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39 posts tagged film

oh, Leo, and that gun holster and tie!

Sudden cathartic realization of THE FASHIONS and AESTHETICS: I basically just want my entire life to look like the hypersaturated pop-religion floral sequinned over-the-top faux-branded clusterfuck of the 1996 version of Romeo+Juliet, forever all of the time. Which I hated at the time — I was what, in junior high school the first time I saw it? and not particularly interested in liking anything, let alone Leonardo diCaprio, ew, that was for dumb girls — but have become oddly re-obsessed with in the past year.  And a bit of googlin’ revealed that the costume designer was the same lady who did the costumes for The Matrix. Of course!

sewing a weave. into a wig.  GLAMOROUS.

I told you so! (Scroll back two posts.) This year’s Pretentious Slutoween Because Hey I Won’t Have These Legs Forever costume was Diane Lane in Ladies and Gentlmen The Fabulous Stains, which seemed to be met with either blank stares or really, really enthusiastic recognition, which is half of what’s so fun about movie character costumes. (Though last year everyone seemed to think my Pris costume was, like, “Taylor Momsen.”)  

Shirt from American Apparel, tights from H+M, makeup and a bra and shoes and boyshort bikini bottoms and a coat I already had, and one exciting shopping expedition to get a wig plus some weave is all this one took.

First, excuse the abysmally bad screenshots. Second, surely I can’t be the only one that sometimes has this embarrassing problem where they’re watching a movie and get totally distracted from whatever Weighty Issues Are At Hand or even from the fact that it is a Really Good Film because the clothes are like really really cool? Right. I had this problem bigtime with The Baader Meinhof Complex, which in turn re-reminded me of Eva Green’s incredible wardrobe in The Dreamers.  How do you describe this? Late 60s European Student Rebel Chic? Ew.

Either way I’m suddenly wanting to outfit myself entirely in voluminous floral blouses or lil’ turtleneck sweaters with button-down high-waisted twill or corduroy microminis with serious knee-high boots and a trench coat or leather jacket, which is so different from what I’ve been into lately — Deliberately Tasteless 90s Raver Witch Internet Vomit Post Goth Kid? I Don’t Know — that I don’t even know where to begin, but I’ve been (sad but true) compulsively ASOS-saving the stuff below for the better part of the week. That and spending too long in Duane Reade eyeballing the hairspray and serious big-barrel curlers…

Uh, you guys? Prom dance scene from She’s All That.  This is SO major.

Teen movies are also one of those things that I know I should have problems with — smarty pants art girl needs a makeover to be attractive, only skinny white girls win, boyfriend is always ultimate goal, blahdyblah — but like, come on. If I have one guilty pleasure it’s honestly teen movies from the late 90s featuring Sassy Female Leads (can we talk about Julia Stiles in 10 Things I Hate About You and how along with, like, Daria she was probably Formative To My Teenage Identity?) and often based on like Some Classic Literature Or Something. I could sit on my couch and eat popcorn and Ben n Jerrys and watch those two and Romeo + Juliet and Can’t Hardly Wait and Empire Records and I mean anything with Parker Posey in it basically for days on end.  

Can we also just take a look back at the goddamn cast of this movie? Anna Paquin, Kieran Culkin, Clea Duvall, Lil’ Kim, Usher? Somehow at the time I didn’t realize how epic that was.

april filmdump

Sometimes we are working on so many things (documentaries with old friends, long phone conversations with old friends, taking 839173 photos with rented lenses over which we cannot stop creaming our photographer-pants, attempting to find new cost-effective processing labs in the city or by mail who will not screw up both our photos and our bank account DEAR READERS PLZ RECC, becoming very disgruntled that we had to stand in line for half an hour for the Oak sample sale when we do, in fact, write for their magazine and abandoning that wait in a self-righteous huff for whiskies with The Rejectionist with whom we are sort of half-planning a bunch of extremely excellent posts and apparently occasionally adopting her Royal We, half-planning features and interviews and other things with all kinds of lovely folks like Nicolette Mason and many more (are you NY based? are you into fashion or are you a homo or a smartypants or have nice hair or something? Do you want to Let Me Take Photos Of You and maybe also Talk About Yourself? EMAIL ME NAO), making and freezing dozens of all sorts of dumplings from all sorts of countries because WE LOVE DUMPLINGS/PIEROGIES/RAVIOLI, chewing out CVS for screwing up our film yet AGAIN why on earth did we take it there to begin with, slowly but steadily winning the war against the extremely persistent mold that came with our very cheap Brooklyn apartment’s bathroom [we find that half a bottle of red wine makes bathroom cleaning quite pleasant!], day trips to Coney Island, and so on and so forth) that there really is nothing to do other than post a few photos of what our past few weeks in this rainy spring, including, but not limited to, cats we have recently met, cute internet friends from Canada, and unexpected surprises from rolls of film leftover from this summer!  

More after the jump, you know how it works.

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luc besson’s fifth element and gaultier in the 90’s

It’s no secret that The Fifth Element has long been one of my favorite movies. (actually, in general, an aside about how I’ve always kind of been way into Luc Besson’s girls though I Have Some Cognitive Dissonance about the whole like fragile-tortured-asskicking-childlike-animallike-babe thing? ANYHOO. Clothes!)

But re-watching it last night drove home one reminder pretty hard: holy shit, those Gaultier costumes were brilliant. Aside from the obvious — Milla Jovovich in orange crotch-suspenders, Gary Oldman’s plastic-covered undercut and pinstripe coat — the over 900 costumes on everyone else in the movie do so much to create the feel of the film that’s made it so visually memorable for over a decade.

I mean, seriously.  In retrospect also, there’s something so quintessentially mid-90’s about all of it too, as if Gaultier embodies something about the 90’s in the same way Balenciaga and Hedi Slimane’s Dior Homme seem to represent pop culture in 2000-2010.  Looking back over his collections from the late 80’s to the mid 90’s — the cone bras, the kilts, the corsetry, the deconstruction, the lurid colours, long skirts, “tribal” and “medieval” influences — there’s an inevitable sense of playful, cheeky irreverence about it all that I can’t get enough of.  Gaultier’s set for a massive retrospective, starting out at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts this coming June before traveling to Dallas and San Francisco (and fingers crossed for New York!)

JPG SS94

FW 89/90

SS 94

As a side note — if anyone knows of a good resource for digging up runway images pre-2000, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD LET ME KNOW. It’s practically impossible, which is pretty disappointing. Most of these images are from the SS07 30-year retrospective collection, which kind of doesn’t count. Alas!

Much more from The Fifth Element and classic Gaultier, after the jump. 

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NYT | the man-repeller: deflecting the male gaze

Quite a few of you sent or mentioned this NYT article about Leandra Medine’s blog The Man Repeller to me this past week.  I have to admit I was initially baffled — particularly by the NYT's raving assessment of it as something radical, feminist, and extreme. I've apparently so succeeded in isolating myself into a little circle of assholes who are all to some extent at least partially pretentious/feminist/queer/weird/arty/I don't know what else that I think I'd forgotten that popular opinion dictates that women are interested in fashion for the sake of being more attractive to men. The concept of fashion-without-boys-watching seems hardly newsworthy to me due to the self-imposed blinders of, uh, my Googlereader and expensive-foreign-arty-fashion-magazine-budget, and I thought most of us left that mentality behind halfway through puberty.  I don't remember the last time i looked at a major women's/fashion magazine, and of the multitude of women I know who love and follow fashion, while they to some extent still want to appear generally attractive, absolutely none of them seem to dress themselves with sexiness as their foremost concern. (God, doesn't that sound boring?) Thanks to the internet and my post-college Brooklyn bubble, I’d somehow forgotten that mainstream fashion media is still primarily about how what haircut is best for your face and how to rock the latest trends even if you’re apple/pear/brick/hourglass/banana/whatever shaped and if you can wear a miniskirt at age 30 and what, pray tell, you should do with your pubic hair, and if you should put rhinestones there instead.  Cosmo is still informing women from supermarket checkout stations worldwide that men are looking, and it’s our job to make sure that what they’re looking at is nice.  

One of the primary issues with discussing how to subvert the male gaze is that, without major cultural shifts, woman is often understood to have little direct autonomy over whether she is seen as object or not.  Leandra Medine, for all her capes and sculptural footwear, is still a model-esque 21-year-old brunette, and probably still does get gazed at a great deal by men — pretty girls are still pretty girls, even if they’re wearing drop-crotch pants which their boyfriends “don’t understand.”  But the NYT seems to suggest that to the refusal to take it into consideration when selecting her clothes somehow effectively negates it — ideas which echo much of the familiar conversation about the male gaze started by Laura Mulvey and other feminist film critics, and if we consider fashion as performance, the comparisons between the two seem more clear.  How does our understanding of audience affect whether we are subject or object, or is understanding it as such even necessary? 

(I’m going to take a parenthetical side to note that issues of queer visibility could and should also be addressed here — which in turn raises interesting questions about attractiveness versus visibility and which takes precedent, and the ways in which style and fashion relate to that, but that’s another conversation entirely.  I think it’s pretty obvious that appearing sexually attractive to men isn’t exactly my number one interest or priority, and while my girlfriend is a fan of those near-obscene Alex Wang hotpants of mine, the fact remains that technically, if I was dressing for the ladies to notice me or at least approach me on the street in non-queer-environments, I’d probably have a foot less of hair and there’d probably be a lot more carabeaner keychains and plaid on this blog — I don’t participate in the system of sartorial indicators of queerness as much I could be. So who am I dressing for?  It’s a hard question to answer, because it’s such a complex one.)

But back to audience and their gaze, and the relation to fashion blogging — I think it’s a fair estimate that heterosexual men do not make up the large majority of fashion blog readers, which further perpetuates notions of fashion being able to exist outside the male gaze, as well as supporting the notion that female fashion bloggers are not doing so specifically to be looked at and admired by men. (Julia over at A La Garconniere mentioned similar ideas a few weeks back when she suggested that we could envision fashion blogging as a feminist act in and of itself.)  If we approach online fashion media (and fashion in general) with the same mindset as we would approach film, we can understand mainstream fashion media as parallel to Hollywood, noting that it a.) produces sexy images of women who appeal to the male gaze while b.) instructing women that they need to make themselves more sexually appealing to men which c.) reenforces female self-doubt in order to ensure that they continue to subscribe (both ideologically and literally, to the magazines.)  In this case the fashion blogger can be construed as a sort of counter-media (a la Claire Johnston’s counter-cinema) which both opposes and questions what is considered to be mainstream. 

Jezebel.com was founded deliberately as such counter-media (though I know a lot of us question many of its recent features) — but in a way, much of the female-oriented blogosphere could be seen in a similar way.  I’d argue that this has been happening both on a deliberate (I’m one of dozens upon dozens of ladies posting photos of shoes and babbling about being an self-righteous homo or whatever, to the point where I’ve been interviewed about feminism as the new “trend” for fashion blogs, no seriously.) and unconscious-but-more-widespread level (let’s compare some traffic numbers between Vogue and Jezebel shall we?) So it’s not an uncommon concept lately — Medine’s blog just goes to the extent of focusing itself specifically around the irony at the root of all of it, while also pointing out one more important point: if fashion blogging is understood to be an extension of the self-expression and performativity which our day-to-day style naturally involves, then not only the production of individual/personal digital fashion-related media but the very act of dressing itself could be seen as somehow subversive.

Criticisms of this are obvious — deliberately denying the male gaze is, after all, still catering to a heterosexual matrix, and certainly nobody is saying that all fashion bloggers are inherently feminist and subversive, or that they don’t promote problematic norms (be those norms skinny white girls or Jeffrey Campbell shoes) in their own way.  But the mainstream media’s slow absorption of the fact that women do in fact enjoy fashion outside of the male gaze is interesting to say the least.  Is it too optimistic and naieve at this point to suggest that the rise of the fashion blog as a medium could be indicative not only of shifting trends in media and publishing, but also of changing ideas about women and their relation to fashion and style?

Still not over layers of sheer blacks and Rankin’s film for Hannah Marshall captures them so well.  Love the strict, business-y, minimalist silhouettes made edgier by all that transparency and sexed-up hems and necklines in her SS2011 collection:

Sometimes it’s necessary to post incredibly obvious things we’ve all seen before with no commentary whatsoever BECAUSE THEY ARE JUST THAT EPIC.  (Side note: fishnet fingerless gloves, why have I never owned a pair of you?)

Jersey shore trashiness somehow is more endearing when it’s 15 years old, and when everyone and everything in it basically looks like MY CHILDHOOD. Sort of. 

Also: that girl with the shoulders cut out of her button down shirt talking about how she beat up some bitches and then screaming for someone when the public phone rings since, like, calling the boardwalk phones was apparently a way to reach people who might be hanging out there in pre-cellphone days? I know she’s probably, like, painting nails in Bayonne or Nutley or something these days, but seriously, I need that shirt.  [Thanks Heidi for the link.]

tee rodarte x rialto pictures for the 50th anniversary of ‘breathless’ jeans cheap monday flats nine west
OK, so it’s basically glorified jeans and a teeshirt — but aside from the awesome tee, a side note about some of those eternal closet staples you love to death in contrast to hip’n’trendy shit: I think I’ve been wearing these jeans and flats (with total disregard to ever-shifting toe-point trends) for four or five years straight — I’ve had the flats restored/fixed at shoemakers more times than I can remember because they just seem so classic.  The black overdye Cheap Mondays I got at OC whenever they were doing their ‘Sweden’ year (don’t think Urban/everywhere ever had them at the time)…They’re so perfect that I’ve been afraid to wash them any other way than by wearing them in the shower and/or really careful ice cold handwash then letting them dry while wearing them (gross, but works) which is probably how they still fit like a glove and are still absolutely black.

tee rodarte x rialto pictures for the 50th anniversary of ‘breathless’
jeans cheap monday
flats nine west

OK, so it’s basically glorified jeans and a teeshirt — but aside from the awesome tee, a side note about some of those eternal closet staples you love to death in contrast to hip’n’trendy shit: I think I’ve been wearing these jeans and flats (with total disregard to ever-shifting toe-point trends) for four or five years straight — I’ve had the flats restored/fixed at shoemakers more times than I can remember because they just seem so classic.  The black overdye Cheap Mondays I got at OC whenever they were doing their ‘Sweden’ year (don’t think Urban/everywhere ever had them at the time)…They’re so perfect that I’ve been afraid to wash them any other way than by wearing them in the shower and/or really careful ice cold handwash then letting them dry while wearing them (gross, but works) which is probably how they still fit like a glove and are still absolutely black.

HATING SEX AND THE CITY AND IMPLICIT PREJUDICE AGAINST CONSTRUCTED FEMININITY

We’re just going to start this out with blatantly saying that I loathe anything Sex and the City related with the passion of a thousand burning suns, and the defense that’s been making the blog rounds lately — Jackie Ashley’s review at the Guardian — still falls short for me.  But while it does little to control my irrepressible sneer at any mention of the franchise, it brings up indirectly a lot of issues I’ve been wrestling with lately.  Ashley, a fan of the series and films, argues that a closet of Manolos, credit cards that pay themselves, an endless string of sexy men and best friends to always fall back on when they turn out to be jerks, are a female fantasy life, whereas the male fantasy life involves big cars and iPads and guns and porn, so back off and stop criticizing us for liking SATC ‘cause a girl can dream, ok?

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