Tuesday, March 31, 2009

europop gone graceful.

kleerup used to be the producer of robyn and is responsible for her "every heartbeat". his sound is more monotonic and recognizable than mirwaïs's -- and we all know how predictable his sound was -- but the beautiful song makes up for the rather boring eurodance background. with a proper remix, the song is close to amazing.

this is the second video for titiyo singing "longing for lullabies", intended for the american market. such a beautifully shot film it definitely deserves a look and a listen.

five days of work, one whole day to play...

saturday, saturday, saturday, it was a saturday...

i spent last week organizing my mom's 70th bday which meant browsing cookbooks, searching for fresh ingredients, prepping and baking. on friday night a car packed with people, dogs and food changed location towards the west coast. on saturday everything was in order, the cake (among other delishes) was ready and we had a pleasant event amongst closest family and friends.

but there were other parties needing our attendance and attention.

guess opened a new store at kamppi shopping centre, and we paid a brief visit. my last guess experience was rather uninspiring: a suffocatingly packed lux club with warm flutes of cheap sweet sparkling did not impress. fortunately, this time around the sparkling was cold, dry and there was plenty going around.

while rare individual garments from guess could find their place in my closet, most of the stuff is way too trashy for my taste. i have always liked their sultry advertisements, but quite honestly, the tanorexic, cheap hair extension ornamented crowd of hoochie mama chicks was worse than i expected: it seems trailer trash look is something quite a few local guess aficionados aspire to...

off to tavastia we went to the vip party of adidas 60 years of soles and stripes. the decor was well put together from the blue lit entrance to the jackets hanging from the rails. again an environment i don't feel entirely at home in: sportswear ain't my thang and it's been a while since i skateboarded and listened to hip hop. i did try my best to look the part and i wore my originals' shell from 2004. more importantly i enjoyed the bar and the skateboarding, but was rather unimpressed by the hip hop acts on stage after the doors opened for public. not my scene... anymore, that is.

i did meet a bona fide style goddess of the night, though. this girl had a huge "cc" chanel logo made out of legos hanging from her neck: ultimate cool! you go girl!

we continued to a surprise bday party of a friend and sacrificed my white tank top to dionysian pleasures of the red kind. this song kept playing in my head, like it used to in my days of de la soul...

tweety tweet.

there are some disadvantages to being a nerd and novelty freak. new innovations, especially social communication tools, excite me, but because they are rather slow in grabbing the attention of other members of the society, i have continuously experienced being left alone posting my info. needless to say, social networks are hardly worthwhile if you're not in contact with others.

i experienced the sudden flow of people to facebook after already considering leaving it because it seemed as futile a tool as orkut and friendster. i was pleasantly surprised by the popularity it gained, and still consider it a valuable tool for keeping in touch and organizing events.

i stopped tweeting two years ago, because no-one seemed to know about twitter: i had four followers/followees of which two were geeks not unlike myself and two were friends i half lured, half forced to join in order to try it out. again, it wasn't all that interesting after a while.

new tools for social networking are difficult to activate because they require others around you using them together with you. it doesn't matter if you've got the coolest new gps application in your iphone if no-one around has it, too. unsurprisingly, you need people to socialize with people.

while there are many others like myself who embrace new tools and applications, most people are still rather hesitant with bringing their social life online. for example, it baffles and amuses me to read supposedly tech-forward finns publish and discuss analyses of facebook complicating people's friendships and distorting some individuals' conceptions of true friendship; exclamations like "well, you can't have that many genuine friends irl!" receive a simple "duh, 'real life' is not as it used to be..." from me, but i realize that it is because i maneuver online quite naturally, believe to understand the ways it alters social reality, and consider it an inseparable extension of my being.

the radical manner these applications change the way we communicate appears incomprehensible to many people: novelty often arouses fear and anxiety but, more importantly, confusion about how to relate with innovative tools of social interaction. it may take a while until social networks truly become understood as equals in communication although they probably never will surpass face-to-face socializing as the most meaningful on human encounters. the way we've cyborged already, it would not surprise me if calling on the phone was soon considered as inefficient and outdated as sending letters in a bottle only surviving as a romantic gesture or leisurely luxury: a filtered feed of your whereabouts and doings will soon replace active contacts.

social geo-mapping is what i'd like to experiment with, but unfortunately i lack a 3g phone essential for the applications which really does not matter for what i understand from this article, even the bay area isn't quite into it, yet. as frustrating as it is, my enthusiasm is curbed by the reality of technology catching on slowly.

but i'm willing to give twitter a second go since it seems people are finally using it. in case you wanna follow my tweets, they're here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

laser ray.

fever ray started with pounding bass lines and lasers slitting the smoky air. i felt my sternum tremble and my ears became wrapped in the oscillating sound. the stage was decorated and lit with retro lampshades which breathed with the music lighting up and slowly extinguishing as the beats moved on. it was a very powerful beginning.

from such a start one would expect nothing less than fireworks, but the music did not carry all the way to the edges of the room. i tiptoed to see anything and the buildup let me down constantly. had i been standing in the middle of the room surrounded by hovering people i might have had a different experience altogether judging from the feedback i got from friends. such critical sensitivity to location may work against an artist, but also proves that some music requires intimacy which is not exactly a horrible thing. only too bad for us situated peripherally.

"when i grow up i want to be a forester, run through the moss on high heels."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

survival kit.

since lists of all sorts are fun and frivolous but trivially interesting, i'm going to post a list of items i never leave the house without.

1. calendar. moleskine holds everything i have trouble remembering. for someone as scatterbrained as myself, it really means everything. i have a long and affectionate relationship with moleskine and the back pockets of my old notebooks and calendars store many of my most important memories.

2. notebook. i write all info on jobs in my notebook and follow-up with it as well. i also doodle random ideas, such as blog posts, in the back.

3. muji pens. i am really particular about my scribbling tool and i've gotten used to these pens. my sister sends me loads from london unless i make it there myself.

4. earrings. after years of going bare-eared i started wearing small studs last fall. i got these efva attling ones as a present and love their simplicity. actually, i'm a huge fan of her streamlined and stylish jewelry.

5. perfume. i don't leave the house without perfume. i may leave barefaced and barefoot, but never without my scent. for years now it's been dior homme which is warm and spicy but does not have the secret ingredient that transforms all other male perfumes into the familiar harsh, manly aroma.

6. watch. not unlike many others i took a break from wearing wristwatches for a few years and relied on my phone for telling the time. about three years ago i bought this digital chronograph from tag heuer, and have grown so attached to it i feel naked without it hanging heavy on my wrist. it's big and bulky and works perfectly with my androgynous style.

7. powder. forever shiny i cannot leave the house without my compact. i have been a mac aficionado for ten years and kept harassing friends and relatives who travel for my basic makeup until last year when mac arrived at stockmann's, and my powder of choice makes no exception. currently it's from their mineralize line.

8. phone. slim, cheap and basic nokia. it needs to fit into my pocket, not break easily when thrown ('cause i'm clumsy!) and work well for talking and texting, that's all.

what are your daily essentials?

Monday, March 23, 2009

green, am i?

these past two weeks have been titled "i am green" at miltton showroom. since "green is the new black" it was past due that some pr-agency or another utilized the theme this widely.

in this day and age events around sustainable living must offer more than info on recycling -- we all recycle already, right -- and add to the self-evident solutions of cutting material consumption in favor of services, buying second-hand and favoring locally produced products. miltton's answer was to gather companies that promote ethical and ecological values under the same roof, and to invite consumers and press to experience different paths towards sustainable consumption. there were workshops, panel discussions and competitions in addition to an art exhibition.

combining ecological concerns with the needs of corporate and small company desires for growth and profit is, needless to say, not an easy task, and as others have already pointed out, miltton didn't exactly succeed. one of the problems, as anu pointed out, was the obfuscation of eco and ethical: quite separate and demanding different considerations, having it both ways seems to succeed rarely.

i was invited to come listen to a panel discussion earlier in the week, but somehow a group of corporate spokespersons did not strike me as a credible panel but more of a "let's pat each other on the backs for being so green" kinda discussion. i wholeheartedly welcome all moves towards more eco-friendly practices in all business, but if i want to know how neste and finnair deal officially with eco-pressure, i can visit their websites. moreover, if i want to know how their official position is criticized i can ask greenpeace or some other ngo. from a panel i expect questioning and critical discourse which are the results of variation in opinion -- i wonder why ngo representatives and someone professionally trained in ethics or ecology were not invited to take part?

therefore, i postponed my visit to saturday and checked out the eco-stylist competition. from my perspective, finnish eco-clothing needs a serious makeover before becoming fashion and the event did little to alter my view.

i am not sure whether the founding concept behind the theme was to be informative or transformative -- presumably both. the packed showroom suggested a large number of companies present, but the information provided on each was minimal, and thus, i left with very little added awareness about what was on offer. many of the companies i already knew of, some were rather surprising (like aurinkomatkat with their catalogue of global vacations also noted by nei... talk about some serious carbon print, huh?) and quite a few were so small the only info available was a self-printed calling card.

when it comes to transformative goals the main pragmatic challenge eco-consumption faces is facility: it needs to be easy because people tend to be lazy. with fashion, however, the problem is the apparent dilemma between aesthetics and moral responsibility, superficiality and depth. i quoted rogan gregory in my post about edun to point out that with fashion, surface is primary: if it isn't beautiful, we just don't care how eco it may be. unfortunately the track record of eco-fashion is ugly: weird hemp rags, recycled garments more infatuated with being creative than beautiful, etc.

therefore, i am quite sure i'm not alone in saying that i would buy eco without hesitation if only the garment fulfilled my requirements for beauty and quality, i.e. i am not willing to compromise my style over substance. i don't get a kick out of wearing something that is obviously self-made. i also continue to steer clear of garments that scream recycled: dresses made out of men's ties, brooches made of circuit boards and other such "clever" conversation pieces. don't get me wrong because i, for one, admire ingenuity and inventiveness, but if the results are as ugly and disgusting to the touch as these bags made of old tires, i am more than happy to bid farewell to eco-chic.

fortunately there were interesting and beautiful individual pieces of clothing, as well, but not many competed with mass-production stylewise. it was telling that the final admissions to the eco-stylist competition looked, well, eco-homemade-second-hand-hoohah rather than fashion editorial ensembles -- all explained by the selection of clothing available.

during the competition the aspiring eco-stylists were asked who they'd like to re-style eco-chic. one of the competitors answered "anna wintour", and i think she truly captured the challenge ecological fashion is facing. the companies direct their design and marketing towards a consumer niche that is already aware of eco and less aware of fashion when they should approach the whole process differently: changing the fashion world starts with fashionistas who are driven by the exterior. it is about providing alternatives that are pleasing to the eye rather than relying on eco as the strongest selling point because green may work as a fad, but prolonged change requires appeal on the fundamental level of aesthetic.

while the event was all about high morals and ethical thinking, truthfully i was appalled to hear the head designer of nanso rely on xenophobia and borderline racism in her attempt to promote their lempivaate line of clothing. such statements as "it's so cool to have a finnish middle-aged marjatta or irmeli work on our clothing rather than some tiny chinese person" do not arouse a wow-effect on my part -- although her blurt was received with "yeah, how cool" by many. as a reminder, the "tiny chinese person" is also someone's aunt and mother probably working under conditions no-one in their right mind would accept here and, moreover, even if i find local production truly worthy of preservation and promotion for various reasons, nationalism and xenophobia are not among them. thus, there's some serious need for pr-training at nanso: advancing local clothing industry does not require ignorant and offensive comparisons.

being green is probably the new cool which by definition requires some in depth thought. miltton's market of products relied too heavily on people's need to relieve their conscience to inspire a transformation in consumer habits. they succeeded in making it all look very easy, but my light mood slowly evaporated as i slurped my innocent smoothie and remembered the junk posing as fashion i left behind at the showroom.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

bare bricks.

our capability to concentrate on text is overpowered by our visual message reception. art in addition to photo journalism work as powerful political media within the imagery we're bombarded with constantly in revealing the injustices of the world. i wrote earlier on a photo exhibition of the victims of wartime rape in rwanda, but new records of the daily lives of those worst off force me to return to the subject of global suffering.

the latest collection of pete pattisson tells the story of indian slavery, a state of being that differs very little from our intuition of a slave's life. pattisson photographed brick kiln workers who are unable to leave their place of work, punished severely for disobedience and whose subordination continues generations onwards.

in a liberalist mindset the kiln workers' form of slavery resists recognition because officially they are indebted to the kiln owner. the indian caste system, still very much alive, is dependent on abject labor of the dalit who are forced to borrow from others for survival and, hence, preordained into a life of slavery they often leave their children as the only inheritance. cultural customs prevent many actions on social justice where poverty and violence rule over equality. needless to say, pattisson's shots reveal an india of daunting injustice from underneath the current glazing of news on technological excellence.

his work on modern day slavery is on show at downham leisure centre, lewisham.

lashes against the wind.

bat for lashes debut album fur and gold was released back in 2006, and was nominated for the mercury price in 2007 losing it to the klaxons' myths of the near future (which is one of the best albums i've heard so far and not a lamentable loss for ms khan, i think...)

a favorite of thom yorke, natasha khan is back with the track "daniel", a dark and haunting, but definitely dancey, pop tune. for those of you who like pj harvey, björk, röyksopp's collaboration with karin from the knife (or knife for that matter) bat for lashes is definitely worth familiarizing yourselves with.

if you want to hear this in addition to my other recommendations, i'm dj'ing tonight at beatroot. come and have a drink!

space shroom.

i'm feeling the sun and the spring, and quite honestly cannot wait to get out of my winter gear. in my case, nothing radical is to be expected: i'll go on wearing black, grey and white with the optional small splash of color.

while my energy levels cumulate, sportswear i normally steer clear of gets back into the picture. a touch of sci-fi nerd keeps the look less street and more me, and i combined a spacey ktz top with rope inlay with american apparel leggings and nike dunks in patent leather. imho, the look is very much "space cadet ready for takeoff".

the street ninja would be too complete a comic book character without a touch of distraction -- be it color or material -- and although my foremost springtime yearning is for ankle exposure and sandals, in the meantime must settle for a flowing jacket. i found the linen parka earlier this spring at h&m and loved the floppy shape of it, the slit-like folds on the pockets and the double zips.

i look like a mushroom wearing it, but with a streamlined ensemble underneath the exaggerated slouchiness remains apparent. it is a play on proportion i really like when it comes to outerwear that i can just slip off; as we discussed with anna, narrow or slight shoulders can be an asset one may want to emphasize and oversized garments actually tend to do just that despite adding volume to your upper torso. unfortunately, the result may also take a rather hilarious this-kid-shopped-at-mummy's-closet -form.

i'm ready to shroom my way to spring.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

fresh and clean.

today's event of choice was the pre-presentation of vero moda collaboration line for fressis.fi, an educational site for teens who want to quit smoking. a small group of fashion people were invited to the tiia vanhatapio store to hear about the misconceived connection between tobacco and style.

the very limited line is designed by tiia vanhatapio, known for her sultry dark couture. the combination of designer and high street store occurred to me as an unlikely coupling for two reasons: first, vanhatapio's claim to fame is having dita von teese, the pin-up diva, as her client and the sensuality of her other designs strike me unfitting for teen girls. yeah, i'm kinda old-fashioned and uptight. second, i have come to expect constructed garments from vanhatapio and imagining cheapo versions of her beautiful dresses felt almost blasphemous.

the clothes on offer were, against my fears, absolutely wearable, fun, fresh and young. the skunk girl line is inspired, according to vanhatapio herself, by tim burton and holiday era madonna.

monochrome stripes, whimsical details (see anne kukkohovi's jersey tail) and a carefully constructed logo, the skunk girl, should appeal to their target audience, although the average vero moda shopper may think the clothes are too goth-like. i saw a glimpse of the trophy of the collection, the graduation dress (ylioppilasmekko), and it was bonafide vanhatapio i.e. a beautiful satin corset dress. only 50 will be made, so you've got to be fast...

the information goodie bag came with a tee with the punchline "tupakka haisee!" (tobacco smells!) i.e. the argument selling the line -- and quitting smoking -- is based on the unattractiveness of smoking. the information leaflet lists bad skin, smelly breath, early wrinkling and midriff weight gain as powerful reasons not to smoke. for all i know, if an increased chance of lung cancer and death does not work as an effective warning, then appeal to the vanity of teens must be the proper way to go.

the line will be available at selected vero moda stores 28 april 2009. go get yours!

very impressed people at diesel.

last night i attended a vip shopping night at the diesel helsinki flagship.

unaware until the very last minute that the event was organized for bloggers only, i got stage fright walking in: i blog anonymously (or i like to think so although my belief came into question today when anne kukkohovi recognized me...) and felt moderately exposed in the midst of other bloggers whose faces i could recognize.

with the abundant servings of nibbles, scantier samples of drinks and a significant discount on the products the night offered a perfect lure combo for any fashionista. with music dj'd by daniel palillo, and henna koskinen the ambience was friendly and fresh.

diesel offered us a peek at their spring/summer collections with outrageously coiffed models walking amongst the guests. as could be expected i was most fond of their black label line.

still, i found a perfect pair of jeans that i decided to sleep on. they're slightly ripped and torn and i love the short length that's perfect for shoe exposure -- summer is, after all, all about flaunting footwear!

in the end, silver and i got matching jewelry; he a bracelet and i a pair of earrings. they came packed in the cutest little boxes and entitled us to a freebie tigi product. well done, i say.

the song that stuck from the night is the kooks cover of mgmt's "kids". lovely. (downloadable here via music ramen.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

warp speed.

it seems i'm keeping my bleached jeans, then; thank you very much to everyone who voted!

i want to extend a bonus appreciation to those who took the time to write why they liked them. it sucks that nobody who thought the jeans weren't "all that" provided any reasons -- it would have been interesting to hear why the jeans were not right (feel free to tell me now, by all means!). nevertheless, the few individuals who fell for my blue cow suggestion can't really resort to original creativity in forming opinions anyway, so lack of elaboration from them is kinda self-explanatory.

importantly, i learned something from my poll experiment: i actually care very little about what people think of my clothes.

i hope you understand this does not mean that i'm demeaning the votes i got -- quite the opposite, actually! it's always great to receive differing opinions, compliments, and i am in no way above appreciating reassurance. i'm also not suggesting that i don't like discussions around clothes and personal style. only that i realized that ultimately my own style is not dependent on the admiration of anonymous viewers although i am a social being who thrives on acceptance just like anyone else.


so i'm continuing on my notes on personal style.

the thing is, i realized quite a while ago that my look is perceived as strange by many. oddly, i also know people who think i'm a style goddess. furthermore, there are people who think i'm a wanna-be. unsurprisingly, there are people who think my style is boring. i agree with all of them periodically.

forming an opinion always depends on how one approaches fashion, trends and clothing and, primarily, how one approaches people, and it seems that however i'm perceived, there is always a dissonance of opinion apparent. in the end, the one i really trust is myself.

what characterizes me is that i am often off the beaten path stylewise (even though my style decisions are motivated by a desire to belong) and i take most parts of my fashion journey at warp speed. for example, i got my first pair of stretchy skinny jeans in 2003 and went high-waist no later than 2005. i experimented with wide jeans in 2007. i bought three one-piece overall-type garments two summers ago, wore them then, and last summer they felt a little old. the same summer i bought a miami vice type blazer with shoulder pads and rolled up the sleeves. early last fall i got an oversize black coat with slouchy shoulders and, again, wore the sleeves rolled. this summer and next fall both the overalls and blazers are supposedly all the rage.

well, woopty-doo, then. if i was conceited, i might think i was the sh*t.

but i am neither telling you this to claim that i create trends -- nope, i don't see myself ahead of fashion, no way! -- nor to illustrate a supposedly clairvoyant skill-set when it comes to fashion since my experimental "predictions" fail as often as they succeed. at times i find looks much later that many others because they've surfaced in places i don't frequent.

actually, therefore, my examples seem to suggest that i am instantly inspired by new shapes when they emerge yet again from fashion's constantly spinning wheels and, moreover, care very little about how a new look suits me: for me a new silhouette brings joy rather than annoyance or worry about whether i look stupid or gawky. when i see something that breaks the pattern, i need to try it. right there. right then.

dressing up is play and all in all i don't take myself very seriously. but as with every game that runs on novelty, it becomes boring quite fast and another challenge is needed.

therefore, i am constantly surprised how conservative many people are with fashion trends. from my perspective it is nothing but ridiculous to hear that some people are still considering whether skinny jeans suited them (or others for that matter), and i ain't saying that everyone should wear skinny jeans just because they're fashionable (or passé or whatever), but that it surprises me how it would take someone years to ponder their way around a silhouette.

right now i'm a little bored because i'm not seeing interesting shapes anywhere. it seems everything (except bleach on jeans, ha!) around me feels dated. i may need a break from fashion to feel inspired again...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

jeepers creepers, are these keepers?

bleach on jeans is everywhere. right now it feels like the foremost spring staple and just seeing it makes me think of the sun. therefore, i need me some of that.

i tried on a miniskirt at gina tricot earlier this week, but decided that jeans was the way to go knowing finnish summer. obviously, balmain is out of my reach. there is the pair at diesel mv's got that i do like and have considered.

and then there are these from d squared i just received in the mail. the wash is blotchier than in diesel cuddy and they make my thighs look "huge", but i am drawn to the zippers at the ankles and believe these just could be a summer favorite.

what do you think? vote, please, (it takes just a simple click) and let me know... feel free to elaborate in the comments section, as well.

chuck it in the bucket!

in this age of economic insecurity, ecological disasters and unemployment rates, even the optimist must prioritize. since i love lists and sharing them, the fuckitlist wraps up exactly how i among many others feel. instead of making lists of what you still want to achieve and do, why not give a go for all of the stuff you're happily letting go of?

my list of 3 fuckits:

1. finishing anna karenina by tolstoy
2. trying to rejuvenate my palm tree
3. finding spirituality

what are yours?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

high street choice.

since most ordinary fashionistas like myself get their regular style fix from large high street stores, we tend to form preferences as to which establishments we frequent. in addition to visiting mid-price brand stores, vintage boutiques, flea markets and designer havens in my spare time, my leisurely wandering around shopping strips is limited and i've noted that i skip many a high street fashion store during my strolls.

finding whatever rides the fashion wave highest at a given moment is not as difficult as it used to be, and you really cannot claim one store outweighs another in production speed and keeping up with trends. nevertheless, there are differences between stores when it comes to reputation and pricing.

although only a few of the most famous global chains have landed in finland, i've had a chance to visit the cream of the cheapo crop during my trips, and i must confess never understanding the hype around topshop: the clothes are rather pricey for the awful quality and the only worthwhile store is their oxford circus flagship because they sell so many other brands in addition to the normal topshop duds. it must be kate moss and her infamous admission that she gets her gear at topshop...

another site of constant wonderment is gina tricot i've visited a few times and always left empty handed; somehow the clothes are too obviously cheap although i've seen items which look great on other people. moreover, i have frequented h&m, but tend to go in less and less although the swedes probably have the best grasp on what is hotter than hot.

my biggest turnoff is the feel of clothes in which every single high street store scores high on the yuck scale: fake studs (they're stickers for goodness sakes. stickers! on your clothes!), frumpy sequins, twisted seams, printed stripes on wovens, and fake leathers (plastic!) make me nauseous. i'm really touchy-feely when it comes to my clothing, probably because i constantly fidget and rely on clothing to keep my hands occupied.

because i also sometimes want a quick picker-upper, i absolutely and obviously do shop at high street chains, and when i do, my preferred place is zara. the spanish chain is an oddball amongst the large high street vendors, because they refuse to give their clothing to fashion shoots (that's the reason you never see zara in any glossies...) and do not advertise.

unfortunately, most of the stuff on offer is boring, classic and way too feminine for my liking, but there are imaginative jewels amongst the dull, frilled blouses and the oscitancy promoting cotton pants. zara enjoys the same lousy reputation for respecting human rights as every other global chain and i, consequently, try to keep my self-perk instances to a minimum. when it comes to quality, as long as one remembers to steer clear of the knits and polyester-garb, the clothing is usually pretty well constructed. i recently bought my first bag from them (above right), and feel like it just might be a great fit...

what zara excels at is footwear and i probably have about three dozen pairs -- my most recent acquisition left. what distinguishes them from the rest is the use leather on both upper and inner linings (essential, i think), and that they fit my feet like a glove. most importantly, zara's shoes have an edge most high street stores lack; i've stopped visiting din sko, bianco and such because i'm quite particular with compromises in style, heel height and materials. also, a finnish fashion blogger favorite, vagabond, has failed to impress me to such an extent repeatedly that i haven't seen a pair i wanted from them... um... ever. better yet, at around €100 a pair zara shoes are a bargain, and as much as i love my prada, marc jabobs, miu miu and versace shoes and their beautiful finishes, these cheaper alternatives work just as well.

what's your high street store of choice?

temporary dwelling.

i used to live in the city that never sleeps and like any junkie needing a fix i try to revisit nyc as often as i can, i.e. not nearly as often as i’d like. much comes down to finances: my travel budget is never humongous and a large cut of it goes towards hotels which aren’t exactly cheap in manhattan.

why, you may ask, don’t i stay at friends? the answer is simple: cats and small spaces. my local friends either have cats that combined with my allergy for our feline friends amounts to lethal respiratory problems or live in closet-sized apartments where i wouldn’t fit for more than a couple of days without causing some serious strain on our friendship. moving my stuff around every other day does not meet my holiday ideal and, therefore, i try to find pleasant semi-permanent lodging somewhere.

as much as i’d love to stay at the mercer, i will not blow my budget on a room i hardly stay at, and despite the fear of sounding snobby, i just don’t do average, boring hotels because they’re never aesthetically pleasing or interesting. regardless of my lack of funds and clannish attitude, i have a few rules when it comes to lodging in nyc. first, my shed of choice needs to be below 14th street because that’s where i hang out at, that is, i don’t care for the empire state building or staying at close proximity to macy’s. secondly, it needs to be affordable or, preferably, cheap, and third, i am ready to compromise many luxuries and amenities i’d demand in any other city.

my favorite so far has been east village bed and coffee located on avenue c in alphabet city. for someone familiar with the peculiarities of manhattan, the location is perfect, but i wouldn’t recommend it for a new visitor because the easternmost avenues can appear a little dodgy especially at night. evbc is a small residential house with communal bathrooms and kitchens on each floor. definitely not for everybody, it’s like sharing a home with the other visitors. my foremost complaint is that the decor is a little too hippy(ish) and homemade for my liking; the ambiance is not far from staying at your artsy 'n' crafty auntie's.

hence, i welcome the jane. renovated in 2008 from an old seaman’s relief center and located in the west village, right on 14th street, it is the indie rock credible shack-up place with old cabin inspired rooms. the history of the building itself makes it a worthy place for a visit: the survivors of rms titanic stayed there in 1912 until the end of the investigation on the disaster, and in the 80’s and 90’s it hosted hedwig and the angry inch among others. there’s been some controversy over the gritty longtime residents that still reside amongst the hotel guests – and use the communal bathrooms – but the slightly weird newyorker in me greets them as an interesting part of the deal. at the jane, a night of true new york feeling costs less than $100.

my eagerness towards slumming it is definitely reserved for nyc only. i believe it comes down to being extremely comfortable with the pace of the city and its idiosyncrasies.

in other cities i try to find affordable but chic hotels: in amsterdam hotel v works out fine and in paris mama shelter offers a sleek experience. in case experimenting with squalid locales isn't your thing or you're new to nyc, try the standard for a less intimidating atmosphere without compromising the location.

Friday, March 6, 2009

recording time.

at core, photography is about capturing time, and at its most obvious, it attempts to record a glimpse of reality by freezing a moment. regardless of the simplicity of the basic concept, still-images of our reality can appear quite magical because fleeting time and inevitable movement in our surroundings are the phenomenological minimums we experience.

the introduction of different technologies allow photographs to be manipulated and widens the possibilities of pictoral presentation of time. michael wesely’s compelling images are a result of his decades long work on inventing and refining long exposure techniques. his negatives are subjected to such a diminished amount of light through filters and a tiny aperture, that the exposeure time can extend to years instead of fractions of seconds.

wesely’s most famous works include a collection of photos of the rebuilding of potsdamer platz in berlin completed in 1999 and the construction of moma’s renovation in 2003.

my favorites are his tulips (click to enlarge image), the perfect spring adornment. although flower arrangements are a recurring theme in art, wesely's handle on the subject, creating an image from freshness to decay, brings about a pleasing originality.

tulips are also one of my favorite types of flowers and with these photos in my mind, i'll head to the florist for my own bouquet.

213 rue saint-honoré.

every concept store aspires to be colette. the french boutique is the original sanctuary of everything cool and fresh, and despite existing for over a decade and being constantly challenged by new street smart boutiques globally, it remains unrivaled.

colette is the creation of sarah lerfel and named after her mother, colette roussaux. everything we've learned to believe cool stores should have, be it a selection of music sold in addition to clothes, little gadgets together with gawky shoes or a bar in the middle of a boutique, it was pretty much her who came up with it. thus, it is as much a fashion mecca as prada's flagship in nyc's soho.

lerfel steers her business with an incomparable fashion intuition because, as she claims, she never has time to think or reflect. her staple is to create a collection of merchandise that is simultaneously eclectic and selective and has been able to avoid becoming a pastiche of her own concoction -- a fate many concept stores fall prey to after being hailed ice cold. colette sells famous fashion houses, like ysl and lanvin, but for young designers, making it to the racks of this three-storey boutique has for over a decade meant making it big.

because of its unique standing, colette carries exclusive collaborations and sells lines normally never seen out of original brand flagships. simply put: if lerfel wants it, she sells it, and because colette has an online store, it's great for us located here in the outskirts of civilization, as well.

one of the exciting novelties comes in the form of the second collaboration between adidas originals and jeremy scott which was launched 1 february 2009. i'm not huge on sportswear, but have liked adidas originals and often think designer collaborations are at their most exciting in streetwear and sports.

for adidas' 60th anniversary, scott takes a leopard inspired theme, but the real gems of the collection are in my opinion these black tops; i especially like the fringed tank which combines street with the sassy flapper girl.

the corset top and cardigan with side strings are subtle enough echos of the 80's and early 90's, and remind me of times when dance music videos were group choreographed with skilled dancers who wore clothing that actually more rather than less covered their muscular bodies -- think janet jackson rhythm nation era.

colette's collection of sneakers has always been incomparable. the jeremy scott-adidas collab does not fail to impress here either.

my sneaker freak sighs at the sight of these icarus high tops which come either gilt or in pure white perfection. they're a masculine version on minna parikka's winged beauties but just as likely to make you airborne.

while i hanker after the fringe top and golden high tops, i must settle for these colette beauties that arrived in the mail yesterday: nike high tops in smoothly transitioning monochrome patent leather. simply wearable, but with an additional vigor factor, they will guide me towards spring quite effortlessly.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

made in finland.

i was challenged by anna to tell you about my domestically made clothing. she started her own post from the realization that the quite prolific production side of finnish clothing industry has almost vanished entirely -- a familiar phenomenon in all of western europe -- implying that what little still is tagged "made in finland" comes from young designers or is vintage.

i instantly knew there were a couple of items i could post but, nevertheless, went through my closet and the two boxes of dresses i brought in from the storage because of last week's parties. i hesitated whether i should actually dig into my storage a little further, but the number already overwhelmed me (and will probably bore you...). so the rest must be saved for later, okay?

i'll start with some favorites: a white balloon dress from antti asplund and a forest green marimekko wool dress i inherited from my mom.

the asplund dress is from his s/s08 and i purchased last winter from his showroom sample collection. needless to say, i was thrilled to fit into the sample size... it features an exquisite print, is made of somewhat rough cotton and is definitely a pretty bold statement piece of clothing to wear. i cherish it, but wear it rather rarely.

the green marimekko dress is from the late 60's, and beautifully detailed around the bustline (click photo to enlarge). the sleeves are slightly short and reveal wrists delicately. the dark color works with my wardrobe and the cool shade compliments my skintone. i've worn it for years and will keep on wearing it until it turns into shreads -- which is unlikely to ever happen with the incredible material.

luckily i share my mother's frail figure pretty much to the inch because, as it turns out, there's more from where the above dress originated.

from the depths of my mother's old wardrobe surfaced this beautiful off-white summer dress by merry finn. it's a cotton-linen mix and, again, intricately detailed around the bustline (which unfortunately is a little tight because of the generation gap -- or should i say leap -- in chest size).

the kind of detailing that is found on both my mom's old dresses is something i truly miss in modern clothing, and one of the reasons i am willing to pay for finishing touches. it is also undoubtedly true that materials used to be better because the only reason some of my vintage numbers couldn't be worn today is due to unremovable stains, not wear and tear.

avoiding stains is easy with black, and below is a threesome i was unable to shoot properly in this winter "light".

the first top is a hanna sarén for iittala tee i bought in some state of temporary insanity and which i don't like (never worn; anybody like & want it?) although there are sequins and my internal magpie lurrves glittery sequins. i am actually unsure if it is made in finland, but could not find anything stating otherwise.

the other two are again from mom: a wool wrap skirt from marimekko and a wool blouse with a back zip from arola. i wear both because of the impeccable quality and great fit.

i normally steer clear of clothing that screams vintage and like timeless pieces i think the ones posted above are. some may look retro, but none are such that they couldn't possibly be produced today.

however, the collector and greedy hamster in me demand attention and activity, and i have several dresses in my collection that are rather wearable but definitely and obviously vintage. i wore them more when i had long, curly hair but nowadays they stay in the storage.

these two were made in finland: a smokey blue dress with hummingbirds and thin golden stripes from finn karelia and a silky, transparent pastel dress from stina. neither made my collection because of quality or craftmanship, but because sometimes i feel an urge to dress more maturely... perhaps it is the mrs in me?

nevertheless, the crown jewel of my finnish collection is this simple and feminine dress by kaunotar which was made in my old hometown, turku. the copper color is absolutely stunning and the combination of (quite common, but still high-quality) lace and satin uplifts the dress to a party favorite.

and this concludes the tour of finland in my wardrobe. i hope you enjoyed it and will visit again!

Monday, March 2, 2009

neighborhood recommendation #7: coffee.

i drink my coffee pitch black, straight up, and without any additives. the quality of the coffee becomes stripped when there isn't a residue of sweetening or whitening in sight, and i'm quite selective with my java.

at home my preferred choice is either from harvey nichols or dean and deluca courtesy of friends and family abroad. because my consumption surpasses reasonable amounts, i often must try locally available varieties and if necessary, even supermarket brands of which i prefer meira's fair trade version.

my favorite place in my neighborhood to sit down and enjoy a cup of my daily drug is bali-hai. (i apologize for the link; curiously, they lack a proper website...) their coffee is of italian origin, a medium and rather fruity roast, but i've never asked the brand. served from proper porcelain cups with saucers the experience is rather charming without feeling cheesy. as a huge plus, there are endless refills my friends and i exploit fearing we'll be banned forever from the place.

and the food is worth trying, too.

let me have my fairytale!

i have not really posted pics of things i desire although it seems almost an indispensable feature for any blog dealing with fashion, trends and style. i assure you of having no intention of changing my content, nor is my collection of random rants heading towards becoming a fashion blog per se, but this time i'll make an impromptu exception since i'd be thrilled to hear where i could get my hands on this bag...

it's diesel's black gold line which i've learned to love and called "fairytale". by the looks of it the leather is super soft and, moreover, i love the rough chain and the playful, futuristic padded handles.

their online store only has it in brown, but i need (read: want) black. (black! black!)

can anyone help me have my fairytale ending?

haunting hedonism.

another disco newbie that's been around the blogosphere since last summer the golden filter have finally released a 7" for their song "solid gold" on dummy records (the song is also downloadable at their site). this will surely become a spring favorite dancefloor filler...

i couldn't find an official video, yet, but there were these two magical teasers...



and the original song with some badly shot live footage used as material for the video.

so me.

yet another great video directed by so me, ed banger's creative director responsible for such fun videos as justice's d.a.n.c.e. and pretty much everything else his record label puts out from sleeve design to t-shirts.

here's kid cudi's "day 'n' nite". the use of graphics reminds me of diesel's xxx ads.

download the crookers remix here.

tell me lies, tell me sweet white lies.

white lies is an ealing, london originating band whose album debuted #1 in the uk, and boy-oh-boy, do they deserve that standing. yet another indie pop band that somehow manages to resemble all its predecessors big and small, i still welcome them wholeheartedly. if you like the killers, interpol, editors and arcade fire, you may find something of interest here.

here's the video for their third single "to lose my life":

and the latest single release "farewell to the fairground" comes with a video shot in russia in the middle of winter. hrrr.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

let's make a deal, ok?

i am officially enraged every time i see the commercial requesting funding for renny harlin's movie on mannerheim. seriously? by appealing to people's nationalistic sentiments, they want donations for ego-boosting a director whose rendition will most likely be crappy. the worst thing is that the people their plea will above all seduce are those already worse off: veterans and pensioners. for f***s sake, people!

may this be my official petition: if you by any chance have a spare 50€ lying around, donate it to a children's charity of your choice, such as save the children. pretty please.

a week in the life of a party girl...

i took monday easy after a hectic day of work on sunday. when tired i -- like most people -- prefer comfort foods: warm, sumptuous and filling and, above all, easy to prepare. in a household of a pescetarian (i.e. a pseudo-vegetarian fish eater) and omnivore low-carb enthusiast creating meals requires ingenuity if we desire sharing something other than salads with either fish or cheese, and simple meals are very few. therefore, i prepared a favorite of ours: chili with three kinds of beans, shallots, sweetcorn, soy protein and cherry tomatoes. quick, easy and satisfying.

tuesday i went to see siiri nordin sing jazz at the american bar at hotel torni. the monthly jazz night is organized by jazz singer ira kaspi. she invites pop singers for sing-alongs and also performs solo with her guitarist. the repertoire for the night consisted of easy listening and jazzy arrangements and some of siiri's songs. very easy-going and grown-uppy -- perhaps slightly too adult-like for my taste...

wednesday i dj'd for the opening at kiasma as i told you before.

thursday i saw bloc party for the fourth time, and hate to admit the show was an utter disappointment. their playing was sloppy and fumbled. i much prefer the older songs to the new ones, and realized that i was too old for the mosh pit. i expected more, but feel like an old bore complaining. nag nag nag.

friday i flopped in the style of minttu vesala at loop. the ferocious dj's were all dressed as minttu complete with red wigs, and the lady of honor looked as amazing as ever. the small bar kept bustling until the wee hours to the beat of the threesome's outlandish music selection.

saturday i went all monaco at loisto thanks to fellow blogger and hair stylist extraordinaire, mv. the salon was filled with golden balloons, fragrant flower arrangements and beautiful people. there were friends, finger food and the most amazing dj. many were dressed up accordingly and 'yacht club' seemed like the most popular theme. as with most finnish parties, many outfits were on the safe side but needless to say, style was plentiful and some seriously ravishing ensembles were seen.

i went with "the rich bi*** at the casino" look with my early 90's demi moore -inspired hair (big curls pulled back from the face) and lotsa gold. i wore a red satin vintage dress and crocodile handbag, louboutin shoes (which crumpled my stockings, yikes!) and a vintage belt which kept coming loose. (pics courtesy of silver's cellphone. sorry and thnx!))

sunday i woke up with the flavor residue of some 15 chili cheese tops from mcdonald's i munched away after hours. a full week of drinks and salty snacks resulted in invisible eyes... in the end, i finished my week with beautiful italian food and chatter with friends at toscanini. and a glass soave classico...

what a perfect, extraordinary week; thank you all!

notes on personal style.

many of my fellow bloggers have written on their personal style evolution. idhren’s developing sense of style comes with photographic evidence throughout the years and i wish i had a similar stream to share. without a scanner, i’m left with words.

i want to start with some grounding assumptions. first, i cannot describe style evolvement as a quest for an original personal style. that is, my genuinely pomo heart resists descriptions of finding ”true style from within” because i honestly believe that we exist as performative surface without a core being. the style of clothing we select to adorn our body is as much a performative act of identity building as are our choices of company, speech acts and movements. this implies that i consider stories of finally finding personal style narratives of illusion because we never stop – and cannot stop by definition – the performative.

therefore, if someone has a consistent style it means that it is the result of a performative imitating consistency, not that they’ve found their true, self-identical style. i claim all high and mightily that style never is an expression of who we are within, but part of creating that sense of inner self.

from this academic blabberblah it’s easy to move towards haphazard psych-talk. my style has always changed tremendously and often quite abruptly. my long-time friends call me the chameleon for being able to imitate subcultures and immerse myself into them. i’ve done it intentionally at times, but predominantly my blending in has been motivated with a need to belong.

i’ve always felt socially awkward and shy, and for abject-feeling people like myself, there really are only two psychological survival options to choose from: either learn to blend in or create a surface of nonchalance. despite of times of defiance during my late teenage years, my curiosity and need to feel accepted by people favor the former strategy. my desire to fit in has not always succeeded, though, despite my urgent efforts. tough.

stylewise my admiration is lopsided as i tend to be drawn towards strong definitive looks. it translates into loving subcultures and flamboyant designers. my knowledge of fashion is paradoxical since i hardly ever know what is in fashion, but still seem to be able to create looks that are read as fashion-forward. naturally, i fail just as often and i have come to believe it is game of hit-and-miss with me...

my obsessiveness with details has often taken my style from one extreme to the other: i went from banana republic preppy to white afro, huge karl kani sweater and phat farm pants quite fluently. i wore plastic pony one week and dark new wave gear the next. the only style i haven’t experimented with (until lately, that is) is mainstream fashion since i seem to lack the capability to read it properly; style blogs have helped me with creating the leggings-and-dress look i spend many of my days in.

sugar kane’s analysis of her relationship to her style is a great example of the archeology of knowledge into personal fashion. her personal style – if i understand it correctly – is a combination of lasting and loving relationships with certain subcultures and their general aesthetic together with new inspirations provided by fashion designers who echo these subcultures in their design. she can, at least herself, find a unifying visual thread throughout her style life whereas i see the only continuum with the constancy of change.

if one wants to be mean about it, you could say i am extremely prone to external influence. you could perhaps suggest i have no style of my own. you could always go for the claim that i’m wishy-washy and superficial. i would rather think i experiment, test my limits and my abilities and that i am extremely aesthetically inclined.

nevertheless, my chameleon days have apparently come to an end. it may be because of my hair which restricts experimenting with different looks – then again i have altered my hairstyle as often as my other look and, therefore, the explanation must be begging the question.

on the other hand, it may mean that i’m more comfortable in my own skin; i’ve validated my existence otherwise so that i don’t need to reinvent my look in order to relate to people – that is, i trust people to accept me whether or not i look appropriate. it may be a myriad of other reasons, but it somewhat scares me: i don’t find consistency particularly appealing as part of myself, but rather boring, although i admire other people with consistent looks.

it helps to know this journey is by no means over and will go on until i kick the bucket – hopefully dressed fiercely.