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I am out of my hibernation.  The reason: The cruel, barbarous, brutal mutilation of a $100,000 Hermes alligator bag!   For a worshipper of FAME (fashion, art, music and entertainment), the act is as abhorrent as the destruction of the 6th century Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan by the Taliban.  Okay, maybe not of that magnitude, but still a destruction of a beautiful piece of art!

Nevertheless, the annihilation did wring my heart and make my knuckles white.  Oh the horror!  For those of you who have not heard of it, the act was performed by Clint Eastwood’s daughter on the reality show, Mrs. Eastwood and Company (the specific use of the last name obvious for rating purposes).  In the show, Eastwood’s daughter cuts and burns an alligator Hermes bag with a ferocious beastly expression on her face, in the name of performance art. Really, destruction of art in the name of art, justified? (An idea to be explored at a later time).

 

The heinous act performed on the reality television show stirred the following thoughts in my brain:  First, what is it that attracts a person like me (with discriminatory tastes and a reasonable level of intelligence, to watch reality television); second, what are the limits/parameters that reality stars have to cross week after week to get viewers like me return.

Between the Kardashians, Shahs of Sunset, Jersey Shore and now Mrs. Eastwick and Company, there is an overdose of reality television.  They have become part of a pop-cultural phenomenon.  The shows have high ratings, so even if we are closet watchers, the fact remains that a good number of us are watching.  In an intellectual tete-a-tete, most of us decry the social evils that such shows are breeding, yet we watch them.

One reason is voyeurism.  It is titillating to spy on the intimate behavior of others.  A spy-like feeling is evoked while watching such shows-their highs and lows, their make-ups and over-dramatized break-ups, entering their homes and boudoirs, seeing what they eat or not, how they look like with gobs of mascara running down their cheeks while crying, hearing the profanities they use, Bentleys they drive, mansions they live in etc.

Vicarious living is another reason.  An average person’s life between work, chores, home responsibilities, running errands is bound to take a tone of monotony, no matter how hard one tries to spice it up.  It becomes rote living.  There is no way around it.  Reality TV provides that dose of glamour, excitement, enchantment and razzle-dazzle that an average person lacks in day to day life.  It is the same as buying a Tattler magazine to get a peek inside the lives of the “oh-so-exciting” crowd.

Yet another reason for such viewing is because it makes us feel good about ourselves and our relationships.  Most of the reality shows have a high level of disfunctionality (rightly so, otherwise why would I watch it!!) Despite all the wealth, fame and glamour, there is angst, anger, treachery, heartbreak and a degree of mental retardation (not from a medical standpoint of course!)  This makes us feel good about ourselves and for some of us even provides hope.  After all, if a dysfunctional, limited intelligence person can reach the pinnacles of success, why not me.

 Such shows, also provide a certain amount of social interaction in our very isolated, heavily dependent on the World Wide Web, modern lives.  The stars invite us into their drawing rooms and bed-rooms and there is an element of reel human interaction, even if for a fleeting moment.

Whatever the reason, reality TV is here to stay.  There is certain stickiness to it.

Now, the question is how far do the reality stars have to go to create the stickiness.  What do they have to do or more appropriately “out do” in order to get me back on that couch week after week?  What boundaries do they have to cross?  In fact, are there any boundaries?

Mere providing of glamour, hot surgeried-up botoxed bodies, designer clothing, long fluttering stick-on lashes is not enough anymore.  The ante has been upped, the stakes are higher.  Gone are the chaste days of MTV’s Real World.  The audience needs bombshells, hysteria, shock and awe and the studios are ready to dole our dollops of it.  Extravagant weddings are broken up in less than 3 months, a gay Jewish Persian man is united with his conservative Islamic father, paternity issues are raised and resolved.  Over the top tactics such as the mutilation of a $100,000 Hermes bag get the necessary notoriety necessary for a hit reality show.

In the case of the Eastwood show, other than Mr. Eastwood who even knows or cares about the other members of his family.  If they portray themselves as a normal (synonym for functional) family, why would we want to watch them.  There will be no ratings and in turn no renewal for the next season.  So, the demolition of the Hermes bag provided the necessary shock and awe element for a hit reality show.  Proof is in the pudding, I am writing about it, even though I am least interested in Mrs. Eastwood or her Company.  The studio execs used the obliteration of the Hermes bag as a  perfectly strategized move to Bite me with this Reality!

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.

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.

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.)

kim kardashian

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.”

kim kardashian

I live in Los Angeles.  The land of dreams.  The City of Angels.  The Abode of Heavenly Bodies.  Heavenly Bodies that appear to be ethereal and from another planet, orbiting in space.

They are beautiful, tight and taut.  There is no sag or lag; no limpness or looseness; no flaccid or float.  There is a hardness, a firmness not only in their bodies, but their smiles, laughs and expressions.

The expressions of bursting with joy; stricken with grief; shocked out of the wits; startled with surprise and an angry furrowed brow are obliterated.  An even, mellow, unwavering prosaical expression replaces the above expressions.

I wonder at times, how does it feel to experience tightness in the facial muscles during a smile or when there is a mercurial rise of temper the inability to frown.  Uncomfortable, I am sure.

Plastic surgery, Botox, Implants are as prevalent in Los Angeles as Bikram’s Yoga.  It is anywhere and everywhere.  An acceptable norm, not limited to the elite few but prevalent in the general masses.  There are billboards according to ethnic geographical diversifications for nose jobs, boob jobs, nips, tucks, sucks, enhancements, padding and a surplus of dermatological jargon.

I am a realist and not an advocate of the dictum “beauty is from within.”  I have seen many people with hearts of gold, but not necessarily “beautiful” in the socially acceptable meaning of the term.  True, you can see the goodness in their faces, but physically not “beautiful.” 

Therefore, I amenable to self “improvement”, making yourself look “better,” and deriving confidence from it.  I am not against cosmetic plastic surgery.  In fact, I am developing a deep crevice between my brows (which of course is due to my deep, reflective and pondering nature haha) that I could take care of and have deeply thought of it, with an intensely furrowed brow!

What abstains me from poking myself with a paralytic solution are the women below.  Women who have embraced their age, their sag, their fissures and jiggles.  These are women who of course, have been blessed with physical attributes to start with.  But, their bodies and faces have succumbed to inevitable Aging.  They are like the “ruins” of the coliseum in Rome, magnificent in its beauty despite the ravage.  These women are resplendent with confidence and acceptance of who they are.  They have accepted themselves with open arms, sans doubt. 

isabella rossellini

Isabella Rossellini, the Italian model and actress with royal lineage.  One of the most exquisite women in the world, at least for me.  She is the daughter of Ingrid Bergman.  Of course, she has the Mediterranean gene of great skin and hair, which cannot be discounted.  But she embraces her toothy smile, lines on her face and bags under her eyes with splendor.  She is dazzling.

Ines De La Fressage is a 52 year old Parisian model, the muse of Karl Lagerfeld at one time and bold enough to pose naked on a magazine cover and admit that it was photo shopped. 

Louise Bourgeois, a sculptor, a painter, an artist.  Imagine if Louise had cosmetic plastic surgery done.  Would her face still narrate the enigmatic story of her life, her idiosyncratic nature and her adventures?  No.  Her face would be like a stretched piece of hide, storyless, lifeless and comatose.

Do whatever it is to make you feel like a Heavenly Body.  But, at the back of your mind remember the spectacular “ruins” of the coliseum, not perfect but grand.