Saturday, 29 January 2011

Literary style

About two years ago, I came across a book entitled Tales of Beatnik Glory (by Ed Sanders) in a secondhand bookstore. I bought it on an impulse, not knowing anything about its author but being quite intrigued by its cover and the Allen Ginsberg and W. S. Burroughs reviews.
It ended up uncovering me a large part of the New York beatnik underground of the late fifties and early sixties, the end and height of this movement; Tales unveiled the lifestyle, the language, and the musical inclinations of a whole artistic group.
Ed Sanders, "the bridge between the beatnik and the hippie generations", was (and is still) part of the band The Fugs, one of the most ridiculously irreverencious bands I have heard from this era so far. Ridiculous, but amazing at the same time as listening to them proves to be a real eye-opener when it comes to consider what rebellion and activism meant at the time.

Most of the stories Tales contains often describe the life of extravagant artists, some taking themselves too seriously, others not enough; one of my favourites is this man who spends thirty minutes in his bath every morning wearing scuba diving apparatus. One odd thing Sanders captures very well, to my delight, is the importance so many of his characters put on style, providing very inspiring, detailed, and often tongue-in-cheek descriptions. I thought I'd share them with you:

Being & Nothingness

"The day they met she was dressed Being & Nothingness ballerina beat. Her long blond tresses were pulled back into a bun, and there were wonderful golden bangs in front. She wore black dancer's stockings and black high-heel spikes with those stylish spear-toes. Her brown leather vest, with laces up the sides, was the rage of Bleecker Street, worn over a tight black turtleneck with no brassiere, the ultimate of boldness in 1959. Her eyes were Nefertiti'd with great Juliette Greco streaks of kohl and lots of green eyeshadow." (p. 4)

From Madame Braznick

"Louise liked to wear long-sleeved blouses with drawstrings at the sleeves and at the neck. Discovering Ukrainian clothing, as made by craftspeople of the Lower East Side, was a joy. She must have ordered ten of those blouses, many of them sewn with flowered patterns, from Madame Braznick, a manufacturer of dancing boots and Ukrainian attire on East 7th Street. [...] She bought an armload of canvas and extra supplies and a pair of red dancing boots from Madame Braznick." (p. 94-98)

Monday, 24 January 2011

Inspiration through unsurprisingly uninspiring times

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While I've always preferred more classical pieces of clothing, seeing so many around has left me a bit uninspired as of late. I think that what has been missing from all the images I have been looking at is a bit of personality. I realised that what I was looking for was more or less classic style, but with a bit of quirkiness: I would like to see more of odd/ thrifted/ old/ untraceable articles on people that could be their 'signature' item, or that let their personality see through a bit. The first photo is what triggered this reflection: while I've seen the Lou lookbook a bit everywhere around the blogs, I am still really pleased by the combination of cowboy boots and patterned rug with a very classic, well-cut outfit. I have to admit, I have a soft spot for anything cowboy in a small dose.

Actually, I think it's just that the infamous uninspiring time of the year has arrived, and even my little winter moodboard of a few weeks ago is having trouble to keep me afloat. I went as far as throwing all my fringe-growing resolutions out of the window and ended up giving myself a haircut yesterday, resulting in some kind of an early 60's bordering on Anna Wintour/Cleopatra but a bit longer (ok, Françoise Hardy) cut! Now, I will put away my scissors and see how it grows back (including the fringe, we've been hanging out for too long her and me - although Irina up there is giving me a hard time), just for a change. My inspiration will be back in a few days, I promise, and I'll be back with much more interesting and focused posts!

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Bien que j'ai toujours préféré les vêtements plus classiques, en voir tant dernièrement m'a laissée sans inspiration. J'ai l'impression que ce qui manque à la plupart des photos que j'ai regardées est un peu de personalité. Je me suis rendue compte que ce que je recherche en fait est un style plus ou moins classique, mais avec une touche un peu particulière: j'aimerais voir plus de gens porter des articles hors de l'ordinaire/seconde main/intraçables qui pourraient être leur 'signature', ou qui laisseraient leur personalité transparaître. La première photo est ce qui m'a menée à cette réflexion: bien que j'ai vu le lookbook de Lou un peu partout parmis les blogs, j'apprécie toujours la combinaison d'un ensemble classique, bien coupé, avec des bottes de cowboy. J'ai un faible pour tout ce qui est cowboy, mais en petite quantité.

En fait, j'ai l'impression que le fameux temps de l'année déprimant est tout simplement arrivé, et même mon petit tableau d'inspiration d'il y a quelques semaines a de la difficulté à me tenir à flot. Je suis allée jusqu'à jeter par la fenêtre ma résolution de laisser pousser ma frange et j'ai fini par me couper les cheveux moi-même hier, résultant en une espèce de coupe du début des années soixante limite Anna Wintour/Cléopâtre mais un peu plus long (ok, Françoise Hardy)! Bon, je vais maintenant mettre mes ciseaux de côté et voir comment ça repousse durant les prochains mois (incluant la frange, ça fait trop longtemps qu'on se tient ensemble elle et moi - bien qu'Irina ci-haut rend les choses difficiles...), juste pour faire changement. Mon inspiration va revenir dans quelques jours, promis, et des billets plus intéressants et moins brouillons s'en suivront!

Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

A very special gift


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My dear friend Leona, who lives in Dublin, sent me the greatest package over the holidays. It contained, amongst other things, the above autograph that she got for me when she met Vashti Bunyan at an intimate show/documentary screening the latter was giving last November. I was very moved that Leona thought of me when she went to the show, and on top of that, according to her Ms. Bunyan is very lovely and charming in person!

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Ma chère copine Leona, qui habite Dublin, m'a envoyé le meilleur colis durant les fêtes. Il contenait, entre autres choses, l'autographe ci-dessus qu'elle m'a obtenu quand elle a rencontré Vashti Bunyan à un concert intime/projection de documentaire que cette dernière a donné en novembre dernier. J'ai été émue par le fait que Leona ait pensé à moi quand elle est allée au concert, et en plus, selon elle, Ms. Bunyan est particulièrement charmante en personne!

The Shriek

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Here's a sample of my newest favourite online discovery: Internet Archives. I've only had a look at the 'moving pictures' section so far, and I'm sure it'll take me years to get a good grasp of everything the archives contain as they are ever-expanding and are already such a large bank of information of all sorts.

My first use of them was to watch the quintessential classic The Sheik (1921) with Rudolph Valentino (which you can watch here). I think that anyone with a passion for cinema and its history should watch it, but should also read up on it a bit beforehand. I was initially put off by the somewhat stereotypical ethnic representations, but consoled myself by thinking that the movie was from another era, was made 90 years ago (can you believe it???). BUT, I soon realised that the contextualisation is essential: The Sheik was an unusually liberal movie whether it comes to the representation of sexual desire or its anti-racist subtexts. The British explorer is shown to be faulty in her colonialistic approach while the supposedly 'Arab' Sheik (no nationality indicated) is in fact of Western European descent and has been educated in Paris, this cancelling the original notion of 'middle-eastern stereotype'.

I can say I fully understand why it has been dubbed "The Shriek": Rudolph Valentino definitely has a magnetic presence that I can't get enough of.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Puzzle completed!

Well, I suppose you've guessed by my prolonged absence that I've been back to school for about a week now!
One of my earliest and most distinct book-related memories is flipping through a book telling a sad story about a balloon; and until a few days ago, I thought it was only a book illustrated by old photos, a vague memory of a thing that might not have even existed. So when I came across the movie Le ballon rouge, on which my famous book was based, it was like finding the last piece of a puzzle but, I don't know, with a texture? with the photo of an animal I can actually pet as if it was real? Well, it was simply much better!

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Eh bien, je suppose que vous avez deviné par mon absence prolongée que ça fait environ une semaine que je suis de retour à l'école!
Un des mes plus anciens et plus distincts souvenirs littéraires est de feuilleter un livre racontant l'histoire triste d'un ballon; jusqu'à il y a quelques jours, je pensais que ce n'était qu'un livre illustré par de vieilles photos, un vague souvenir d'une chose qui n'a peut-être même pas existé. Donc quand je suis tombée sur le film Le ballon rouge, à partir duquel mon fameux livre a été fait, ç'a été comme de trouver la pièce manquante d'un casse-tête mais, je ne sais pas, avec une texture? avec la photo d'un animal que je peux flatter comme s'il était vrai? Trêve de plaisanterie, c'était simplement beaucoup mieux!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Winter is far from being over dear!

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I don't care about what R29 told me this morning, about those Spring colours, as it's not because we're a few days into the new year that it isn't Winter anymore. No, in fact, we have not reached the middle of it yet, so I believe a few inspirational photos are in order to go through what's to come. I do not mind winter, but I do get the blues when shorts and sandals and sand are presented to me when there are so many cold days to come during which I can sip tea wrapped in my 'horse blanket' while reading. I want to take things as they come, because what's the point of constantly living in the future? Also, I have found that mixing the more bohemian pieces I usually reserve for summer with thick wool sweaters very much helps (so far) to beat the cold and the dreariness. That, and wool underwear and vitamin D hehe!

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Je n'ai aucun intérêt dans ce que R29 m'a dit ce matin, à propos des ces couleurs printanières, comme ce n'est pas parce que nous sommes quelques jours après le premier de l'an que ce n'est plus l'hiver. Non, en fait, nous n'avons pas encore atteint son milieu, donc je crois que quelques photos inspirantes sont en ordre pour passer au travers de ce qui s'en vient. L'hiver ne me dérange pas, mais je déprime un peu quand on me montre des shorts et des sandales et du sable alors qu'il y a tant de jours froids à venir durant lesquels je peux siroter mon thé enveloppée dans ma 'couverture de cheval' tout en lisant. J'ai envie de prendre les choses comme elles viennent, quel est le but de vivre constamment dans le futur? Aussi, je trouve que mélanger les pièces plus bohémiennes que je réserve habituellement à l'été avec des chandails en laine épaisse aide beaucoup (jusqu'ici) à combattre le froid et la monotonie. Ça, et des sous-vêtements en laine et de la vitamine D héhé!

Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5?, 6, 7?, 8?, 9, 10.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Details

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Todd Selby's photos taken during his visit to Jeanne Lanvin's personal library took my breath away and made me as giggly as a little girl. I cannot take my eyes off those beading samples and those embroideries lining her book collection, thinking of the time and attention that went into their creation. Every book is covered in an intricate pattern of thread; someone, somewhere, in a not so distant past, payed a deep attention to the details etching themselves against their covers. It's a thought that amazes me.

The last images also reminded me of this:
I cast my heart into my rhymes,
That you, in the dim coming times,
May know how my heart went with them
After the red-rose-bordered hem.
-W. B. Yeats, "For Ireland In The Coming Times"

Photos via The Selby.

Proof!

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Here's the visual proof of my succeeding into being more creative! I'm very proud I have finally stopped procrastinating and finally made something again. These necklaces are the ones from the new collection that I kept for myself; unfortunately, I had taken photos of the ones I sent to Victoire on a friend's camera, but I never received them.

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Voici la preuve visuelle de mon succès à être plus créative! Je suis très fière d'avoir finalement arrêté de procrastiner et d'avoir finalement fabriqué quelque chose de nouveau. Ces colliers sont ceux de la nouvelle collection que j'ai gardés; malheureusement, j'avais pris des photos de ceux que j'ai envoyés à Victoire avec la caméra d'un ami, mais je ne les ai jamais reçues.