Vassar's Art and Style Magazine volume iv issue i fall 2010
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Letter from the Editors
Dear Readers, For our Fall 2010 issue of CONTRAST, we decided to go with a new approach. We wanted CONTRAST to showcase the creative expression of Vassar students in as many ways as possible. Instead of allowing our views of fashion and style to confine our content, we looked to the student body to guide us. We didn’t have to look far. Vassar students incorporate their creativity into the everyday. It was our aim to showcase that expression. We began with the idea of incorporating the various dance groups on campus. In the Frances Daly Ferguson Dance Theater we met with dancers from the Vassar Repertory Dance Theater, FlyPeople, and a new student-run hip-hop group, Hype. We aimed to capture the movement of the body with clothing in motion. The eagerness and enthusiasm of the dancers inspired us; we were off to a good start. The theme for the rest of the magazine was defined by the energy and artistic talent of the student body. We were happy to gain insight into the minds and personal style of some of Vassar’s visual artists by featuring selections from their sketchbooks. We explored a different aspect of style when we asked students to reveal the family history of some of their favorite items from their wardrobe. These are only a few examples. Overall, we tried to have fun this issue. We don’t want to take ourselves too seriously or impose any of our notions about style upon our readers. Our vision of CONTRAST is a magazine that captures the artistic and stylistic essence of our campus. Enjoy and thank you for reading! Sincerely, Ali Dillulio and David Orkin Co-Editors-in-Chief 2 contrast.indd 2
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SNEAK PEAKS..............................................................................................................................................2 THE RISE AND FALL OF AMERICAN APPAREL............................................................................6 INHERITING STYLE.....................................................................................................................................9 FROM GARDEN TO TABLE.....................................................................................................................12 ViCE, THE ENTERTAINERS...................................................................................................................14 MOVING THROUGH SPACE, DANCING WITH STYLE................................................................19 AN INTERVIEW WITH PROFESSOR MOLLY NESBIT................................................................24 SKETCH BOOKS.........................................................................................................................................26 CHICAGO HALL...........................................................................................................................................31 KNITTING FOR THE NEEDY..................................................................................................................34 FIVE DRESSES AND A COSTUMER..................................................................................................35 3 contrast.indd 3
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Sneak Peeks SNEAKERS ON CAMPUS Nicole Alter I remember my first pair of “ cool” sneakers with mixed feelings of happiness and utter embarrassment. I was eight, and I made my Mom buy me a pair of shiny, silver platform sneakers. At the time, I thought they were the most awesome pair of shoes in the world. Luckily my tastes developed (a little bit) so that when I was in middle school I bought a pair of generic Adidas with the three stripes, just like everyone else, but mine had stripes in a dark blue metallic color. I wore these with a tank top that said “ LOOK AT ME” in bright pink letters. In eighth grade I remember thinking Adidas were “ so last year” and being the mature middle school kid, I bought a pair of Nike low tops with fuzzy pink checks. In high school I found a pair of Lebron James Nikes for $9 at an outlet in the Philippines, and thinking I could pull of what looked like men’ s shoes, I went and bought them. Regrettably, I also wore them with (ugh!) bootcut jeans. Finally, in my old age, I have chosen a safer pair of black 6.0’ s with a glittery check and a purple back. I’ m still unsure if I have what it takes to pull them off, but I suppose nothing has ever stopped me from wearing ridiculous sneakers. My history of sneakers has not been so successful, but I decided to ask people around campus about their sneakers.
HENRY LIANG ’ 13
JOHNNY GOTTLIEB ’ 14
C: What are you wearing? H: The shoe is Converse and the model is called Stars and Bars. C: Where did you get them? H: I got them from Italy. C: You bought shoes with the American flag in Italy? H: Yeah (chuckles). I don’ t think they make this model anymore though. They are big in Italy, the American ones, not the Italian flag. I had a heard tie finding them, but I went to a party later that evening, and I saw all the Italians were wearing them. C: Where in Italy did you find them? H: Florence. I just asked them where they got them. C: In Italian? H rolling his eyes at me: Yeah…
C: Where did you get your sneakers? J: Barney’ s Co-Op. Oh god maybe I shouldn’ t say that. But they were about $70, which is a good deal. Even Nike’ s are like $100 for a pair and those are made in sweatshops. C: Why did you pick them? J: Because I liked them. I thought the color combination was unique because of the teal, reddish pink and green. But then I went home and I found out my backpack has the exact same colors so now I can’ t wear them together because then I look stupid. C: What model are they? J: I’ m not sure, but they’ re Adidas.
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ERIN ELSBERND ’ 11 C: So tell me about your shoes… E: Oh, I bought three pairs from this store in Qingdao (China), I had two pairs made at the store and bought one. C: What is on your shoes? E: These are cartoons and there are some Korean characters. Her shoes have “ 一双 鞋”, which means one pair of shoes, printed on the Velcro part. C: What was the store like? E: It was really sketchy. They had five girls hand painting the shoes in the back. And you could pick the cartoons and characters you wanted. The whole area was sketchy, there was a restaurant where they didn’ t make the food at the place, but the food was delivered to them and they passed it through a curtain. C: That’ s really weird. The shoes are cute though! I haven’ t seen anything like them. E: Thanks. I need to get new ones though, these are kind of embarrassing. These are like the only shoes I wear.
CHRIS WHEELER ‘12 C: So how many pairs of sneakers do you have? CW: 26. C: Wow. Do you know that for sure? CW: Yea. C: How many do you have on campus? CW: 17. C: What is your favorite pair? CW: The Nike Dunks in green. I also have them in yellow and black. I like the variety and the different colors. C: What kind of sneakers do you mostly wear? CW: Mainly Nikes. Out of 26, 20 of them are Nike. I also have Oasics and Adidas. C: Has anything weird ever happened with your shoes? CW: Yea, my first pair of basketball shoes were red and white. And one time the bottom of the shoes completely ripped off. C: Does this mean Nike’ s aren’ t very good quality? CW: No, they’ re amazing. C: How would you describe your personal style? CW: Comfortable, athletic, sexy and amazing.
JESS HACKET ‘12 C: When did you get these shoes? J: After freshman year, and I’ m a junior now. C: Where did you get them? J: I saw them in a catalog but they were kindof expensive, so I waited until the clearance catalog came and then I got them because they were a lot cheaper. C: What model are they? J: Umn, I know they are 6.0’ s. C: What do people say about your shoes? J: Nothing really, my friends always make fun of me because they think they look hipster. C: So tell me about your personal style. J: I lack any sort of style. I am so unfashionable. I just wear whatever is comfortable and whatever is on the sale rack. C: I disagree just because of these shoes! Do you have a loud personality to match the sneakers? J: Definitely.
Illustrations by Alex Reynolds 5 contrast.indd 5
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The Rise and Fall of
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American Apparel Kalei Talwar
its infamously perverted CEO, Dov Charney opened its first retail store in 2007. Today, AA employs 10,000 workers worldwide and pays their factory workers a living wage: $25,000 a year with additional medical and dental benefits. Making this kind of salary in other US manufacturing jobs is unheard of. But AA doesn’t stop there. The company provides its factory workers with ESL training and subsidized meals, an onNow, everyone knows that there are too site health clinic and free massages many American Apparel stores. Walk onsite during work hours. Charney around downtown Manhattan and it’ll spends two hours daily walking around be difficult not to run into the Helvetica the factory overseeing production and littered facades. But mass-produced talking to workers. He even gives his chain is not what American Apparel personal cell phone number to all of his was supposed to represent. Somewhere employees. in the last seven years this innovative company morphed from a radically ideal This is the kind of company that a business model to the hipster version Vassar education has taught us to of Abercrombie and Fitch: something value. Some kind of capitalist beacon went totally wrong. of hope emerging in what seems to be a very broken system. So why is it that From the beginning, American Apparel everyone I know roll their eyes when was no typical chain store. In fact, AA they say, “Yeahhh I worked at American was making t-shirts for 17 years before Apparel this summer.” Or, when inquiring The anarchist-friendly bike-ride/ protest Critical Mass went smoothly this year in New York City. In fact, the subsequent riots only broke two store windows—GNC Vitamins and American Apparel. Why these two stores? One possible reason, according to J. David Goodman of the New York Times, is that the stores, “like Radioshack” had become too ubiquitous.
where a top came from: “It’s AA.” Cue awkward silence. No one is embarrassed of Forever 21 or H&M, two corporations guilty of using dubious off-shore factories. H&M’s organic label was even found out to be not organic at all and no one gave a shit. It’s pretty well known that Nike makes their products in sweatshops and pay their workers as little as USD $1.60 a day, but I still own a pair of their shoes. So why aren’t people proud to wear clothes from a cruelty-free environment? Why aren’t consumers proud to shop at American Apparel? I’d like to think that some of this resentment stems from the company’s debasing images of women used in their ad campaigns or even their search for “the best bum in the world” (that is, the most sexualized picture of a woman’s ass she can upload to their website, seriously the pictures looked like porn stills) earlier this year. The 7
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“It’s most likely that the fall of AA is intertwined with the fall of hipsterdom.” prizewinning behind was rewarded with a trip to L.A. to have more sexual pictures taken for AA’s website and a $300 gift bag. Yay free thongs!
from American Apparel because of sexual harassment, it’s only because the sexual harassment is happening to our people and not the invisible women outside of our consciousness and concern.
sales have dropped by the millions and the company flirted with bankruptcy for most of this year, delaying Chapter 11 by reworking its $80 million loan agreement with Lion Capitol Investment firm for a fourth time.
It’s most likely that the fall of AA is intertwined with the fall of hipsterdom. I mean the lafth.com hispterdom, replete with neon spandex, non-prescription glasses and of course, American Apparel. What was really cool, now is not. Fortunately, no one hip wants to wear gold lamé to the THs anymore and even Charvney admits “hipster is dead.” But is this what consumers actually So, as social trends migrate towards a care about? Thousands of female less offensive aesthetic, it’s no surprise factory workers in Ciudad Juarez have to see shoppers do the same. been raped and murdered, but that doesn’t stop people from buying from Johnson&Johnson, who has a factory in And the proof is in the pudding, kids. the town and who is guilty of drawing in AA’s stock has gone from a high of large amounts of female migrant labor. If $16.80 in December of 2007 to a low people actually stopped buying clothes of 66 cents this calendar year. Their
But the stakes are set: if American Apparel doesn’t meet monthly revenue minimums set by Lion Capital in 2011, it’ll be bye bye tri-blend forever.
Maybe it’s the perverseness of the Dov Charney himself, who has had the pleasure of being sued for sexual harrasment quite a few times and admits to regularly referring to women as “sluts” or “cunts” in front of employees. The CEO is also known to masturbate in front of reporters and likes to orgasm upwards of four times a day.
And so, American Apparel is trying to rebrand themselves into prep. Afrika is out and Houndstooth is in. Will it save Charvney’s company? I don’t know, but I find it hard to imagine a world without American Apparel basics. I guess the companies predicament is kind of the opposite of the “If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you?” It’s more, if everyone else started buying clothes from a great store, would you stop?
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INHERITING STYLE POSSESSIONS WITH UNEXPECTED HISTORY
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LOUISA GUMMER, 2013 Upon their grandmother’s passing, Louisa and her two sisters each received a special piece of their grandmother’s jewelry. Louisa wears a $5 coin pendant from 1915, the year her grandmother was born.
NINA WEISSMAN, 2013
Nina’s two rings come from her grandmother. The first ring is of an Native American head. Her Grandmother’s best friend carried it in her New York antique shop and gave it to Nina upon her grandmother’s passing. Nina found the smaller ring in her grandmother’s jewelry box, a piece that Nina’s father later recognized as a ring he had made at summer camp at age 13.
IRIS KOHLER, 2013
ZOEY PERESMAN, 2013
Iris wears her late grandmother’s necklace, which she discovered in her grandmother’s jewelry box, porcelain earrings, a scarf, shirt and even shoes. With her grandmother’s recent passing, Iris told Contrast that she wears these inherited pieces all of the time.
Plundering her mother’s closet has been a trick of Zoey’s for quite some time; half of her wardrobe was once her mother’s, she told Contrast. Zoey is pictured above wearing her mother’s vintage Betsey Johnson dress and bracelets purchased from a punk vendor in St. Marks Place.
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EMELIA PETRARCA, 2014 Here Emelia is photographed in her mother’s wedding dress. Emilia’s mother eloped in Italy on a sailboat by the boat’s captain. This is but one piece Emilia’s mother gave her for her freshman year at Vassar.
SAMMI KATZ, 2014
Sammi wears pieces significant to each parent. Her boots are her mother’s from the 1970s, her skirt represents her mother and father’s meeting in the 1980s and her Cashmere sweater comes from her late father’s large Cashmere collection.
JOHN MACREGOR, 2012 John wears a German Army Services watch that belonged to his grandfather during World War II. Macregor told Contrast that his Grandfather traded a pack of cigarettes to a German POW for the watch.
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From Garden to Table
Vassar Students Enjoy the Delight of Organic Farming Emily Selter Once a week, Rachael Borné and Catie Hall leave Vassar’s campus and travel 45 minutes to Elkridge Farm in Amenia, New York. There, they feed the cows, turkeys and pigs, collect eggs, clean the animals’ pens and slaughter chickens. Rachael and Catie’s work on Elkridge farm is a perfect example of the new concepts in farming and gardening that are becoming popular at Vassar. Between the Vassar Experimental Garden (VEG), the Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Food class offered this year, and the popularity of WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, where people can travel to organic farms around the world and work on them in return for room and board), it is
clear that a new movement is making an impact on Vassar’s community. The most well known gardening project at Vassar is the Vassar Farm, a produce farm located just across Hooker Avenue. The farm cultivates a multitude of crops and is run by an extensive student community. On a smaller scale is the VEG, which is located in TH circle. It cultivates fruit, vegetables and herbs and many varieties of them. Previous crops have included watermelons, kale, mint, tomatoes, potatoes and even tobacco. A core group, no larger than 15 12 contrast.indd 12
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students, maintains the garden and is fully welcome to its fresh produce. Rachel Borné recalled a dinner that she shared with other members of the garden. “We all had a dinner with food from the VEG and Elkridge Farm. We had nurtured the food from planting it to the plate. We grew the food, tended to it as a community, and then we cooked it.” And, Vassar’s new class, the Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Food, is teaching students important lessons about the food industry and the way we eat. Catie Hall, a student in the class, remarked, “The food class is a cultural anthropology course concerned with the study of food and foodways — the beliefs and behaviors surrounding the selection, production, distribution and consumption of food.” The students in the class take a part in cultivating food and the meanings that surround it. They do fieldwork on various farms and orchards in the surrounding area. This winter, the class is experimenting with growing vegetables TH garden. Learning about farming and gardening is necessary because “it directly links us to the food that we eat,” said Rachael, “Nowadays, people have no idea where their food comes from, it is important to know because you need to take care of your body. It is so rewarding to bring a dozen eggs or a gallon of fresh milk back to campus and distribute the food to friends. I feel like I have power, because I have the resources that people want. My friends and family are so enthusiastic about organic food, whenever I
talk about my experiences on the farm, people want to join me in my work.” More and more often, students are coming to terms with the idea that the food they consume is unsafe. From watching documentaries like Food, Inc. to reading books and even turning on the news, the perils of the food industry are becoming more and more widespread. But through by adapting a grow-your-own philosophy and learning about food culture, it is possible to make a difference. Rachael sums up her work on the farm and garden perfectly, saying, “It is good work, it is the ideal way to get to know food habits and culture.”
>> To get involved in the farming and gardening culture at Vassar, show up to the VEG in the TH circle any Saturday at 2pm, where anyone with a helping hand and enthusiasm can work, or contact the fieldwork office to get involved through fieldwork and work at a farm or orchard. 13 contrast.indd 13
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THE ENTERTAINERS behind the scenes with the ViCE exec board simona kessler and brie hiramine
Nora Lovotti, chair of the ViCE Film Committee, utilizes her love and knowledge of film to inform her self-proclaimed “classic with a twist” fashion. As head of the board, she organizes screenings and film-related events on campus, and has recently sought to broaden its reach within the Vassar community. Nora often looks to the past as a source of inspiration, finding particular appeal in the 1960’s-70’s film aesthetic. Ali McGaw (Love Story) and Marilyn Monroe (All About Eve), to name a few, have proven particularly inspirational. Nora describes her leopard-lined trench coat as the epitome of her style: “that’s my preppy flair” come to life – it’s “my way of making the classic look special.”
Mitchell Gilburne’s larger-than-life personality embodies both his fashion aesthetic and role as Publicity Co-Chair on the ViCE Exec Committee. “Basically,” says Gilburne, “I try to get campus excited for ViCE events in as creative a way as possible.” Mitchell focuses his style around a sense of fun and seeks to render it an extension of his personality. As he enthusiastically claims, “I’d like to be Gareth Pugh and Betsey Johnson’s baby… left on Ralph Lauren’s doorstep to be raised.” Mitchell’s looks vary from “lounge” to “classic” to “flashy,” his most emblematic accessory being a now defunct pair of light-up “Bubble Cloud” shoes by Jezign. He likewise conforms his fashion to the ViCE event aesthetic, projecting an image consistent with the committee’s fun and approachable atmosphere.
ALLIE ST. JULES
Allie, head of the ViCE Org, forms her simple and elegant fashion after the iconic Parisian Woman: a woman of elegance, of simple silhouettes, of understated glamour and effortless composure. She explains her preference for neutral tones and bold accessories as a means to look as put together as possible – a reflection of her directorial role on ViCE as well as her organized and conscientious personality. Allie describes her favorite fashion accessory, an extensive collection of turquoise jewelry, “as a tool to entirely alter my look.” Indeed, she innovatively pairs her clothing (much of which is acquired through a love of J Crew, Madewell, and online shopping) to re-envision her aesthetic while remaining true to both her administrative duties and classy personality.
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Lucy, Assistant Director of ViCE, describes both her personality and fashion as carefree, fun, and elegant – inspired specifically by the 1920’s Chanel look. Her preference for skirts, vintage clothing, and bright colors are realized in the Anthropologie-Urban Outfitters aesthetic. Though her role on ViCE, which consists of secretarial and organizational work among the many boards, is not a telling reflection of her fashion, Lucy invariably caters the bold elements of her personal style to different org events. Sequins and feathers, for example, prove a “great way to make a fashion statement” while simultaneously enlivening the party-environment.
As the organizer of Jazz Night, a weekly event at The Mug, Toby books an eclectic group of performers who cater to the broad range of musically-inclined Vassar students. He tends to focus on “danceability” – on fostering a fun, high-energy atmosphere – when choosing these artists (most of whom perform jazz, soul, funk, R&B, hip-hop, and rock music). Toby’s personality and style epitomize his wide-reaching, personable role on ViCE. He likes to mix the traditionally “high” and “low” cultural aesthetic in order create a self-professed “unique look that puts your feet in both doors and doesn’t make too extreme of a statement.” Typically, Toby combines a ghetto, sporty look with classic fashion. This fusion of the traditional and modern manifests in many forms, from sporty XL’s and khakis to a dress shirt and baseball cap. His staple article of clothing, however, is the classic Levi jean – a relaxed, stylish, and versatile pant that “just works well with everything.”
Hadley Keohane, co-chair of ViCE Publicity, has a penchant for Mad Men and Marc Jacobs, fashion magazines likeVogue and style blogs like Cupcakes and Cashmere. Naturally, she considers her look to be “really girly”--there’s a heavy emphasis on skirts and dresses in her wardrobe. Though her favorite item of clothing changes frequently, she gravitates towards beautiful but basic pieces that she can build off of or add her own twist to. Her style, therefore, isn’t entirely pulled-together classic. “It’s kind of eclectic, whatever my mood is, whatever I feel like that day.”
ViCE Music chair Alejandro Calcano gets “really bored, really fast.” His style, however, doesn’t deviate much from jeans and his constantly rotating t-shirt collection--even when he’s meeting with the musical talent (though he does try to look a little nicer). A brightly-colored Day of the Dead skull tattoo adorning his left forearm is the only constant of his appearance, not even his hairstyle is a safe from his stylistic boredom. Mohawks? Platinum blond sections? Shaved sides? His hair has been through a lot. Luckily, he says, it grows fast.
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The man behind ViCE’s all-campus parties and events, Sean Shoemaker, head of Special Events, doesn’t have the most razzmatazz style. Instead, he prefers simple clothing: basic v-neck t-shirts from Hanes or Fruit of the Loom, good-fitting Levis. (His favorite items of clothing include a pair of red Levis and a simple, clean black track jacket). But that’s not to say that he doesn’t put in any effort into his style. When he can, he likes to undertake DIY-type projects; in fact, the shirt he’s wearing during our interview? He dyed it himself.
Finance chair Axel Yung has similar sentiments about his style and about ViCE: “I try to do stuff on a budget.” Surrounded by Scandinavian style during his formative years, Axel’s wardrobe is light on name brand clothing and heavy on good-fitting pieces, “the exact opposite of Ed Hardy,” he says. Typical outfit? Shirt or t-shirt with cardigan or jacket, fitted to perfection. And even though he considers his style to be “pretty generic,” he’s made his clothing unique through his own alterations, like converting a pair of corduroys into harem pants and sewing colored thread around shirt collars.
Ben Conant has an interesting attitude towards clothing. “I want to make myself look attractive to people, but in the simplest way possible. I don’t want people to see some kind of fashion item as me.” It’s a philosophy that lends itself to simple pieces; good-looking gray or black jeans are staples. Ben heads the Vassar Student Bands Union, and though he listens to “pretty much everything,” his musical taste tends toward the rock ‘n roll persuasion. Style-wise, he’s also partial to the rock ‘n roll, Brooklyn-type clothing look—so long as it doesn’t go “too far.”
Assistant Director Sarah Morrison dresses for her role on ViCE, literally. On weekdays, when her position requires that she work with faculty and students across campus to plan events, Sarah tries to look as put together as possible, opting for simple combinations of scarves, boots and basic button-downs. Weekends, however, are another story. Sarah tells Contrast that she’s all about the sparkle, neon and animal print when it’s time to have fun. Her music taste seems to say the same, with favorites including Kelis and Cut Copy, two acts you might hear her use while DJing as Sharkattackz with ViCE music chair Alejandro Calcano.
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moving through space, dancing with style
VRDT FlyPeople HYPE
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Style: A Bridge to the World A Conversation with Professor Molly Nesbit Danielle Nedivi When I was assigned to write about Molly Nesbit, I had never met her or heard of her character, and didn’t know what to expect. She is a modern Art History professor at Vassar who teaches classes such as The Avant-Gardes and Modern Art and the Mass Media. She is a contributing editor of Artforum and has received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust. However, I did not expect her to start the interview by dropping a bomb, after I had emailed her the subject matter of Contrast before our interview. The following is what we discussed, which turned out to be the most unique and fascinating interview, if it can even be called that, I have ever done for any campus publication. The first thing she said as she settled down to start the interview was, “I am not going to talk about fashion.” Okay, too bad I had listed 20 potential questions about her favorite pieces of clothing and stores to shop in. Here is the conversation that ensued: Nesbit (in answer to no particular question): Style is external. Style is in the life of the mind. Lots of people do have nice style. But that sort of attention… Clothes are misconstrued as just a way to judge a person. But in fact they’re a bridge to the world. The way people present themselves says a lot about the way they see their relation to the world. DN: Then you don’t agree with people
George Kubler, one of the world’s most gifted art historians. It’s quite beautiful and profound. Art tries to comprehend the world and its appearance. And so form sits on the line between the two and so does style- it tries to manage a discussion of form. Vassar has long been a fashion leader. I mean old-time- back to the Twenties. Vassar women were always very who say fashion is superficial… Nesbit: I’m going to send you off to read conscious of the way they presented a book called The Shape of Time by themselves. One interesting anecdote
to look up is [French novelist, playwright, and essayist] Simone de Beavoir’s on her visit to Vassar [in 1947]- she talks about the students’ style. I have a copy so anyone can ask me if they’re interested. [de Beauvoir was fascinated by the way the girls dressed in rolled-up blue jeans and oversized men’s shirts]. Every 5 years Vassar style changes. But this is not a time when people as a group are dressing a certain way together.
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DN: What about the ‘hipster’ style? Nesbit: It doesn’t express itself as a kind of extreme visuality. It’s more mixed up with music, even the Internet. But it’s not lodged in fashion. DN: But the 90’s were, really? Nesbit: Oh, yeah, very much so. I think the emphasis on interior design is also much reduced since the 90’s- magazines from back then, like Wallpaper. Which you should really check out, highly recommended. DN: Do you have a favorite decade in
terms of style? Nesbit: No (smiles). DN: Ha, sorry, that’s a terrible question
for an art history professor. Nesbit: Well 80’s Japanese fashionthat was something we all followed carefully. People and the art world do not organize around certain designersit has to do with one’s ability to choose. You don’t just belong to one person’s fully formed ideal of how he or she should look. But as I said, it’s not separate from the life of the mind. That’s why if you dressed differently than usual you’d feel awkward, probably. Style is also the book one is reading. [(Flips the script on me.) Who’s your favorite designer? DN: Honestly I haven’t been paying too
a general confusion about the futurein mass media and fashion. Everyone is trying to interpret the past. DN: And they express that through their
clothes? Yeah- even Marc Jacobs. Even in the 80’s and 60’s. It’s all different ideas about what’s possible.
So how can they invent something completely new? Sometimes I think it has to start as a random scribble to be truly original. Nesbit: It’s a lot about having a new idea. The new idea doesn’t come because you call it. It’s always possible to have one and head out in new directions but it takes a lot of focus. It might seem effortless but actually there’s a lot of work that goes on before you get the breakthrough. But the breakthrough is not a product of logic - therefore it’s hard to talk about. But we need to talk about the future. I would expect there will be a breakthrough but it hasn’t happened yet - so everyone needs to get to work. To try to imagine what the picture of the future will look like. Art 105 will make you more sophisticated. So everybody who cares about style needs to take Art 105. It’s a deeply great course. I shouldn’t be the one to say it because I’m involved… but it’s firing on all cylinders. (someone says hi to her from outside of the office) Hi Nick [Adams]! He’s stylish too by the way. DN: How will the future look back at our
much attention lately... no current styles really inspire me. But I was obsessed with fashion designers in 2004/05. That was an exciting time. My favorite then is cliché but it was Marc Jacobs. I feel like there’s nothing original now. It’s all clothes that have existed before and are brought back. era - our style?
we’re more mobile. DN: But there’s nothing that will define
our culture? In textbooks? Nesbit: The inability to regulate ourselves. We’re a culture of- how shall we say this politely- because we live in the present and don’t think ahead, we’re a culture that doesn’t consider the consequences. Because they’re longterm, we shove them off. People later will deal with that. They’ll talk about the way in which we didn’t address climate control. Wars are waged, and they’ll discuss whether that was good state policy. And of course, international bankruptcy. We’ve created such structural problems. Every period has its geniuses and accomplishments, but we’re now looking at a severe problem on the order of the Black Death. And I think all your readers already know that. When we talk about needing to change and think of the future—I can see my students listening. It reminds me of teaching right after 9/11, it’s the same attention. Waiting for direction— how to work for a better world. The whole reason you need knowledge is to know how to work for that. That’s what school is for. And art is a place where you can think of those things. At its best it is not a luxury. DN: (She only has time for one more
question, so I scramble to pick one in my list that won’t completely bore her) You went to Vassar, right? Nesbit: Yes, I did. DN: How was student style here back
Nesbit: They’ve been recycling for a Nesbit: That’s difficult because of Nesbit: Mine was the first coeducational while. travel, and so on—the way culture is class. Let’s say it was unique and leave DN: Do they ever come up with mixed is so generalized- you really can’t it at that! something completely new? focus [everyone into one description. Nesbit: Yes, they do. Right now there’s This is all more visible to us because 25 contrast.indd 25
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Sketchbooks From Five Vassar Students
t r a w h sa Sc
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Gus Wheeler 27 contrast.indd 27
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in e t s n o r B y Moll
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Alex Reyno lds
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Chicago Hall American Roots, International Style
Emily Finney Pt. I Chicago Hall has a pretty bad wrap as far as Vassar students are concerned, no thanks to its strange structure and drab, uniform gray color. One student called it lasangna. Another, “the ugliest building on campus.” Despite its reputation within the Vassar bubble, Chicago Hall is one of the College’s most famous buildings. Renowned for its artistic and innovative architecture, Chicago was designed by two men quite famous in their own right. Paul Schweikher and Winston Elting had already earned names for themselves in the art world by the time they undertook the design of Chicago. Schweikher was known as a talented avant-garde designer whose work gained widespread praise in a 1933 exhibition on modern architecture at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. In the postwar period, he successfully partnered with Elting multiple times. They collaborated to use new materials and technologies to produce innovative buildings, the last of which would be Chicago Hall, finished in 1959. It would become their most celebrated work.
1950s American modern style of architecture. It is especially remarkable for its mixture of solids and voids and incorporation of surrounding nature. The structure’s base is a concrete rectangle elevated approximately one foot above the ground and was once surrounded by a gravel border, making the building appear to be an island in the landscape. This choice created a border to reflect students’ transition from the familiar to the foreign. At the time of Chicago’s construction, this transition was quite complete, as students were expected to speak only in their chosen foreign language while inside. They were taught, as today, in the Weyerhaueser Auditorium and three wings separated by courtyard gardens, a clear reference to Japanese architecture. Those inside have a perfect courtyard view through the glass walls broken up into staggered rectangular shapes, some of which open as windows.
When it came time to name the building, the powers that be simply used the city that its alumnae backers called home: Chicago. Today, students study the same material as their predecessors in the 50s and 60s, as Chicago was built specifically to house the French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Russian departments. Despite the fifty-plus years that have passed since its construction, Chicago remains one of the best examples of the
And finally, Chicago’s most identifiable feature: its concrete vaulted (lasagna) roof. The vaults, approximately six feet eight inches wide, pervade the building’s interior as vaulted ceilings. This distinctive juxtaposition of abundant concrete and an injection of nature from the courtyard produces a jarring tone. However, these intriguing architectural choices, so characteristic of an important artistic period in America, are precisely what have made Chicago Hall famous. 31
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Pt. II If the buildings of Vassar College formed a metaphorical family, I am certain that Chicago Hall would be personified as the comically out of place, undeniably quirky, and eclectically styled aunt. Whether you have a wacky aunt of your very own or have encountered one at a friend’s unending dinner party, you know exactly who I’m talking referring to. She drapes patterned scarves around her shoulders, wears chunky clogs and is always telling stories of her many travels down Africa’s southeastern coastline. This persona is liable to vary, yet it never gets less interesting. Chicago Hall doesn’t quite fit in with its academic brothers and sisters, like the dignified Rocky, or the straight up schizo Vogelstein. Yet it possesses an undeniable charm, as its quirkiness is what captivates both the students and professors who spend their time under its lasagna roof.
In his time spent at Vassar, Guisti has noted that the “students in Chicago Hall accquire a mature flair,” due to the cultural exposure they encounter within the student lounges, offices, or classrooms. By “mature flair,” Guisti is referring to the students’ style. Yet it is not simply style as we commonly perceive it, such as style of dress, but a style of thought as well. As Guisti puts it, “Style is not what you seek. If you have a connection with your inner self, your style comes with it.”
Junior and International Studies Major, Amartya Zarate, would agree. Her style comes from her desire to stray from the mundane, to avoid being like everybody else. “I’m not a hipster, not a punk, but a mixture of a lot of different things,” she says. It is clear that these “things” are the many influences of different cultures. In addition to being born in Mexico and raised bilingual, Amartya spent an extensive period of time living “I am one of the only professors who actually enjoys the abroad in Germany, where she discovered her personal affinbuilding,” laughs Italian Professor Eugenio Guisti as we sit in ity for the Berlin fashion scene. the warm, friendly quarters of his tiny office. “I find that it is a joyful building because it doesn’t have the kind of Victorian, She has also traveled extensively, and enjoys collecting darker architecture or furniture. No aristocratic look.” This jewelry from all over the globe. “I have this blue stone ring Italian professore with a passion of individualism most ap- that’s really big and weird looking that I bought in Mexico,” preciates the light that floods the language halls. Not only she says, when asked about her favorite piece that she has does this light give Chicago a sunny attitude, but Guisti feels encountered through her travels. She enjoys jewelry because that it somehow illuminates the importance of a multicul- it gives her a chance to change it up and to give new life to tural and global outlook, an importance which the students her outfits in unexpected ways. She expresses her multiculrecognize as well. Out of this recognition comes a desire to tural personality through her style of dress as well. “Even if immerse oneself in foreign culture, to enlighten others with you open up my closet, you’ll see things that you would think a different perspective and to be informed on a global scale. of as Mexican looking, or Indian looking, stuff like that,” she 32 contrast.indd 32
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explains, miming her way through an invisible closet full of invisible clothing. Anastasia Knight, freshman and a potential International Studies major, also finds that her style reflects her global awareness and love for all things multicultural—especially of the East Asian scene. “I like to wear floral prints, tinges of red, and statement pieces like my kimono,” says Anastasia. Her kimono is definitely a distinctive piece, a versatile dress that can be worn over a pair of jeans or with a pair of heels. The international attitude of her style makes Anastasia feel “in tune with [her] Asian heritage,” as Anastasia is half Japanese, a language and heritage that she studies in the classrooms of Chicago. Professors don’t miss out on the individualistic style flair common of Chicago Hall either. Guisti himself wears simple yet statement making jewelry which hold great personal meaning. Dangling from an orange, choral string of beads that he wears around his neck is a vocal chakra pendant. This necklace reminds Guisti to refrain from judgment and keep an open mind within all aspects of his personal, professional, and multicultural lifestyle.
Students who study in Chicago, because they are majoring or minoring in language, because they spend time within the social activity in the building, because they have the opportunity to go abroad, these students dress, but more importantly think in a certain way,” remarks Guisti. After all, our style of dress is often simply a mirror image of the way we think or see the world. Students studying foreign cultures see the world through a broader lens, and thus see themselves as a part of an increasingly diverse body of people. The distinctive and individual style of Chicago Hall is duplicated through the style of dress and thought of its students. Perhaps some of us who study in Chicago may grow up to be those crazy aunts or uncles, who dress with bohemian quirk and tell long winded stories of there latest trip to who-knows-where. But let’s be honest: who wouldn’t love to be that wacky relative, the one who sticks out next to cousin Betty and uncle Ron, the one who openly expresses their individuality through the many places they have seen, traveled to, or studied? Maybe if we’re lucky, a bit of Chicago Hall’s personified character will travel with us as we, students of language, continue our studies and understandings of this global society. And we’ll do it all with that undeniable, unmistakable, and unstoppable “mature flair.”
Van Lengen, Karen, and Lisa Reilly. The Campus Guide: Vassar College. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2004. 33 contrast.indd 33
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Knitting For the Needy Knights of Commuknitty Gives Back with Simple Craft Emilia Petrarca The Vassar Knights of Commuknitty: saving the world since 2007, one knit sweater at a time. If you were to walk into the Raymond Parlor at approximately 5 p.m. on any given Sunday, you would stumble across a handful of people knitting away at sweaters, blankets, scarves, hats, etc. all intended for charitable donation upon their completion.
It all began with a generous yarn donation from a professor three years ago and since then, whatever is made with donated yarn goes directly to Dutchess Outreach Inc., a local Poughkeepsie organization geared towards, “helping less fortunates of Dutchess County, New York by providing lunch box meals, children’s clothing, HIV/AID patient supports,” explained Knights of Commuknitty president Breanna Lee ’11. The original donation was so large that the group is still working through it, using personal donations and VSA funds for larger-scale projects. The fact that anyone and everyone can join is a tenant of the club and something Breanna emphasized in our conversation. “We’ll teach you,” she said to beginning knitters, no experience required. Beginners start off by knitting 6-inch squares, which will eventually be combined to create a blanket. The club is very relaxed though – there are no deadlines and there is no pressure to donate whatever you complete. The number of members tends to fluctuate throughout the year, getting as low as 4 to 5 people during exam time, but no matter the circumstance, there will always be someone there to knit with you. “It’s just a group of people who simply love to knit,” said Lee.
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Five Dresses and a Costumer A Philatheis-Contrast Collaboration Carrie Hojnicki To build a show, in the language of Faren Tang ’13, means to fully design, cut and sew the show’s costumes from rough sketches to final fittings. Her work for the Philaletheis production, “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress,” was precisely this. “The way student theater is done,” Faren explained over the hum of her sewing machine, “is that people don’t normally go as crazy as I do. People don’t normally build student theater shows because it’s a lot, a lot of work.” As its title suggests, “Five Woman Wearing the Same Dress” places particular emphasis on costume. The play chronicles five bridesmaids wearing, you guessed it, five versions of the same dress. As finding five identical dresses for five differently shaped actresses under the budgetary constrictions imposed by student theater would be nearly impossible, Philaletheis president Molly Shoemaker turned to Faren for help. “The bride is this rich, ostentatious woman and bridesmaids dresses look like their pricepoint,” Faren explained, “So a hundred dollar bridesmaid dress, which is roughly what the Philaletheis budget would allow would look like shit. But
the truth is I wanted to build them the whole time.” Faren had the help of fellow-costume enthusiast Emily Beer ’12. The two spent much of their fall semester dragging what Faren calculated to be 472 square feet of pink fabric back and forth from the floor of Emily’s Main single to the third floor MPR to construct the garments. But their laborious efforts paid off and the two were able to finish with two weeks to spare before the production’s Thursday, November 18 premiere. When asked what she found most rewarding about the costuming process, Emily looked up from her stitching and mused, “My favorite part is when you have everything come out and it’s all these flat pieces that don’t look like they could ever go together but then you put a few together and you start to see a garment.” She continued, “It’s gone from two dimensional pieces to a three-dimensional garment.” This was a long process for the budding costumers, but the two are quite content with final product. “The dresses look beautiful,” Faren concluded with a smile.
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Staff, Fall 2010 Editors-in-Chief Ali Dillulio & David Orkin Photography Eushavia Bogan, Editor
Editorial Carrie Hojnicki, Editor
Style Alycia Anderson and Dan Small, Editors
Design Mara Gerson, Editor
Katie George Louisa Gummer Olivia McGiff Emilia Petrarca Alex Reynolds Alex Schlesinger
Becca Chodorkoff Tatiana Collet-Apraxine Michelle Dingsun Brian Evans Laura Fisher Michael Graceffa Louisa Gummer Paige Ioppolo Sammi Katz Joanna Kloppenburg Kelly McGee Elizabeth Perry Emilia Petrarca Molly Richard Kalei Talwar Nina Weissman Axel Yung
Nicole Alter Emily Finney Brie Hiramine Simona Kessler Danielle Nedivi Emilia Petrarca Emily Selter
Hannah Cassius Michelle Dingsun Elizabeth Perry Alex Reynolds Gus Wheeler
Publicity Caitrin Hall Zoey Peresman Treasurer Alexander Panisch Online Editor Cecelia Clohst
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