Tuesday, February 23, 2010

shelf it.

one of my constant sources of wonderment is the products arts and design students or graduates decide to sell at school fairs and xmas markets. it seems little recycled cosmetics bags, quirky jewelry made of old toys or beads and felted wool are something that reoccur without leaving an imprint and not arousing a desire to buy. i am not alone – at least anu has lamented on the matter before. i mean how many cutesy little pouches does one need? (many, but let's not dwell on that, now shall we...) sometimes, if you're lucky, you might find a strangely shaped clump of glass or a tilted/distorted photo.

we've seen it all already and keep on seeing the same. it's not that artisanal fairs should not sell whatever comes out of the hands of people who are skilled at crafts. my curiosity is directed towards students of our colleges and university of design. the same trinkets are presented on their sales tables every xmas and these are supposed to be the foremost creative minds of our country. what gives?

i have entertained the idea that design students fear that their original ideas will be stolen by others – some sort of mass production espionage – if they present them at public fairs before they have the opportunity to produce and sell them. it would make sense, really. somehow. maybe.

i have been told that the students often have very little time to prepare for the fairs and shows and, therefore, they just quickly put together something to sell. sure, makes sense. kinda.

additionally i have heard the claim that people are not willing to spend money at these seasonal markets, but are rather on the lookout for something inexpensive. they consider buying student work "charity", and are willing to invest just enough to show that they are into new design. therefore, the students do not offer work they'd have to ask a decent price for. this also makes sense. sorta.

a vicious circle really, it seems these events provide nothing interesting to anyone involved – assuming you're not on the lookout of yet another toy brooch or recycled cotton pouch. if i've understood correctly there aren't many opportunities for self-promotion for design students. at least cheap ones and ones that reach the general (buying) public.

needless to say, there are competitions for which entering demands quite a bit and publicity is, even for the winner, modest. sending out portfolios to manufacturers is probably important later in studies and after graduation, but hardly grows the knowledgeability of the consumers. one is lucky if they make it on the pages of a respectable magazine; many careers are made by just the simple preference of a magazine editor.

therefore, ignoring opportunities like school fairs and sales baffles me. the short term benefits of selling a dozen clumps of glass or a few cosmetics bags seem irrelevant when there is a free opportunity to make an impact on random people you might never reach otherwise. what is a hundred euro for thirty pairs of button earrings, if someone sees and remembers the amazing piece of dress jewelry you designed and orders it for the red carpet somewhere and makes it to a magazine?

my modest example is here.

i visited sprouts young designers 2009 last spring at stockmann's. this particular fair was a collaboration of better known and already established young designers and newcomers. nonetheless, nothing there really struck me as entirely impossible to realize with just graduate students.

i remember screening the room and my eye focusing on a piece of metal on the wall. a clean-looking yet funky shoe rack called me and i recall thinking "one day i'll need one of those..." i grabbed the business card.

when we moved, i realized that we had the perfect spot and the need for a shoe solution just like the one i saw. i had lost the card in the process of moving and could not remember the name of the designer. after some serious googling, i found it. the item in question was designer martina carpelan's "shoe shelf." i contacted the vasa born, central saint martin's educated designer and a fortnight later fetched the shelves from a few blocks away.

i needed two to be placed on top of each other and here they are: the perfect hallway accessory. promptly filled, they are a streamlined way to present the best of the sneaker freak's collection.



i am not saying my personal purchase was much value to the designer, but feel brave enough to suggest that i am probably not alone in spotting items that leave an imprint strong enough to create a desire later when a need emerges. at a later time i might be willing to spend more on something i need rather than dishing it out right there at the fair. the benefit of showing something worthwhile may not be instant, but if you're planning on making a living in your chosen field, what's the rush really?

i, among many others, visit design fairs regularly, and if even half of the times i left with at least one designer or design worth remembering, there'd be a possibility of future transactions taking place. unfortunately, in the past years i cannot recall a single designer from the graduate sales or fairs of the university of art and design, and i truly consider it a shame.

if you are a student in the abovementioned fields, can you explain why it seems sales have very little original design on offer? if you're just an avid follower, have you bumped into anything memorable lately? any young designers who have made an impact on you?

dizzy.

first, what a great song. second, what a freaking intoxicating, subliminally charged video. yes.

Friday, February 19, 2010

sales hag.

i was careful with sales – well, lately i have been careful with buying in general. the pleasant fact that many of the looks i adore seem to keep on appearing and reappearing eases the urge to run to the stores. taking my time translates to finds i consider carefully even after i have made the decision to take them home. i very much believe in exploiting to full advantage the right to return unwanted garments because only after trying them on with what you already love, can you really make sure you're not completely going astray.

and astray i have gone, plenty of times. i noted that exposure accelerates whims: while i was sick i had too much time to browse online stores. just yesterday i received the final return acceptance email from a webshop and i believe i should wait for my visa to balance out from the withdrawal-reimbursement hassle. moreover, i feel the ups guy knows me as someone seriously in need of help by now just because he keeps on delivering boxes and returning the next day to pick unwanted stuff up.

my whimsical buying ended up prolific, though. first, let me introduce you to the coat.

my most precious find is a black wool coat from maison martin margiela 1 – my first from his pret-a-porter line. although i am no stranger to p-a-p, i am such a regular girl that predominantly my designer gear is from more affordable secondary lines, such as mm6 and marc by mj, for example. this one feels like a bargain despite still costing more than a few high-streets coats combined.

the coat is from fall 2007, the collection where he first took the accentuated shoulder so over-the-top that the models resembled football players. my coat is the most subtle item in the collection and, thus, very wearable despite the shoulder detail. it is still very structured and the length, just below the knee, together with the tailoring draws the focal point lower than generally considered flattering. i find it interesting and shapely.

it will be a seriously quirky addition to my collection of black coats. not essentially needed, but much appreciated. the material is more suitable for spring or fall, so here's one reason to look forward to warmer weather.

coat by martin margiela 1, shirt by zara men, necklace by my o my, pants by cos, ankle boots by zara. and the pics are hazy because the lighting is crap. just consider them misty memorabilia of happiness...(yeayea, i promise better photos sometime when the sun hits this latitude.)

i have noted a pleasant turn in my shopping philosophy that has crept slowly towards my patterns of action. it took forceful resignation from consumerism; that is, my freelance time wasn't exactly affluent. after regaining my financial means, it took some explicit determination where blogging helped – i would have felt incredibly stupid constantly contradicting myself here although contradiction provides fertile ground for thought.

also browsing style blogs helped, albeit in a rather twisted way: i realized how so many bloggers copy (re)appearing trends from other blogs and magazines ending up as this impersonal mass that just seems troubled in the midst of their "style dilemmas" and their "needs"... talk about some serious eye-openers and a rough mirror to stare into. i may just as well be one of them, but i don't want to appear as though the evaluation of whether i could go for brown instead of black this season is a serious question i suddenly came up with or, worse, buy something just because it is "the thing" to have even if it looks off on me.

what was your ultimate sales find? did you stay true [sic!] to yourself?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

irregular choice.

the sound of heavy thump followed by a clickety clack promises a great night ahead. your favorite magazine has just been delivered to yer mailbox and there's an inexplicable itch preventing you from keeping your hands off the pages. a great feeling, right? you are a member of the subscriber team.

i believe in yearly subscriptions and still prefer a printed version of my favorite readings. knowing that i'll be among the first to get their hands on a certain piece of journalism is exhilarating. winnowing your own selection from the myriad of available magazines tells something about you as a person: i'm voting for this team here. i also like the hassle-free method of receiving my monthly dose of information: sometimes i enjoy browsing magazines and journals at bookstores, but mostly i cannot be bothered.

at this moment i only have one subscription, though. the reason comes down to feeling repeatedly unappreciated. for me, part of sending a subscription out is the message that "i do not care if not every issue is perfect – i believe in you." point being, when i decide to take the chance that not every issue of the chosen magazine is interesting or well-made, i promise to contribute whether there is a failure and not abandon my magazine for lapses in concentration. my financial bestowal is my handshake: "i have deemed you worthy and promise to stand by you, no questions asked."

the feeling of being unvalued is derived from the trend of rewarding us continuous subscribers with ever-increasing yearly fees. increases in prices are not newsworthy by themselves, but when they occur together with significant decreases elsewhere one cannot help but feel troubled. not only are several issues of almost every imaginable magazine on sale every year, the offers for new subscribers feel like a smack in the face every time i flip through a magazine.

for the fear of sounding like a whiney bitch, i must assure you that i am not entirely clueless and do understand the importance of hauling new subscribers. nevertheless, it has become significantly more lucrative on my part to end my subscriptions and settle for a few sale issues and short term subscriptions – i actually end up saving money that way.

the paradoxical part is that treating continuous subscribers well ought to be important to magazines and journals. while i'm ready to remain a steady source of income for a significant number of magazines, i actually have to prefer being harassed by their sales people (who aren't exactly cheap to employ) on a regular basis because i end up losing money for being daft and loyal. what is the point, really? it's a lose-lose situation if there ever was one.

moreover, knowing full well that publishing a fashion or a lifestyle magazine in finnish is not exactly a remunerative business, i'd love to promote those who are willing to take the risk and do their best. nonetheless, i find it useless with the kind of special offers i see fluttering down from between the pages and landing next to my subscription bill.

saddened, i stopped subscribing to image after an uninterrupted period of fifteen years just because of the incompatibility between what i was paying and what i saw others being offered. it sucks, and it seriously pisses me off knowing that there's an institute of finnish journalism suffering, but that i'd be buffoon accepting their inexplicable tokens of gratitude. if i wanted to donate to charity, i'd still choose worthier causes – despite being aware that many people involved in creating these magazines are not exactly well-off.

thus, the only magazine i subscribe to is new york magazine. it pops through my mailbox almost every week, filled with well-written stories and news from the big apple. it is my humble way of keeping track of my favorite city in the world. the subscription is 75$, delivered – less than 2$ per issue. i am well aware that they're not making profit from my contribution and i wouldn't dare suggesting that a magazine should come that cheap. but it does feel like a reward for my commitment.

soon i will renew my subscription for another year. moreover, i am considering subscribing to intelligent life which has not failed me once during its existence, but four yearly issues are not too troublesome to fetch from the newsagent. i am continuously on the lookout for something else, hopefully finnish worthy of subscribing, but feel like my hands are tied.

am i the only one frustrated? any suggestions?

p.s. since i am aware that people from several publishing houses visit my blog regularly, i feel brave enough to suggest a small improvement: could you please add a little tick-box to your subscription cards where one can refuse to receive any additional crap with the subscription? no, i do not want your large logo towel. no, i do not want your trashy jewelry. no, i do not want that plastic pouch you for some incomprehensible reason call a "purse". no thank you, i just want the magazine.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

loosing it.

it is undoubtedly true that the most comfortable clothes are loose. there isn't a couture cut amazing enough to beat the solace of a loose, flowing knit. the question comes down to flattery: it's been quite some time since we last saw an ensemble of loose on loose as stylish.

without a doubt there is something essentially self-assured about wearing loose clothing: "see, i don't have to accentuate my curves for you in order to feel beautiful..." wearing both a loose top and bottom hides all the work we, as women, are expected to do for our body shapes, and yes, loose layers certainly add a few pounds. therefore, the look also challenges the importance given on weight and giggles at the assumption that "here i am at my skinniest!" is where every wanna-be fashionista should aim.

not that i agree with the aforementioned assumptions, but i am not immune to them, either. the current persuasion seems to be that volume is used for hiding something considered a flaw – and there is an infinite list of flaws in our conception of physical attractiveness. although i consider myself pretty confident, i find it somewhat hard to feel securely beautiful while wearing something that others may read as disguise. luckily i do not have a need to feel beautiful in front of strangers all that often – but i do have my days of insecurity and self-doubt.

lately loose on loose has been around the blogs i frequent: anu did her monochrome version, anna put together a playful and avantgarde ensemble and stella feels drawn towards relaxed grey looseness.

i visited the look earlier this fall already, but bare ankles hardly work in this cold. my hairdo also presents a slight problem since the best loose garments are men's, but on me the combo steers easily towards too masculine for my liking. don't get me wrong, i am no stranger to the men's department, but just wearing it all together may prove too extreme on the scale. adding towering heels helps as does my feminine form... and here it is, then. soft comfort not easily surpassed.

cashmere sweater by cos men, scarf by vivienne westwood, wool pants by diesel black gold, boots by alexander wang, bracelets by jimmy choo for h&m and bless, watch by tag heuer, glasses by chanel.

are you embracing the loose on loose look or do you think it's a sign of losing it altogether?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

bacongami.

as a longtime fan of comme des garçons, i was thrilled to find out about the new print advertising campaign of their shirt line. the origin of the artwork is artist stephen shanabrook in collaboration with veronika georgieva.

it reminds me of origami and francis bacon's distorted imagery – such beautifully horrific chimeras of the imagination. yeah, and you might think that there's nothing baconesque here, but for me distorted faces equal bacon. blame it on my poor grasp of art history... check out the complete series called paper surgery at the artist's site.


pic from white lightning.

Monday, February 8, 2010

jailbird.

the fashion industry thrives on the finite memory of consumers: every spring the same trends appear and without hesitation people seem astonished to find sailor stripes, safari looks, ethnic influence and light flowing fabrics. quite honestly i find it hilarious.

nevertheless, true to my monochrome ways i welcome the yearly spring trend of stripey garments with pleasure. yes, i've worn mine for years and will probably continue to do so till i am forcefully separated from my jailbird looks. for me horizontal stripes spell rock chic á la patti smith and classic french tongue-in-cheek of jean-paul gaultier. they are such an easy way to freshen up any look.

this spring the return of the maxidress is obvious enough and impossible to miss. the past three years there have been signs of length making a comeback, but now it is actually very easy to find amazing sweeping hems everywhere. thus, maxidress seemed like the perfect addition to my stripe pile of favorites.

since i do not have the flawlessly gamine figure of petra, i cannot pull the diy nightgown turned into a dress -look off that easily. my stripes need to distract and, therefore, my choice was acne. also spotted on kamicha, i love the way the cut of the dress flatters even my body for which even a thought of the term 'figure-hugging' creates instant hesitation and slight stuttering laughter. the dress is loose around the midriff which is the perfect addition to comfort; yup, i have a waist although there isn't any noticeable curve in the pic, and it suits me just fine... the exaggerated length of the hem and sleeves can be trimmed down, but i may just keep them as they are...

dress by acne, necklace by myomy, boots by dr martens.

are you stripe lovers planning on stocking up this season or are you good to go as you were?

neigborhood recommendation #12: fresh bread and brekkie.

i'm back with my neighborhood recommendations. i actually hesitated posting this particular one, because i am seriously worried the place will be packed and i won't be able to find a seat in the weekends. but since i do want to promote a business i believe in because keeping them in business is also to my own advantage, here goes nothing. the thing is, you people reading are not such a numerous lot that i reckon you hardly create a crowd by yerself.

i am lucky enough to live close to two small bakeries that offer fresh bread. i mentioned kakkukeisari before, but there's another one worth mentioning. although finns consume vast quantities of bread, to be perfectly honest our nutrition culture does not favor freshness or flavor. fetching a warm loaf in the morning is an everyday luxury that i treasure, but after forming the habit of eating only bakery bread, it's quite hard to go back to sealed, store-shelf alternatives, i warn you.

the place i want to recommend is called crustum. i found out about it from anu in a brief status post at facebook.

crustum is a small family business, operated by a finnish-swedish and german couple (i believe) which opened its doors late last fall. their goods are definitely german influenced and one of my favorites is the "partysonne": a sun created by approximately 30 small buns with a variety of seed toppings. nevertheless, my ultimate favorite is their spelt bread: just the perfect sourdough whiteness. they also offer a variety of sweets – continental style – which is rather refreshing.

the best part is that they sell fresh bread on sundays. yup, you can get your hands on a steamy loaf early on a sunday morning.

the title said brekkie, right?

well, in addition to the bakery, they serve a buffet breakfast every day. not exactly vegetarian friendly – if you're not really into bread – the table is filled with such a selection of cold cuts that my carb-cutting sweetie is more than enthusiastic. there's also some cheese, lax and your basic yogurt and muesli. the coffee is great and there's pink grapefruit juice, and they keep the buffet pleasantly neat. the clientele is not your stereotypical rödberga hipster posse, but reminds me of small cafes next to great bookstores in bigger cities – the atmosphere is more literary than hip, if you know what i mean... needless to say, i am there every weekend.

any brekkie favorites you want to recommend?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

well i need you to tell me what to wear.

sometimes pictures can suck you into a world that you cannot relate to or really understand. sugar kane mentioned how sometimes a fashion editorial apprehended in a susceptible state of mind can lead astray in clothing stores, and i can totally relate. although i'm not claiming sugar kane feels the same, i have always built my looks as imaginary pictures, little events to be captured in film, and it isn't all that hard for me to stage a shoot where the character i am playing is rather far from my daily imagery.

although playing creative, self-displacing dress-up is fun and i never intend to give it up, it can also get out of hand. when everything seems fine leaving the door but the street slaps you in the face and exposes the reality clash between you and yer surroundings, the subsequent posture you feel proper to assume is close to pathetic. needless to say, impersonation based on aesthetic whims can also be expensive. that is reason enough to avoid going all alice in wonderland too often.

sometimes i feel insulated from pictorial influence. as ranna said in the comments section of sk's blog, her admiration of innumerable styles never sets foot in her own wardrobe. her own style is solidly her own but that does not prevent her from enjoying other looks. how true an observation.

thus, i wanted to present a perfect example from my life. devendra banhart has been a sidetrack of a sort in my musical taste. i am not generally into psych folk or the sort, but he hit a chord with his single "i feel just like child".



when i stumbled across a book of photographs by lauren dukoff with a foreword by davendra, i looked closer. miss dukoff turned out to be a young hotshot photographer who has shot most of current huge names in music. her book family is a collection of a close circle of friends, including natasha khan of bat for lashes (below) and joanna newsom, and the pictures of this new generation of american nufolk musicians are impressively and, at times, breathtakingly beautiful.

although i'd probably describe her objects' style "too hippy" to my taste, the pics offer a perfect getaway to a world of americana because they so completely challenge my preferred visual stimulants. although i find familiar urban scenery in many of the pics, the stylistic whole feels distant and seductively strange.

have you immersed yourself to a visual wonderland lately? where do you prefer to get lost?

Friday, February 5, 2010

boys' club.

a song to cheer up your weekend. two door cinema club's "undercover martyn" is a great little indie gem with a cutesy video. cheers.

science talk.

today i want to talk about a peculiar discourse. i have only encountered it in finland, and the strangest thing is that even people equipped with some pretty astute minds fall prey to this particular stupidity.

let me start from an analogy. you walk into a bar and join a table of random people talking vividly. you ask what they're going on about:

-what you all talking about?
-well, about the plausibility of m-theory.
-uh, what's that about?
-we're just debating whether it really is necessary to add the 11th dimension or not.
-um, i'm not following... what's the m-theory?
-oh, do you know quantum mechanics?
-i've heard of it.
-have you studied physics?
-in high school.
-oh, well, our topic is a little complicated, really...
-no, no, explain.
-it's about relativity, not really all that easy to put in simple terms... let's just leave it at that.
-bummer.

the point being, hardly any lay(wo)man would feel insulted if they did not understand a group of physicists discussing a theory. nor would they think it was rude if they were reluctant in explaining it to them because the process, quite honestly, takes a significant amount of time and effort.

moreover, the same applies to any field of science: if you barely know the basics, it is considered natural that you may not understand the highly theoretical questions and discussions. the same applies to scientific papers and books: take a scientific journal of a foreign field and i bet you have a hard time understanding what the abstracts are about, let alone the articles.

there's a particular field of research that is an exception to the rule in finland, namely gender studies. for some reason it is incredibly common to dismiss the entire field because theoretical discussions seem incomprehensible for lay(wo)men. moreover, nowhere else will you find students and researchers claiming that another field is "useless babble" because they find the theory complicated.

it is often claimed that gender studies should be graspable because it deals with topics that are part of our everyday lives. well, as far as i can tell existing is pretty everyday, but i dare you to show me a person not trained in philosophy who understands theoretical discussions on ontology. my material body follows me every day, but i, again, dare you to read theoretical postulations on cell biology and understand them without prior training in the field. and yes, gravity affects me all the time, but immersion into the fundamentals behind planck's constant does require some basic knowledge. i read several works of fiction a year, but still i do not expect to understand a complicated literary analysis of any given novel without expertise. to me, that's the beauty of theoretical work: i goes deeper into the realms of our world than ordinary speech.

for some reason the finnish discourse on gender studies seems to ignore some fundamentals of scientific research. for example, a popular claim is that there's plenty of shoddy research in gender studies. well show me a field of research where there isn't, please. yet another is that there are extremely bad theories just begging to be destroyed. well, i'm glad we did not toss psychology with freud's notoriously circular theory because somehow i think we can use a field of analysis that deals with human behavior. not to mention that this particular theory actually hurt numerous individuals when applied.

the most typical attack directs towards the jargon used, and, yes, i dare you to show me a field of research where jargon is not quintessential once the discussion is elevated from the most basic level.

what i mean is that science is an ongoing communicative process where ideas are presented, evaluated, accepted or rejected and novel ideas are developed further. some fields use empirical tests, but most do not. theory guides everything and they are presented and rejected as they come along. most ideas and topics within a field are hardly self-explanatory or common-sensical, because they are raised from the internal discourse.

the bashing gender studies is subjected to repeatedly would not bother me if it wasn't so intellectually cheap. i am well aware of the many problematic aspects of gender theories and theorists. it may come down to the official finnish name: 'women's studies' does rub many egalitarian finns the wrong way – especially in this age of conservative backlash. i dunno.

generally speaking, nowhere else does it seem to come as a presupposition that theoretical works should come simply translatable to lay(wo)men terms but with theories of gender. you don't hear people demanding that departments of psychology should be shut down because they just cannot understand the latest contributions in psychological review. moreover, nowhere else do you hear people who have not spent one moment inside the walls of a university claim that they actually know whether something is theoretically solid or not.

i find it all quite sad, really. what do you think?

phaedra is my name.

after spending the entire week inside, on the couch, feeling like the end is nigh, i decided to collect my rotten body and visit a couple of events.

the first was the opening of "venice – the feast of mask" at sinebrychoff art museum. i was mostly drawn to the photos by artist professor marjukka vainio and photographer carl-gustav hagström that were stupendously rich and inviting. i solemnly swore to visit venice again – it's been almost two decades since i was there last.

the second was the party for stefan lindfors's 25th anniversary as a designer and artist. the place was busy and the crowd was pleasantly mixed. i had my glass of wine, enjoyed some mingling and the programme, and came back home to sleep.

let me tell you: going out amongst people felt really, really refreshing. i also wanted to wear something a little less casual and ordinary – just because i've been in pj's all week. the soft sheen of velvet felt properly festive and despite the limited length of the dress, my aching body was warm and cosy.


dress and booties by zara, belt by h&m, tights by wolford, earrings from a street vendor in manhattan, bracelets by jimmy choo for h&m and absolut vodka.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

chairlift me to electropop sky.

sometimes i am extremely slow catching up on things. this time i blame the fact that i never ever watch commercials on tv, and i have completely missed this ad for ipod nanos in 2008. the background music was by a band called chairlift, from brooklyn. (hey, where else, huh!)



unaware that she was a member of the band, i bumped into caroline polacheck through another song about a year ago. the other day i found their first single "evident utensil" and despite it being a few years old, i want you to know about it in case you already didn't.

enjoy!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

i freakin love people with nada to do...

if this is not one of the most hilarious and absurd sites online, i shall eat an entire bologna sandwich.

go visit selleck waterfall sandwich – a site dedicated to pictures that always consist of tom selleck, a waterfall and a sandwich. i hope they keep on multiplying...



do not forget to listen to their official theme song.

lmao.

blade runner.

the trench coat is a garment of great pop culture significance. although many consider the diluted brown color of the all-weather gear favored by perverts dull or regard the classic coat as the grandest of matronly boredom, i see rick deckard and dc comics heroes lurking in the shadows and snarling placidly such lines as:

"you thick as pig-shit? help you? that's precisely what i'm doing."

the trench comes obviously from the racks of burberry who created the form commissioned by the war offices for ww1 soldiers hunkering down in – hello! – trenches. the piece of patented waterproof gabardine and the black, tan and red pattern are somewhat iconic.

in all honesty, when the haymarket check (official term for "burberry check") is brought up i also think of elderly ladies, but additionally my mind wanders off to kate moss and agyness deyn. i still remember walking around hackney in search of the burberry outlet in 1998 – the year burberry profits plummeted to an alltime low, but the street buzz was already starting in london – and feeling utterly scared. i was on the lookout for a checkered a-line skirt i had seen some chic chick sporting at some bar in islington.

both hackney and islington have since improved (gentrified, as the term goes) and burberry has gone through chav. in matters of classic trench coats i think the scales are first and foremost on the positive and burberry is still the way to go.

i have considered getting my own for some years, but am still torn between classic beige and black. both have their advantages, but i haven't been able to come to a decision. this spring i think it's about time. that is, if i can find one that fits perfectly – probably from the prorsum line since the classic that is usually sold domestically at stockmann's is cut slightly too wide.

pics from colette. click to enlarge.

the trench feels even more current now that i saw this collaboration between colette and burberry. their classic coat has been transformed in the hands of christopher bailey – the chief creative director of the royal warrant sporting fashion house – and the twists and turns feel like voluptuous brush strokes against the conservative shape. hidden underneath the collar are numerous little gold studs like tiny fangs just waiting to bite into your burberry checking eyes.



limited edition, of course, but if i had an extra ±2000€ lying somewhere, i'd definitely consider one of these.

do you fancy this classic? what about the twist – which of the three is your favorite?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

skinhead.

part three of my media attention is out. this will be the end of it – i feel a little strange about all of it, really. this time my dad's coworkers asked him whether i was in a magazine...

it has been six months since i chopped off my hair. as you might remember, i pondered the idea for a while, evaluating the pros and cons, and then just went for it. i was aware of some of the consequences associated with becoming a bald woman. some i wasn't.

the most curious type of attention arrived in the form of two identical interview requests from magazines. both journalists wanted to write a story about two different types of women: the involuntarily and the voluntarily bald. they both started from the biblical (?) reference of hair "crowning" a woman and our personal views on the statement.

i agreed to do one and turned the other one down – i think i've had enough of media attention and i do not wish to become the spokesperson for voluntarily bald women – and it was published in print here last week.

i wanted to do the interview because i found the juxtaposition of two bald women interesting. the idea that femininity was tied to the amount of hair on one's head is obviously entirely implausible to me. therefore, i have pondered why it is such a common statement among involuntarily bald women to say (or does someone say it for them, i dunno...) that losing their hair feels like the grandest insult on their femininity. honestly, i have never understood it.

nevertheless, i can appreciate that the loss of control over one's appearance when seriously ill must be a debilitating feeling. as women we have learned to consider our hair a matter within our control. while we might not be entirely happy with what we begin with – and most seem not to be – we work with what's given to our best advantage. the presumption makes weeping after a disastrous hairdresser visit understandable.

it seems not to be an issue of the hair in itself, but the inability to decide. thus, i don't think losing hair equals losing femininity but as a telltale sign of illness it is the final straw in the loss of self-sufficiency. the ultimate horror hairdresser visit that you cannot undo. therefore, the comparison of our stories is not about hair, but of authority; my action is a display of an individual taking charge, theirs is the complete opposite. if we take certain assumptions about people as self-guiding and independent as given, the difference is clear: i start from my own decision, theirs is about coming to terms with the inability to decide and, hence, is necessarily a more operose and profound process.

all pics by jukka rapo.

as far as my own experiences with daily interaction go, here's a recap. i knew people would give me a second look when i pass them by. i wasn't quite prepared for the direct staring and ogling. i assume much of it is to determine whether i was sick (should they feel sorry for me or not) or just someone who defies the common aesthetic.

i knew people would assume it was alright to touch me without permission – somehow the urge to fondle a shaved head seems almost universal, and most ask permission only nanoseconds before their hand is already on me which does not exactly count as asking in my books. it's similar to what some pregnant women talk about walking around with a round belly: it "invites" touching and is considered an accepted invasion of personal space.

it has been interesting to note that after a few drinks people become quite curious to understand my motivation and quite keen to reveal their own views about my choice.

i have been asked whether i wanted to prove a point: a feminist rebellion of a sort. i could probably dwell on the matter endlessly, but here the differentiation between my own motive and how i am read by others becomes most clear. as an aesthetic choice i definitely am proving a point – that i can feel comfortably beautiful without hair – but really, that's it. some people play with lipstick, i change my hair. my motivation is nothing grander.

nonetheless, i do understand that aesthetics are not insular and my action can be read as a political statement. and that's fine by me, as well, but i personally do not feel i am rebelling or doing anything exceptional. i guess it means my view on gender expectations has surpassed the need for a woman to have hair – probably one of the most insignificant ideals worthy of holding close in this matrix of gendered signifiers of ours. sadly, i am also very aware it is not so for the majority of people.

many focus on my tattoo, but some do not notice it at all. understandably i am asked about the pain, but hardly anyone considers the decorative aspect of inked orchids except for a very sophisticated male customer at bloomingdales soho who after finding out the origin of my tattoo started a conversation about how finland is supposedly one of the best places to live on earth...

my relationship has been a keen worry for some: how did we survive the loss of hair? well, fine. seriously, people...

strangely i have received more extravagant compliments than usually: i have been dubbed "the perfect woman" on more than one occasion – which is definitely not something i am used to. my choice has been described as "so fashion" and "incredibly beautiful". there is almost a fetish-like concupiscence in the air sometimes which is both amusing and distressing.

usually the positive comments refer to bravery: for most people shaving your hair seems like a very gutsy thing to do. as i am fairly well aware of what it means to carry a signifier of social insubordination on a daily basis, i must confess i can imagine many worse stigmata than a voluntarily shaved head. there is bravery and bravery, and seriously, hair grows back really, really soon.

the weirdest comments come down to claiming that it is easy for me to do this because my head is perfectly shaped and have such a delicately beautiful face. now come on, i am not by any means conventionally beautiful and even adding 'un-' to the 'conventionally' is pushing it. my head shape is fine, but delicate is kinda far except if you're describing my lips.

on the other hand, i have been asked for the reason i voluntarily went uglier and less feminine than before – especially because i still wear heels and dresses. my bald head has been interpreted as an attempt to deprettify myself and the question was posed in an accusative fashion, almost as if my expression of femininity was an insult towards all womankind. the paradoxical way i build my personal style around clear signifiers of both the feminine and masculine proves too much for some to understand.

tangentially the hostility of some women towards my choice as playing with a serious issue – i.e. cancer – never ceases to surprise me. i guess our public discourse on illness is limited to stories of resilience and sorrow, and many have only a few methods to deal with sights that remind them of their own vulnerability.

another point where my motives and outside reactions do not match entirely is the way such a strong look distinguishes me: people always remember me nowadays and recognize me without trouble. since i have the worst memory of faces (i must suffer from some kind of prosopagnosia) there's been aplenty of awkward moments. leaving a mental imprint on people is both a blessing and a curse because you're being screened for better and for worse. i have started to grasp the way minor celebrities must feel because people recognize them so easily.

overall and although i did not intend this to happen, i have bewildered many people and challenged their views on what a normal member of society should look like: for someone gainfully employed, even successful, well educated, active and happily involved in a relationship my look seems inconsistent. since i cannot be easily boxed as a member of some subculture, i have been told that people see me as a freak – something i somehow have trouble to grasp – and have been informed that many people hesitate approaching me in my perplexity. i have noted repeatedly that people seem genuinely surprised to find me "nice" and friendly – a bald woman is one scary sight, you know...

finally and despite probably sounding slightly annoyed above, i love my bald and it has become the ultimate accessory: i never lack the necessary edge i want in my look although it is quite easy overdo. the edge also becomes burden because whether i am aware of the details of it or not, people are quick to judge me by my appearance. what i see in the mirror does not correspond to what i am seen as, and while my observation provides nothing novel on the incompatibility of self-image and peer evaluation, it reminds me of the subtlety of signals we send.

do the thoughts written above sound familiar to you? what do you think when you see a bald woman?

Monday, February 1, 2010

sniffles.

this winter i have been scared by the flu numerous times – a little congestion here, some slight temperature there – but i've felt fine after a good night's sleep. this time it caught me good. i am a red nosed, trembling and aching mess.

thus, a list of things i missed because i am sick.

1. make the girl dance at redrum
2. all finnish catwalk events and parties
3. opening of margarita rosselló ramón at galleria huuto.
4. opening of "muiston pysymättömyys" (the impermanence of memory) at kulttuuriarena gloria.
5. most of the flavors of our fabulous second anniversary dinner at farang.

last three i recommend you go see and experience yerself – i will as soon as i get some positive sensation back in my body. now it's time for only tea and painkillers with a whiff of nasal spray.

edit: i also missed the opening of susanna majuri's vedentutkijan tytär at the museum of photoraphy. i will write about it once i get there, but here's mv's musings on the show.