I have been spending much of the last couple of days doing research in the morning and going out wandering in the afternoon. I gave myself the pleasure of only focusing on Accidental Icon this week. There are some things I need to learn and do to make the evolution happen. In my wanderings I have also been visiting various sample and summer sales and enjoying the pleasure of just being around, and touching, beautiful garments. My favorite store, Dover Street Market, is having all the spring and summer lines on sale at 50% off and shortly will go to 70%. Today I bought a companion piece to this apron and can't wait to style the two pieces together.
I have written about this store, actually it is more like an experience, but what I have not talked about are all the talented people that work there. Many of them now know me and I them. Young designers, painters, photographers, fashion merchandizers, and stylists they all have interesting stories to tell and I can easily end up spending hours there as I did today. The conversations usually start by me admiring something they are wearing or they compliment me on my style or a particular garment I am wearing. Today a young painter asked to take a photo of my Ann Demeulemeester skirt as it was the exact combination of pink, purple and grey tones creating a lovely pastel that he was looking to re-create. He is also currently designing a fashion line with his brother. As the conversation unfolds it turns out he also uses performance art to engage people in difficult conversations and works with not-for-profits to do so. So we had a wonderful discussion of fashion, art, social welfare and justice. We made a date to have tea and continue the conversation. Our conversation revealed multiple intersections.
Let's just say this was an exercise in connecting all our dots. It was the kind of far ranging conversation I would expect to have in my university and don't often have in this era of specialization. What might it say about the nature of things that I am having the conversations of my academic dreams in Rei Kawakubo's "temple of fashion", Dover Street Market?
Accidental Icon Wears:
White Oversized Lawn Shirt: Haider Ackermann, Polka Dot Apron: CDG, Black Trousers: Eileen Fisher, Black Leather Sandals: Elie Tahari.
For assistance with connecting your dots, see my Pinterest Board: Accidental Icon Loves Connecting the Dots
So I have been conspiring with some young creatives on two editorials that will absolutely take me far from the comfort zone, yet I hope still be me/not me. I have also been in conversation with you my readers about the potential evolution from blog to magazine. I am deliriously excited about all of these things. However in the meantime I have to keep putting out content when I do not feel particularly motivated. I am motivated to do something new, not so motivated to keep doing the same thing, if you know what I mean. I have a good case of the in-betweens.
The in-betweens are good and not so good. They are good if you can hold on and keep doing what you need to until you get to the other side. The state of not knowing usually can produce some spectacular stuff if you can hang with it long enough. Not so good when you feel stale, empty and boring and almost don't do what you have committed to. Like when you try to see your way through and there is a solid door in-between where you are and where you want to go. It is like being hungry all the time without satisfaction no matter what you eat (which I am right now).
The in-betweens are also good because it is a time you can give yourself permission to immerse yourself in new learning; participating in events that engage all of your senses. Find novel things to do that will stimulate you without having an agenda or identified outcomes. To just fill yourself up with experiences that combine haphazardly with your DNA, your memory, your unconscious and your physiology causing you to become aware of what the English and Cultural Studies professor and psychoanalyst, Christopher Bollas, calls your "unthought knowns". I love that phrase. It means that we are full of ideas that have been conveyed to us throughout life through action, rather than thinking and are part of our unconscious, but are fabulous ideas nonetheless if we find out how to retrieve them. In the same work, Being a Character, Bollas suggests we all have an idiom for our own life and self and that healthy adults continue to develop it uniquely by always looking out for objects of interest to transact with. He calls these objects, "evocatively nourishing". Is that phrase not just delicious?
So I have a list of exhibits to attend, like the one at MOMA on Japanese architects and their individual approach but collective vision of Japanese culture and one on Uniforms at FIT. I have some great books to read, like, The Future of Fashion is Now, Contagion and The Essentials of Fabulous. I discovered a series of French films shown for free in various parks to be viewed on blankets with picnic dinners. Some greenmarkets to visit for fresh produce and flowers and of course a trip or two. So perhaps my choice of an apron to wear this weekend was just a manifestation of one of my "unthought knowns" and my hunger will wane when I treat myself to some "evocative nourishment". I hope dark chocolate is part of it too.
What are some other suggestions that may "evocatively nourish" this summer?
Fashion and Technology
Fashion and Design
Fashion and Art
Slowly but surely I am crossing off outstanding items and details that remain from last semester for both of my "jobs". There are still some small things in life that must remain on my shoulders but at least some parts can now be exposed and warmed by the sun. I feel lighter. As you know I have given myself some challenges this summer and as I near the second anniversary of this project called Accidental Icon, I can feel an evolution coming on, nothing sudden, more like a slow reveal. Sort of like the dress I am wearing as a top.
I think my end goal is some form of on-line magazine but I want to move towards that slowly and organically, almost without a plan as I have done with this blog. Perhaps start with the addition of a different kind of monthly feature. Collaborate more. The essence will remain the same: using fashion as the entry point to thinking about life, culture, design, art, history and technology. A minimalist design in look and orientation. In a recent interview when someone asked what fashion meant to me, I realized that it is as important to me as language in that it provides a different way for me to express very complex ideas and identities. It allows my body to speak. So whatever emerges it will be using fashion as the language through which we can have many conversations.
So that being said, I invite you to help me think this through as you have enriched my experience through your many thoughtful, full of cultural complexity and at times humorous commentary. I challenge you to pose questions to me and us that make us take a different view of how this can develop. When discussing this over coffee with the lovely Korean designer friend I have been pictured with on this blog, the question was posed, "What would an on-line magazine look like if Yohji Yamamamoto was the editor?" That question has given me hours of reflection and inspiration.
I can't wait to hear what you have to say. Knowing you are with me on this takes even a little more off my shoulders.
Accidental Icon Wears:
Poplin Off-the Shoulder Dress: Tibi, Black polished cotton pants: Y's, Sandals: Charles Jourdan, Silver Hoop Earrings: Robert Lee Morris, Necklace: Efva Attling, Bag: St. Laurent, Sunglasses: Miu Miu
If you want to know how to take more "off your shoulders" see my Pinterest Board, Accidental Icon Loves Shoulders
Sometime almost two years ago while on one of our urban rambles, Calvin and I discovered a small but exquisite jewelry store on the edges of the Meatpacking District. The jewelry, both silver and gold, was both sculptural and whimsical. The silver and goldsmith had written a thought that went with each piece and one of them caught Calvin’s eye. So a few weeks later on the occasion of our anniversary I received a lovely necklace named “Twosome” which I am wearing above. The piece was nspired by the thought, "One ring is square and one ring is round, like two people with unique personalities that complement each other and become a stronger unit." I was so taken by the piece and the sentiment that I did some research on the jeweler and thought perhaps at some time I would write a post about her and her work.
Fast forward to a couple of months ago and in the funny way the Instagram universe works, I started to notice someone named Efva Attling was liking my pictures and leaving comments. The name was familiar and when I clicked on the profile I soon realized it was the artist who had designed my necklace and whose story had so captivated me. After she initiated some communicating back and forth I had the great pleasure of meeting her in person during one of her trips to New York. Tall, blond, beautiful, open, talented, full of life, natural, inquisitive, spontaneous and creative, Efva was to my surprise, as curious about me as I was about her. Our conversation ranged from re-invention to marriage to music to design and I told her my anniversary story.
A week later I received an invitation to a special press event in her New York store and she surprised me with an anniversary gift for this year, a bottle of her new perfume; Butterflies. The bottle, exquisitely designed was topped with sculptural butterflies, referencing one of her jewelry collections with the same name. I was told I was the only one in this country who possessed it. It felt like a secret had been shared. It was in this moment I realized her most remarkable characteristic: she has the capacity to make those around her feel extraordinary and unique. Whether it was through her jewelry that becomes more precious and valuable through the addition of her thoughts and words, or her generous and thoughtful gesture, or both, I left feeling a little more special than usual. This jeweler is a jewel herself.
If you are in New York be sure to visit her lovely store at 36 Little W. 12th Street. If you can't visit in person make a visit to Efva's site, it has something for everyone.
Is there something that catches your fancy?
Fashion and Art
Fashion Collections Resort 2017
Social Media and Design
I am a lover of shoes. I do like some height as contrary to what my photos may sometimes suggest I am rather short. When traveling comfort and balance are imperative as I may find myself in a situation where I am lugging my luggage up some stairs or hoisting it into the overhead compartment on a plane. These shoes are not only cool, unique and modern they are also amazingly comfortable. These were a Dover Street Market find and one reason among the many that makes me love that place is because I am always finding out about new designers. These shoes are by a Chinese designer, Xiao Li. Born in China and educated in London, she also designs clothing characterized by billowing silhouettes in lovely pastels. Since there was so much interest in the shoes I thought I's offer a closer look.
Last week I was on my way to Chicago for three days to participate in an annual meeting related to one of my social welfare activities, in this case child welfare. Generally you are holed up in a hotel near the airport for the entire time, usually starting at 7:30 AM and lasting all day. Fortunately this particular meeting is a favorite. I love the people I have met from all across the country through this project and I always feel excited to see them and catch up in person.
It is challenging to know what to pack as the temperature can be variable inside and outside of the hotel. Usually the room we meet in gets very cold so a jacket is always a must. Since we are in the room a long time comfort is also a requirement. This year my clothing choice was made easier as I had been sent this beautiful tropical wool suit by Zady. Zady is an e-commerce site that seeks to support sustainable design and promote transparency in the fashion industry.
Not just an e-commerce site, Zady tells stories. It tells you the story of where your clothes come from and how they got to you. It tells you stories about the history of the piece, the textiles it is made of and the place of the garment in fashion history. You get so much more than just the price when you click on a garment you like. As an example follow this link to find out about my navy blazer. So for those of us who like to "think" about fashion, Zady is the perfect supplemental reading.
Some of you may know that along with my student intern, I produced a sustainable fashion show and panel at my university last semester. Spending time with designers and others in the fashion industry committed to this goal was an enlightening experience. Although many of my clothes are recycled and I knew something about sustainable fashion, I was particularly interested in hearing how it was being used as a vehicle to address social welfare; not only through the focus on the environment but I also discovered that sustainable fashion was being used as a tool for the alleviation of poverty for women and children, for the achievement of fair wages and healthy working conditions and as a movement to preserve and support local craftspeople and artisans. Somehow it felt really right to wear my navy suit from Zady to a meeting where the goal of everyone attending is to improve the well-being and life chances of children and families. I had also been thinking I wanted to try some navy for the summer to relieve a bit of the black and I think it suits me, no pun intended.
Do you think about the implications of the clothes you wear?
Fashion and Art
Accidental Icon Wears
White Shirt(dress): DKNY, Black Leather Moto Jacket: Topshop, Leggings: Bonvirage, Boots: Vagabond, Crossbody Bag: Issey Miyake
For more deconstructed shirt(dresses) see my Pinterest board, Accidental Icon Loves the Deconstructed Shirt(dress)
Which is your favorite?
There are some things for me that are just quintessentially New York. One of them is bagels (which I am eating here) another is Donna Karan. One of a handful of women designers and heads of houses (her few peers include Diane von Furstenberg and Vivienne Westwood) she incorporated the New York city vibe in her clothes and in her branding. She offered all black collections with easy drapes and comfortable jerseys. Her clothes were unfussy, minimalist yet elegant and chic. I adored and wore endlessly her bodysuits. She designed for an urban woman who worked, had a family yet wanted to be fashionable and feminine. With her DKNY line she was one of the first mainstream designers to embrace streetwear, introducing leggings and oversize t's as something one could actually wear when leaving the house and going downtown to play.
Last year, Donna Karan announced she would be stepping down from DKNY and Public School's Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow, whose line is heavily influenced by streetwear, would be stepping in as creative directors for the line. How they have carried on the tradition is another example of what can happen when a new perspective is applied to what has been unarguably iconic. The review of the first collection post-Donna (Spring 2016) indicated a great deal of respect by the duo, but with the way they play with shirting, mens fabrics (as did she), tailoring and deconstruction it was clear they have added a new "perspective" to her iconic New York look. As I headed downtown to play and get the best bagel ever I am wearing their white poplin shirtdress.
See the Spring/Summer 2016 DKNY collection here and let me know what you think of the new direction.
Fashion Reinvention Stories
Fashion and Art
Fashion and Commerce
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?
What do you see in these different perceptions?
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?
Fashion and Art
Fashion and Society
Don't forget to eat your vegetables this weekend!
Accidental Icon Wears
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.
What do you wear during your "growing seasons?"
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?