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The Harvard Vestis Council Magazine Fall 2013




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Reality Check Twice weekly, I have the same little moment by the same little storefront on Plympton Street. Passing by, I spy my reflection in the silvered shop windows and feel, quite unexpectedly, that I look wholly unlike myself. The clothes are certainly my own, but the look appears transplanted, cobbled together from movies on my Netflix queue (Silence of the Lambs, The Wedding Banquet), books I have started but cannot finish, the suggestions, off-hand, of friends, and all the usual internet channels, which today seem to comprise our culture’s rawest cut. I guess it’s difficult to parse why we choose to wear what we do. Are we blazing new paths? Curating a brand, a distinctive look? Or perhaps it’s pure imitation—a collective case of follow-the-leader internalized as a singular, if amorphous, sense of style. These are obviously first class issues, matters of aesthetic rather than worldly import, but they are worth mentioning, especially here, in the editor’s letter of a magazine that deals, quite explicitly, with matters of aesthetic. The stated theme of this issue is authenticity, and we have endeavored in the following pages to keep it as real as we can, to focus on the wardrobe issues that seem most relevant right now—lug-soled oxfords for wintry tramping, decadent plum hues, chronic ’90s nostalgia and a fetching new take on an old Love Story. Mixed in with the pretty pictures of pretty clothes are features that analyze fashion beyond the textile realm, engaging with the artistic, the economic, and the corporal (check out Body Language, our feature on tattoos for more on that). Indeed our goal for this issue was not to dictate what we think authentic Harvard style is, but rather to take that descriptor and explode it outwards, interpreting it freely and ironically, with omnivorous taste and a dash of humor. Fashion writers today talk about ‘real style’ like it’s some exotic bird. We all want to be ivory-billed woodpeckers, which is to say rare to the margin of extinct, and not another drab, brown iteration of sparrow-kind. What we forget is that dressing up is by nature artifice, an exercise in costumery that often has nothing to do with reality, real or perceived. I think, often, of Joan Didion’s assertion that, as humans, we tell ourselves stories in order to live. The same overstatement could be made about fashion. We wear clothes because it’s damn cold outside, and also because some part of ourselves is pinned to that wearing, that morning-time ritual of picking and choosing, hemming and hawing, which we all go through day by day, week by week. Clothes package who we are and shape how we look, and defining that who, that ineluctable, indifferent persona of the self-styled man, is, in highly tenuous terms, what fashion is all about. In short, I would say that we dress to match the person in the mirror, and that self-awareness— the cool and critical appraisal of that reflected self—is without a doubt the truest metric I know for ‘real style.’

- T



Derby shoes, Dries Van Noten.


Sole Search Once upon a time in China, I walked with my grandmother across the city to buy a pair of shoes. It was summertime, and Wenzhou was loud and soft at once, the streets full of fisherman and pedi-cabs and a heat that felt palpable, like the damp, wrinkled back of a beach towel left in the sun. I had found the shoes at one of those ubiquitous, and very Chinese, corner shops which sell every conceivable knick knack or convenience— ice cream in cheeky red bins, flimsy umbrellas, counterfeit shoes and bags—and as I didn’t know the local dialect, which tasted of Japanese, my grandmother had come along in her cloud of incense and jangling jade to haggle on my behalf. We entered the store a purposeful duo, bent on our conjoined mission, and after several fast and furious rounds of retail Chinese and at least two staged walk-outs, the shop keep proffered us his white flag—fake Prada socks and some complimentary gel insoles—and we left the shop victorious, my new derby shoes clutched between us like a hard-won trophy. To call the derbies beautiful would be lying. They are serviceable, unfailing, the most comfortable black laceups I own, but fairly unattractive in the light. Crafted from simple black leather, with a cap toe and wingtip detailing, each shoe comes to a harsh, probing point, like the snout of a tiger shark or the dirty edge of a garden spade. They boast a slight heel, which makes walking on hard surfaces a clamorous, percussive affair, full of uncharacteristic strutting and foot-tapping attitude. To wear them is to be emboldened, both physically and mentally taller—if only by an inch or two. Such utilitarian delights are characteristic of derby shoes, which old-timey folks sometimes call bluchers after the Prussian general Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher, who in the 18th century commissioned a military boot in a similar style. With a vamp (the upper side of the shoe) cut from one piece of leather, the derby is more simple-minded

than the classic Oxford shoe, or Balmoral, whose vamp is constructed from two sheaths of leather, one recessed beneath the other, and each style’s etymology nicely encapsulates its respective persona: The blucher gruff, martial and German, the oxford erudite, bookish and archly English. The two styles are, by and large, the most faithfully worn dress shoes in the Western world. All the other terms for men’s fancy footwear—and they are legion—are simply variations on a theme, used to describe different species of derby or oxford. Wingtips, for instance, can be either style, as long as the heart-shaped ‘wingtip’ is present somewhere on the shoe. The brogue, besides describing a particularly thick Irish accent, generally refers to an oxford shoe with heavy “brougueing” or regular perforations along the seams of the vamp (fun fact: these holes were originally designed to drain soggy toes whilst crossing the Irish bog lands), and the spectator, or saddle-shoe, is an oxford shoe that splices together two contrasting color leathers while also featuring broguing and a pronounced wing-tip. Sorting through all this overlapping terminology can be tedious, and one rule of thumb to remember is that derbies usually look plainer and more casual than their patrician cousins. In recent years however, designers have reimagined this most durable of dress shoes, adding exotic trims, patchwork materials, athletic lacing, and contrast soles in electric bright shades. This particular pair of derbies comes to us by way of Belgian designer Dries Van Noten, and juxtaposes a sleek, black leather upper with rubberized lug-soles fit for basic training. Pick them up at Barneys, or any number of specialty emporiums, and style them with cuffed trousers, tailored chinos, or this season’s unrelenting black jeans. Balancing practicality with polish, they are our podophilic suggestion for the wintry season.




Transience & Permanence - LILLY SHEN ‘17

chiaroscuro Dress, Vince Camuto.


Art, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Johannes Vermeer


rt and Fashion have coevolved since mankind first donned a loincloth and scrawled pictures on the cave walls. Since then, there have been countless movements in Art, countless trends in Fashion, and what has survived is the principles that tie them both together.

texture Sweater, Loden Dager. Art, Jomon Flame Pot.


Photographer: Lena Felton ‘17 Model: Megan Cosgrove ‘17

transparency Dress, Ratchet Asian Brand. Art, Veiled Vestal Virgin, Raffaele Monti.




The Color - Kat Zhou ‘17

Rock a dark and dramatic look for evening. Maybelline Color Tattoo Cream Gel Shadow in Bold Gold and Pomegranate Punk, Toofaced Honeypot from the Natural Face Palette, Kat Von D Prague from the Truth Palette.

Offset simple eyes with an attention-grabbing lip. Kate Moss Lasting Finish Lipstick in 107.

Photographer: Will VanKoughnett ‘15 Model: Abbie Orlando ‘17



Photographs courtesy of J. Chung

Dispatch: Ghana I have always loved any reason to clean up shop, getting rid of my hoarded possessions and replacing them with shiny new toys. Growing up, the process seemed like a win-win for all. I donated my old clothes to the Salvation Army, and they donated them to the ‘needy,’ who I liked to imagine might jump for joy at the sight of my old Hollister & Co. t-shirts. The reality is quite different however. At the drop-off sites, clothes are first separated into categories and grades. A grade-A handbag bin might boast old Coach purses and counterfeit Balenciagas, while the grade-C denim bin houses tattered jeans from Old Navy and Wrangler. Once sorted, the goods are either sent to secondhand stores in the U.S. or to giant clothing processing plants (one of which, I recently found out, is just 15 minutes from my hometown) where the garments are compressed into large cubes, sealed in plastic wrap, and readied for departure. Oceans away, a 25-year old Ghanaian man travels to a used-clothing plant and purchases a few of these bales. He loads each cube onto a makeshift dolly that he rolls down dirt roads in the scorching heat to Makola Market in Accra, where the bales of castoffs are dissected into their ratty, used parts. Each article is hosed down and scrubbed with detergent. Holes and ripped seams are sewn through, faded denim re-dyed, tired black shoes coated in shiny black paint. The entire process takes only a few hours. Oboruni wewu is what the used-clothing market in Accra is called. It means ‘white man dead’ in Twi. Last summer, while living and working in Ghana, I would go to these markets to scrounge for one-off pieces that we, in America and elsewhere, were just tired of. Scoring floral maxi skirts and embroidered tops for 1 cedi (50 cents USD) seemed a uniquely African experience at the time, and I, for one, didn’t complain. I spent two months in Ghana as a fashion intern for a small, Accra-based clothier, and in that time, I was constantly confronted by the deleterious effects Western consumerism have on the Ghanaian economy. Cheap,

imported secondhand clothing actually cripples the local fashion industry in places like Accra. These days, it is distinctly more common to see Ghanaians sporting college logo tees and faux-branded merchandise than the colorful, beautifully hand-made, and world-famous prints and fabrics of the region. The arresting image, seen almost daily in Accra, of a woman using a counterfeit Chanel scarf to balance bottles of water, tea, and biscuits on her head, is not only powerful but also indicative of the many ways that Western culture and commerce continue to colonize parts of the developing world. Coming home to the states from Ghana, and facing once more the usual ‘nothing to wear’ dilemma, I was reminded of the very real repercussions of fashion’s ongoing cycle. Fast fashion and purposeless consumerism doesn’t just compromise the working conditions and human rights of sweatshop laborers in developing nations, it also contributes to an international economic system that promotes continual waste with no direct consequence. In a country so rich in culture and history like Ghana, it is unsettling to see high-quality, locally manufactured clothing give way to pleather miniskirts, bejeweled tops, and neon platform pumps, courtesy of our charitable efforts. If there is anything I learned about fashion during my summer in Ghana, it is that our daily choices and habits leave deep impressions on the culture, lifestyle, and economy of people worlds away. My fashion internship this summer didn’t leave me wanting more. Instead, it left me resolving to be more purposeful and selective in my choices, especially with regards to shopping; to be conscious of the larger implications of my actions, especially those that I might view as altruistic.

- Jane Chung ‘15


Faux Real Bring the nineties back with street-wise cuts and graphic logos that poke fun (stylishly) at the fashion establishment. - Thomas Dai ‘14


Photographer: Will VanKoughnett ‘15 Models: Sydney Sykes ‘16 and DJ Boutte ‘16


Previous Page: On Sydney, T-shirt, Etsy; Skirt, Topshop; Necklace, vintage.

Hat, Stussy; Sweatshirt, Urban Outfitters; Pants, Zara; Shoes, model’s own.


Sweatshirt , DIY; Watch, Seiko.

T-shirt, LPD New York.



Sweatshirt, Urban Outfitters; Pants, Zara.

Sweatshirt, Brian Lichtenberg.

Sweatshirt, Kenzo; Skirt, Love Leather; Rings, Forever 21; Necklace, Fallon.


aph er:

Pho tog r


Dan qin gW ang , Ph D ‘18



-M ice


re J ohn son



“I feel like a lot of people know the design first, but I knew the places on my body that I wanted first, and then an image sort of just came to me. It’s a weird aesthetic I have for my body. They felt vacant and I wanted them to be filled. That’s why I don’t think I’m going to get any more. With these three areas, it just feels complete now.”






I have this necklace of a lizard which my mom gave me. She gave me one before, and I lost it. I thought I might lose this one too, so I got it tattooed.�




Molu Jewelry, a family company founded in 1956 in the ancient Grand Bazaar of Istanbul, is today among the most renowned High Jewelers of Turkey. Molu is best known for its extraordinary designs, the quality of its craftsmanship, and its exquisite gems. Each Molu piece has its start at the monthly design meeting. Owners Mr. Ahmet Ilhan Molu and Mr. Mehmet Sermet Molu work closely with the company’s General Manager and Creative Director to prepare a comprehensive brief for the design team specifying the theme of each collection. Following this brief, the design team creates preliminary sketches, which are rigorously reviewed before a few select designs are passed along to Molu’s expert jewel-smiths. Molu’s craftsmen hand-make each piece, taking sometimes as long as six months to complete just one objet d’art. These pieces include both traditional fine jewelry, as well as artisinal pen holders, coffee cups, desk clocks and jewelry boxes made from gold and gems. Perfection is at the core of the Molu brand. From the sales team to the intimate jewelry presentations, every detail is carefully orchestrated to create an unrivalled experience for anyone who steps into the world of MOLU. Myra Designs Co.


Love Story In 1970, the world’s population was 3.63 billion, the Beatles had just broken up, and love, in the words of Jenny Cavilleri, meant never having to say you’re sorry. That was the year that Love Story, the now iconic film about a gilded Harvardian and his beetle-browed, gamine Radcliffe love, came out to wild acclaim, thrusting its stars (Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw) and their effortless, American sportswear style into the pop culture firmament. Years later, the question still comes up—is this what love at Harvard feels like? Talks Like? Dresses like? It’s easy to name drop hookup culture and internet dating and declare romance dead—times have certainly changed, nobody’s questioning that. Yet at the core of this place and its people is arguably something eternal, a feeling and a heritage independent of any trend or dating app or Snapchat faux pas. It might not be love, exactly, but we still won’t apologize for it. 28

Photographer: Tyreke White ‘15 Models: Lilian Zhu ‘17 and Skip Rosamillia ‘17

Editors: Jenny Min ‘15 and Thomas Dai ‘14


Previous Page: On Skip, Bomber jacket with fur collar, Zara; Jeans, Rag & Bone, available at Neiman Marcus; Shoes, Zara, worn throughout. On Lilian, Coat, Club Monaco; Turtleneck, Zara; Skirt, ICB; Shoes, Zara, worn throughout.

Blouson jacket, A.P.C.; T-shirt, John Varvatos Star USA, available at Neiman Marcus; Leather pants, Zara.


Coat, Thierry Mugler; Skirt, Love Leather; Necklace, Nocturne.



On Lilian: Perfecto jacket, Theory, available at Neiman Marcus; Pants, Zara. On Skip: Crewneck sweater, Zara; Shirt, Theory, available at Neiman Marcus; Jeans, Rag & Bone, available at Neiman Marcus.


On Lilian: Jumpsuit, Diane Von Furstenberg, available at Neiman Marcus; Necklace, Nocturne. On Skip: Blazer, shirt, tie and dress pants, Theory, available at Neiman Marcus.


LAST LOOK: Julia Hirata ‘14

Neoprene studio top, Zara; Structured wool skirt, Carven; Sneakers, Superga; Glasses and bag from Japan.

Once the province of wet suits and laptop sleeves, neoprene is fashion’s latest material obsession. Julia pairs this studio top with an equally structured mini and quirky, yet understated, accessories. Maintain a low profile with casual kicks, or add a soigné touch with simple high-heeled sandals and a squishy day clutch.


Vestis Magazine (Issue #2)  

Fall 2013

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