Thursday, December 28, 2006

Brain damage

Do you ever wonder how a certain subject or custom developed and who got the bright idea to try something new and come up with a brilliant (or brilliantly mad) solution? I am one of those naturally curious people who has constant questions about everything from everyday life things faced by all to political, social and economic issues. (How/who did develop the system of prison? Who came up with the idea of paper money? How is it that people were able to be persuaded to use "paper" that's not the same worth as a material product? Why does hair remain "frazzled/dead" even after it recovers from a disasterous dye-job?) This is probably why I have books about cancer in my library and am looking to read Vanity, Vitality, and Virility: The Science Behind the Products You Love to Buy by John Emsley.

What has been bothering me for some time was lobotomy: even in the technically deprived past, surely people would refrain from tampering with something about which there was so little information? Well, obviously not.

(I know the five people who are probably reading this are confused as to why a fashion/style blog is venturing into such unpleasant territory. Well, I think there comes to a time where spicing things up is not only welcome but also refreshing. Yes, I could post another series of shoes/bags/shirts that I would die for, but I think you guys are resourceful and can be left to your devices for a while. Plus, (and I may be alone in thinking this) getting a break from all the product-pushing, especially during this Boxing Day-time, can be nice.)

So lobotomy was thought up by Friederich Golz in 1890, who practiced on his dogs and found the results pleasing, as the dogs became calmer. Later, good old Gottlieb Burkhardt, head of a Swiss mental institution, thought it would be a good idea to perform this on six of his schizophrenic patients. Aside from the two that died, the experiment proved to be successful.

In 1935, over at Yale University, Carlyle Jacobsen attempted front and prefrontal lobotomies on chimps and once again, found them calmer after the operation.

But it was Antonio Egaz Moniz who put lobotomy on the map.
He found that cutting the nerves that run from the frontal cortex to the thalamus in psychotic patients who suffered from repetitive thoughts “short-circuited” the problem.
With his colleague, Almeida Lima, he came up with a prodecure of drilling two small holes on either side of the head and inserting surgical knife to sever the prefrontal cortex from the rest of the brain. He was tampering with some delicate stuff, and rightly thought that lobotomies should only be used in extreme circumstances since many of his patients didn't survive. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1949.

Did you know?
Between 1939 and 1951, over 18,000 lobotomies were performed in the US, and many more in other countries.

Info: A Brief History of Lobotomy
Picture: Simpson Crazy

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

What they say...

"Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follow religiously the new."
--Henry David Thoreau

"We live not according to reason, but according to fashion."

"Fashion is as profound and critical a part of the social life of man as sex, and is made up of the same ambivalent mixture of irresistible urges and inevitable taboos."
--Rene Konig

"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."
--Oscar Wilde

"It is fancy rather than taste that produces so many new fashions."

"Fashion is an imposition, a reign on freedom."
--Golda Meir

"What a deformed thief this fashion is."
--William Shakespeare

"Fashion is a social agreement, the result of a consensus of a large group of people."
--Stella Blum

I think I agree largely with what Stella Blum said. I suppose "large" can be subjective and open to interpretation from just about anyone. It can mean the staff over at Vogue who wield impressive power over their readers/anyone rich enough to consult the mag before popping into Holts/Saks. Or just general bodies of people--in Canada, I think being fashionable is pretty much open to whatever end of the spectrum you follow. Or just even designers and their consulting teams.

But on the whole, these claims that fashion "steals" people's individuality are hardly groundbreaking. Even back in ol' Bill's time, people were hardly unique compared to others, and then what?-fashion comes along, and turns 'em all into carbon copies of each others? Since we're exposed to the same social mentality from birth, it's hardly surprising that we chose to dress somewhat similarly when we're old enough to make decisions about what we wear.

Voltaire's aphorism cracks me up. Looking through some of the collections makes me give him a nod of general agreement.

Quotes are taken from

Monday, December 25, 2006

Perfume the movie

One film I am really looking forward to is Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.

To those who haven't heard of the film, here is a synopsis from

France, 18th Century. Jean-Baptiste Grenouille has a unique talent for discerning the scents and smells that swirl around him, which he uses to create the world's finest perfumes. Strangely lacking any scent of his own, he becomes obsessed with capturing the irresistible but elusive aroma of young womanhood. As Grenouille's obsession turns deadly, twelve young girls are found murdered. Panic breaks out as people rush to protect their daughters, while an unrepentant and unrelenting Grenouille still lacks the final ingredient to complete his quest.

The stills from the film look good, and I am very much hoping that it brings us the historical sets and lavish costumes with actual plot content and substance, unlike the earlier Marie Antoinette whose director no doubt spent the budget on hundreds of Manolos rather than hiring a competent writer.

Stills can be seen at the official website. (And can we agree not to mention Alan Rickman's horrid wig hairline in the name of good taste?)

(Plus, get a load of the girls' red hair! I wish that I was so heretically lucky to get vibrant-coloured tresses/courageous enough to venture onto the dyeing road).

If you're going to the official website, give a listen to the music. I thought it's very beautiful (if a bit creepy) and stands very well on its own.


Supreme shoe lust

When it comes down to it, especially when it is fashion, I am about two things: bags and shoes. Clothes can be manipulated to suit your mood or style, by adding extra touches to make them feminine, aggressive, grunge, classy, or just about anything that says "style" to you. Bags and shoes, and most accessories for that matter, are what they are. That's what makes a good bag so hard to find, since bad-quality leather, lack of attention to detail and sloppy stitching cannot be fixed.

And so it is exceedingly difficult for me to browse online catalogs of these goods without falling madly in love and then mooning around gloomily as a result for my student budget.

Of course, what is the point of a blog if not to share your thoughts (or objects of my affection, in this case) with your readers.

What I like about these Marc Jacobs utility boots is that, although they look very comfortable, the heel is cut fashionable enough to not suggest orthopedic footwear. Even though when it comes to lace-ups, I tend to favour the boots that stop at the knee, this design really makes the shoe easy to work with. $798.00

I am all about the ankle boots. But it seems that most designers either cut the design too high, or add too much distracting patterns and shapes to the top. In my opinion, the ankle boot looks best when it is classically cut. These Christian Louboutins embody my vision in a simple yet striking package. And for $645.00, you can cherish them forever.

For the last couple of days or so, I'm been solving a case of designer identity, otherwise known as "Is It Or Is It Not?"

It seems that when my grandmother came back from Russia, not only did she bring photos to destroy my perception of a certain relative, she also managed to acquire a Fendi bag. But I'm skeptic about it: on closer inspection, the leather seems good quality, but the stitching is all over the place. Honestly, I'm sure that I, with my minimal sewing machine training, could put together a better product. And that's saying a lot, coming from a girl who set off to make a fitted sleeveless tee, and ended up with a giant muumuu-like shirt with sleeves to my elbows. But then the design looks too unique to warrant a cheap re-production. I would post a picture, but my camera-lacking household doesn't permit me to do so.

However, this designer-doubt is generating from the fact that I was suprised to find a designer F stamped into the handles, because my grandma (much as I love her) is a suspicious source of fashion wisdom and designer goods. Case in point: when she said to me "Why don't you buy a nice jean jacket? You can wear it so well with your jeans."

So while I continue my rousing game of designer detective, you can head on over to Net-A-Porter (where the pictures are from), and have your very own shoe-love experience.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Don't go before your time, dude.

My grandmother recently got back from Ukraine and, besides the presents and souvenirs, demands for pictures were voiced before she even had the chance to sit down (we're truly not the most polite family). It has been six and a half years since I have seen any of my friends and family personally, and with our large extended families in Ukraine and Siberia, interests were peeked.

Most of the news and phographic evidence weren't uplifting. One of my mom's cousins was hopping between jail and his heroin addiction, his mother tired of lending him money. My dad's niece got married, and took it upon herself to get badly dyed purple hair.

Now I remember this niece. It was the same girl who came to visit us when I was about 9, and who I desparately begged to take me to the clubs whenever she was going out at night. I remember the brown jeans with the slashed holes she used to wear (all right, she wasn't the most stylish person--but it was the 90's). I thought she was the coolest person I ever met.

So when I heard she got married and there were pictures, I was thrilled. I'd finally see how she was fairing after all these years of separation. What greeted my eyes was shocking: old, weary face, lifeless eyes, a geriatric uniform of shapeless pastel shirt and pants to blend in with her mother and my 40-something aunt, hair cut to suit her transition into an old woman. "But she's only 27!" I almost shouted. Surely this can't be what has become of the pretty, chic city girl in my Slavic home land?

I went online to make sure that Ukranians weren't countering political and economic unease by turning into gargoyles well before their time. Street Style managed to assuage my fears with these pictures:

Looks a bit like Lohan, but I love the hair, and the bag. (I'll choose to ignore the leggings... just this once.)

Normally, I'm cautious about the whole grunge thing because it's so easy to overstep your boundaries and end up wearing something you can't pull off. But this one kind of grew on me. Plus, oh god, that guy's pec-peek makes me grin.

No, I don't think she's been watching the Vuitton Ready-to-wear Spring collection.

I think there's lots she could learn from these femmes (to borrow a word from La Femme).

Photos taken from Street Style Ukraine.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Silhouettes and warriors

Now, Giles and I haven't seen eye-on-eye regarding his 07Spring ready-to-wear collection, because truly, I can't believe anyone but the very coked-out designer would think that wearing a giant piece of fur in the shape of an egg will somehow flattered anyone. I know couture isn't supposed to be practical and all, but come on now.

Well, perusing the UK Vogue website, I came across some 80's dresses. This particilar one by Giles makes me forgive him a little about his bad judgements:

Now, maybe if it didn't have the wonky 90's padded shoulders, I could proclaim my totally love for it. Because, let's face it, with some trends (particularly the padded shoulders--I know it's socially significant, and all), but it's bad enough to suffer through them once.

By Georgio Armani:It's... so... 80's! But I'm drawn to the skirt. It's purple... with polka dots. And I love it. It's a bit far-out... but it's so striking! Although it would look a lot better with a good solid-coloured jacket. Say... in black.

You've got your Urban Warrior, by Underground:
I know that some high end fashion designers pride themselves on being creators of something so artistic and avant-garde that the normal masses would never aspire to don their designs (not even getting into the astronomical costs that makes designer clothes out of the reach of most people).

But walking downtown, I continuously see cyclists and pedestrians covered head-to-toe, with only their eyes peaking out, materials wrapping their heads.

It's not to mirror any fashion trends - the covered faces are to protect themselves from the vicious wind. But when you look at them, they do resemble the urban warrior - eyes squinting, determined to get to their destinations, battling traffic and impulsive drivers. The headwear is black and stretchy, the shoes are scuffed white sneakers, the jeans corduroy and in ill-budding colours, but on some contrasting level, they do relate.

UK Vogue

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

How Vogue can you go?

In the world of fashion, Vogue magazine is considered the cream of the crop and a highly revered publication. You are unlikely to find a fashionista worth her salt who doesn't know the name Anna Wintour. Little girls would flip through pages of lacquered individuals dressed in impeccable clothing and wish that someday it would be them strolling in designer clothes (at least it was true for me).

But like with most things, Vogue's reputation seems to have outgrown its actual voice in terms of real fashion. Celebrities and heiresses have taken the main spotlight and truly stylish women have been cast out in fear of alienating their readers (all right, all right, they still regularly feature SJP--but really, we get the picture). Increasing numbers of articles are completely trivial drivel that's pathetically used as padding.

Now, were this any other topic that has been covered as extensively in the interwebbing sphere, I'd led it to rest for fear of being irrelevant but these points are even more evident in the December issue. At first I debated whether or not to pick it up at all. The cover (Kidman's frazzled hair, her bored and contemptous smile, the dull colour scheme) seemed to warn me of the hollow content in the pages of this so-called Fashion Bible. I went against my better judgement and decided to purchase it so I could persue the pages at my leisure.

Andre Leon Talley (a man who rubs me the wrong way, to tell you the truth) gives his opinions on the Spring ready-t0-wear 2007 collection. I imagine him and Anna Wintour sitting in a lavishly decorated room, delicately sipping over-priced wine and talking about a preference of clean, well-tailored Chanel suits over the more modern woman-armour from Marc Jacobs and McQueen. Then they would spot another fashion powerhouse, cooly peck each other on the cheek before sitting back down, content that they are easily the most well-known fashion personalities. What I am trying to say is that, in the privacy of their homes, where tabloids can't axe them for their thoughts, I have no doubt that Ms Wintour and Talley think themselves vastly superior to other mere Earthlings who can't attend whatever fashion shows they wish, and don't have the privelege of inciting awe whenever they go out. And that's absolutely fine - it's not against the law to have an ego the size of Jupiter, but there's only a certain amount of time that has to pass before this schtick gets tired and the world moves on.

And while I'm at it, can I suggest to Vogue to fire their layout editor? Going from a fascinating article about Oriana Fallaci's brave reporting to an asinine recount of pregnancy difficulties just highlights Vogue's loss of the magic touch. And placing Paris Hilton's tacky Heiress perfume advert next to Avon Walk for Breast Cancer is just tasteless. If there's a person who's less entitled to fame and money, I've yet to find them.

The Kidman cover article was a bit stale. Yes, Nicole has a new film out, and you mean to tell me she is down to earth, but still, you know, beautiful, and loves living in privacy, and loves being a mother and is totally fulfilled and content with her husband and children?

Really? Wow! But didn't we hear this about... oh, say, every female celebrity who has ever married/had children?

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