As I was putting on my make-up, I was reminded of my childhood days of coloring in color books. It is the same concept. Arrays of colorful pencils are used. There is a wide use of electrifying colors from vibrant fuchsia to smoky green to petunia pink. The coloring rules are the same too. Stay between the lines, blend the colors, don’t over-color.
Fashion is like child’s play. True, it is a multi-billion dollar industry and run by mega corporations. Intimidating abbreviations are used such as CEOs, CFOs, COOs to describe titles of very important people. Serious terms such as stocks, IPO offerings, listings on the NASDAQ are used to gauge the worth of a company. Board meetings are held behind intimidating mahogany double doors where board members sit around tables that are longer than the train of Kate Middleton’s McQueen gown.
Shiny silver haired men and women attend the meetings wearing Savile Row tailored pin-striped cashmere suits; .walking with a determined and purposeful stride in their John Lobb loafers and Jimmy Choo heels and toting Birkin bags with such ease and comfort that one would think that the proverbial “born with a silver spoon” was replaced by “born with a Birkin bag.”
Despite all the gravity and sternness there is a silly, delicious, lighthearted playful side to fashion. One possibly cannot take fashion seriously. In fact, if you do take fashion seriously it ceases to be fashion as the laxity of creativity is lost. It becomes regimented and constrained. Rules restrict creativity.
To be truly creative the adult inhibitions need to be curtailed. True fashion icons or for that matter even designers, embrace the child in them. They have fun with fashion without inhibitions. In fact, multiple fashion campaigns and advertisements appeal to the child within us by depicting a comic book, mischievous, even cartoonish element.
Givenchy’s “Cat” cap for a measly $2,124 is a purrrfect example. I was so drawn to its devilish charm that was almost on the verge of cashing out my IRA until NPR’s analysis on the state of fast dwindling economy acted like an allergic reaction to cat dander, thereby deterring me from cashing out my nest egg. The Givenchy cap intrigues the child in us and plays on the age-old clichés of the black cat, naughty cat and maybe even the superstitious cat.
Fashion legend Iris Apfel who is 90 years old continues to wear the grandma oversized glasses with her designer duds and the overload of clunky jewelry. She reminds me of the animated series Daria- smart, acerbic and eccentric.
Kim Kardashian is a perfect example of Betty Boop with the ample buxom and the oh-so long fluttering lashes. Except, Kim’s are most likely courtesy of Shu Uemura!
Bryan Boy ups the Aladdin factor with harem pants. Instead of a rope tied around the waist, he uses the Hermes belt. If you can give a plug to a product while embracing the child in you, why not!
The Row designer looks innocently delicious with the Heidi style braid.
How can one forget Minnie Mouse and her contribution to fashion at large. Between the polka dots and the head piece her contribution is unmatched. Marc Jacobs ad campaign featuring Helena Bonham Carter is a distorted, gnarly, modern homage to Minnie Mouse.
The sartorial Carine Roitfield’s French sensibilities of fashion noir are similar to Elvira’s.
And the hot Rooney Mara who will bring to life Stieg Larsson’s nail biting thriller is a Dora gone wild! Very wild!
And finally the style icon herself, Anna Dello Russo, whose mantra appears to be fashion without boundaries. She changes her looks faster than a chameleon. Here she is lovable as the animated Dalmatian with the black and white dots and the burst of red.
So, have fun with fashion. Forego boundaries and rules. Play with fashion and release the child in you.
Horror vacui means fear of empty spaces or fear of the empty.
The term is usually used in art, for example Victorian or Arab Islamic art. It is ornate and opulent but abundantly busy and cluttered!
The opposite of Horror vacui is minimalism, negative space, silence, emptiness and a vacuum.
The term has a strong psychological connotation for me. Its origin is “fear.” Fear is usually considered a “negative” emotion, a phobia, a condition that needs remedy.
Is Horror vacui truly a phobia, in need of a remedy? Let’s analyze and try to reach a deduction.
I interpret the term beyond the parameters of art. It can be applied to fashion, architecture, interior designs and most interestingly to human behavior. In fact, it is most intriguing when applied to humans as our emotions are a bundle of complexity worthy of a million interpretations.
We all have met people who speak incessantly. A ceaseless chatter, flitting from one mundane subject to another with nothing concrete to say. They talk as if their life depended on it. One has to be on a high-level of vigilance to grab an inhalation break in order to escape. It is an example of Horror vacui in speech-fear of silence.
Or people who have a compulsive need to be surrounded by other people all the time. Constant socializing, parties, get-togethers, vacations with friends, dinner with friends, coffee with friends, lunch with friends and the list goes on. They may describe themselves as being extremely sociable, but doesn’t it reek of Horror vacui-fear of being alone?
An addiction in any form-alcohol, drugs, food, sex is Horror vacui. An attempt to avoid facing the internal vacuum.
Fashion is a form of art and the principle of Horror vacui is relevantly applicable. I was recently at a Roberto Cavalli store. As I entered, I gasped and my jaw dropped. I felt my visual perception being assaulted by prints, patterns, colors, lines, shades in every shape and form. The minimalist in me felt suffocated and wanted to escape. The only visual escape was the white ceiling, except it too was covered with ornate patterns. An illustration of horror vacui in fashion.
What about women who imbibe the fashion mantra of more is more. True, we all have our own fashion sensibilities and fashion is a form of expression. So, who am I to sit in judgment. But really do we need all that adornment? Is it truly self-expression or is it confusion that is making a feeble attempt at expression? The bracelets, the rings, the necklaces, the danglers, the French nails. Help, I am horrified! It is Horror vacui, fear of toned down or minimal fashion.
Interior design is a form of art as well. I was recently told by an acquaintance that she wanted to buy a statue as there was only one corner in her house that was empty and needed to be filled. We engulf our homes with objects d’art, furniture, tapestries, carpets, rugs, pillows, candles. After sometime the aesthetic beauty becomes so diluted that it looks more like clutter. It is Horror vacui, fear of empty spaces.
For centuries, artists have been painting and drawing detailed, ornate and intricate work. The talent is evident, but an inordinate effort is made to cover every miniscule part of the canvas or the art medium. Wouldn’t it create a better contrast if the medium had a vacuum or blank space? Horror vacui again-fear of negative space.
So, to answer the question whether Horror vacui is a phobia in need of a remedy? My answer is that in most instances yes. It requires confidence to forego the fear of empty spaces whether related to emotions, fashion or art. Emptiness is beautiful, courageous and non-conforming!
Travel is the spice of life; it is crème fraiche on a basic sponge cake; it is the vibrant lipstick on a bare face, it is the statement necklace on a basic black dress, it is the bold stroke on a plain canvas.
We live our daily lives performing various duties, chores and activities. Some we enjoy some we don’t. In any event no matter how exciting our daily jobs and lifestyles are after some time, well they become “daily” or “routine.” The familiarity even though comforting brings with it some vacuous boredom.
Travel jolts us from the quotidian routine and infuses the requisite amount of fervor and excitement to get back into the “routine” upon return.
Upon her return from a world tour, my friend told me that she could not find the food that she is accustomed to in her home country and hence from that aspect it was a little hard for her to travel.
It made me think, what is the point of traveling if you cannot immerse yourself in the culture, the traditions, the food, the style of that country and get a true feel of its soul. When I travel I have a ritual, I visit the grocery store and the pharmacy of the new place. It provides me an opportunity to get a true local feel of the country. I also try to buy at least one small traditional clothing item and incorporate it with my daily wardrobe. It enables me to take a nostalgic trip down memory lane when my life returns back to being “daily.”
When we travel, we all visit the famous sites recommended by Lonely Planet. The key to travel is to diverge from the well-traveled “touristy” path at least once and get a true flavor of the country.
Travel is about exploration and getting out of your comfort element, stepping out of self-imposed parameters and crossing boundaries literally and metaphorically.
If you are in Istanbul, you will of course visit Hagia Sophia as you should, but also take the time to sit in the little cafes and drink umpteen cups of cay with shakkar (tea with sugar). You truly get a feel of the old culture watching the men play board games.
If in China, eat the dumplings from the enormous steamed bamboo baskets.
If going to Italy, do buy at least one sartorial outfit from Via Condotti (no matter how small) to be a part of the most stylish culture in the world.
In Mongolia throw caution to the strong Gobi desert winds, ride a yak and later drink its warm milk! No need to crinkle your nose, it is delicious!!
So, pause your hectic itinerary for a few minutes, take a long breath, inhale and envelope yourself in the essence of the country you visit. You will get more out of it than visiting every miniscule “must see” site written in the travel book.
Perfection is not instantaneous, not exigent and not speedy. It is a laborious, tiresome and toilsome journey.
Perfection can be achieved in any field by giving it enough time, patience, perseverance and that “one more thing” as per Steve Jobs that is always required even when you think you are almost there.
Steve Jobs recent demise made me think of how everything that is perfect or even comes close to perfection takes time or that “one more thing.” There seem to be no short-cuts to perfection and no quick schemes. Interestingly, it does not matter what you are trying to perfect. It can be a small thing such as whipping up a perfectly risen delicate soufflé or a colossal and complex project such as inventing and designing the revolutionary Apple gadgets. It all takes time and massive effort. The question is what mettle are we made of? Strong enough to withstand failures and defeats, with only a steel drive propelling us to move forwards towards perfection. Or do we want to chuck the whole thing after a few tries as it is “just too hard.”
As a confession, in most instances I probably will take the easier or the latter path, only to be burdened later with a heavy sense of regret for having forsaken the sweet taste of perfection and my goal. Hopefully, writing this blog will be a cathartic experience and will steer me to strive towards perfection in achieving my goals in life, no matter how big or small they are.
Steve Jobs is an example of perfection. He was a drop-out from college, co-founded Apple Computer only to be ousted nine years later from the extremely lucrative company he founded. It was not a deterrent for him, but an opportunity to further hone his craft. He came back with marvels such as the iPod, iTunes, iPhone and iPad creating a revolution not only in technology, but a cultural revolution that changed the way people listened to music, read books and used computers forever.
His designs are not only highly efficient but an example of style and elegance. He enabled the world to discard the clunky obsolete gadgets and replace them with minimalistic, highly efficient, utterly cool gadgets.
He can be analogized with pioneers such as Edison or the Wright Brothers. He was a visionary who with his intelligence, years of toil and hard-work, built a company that consumers cannot get enough bites of.
Hermes is another company that takes extreme pride in perfecting its craft. It is a rare company in this day and age of mass produced, assembly line, sole focus on “filling-the-quota” kind of products.
Yes, you do pay a premium for Hermes products, but perfection should not come cheap.
Thierry Hermes started the company 74 years ago with a vision. He brought his vision to fruition by using unsurpassed quality materials, attention to detail and hard work, lots of hard work. The Hermes bags are a superlative example of quality. Each Hermes bag is cut by hand, piece by piece with individually inspected materials. Each artisan works only on three to four bags at a time. They are made-to-order in the true sense of the word. Each bag is made by hand, inside and out!
Even the saddle stitch used by the artisans has been in use since the 19th century. In fact, nothing much has changed in the technique of the design and manufacturing since the inception of the company.
Along with quality, Hermes has been a visionary in marketing and branding. When celebrity endorsements were unheard of and a rarity, Hermes introduced the Kelly and the Birkin bags, an homage to Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco and the uber stylish Jane Birkin (trivia, she is the mother of Charlotte Gainsbourg.) The bags have acquired iconic status and cultural eminence.
What about a perfectly scrumptious, delicate, fluffy soufflé? It is not a dessert that you can order “off a menu” and expect it to be delivered instantaneously. No, it takes time and patience to make it. It has to be coddled, delicately whipped and baked for at least a good 45 minutes for it to rise to a cloud of warm, sweet perfection. You have to order the dessert even before you order the appetizer in order to enjoy it. It takes time to make a perfect soufflé!
So, to conclude and a note to myself-Keep working towards perfection. It takes time to perfect perfection, assuming that there is a Utopian point of perfecting perfection.
I am from India. Hence, befalls upon me the duty to blog at least once about the industry that is the beating heart, deep soul and the throbbing pulse of India-The Indian Film Industry aka BOLLYWOOD.
Indian film industry is based in Bombay (now known as Mumbai). It is fondly known as Bollywood, possible name origination from Hollywood. It is massively influential not only in the home country but has a growing popularity internationally as well. With India being on the global map, Indian cinema’s popularity has exponentially increased.
Bollywood churns out twice as many movies as Hollywood in a span of one year. With movies such as Slumdog Millionaire and exports like Freida Pinto, an increasing number of Western audience are becoming familiar with not only the colorful song and dance routine that is so integral to Bollywood movies, but thanks to the portrayal of slums, the debilitating poverty in India as well.
For the purposes of this blog and because I am an insider, I will introduce you to a quintessential theme in Indian cinema that is patently latent for the foreign eye, yet prevalent in most Indian movies. It is also a little insight into the pre-disposition of the Indian brain, especially the male brain.
It is the Madonna-Whore theme on celluloid.
Women are an integral part of Indian cinema. In most Indian films women are portrayed in two ways. Either they are shown as a pious, sacrificing, maternal figure or Madonna. Or they are depicted as the wanton, sexy, lustful, glamour doll or whore.
The sacrificing maternal figure may as well be called a sacrificial lamb. The adversities of her life are higher than Mount Everest and insurmountable; not even Edmund Hillary in flesh and blood could peak the heights of such misery.
The hardships start at a young age when she is coerced into marriage against her will to a much older man and from there on the misery chapter of her life starts. The script usually goes like this-she gets pregnant after marriage; one of her kids is born without a limb and is handicapped; the burden of taking care of this child falls entirely upon her slim shoulders; the husband is an alcoholic loser who drinks, gambles and at the end of the day beats her up; she works like a dog doing menial jobs where again she is abused and exploited by her employer and then the poverty, oh such cruel poverty that two square meals will be considered to be a banquet. Despite all these calamities, she is able to educate her handicapped child who in turn becomes a famous doctor and just when one would think that the anguish is about to end, she gets cancer and dies. Throughout the movie she is dressed in a white sari, the color of grieving. It is a perpetual saga of despondency, melancholy and wretchedness.
One of the great classic Indian movies of all times named Mother India, is a perfect example of this ideal, sacrificing woman.
The audiences come out of such a movie with tears rolling down their cheeks and a renewed respect and reverence for a woman.
This mother or “ Madonna” figure is the signature illustration of an ideal Indian woman in Bollywood. She is pious, sacrificing and wallowing in eternal suffering. The audiences bow to her-she is Madonna.
In the opposite extreme you have the woman depicted as a seductress. She is an enchantress, a femme fatale, a temptress, a vamp all rolled into one tight package. She oozes sexuality and lust with flat abs, protruding breasts, luscious lips, cascading ravenous hair, skimpy clothes and a husky voice. Most of the camera frames are angled to focus on her anatomy, especially the sexually stimulating body parts such as the plump lips, heaving breasts and swinging derriere.
The sexuality interpreted through this woman is so over the top that it makes all the Victoria’s Secret models look like nuns.
The audiences come out of her movie panting with lust and sexual tension. This woman is purely objectified as a sex-object-she is a whore.
You must have noted the dichotomy in Bollywood movies by now. Women are either put on a pedestal and given the veneration and respect of a Madonna or simply portrayed as an object of lust.
Interestingly, most Indian cinema is hesitant to portray Indian women as both being a mother and also a seductress. The two concepts appear to be diametrically opposed and do not seem to merge in a Bollywood woman.
In all honesty, the tides are changing in Indian cinema. Modern cinema is becoming trendy, issue based, somewhat intelligent and more realistic. But for the past many decades the true and tried formula of the Madonna/whore theme has been a sure shot success at the box office.
What is your opinion? Can meaningful cinema depict a woman both as a Madonna and a sex object?
I experienced a surge of emotions when I first saw this photo. The Elegance of the gentleman took my breath away! So polished and tasteful! Such finesse and refinement. It forced me to stop, stare and think.
Elegance has become somewhat of an obsolete concept in the modern society. Crude and rough behavior/actions are considered aggressive and are rewarded. Alarmingly, aggressiveness is somehow a virtue in modern times!
People talk loud, dress loud, act loud. For a slice of loudness, experiment going to a Starbucks at 6.00 a.m. The energy is palpable. The loud whirring of the fan is deafening (why one would need a fan in 60 degrees temperature is beyond my comprehension.) The Baristas wired on caffeine are screaming long, incomprehensible drink orders; the patrons on their Blackberrys are trying to talk over the noisy din and of course the shrill whirring of the cappuccino machine adds to the madness. Nope, there is nothing in this scene that is even close to being defined as a “coffee break!”
The expression “squeaky wheel gathers the most grease” is apt and appropriate in present times. In a recent article I read, as per statistical data, the employees who spoke the loudest and were most boisterous got the maximum raises and least reprimands. Yes, no place for a person with delicate, fine sensibilities in our society. Dress loud, speak loud and in general live loud is the mantra! Cult shows such as Jersey Shore and the Kardashians are a perfect example.
Vulgarity is sexy and roughness a turn-on!
The “casual” look has replaced the “formal” look. Jeans and t-shirts are perfectly acceptable in most settings, even formal ones.
In the midst of such coarseness when one sees an elegant gentleman, regally perched on his bicycle is cooling for the eyes and senses. It is a breath of fresh air. It make you stop and stare, even if for a rushed moment.
Notice the attention to detail in his dressing-the peak-a-boo striped socks and shirt cuffs; the thin silhouette of the suit; the well-trimmed silver beard; the retro glasses perched on the bridge of his nose, the well-polished loafers; the suede elbow patches. An absolute optical delight!
It is evident that he took time to get dressed. There is attention to detail. He takes pride in the small things. He has dignity and grace. He is polished and refined. He is an Elegant Man. I am compelled to stop and stare at him.
DISCLAIMER: This is an introspective piece. Any materials contained in this blog are not reflective of any person I know, have known or will know, blogger or otherwise. I love my blogger friends and they have brought nothing but sheer joy and love to my life. Any resemblance to a person/blogger is purely accidental, unintentional and fictitious. The picture of mine has absolutely nothing to do with this blog and is simply to comply with the visual appeal standards recommended in various blogging manuals, thereby luring readers to skim through the blog as a necessary component in facilitating traffic!
Having said that, here we go!
It has been a few months since I last blogged. Part of it was due to paucity of time related to pressures of work, part of it due to laziness (it is surprising how quickly the human body adapts to a lazy, lackadaisical attitude) and part of it was because of a general and sudden disdain towards blogging. You could call it the “burn-out” factor or maybe on a more philosophical, elevated level the questions that festered in my mind were “why,” “what is the point,” and “does anyone really care that I blog or not.”
I know, I know there is much to be said about the joys of blogging. For example, the sheer joy that encompasses a blogger; the “a-ha” finding yourself moment; the moment where the clouds drift and it becomes crystal clear that blogging is your calling, your destiny, your passion; the halo one gets from sharing, giving, receiving, tweeting and re-tweeting; the joys of experiencing ceaseless love thru #FF and the list goes on.
So, you must be asking right about now, isn’t that enough for you? What else do you need? You complainer, you!
I admit, for the most part blogging has been a very rewarding experience for me. I have made lovely friends, received a lot of love and shared a part of me.
The “burn-out” factor came with the numbers game. I confess it is probably a self-imposed pressure, but nevertheless “pressure.” With my delicate sensibilities, pressure is not conducive for my mental well-being (ha ha!) I work in the legal field and get enough pressure all day. Do I really need to or have to handle blogging pressure on top of that. So, cut me some slack and give me a break!
The numbers game can be broken down into so many sub-parts such as the number of comments you get on a blog that you have put so much time and effort into. I have consistently noticed a good quality blog gets much fewer comments than a picture of a person shot in the backyard wearing jeans and a t-shirt. DISCLAIMER: There is nothing wrong in wearing jeans and t-shirts or shooting pictures in the backyard! It is all about expression. (Gosh, it appears that this blog will be all about disclaimers!)
The point I am making is that the general viewer tends to veer towards the lighter blogs. It may or may not be visually stimulating and in all fairness what is visually stimulating for one maybe a turn-off for the other. It all depends upon the sensibilities of each individual, especially when it comes to subjective standards such as art and fashion.
Although, I will say that certain things, objects, fashions, styles, literature can be judged by universal standards of being visually attractive or not. There is not much left for interpretation. A Henri Matisse painting will be found beautiful by general and well-accepted standards of beauty! If you do not, well then you should not be on my blog.
There are a number of reasons, why “quality” “content-heavy” blogs, do not receive much traffic and it has nothing to do with the intelligence of the reader. One big factor is lack of time. Readers do not have the time or maybe the desire to read “content-heavy” blogs. Simply, scrolling through the pictures is much easier and quicker.
Another reason is that most readers comment on blogs to get reciprocal traffic back. There is much written in blog-dom about giving meaningful comments and to give meaningful comments one will have to READ the content-heavy blog which takes time and comprehension skills. Easier to make a spiffy comment such as “Love your hat” and move onto the next blog. This way you multiply your chances of receiving higher reciprocal traffic back. It is as simple as hitting the “like” button on Facebook. Quick and thoughtless!
Of course, when you do get comments, then you are compelled to reciprocate the comments whether you like it or not, as you are way deep into the numbers game and do not want to “lose your readers.” My point is if your readers like you, they should keep commenting whether you comment on their blog or not. I mean, does Anna Wintour comment on my blog and yet I religiously read the Vogue month after month!
And in this ceaseless vicious circle of “I’ll comment on yours, if you comment on mine,” how many people are really interested in you or your blog? Makes me wonder.
Then there is the pressure of blogging “at least 3 times a week” to increase traffic. In all honesty, unless you are making money out of the blog and are doing it on a full time basis or have a trust fund or a sugar daddy, it is impossible to do it with a regular job! There is simply no time.
Oh wait, wait there is more! The photos, the dreaded photos! I don’t know about you, but taking photos has lost its appeal for me after I started blogging. It seems like a chore. Buckled under the constant pressure of “putting new content” on the web it seems like dressing up is punishment. How many photos can one take of oneself in the same setting, with almost the same expression on the face. Don’t people get bored of me! And why would they want to see me, when they can sift through Style.com and see Lara Stone with her voluptuous lips and va-va-voom body wearing the most exquisite styles! DISCLAIMER: There is nothing wrong in taking pictures of oneself in the same setting, with the same expression. I am only expressing my opinion and it is not a reflection of anyone or any person I know, have known or will know!
Now, I will be very blunt, because isn’t blogging all about sharing, being honest and being true to oneself. I write quality blogs. I take my readers through journeys that are unique. I introduce them to new things, new ideas and new experiences. I admit I may sound arrogant and conceited but it is true! I am well-versed in the art of living life elegantly, whether it is related to fashion, style, food or culture. I know what is visually attractive and what is not! I have travelled the world and spent most of my conscious years dreaming, reading, buying, studying fashion, style and culture. I am intelligent, write well and bring uniqueness to my blog via the myriad of experiences I have had in my life.
The question now is should I have to or need to change my blog in order to interest the “general” reader, thereby generating more traffic for the blog? Am I forced to stand in my backyard with the same expression on my face, wearing jeans and a t-shirt so that I can appeal to the “average” reader? Do I need to shorten my blogs and write about a mundane subject that I have no interest in whatsoever so that I can get more eyeballs on my blog? Should I have to post three blogs a week such that I can get some traffic and then possibly an ad on my blog? Should I have to comment on blogs I don’t find visually or intellectually stimulating? My answer is NO. If blogging is all about being true to myself, then I will blog on my own terms, traffic or not!
DISCLAIMER: All the disclaimers noted above are applicable to the entirety of this blog.
When I started writing my blog, I did not have a clear defined vision for the blog. I was unsure of the direction in which I wanted to take the blog. The only thing I was sure of was that along with my other passions, I wanted to share my concept of non-conformity with my readers, if and when I was privileged to have some readers.
Now some of you loyalists (whom I appreciate with all my heart) have bestowed upon me your precious time by reading my blog and commenting upon the entries. Your comments are so thought provoking that I want to make a mini-blog of all the comments. I am absolutely floored by your lacerating intellects, breakdowns and dissections. Oh how I wish to sit down with all of you over a cup of cappuccino and enter into a discussion on a myriad of subjects ranging from fashion to philosophy; architecture to inspiration and conformity to non-conformity. (Such a discussion, if held in a café on the Italian Riviera will be preferable haha!)
I am an advocate of non-conformity and will continue to write on it. I admire it because it shows strength, bravery and risk taking. It can be in any walk of life-be it fashion, art, music, literature, architecture or even a profession. If Mark Zuckerberg had continued to conform by following the tried and traditional path of diligently attending classes at Harvard, taking exams and upon graduating sending out resumes to be a computer programmer, would we be enjoying the fruits of the revolutionary powerhouse phenomenon called Facebook!
We all interpret non-conformity based on our personal life experiences and sensibilities. My sweet friend Anika just wrote a beautiful piece on her interpretation of non-conformity, that I enjoyed reading immensely.
There is no set archetype. One of my interpretations of non-conformity is to explore, to veer away my comfort zone and forego established gauges and measures. I am not necessarily being rebellious or radical just to make a point of being a non-conformist, but merely pivoting towards the edge in order to find my edge, my extreme, my limit. I am testing my strength. I am taking a risk.
Androgyny in fashion is a way to step out of the comfort zone for both men and women. I have written earlier blogs on androgyny as applied to both men and women. I find androgyny extremely intriguing and captivating. What makes us want to digress and explore the sexuality of the opposite sex? What is so alluring about role reversal? Is it empowering or simply a way of testing our limit, our edge and our extreme.
Androgyny in fashion is a perfect example of non-conformism. Both men and women who dress androgynously take a risk. The risk of being ridiculed, judged and possibly be even rejected. Yet, they test their limits by using their strength and stepping outside the comfort zone.
James Franco photographed the embodiment of androgyny, Agyness Deyn for Elle magazine. The shot is inspired by James Dean. Agyness is a brave girl and so comfortable with her overt androgynous sexuality. She is unique and hence one of the most sought after models. Yes, non-conformity pays and can bring huge dividends!
Marc Jacobs is wearing pearls and a skirt while supporting a day old stubble from Prada’s fall 2011 collection. It is an ode to being an ardent Miuccia Prada fan. He look simply scrumptious! Marc took a risk to don a skirt and wear a strand of pearls on that perfectly chiseled Greek God body of his.
I too explored my androgyny by dressing in a man’s suit, albeit a somewhat shrunken one inspired more by Thom Brown than Brooks Brothers! It was a step towards finding my strength, even if the pivot towards the edge was only slight. I think I still have it in me to risk a steeper incline to find my edge. As for the day old stubble, I will have to stand on the precipice of my edge for that!
I am proud to introduce a guest post by the very talented blogger Anika of ByAnika. I received such thoughtful comments on my last blog of Bag or Bandage Fashion, that I requested Anika to respond with a follow-up blog and she very graciously obliged.
Most of you know Anika by now, as she is rapidly spreading the love amongst all of us. I think of her as Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Love of Blog-dom! She encourages and supports fellow bloggers with an immensely open heart and honest spirit. The reason why I requested Anika to write a responsive blog is because I consider her to be a non-conformist. She is brave, bold and does not let society dictate her choices. She does not follow prescribed norms and standards. One of Anika’s most unique traits is that despite being all of the above, she does not come out as a “woman with an agenda.” She retains her carefree, sensitive, generous and beautiful spirit.
Read and enjoy the following post by the enchanting Anika!
Last week I wrote a post chez moi at By Anika on how I feel that sexy is a state of mind. Gone are the days when I tried dressing overtly sexual, today I wear my own flowy designs that showcase me. The day after writing my post I surfed over to Ambu to find her pondering same topic in her post Bag or Bandage Fashion. Talk about being on the same wavelength.
Ambu asked me to elaborate on my reply to her post. The topic of sexuality and fashion is one that I find very interesting, so I was more than happy to share some of my personal experiences in terms of dressing sexually.
I feel that there are all kinds of rules about what to do and not, and what I strongly advocate is that we all screw the rules and not let us become restricted by a regime that we feel we need to comply with. How we express this defiance will vary of course, for some breaking out a tight dress is it, for others wearing the “wrong” shape feels freeing.
In terms of dressing sexually for me, it is all about feeling confident in who I am and not apologizing for it. I walk down the street, swaying my curves (this I have little control over anyway, watch me walk and I will give you a symphony of curves in motion), looking at people with an open mind. I am present.
As for the outer aspect of my fashion and sexuality I’ll say this. I have a body that a lot of men seem to find very sexual. I have been groped etc. by men passing me by in the street since I was 12 years old. Only yesterday several men came up to me and made suggestive looks and comments, and one guy followed me.
This is a daily occurrence for me, and for years I have been pondering why I experience this. One thing is my open nature I think, but even when I am more closed off it happens. I guess it is the va va voom of the walking symphony and the hour-glassy shape of my body.
When I tried dressing more sexual I felt vulnerable, because showing my body to the fullest meant that the unwanted attention increased. I felt exposed and hurt, because I was attracting attention solely based on my curves. So, you might ask, do I now wear wider clothes because I am hiding? Why not show some cleavage?
I’ll tell you why I wear clothes that are flowy, that showcase all of me, not just my lovely rack. I am not hiding; I am not trying to cover up my sexuality. I dress the way that I do because I want to feel free! Free to express myself any way I want to, free to sway my ass when walking – not holding in my tummy, not worrying, just being and having fun in the moment. Feeling free and unconstricted is sexy to me.
Why is the dance of the seven veils so sexy? Because we want to see what is underneath, because that foreplay is a thrill. I dress in a sexual way because I dress in a way that honors me as a whole person.
I may be selective, but when I invite you into my life you get a whole lot of woman, sexual and soulful. To me they are two sides of the same story. They are me.
I wore this dress yesterday. It is loose and long. It flows and moves. Some of you may describe it as a “fat” dress, others may scoff and say it hides all feminine curves and does not allow a woman to express her sexuality and yet others will scorn and call it a “bag dress.” I on the other hand, love it and describe it as a non-conforming, breathable, with a tremendous comfort quotient, super-stylish dress. (I am entitled to my opinion, right? After all we do have the fundamental First Amendment right of Freedom of Speech.)
On the same day, as I was watching mindless television (in my very loose pajamas), I “inadvertently” ran into the Kardashian show. The television screen flashed images of the enticing Kim Kardashian squeezed into a super-tight-to the point of being bound and bandaged, abbreviated dress. She was the embodiment of sexuality. Every nook, cranny and curve of her voluptuous, buxomy frame was tightly crunched into the “bandage dress.”
And, no I did not conjure up the moniker of the “bandage dress.” Believe it or not, it is the official description of the Herve Leger contraption. A royal feat for women’s lib (no pun intended)!
I had no choice and was compelled to compare my “bag dress” with Kim’s “bandage dress.”
I do have to make a disclaimer here. I am in no way eschewing overt sexuality. Women have beautiful bodies and we work hard to keep them in shape. There is absolutely nothing wrong in flaunting our curves or wearing tight clothes. Deep down it satisfies the vanity of a woman to know that she has a body that can carry off (for a lack of a better term) a “bandage dress.” Fashion, a multi-billion dollar industry, rests upon gratifying this very desire for unequivocal sexuality.
However, time and again, I have been compelled to make an astute observation. An observation that bewilders me and makes me question the validity of it. Precisely the reason, why I am sharing my confusion with you today. Maybe you can infuse some semblance of clarity to my confusion.
When I look around, I notice that most women are very hesitant to wear loose clothes. Most women’s comfort zone is tight-fitted clothes. Case in point is jeans. I see one woman after another, no matter what their body size or shape, feel very comfortable in fitted jeans with a fitted shirt. In fact, the hesitation to wear loose clothes is so pervasive that my very first blog was devoted to it. (You can read it here, if you are interested.)
I am intrigued by the machinations of the female brain and what dictates their choice of a dress as tight as the “bandage dress” over a breathable, free-flowing, stylish albeit loose dress. Is it easier and quicker to put on as not much thought is required? Maybe, it is like jeans, a sort of “no-thinking” garment! Is it possible that such clothing is comfortable (although, the mere sight of the “bandage dress” makes me want to take a deep breath)! Does wearing a garment so tight impart confidence to a woman? Is it possible that women think they look fat when they wear loose clothes and make every effort to squeeze into a garment a size too small to look thin? Is a “bandage dress” not constricting for a woman? I refer to the term “constricting” in both the literal and metaphorical sense. Literally for the body and metaphorically for the spirit of a woman.
Even the term, “bandage dress” has connotations of oppression and subjugation. It’s ironic that after fighting for women’s rights for centuries, women continue to seek the “aid” of the “bandage dress” to prove their sexuality.
Questions, questions and more questions pop into my brain. Is it possible that a dress such as the “bandage dress” is worn to satisfy certain acceptable societal norms? Fashion magazines are riddled with the do’s and don’ts of fashion symmetry. Wearing loose clothes is always in the “don’t list,” no matter what your body type. If you are petite, you will get dwarfed and if you are fat you will look even fatter. So, sadly my poor loose “bag dress” is absolutely unacceptable as per societal fashion norms.
Women often come up to me and make this verbatim statement, “I love the loose dress you are wearing; I wish I had the guts to wear it.” Really, is it truly about guts? If so, what is stopping such women from wearing loose garments, despite the fact that they appreciate the beauty of it and even admire it on others. I don’t see anybody getting arrested for wearing loose clothes.
I work as a lawyer and I often hear my female peers comment upon “sexing up” their clothes to get a better result from the male Judge or the male opposing attorney. When I ask them to define “sexing up”, it always includes something “tight and short.” This information leads me to another direction, maybe we women have an ulterior, more sinister, a more practical reason for wearing the “bandage dress.” I mean, whatever it takes to get the work done, right!
Since, my blog is all about honesty, I will admit that when I wear tight clothes, I do get admirable glances from men, which is not the case when wearing my looser counter-parts.
If this is the case, do women dress up solely to please men? Do women derive a sense of self-worth and self-confidence only when admirable glances are thrown their way by the darker sex? Are women blatantly using their sexuality for ulterior motives? Are these the reasons that we do not have the ” guts” to wear loose clothes, even though we consider them stylish and attractive?
I know I am asking a multitude of questions, but this topic has intrigued me immensely and I would love to know your opinion. What is it for you, a “bandage or bag dress”? Or maybe as we say in legalese “it all depends.”