“Custom haute couture designer” is an excellent filter for weeding out products and services that are going to cause more angst than anything else; the mere use of these terms together suggests that their skills most likely leave something to be desired. Akin to calling my high school diary literature and declaring it part of the Canon. Just because you say it doesn’t make it true.

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That ongoing quest to distract myself from life while maintaining my balance on it’s metaphorical bicycle, simultaneously searching for the meaning of it often lands me in front of doctors – both eastern and western – then inevitably in front of the fridge in a fit of rage that there is nothing for me to eat/nothing I can eat.

Someone wiser than me, but infinitely more irritating, told me to, “Fuck them all. You only live once. We all only live once.” Which is true, and very emphatic on his part, but I’d like it to be a long once. Tempering his statement with, “Just don’t go crazy,” I realised that perhaps he had a point.

Amending my extremist diet, I tried one version of gastronomical temperance. It involved sneaking powdered magnesium into my ice cream. This sort of fraudulence would never last. I scoured my recipes; mostly rich, heavy, mediterranean dishes. I tried to console myself with Dan Buettner’s Blue Zones. If there were 105 year old Sardinians, I would be fine, right? More lies. I returned to the digital drawing board only to get sucked viciously into the waters of Medoc and Mimi Thorisson‘s unnecessarily stunning recipes that were absolutely unattainable in my kitchen. With my frustration growing at both my inability to remember recipes more complicated than lasagne as well as my abysmal French, I stepped back and took a long hard look at myself – not literally, that’s impossible without a mirror – and realised I was doing it again. I was going to the extreme. Continue reading

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A relative will turn 100 this year and she has a son in law that she hates with the fire of a thousand hells. It is an ongoing source of joy in my life to witness someone hold a grudge so consistently, with such dedication it’s second nature. What was once perhaps a concerted effort is now so natural that to treat him otherwise would just cause confusion.

I once joked that she was in competition with her sister to see who would outlive who. I put my money on her, what with her record for stubbornness. I wish I had put actual money on because she did outlive her younger sister.

In the past few days I’ve put out a few requests that, if I were to be rational about it, may have been asking a little much, however one does not get things done by being a retiring wall flower. Interestingly, today I received a response that boiled down to a very polite, “No.”

Reading and re-reading this email I considered my emotions as they passed by. Embarrassment at having asked? For the most fleeting of seconds yes, but it barely registered. Irritation at his answer? Absolutely. But by the last reading I had settled on one dominant emotion: Dismissive.

You know who else is stubborn? The Queen of England. Seems to have worked out pretty well for her.

I discovered a while ago that being told no is just not something I’m interested in hearing. If I accept “no” as an answer I’ve come to realise that I almost always never really wanted whatever it was I’m being denied in the first place.

That or I’m just hard wired to ignore the two letter word.

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1978 Newsstand

In a moment of pure, mid-twenties, childless joy, I, on a random Tuesday morning, woke early and greeted the day with a series of challenging asanas that stretched my body and invigorated my mind.

Easing into warrior three, my back foot flexed so as to close the cutlery draw gently with the tips of my toes while my opposite hand stretched out to release the steam valve on my coffee machine. Balancing in half lotus after almost crushing with my bare foot a Christmas beetle in possession of an unfortunate sense of direction, I made my way through what I like to call Standing Bean Vinyasa as I pulled the lever on the vintage machine that fills me with joy every time I hear it hiss before temperamentally steaming my milk. Some days it will work, some days it won’t. The daily suspense is gripping.

Then I went back to bed. In this new position (Almost Caffeinated Goddess pose) I proceeded to spend the next two hours reading a stack of magazines.

I tell you all this to say, you can have your Kindles and electronic reader-thingies. You can keep your digitised words. If I am going to indulge in thoroughly enjoyable, languorous mornings, I am going to do so with shiny paper bound and dated, propped on my legs as I sip from my favourite I Heart NYC mug. When I’m done I want to see ink on my fingers and finger prints on my pages.

If print is dying, I will be what Questlove is to records. Yes, my removalists hate me and yes, I am running out of space, but love knows not reason nor spatial constraints. Give me magazines, or give me death.

 

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“…art by definition is something for which there is no practical use.” Keith Gessen, ‘How Did Amazon End Up as Literary Enemy No. 1?’, Vanity Fair December 2014

“Since writing on toilet walls is done neither for critical acclaim, nor financial rewards, it is the purest form of art. Discuss.” Graffiti

If art is that which is not done for acclaim, nor money, nor use, then the age old question is, what is art? I remember being asked this question in my final year of high school. I didn’t know the answer then, and I don’t know it now. To begin to attempt to formulate an answer though, it probably helps to define practical:

Of or concerned with the actual doing or use of something rather than with theory and ideas.

This definition makes Gessen’s assertion vaguely problematic. If art is only that which can’t be used physically, is it to be assumed that the definition is only applied to the primary intention of the art? Art becomes “useful” after the fact as a teaching tool, a historical record, and in the case of some sculptures, a resting place for pigeons. However none of these are likely what the artist intended. If we only apply Gessen’s definition to the intention of the artist, then sure, his definition probably fits quite well. It doesn’t explain the concept of “pure art”, though, which leads us to the problems associated with the definition supplied by the witty graffiti artist.

If art is that which is not done for acclaim, money, or purpose, then does art exist? Continue reading

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Endemic of the ongoing assertion that fashion moves too quickly, and now nonsensically when considering the seasons, is the pressure this rapid-fire turnover places on designers. There are many ways this pressure manifests: Through breakdowns as evidenced by Galliano’s 2011 anti-Semitic rant in Paris, through the reclusive nature of some designers to preserve their sanity in the style of Margiela, or through the constant turnover and back and forth of designers such as Jil Sander. Most recently stepping off this frantic ride is Jean Paul Gaultier who has ended his ready-to-wear collection to focus solely on couture. While the loss of Gaultier ready to wear is sad, I don’t entirely mourn it for two reasons: We still get to experience Gaultier when he would have been well within his rights to quit completely, and also that there is a designer of exceptional vision, talent and experience doing his part to keep alive the most elite compartment of fashion. On the other side of the coin, two of the aforementioned designers have recently aligned with Galliano taking the design helm at Margiela which is an interesting decision for a multitude of reasons. If even Suzy Menkes finds it difficult to understand then the rest of us stand even less of a chance of making sense of this union. Those who survive in the traditional role (in the spotlight, granting interviews, taking bows at the end of their show) must be constantly filled to the brim with fresh ideas to present up to 8 collections per year, in the most extreme cases (Women’s Spring/Summer, Women’s Autumn/Winter, Pre-fall, Resort, Men’s Spring/Summer, Men’s Autumn Winter, Spring Couture, and Fall Couture), never mind those designers who work for more than one label like Karl Lagerfeld.

Continue reading

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Asian Vegetables

I decided to make Kimchi. Something about gut health and natural probiotics from fermentation made this sound like a good idea, though I recognised the potential for disaster. Taking perfectly good vegetables and fermenting them then halting the fermentation process so as to ingest the finest probiotics without also giving yourself food poisoning is a dicey game. One mastered by ancient cultures who didn’t have the aid of refrigeration, this Korean recipe still had a high potential for vomitous results.

Nevertheless I looked at a few recipes and decided to proceed. First would be the traditional Kimchi, made with cabbage, salt, a bit of spice and an air tight jar. While the jar sterilised (don’t want any non-friendly germs in there, just the stomach supporting probiotics) I lightly dehydrated the cabbage and drained it, chopping it up and spicing it in a large bowl. If you’re curious, I got a bit fancy and threw a few types of chilli in there, along with ginger, garlic, and a dash of fish sauce as suggested by an elderly couple in Iowa who have taken up fermenting as a hobby/obsession. Transferring to the now sterilised jar, I added some water and sealed it, placing it in a dark corner of the cupboard for the next 24 – 48 hours to jump start fermentation.

Next up, hipster Kimchi. Cucumber and carrot with a dash of paprika and some random spices I found that I figured would add a little kick to my colourful gut boosting veggies. More chillis, repeat process as above with the cabbage, and throw it all in a jar. With a little more space left before I filled the jar, I retrieved another carrot from the fridge and quickly chopped it along with the top of my thumb. Continue reading

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I have an urge to put a ‘c’ in your name, Mr. Shmurder, it sounds German. Anyway, Bobby, Rowdy, what. is. UP?! How are you? You guys seem cool with being addressed by your first names, I’m not even sure you’d notice as you seem to enjoy existing in a hallucinogenic state.

So, smoke signals finally reached my distant lands and I heard a little of your song, Shmoney Dance. Sounds cool, catchy. Apparently it’s really big with the kids. Does this make you the 2014 Soulja Boy(s)? Not sure…Bobby & Soulja do have similar body types. I caught Soulja Boy on Love & Hip Hop Hollywood the other day, actually. He seems nice, totally incapable of monogamy but I’d venture a guess that you all share the opinion it’s an outdated concept. That’s cool too, just remember to be safe while you’re sharing and caring.

Anyway I heard your song because I saw the video, Continue reading

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While standing with a friend as it started to rain he said to me, “Your hair would be great for dreadlocks…no offence.” He was envious of the frizz and slight coarseness that would hold locks easily as he tried valiantly month after month to make his shiny hair twist and matte. I understood why he thought I would take offence, but I didn’t. My hair is the product of multicultural antecedents; Ireland, England, Portugal, maybe France, possibly Mozambique, and South Africa all get a look in in my genetic composition.

The frizz and my skin’s tolerance of sun are the most obvious remnants of Mother Africa, almost certainly a gift from my maternal grandmother. A Xhosa woman born in a small village in the Transkei, a region in south-eastern South Africa, her hair is absolutely African as are her skin and facial features and personality. So I’m not offended by his suggestion that my hair is less than straight, my hair is a physical connection to my family who are so varied that my cousins and I cover the whole colour spectrum. Xhosa only makes up 1/8th of my DNA, and my upbringing was diametrically opposed to that of my grandmother, however it’s called Mother Africa for a reason. No matter how small a part of me some may consider it, I feel an immense amount of pride in the increasing prominence of Africa in fashion, often sustainable in both resources and economy.

Sometimes created by locals, other times championed by people who have fallen in love with the culture, brands that exemplify this wave of African produced and/or designed fashion include lemlemMaiyetBrother Vellies, and my personal favourite, MaXhosa by Laduma. Continue reading

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The reasons I don’t like Kim Kardashian are multifarious and mostly petty: She’s a giant whinge bag, she has the ugliest cry I’ve ever seen, her mother is a nightmare etc. If I’m more analytical than an 11 year old girl arguing in the play ground, I don’t like Kim because she seems really inauthentic. Yes, there are plenty of jokes to be made about body parts here.

In my lifelong hobby of dissecting people from afar, my dislike stems from watching her be a pawn in her mother’s game and seeing her go from Paris Hilton’s original Armenian-featured best friend to an entirely branded caricature of herself. “You shallow, shallow person!” cried the peanut gallery, but I’m not done. Kim wears my favourite designers, challenging warp and weft to accommodate her unnatural proportions as you squint your eyes and wonder how she got in that skirt in the first place. Alas nor is it jealousy that led me here. A wardrobe full of Balmain and Givenchy would be nice, but I can live without them. Continue reading

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