Monday, February 27, 2017

Real People on The Runway

This season, I’ve been doing something I do twice a year every year for as long as I can remember: watch New York Fashion Week from the mundane suburbs of Southern California.  I procrastinate schoolwork, I half-ass all of my shifts at work, I ignore most people, and I just don’t care.  To me, nothing feels better than the experience of fresh, innovative new versions of fashion coming down runway after runway all week long.

This year, I’ve noticed something that’s become more of a trend over the past year: designers opting out of the traditional model and instead sending their designs down the runway on real people.  Actors, actresses, activists, and yes—random, everyday men and women who hold ordinary 9-5 jobs.

I first noticed this last season with J. Crew’s entire cast of “real people.”  It was controversial because of the fact that it was J. Crew, the clean-cut, rule-following, all-American brand.  However, it’s been more common this week, and therefore less shocking.

As I’ve seen men and women of all ages, shapes, and height model for Prabal Gurung, Gypsy Sport, J. Crew, Eckhaus Latta, and Rachel Comey (and that is seriously just naming a few), I’ve become used to it.  So what does this mean for fashion?

There was a time when fashion was a complete hierarchy.  Only women of power and wealth wore couture.  Ready-to-wear didn’t even exist and average women were forced to wear their income on their backs.

\With the introduction of ready-to-wear came a more level playing field, transforming fashion into something resembling democracy.  As women’s rights progress and gender, race, and identity begin to blur, fashion is as inclusive as ever.  However, there was still always one thing missing: a woman wearing the dress you want to buy who actually looks like you.

So maybe the fact that these “real people” models didn’t even phase me this season is an amazing thing.  Maybe it means that “real” is the new norm.  Maybe it means that the expectation of fashion is no longer size 0 and 6 feet tall with petite features and light skin.

All I can say is I’m eager for the week to keep going.  I’m eager to see which other designers decide to break the rules by giving “real people” their moment. 

Yes, the point of Fashion Week is supposed to be centered around one thing: the clothes.  But wouldn’t we be lying if we said it hasn’t progressed into something more than that?

Today, Fashion Week is about a voice.  It’s about a designer speaking to his audience.  It’s about getting a message across.  It’s about setting new boundaries, bringing confidence, telling people all around the world that we can do this too, if we want. 

It’s never again going to be just an excuse to look at pretty clothes.

I Got Involved Too Late--Don't Make My Mistake

It’s easy to be too cool for it—getting involved.  In anything, really: your workload, a fitness routine, remembering to floss.  But in this case, I find it easiest to be too cool to get involved with your college community.

I started out college with the attitude of a high schooler: I don’t want to be here but I have to.  With parents who care about my future (what monsters, right?), college wasn’t optional (thank god). 

I made my debut at a junior college, too lazy to apply to more than one university as a high school senior and too apathetic to follow up when the one I did apply to and got accepted to wanted me to register for orientation by a certain date.  I went to classes when I felt like it, but my life centered around boys, my friends, and too much partying (sorry Dad).

Luckily I snapped out of it pretty quickly, devoting myself to my grades by the second semester of my freshman year.  But even then, I still didn’t get it.  I put all my energy into doing well in class and took absolutely no interest in the resources surrounding me.

I missed game nights, concerts, poetry readings, protests, and club meetings without even realizing it, without even caring.  I did manage to get through it in two years and successfully transfer to the university that had originally accepted me when I was 17, but with what memories?

Then I was really in it: the college experience.  I was at a university with people who actually lived on campus, people from different states and even different countries who came all this way for an education.  Again, I missed game nights, concerts, poetry readings, protests, and club meetings—without even realizing it.

I went to class, I got my grades, I went to work (or to bed).  I made no more than acquaintances with any of my peers and I never even visited more than the journalism building where most of my classes took place.

However, something changed this semester, which ironically happens to be my last at university and as an undergrad.  By a graduation requirement, I was forced to enroll in a journalism class that basically makes me a full-time writer for the school’s newspaper.

I enrolled with dread, well aware that while I’m a journalism student, I have zero interest in school news, hard news, or newspaper writing.  I’m here for fashion, not covering the opening of a new pizza place on campus.

But as the semester progressed, something amazing happened: I got passionate about my work.  I attended every event with excitement, dug into faculty scandals with vigor, and idolized my professor for her devotion to the university. 

No.  That didn’t happen.  I’m still incredibly bitter about having to devote so much time to something I’m not getting paid for and have no interest in, but I am beginning to see the silver lining.

Through being forced to cover what happens on my campus, I’m also being forced to know my campus.  I have to know where the Student Union is, which I genuinely didn’t even know existed before.  I have to know who goes here, what they think about their professors, why they chose this school, and what their plans are for the future.

I have to talk to students, professors, janitors, even cafeteria workers.  And no, not all of the subject matter is completely riveting.  In fact, most of it I couldn’t give less of a shit about.  But what it does remind me of is why I chose journalism as a career.

True, most of my interest lies in fashion, but there’s a reason I wanted to be a fashion writer: I love to write about passion.  Whether that be for the collections of the season or the gluten-free options at the school cafĂ©, I like to see people care about what they do.  I like to see what excites people, what lights their fires. 

Through this requirement, I’ve been exposed to student life.  I’ve seen what a difference it makes to get involved and actually care about where you go to school.  I’ve seen pride in your university and, more importantly, in yourself. 

For accomplishing what many people don’t bother with: seeking a higher education and maybe having fun while you’re doing it.  For seeking a higher education and succeeding.  For seeking a higher education for no one but yourself. 

In conclusion, it’s still easy to be too cool to get involved.  But is it fun?  Is it worth it?  Or is it better to attend the Athletic Department’s carnival event, no matter how cheesy it may be? 

Take it from me and my last-ditch effort to get involved on campus: do it.  From the beginning.  Because it’s important to go to university, but it’s better to go to university and have the memories to back it up.

Monday, February 20, 2017

It Was Good For Me, How Was It For You?

Have you ever heard this question and been able to answer it honestly?  Well don't fake your orgasm for me, give it to me straight: what did you think of New York Fashion Week?

Did it blow your mind? I'll be honest, last season didn't really do it for me.  Sure, it ended with a Marc Jacobs rave and who can be down about that, but then there was the whole possibility of cultural appropriation (white girls + dread locks = bad) and that just really put a damper on things.

This season was infinitely better.  J. Crew stayed true to their new controversial decision to cast "real people" as models, influencing a few other designers to follow suit.  We saw models of all age, color, and size, and that's always inspiring to the audiences around the world.


It's my opinion that Alexander Wang hit it out of the park with his almost exclusively black collection. Sexy, sporty, and the perfect amount of messy, as is customary to his brand. It's been a pleasure to see him focus on his brand the past few months and really blossom into who he is as a designer for no one but himself.

Edun had a particularly stunning collection, blending textures, colors, and patterns that don't typically work together yet making for a dramatic presentation.

Nothing is ever more exciting than watching Stella Maxwell shuffle down a runway in Jeremy Scott.  At a glance, she is wafting along the path atop swaths of cotton candy.

You'd think rocker chic would get old past, I don't know, THE EIGHTIES, but Anna Sui manages to keep it relevant season after season.  What really made me fall in love with this collection was the hair/beauty decisions of Minnie Mouse-ish buns, flowing manes, and dark lips.

These are a few of my highlights from the week as I attempt to keep up with the current madness that is London Fashion Week.  What are your thoughts? Don't be shy.



Monday, February 6, 2017

Halftime 2017: Lady Gaga

Hey Brainiacs,

Today I want to talk about the only thing that should be on anyone’s mind: the Super Bowl.  And no, I’m not talking about the first half where the Falcons were winning or the second half where Tom Brady did a lot of good stuff and made the Patriots win or whatever (I’m honestly surprised I know that much about the game—social media is amazing).  I’m talking about the 13 minutes in between; basically, the only part of the game that actually mattered…LADY GAGA.
            Because what other performer can jump into the stadium from the roof and perform while suspended in midair dressed head to toe in Versace?  What other performer could be so diplomatic, so unpolitical, and yet so uniting and loving in her performance?  And what other performer can move around like a gymnast while singing her entire show live?  She’s not even human.
            Gaga made me want to cry.  I sat there in front of my TV like a child, legs crossed on the floor while I stared up at the screen in awe.  I’m sure my jaw was practically unhinged.  To witness so much love, so much beauty, in one woman on a big stage shared with dancers who are just as excited about her legacy as everyone in the audience, was overwhelming. 
            All I have to say to that performance is thank you, Lady Gaga.  Thank you for allowing us to forget about all the seriousness and just have fun.  Thank you for reminding us what it’s like to dance and smile.  Thank you for distracting us from having to watch a bunch of grown men with too much testosterone rolling around on top of each other in the grass to win a tacky trophy shaped like the ball they’re groping for.  Thank you for that killer half time show.
            Anyone want to weigh in with your reaction to Lady Gaga’s performance?  Maybe you didn’t view it as an actual gift from God, and that’s okay.  What was your take on it?  Could someone else have done better?  Leave a comment!