come to a plateau where nothing all that new is happening. I usually know I have reached that point scientifically when the data begins to show as a straight line. I know I have reached that point affectively when I begin to feel bored with myself and my ideas. When that happens I know that it is time to hit the road and leave my comfort zone. It is time to stop automatically saying no to something I would not ordinarily do. It is time to challenge myself to make something fresh and new out of something old and perhaps not considered beautiful (like kale and green lipstick) It is time to do the unexpected, like reveal an eye. It is time to take risks and not worry about failure or what others may think.
In order to function this way I have found that one must be extremely comfortable with change and of course themselves. For me it also means letting go and putting myself in the hands of young people. I have no problem doing this because countless young people walk into my classroom and put themselves into mine. I learn more at times from them than perhaps they learn from me or that I learn from my own peers. This happens because we mutually risk and allow ourselves to be vulnerable without fear of critique. So in working with groups of young creatives, I am risking and I am risking without fear because of who they are. Together, letting go, we can co-construct something new. The photo above is from a feature done with young creatives for L'Officiel Italia.
This feature represents the best of what I have found since I entered the world of fashion: positivity, optimism, mutual support, risk-taking, innovation and generosity. The introduction to the exceptionally talented photographer, styling team and access to garments was made possible through the endless generosity of Suk Chai, the creative beauty behind Schai, a brand I have worn before. The feature itself was instigated by another magnanimous renaissance woman, Floriana Serani creative director of her own brand Blackblessed and who's work I have also featured. The photographer, Carmen Daneshmandi and the stylist Alnardo Perez are two of the most respectful people I have ever met and the way they thoughtfully engaged me in this project made their creative process transparent and was a gift. It was something I took many lessons from. They took the time to know the real me and when that happens, when you feel truly known, it is a delicious moment and I thank them for it. Their innovation was to show the real me in a new, fresh and exciting way.
So basically I am giving fair warning, hang on to your seats because this summer there will be times you and Accidental Icon are leaving the comfort zone.
What do you wear or do when you get bored and want to leave the comfort zone?
Grey and black INZAI hoodie: Pikiel, Grey and black OME pants: Pikiel, T-shirt: Rulez of Rebelz, Sunglasses: Ferragamo, Sneakers: Diesel.
For more slouchy looks see my Pinterest board, Accidental Icon: Slouchy Redux
As I have written here before I am a big fan of slouchy silhouettes. Whether it is sleeves that fall way over my hands or pants that pool up at my feet I am loving the feeling I get when I get slouchy. There is a kind of stealth in slouchy, especially when it comes to street wear. There is a comfort and ease in slouchy. There is a feeling of strength in slouchy that is especially evident in the outerwear silhouettes that will be appearing this Fall. There is a freedom of movement in slouchy. There is a sense of no limits in slouchy as your body is not confined by its cover. As I have reported here before, slouchy streetwear is now a luxury item.
Right now the cocoon-like nature of slouchy is resonating and inviting. The purpose of a cocoon is to provide protection while you grow. Grow is the operative word. The glorious luxury of time is mine for the next three months. At the end of that time I celebrate the second birthday of Accidental Icon. She will be in the throes of the terrible twos, so expect more rebellion. That part is easy as my granddaughter who just turned two is providing tons of inspiration that just fuels what is already there. There will be lots of exploring and playing and that is where I will be growing. What new toys will I play with? Who will I meet and who will become new playmates? Will I design a new playground? What the next chapter in this reinvention story is has yet to be determined but my slouchy cocoon will protect me while I grow this summer. What will emerge is a surprising unknown even to me.
P.S. Sorry for not letting you know that there was no assigned reading this weekend, this time it is the professor who needed an extension!
I am late with my Wednesday post because I am in the midst of that avalanche called reading papers and assigning grades. Every year I always swear I will give a simple exam but then in August when I am rested and full of energy I am constructing new assignments that at the time seem so interesting and exciting. While grading the usual life challenges occur: the printer runs out of ink, I slam one of my typing fingers in a door (also the finger that has the fingerprint that gets me quickly into my phone) and other assorted dramas. Each year I try new schemes such as having assignments due two weeks before the last class with the intent to be all done when class is over. Never happens. It almost feels like this is my "penance" to pay in order to deserve my summer vacation, I always wonder, how can I make this something I enjoy rather than a chore I just need to get through? Well hopefully by the time I post tomorrow or Saturday morning I will be done!
Do any of you have ideas about how to approach something you do not want to do and make it pleasurable?
The seats in my classroom are empty and my students have all gone off to summer adventures. The industrious ones will attend summer school. The early part of this week I will be reading papers, evaluating competencies and submitting final grades. In two weeks time graduation will occur in a majestic space in Lincoln Center. Although I feel a certain amount of pride as I watch students who I have come to know over 2+ years walk across the stage, I have a confession to make. This should not surprise anyone who knows me but the part of that day I love best of all is dressing up in my academic attire. My only regret is that I only ever wear it it one day a year. I should have tried for a spot at Cambridge or Oxford so I could run around in my gown every day.
Also known as academic dress or academic regalia, the essential components are a robe, a hood and a cap or in my case a velvet tam. There exists an inter-collegiate code that sets out a detailed uniform scheme. Doctoral gowns, in the past black, now include multi-hues matching up with a school's colors. Sitting on the stage I find myself in the midst of baby blues, dark blues, brown, burgundies and my very own royal blue and gold. According to the rules, if the doctorate is a Ph.D., the hood must contain the dark blue color of philosophy, The sleeves on the gown must have three velvet bands with velvet panels running down the front of the gown. A velvet cap is reserved for doctoral degrees only and can be a 4-6-8 sided tam. Mine is a dark blue with a gold tassel.
Being the performative person that I am, when I put on my academic attire, I feel the pull back to medieval rituals and the dreams I had about being an academic. I become nostalgic and melancholy for a day. Now tempered by reality, department politics and the corporate nature of the university, I long for the time when you remained buried in the stacks rather than in front of your computer. When you searched for a book and became deliriously excited when you found the right one. When you had to xerox articles and hold them in your hands or purchased beautiful notebooks to write your epiphanies and discoveries in. When you could not stop talking about an exciting idea you had, or something you had read and others were excited with you and willing to talk about it for hours. When I was idealistic about what it might mean to be an intellectual in academia. So one day a year when I get dressed in my gown, clothing does what it always does for me…it transports me and I become the academic in my dreams.
Does getting dressed every transport you?
When I return to the 'burbs somehow I alway find myself wearing a kind of uniform that marks me as a citizen of the city. I usually choose black, something a little avant garde and something that will make me stand out. On this day I was attending an event taking place in a church so a modicum of respectful dressing was called for. Finally I had to factor into the decision that although it was the first of May, it was rainy and cold.
The light and transparent dress and under slip I am wearing is made from a sustainable fabric and has a whispery drape. The short wool jacket provides me with just the right amount of warmth and sass. The hardware on the boots and the jacket provide the edge and the combination meets my criteria: no one else looks like her but no one can say she looks inappropriate. I just love walking that line.
Dress: Eileen Fisher, Jacket: Comme des Garçons, Boots: Acne, Bag: Longchamp
The month of May has begun and because of my particular configuration of ethnicity, religious background, family structure and time of life, it is the month that usually brings a deluge of family events. Given the size of my family on any given weekend in May there will be religious ceremonies, birthdays, anniversaries, showers that precede summer weddings, graduations and of course Mother's Day.
Being the black sheep of the family, literally and figuratively, as you can see in the above photo, I am the only member who migrated (fled) to the city. Everyone else decided to stay put. So yesterday was the first of many trips I will make this month back to the 'burbs. Not wanting to keep a car in the city, I make good use of the commuter railroad.
The very same commuter railroad took me on many trips away from the 'burbs when I was a teenager and old enough to travel on my own. I could hang with my friends on Bleeker Street, get drunk at the St. Patrick Day's parade or go hear the New York Dolls and listen to Patti Smith read poetry. Somehow the city felt like it knew me better than anyone else ever could or did. I finally felt like I had a home. The city then was both dangerous and exhilarating.
Now the train takes me back to the 'burbs and though I feel incredibly loved by my family and I love them, I no longer feel like I am going home. I am sure they feel the same way when they make a visit to the city. Calvin and I try to take some pictures for the blog in the 'burbs but somehow I just can't get inspired. After a few hours the longing returns, my feet feel itchy. I am ready to get going and get back home.
It is always a question when dressing about just how much of a suggestion you might want to make. I love the lightness of sheers especially after a winter of wearing clothing and coats that are heavy. After a long enough time they begin to create a kind of heaviness of mood. I am more than ready to cast off the coats and the mood. When Spring comes the feeling I want is weightless. The light touch of the sun on your skin and wearing just a sweater or light jacket feels so freeing and I have the sensation of floating. Everything lifts.
The lightest of all fabrics is a sheer. Sometimes when wearing a sheer I just do not want to put on a camisole or shirt underneath and that raises the questions of just how much of a suggestion I make. What I like about this outfit is the long vest. Unless you wish to reveal or a spring gust of wind takes you off guard you can wear a sheer shirt without layering to interfere with the feeling of wearing not much at all. Because of the way the vest drapes from the shoulder it floats around my body rather than laying against it. These backless suede mules are a step towards summer sandals.
Long vest: Schai, Sheer Printed Shirt: Burberry, Black Jeans: Paige Denim, Suede Mules: Gucci
For more sheer suggestions see my Pinterest board, Accidental Icon Just a Suggestion
Today begins the last week of the semester. That means papers to grade and goodbyes to be said to my students who are graduating. The professional landscape they are entering is fluid and changing because of technology and the disintegrating boundaries of how one defines work. These newly minted professionals are simultaneously excited yet scared about the enormity of possibility. This year for the first time in a very long time I can relate to these feelings. After many years of feeling at the top of my game, this last semester in particular I have encountered new opportunities in a different arena that meant different kinds of decisions to make, different kinds of boundaries to maintain, different ethical questions to answer, different fears to overcome and different kinds of risks and benefits and to analyze. Often feeling like a neophyte, I have "played it by ear". So far, no major missteps or mistakes, nothing I regret.
I am looking forward now to the upcoming break, having the time to review, daydream and envision. First order of business a real vacation. Next, in order to get to the top of this game, I need to push the limits of the technology skills I have now so perhaps a course or two. Even better, some long sessions with a smart, tech savvy intern. I have ideas for editorials, some writing projects and maybe even a book. I want to make my blog look more like a magazine. These ideas are still shadow-like, not fully formed, just a suggestion. Unlike my current and previous careers where much of what I do/did and is/was circumscribed by others, what this new project becomes is entirely up to me. I have been passive thus far, waiting for things to come to me, partly because I did not know what to ask for or what to pitch. Partly because of fear. As I tell my graduates that these feelings of anticipation and trepidation are just the right feelings to have in their situation, my words ring in my own ears too.
What makes you simultaneously scared and excited?
Super comfort on an ordinary day means stealing your partners oversized shirt with long cuffs that require cuff links and letting them fall over your wrists and hands. It means you get to tuck one end inside your pants in a sloppy way. Essential to the look is the wearing of your favorite pair of really super soft and broken in jeans. Because this year you discovered you are deliriously in love with sneakers you wear a new leather pair. Yet because you are you, there is a Chanel bag involved. A black blazer with a little more length adds the necessary element of cool. The sunglasses, well as my students say about something that is beyond cool…those are sick.
White Mens Shirt: Ted Baker, Black Light Wool Blazer: Y's, Boyfriend Jeans: Paige, Bag: Chanel Resort, Black Leather Sneakers: Diesel, Sunglasses: Karen Walker.
For more ordinary and comfortable looks see my Pinterest board: Accidental Icon Loves Comfort Dressing.
What's your idea of comfort dressing?
I think it is fair to say that it has become a rare gift when I have a day where I don’t have to do something. A day when I do only what I want to. I have come to appreciate the comfort of an ordinary day. The wonderful feeling of opening my calendar and finding it empty. One I can fill with whatever ordinary pleasures I desire.
This weekend I had such a day. I got up when I wanted to, I did not look at social media, grade any papers, do any chores, send any emails, make any phone calls, do any caregiving or think about what I would wear. I did make a delicious smoothie for breakfast, take my dog for a walk in the sun and made a plan to have dinner with good friends visiting from out of town. We decided to eat in our neighborhood so we did not have to hop on a subway or jump into a cab.
I did dress in comfortable clothes, wore my favorite earrings, carried a soft bag and Calvin and I decided to leave early for dinner. We had camera in hand to take a few photos for my Monday blog post and the attitude that if we got some good shots fine, if not we’d figure it out. We did not have to rush to be on time. We had comfort food for dinner, basked in the company of a compatible couple, laughed and made plans for a summer adventure. Despite a crowd waiting at the door, the restaurant staff left us alone, clearly seeing that we were savoring our time together as much as the food. Calvin and I held hands as we walked home feeling the warmth of a spring that has finally come and gratitude for the wonderful people that we have in our lives. What a gift, the comfort of an ordinary day.
So how do you decide what to wear when you know you are going to be on a windy rooftop having the delicious pleasure of running across antique rugs in your bare feet? Well the first thing you do is find the time in your crazy schedule to get a pedicure and pick a polish color that will compliment the color palette. I choose a deep crimson, which I probably would have chosen no matter what the palette because I love it on my toes. I wore a crimson lipstick too as a departure from the brighter red I have been wearing lately.
As for clothing choices I was hoping for a blue sky and so I dug out a dress from a Japanese designer with ruffles that remind me of the color of the sky, wings and movement. By the way, this dress can become a shirt because the skirt buttons on and is detachable. In order to keep my silhouette balanced I added a long pleated skirt. You may notice that my black vintage earrings also reference birds. The signature piece is a vintage Miyake Wind Coat from the 1980's, perfectly suited to the context.
Black Polished Cotton Wind Coat: Issey Miyake, Blue Cotton Dress with Detachable Skirt: Sunao Kuwahara, Long Black Pleated Cotton Skirt: Peachoo + Krejberg, Antique Rugs: ABC Carpet and Home, Toes are mine.
For more Miyake Wind Coats see my Pinterest board Accidental Icon Loves Miyake Wind Coats
In recent posts I write about the delicious pastime of re(imagining). When I embark in this activity it often means going to places that stimulate my imagination, captivate all of my senses and in the words of my affective barometer: takes my breath away. Some of my re(imagining) journeys have taken me to museums, art galleries, perfumeries, ateliers, architectural wonders, bookstores, installations, botanical gardens, teahouses, vintage shows, antique fairs, cafes and quiet contemplative spaces like the Rubin Museum or the Cloisters. If you want the experience of all of the above but have time for only one stop in New York City during the month of April, I suggest you visit “the living magazine and interactive museum”, called ABC Carpet and Home.
Just like my clothes, the objects I want for my home must be timeless, collectible and living expressions of a designer’s creativity and craftsmanship. Partial to more open industrial spaces in my re(imaginings), I am in search of a piece that creates a center and brings warmth and color into my home. One I can engage with the way I do with my clothes. I imagine a rug with a bold, saturated palette that has the capacity to express dreams, cultural beliefs, identity, artistry and tell forgotten stories yet can help me tell mine. While interacting with the glorious one of a kind creations featured this month in the ABC Carpet and Home Antique Rug Sale, I find myself turned back to past times and other places yet feel fully present in my modern city and life. My re(imagining) becomes realized. There is something so thrilling about the juxtaposition of the old and the new that it leaves me breathless.
Come see these extraordinary carpets and let your imagination take flight at the April Antique Rug Sale, ABC Carpet and Home, 888 Broadway, 6th Floor, NY, NY 10003. Not in New York? Be transported by going to ABC Carpet and Home April Antique Rug Sale. Get breathless.
What makes you breathless?