Spark Magazine, an Austin-based fashion publication, fosters a creative space for students passionate about exploring aesthetics, art and culture. We curate engaging editorial content that spotlights brands in the local fashion community.
issue no. 12
to enclose or envelop completely; to be consumed within.
S PA R K JOANNE XU EDITOR-IN-CHIEF MANAGING EDITOR CAROLINE OTTO –– ART DIRECTOR MAYA SHADDOCK ASSISTANT ART DIRECTORS MINGYO LEE & REBECCA WONG CREATIVE DIRECTOR CARLIE ROBERSON ASSISTANT CREATIVE DIRECTOR NIKITA KALYANA HAIR & MAKEUP DIRECTOR AMANDA MACFARLANE ASSISTANT HAIR & MAKEUP DIRECTORS REBEKAH HEIDEL & SARAH STILES MODELING DIRECTOR JACQUELINE PORTENY ASSISTANT MODELING DIRECTOR MADI JANYSEK PHOTOGRAPHY DIRECTOR ANNA DRODDY ASSISTANT PHOTOGRAPHY DIRECTOR DAVID ZULLI STYLING DIRECTOR MEGAN SCHUETZ ASSISTANT STYLING DIRECTOR MEGAN ARIMANDA WRITING DIRECTORS ABIGAIL ROSENTHAL, JADE FABELLO & CHLOE BERTRAND –– BUSINESS DIRECTOR MELANIE SHAW COMMUNITY OUTREACH DIRECTOR JULIA FERRARA EVENTS DIRECTORS NAKHIM SENG & JILLIAN WESTPHAL MARKETING DIRECTOR HARRISON XUE ASSISTANT MARKETING DIRECTOR CHRISTIE HAN –– SPARK ONLINE DIRECTOR AYU SOFYAN DIGITAL DIRECTOR MAYA HALABI SOCIAL MEDIA DIRECTOR KAYLON HICKS WEB DIRECTOR DANIELA PEREZ COPY EDITORS NITI MAJETHIA & PATRICIA VALDERRAMA
STAFF DANIA ABDI, MARIAM ABDUL-RASHID, LAUREN AGUIRRE, HASSAN AHMAD, MARIAM ALI, SARAH AN, TOSIN ANJORIN, RIYA ASHOK, MADELEINE BADINGER, VIVIAN BAIER, JULIENNE BAJUSZ, MONICA BALDERAS, AKINS BAPTISTE, SAI BARURI, CAROLINA BARUZZI, EMILY BAYSDEN, CAROLINE BEAGLES, DANIEL BEAM, MEGAN BENNETT, ADRAINT BEREAL, MIRA BHAT, TEJAL BHIKHA, CHEMAREEA BIGGS, CARSON BLAIR, NICOLE BOLAR, GLENN BOZANT, AMBER BRAY, DANIELA BRIONES, SYDNEY BUI, JUHEE BUTALA, ANALISA CAMACHO, JENNA CAMPBELL, JACKIE CARTER, KENDALL CASINGER, ALLYSON CASTILLO, DIVINA CENICEROS DOMINGUEZ, ERNEST CHAN, RACHEL COOK, CASSIDY CRAWFORD, ANUJA DAULAT, AMBER DEAVER, DORIAN DELAFUENTE, ARIANA DIAZ, LIZZIE DRAGON, ISABELLA DROZ, ELLIE DUNN, LINDSEY EHLERS, LIV ELKIND, IVANNA SOFIA ENGLISH, ERIN EUBANKS, COURTNEY FAY, MADEE FELTNER, GABI FELTNER, QUINTO FERNANDEZ, RION FLETCHER, HANK FREEMAN, LINDSAY GALLAGHER, JULIE GARCIA, INGRID GARCIA, NICOLE GAUSMAN, MAI GELLER, HAOQING GENG, CARISSA GEORGELOS, ANDREA GOMEZ, LAURA GONIMA, WILLIAM GONZALES, MATTISON GOTCHER, LUIZA GRUNTMANE, JESSICA HAINS, HANEEN HAQUE, SOPHIE HART, XANDRIA HERNANDEZ, MICHAEL HERNANDEZ, KYLE HOANG, JEANETTE HOELSCHER, EMMA HOGGARD, KAYLEE HOLLAND, SHANNON HOMAN, JOSEPH HUNT, MARCUS IBARRA, ANDREA ISA, VICTORIA JAMESON, MALAIKA JHAVERI, JENNIFER JIMENEZ, SUSANNAH JOFFE, HANNAH JOHNSON, ALORA JONES, KELSEY JONES, URVI JOSHI, ZOE JUDILLA, GRANT KANAK, BELKIS KARAN, CAMERON KELLY, CHRISTIAN KENOLY, JOANN KIM, LARA KOPPEL, ARIANA KRAVETZ, SARAH KRUEGER, TIFFANY LAM, MARCY LARA, LAURA LAUGHEAD, CHANTHA LE, JANE LEE, NATALIE LEE, VIVIENNE LEOW, CHIE-HSI JASMY LIU, ISAIAH LUCAS, ANNIE LYONS, TY MARSH, LEONOR MARTINS, ALISON MCLEAN, ISABELLA MCWHORTER, GENEVIEVE MILLER, PAIGE MILLER, MEGHAN MOLLICONE, ANAI MORENO, CLAREN MOYERS, KATE MULLIGAN, BRANDON NGUYEN, LAURA NGUYEN, LIA OSPINA, CHARLOTTE PAN, ELIANNA PANAKIS, AIDEN PARK, MELINA PEREZ, KATHERINE PERKS, SAANYA PHERWANI, LUISA PINEDA, CAMERON POLONET, MANSA PRASAD, TIFFANY PRITCHETT, GAREEN PUGLIA, SHREYA RAJHANS, SHROOTHI RAMESH, CRUZ RENDON, ADRIANA REZAL, CAITLIN ROUNDS, ADRIANNA SADLER, SOPHIA SANTOS, WEATHERLY SAWYER, MARYBETH SCHMIDT, SHELBY SCOTT, SUSY SEO, MOSTEFA SHEIKHI, NOELLE SIMON, MANA SINGRI, JUSTIN SMITH, TAYLOR STIFF, KAITLIN STREET, ANNA STROTHER, TAYLOR STROUD, JEFFREY SUN, ERIKA TAKOVICH, CASEY TANG, ALEJANDRA TERRONES, TIFFANY TONG, ADRIANA TORRES, SARAH TRAN, MATTHEW TREU, CAROLINE TSAI, SANDRA TSANG, MANUEL VALDEZ, ISAIAH VALLE QUIÑONES, ALEXANDRA VARKAROTAS, ABHI VELAGA, AANCHAL VOHRA, TERESA VU, ERIN WALTS, IZELLAH WANG, SUSANNA WANG, KRISTINE WANG, ESTHER WANG, ILANA WAYNE, BETSY WELBORN, KALISSA WHITE, LILY WICKSTROM, ELLA WILLIAMS, KAYLEIGH WILSON, CAT WILSON, MIJOLAE WRIGHT, KAREN XIE, JESSIE YIN, TRAVIS YOUNG, ANDREW ZHAO
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR EVERY SPRING offers us the opportunity to refresh: our wardrobes, our minds, our perspectives and sometimes even our purpose. This issue provided me with the latter — a refreshed purpose as Spark Magazine’s newest Editor-In-Chief. In my tenure, I’ve noticed a few things to hold true across our organization, even amidst transitioning times. First, there is an impeccable volume of raw talent living within our local community, both inside of Spark’s bounds and beyond. Humility certainly comes easy when you’re surrounded by individuals that challenge the very limits of the human imagination daily. Second, this organization is built to last. In our ever-shifting, rapidly evolving industry, only content that listens to the reader, asks the big questions and delivers fresh perspectives can survive. This, I know, is at the heart of Spark’s values. And the last, and quite frankly most important, is the relentless, unbridled, burning curiosity for innovation that’s sewn throughout the very foundation of this magazine. So much so, in fact, that it’s synonymous with our namesake itself. It’s embedded in how we recruit new faces, elevate our content and redefine industry norms. It’s why we exist in the first place. These, I believe, to be Spark’s fundamental values — those few precious cornerstones that no one thing can or will ever disorient. It’s this same craving for reaching new levels of greatness that inspired us to name this issue “immerse.” I began this year by daring Spark’s staff to seek total immersion into their craft, our craft — to question status quos and allow creativity to take on a whole new meaning — because only then can we find new purpose. Spark is loud. As you devour the next 200 pages of content, you’ll see that passion spring forth with every flip of the page. Read on, friends, and enjoy. Sincerely,
JOANNE XU Editor-In-Chief
TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S
THE ECONOMY OF DRIES
ON THE AIR
TECHâ€™S DEVOTED CONSUMER
PINKIES DOWN, SIP
UNCONVENTIONAL SEX APPEAL
DEATH OF VENUS
THE QUIRKY, QUEER, QUESTION
THE THIRD EYE
FAKE LINES, FINE LIES
DIVE SLATE 87
OPHELIA IN THE WATER
WRAPPED IN MEMORIES
layout MINGYO LEE
photographer HARRISON XUE
stylist SUSY SEO
hmua HANNAH JOHNSON & JESSICA HAINS
models LIV ELKIND & SUSANNA WANG
Dries The Economy of
by AIDEN PARK
Summary The eponymous documentary Dries underscores Belgian designer Dries Van Noten’s endless creative freedom, and how he seemingly operates outside the capitalistic model of the fashion industry.
the documentary explores how a dissonance can traverse from being ugly to being revolutionary, especially when put in context with the current trends surrounding the designs.
runway of vibrant grass extends from thick shadow, spring swelling out of winter. In the all-enveloping darkness, not even the surrounding observers are visible. Suddenly, a model lurches onto the artificial lawn, clad in a mixture of dizzying prints and textures: stripes paired with florals, a flowy blouse planted atop equally baggy pants, a fur purse matched with a tweed jacket. The juxtaposition between each garment mirrors the contrasting runway itself. Dries Van Noten, the designer responsible, relishes these contradictions.
Like any other industry, fashion is a business driven by profits. Its capitalistic motivation directly opposes the creativity that makes fashion an art form. In this sense, constantly changing trends is the oxygen to the flame that is the business of fashion. Through Dries’ quiet genius, he uses this tension between the art of fashion and the business of fashion as momentum. “A lot of inspiration is coming from something you don’t like,” Dries says in the documentary. “Things that you think are really ugly, things that are completely wrong, things that hurt your eye.”
The eponymous 2017 documentary Dries explores the Belgian designer’s self-titled fashion brand. While observing Dries’ creative process, the viewers gain an insight into his rarity. Evidenced through his otherworldly designs, Dries uses tackiness to his advantage. His style emerges by mixing flashy prints and clashing tastes. Many experts may hastily deem these contrasting blends to be in opposition to long-standing rules of fashion. But
As the film unfolds, the viewer discovers Dries to be a rebel, despite the fact he draws little attention to himself. He often wears dress shirts rolled up to his forearms, a black-strapped wrist-watch
clothing description | BOUTIQUE NAME clothing description | BOUTIQUE NAME
Dries van Noten
“Fashion is such an empty word.” is his only accessory. Dries’ hair is a gentle swirl of black and gray, parted simply to one side. He is soft-spoken. Dries himself is a drastic departure from the designs he creates. But through his fascinating designs, the audience finds an insurgent fighting against the ever-shortening life cycle of trends and the ravenous nature of the fashion industry. In one scene, the viewer finds Dries discussing the 1990s. He contends the last decade of the 20th century exalted minimalism and monochromatic color schemes, while the film simultaneously shows a parade of browns and grays demonstrative of the decade. Then, like the black and white scrim raising from the Wizard of Oz, the documentary presents a line Dries created in the ‘90s bursting with inspiration from India. Bright pinks, blues and yellows splashed with intricately embroidered sequins practically drip down the runway. Dries borrows at just the right time. The contrast between the rampant skin-
colored drudgery indicative of the ‘90s and the lush hues stemming from India helped shift the conversation from minimalism to lavishness. It escorted an otherwise stagnant industry to an opulent 21st century. “Fashion is such an empty word,” Dries says. “The word fashion I don’t like because fashion means something that’s over in six months, that’s what people consider under fashion. I would like to find a word more timeless.” Dries mollifies a fatigue that stems from steadily shifting trends fundamental to the business of fashion. Currently, Dries’ fresh designs are a welcome escape from the proliferation of revivals and remakes native to this era of nostalgia. In the same way monochromatism dominated the ‘90s, many trends today borrow directly from past decades. In an article for The New York Times, fashion critic Vanessa Friedman comments on the increase of major brands such as Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Saint Laurent, Gucci and Versace who relied on looks from the 1980s during the Spring 2018 New York Fashion Week.
“People like Dries keep the flame alive.” “Yet every season a few major... trends appear and demand a reckoning. This time ‘round it was the 1980s, a decade that has been making a comeback of sorts around the aesthetic edges for the last few years,” Vanessa Friedman writes.
movie is a tongue-in-cheek gag of such trends. Prints of Marilyn Monroe’s iconic smiles wrap around oversized, mafia-style suits. An Elvis-esque sequined embroidery flashes across the back of floral-patterned button downs. Dries’ sense of time transcends flashin-the-pan trends, incorporating elements from across fashion history’s entirety. It belittles the capitalistic business of fashion by uniting previously dichotomized eras.
The fashion industry isn’t the only creative enterprise leaning on a distinct sense of nostalgia that is so inherent to the late 2010s. Nearly half of all television revivals have aired within the past five years, and there are at least 121 movie remakes and reboots currently in the works. Whether it be a perpetually backward-facing Hollywood or a fashion industry focused on the trends of yesteryear, the mid-to-late 20th century can be characterized as overly concerned with a distinct sense of nostalgia, that which may soon be synonymous with nausea.
Creativity is the driving force behind the fashion industry. However, the film highlights the continually changing landscape this creativity functions in, primarily dominated by profits. Dries revels in the corporate-like functioning of fashion, underscoring the tension between art and business, creativity and capitalism, originality and imitation. It’s a wonder anyone can stay successful in such a business model, but Dries’ longevity suggests it’s possible. Fashion icon and New York mainstay Iris Apfel recognizes the Belgian designer’s importance. “...[Dries] is a treasure and he has to be treated as such,” Apfel says during the film. “People like Dries keep the flame alive.” ■
Yet, the frustration over hegemonic trends is what ultimately informs Dries’ designs. The documentary drops the viewer into Dries’ creative process as he works on his latest collection. If much of today’s fashion can be explained through a nostalgic lens, Dries’ collection featured in the
Pinkies Down, Sip by CHLOE BERTRAND
layout CHIE-HSI JASMY LIU photographer ANNA DRODDY stylist JOANN KIM hmua DANIA ADBI & GENEVIEVE MILLER models LINDSEY EHLERS, NATALIE LEE, & VICTORIA JAMESON
writer MAYA SHADDOCK
Tea-time traditions have brought people across cultures together for centuries, and they’re here to stay in a time where face to face interaction occurs only when necessary.
exploited for labor. It featured tea accompanied by a hefty meal to be served at a high dining table. There was nothing luxurious about it, yet high tea is advertised as so in Europe. This is solely because “high tea” rather than “afternoon tea” audibly appeals more to the hoity-toity cravings of tourists.
abcia, my grandmother, was staying with us during her biannual visit. At 10 years old, I knew two things for certain. One, she was going to make me drink warm cow milk before bed. And two, afternoon tea was, to my delight, inevitable. She called to me and my younger sisters in her familiar Polish accent as she set the table with delicate dishware and a hand-painted teapot. (In the event that we were short a teacup, we found that the “what happens in Vegas…” souvenir shot glass served just as well.) The joys of afternoon tea included pastries fit for fairies, etiquette lessons and refined apparel. Best of all, it was a time of airing our elementary school grievances. We relished in our benign conversations. A decade later, it hasn’t lost its magic. Teatime is a historical international custom that continues to steep unity among people by facilitating the opportunity for one to sip as they listen and sip as they’re heard.
Growing up in Poland, my grandmother described coffee as a luxury. It was served only to guests. Consequently, black tea was the most cost effective option for a caffeinated libation. In the morning, she would mix it with milk to create bawarka before she had to “pośpiesz się” out the door. The tea was paired with small sandwiches or cookies on all other occasions; it was never served in a mug, rather a porcelain cup. Tea was her Facebook prototype and to this day, remains a substitute for digital social platform as it stimulates her relationships. “My Babcia would take us out for tea on Sundays after mass,” she said. “Those cafes were beautifully decorated and smelled heavenly of sugar.” With a spirit of gratitude, I am honored to inherit and preserve this tradition on behalf of my grandmother and great-grandmother.
In order for the potential teatime connoisseur to be well versed in tea knowledge, due education is necessary. Slip into some pantyhose — gentlemen included. Shit’s about to get fancy. First and foremost, there is a difference between afternoon tea and high tea. While both originated in England, the two represent two different economic classes. Afternoon tea, also referred to as low tea, became popular among the upper class and royalty in the 1840s. Its only purpose was to hold over the wealthy between their lunch and dinner. Those who participated wore their casual corsets under billowing skirts to partake in light dining on a blooming patio or in a sunroom. Conversely, high tea was initially intended for the working class after a long day of being
Woefully, the historic roots of afternoon tea aren’t as sentimental. It was, in fact, created to tide over gluttonous royalty. Nonetheless, there is still proper etiquette to follow while you shovel petit fours down your gullet at light speed. The dress code is a relaxed kind of uptight. It’s the kind that calls you darling over the phone and assures that you’ll fair well in anything you choose to wear; then, you show up to tea, and the majority of your party grimaces at the mere sight of you. The environment is a natural platform for timeless fashion. Here is how you can’t go wrong: 18
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channel “Pride & Prejudice.” Add a string of pearls, triple check that you have enough lace and walk through a mist of perfume of which you cannot pronounce the name. In regards to methods of consumption, it is rarely ever acceptable to dip a pastry, cookie, biscuit in your tea. (If you must have them both at once, I suggest the ol’ sip and shove. Sip the tea, set the cup down, shove the snack in your mouth.) When it comes time to stir the tea, it must be done in a clockwise manner. Do not clink the spoon to the glass. You will be read for filth. Lastly, there is a widespread fallacy that guests are to hold their cups with their pinkies up. This is not permitted during afternoon tea, nor has it ever been as it increases the likelihood of one dropping their cup due to imbalance. Put those pinkies down.
best friend takes Earl Grey with simple syrup. And I prefer a Long Island. There is a direct correlation between the tea preferences of each person aforementioned and their personalities. I only know this because I’ve engaged in fellowship with each of them over a cup at some point in time. Afternoon tea has provided earnest insight for many of my relationships and business encounters.
“The tea brings the people together.” Gluttony and gloating aside, the true intention of teatime is to enable folks to integrate their energy and have a brush with peace, warm serenity — together. Here, aesthetics married with etiquette prompt mindful conversation. They incentivize compliments and comments charged with compassion. But the tea brings the people together. Good before a cold front. Great after a night of questionable decisions. You burn the tip of your tongue because you couldn’t wait for your cup to cool, and your friends begin to tell war stories of soup dumpling and pizza burns without missing a beat. You watch your grandmother stir her herbal blend, decaf because she has a debilitating disease that is triggered by caffeine. You sit in waiting as your lover brews your favorite because they can’t wait to share the victories of their day with you. That comfortable heat you feel at the center of your chest amid these interactions with people once strangers, now confidantes — that. That’s the tea. ■
“Do not clink the spoon to the glass. You will be read for filth.” Alas, no matter how many etiquette rules you bend, you will still reap the benefits of the unification that tea breeds. Whether you’re spilling it at a family reunion, pouring it for a neighbor, dumping it into a harbor or sipping it thoughtfully on your balcony with a roommate, you’re experiencing the connections created by a cup of tea. When it comes time to make a pot, choose the tea you favor the most. For Babcia, this is Rooibos. My Mimi enjoys herbal mint. East Texans only know Red Diamond. My 22
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IMPR ACTI CAL HATS
by MATTISON GOTCHER
layout CARISSA GEORGELOS photographer CAT WILSON stylist MEGAN SCHUETZ hmua MARIAM ALI models AMBER DEAVER & MEGAN BENNETT
cropped pants | BLUE ELEPHANT
Ever since its origins, hats have served to bolster aesthetic. Now, functionality meets impracticality as this ancient accessory gets a newfound purpose. Wear it, own it.
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by KAREN XIE
layout CARISSA GEORGELOS photographer CASEY TANG stylist MADEE FELTNER hmua ANNA STROTHER models DANIELA BRIONES & HANK FREEMAN
hat is the fatal charm of Italy? For truly, that must be the embodiment of the nation: fatally charming — what with her renowned cuisine, lush scenery and dazzling spirit, Italy has no doubt earned her shimmering stamp on the world. Countless industries have Italy to thank for gorgeous innovation, but from that mix, I decidedly open this title sequence on two, perhaps surprising, seemingly random, backbone industries that have unwittingly shaped each other, their own nation, and ultimately, the world as a whole: Italian fashion and Italian cinema.
Saturated throughout high fashion runways, celebrity streetwear and even the posts of clout-seeking, pedestrian citizens of our world, Italian fashion has become a force so eminent yet familiar, we often forget its existence. Seen in the likes of some of the world’s greatest brands — Gucci, Valentino, Prada, Armani, Versace — the fine genius of these Italian designers have permeated the ranks of every bit of society, from trends to new words in the modern dictionary. Fashion capitals Milan and Rome dominate our current global scene, and some of the world’s most iconic fashion figures grew their roots in this country. And yet everything Italy stars now must be the result of a layering of decades and ages, of a poignant and complex history… and this history has been told through her quintessential medium of artistry: Italian cinema. In its formation, Italian cinema was deemed, by one of its greatest contributors, Federico Fellini, “for the masses,” a being so powerful it could be “a religious experience.” The cinema was for everyone — Italy made it that way — and we, as Americans, seem lost on this impact. From inspiring great American artists and filmmakers such as Andy Warhol to contributing words such as paparazzo to the English language (even Lady Gaga has Italy to thank!), Italian cinema’s influence is just as far-reaching as its culture’s fashion. In fact, I’d dare argue that the two are linked immeasurably and fatefully — from birth to growth to where they shine magnificently now. Rewind to the 1920s, and we arrive at Scene One of this marriage, in the midst of what we now consider cinematic antiquity: the age of Italian divas and divos. Ah, divas, the femme fatale, the seductress onscreen — she is the embodiment of cinema’s love language and essential in the
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connection between cinema and its proponent’s dress on screen. For this is the first heyday of divismo, of stardom and idolization, and as the stars perform their costume, the world will worship it. Thus, the link between cinema and fashion forms here, captured in the silent, bodily performance of Italy’s first superstars. Our romantic saga continues even two decades later with the rise of a fascist Italy and the turmoils of war. Borne from the ‘40s storm was one of the greatest contributors to cinematic history of all time: Italian neorealism. Set amongst the working class and used as a medium to convey the injustice and desperation experienced by Italians during the period, this national film
movement became the root of a contemporary age in cinema, inspiring later filmmakers with its simplicity and candor. Moreover, from its desolate, gray-scale stills emerged the beginning of modern fashion icons, such as the vividly passionate Anna Magnani. Her raw, fiery performances brought life to a dark, classic glamour that was magnetic both on and off screen and continues to inspire designers even to this day. Now let’s dash to the other side, and we arrive just in time for Scene Two, where Italian fashion would be experiencing a modern day renaissance. On Feb. 12, 1951, an Italian businessman by the name of Giovanni Battista Giorgini would
hold a fashion show in Florence that would of- ian fashion scene. Michelangelo Antonioni’s ficially place Italy into the global fashion scene colorless and metaphysically brooding “Trilogy and change the trajectory of the industry for- of Decadence” began its debut in 1960, featurever. Giorgini’s products and ingenuity drew ing stark scenes to complement the film’s bleak praise and attention from all corners of the and futile world-view. The cast’s wardrobe of world, and soon enough, American Holly- clean lines redefined an Italian term coined wood in the ‘60s would be dominated by Ital- in the Renaissance era: that of sprezzatura, of ian fashion. From Grace Kelly to Audrey Hep- nonchalant elegance. This term, Antonioni’s burn, nearly every starlet, it seemed, would films and their linkage to the blossoming Italsport the luxurious “gg” of Gucci handbags ian fashion industry created a lasting model or don a Valentino original on the red carpet. for the effortless Italian style we still see today. At nearly the exact same time, some of Italy’s From there, we see director Federico Fellini’s greatest, most fashion-saturated films would attention to costume and detail in “La Dolce be released, influenced by the neorealist move- Vita,” released in 1961, complete the forement of the ‘40s and this up-and-coming Ital- most crossroads of cinema and fashion to
make way for the most apparent evidence of their lasting impact — the people, the icons. In all his tailored, playboy glamour and slim suits, Marcello Mastroianni emerges from Fellini’s films and becomes the embodiment of the debonair Italian man. Monica Vitti’s icy, flicked and utterly entrancing gaze, seen in Antonioni’s trilogy, ensured she would be deemed Italy’s blonde bombshell, and most bewitching of them all perhaps was Sophia Loren, a timeless beauty, her style synonymous with that certain sensual femininity and glamorous sex-appeal that epitomizes the classic Hollywood star. Each star made their own ripple in this fabric of fashionable society. Finally we arrive at the last Scene and the camera continues to roll: Italy in the modern world. Its fashion industry experiments with cutting-edge design while still maintaining the prestigious “Made in Italy” label. Similarly, modern Italian cinema, perhaps embodied by the Academy Awardwinning films “La Grande Bellezza” (2013) or “Call Me by Your Name” (2018), has reached a new age in exploration while staying true to the quintessentially Italian mantra of sprezzatura, effortless style, both in costume and film. The first, spattered with colored suits and slinky dresses, announces that there will be no shying away from the exploration of Italy’s well-known eccentricity. The latter, idyllic and honest in sensuality and love, fresh colors and fabrics, breathes a new life into cinema and fashion, embraces all that Italy was and is and ushers us all into a new era. From its formation to now, we see this connection between Italian cinema and fashion reach new heights of promise for its continuing innovation, long-lasting influence and transcendent prominence on the global stage. And so ultimately I have told not the tale of a simple acculturation, the transference of the Italian into capital F fashion, but rather, the narrative of a nation: its emergence and its eminence, the celebration of its triumph and a beholden exclamation for the riveting revolution it has staged upon the fashionable and cinematic world. How utterly and fatally charming. Thus, che bello!, I say, and grazie, from the rest. ■ 41
The Quirky, Queer, Question by CAMERON KELLY
layout JENNIFER JIMENEZ photographer QUINTO FERNANDEZ stylist SANDRA TSANG hmua CAMERON KELLY model CHRISTIAN KENOLY
An exploration of how the queer community crafted a unique identity during the 1980s in urban nightlife via fashion, as a response to not assimilating into the dominant culture.
or the average consumer, apparel is viewed as no more than a means to an end, that is to say, a way to blend in and get by with one’s own individual, daily monotony. While the consumer does have a personal choice in the articles of clothing they choose, one must not neglect the importance of “blending in.” To “blend in” means not only following the norms and expectations of the dominant group, but also contributing to the greater identity: the collective identity of this group. If one adheres to this group’s expectations, then they too also adopt their identity, as the dominant group sanctions its existence. However, if one fails to abide by these expectations, then they will have no identity to adopt.
This was, and still is, the reality of many members of the lgbtq+, or for the purposes of this discussion, the queer community. Despite today’s greater acceptance of gender and sexual diversity, historic deviations in the heteronormative narrative dissuaded queer members from assimilating into the dominant group, therefore, lacking an identity. During the 1980s, queer people discovered a way to rectify this. Through sporting outlandish, extravagant and disproportional fashions, queer people created a distinct identity that was their own. Like other structural masterpieces, architecting an identity requires the support of subunits acting collectively. For the queer community, fashion was an incentive for individual queer people to collect. In the 1980s, both Leigh Bowery and Michael Alig brought together a group of eccentric queer folk that defied conventional fashion norms.
In the of case of Alig, the “Clubkids” took over New York nightlife. According to Priscilla Frank in Huffington Post, the “Clubkid” style drew upon punk, s&m and clowns, all of which were styles taboo to the dominant culture. As a group, the “Clubkids” created a sense of queer identity, as their commonality in punk, s&m and clown inspired fashion, created a sense of norms and expectations for the groups to follow. In other words, the rise of the “Clubkids” saw the rise of a unique queer identity that opposed the dominant culture. Similarly, Leigh Bowery, an Australian avantgarde fashion designer, erected a new sense of fashion in the Australian and London scene. His style was best described as excessive and played on the proportions of the body. Although offputting to the mainstream public, Bowery’s style captured the minds of the queer minority. In fact, according to Robyn Healy in National Gallery of Victoria, Taboo, a nightclub created by Bowery, had a big queer following, yearning to be a part of this eccentric scene. There, queer people who participated in adorning themselves in large, avant-garde and outrageous clothing found themselves in a community where they felt accepted. Like Alig, Bowery’s contribution crafted a new sense of queer identity, as Taboo’s outrageous dress code provided a new sense of normalcy for Bowery’s queer adherents, and created an environment where queer people felt welcomed, despite living in world where their existence was not validated. While Alig and Bowery created movements that have changed the perspective of fashion in the queer community, they were one facet of the queer identity’s rise during the 1980s. At this time,
velvet dress | REVIVAL VINTAGE
Harlem’s ballroom scene was alive and thriving. The world of ballroom not only attracted queer people, but also queer people of color. Like the followers of Alig and Bowery, queer people of color who participated in ballroom culture found themselves in an environment where they can be openly expressive. Here too, queer people were encouraged to dress in extravagant, disproportional and avant-garde fashions for their categories (brief pageants that contestants competed in to earn a trophy for their respective house). Ballroom nightlife allowed queer people of color to congregate in one place, forming a social coalition with one another. Along with crafted norms, queer people of color were able to construct their own identity that was not validated in the dominant culture. During the 1980s and 1990s, the “Clubkids” in New York under Alig, in Austrialia and London under Bowery and Harlem’s ballroom scene defined a generation of queer folk that was yet seen in the dominant culture. In all factions, unconventional clothing was used to not only form a sense of comradery with one another, but also to create a sense of norms and expectations that were unique to queer groups. As a result, these queer groups developed a sense of identity that was not recognized by the conventional dominant culture. More importantly, queer people of color generated their own identity, thanks to the ballroom scene. Today, this unique queer identity is visible in modern fashion. Shows a like “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and fx’s “pose” show out and proud lgbtq+ members sporting these unique and extravagant clothing for an audience that is part of the dominant culture. Though slowly, queer identities are becoming more recognized by the dominant culture. As a result, queer people are becoming a part of the dominant group that once suppressed them, as their unique identity is becoming assimilated into the dominant society. ■
layout REBECCA WONG photographer ARIANA DIAZ stylist CARLIE ROBERSON hmua JENNA CAMPBELL model CARLIE ROBERSON face jewelry | MELISSA ANN TAYLOR clear corset | MELISSA ANN TAYLOR
INCINERATED INCINERATED INCINERATED INCINERATED INCINERATED INCINERATED INCINERATED INCINERATED INCINERATED INCINERATED by ANDREA GOMEZ
giving life to the things we subconsciously suppress.
trategically placed inside the walls of our heads, never to touch the floor and always caged away, the brain sits throned as the creator of technicolor and dreams â€” all that work together to bring forth emotive visions of who we are and what we want to be. Yet, this ingeniously designed organ is anything but passive in its reign, constantly sending cues about what impassions us and what we fear in the form of strange reveries. Where many designers seek to explore the delicate images created from brighter parts of the mind, Polish-born Katarzyna Konieczka embraces the intricate, and, at times, demonic sentiments of our innermost thoughts through various conceptual pieces that experiment with the stimulus of the mind.
Beginning in the mid-1800s, a new era of fashion emerged that encapsulated a never before seen march towards modernity: the avant-garde. The driving idea behind the revolutionary movement was that art should push beyond the limits of the mundane and reflect the bold originality of the artist. Over 100 years later, artists and designers alike have adopted the concept and generated an incredibly unique collection of art.
nude corset | MELISSA ANN TAYLOR nude dress | MELISSA ANN TAYLOR
Konieczka, serving as the mind’s disciple, works to produce elaborate costume designs that explore the entanglements of life — both literally and figuratively. In what has been coined “medical couture,” she incorporates various elements that convey images of torture and asylum, such as wire, metal, tight corsets and neck braces. Inspired by an impetus whir, Konieczka creates an echo of nightmarish fantasies that shake the core of the beholder. These twists are most acutely seen in the form of intricate metallurgical pieces that stem from the chest and coil their way to features of the face that contribute greatly to
our character: the eyes and mouth. In this paradox, Konieczka gives voice to human emotions by creating pieces that seemingly restrain features of the body that should speak loudest. However, her design isn’t only constant edge cutting. Instead, Konieczka’s talent extends to the beauty of juxtaposition between medical couture and more delicate textiles, such as lace and linen. In her collection, Nekromantik, Konieczka displays her peculiar taste in contrast through hand-made metal work and asymmetrical styling of peachy, draping fabrics that 53
soften the effect of her unorthodox accessories. She describes her dynamic layering between jarring contraptions and graceful fabrics as a “skillful manipulation” that pacifies our fears and serves as the bridge between what should disgust us and what delights us. Konieczka’s keen touch for designing concoctions of near-realism and realism are known to elicit an uncanny valley for the inquisitive eye. That is, much of the eeriness in her unusual designs is attributed to the fact that her artistry is not so far removed from commonly perceived notions of fashion like experimentalism and conceptualism. Yet, she still manages to invite others to look inwards and hyper-focus on her use of fatalistic couture, for it is this which brings life to the darkest corners of the human condition. Thriving on this macabre dramatism, Katarzyna Konieczka works with various creatives who share her haunting vision, especially model Melanie Gaydos and photographer Sylwia Makris. She brings her costume designs to life through Makris’ “Thou Art Darkest” exhibition, which features fascinating imagery that explores themes of death, judgment and magnificence. Konieczka’s sartorially unique style grounds Makris’s melodramatic art, especially through the pieces “The Empress No.3” and “The Last Judgement.” Through her intricate assemblage of harsh adornments that restrain the face, core and head as well as her focus on contrasting ghostly textiles, Konieczka represents the vast expanse of designers that seek to capture a peculiar otherness. Her zeal for giving the mind freedom to delve into the darkest pits creates an alluring vision that both perturbs and fascinates. Given her varied design staples, designers such as Austin-based Melissa Ann Taylor are able to eclectically conceive an array of styles that are rooted in the same ideas that ignited Konieczka and other contemporaries to upstart their own creative visions. In the end, Katarzyna Konieczka’s visionary projects are a physical manifestation of the complicated works of one divine creator: the brain. Her commitment to capturing the suppressed tenebrosity of our core paves a truly remarkable road for valiant virtuosos like herself. In the midst of a frenzy unfolding of fashion, Konieczka’s torturously fascinating craft strives to materialize the intangible sentiments of our unique experiences and challenges us to live boldly and unapologetically in our kingdoms of madness. ■ 55
layout BRANDON NGUYEN photographer CASEY TANG stylist SUSY SEO hmua ANUJA DAULAT & TIFFANY LAM models HASSAN AHMAD & MARIAM ABDUL-RASHID
sca by ABIGAIL ROSENTHAL
a big title writer MAYA SHADDOCK
ack in 2017, New York City met a new socialiteslash-businesswoman who seemingly dropped from nowhere. Anna Delvey, with her Celine glasses and seemingly endless wads of cash, managed to convince the party people of New York, and its banks, that she was worth the investment. She told them she was a wealthy heiress getting ready to launch the next big thing, an art space and club. But really, she was an absolute nobody. Real name: Anna Sorokin.
Like stories of other scammers, Anna Delvey’s has the mass appeal of being just a bit larger than life, where it seems the only victims were banks that already have endless stores of cash or holier-than-thou rich New Yorkers. A Netflix series is in the works. But her schemes were not victimless. She walked out on bills to restaurants and hotels. One of her friends ended up losing her entire savings of $60,000 after a vacation gone wrong, where Anna had taken them all to Marrakech then was unable to pay for the expensive hotel.
There’s nothing better than a story that makes rich people look like idiots. Fyre Fest. Lori Loughlin’s kid. Anna Delvey’s scheme. Most fascinating though, is how each of these characters managed to get away with it for so long. What about them made people trust them, despite the warning signs? Can money and appearance really buy eyes looking the other way?
But why do we remain so fascinated? Is it because Anna got her comeuppance before things went from bad to worse? Or because she was living the life we all wish we could, where cash changes hands in endless streams and we have the clout to lounge around in Acne sweats?
One of the people seemingly closest to Anna Delvey during her reign of terror was Neffatari Davis, who ended up being a huge part of an article The Cut ran chronicling the rags to riches to rags story of Anna’s rise and fall. Davis, the concierge at the $400-per-night hotel Anna was living in at the time, ultimately became her friend and received fancy gifts and dinners — and tips in the form of $100 bills — just for the company. With a room overflowing with shopping bags from Supreme and Acne and the ability to pay for endless spa treatments with Davis, it was easy to see why no one doubted her legitimacy.
When we think about scammers like Fyre Festival’s Billy McFarland or Theranos’ Elizabeth Holmes, they’re usually shrouded in some mystery of how exactly they could pull all this off without a shred of remorse. Even Anna Delvey hasn’t admitted wrongdoing, according to The Cut. Perhaps it’s because when we take a look at ourselves, we all have some scammer tendencies. We put the best parts of our lives on social media, even when we’re completely falling apart. We wore the most expensive or impressive outfit to a job interview, so it looks like we have it all together. We keep companies like Rent the Runway in business, where you can literally purchase the status that comes with a designer gown for a night or two.
Anna Delvey played her part well, despite the fact that she ran around in athleisure and occasionally didn’t pay her fellow rich friends back. The way she managed to keep wads of cash, never paying with a credit card and convincing everyone she had it all together: a complicated string of wires, bad checks and bank loans, defrauding multiple banks into thinking she had far more money than she was worth and using those loans to pay back parts of others.
Ultimately, perhaps none of these people were even real scammers, who were looking to do wrong. Of course, they did do wrong, but were they just caught up in the gorgeous clothes, the dream or the status?
And, ultimately, Anna Delvey ended up arrested, charged with six counts of grand larceny and attempted grand larceny, in addition to theft of services and sent to jail.
And maybe they were the ones who just had the confidence to actually pull it off. ■
skate cultureâ€™s new social fabric, woven by women.
by ESTHER WANG
layout SYDNEY BUI photographer PAIGE MILLER stylist MATTHEW TREU hmua HANNAH JOHNSON models CHEMAREEA BIGGS & KAYLEIGH WILSON
black top | LO-FI VINTAGE pink top | LO-FI VINTAGE
made my first appearance in society on the cusp of the 21st century — a newfangled millennium that albeit maintained old stereotypes from decades prior. As I grew up and ventured into new places and interests, I encountered these rather restricting constructs and they shaped my understanding of my place in this big world. And so at age 9, I knew three things about skateboarding: 1) some guy named Tony Hawk was involved, 2) I wanted to learn and that 3) it was for boys. Alas, my young self stayed on the sidelines per the suggestion of such sexist stereotypes. But I’m 19 now, and times are ever-changing; these three things I and young girls and women would attribute to skateboarding look different now just as society has progressed and skateboarding’s cultural landscape demographic has evolved.
empowering — the main reason being there were less women, and thus the parks were mostly crowded with boys clad in men’s grunge styles. In essence, the experimentation with colors, patterns and textures (in addition to, of course, their participation in skateboarding) parallel women breaking free from the preexisting stereotypes set before them within a historically male-dominated sphere. They are breathing femininity into the sport and showcasing the fetching and functional versatility that skatewear has to offer. Increased gender equality in recent years has broken down many appearance constructs and norms of the past ingrained into our social fabric. While some often glorify ‘90s skate culture to an ungodly degree, the rampantly sexist (not to mention racist and homophobic) skate culture encapsulated in Jonah Hill’s film “Mid90s” would not fare well in today’s world.
Nowadays, inclusivity of women in skateboarding is growing, and these women are riding a new wave of apparel into the skateparks that varies in form and fashion; they’re paying special attention to color and detail, pairing complementary pieces together, making use of layering, jewelry and other small accessory statements. Pinstripes, gingham and plaid prints from head-to-toe signify the eclectic and individualistic nature of dressing. Nothing is off-limits and all bases are touched: overalls, dresses, skirts, jumpers, eccentric matching outerwear. Modern styles are incorporated with nods to ‘90searly ‘00s fashion from which the original skate culture blossomed into a mainstay of popular culture. They are especially intentional with how they dress themselves, holding true to the spirit of skateboarding as an outlet of self-expression and creativity.
Likewise, brands have followed suit in addressing gender disparities in skate culture, creating women’s lines and shoes specifically for women’s feet, addressing differences in tastes and preferences, sizing and center-ofbalance. In this case, if a girl is interested in skating but finds that skate shops and brands only have a men’s section for apparel and shoes, how does she know she has a place there? Something as simple as genderspecific shoes and a selection of clothing for women is acknowledging that women have a place in this space, acknowledging the different needs women have. It is a gesture that speaks volumes to the nuances of inclusion in society.
It’s a sight you’d never see at the skatepark in the ‘90s, nevertheless the ‘00s and is all at once visually inspiring and aesthetically
Social media, namely Instagram, has also played a part in turning the tide for women. Through the photo-video sharing platform,
to the forefront, what seems like hunches of angry, hyper-masculine men are coming out of the woodwork in efforts to invalidate women’s abilities — through online comments, verbal speech and whatever-have-yous.
you are suddenly made aware of all of these girls who skate, with thousands of girls’ skate clips circulating on accounts like @girlsshred that serve to empower women by highlighting female skaters and fostering an inclusive community. More than ever before, you can see what other female skaters around the world are doing and wearing, whereas prior to the app boom of the mid-‘00s-‘10s, the main sources of media and magazines were saturated with male-targeted ads, male skaters and male skate clips. Instagram and other social media are creating not only a community, but also a space for female skaters to exist and be seen. It’s been my personal source of fashion and skateboarding inspiration, and is what encouraged me to pick up a board and learn how to skate.
The age-old cry of cultural appropriation is thrown about, reducing these female skaters to mere gimmicks. Through their actions, these traditionalists perpetuate an unspoken notion that skaters with credibility and “realness” have a certain look or are a certain type of person. To simply be a woman then is to face an already-losing battle, because we are not the typical packaging to come by in a male-dominated space. To be a woman and skate in floralladened culottes and cute, bright-colored tops is to highlight this difference further and wear a bullseye that welcomes diatribe and mockery from the less progressive.
Where there is change, however, criticism does not fall too far behind. The skate community, prided on its off-kilter tastes, has always viewed the fashion world through a lens of skepticism and inauthenticity. With women and girls alike pushing this skate culture-fashion relationship
Quite frankly, this criticism of women in skateboarding is an issue that extends beyond the fabric and into the old ideals of the culture. How can we as women adhere 68
to, nevertheless be criticized of, not fitting into a culture to which we didn’t even belong to in the first place? In this light, apparel serves as an apparatus for social change in the skatepark and in society. We are simply creating our own place, a new culture that is not only inclusive but also accepting, starting with clothing that fits us and using clothing as statements that reflect who we are. Just as in other industries, fields and sports, the inclusion of women in maledominated spaces continually challenges the stereotypes of what one looks and dresses like. How ironic it is that these men fight so hard to uphold a culture founded upon rebellious nature and disregard to traditional standards, yet they criticize women whose attempts to skate and wear what they want are acts of rebellion in themselves as they reshape old molds instead of attempting to fit into them? Despite the negativity, hope is to be had for future generations of women as skate culture and society continue to evolve in equality. We can find progress in the form of fairy dresses and tutus that 9-year-old girls of today flaunt as they joyfully land ollies and kickflips. It is not a matter of the femininity of the clothing but the fact that these girls can brazenly wear the clothing that makes them the happiest and feel most true to themselves. It’s quite amazing to me how unfazed they are, to see that the preconceived notions of girls and skateboarding I had as a 9-year-old girl weigh no burden on them and their desire to skate. They don’t question their place in the skateboarding world — they own it. This newfound diversity and inclusivity in the sport altogether write a new chapter of skate culture — and it’s a beautifully written one at that. As brands continue to create more diverse womenswear and shoes for female skaters, as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics approaches with the new skateboarding event set to include female competitors, as more mainstream media acknowledge and highlight the successes of female skaters, they speak a message that anyone would want to hear. A voice that whispers, “You are welcome here.” ■ 71
layout LUIZA GRUNTMANE photographer MARCUS IBARRA stylist NIKITA KALYANA hmua RIYA ASHOK models JADE FABELLO & NIKITA KALYANA
space cowboy by ANNIE LYONS
he tantalizing style of “space cowboy” is not simply a mash-up of two aesthetics, but rather the rebirth of an old concept into a new framework. The quintessential western cowboy values — courage, charisma, independence— are worthy endeavors, but they carry with them darker undercurrents of violence, hubris and the knowledge that the mythological white cowboys often portrayed in classic films do not reflect history.
Space is associated with the future, not the past, with feelings of mysticism and hope; people have long looked up to the moon and the stars to dream of the unknown. A large part of space’s appeal is a desire to explore its mystery, leading to the popularized idea of space as “the final frontier.” Here, imagination comes into play: a limited understanding of space means its possibilities are boundless. Cowboy figures naturally pair with adventures into the unknown, but space’s creative freedom makes it the perfect medium to explore how the admirable aspects of cowboy lore can adapt to an inclusive future. The recent wave of space cowboys celebrates this fact, as they emulate the traditional cowboy but diverge majorly from its canon in favor of a feminine edge and embracing diverse identities. So much of the space cowboy aesthetic relies on individuality that the physical style can elude definition. But more importantly than the visuals, the movement’s ideology calls for confident attitudes in sheer defiance of existing norms. The space cowboy’s swagger stems less from arrogance and more from a self-assurance that they belong in the spaces they occupy — even if those spaces have been historically inaccessible.
The space cowboy ideology sidelines the typical hypermasculine white cowboy figures of the American mythos, the John Waynes and the Han Solos. While Solo may be the first space cowboy example to come to mind, his successor Rey, from the recent trilogy, provides a better representation. The two characters certainly share a headstrong and reckless nature, but Rey has a softer edge, thanks to her open-hearted, generous spirit and lack of ego. At the start of the first film, “The Force Awakens,” Rey lives in the rugged outskirts of civilization on a desert planet as a true outsider. Her style is her own; her outfits neutraltoned and comfortable with details like her unique and iconic three overlapping buns. As she throws herself into increasingly unfamiliar situations, Rey continues to prove herself capable as she grows into her power. But while Rey provides one blueprint for a space cowboy, the individuality that grounds the concept gives room for other cultural figures to provide their own interpretation of the style. In the electric accompanying film for her recent album, “When I Get Home,” Solange Knowles, known eponymously as Solange, captures the spirit of the space cowboy even if her feet remain firmly planted on earth. She playfully twirls around a black cowboy hat and shoots finger guns to the sound of guns cocking. At one moment, she dances with a glimmering shadow-like figure in the darkness. To the viewer, the figure, cloaked completely in silver, feels ominous and scrutinizing. But Solange shines iridescently as she dances freely and gracefully, comfortable in her skin and unbothered by who’s watching her.
Solange pays homage to the black cowboys who have been seemingly erased from history. “All of the first cowboys I saw were black,” she said at a screening in Houston for the film. “I don’t know who John Wayne is, I don’t know what his story is.” But, at the same time, her visuals go beyond a solely western aesthetic and look to the future as she presents herself as a black woman who belongs in the spaces she exists in. Whether she’s dancing with laughter on a grainy laptop camera video or sensually spinning with total control on a pole, Solange knows who she is. Similarly, Japanese-American singer Mitski Miyawaki, who performs as Mitski, embraces the space cowboy attitude in her critically-acclaimed fifth album, 2018’s “Be The Cowboy.” In an interview with Outline, she discusses her inspiration behind the album name, saying “I was thinking more of the Marlboro commercial cowboy, that incredibly exaggerated myth of the western cowboy … every time I would find myself doing exactly what the world expects of me as an Asian woman, I would turn around and tell myself, ‘Well, what would a cowboy do?’” Mitski’s thesis encourages anyone to capture the swaggering confidence of a cowboy — not just the white hyper-masculine male cowboys typically portrayed in the past. She leads by example, illustrating the power that one can find in allowing vulnerability throughout “Be The Cowboy.” Her masterful control of lyricism shines as she dissects feelings of loneliness with razor-sharp precision through fictional vignettes. Mitski looks loneliness in the face and comes out on the other side self-assured in her identity.
western fringe jacket | REVIVAL VINTAGE studded belt | ERMINE VINTAGE
Throughout, Solange’s style toes the line between glamour and simplicity. However, even when dressed plainly, Solange commands attention with her bravado. In one scene, she and her accompanying dancers, dressed respectively in all-black and all-white, stand out starkly in a muted western landscape. Solange leads the group in dance with a eye-grabbing charisma and a refusal to blend in, showcasing the interactions between power and femininity. Images of black cowboys interject throughout the film, their horses galloping through city and countryside alike. Other scenes show a black woman dragging a large computer monitor system down an airplane runway, cut with shots of technological lights flashing across her face in the darkness. The juxtaposition of Afrofuturistic and western influences culminates in the final minutes with artist Jacolby Satterwhite’s animation sequence: a naked black man flies off into the air atop a robotic pegasus, reconciling the two ideas. Solange pays homage to the black cowboys who have been seemingly erased from history. “All of the first cowboys I saw were black,” she said at a screening in Houston for the film. “I don’t know who John Wayne is, I don’t know what his story is.” But, at the same time, her visuals go beyond a solely western aesthetic and look to the future as she presents herself as a black woman who belongs in the spaces she exists in. Whether she’s dancing with laughter on a grainy laptop camera video or sensually spinning with total control on a pole, Solange knows who she is.
Similarly, Japanese-American singer Mitski Miyawaki, who performs as Mitski, embraces the space cowboy attitude in her critically-acclaimed fifth album, 2018’s “Be The Cowboy.” In an interview with Outline, she discusses her inspiration behind the album name, saying “I was thinking more of the Marlboro commercial cowboy, that incredibly exaggerated myth of the western cowboy … every time I would find myself doing exactly what the world expects of me as an Asian woman, I would turn around and tell myself, ‘Well, what would a cowboy do?’” Mitski’s thesis encourages anyone to capture the swaggering confidence of a cowboy — not just the white hyper-masculine male cowboys typically portrayed in the past. She leads by example, illustrating the power that one can find in allowing vulnerability throughout “Be The Cowboy.” Her masterful control of lyricism shines as she dissects feelings of loneliness with razorsharp precision through fictional vignettes. Mitski looks loneliness in the face and comes out on the other side self-assured in her identity. Over the past year, “yeehaw” aesthetics have captured the imaginations of many as artists like Solange and Mitski have re-popularized (and re-formulated) a space cowboy ideology. The style’s emphasis on inclusivity and individuality especially appeals to teens and 20-somethings, who have taken to donning fluorescent pink rhinestone cowboy hats with their apparel. There’s an inherent playfulness to the style that only has one demand: the wearer needs to truly own the look. People can freely adapt the aesthetic to suit their own self-expression, imagining a world where anyone can be a cowboy, adventuring among the stars. ■
TI-FASHION ANTI-FASHI TI-FASHION ANTI-FASHI TI-FASHION ANTI-FASHI TI-FASHION ANTI-FASHI TI-FASHION ANTI-FASHI TI-FASHION ANTI-FASHI TI-FASHION ANTI-FASHI TI-FASHION ANTI-FASHI TI-FASHION ANTI-FASHI TI-FASHION ANTI-FASHI TI-FASHION ANTI-FASHI TI-FASHION ANTI-FASHI 80
ION ANTI-FASHION ION ANTI-FASHION ION ANTI-FASHION ION ANTI-FASHION ION ANTI-FASHION ION ANTI-FASHION ION ANTI-FASHION ION ANTI-FASHION ION ANTI-FASHION ION ANTI-FASHION ION ANTI-FASHION ION ANTI-FASHION layout LAURA GOMINA & MAYA SHADDOCK
photographer JOEY HUNT
stylists ELLA WILLIAMS & LIZZIE DRAGON
hmua ANNA STROTHER & CAMERON POLONET
by SHREYA RAJHANS
models BELKIS KARAN, GRANT KANAK, ISAIAH LUCAS & SARAH TRAN
long sleeve polo | LO-FI VINTAGE oval sunglasses | LO-FI VINTAGE leviâ€™s jeans | MONKIES VINTAGE picasso tee | MONKIES VINTAGE belt | REVIVAL VINTAGE band tee | MONKIE VINTAGE
ast in your mind, an image of yourself standing on any old street corner. What are you wearing? Casual jeans paired with a Tshirt and hoodie? More importantly though, what are you doing? Are you simply existing in that moment? Do you have a larger purpose — are you standing at that corner and serving silent critique of fashion and its place in society? What is the purpose of you wearing those worn down denim jeans, and why did you specifically pair it with that ratty white T-shirt? Quite an attack of questions, but they all help deconstruct the simplicity of normcore.
crowd.” In turn, you can see the irony then, in finding out that normcore has actually become part of mainstream fashion itself. It shouldn’t be surprising that the style spread like wildfire, given the connectivity of fashion, but there’s just something tongue-in-cheek about a movement intended to rebuff mainstream culture ending up becoming, part of the norm (pun fully intended). Designers for brands like Marc Jacobs and Celine — now without the accent — were quick to realize the ubiquitous nature of normcore and integrated it into their own fashion lines, gracing the runway with oh so forgettable items, such as Patagonia fleeces and furkenstocks.
Let’s try to unravel the mystery of normcore a little more. British Vogue declared the style as being vogue around March 2014, saying it was “a bland anti-style...the notion of dressing in an utterly conventional, nondescript way.” Quite a vague definition because the term conventional is entirely relative and subjective. How then, is normcore classified as a movement that many individuals can follow? Well, rather than simply being a defining wardrobe, normcore is also about a certain way of thinking and seeing the world.
Originally intended for those who regarded being special as grossly overrated, now normcore is catering to the masses at frightening speed. In what many regard as being a misuse or even appropriation of the style and its intent, normcore is now used as a way of brands trying to appeal to the “normies” in all of us. Even the rich and famous get a shot at being normal now! Celebrities often sporting that chic-homey look are heralded as being the epitome of normcore in an effort to appear more relatable. And the wild thing is… it totally works. Normcore has created a cycle because celebrities try to dress like us plebeians, and we in turn, try to emulate the high brow. Whatever your opinion about a style as polarizing as normcore — it being ingenious or not even worthy of being described as a style — one thing is certain: Normcore has certainly made an impact ever since it surfaced as recognizable fashion. In fact, normcore can be regarded as something that will never fade because the entire basis of it is “the norm.” There’s nothing that can be identified as a statement piece for adhering to normcore because it draws from whatever is the current standard. However, arguably the most important thing about normcore is this: it reminds the fashion world that “ordinary” can still be influential as well as reminding the common person that they are capable of creating fashion and subsequently, creating art. ■
In layman’s terms — because normcore is led by the layman and laywoman — normcore is the answer to high society fashion and the desire to be avant-garde. The trend achieves this by being mundane and forgettable: you could be the embodiment of normcore your entire life and not know it. That’s because the style adheres to blending in, almost like camouflage (if camo had a little more… subtlety to it). Initially, normcore was a satirical take on regular fashion, the search for something so ordinary that it is void of diversity. The intent behind normcore varies but can be traced down to wanting to be stripped of any voice when it comes to fashion. As a result, it’s basically about trying the most to be the least pretentious. In a way, normcore seeks liberation in being absolutely and unapologetically normal and “part of the 83
ON THE AIR by LAURA LAUGHEAD
Fashion makes the front page in this report on what women TV journalists wear on the air. On live TV, what you wear may speak as loudly as what you say.
news anchor in a power red blazer beams from behind a desk in a news studio. Her matching red lipstick makes her unnaturally white teeth appear to glow. Concealer has been smoothed under her eyes because no dark shadows are allowed on tv. Her sprayed and straightened helmet of hair just touches her shoulders, teasing the line between come here and come hither. She’s professional but not plain. Pretty but not painfully beautiful. A voice in her ear counts down.
“3, 2, 1. Go!” She smiles at the camera lens. “Good morning friends,” she begins. This is the life of a female news anchor every morning of her work week. She’s groomed and gregarious at 4 a.m. In a profession devoted to accuracy, the less you look like yourself the better. The women in broadcast news know exactly what the camera wants. Female broadcasters at both the network and the local level are the epitome of impeccable grooming. Journalism icons like Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts are celebrated for their skills and their fashion sense. Women in news were among the first to understand the power of the pantsuit.
scrutinized. Barbara Walters made headlines – literally – when she co-anchored the ABC News evening broadcast in 1976, the first woman to co-anchor an evening news broadcast in the history of television news. This former (and last) Today Show “Girl” was an expert in dressing for a 21-inch tv no longer in black and white. She wore pearl earrings and a richly red blouse encased in a black vest. Her hair is highly coiffed but not too high, and she’s wearing just the “right” amount of makeup. Earlier that day, abc News threw a luncheon and held a press conference to publicize what her anchor partner Harry Reasoner referred to as “the first heterosexual news anchor team.” Most of the questions concerned what Walters would wear. Walters thought that if she answered, so should Reasoner. Variety reported that he mumbled a response about some “plain dark suit and tie.” Forty-three years later, men can still mumble about throwing together a suit. Whether she intended to or not, Walters became the role model to future female broadcasters and a figurehead for second wave feminism. Being in broadcast journalism is a life punctuated by deadlines, and in this case, a woman’s career is punctuated by the worst deadline of all: her age. Patience is not a virtue in this business, and hd cameras are far crueler than any news director. At 79, Barbara Walters still hosts occasional segments for abc News. Although she was and is the anomaly, now she’s setting a new standard. One day women will be allowed to age on tv, and you’ll see women in their ‘60’s and ‘70’s reporting daily. But not yet.
Since women first started to read news on television in the ‘70s, their appearance has been scrubbed and 84
layout LUIZA GRUNTMANE photographer NICOLE BOLAR stylist NICOLE GAUSMAN hmua ALISON MCLEAN model HANNAH JOHNSON
â€˜50s purse | REVIVAL VINTAGE jacket | ERMINE VINTAGE pearl necklace | ERMINE VINTAGE
An Australian newscaster named Karl Stefanovic grew tired of the criticism his female co-anchor received about what she wore on the air, so he conducted an experiment. Every day for a year, he wore the same blue suit. No one noticed. The problem in this business is that much more is expected of women than men. They must do the same job but never look bad while doing it. At local stations, women freeze in studios and bake under the Texas sun on live shots (but no sweating while the camera’s watching). It’s a constant battle between too many and too few layers. Collars are perfect for hiding wireless microphones. Jackets and blazers are fashion staples, especially given that women have faced backlash for outfits that expose their shoulders during a broadcast. Former Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly faced criticism when social media viewers deemed the straps on the dress she wore to the Republican National Convention in 2016 too threadbare and “distracting” from the politics she was reporting. The right to bare arms didn’t extend to female newscasters. Broadcast journalism is a career anchored in double standards. There’s an unspoken dress code for women. The way you look could stand between you and a promotion or you and a job in a larger market. The apparel must be stylish, but the outfit can’t be louder than the voice of the person wearing it. There are absolutely no fur, flowers or frills. You can show skin but not too much skin. There’s always a raging debate on the morality of bare arms on camera. Whatever you wear, you
must look trustworthy. People are inviting you into their homes and their bedrooms every morning, evening and night. You’re what they get up to and go to bed to, so they have to trust you. And who better to trust than the person who’s always camera ready? The overemphasis on the visual aspect of this medium seems to equate physical perfection with truth. But perfection is a myth, and a myth is the antithesis of journalism. Anchors are the face of the network, and the notion that a woman’s face must be young and pretty that dominates popular culture even permeates the news studio. The double standard also applies to reporters out in the field. TV stations are what people turn to when they’re scared or unsure of what’s happening. As the old saying goes, when everyone’s running from something, TV reporters are running towards it. Except with female reporters, in the middle of the hurricane or outside of the burning high rise at 5 a.m., they’re expected to be wearing lipstick and running towards the catastrophe in heels. Without a doubt, the news is a formal business. The reasoning behind the dressy apparel is to separate you from the public. You can’t be confused with the civilians in your B-roll. It’s a noble profession that elevates the people in it to the front seat of history, but the people in the front row have to look like they belong there. It’s all about credibility. Refinement and formality are inextricably associated with the career. tv news may be anchored in double standard, but one day, hopefully, the reality it reports on will be reflected in those who report it. ■
layout MAYA SHADDOCK photographer ARIANA DIAZ stylist COURTNEY FAY hmua JULIE GARCIA & TAYLOR STIFF models CAROLINE TSAI & GLENN BOZANT
writer MAYA SHADDOCK
by ALEXANDRA VARKAROTAS
WITHOUT FASHION, QUICK-CHANGE ACTS WOULD SIMPLY BE JUST ANOTHER MAGIC TRICK. WITHOUT ILLUSIONS, THE FASHION WORLD WOULD NOT BE WHAT IT IS TODAY. 89
blue chico pants | REVIVAL VINTAGE blue sequin dress | REVIVAL VINTAGE
“A MAGICIAN NEVER TELLS SECRETS, BUT A FASHION DESIGNER CAN MAKE THEM KNOWN TO THE WORLD WITHOUT SAYING A WORD.”
Got Talent” in 2016, but showed the world their own fashion designs. They stood out from other quick-change acts that preceded them due to their focus on sex appeal and shorter costumes. This coupled with bright, bold colors and exotic patterns made their fashion designs, and their act, memorable and fun.
right lights illuminate the stage. Illusive movements and colorful fabrics fill my vision. Growing up in Vegas, I’m no stranger to magic shows, but this one has captured my unwavering attention. The pair in front of me performs the infamous quick-change act with such precision that the trick feels like real magic. One second the pair wears fancy attire fit for a party at Mr. Gatsby’s, and the next they stand ready for the beach, floppy hat and all.
The idea of quick-change has penetrated the world of fashion, empowering designers to expand their imagination into deceiving (for the better) their customers. New Zealand fashion designer, Sean Kelly, utilized the art of illusion to create a fantastical runway moment during Project Runway Season 13. The challenge was to create a look fit for a “wet” runway, where production made rain fall on the catwalk. And Kelly’s ingenious idea of placing fabric dye within the seams of a darling white dress paired well when the water poured down. As the model strutted down the runway, pink and orange colors bled through the white fabric, generating a sunset watercolor look on the once blank canvas of the dress. Kelly’s transformative design showcases how the idea of illusion and magic can be integrated with traditional fashion to produce an otherworldly experience.
Watching a quick-change act, I can’t help but wonder how garments are fabricated to allow for such quickness and precision when changing outfits. These acts simply aren’t magic without the power of fashion and its effect on the audience. Whereas magic shows run rampant in Sin City, the masses have the opportunity to experience the splendor of quick-change acts when they turn on their TVs. Shows like “America’s Got Talent” have provided platforms to several pairs over the years who perform the quick-change act with meticulousness and, of course, a flair of illusive fashion. One such act, Sos and Victoria, not only proved their illusion mastery when they appeared on “America’s 91
black sequin dress | REVIVAL VINTAGE velvet blazer | REVIVAL VINTAGE
black sequin pants | REVIVAL VINTAGE
Sean Kelly isn’t the only designer to have utilized this idea of magic. Niti Singhal, designer and founder of Twee In One, a clothing store specializing in convertible clothing, sported her collection during India Fashion Week London 2017. Her designs included removable and reversible pieces, allowing models to instantly change their look. Similarly, London-based brand, Chalayan, has been labeled an innovator in the industry, and it is clear that the brand’s Fall 2013 Paris Fashion Week collection took inspiration from the magic world. As models walked down the runway, they pulled the collars of their dresses to reveal a totally different dress underneath, changing their entire look as if they were characters in a James Bond movie, changing their identities too. A magician never tells secrets, but a fashion designer can make them known to the world without saying a word. Wherein traditional quick-change acts, the magician changes under a cover, these runway collections captured audiences’ longing for fantasy by conducting the trick right in front of their eyes. Outside of the runway, convertible clothing has made a name for itself in everyday wear. Just think about the infamous infinity dress that mall vendors notoriously try to sell to shoppers. The concept of illusion presents itself through a simple maxi dress that can easily be transfigured into various designs. Its innovations like this that can potentially alleviate the fast fashion waste crisis and contribute to helping the environment. The quick-change magic act comes to an end as the man douses the woman with what looks like metallic confetti and her dress metamorphosizes into a beautiful white gown. The audience cheers, excited by the thrill of the magic, but also by the creativity illustrated in the designs. I can’t help but appreciate this illusive act for it has found practical and innovative uses in the fashion world. When designs can convert into other silhouettes, it is like watching a dream, a magical dream, unfold. ■ 94
SEX APPEAL by IVANNA SOFIA ENGLISH
layout NAME HERE photographer NAME HERE stylist NAME HERE & NAME HERE hmua NAME HERE & NAME HERE model NAME HERE & NAME HERE
a big title writer MAYA SHADDOCK
layout BRANDON NGUYEN photographer ABHI VELAGA stylist SHANNON HOMAN hmua TIFFANY LAM models BETSY WELBORN & SARAH KRUEGER
reen lace strewn about a wall-papered boudoir, a yellow vase of dead flowers, the lingering aroma of a home-cooked meal. The home, traditionally the realm of the wife, the mother, is not the typical realm of the erotic, of the sexy. Victorian ideals of a pure woman — one that lacks sexual desires — lie deep in America’s perception of what sexy is. Thanks to fervent, long-dead, Christian evangelicals, punishing women for being “daughters of Eve,” the first sinner, has long been a justification for oppressing various areas of female sexuality — from claims that birthing pains are the result of God’s punishment, to death as punishment for women as witches who had insatiable carnal desires. Meanwhile, most male sexual behavior remained excusable. With the rising consciousness in both secular and a few non-secular agencies, the norm is treating our beautiful array of the homo sapien edition with respect and women as equals, and has also helped birth the feminist fight to establish women as beings that can be sexual, and feel sexy too.
In the year 2018 multi-talented artist and designer Rihanna gave the world a new Garden of Eden at the Savage x Fenty Runway show — a dense biodome hidden in the Brooklyn Navy yard, exploding with equatorial flora and fauna and an array of the feminine form. Neon lights illuminated glistening bodies in nude, black, branches and flowers, tiger-print, silk, barely-there sheer and even 9-month pregnant Slick Woods in pasties and black elastic harness. The show and mantra, “All Women Are Goddesses,” was an ode to the “celebration of womanhood” said Rih after the show. She continued that, “…it’s a shame women have to feel insecure or self-conscious about how their bodies look. They’ve been taught by society that only one thing works.”
Human beings are social creatures and for millennia we have relied on others to tell us our worth. But as we discover our individual power, the voices fade, just like the trends for who and what is dubbed “sexy.” Desirable bodies have historically been linked with wealth and health — whereas in the paleolithic era where food sources were unreliable, well-fed frames were the sexy, then come mid-20th century and society preferred 91-pound “Twiggy” on its front cover. With the advent of social media, the eyes of the world now see the diversity of bodies around the world — how beautiful and how disproportionate high fashion portrays diversity. There is power in unity, and as more women clamor to be represented and respected, indie to luxury brands, have recognized that not all women are size two and expanded their size selections. New, high-end e-commerce site, 11 Honoré, was created to cater to shoppers size 10 to 20, and curate garments from Prabal Gurung, Zac Posen and Michael Kors. Their site also features a refreshing selection of women of varying skin-tones — but the push for representation doesn’t stop there, ladies. Competitive design show, “Project Runway,” for its sweet 16 season (2017) opened their show with an exciting declaration from Tim Gunn that designers will be working with models sizes two to 22, with encouragement from supermodel Heidi Klum that the world features a variety of bodies and that a true designer knows how to deliver to all. The shades of sexy go beyond figure and shade, but also in age and individual conceptions. With the average age of models being 17, youth naturally goes hand in hand with traditional conceptions of sexy. However, the uncertain youth of today have something to look forward to, according to the findings of a survey issued by uk retailer, House of Fraser, which concluded that
the 2,000 women in the study said that their 30s are the years which they feel sexiest. Contributors to the sexy feeling were being “more confident with age”, being in “better relationships,” and being “more confident in the bedroom.” As a tribute to the attractions of women beyond age, designer Alexis Mabille in his 2016 couture show displayed well-seasoned faces like ‘80s editorial star and ‘90s catwalk stunner Debra Shaw, as well as Carmen Kass and French model-actress Audrey Marnay — women Mabille affectionately dubbed possessing “timeless beauty.”
Sexy, however, still deeper than beauty, captures all of our senses. “Something in the way she moves/Attracts me like no other lover,” The Beatles sing in “Something” on the famous Abbey Road album, beginning to uncover that there are aspects to attraction that we cannot always quite grasp, yet are certainly, undeniably present. Paco Rabanne delivered an added sensation of sexy as he sent down sheer, neon green glistening slips, and women modestly covered except for interestingly attractive areas, such as the lower portion of the abdomen for his Spring 2019 Ready to Wear collection. The clash of patterns and textures — chain link and satins — scream for
our eyes’ attention and our hand’s grasp. The sounds of clinking coins and soft garments rustling to send chills down viewer’s spines. In ready-to-wear, all we need to do is take it home. This recognition for a different kind of female empowerment is so essential to individual conceptions of what sexy truly is, to be sexy is to feel sexy, and every woman has a right to feel that way. Desires and sensations are so fleeting, yet they can impact lives in chronic ways. Overnight international sensation, frecklefaced, Cockney Lesley Hornby, or “Twiggy,” on being discovered 101
according to her purple clover. 50-year tribute piece, said “At 16 I was a funny, skinny little thing, all eyelashes and legs. And suddenly people told me it was gorgeous. I thought they had all gone mad.” To preserve our sanity, the powers that be need to encourage women from a young age to not conform to the “norms” that are ever-changing. In the same survey conducted by House of Fraser, women were asked what “sexy” means to them, and for 75 percent of women, feeling sexy is relational to how one feels about their life more than their looks. Thus, to be sexy is to be confident — and that comes from within. ■
JOY by TERESA VU
layout KELSEY JONES photographer HARRISON XUE stylist ISAIAH VALLE QUIÃ‘ONES hmua DANIA ABDI model MIJOLAE WRIGHT
ne simple question that ignited a tidying revolution: “Does it spark joy?” Marie Kondo, bestselling author of “The LifeChanging Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” and star of Netflix original series, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” challenges us to question the value within each of our belongings. Inspired by the Shinto religion, which recognizes the divine spirit and energy within all things, the KonMari method revolves around collecting all of one’s belongings into one big mountain, going through each item one by one, and then only keeping those that “spark joy.” The items that will be discarded are then thanked for serving their purpose before being neatly folded away. If the idea of something sparking joy seems like a foreign concept, you are not alone. The notion stems from the Japanese word, tokimeku, which means “to flutter, throb or palpitate.” For perspective, according to Kondo, joy feels something akin to wearing a favorite outfit or holding a puppy. It is a warm, positive feeling. While many people struggle to identify when something sparks joy, Kondo reassures that sensitivity to joy will be honed as one continues the tidying process, which follows a
“does it spark joy?” distinct organizational sequence of (1) clothes, (2) books, (3) paper, (4) miscellaneous items and (5) sentimental items. A paradox naturally occurs when one ponders how joy, a humanistic emotion, can be expressed in material items. Logic points out that a shirt is a shirt is a shirt. It can’t spontaneously come to life and tell jokes, or take us on a fabulous trip to Paris. So maybe a shirt is just a shirt. But then again, maybe a shirt is the shirt. The shirt you wore when you had your first kiss. The shirt you wore when you found out that you got accepted to your dream school. The shirt you wore when you hugged your grandmother for the last time. There are certain experiences tied within each item we own, and what the KonMari method teaches us is that while clinging to something can be comforting, letting go of it can be, too. The KonMari method sparked a transformation in the fashion industry. Donations to thrift stores have skyrocketed since the premiere of her hit show, and her method also seems to have further bolstered people’s examination of what they put into their closets. The KonMari method inherently rejects wastefulness, which doesn’t help fast fashion brands since their sales have already been on the decline for months due to
jumpsuit | BLUE ELEPHANT jacket | BLUE ELEPHANT turtleneck | BLUE ELEPHANT
consumers’ growing interest in sustainability and human rights. What is fast fashion, you may ask? It is a term used by retailers to describe cheaply made clothing produced in response to the latest catwalk trends. They are designed to be replaced quickly, so they have real, negative repercussions on not only the exploited workers who make them, but also the planet. According to two separate reports published by Global Labour Justice, more than 540 women working in Asian factories supplying fast fashion brands Gap and h&m have described incidents of verbal abuse and physical violence between the months of January and May in 2018. And if that wasn’t shocking enough, the Ellen McArthur Foundation recently published a study revealing that one garbage truck of textiles is wasted every second. Consumers are not blind to these destructive practices, and it’s affecting their decisions where to shop. For some brands such as Charlotte Russe, profit declines have gotten so bad that filing for bankruptcy was the only option. It is clear that millennials are increasingly becoming more interested in sustainable living, as seen in their readiness to adopt toward fewer, high-quality investment pieces and their conscious rejection of material excess. The KonMari method offers a simple mechanism to aid in this newfound cultural shift. But while this shift is great, people should be aware of the greater message behind the KonMari method. It is not about minimalism, it is not about the capsule closet, and it is not about purging your entire closet and only keeping a fitted white tee, nice jeans and a navy blazer. What the KonMari method truly preaches is mindfulness. Mindfulness about what you keep and mindfulness about what you purchase in the future. The fact of the matter is, in our privileged society, everyone has too much. Maybe you planned on having 10 statement pieces but ended up with 15, or maybe you planned on having 30 statement pieces but ended up with 45. The numerical amount of how much one “should” own is irrelevant because joy is not exclusive to minimalism. As long as one is conscious, joy can be present in a maximalist life as well. Because at the end of the day, what matters is what sparks joy in you. ■
R I D H T
My experience with the bindi & its significance in Indian fashion culture.
by SAANYA PHERWANI
layout SYDNEY BUI photographer KATHERINE PERKS stylist ELLA WILLIAMS hmua TEJAL BHIKHA model NIKITA KALYANA
raping my shoulders with my being too involved in Indian culture would sari’s pallu and prodding its set me apart. heavy embroidery one last time, I looked up at my teary- Then, one night, inspiration struck me in the eyed mother. “You look like a unlikeliest of places. While at a low lit conprincess,” she said, as she picked up a glossy cert in the middle of the city with a group of plastic card full of colorful bindis, picked mostly Indian friends, I saw a white girl walk a bindi that matched my sari and stuck in with a sparkling yellow bindi between her one on my forehead. “And all princesses eyebrows. What others would call cultural wear bindis.” appropriation, I deemed a revelation. I was elated that others found this aspect of my Like my mother, most Hindu or Jain women culture beautiful. The bindi had always been wear the bindi, a colored dot applied between a part of me, but I was just too afraid to emthe eyebrows on the forehead. Its place in brace it. And why should it be termed culpopular culture is often lost while character- tural appropriation if I was as unaware of the izing Indian culture with embellished saris, bindi’s traditional and religious significance colorful tapestry and dazzling jewelry. But as anyone else? the now overlooked forehead dot is unique because of its simplicity. Historically, the color red signifies purity and love in Hinduism which is why bindis are usually red or dark maroon. Its design varies regionally: crescent or moon shaped bindis are popular in Central India; large and round red bindis are worn in West India; and long tilak or mark-like bindis are seen in East India. Bindis are Growing up in India, I would wear a bindi ev- also worn by Hindu communities in Nepal, ery time I would wear something ethnic, but Indonesia and Pakistan. I thought of the bindi as a dreary, obligatory addition. Everyone wore it, and it matched Traditionally, the area between the eyebrows my outfit’s theme. But, in comparison to my is called the third-eye chakra or ‘ajna’. Durgorgeous dresses, the bindi always seemed ing meditation, latent or unused, energy rises mundane. After moving to America, I strug- from the base of the spine towards the chakra gled to delve into the topic of bindis or paint- which retains the energy and controls levels on third eyes to friends who regularly donned of concentration. The third-eye chakra is also those at festivals and parties. I was afraid of linked to the pineal gland which controls the sounding too ethnic. As a teenager trying to hormone melatonin in the human body, thus adapt in the popular culture, I thought that regulating sleep and attentiveness. Additiontaking offense to cultural appropriation and ally, the Rig Veda, one of India’s earliest texts,
“And all princesses wear bindis.”
one of India’s earliest texts, states that the third eye signifies the base of creation or the point at which the universe began. Therefore, the bindi’s place between the eyebrows, at the third-eye chakra, is pivotal. What is even more interesting is that the ‘ajna’ represents the center of unity and signifies the end of gender duality. The presiding deity for the third-eye chakra is a half male/half female ‘Shiva/Shakti’. For me, the fact that ancient Indian texts address gender duality conveys that gender norms in ancient India were fluid. Before the invasion, India was a diverse, fluid country. However, India’s cultural fluidity was often a barbaric concept to its western invaders. When I heard about the strides India was making in advancing gay rights, I was at first overjoyed at the thought of India becoming more westernized. Understanding the significance of the bindi and its gender inclusivity helped me realize that India’s advancements in gender fluidity was not it becoming more westernized but it was ‘decolonizing’.
“India’s cultural fluidity was often a barbaric concept to its western invaders.”
Consequently, before coming to America, I thought that Western contributions to society were unblemished. I thought that assimilating in the popular culture meant relinquishing all cultural and linguistic ties to the old country. Understanding the significance behind elements of Indian culture helped me change my perception. I realized that, like every immigrant, the bindi just wants to fit in. While I used to be irked by the bindi’s simplicity before, now I appreciate its somewhat odd beauty. Maybe, my mother was right, and I was a princess after all. ■
, s e n i L
layout KALISSA WHITE photographer CAITLIN ROUNDS stylist MEGAN SCHUETZ hmua AMBER BRAY & SARAH STILES models ERIKA TAKOVICH, HAOQING GENG & MEGAN BENNETT
layout KALISSA WHITE photographer CAITLIN ROUNDS stylist MEGAN SCHUETZ hmua SARAH STILES & AMBER BRAY model HAOQING GENG, ERIKA TAKOVICH & MEGAN BENNETT
s e n i F z s e i L x
by ALEXANDRA VARKAROTAS
by ALEXANDRA VARKAROTAS
Diamonds Pearls (All the things I adore)
Oh, and don’t forget the white-framed mirrors lining my walls, their shiny surfaces bouncing light across my chiseled face.
It’s odd, sometimes, how they can hold a puzzled reflection captive. Sorry if it’s showing, my vanity, it preys on me like a starved vulture in a broken desert.
beaded lace bustier | ERMINE VINTAGE
And then the fog rolls in, blocking the sun rays as they rise, and my reality is muddied, corrupted. Oh, how you watch me,
my every move, enamored with my classic garb
and surreal honeymoons.
And how you believe me, everything I say, inspired by my calculated words and forged smiles. Yet I wonder. Would you believe me when I say, my life is quite simply a false play?
magic, power and the taboo
by DIVINA CENICEROS DOMINGUEZ
layout XANDRIA HERNANDEZ
BURLESQUE ISN’T JUST RHINESTONES AND FEATHERS. ITS HISTORY, ITS CORE, ITS ENTIRETY IS ROOTED IN STRENGTH, SEXUAL LIBERATION AND GENDER EXPRESSION. BURLESQUE ISN’T JUST BEAUTY QUEENS AND STILETTOS. IT’S A REVOLUTION. IT’S LOUD. IT’S ENTICING, SEDUCTIVE, AND TRANSFORMATIVE. IT’S ALL AN ILLUSION.
ita Von Teese, the queen of burlesque, says that, “What you’re not born with, you can create.” Burlesque performances, with their lifesized Martini glasses, ostrich feathers, Swarovski crystals and thrilling symphonies are meticulously crafted to produce some of the most glamorous spectacles. They’re engineered to saturate your senses and create a compelling fantasy of mystery and sex appeal one does not commonly see in their everyday life. At the heart of American burlesque lies the complex dichotomy that tantalizes the male imagination while empowering women’s sexual sovereignty. Certain elements of burlesque have their origins from patriarchal beliefs of what is considered beautiful, feminine and desirable. The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli immortalized the ideal female body as slender, yet curvy. Burlesque wouldn’t be burlesque without the appearance of a corset, which exaggerates the female proportions down to its distinguishable hourglass silhouette. The stiletto, created by men that never actually wore them, originated through men’s fetishization of a woman’s feet, as with foot binding in some Asian cultures. They elongate the legs to suggest a larger than life form at the expense of excruciating pain. However, both of these reveal an unspoken feminist revolution: Through burlesque, cisgender women and genderqueer people figured out a way to capitalize on these rigid gender roles and patriarchal standards of beauty.
charms and enchantment. Over time, the marriage between fetish culture and burlesque gave birth to the burlesque we know now: magical spectacles with blinding kaleidoscopic stage lights and sex appeal made to distract, entice and bewitch its prey. Eroticism, power dynamics and the thrill of knowing you’re not supposed to be doing something, but doing it anyway is how burlesque weaponizes the taboo. Through nudity and the striptease, the heart and soul of burlesque, performers cultivate a space where sexual freedom and expression is celebrated and uncensored. Due to the antiquated yet prevailing hum of the patriarchy, the female sexuality and body continue to be under the assertions of what and who a man wants. This is why regardless of what they are wearing, women can’t escape catcalling and sexual harassment. This is why there are derogatory terms for a woman that asserts themselves in the workforce or takes control of their sexuality. This is why women are the lead victims of sexual assault, rape and eating disorders. Burlesque makes a profound statement to a number of people because it gives them a chance to reclaim the power cisgender, white men have and still continue to seize from them.
Burlesque isn’t just rhinestones and feathers. It’s a rebellion — an emboldened war cry. Beginning is a red velvet carpet, effortlessly revealing the path towards the stage in main hall. The floor vibrates with the quiet whispers of echoing drums and the soft, seductive inklings of a harp.
The contemporary world of pop culture has capitalized on the commanding power of burlesque and its fashion. Movies like “Burlesque” (2010), “Moulin Rouge” (2001) and music videos like “Lady Marmalade” (2001) feature famous celebrities and musicians in exquisite corsets, elaborate set designs and immersive performances. The drag queens of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Farrah Moan and Violet Chachki, have both incorporated the corset into their wardrobe. Farrah cites Christina Aguilera in “Burlesque” as her muse and Violet collaborating with contemporary burlesque legend Dita Von Teese in her world-renowned “The Art of the Teese” burlesque tour.
No one knows what’s about to happen, but the pulse quickens. Pupils dilate. Drinks line the table, and soft conversations fill the empty corners of the room. Soon, the amber bulbs from overhead are replaced by vivid sapphire lights that engulf every inch, every face. The room falls silent, save for a few sporadic cheers. The curtains open, and no one else in the entire room matters but you and the twinkling magical dancer appearing onstage.
“I use glamour as a tool, almost like armor to confidently take up space, to provoke questions and conversations about society and gender norms,” Chachki said in a Vogue interview.
Burlesque isn’t just rhinestones and feathers.
Chachki comments on these societal and gender controversies though fetishism — a subculture and umbrella term for performances like burlesque. With burlesque becoming more mainstream in the media we consume and the artists that we follow, it’s hard to imagine fetish culture occupying the same space. But burlesque and fetish are as deeply intertwined as the lacing on a corset. Fetishism stems from the Portuguese word feitiço, which is defined as having magical connotations like spells,
It’s easy to get hypnotized by burlesque’s powerful psychological and sensory stimulants, but behind every performance lies a great deal of intimacy, humanity and confidence. Burlesque is introducing yourself as whatever you want to be, while gradually stripping away the satin wrapped and diamond covered layers for a profound final reveal: vulnerability. It dares you to ask yourself, what aspects of my life am I hiding behind rhinestones and feathers? ■
It’s a theatrical metamorphosis of glamour, magic.
Exploring the individualized art and self-reflective aesthetic of California-based artist, Soey Milk.
layout REBECCA WONG photographer RION FLETCHER stylist SOPHIA SANTOS hmua SARAH STILES model JEANETTE HOELSCHER
by TY MARSH
xploding backgrounds of abstract flowers blending into the braids of a woman staring directly into the eyes of her viewer. The face of a woman in thought surrounded by a boundless background of glosses and paints, her body intertwining into them. The profile of a sleeping woman, the blankets she rests under blending into a subconscious chaos represented by the various patterns covering every inch of her canvas. These are just a few examples of the thought-provoking scenes illustrated by the California-based artist, Soey Milk. Born in South Korea, Milk moved to the states to pursue ballet. However, after being introduced to the expressive world of paint, she began pursuing the medium full time and found her true talent. Milkâ€™s art is one that displays a blend of abstract and realism effortlessly. With a style that utilizes life-like portraits combined with boundless backgrounds to illustrate deeply personal and intensely self-reflective messages, Milk provides viewers with a refreshingly new and vividly intimate visual experience. All distinctly her own, the work of Soey Milk is one with a message never before seen or heard in modern art. Perhaps the most incredible aspect of Milkâ€™s introspective art is how she begins her projects. Milk refuses to force herself to create new pieces. With no set space to begin her drafts, she refuses to restrict herself to a set timeframe for creating new ideas. Instead, Milk allows for visuals to come naturally to her in her day-to-day thoughts. In interviews, the artist has admitted to creating rough sketches of her works on whatever paper sheâ€™s able to find nearby when conjuring up a potential painting. She relies entirely upon her creative will, sketching on planners found in her kitchen or random pieces of scratch paper in the room when something garners a spark of
inspiration from inside. Milk keeps the subjects of her art entirely her own as well. The artist strictly paints women. Visualized versions of her thoughts, her paintings are images of her feminine experiences. She also refuses to work with models that she does not have a personal friendship with. Regardless of how experienced a model may be, Milk refuses to work with subjects that she does not personally know. By limiting her art to paintings of her friends, Milk has an established connection to her models, a connection that helps her pieces become even more personal to her. Using her friends as models gives the artist the drive to be more honest in her work. Before even putting her brush to canvas, Milk ensures that every draft is personally significant to her, and she carries out this significance throughout her process.
cused in thought. The goal of the piece was for Milk to visualize her internal struggle of being a quiet soul with a fear of coming across the wrong way to people. She admits that she always strives to be someone that people like, even if it means changing her demeanor to accommodate them. She wanted the piece to emphasize this struggle. She wanted the figure in “Panicle Mist” to seem approachable, with light hitting her face directly and a half smile approaching her mouth. However, the woman’s pose and the fabrics covering her body show Milk’s introverted spirit longing to be something that it is not, something that it will never truly be. It shows how Milk feels that she may never be enough for someone. It emphasizes the human struggle of wanting to change for others.
The artist begins her paintings without much planning of details. She allows herself to think, to self analyze in a way that benefits her art. She takes her thoughts, her struggles, her self-realizations, and puts them into her work at hand. “Panicle Mist” is an example of this. Milk describes the work as a reflective piece in which she visualizes her introverted nature. The piece originally began as a colorless illustration, but Milk decided to expand upon the concept and create a full-scale painting from the piece, perhaps sensing a deeper connection to it. The painting details a woman, sitting and holding her knee, staring over her shoulder into the distance. On her head and concealing half her body is a fabric draped over the woman. Her face is contemplative, seemingly fo-
Soey Milk’s work is an exemplification of self-reflection within modern art. At just 29-years-old, her career has just begun, and yet Milk has already established herself as one of the most incredible artists of our time. Her creative process exudes raw talent. Her paintings, each a fragment of herself, are depictions from a universe that Milk has created for viewers to immerse themselves in. The messages in her works, though self-expressive, are relatable to people of all walks of life. Milk’s art ascends that of being just attractive pictures on canvas. Each of her pieces has a message to take from them, a lesson for people to contemplate. The art of Soey Milk has something important to say, and it’s something that leaves viewers glad they decided to listen. ■
by KAITLIN STREET
layout MAYA SHADDOCK photographer ERIN WALTS stylist VIVIENNE LEOW hmua ALORA JONES models LINDSEY GALLAGHER & SHELBY SCOTT
he world of ballet is full of beautiful bodies achieving incredible feats. Ballerinas are athletic yet delicate entities that work to create impossible art. On stage, ballerinas appear effortless as they leap and turn on the tips of their toes, floating across the stage like glittering sprites. Adorned in jewel-encrusted tutus and tiaras, ballerinas represent the pinnacle of delicate glamour. However, the world of ballet has an unexpected dark side. Ballet has a tendency to push dancers to a physical and mental edge, resulting in bizarre fashion rebellion. I spent 10 years of my life struggling to master the art of ballet. After a full day of school, I would race to my local dance studio and dance for hours before leaving to begin the dayâ€™s homework. Many nights, after endless hours of seemingly futile rehearsal, I would cry at the barre as I looked down to see blood from my bruised and blistered toes seeping through my satin pointe shoes. And despite my already slender physique, I began to resent my developing body as I yearned for spindlier limbs. Standing in front of a wall-sized mirror in tights and a leotard can be extremely vulnerable. There were days when I wanted nothing more than to pull on a pair of sweatpants and a hoodie. But as any ballet child knows, pink tights and black leotards are the strictly enforced uniform in class, and a flyaway hair from your bun is near sacrilege. 136
jacket | LO-FI VINTAGE
When you imagine a morning at the Royal Ballet, images of pretty pink tutus and delicate women probably come to mind. Ballerinas are known for the elegance that radiates from the tops of their tightly wound updos to the bottom of their torturous shoes. Entering a professional rehearsal studio, one would likely expect to see a similarly dressed sea of pastel angels primed and poised to rehearse. However, the reality is that every morning at the world’s most prestigious ballet companies, ballerinas stand at the barre wearing everything but a cowboy hat. Once they reach professional status, dancers are allowed to wear whatever they wish for morning rehearsal. As a result, outlandish attire graffitis the holy space and defies all preconceptions. Dancers stretch over the barre in Barney-purple leotards and shiny parachute shorts, adorned with tasseled scarves and finished with mismatched legwarmers. Other dancers slump about the room in oversized, fullbody jumpsuits that resemble an infant’s onesie and puffy boots known as “moon shoes.” Other common tropes in rehearsal include long, multicolored, striped pants, puffy vests and jackets, mismatched socks and lots and lots of layers. Additionally, much of what you see on these professional ballerinas works to cover every inch of their bodies. The pile of layers on top of each ballerina nearly swallows their tiny figures, and seasons are of no consequence as the dancers wear winter coats no matter the weather. Despite the heavy layer’s utility to warm the dancer’s muscles, their clothes can serve as security blankets in which the dancers can find respite under. 139
It takes a certain kind of irrationality to persevere through the demands of professional ballet. Ballet is often a competitive, frustrating and lonely test of mental and physical strength. Even after reaching professional status, most dancers never achieve the glory they dreamed of as children. Professional ballerinas are contracted on a ranked scale, meaning there is a strict hierarchy. At the bottom of the totem pole is the ensemble, known as the corps de ballet, followed by soloists and topped by principal dancers. Many performers spend their entire professional careers in the corps, praying to be promoted to the next level and never achieving their dream. But despite the fact that the lives of ballerinas are controlled by a continual routine and constant reaching for unattainable perfection, what ballerinas wear to morning rehearsal is entirely up to them. Through their outlandish warmup attire, the men and women of professional ballet companies are able to find a glimmer of individuality and an opportunity to display their frustration. These bizarre, admittedly ugly, accouterments symbolize the individuality of each dancer. Ballerinas dress themselves through a sort of punk rock rebellion that allows them to separate themselves from their peers and announce their bohemianism to the world. Although the infantile garb adorned by these dancers may seem inconsequential, it is the very haphazard nature by which it is thrown together that makes the ensemblesâ€™ statements. Ballerinas relish in their disheveled nature as they embrace their opportunity to dress as far from what is expected of them as possible. Hiding in their layers of early morning ugly, professional ballerinas begin their day by reminding themselves and others of their humanity, eccentricities and imperfections. â– 143
wrapped in memories:
Nostalgia as a Safety blanket by LAURA NGUYEN
layout SANDRA TSANG photographer LARA KOPPEL stylist MEGAN ARIMANDA hmua MONICA BALDERAS models KAYLEIGH WILSON & MIRA BHAT
red jacket | MONKIES VINTAGE red shirt | MONKIES VINTAGE white shirt | MONKIES VINTAGE shorts | MONKIES VINTAGE pins | REVIVAL VINTAGE
remember dressing up in my mom’s denim jacket on top of the stairs of my old home. Disney movies ran in the background, and my hair was all bundled up in pink clips. My mother told me I had the brightest look in my eyes that day when I told her that I wanted to be cool like her when I grew up. Today, more often than not, I still find myself reaching back to that same, old denim jacket. The wear and tear of the jacket is oddly comforting on me even now as an adult. When I wear it, I remember all the kisses and encouragement she’s given throughout my life. And sometimes, I might need those feelings now that I’m alone and still growing. Though my mother’s denim jacket stands for her love and peace in my life, others that I know are fond of other pieces of fashion that act as a keeper of their memories. There’s a growing trend of us adolescents gravitating towards our past as a way to cope. Playful fashion is emerging once again because millennials are using their clothing to place themselves back in a time when things were better. But, why are we going back to the past when there’s so much of our future that lies ahead of us?
Alison Landsberg, a professor of History and Cultural Studies at George Mason University warns, “A nostalgic version of the past is never an accurate depiction of the past. It’s always a sort of stylized, idealized, sterilized version of it.” Nostalgia is a sacred and safe place that many of us live in from time to time. It’s a method of escaping to a time where our lives may have been happier and less stressful. When you take the world into your hands with a childlike approach, you’re back in control. Being in your child-
hood feels familiar; it feels like you’re exploring known territory. However, we forget the unpleasant feelings of growing up misunderstood, helpless, and shrugged to the side. We don’t want to remember that pain still existed in our childhood. But with a changing and vulnerable world, the younger generations are choosing to find comfort in their pasts rather than the present.
“All of these icons that we’ve spent our lives watching, and all of the memories we’ve had with them give us a sense of connection, encouragement.” A changing job environment, the competitive pursuit of success and clashing cultures are problems that younger generations face. More than ever, we are left with a lack of privacy and the development of our own identity. The pressure of past generations and increasingly competitive job markets builds an unhealthy and toxic work ethic that young adults are heading into. The growing globalization in the world mixes cultures and creates a strain where you have to prove yourself to your parents, as well as everyone else out there. In modern society, you have to look and be your best. But we don’t like the stern boundaries that restrict us to this world. We try to emulate that feeling of retaliation through our fashion identity. And so we’re spiraling back to times where we could actually have a sense of guidance.
Common fashion brands around the world have taken notice of this attitude and have targeted their styles toward a major part of our childhood: cartoons. For example, Uniqlo brings childhood back through their recent UT Collection, an array of T-shirts that feature numerous playful characters from our childhood, ranging from Mickey Mouse to Sesame Street. These classic icons are printed on simple t-shirts with minimalistic designs. Uniqlo claims that these T-shirts are an “expression of who you are. Where you’ve been. What you love.” The UT collection reimagines what childhood feels like through modernday designs. High fashion brands have also explored the more playful side of cartoons and childhood stories. We see Givenchy on the runway in 2013 with a Bambi inspired sweatshirt. And Mickey Mouse lives on several Coach purse designs. We’ve spent more time than any other generation watching cartoons on TV and embracing the emerging technology. Cartoon characters have become our role models and who we learned life lessons from. All of these icons that we’ve spent our lives watching, and all of the memories we’ve had with them give us a sense of connection, encouragement. Maybe cartoons have found a permanent niche inside the fashion market because of this special relationship with our old friends.
Wearing our childhood means pulling back from the stress and pressure of the modern world. It’s putting yourself in tiny fun socks with polka dots all over them because with every dot, your parents would give you a “boop” on the nose. It means pulling the overall strap over your shoulder and learning how to tighten it so the next time you fell off the swing, you wouldn’t have to fix it again. It’s feeling the way your mom or dad’s oversized sweater would brush against your knees and swallow you whole when it was too cold. Transparent flower hair clips and purple, glitter jelly shoes making you bounce with every step you took. Dressing up and bringing back the old times may be exactly what we needed this entire time. Nostalgia makes us feel connected to a part of ourselves again. It’s something that we’re wary of, but it’s a good coping mechanism for those that need to find themselves. We find comfort in our childhood during a time of stress and constant pressure for success. We tend to hide in the cartoons we spent time watching 10 years ago to feel like we know ourselves just a bit better. We use fashion as a way to bring out our inner child as an inspiration and as encouragement. We’re taking these little bits and pieces of memories and wearing them now to make us feel a little less homesick, a little less lost, and a lot more like ourselves. ■
blue jacket | MONKIES VINTAGE
by MAI GELLER
layout ADRIANA TORRES photographer ADRAINT BEREAL stylist MAYA HALABI hmua TIFFANY TONG models CHANTHA LE & JACLYN CARTER
THE FASHION INDUSTRY IS INCREASINGLY USING TECHNOLOGY TO THEIR ADVANTAGE. NONETHELESS, ISSUES STILL ARISE IN THE PERSISTING RACE FOR INNOVATION. 151
ear after year, audiences of fashion week around the world expect nothing less than pure magic when it comes to the shows put on by couture houses each season. And how could you blame them? In March of 2018, Chanel delivered a picturesque forest complete with strewn leaves, dense green moss, and imposing trees that perfectly accentuated their Fall/Winter line. In the same week, Balenciaga framed their runway with a startling graffiticovered mountain, phrases of past collections etched into its crevices. Yet despite the intricate shows organized by these two brands and others this past F/W season, one house’s runway extravaganza came unprecedented. In a striking display of machine power, Dolce and Gabbana chose to send their bags down the F/W runway without the models whose arms they typically grace. Alternatively, the bags flew down the runway accompanied by buzzing drones, all to the sound of tremendous applause. However, this spectacle begs the question, is no one safe in the fast changing technological landscape of the fashion industry?
“IS NO ONE SAFE IN THE FAST CHANGING TECHNOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE OF THE FASHION INDUSTRY?”
All concerns for models aside, there is no questioning the role technology currently plays in the business of fashion. Brands worldwide rely on tech to create a smoother browsing experience for buyers and improve customer loyalty. Companies such as recreational apparel brand Outdoor Voices and couture catering Net-A-Porter have thrived in this web-based medium of consumer interaction. Even with an almost non-existent brick and mortar presence, Outdoor Voices has had triple digit growth rate every year since its founding. Similarly, Net-A-Porter, who merged with e-commerce YOOX Group four years ago, generated $2.5 billion in revenue in 2017 with a purely online existence. Outdoor Voices, who promote “human, not superhuman” physical activity, connect with the majority of their clientele through Instagram, and have utilized the social media platform to spread their message of “Doing Things” far and wide. Net-A-Porter, acclaimed for changing the way women shop, upload up to 400 products of fashion merchandise to their site three times a week. Despite these large numbers, their overhead remains relatively low compared to physical stores, meaning that their inventory turnover rate is incredibly high. Both companies have harnessed the power of technology to propel their brands forward: making a name for themselves at the top of their respective industries.
The race for innovation isn’t limited to social media platforms and carefully curated inventories. An up-and-coming company headquartered in Austin, Stylust, is an app whose entire existence relies on an advanced field of technology known as artificial intelligence (AI). To begin, customers sign up to be members on their website free of charge. From there, these members are prompted to tag @stylust in the comment section of any Instagram post that contains a product that they are interested in buying. AI technology is then used to comb through data and find the item in the customer’s size or an exact match of the product. The luxury experience doesn’t end there. Stylust proceeds to text you a picture and price of the item before giving you the option to text “yes.” After that, Stylust orders and ships the product directly to your home. What makes this program revolutionary is the fact that Stylust’s abilities are not limited to brands whose products are easily discoverable. The company can be tagged in the comment section of a social media influencer, a celebrity, or even a friend, regardless of whether or not the products themselves have been tagged. In this app, AI technology is not only utilized for customer interaction and product ordering processes, but to match a product as closely as possible to an image posted on Instagram. This new wave of online shopping surpassess what was previously thought to be the limits of retail technology. Today, almost every company is experimenting with AI technology, molding the machine intelligence to meet whichever outcome they desire. Zara is reported to be testing contactless shopping, introducing selfcheckout stations and interactive dressing rooms where customers can request sizes without the help of a sales associate. Wearable X are the creators behind the high-tech yoga pants, Nadi X, which contain built in sensors that gently vibrate as you move through different yoga poses and guide you into the correct alignment. There is no limit to what can be accomplished when the fashion industry converges with tech, but there is reason to be wary of advancements in retail.
“THE RACE FOR INNOVATION ISN’T LIMITED TO SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS AND CAREFULLY CURATED INVENTORIES.” In 2017, JCPenney closed down 138 stores; in October of 2018 the similarly positioned Sears declared bankruptcy. When brick and mortar stores find themselves unable to keep up with ecommerce competitors who provide seemingly unlimited selections of products, they are left to drown. The convenience of online shopping coupled with lower prices only continues to hurt the department stores who find it increasingly difficult to compete in the world of e-commerce. In an attempt to get with the times, some companies see store closings as an opportunity to shift their focus to the digital market. However, there is no doubt that the future remains uncertain for these mega retail corporations who are desperately working to find their place in this new age of technology. Though there are growing concerns that internet giants such as Amazon will lead to the extinction of physical retailers, I believe that there is hope for the two to coexist. If brick and mortar stores are able to adapt elements of tech into their locations, such as Zara has with their digitized in-store shopping experience, there is a strong possibility that shopping will not be completely limited to the online sphere. As we know, it can be hard to find the perfect shirt or dress on the first try, and dealing with return policies or shipping fees is an unwanted ordeal for many consumers. It is clear that there is no going back to the days where the closest overlap of fashion and tech was costume design on the set of Frankenstein. The world of fashion will forever be intertwined with the digital realm, for better or for worse. ■
layout XANDRIA HERNANDEZ photographer DAVID ZULLI stylist REBEKAH HEIDEL hmua ALORA JONES & REBEKAH HEIDEL models MELINA PEREZ & TOSIN ANJORIN
DE ATH VEN US OF
Why don’t you love me In all my beauty Why can’t you give For all I gave you My breath is weak And weighted My sobs are choked By the filth you filled me with My sister raised you Only for you to raze her in return Do my tears make a difference One day they will For you were never a blessing But a plague
by SHROOTHI RAMESH
layout CAROLINA BARUZZI photographer KATHERINE PERKS stylists MEGAN ARIMANDA & MEGAN SCHUETZ hmua JULIE GARCIA
by ISABELLA MCWHORTER
Co-founders and partners Taylor Jarrett and Dagny Piasecki put their everything into shdw Studios â€” a home for creatives and talents to grow and come together.
remember the day so clearly,” said Dagny Piasecki, co-founder and photographer of SHDW (pronounced shadow) Studios — a natural-light photo studio and agency.
“I remember us sitting at the dinner table,” she said, speaking to her partner, Taylor Jarrett. “It was our little roundtable where we did all our brainstorming. We had a few front runners for a name, for this space that we had just found. But SHDW Studios: That’s what we ended up going for.” Usually, six months into dating, couples are leaving the honeymoon phase and discovering a routine, or a sense of stability. For Taylor and Dagny, six months of dating brought them headfirst into a new challenging role: co-founders of SHDW Studios. That was four years ago. Nestled between the up and coming East Austin area and the Colorado River banks, the studio resembles an abandoned gray warehouse from the outside. A series of parked cars at its door hints to the activity happening within. Chic, the it couple, the must-know creatives of Austin: Everything I had heard about the SHDW co-founders swept through my mind as I entered the studio for the first time. It was dressed in clean, white-washed walls, save for one, which was adorned with beautiful double ninefoot windows overlooking the rushing Colorado River and flooding the studio with natural light. Taylor yelled down at me from the second floor. “Bella! Hi, I’m up here. Don’t mind Dagny, she’s shooting for a client.” Hugging the wall, I worked my way towards the jet-black staircase leading upstairs to Taylor. Dagny was sitting on the floor in front of me pointing her snapping camera lens at a model. 164
“I’ve worked with a lot of photographers, but [Dagny], her language is light, and that’s the fundamental place of photography.”
The two shoot e-commerce for local and fashion-focused brands that they see value and promise in. When asked for specifics, the two gushed about the talent and good nature of a few of their collaborators: Miranda Bennett, Sunroom, Stag and Kick Pleat, to name a few. On this first visit, I was a student timidly photographing the SHDW co-founders for a class’ final project. Initially, I was shocked when they responded with enthusiasm and consent to a sophomore following them around with a camera. Only later did I learn my surprise was misplaced. That is who Taylor and Dagny are: supporters of talent in Austin, regardless of age or profession. Fast-forward a year and a few more interactions later, and I am meeting with Taylor and Dagny again, this time to learn more about how the two work with other talent in Austin, and what they have in store for the future. We sat in the outdoor space between their studio and the “Bungalow” — the next-door house they recently transformed into an office space. They sat across from each other, basking in the per167
fectly sunny day in East Austin before Taylor ran inside to grab Dagny a hat and some water. He wore an outfit true to his consistent style: utilitarian and minimalist, but with an attention to detail that comes from appreciating special pieces, such as rings from the cities he loves. She wore a loose pair of white-washed jeans and a fitted T-shirt — what she calls her work outfits, suited for running around and being on the ground during photoshoots. As our conversations progressed, two things became clear. First, the level of respect between the two outmatches most relationships, business and personal. When the three of us sat down for the interview, it felt as if I were watching a conversation unfold from the sidelines. They spoke to each other when answering my questions, asked one another if they had anything to say, finished each other’s thoughts, offered words of support when one seemed unsure: It was the epitome of a productive environment born from mutual respect. And second, they used three words more so than any others: photo, creative and community.
SPARK MAGAZINE: Where did the name SHDW come from? DAGNY PIASECKI: One of the things we fell in love with about this space was the amount of natural light. And since there are these beautiful double nine-foot windows stacked on top of each other, there was one day when the sun was shining in and casting a shadow on the wall, and it was in the form of an “S.” That ended up being a big part of our inspiration for the name. It was also kind of an ode to Rick Owens. SM: Rick Owens? TAYLOR JARRETT: More specifically his brand drkshdw. DP: That was one of the first fashion books that we bought together. TJ: Yeah, that’s a huge influence on our brand and being fashion focused and approaching things from a minimal perspective. DP: Minimal, sexy, and elegant. I think those are all the things that we wanted to embody. And that actual shadow on the wall was a sign for us and SHDW was what we ended up going for. SM: Tell me what exactly SHDW is, and what you had in mind when you founded the studio. TJ: SHDW Studios is a creative agency focused on cultural impact and the relationship between how we impact
and inform brands and vice versa. So, how brands navigate communicating to our generation and how we as a generation communicate and influence brands to work together. SM: What does that mean for the community directly? TJ: We want to provide a platform, whether you’re a photographer, stylist, a model, a creative painter, social media blogger, you know any of those things. We want to create a space for all of those to exist, and we want to be a channel for them to be highlighted and spotlighted. BOTH: To create alongside them. SM: Tell me what you both excel at? What are titles you could give one another? TJ: Dagny is the photographer for sure. I’ve worked with a lot of photographers, but this girl, her language is light, and that’s the fundamental place of photography. Her technical ability blows most out of the water. She embodies the intention of being a photographer. She’s a creative, but just absolutely a photographer. DP: Taylor is the creative director. He has the foresight and the intuition to know where to navigate and where to place the company in the present and in the future. He has the skill set for business growth, development and staying on track and continuously growing into something bigger and better.
As our interview went on, so did the hot day, the sun nearing its peak now. I shaded my eyes, Dagny sipped water, and Taylor rolled up the sleeves of his black shirt. Though pressured by a busy schedule, the two seemed genuinely happy to continue discussing their past, present and future. Call it nostalgia and excitement, or perhaps an eagerness to spotlight a part of their lives they’ve dedicated most of their time to — regardless, our interview went on in the face of the blinding sun and a pile of work inside.
“We deploy a team — a special ops team — out to a certain area. They nail the problem or find the solution and bring it back home, and then we champion it as a community.”
Arguably, SHDW’s efforts to uniquely impact the community and the healthy dynamic between Taylor and Dagny are the two strongest qualities of the business. Their relationship fosters an environment that can only breed actionable ideas of creativity. With trust, respect and a desire to build a working community in Austin, the success of SHDW is limited only to what the cofounders can come up with at their brainstorming roundtable.
Perhaps it was this belief that pushed the couple towards success so fast — a belief in passion and creativity, and motivation to get the job done. No doubt it pushed the couple towards growing SHDW organically. Designing their studio to grow from word of mouth and close networking, Taylor and Dagny build personal relationships with the people they collaborate and work with.
‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ Drawing this African Proverb from memory, Taylor was not sure where it came from, but placed much faith and respect in its meaning. “We apply Navy Seal strategies to the creative, that’s what it is,” Taylor said, smiling after finding his thought.
Dagny smiled in response to the image Taylor painted of SHDW. The love and belief the two have for talent is enough to change anyone’s minds about what can be possible. “If someone has passion for what they’re doing, I think they’re going to be good at that thing, no matter what,” Taylor once said to me.
Despite, being a grassroots grown business, everything about SHDW advanced fast. The two met and began dating, and then after numerous nights organizing dreams and ideas, they created a unified vision of their business only six months in. “We moved at a fast pace with both our relationship and our business relationship kind of out of necessity,” Taylor said. “It’s what life called for.”
SM: What pushed both of you to want to create something like SHDW? TJ: I was coming off a pretty intensive business background with pretty bullish partners who I learned a lot from, but also learned a lot of things I didn’t want to do, or want to be. And that’s why I felt really fortunate to have Dagny as a partner and to be able to approach things from a creative perspective. At the time, Austin didn’t have that in the form of an agency or a collective or even a studio space. Nothing was to the caliber in which I think we developed or facilitated. What do you think Dags? DP: Yeah, we were both in a place where we really wanted to create something new and our visions, and the dreams we had, happened to align perfectly at the right place and at the right time. I was in a studio prior to this with other really awesome creatives, and I was so happy to have a space, but it wasn’t quite the space that I had envisioned myself being in in the long run. SM: It’s 2019 now. What is in store for SHDW this year? TJ: I think we’ve run fast for a long time. Now we are slowing down. To be able to do that, to gather everything and apply it, I think we will have a much richer impact in the things that we do. DP: And, through local events we’ve put on, we’ve really met so many amazing people from so many different places and backgrounds. We want to continue to be a part of our community here in Austin, so that’s another thing that, within the next year, we’re going to be more involved with. SM: As your business has grown, have your roles within it changed? Have you let go of the reins at all?
DP: I think we are getting there when it comes to releasing some control — we are growing, the business is growing internally. We are still really involved with the systems and employees and all of that, but we work with some really amazing people and in time we will be able to sort of let go of those reigns. But we are still very much involved. TJ: I think we’re both looking forward to becoming genuine leaders within our company. We’ve led the company, but we haven’t necessarily led employees of the company up until now. And now we’re getting the opportunity to do so and it’s really cool. It takes a lot of insight and it’s a whole new part of the business, a whole new learning, a whole new chapter for us, which feels really good. They both paused in silence, continuing to look at each other — not as a means of communication, but perhaps as a moment of mutual reflection. After a moment, then their heads turn to me, ready to tackle a new series of questions. SM: Where is SHDW at right now ... What are you focusing on? TJ: It hasn’t been so much about client acquisition, it’s about building our verticals within the clients we do have and within the teams that we do have. We’re making everyone really strong. DP: With the way that we are slowing down and reformatting and tightening all the reigns, I think by the end of this year or beginning of next year, we would love to be more fully functioning as an agency of creatives. Not to say that’s not where we are right now. I think we are still doing so much, you and I, and working with so many other people separately and I think by the end of this year we are all going to be working a lot more together — on different projects, with us overseeing teams.
“Something a little bit bigger.”
SHDW has always been ready to advance, hence their considerable growth over a short time. While this can sometimes lead to tackling too many big ideas at once, SHDW seemed to spend most of its time in a balanced world between putting too much on its plate and attacking the right amount of goals. Currently, a huge focus of theirs is growing the business while keeping their consistent edge. “Our consistent edge is that we’re unique to the market — we have our own character, we have our own voice,” Taylor said. “Just figuring out different ways to amplify that is a focus, and I think it will go hand in hand with the growth of our team.” On a day-to-day basis, Taylor strives to develop their website and social impact, while together they enhance their community engagement. Nonetheless, the two see a future where they continue to reach for that something that is just a little bit bigger. Right now, that may just be found in exploration. Every year, the two set aside time to step back from their role as business partners and make time for themselves. Their exile from business often leads them to places such as Italy, 177
Morocco, New York, and other high cultural locations. Ironically, they tend to come home and immediately brainstorm ways to incorporate the culture and new things they saw into their business. “There is something really beautiful about setting roots somewhere and loving where you live,” Dagny said. “But leaving the city for a while and finding little things — even if it’s a street sign that looks different from the ones here — even something as simple as that can be inspiring.” All the answers are not here in Austin yet, Taylor added. Traveling and bringing multicultural influence and resources back to their home in Austin is one of SHDW’s core values and big plans. SHDW Studios: A small business in a small town that grows from inspiration from all over the world — it’s got a nice ring to it. Whether they’re taking a moment to focus on each other or simply bringing the outside world to Austin, the SHDW co-founders can always be expected to come home and start something new at their brainstorming roundtable. ■
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/ˈanəˌmā/ A medium of typically Japanese animation spanning a variety of different genres and targeting various demographics. Its exact definition is a subject of much debate — reigning in conversations about Orientalism, elitism and Western condescension.
/ˈmaNGɡə,ˈmäNGɡə/ That, but a book.
his is a confession. I love anime. You wouldn’t know that about me because generally, I know how to market myself.
But today, I am showing my hand.
Anyone who has misfortuned across my creative work and enjoyed it, has been unwittingly affected by anime. I am a public speaker, writer and model. I’ve stood in front of elected officials and stealthily quoted “Mobile Fighter G Gundam.” Imagery from the long-running pirate anime “One Piece” is just one level deep in the poetry that got me into university. And I credit any success I have seen as a model to the off the wall poses of the beautifully drawn “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.” “Anime is my most things.”
And as of late, I’m leaning into it. It is an unusual creative who would refuse to watch movies or listen to music. Anime is an artistic medium like any other. My affinity for it affords me access to a different set of
narrative conventions — another set of tropes, archetypes and problematics to draw upon — completely separate from the American media imagination. “The media of any country, whether it be anime, foreign language films or literature — a creative misses out when they make no attempt to access the creative conceptions of another populous.” When I was young, my aunt Joy was living in Japan and sent toddler-me a vhs of “My Neighbor Totoro” and the first Pokémon movie. “Totoro” is a beautiful story about two young girls encountering a fantastical cat creature as they cope with their mother’s illness. And the first Pokémon movie is about Pokémon. I had only recently learned object permanence and my cognitive abilities were not all too high, in general. But the lush hand-drawn images of both films burned into my memory. I rewatched those tapes constantly throughout my childhood. They didn’t have subtitles so I never understood a word they were saying. But the stories reached me, easily. And they did so on colorfully
expressed emotion alone. My sensibilities for narrative were born here. The first stories I heard in my own language were from my mother. And they were not nearly as whimsical. They broke news of personal tragedy, of loss and pain. At separate times, she had to tell me of my father’s imprisonment and my stepfather’s death. Two fathers left my life, but tears never permanently tarnished my soul, because ma’s stories taught me to know pain and go on. The words that ring in my head are from when she knelt down and somehow delivered tragedy with a loving embrace. As if to say, “There may not be a silver lining here, but that is okay too.” The stories I am attuned to are of beautiful struggle. Not the stories of martyrs, but of doing what you can for those you love as hardship inevitably arrives. The place I see that narrative play out the most is in anime. There is a drama and vibrancy to anime and the manga books they are based on. The emotions are loud, evocative and often hyper-stylized. The heroes struggle in blazing color and eye-roll inducing posturing. And usually, they win. But the weight and tension behind these encounters make them visceral experiences.
The connection I felt to anime characters growing up gave me a hint of what it would be like to actually see myself represented in the Black-led American releases “Black Panther” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse.” But any representation you see after you reach voting age doesn’t count as much. Growing up, the protagonists of shōnen manga (meaning young person’s comic) were my best bet. The heroes of these stories are young, idealistic and naive. I saw myself in their tragic backstories or circumstances. But it was their ability to change their situation that drew me most. They could stop further pain by wrapping their fist with energy and loudly defying forces that would do their people harm. “They achieved victory with flair.” Occasionally an anime would frustrate me with its oversimplification of conflict. Some stories matured with me, trading out simple good and evil paradigms for nuanced and heartbreaking moral dilemmas. But even when they stay juvenile and silly, they reach me. I’m a jaded person, overall. I’ve been watching the news and engaging with the world for as long as I have been reading manga. Tragedy I have observed intimately or as a politically inclined activist, paints part of my world in bleak grays. As a creative, when I share my words with audiences I rather emulate the colorful and fantastical over the more drab parts of my imagination.
I witness these moments of emotional intensity and have the desire to replicate the feelings in my work. The panels and stills of the mediums construct the building blocks of my imagination. And these sensations don’t come in the exact same frequency in any other media I consume. I am a Black-Filipino American. Most anime characters I have happened upon do not look like me. But there is a racial ambiguity (albeit generally light-skinned) to the invented worlds of many anime.
As I’ve aged, the same naivety that was me or annoyed me, now endears me.
I am a political public speaker. At times of grave severity, I stand, pleading for
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distributed — but to me, you are not only you, but the most extreme and fantastical version of you.
social change. Genuine tears cross my eyes, but I crack an internal smile as I know, my planned mic drop moment is directly matched with a moment from season 1 episode 9 of “Attack on Titan.” I connect grim realities with brilliant (animated) hope. Yes, other sources inspire me. But it’s humorous in its own right that Anime Character Y neighbors the great Malcolm X in my mind. My imagination isn’t fully 2-D and cell shaded. But the vibrant colors and striking action of this art that I love codes my interactions. When I listen to my favorite songs, my life choreographs to the tempo of an anime’s opening credits.
I do the same for myself. This is where I live as a creative — in a realm of color, flair and hope surrounding my more somber inventions. At the risk of losing my competitive edge as a creative in my local community — I tell my peers, anime can be an overlooked mine of inspiration. The intensity of emotion, the thematics, the wild application of powers, the hope — they are my greatest source of artistry. Find inspiration where you can. I’ve found it in colorful flurries of punches and a set of starry-eyed idealists. Some stories are meant to reach you.
As a further confession to those I know best — my friends, I think about you in terms of your character designs and role in these anime archetypes. As I walk to class, I assign you anime-style powers and pit you against each other in friendly (and sometimes dire) skirmishes. Maybe you can transform into a dog, or stop time — the powers I assign are not equally
I love anime, and I am leaning into it these days. In sum, watch anime, you cowards. ■
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Three men toiled
The hanged man smiled
Tantalus took his first drink The third?
The third got out.
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