Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Women Behind the Bangs

The September issue, a documentary by R.J Cutler follows Anna Wintour and her team for nine months as they construct and deconstruct the September issue of Vogue. The question on many people's mind's is why now? Why after so many years of mystique and carefully constructed enigma is Anna Wintour opening her glass doors to the media. Could it perhaps be to tether the rumors of Carine Roitfield replacing her as editor in chief? Or could it perhaps be to bring the spark back into Vogue? The spark that many critics have lamented has been extinguished at Vogue along with its avant-garde edge. Well Maureen Callahan of the New York Post seems to think that these to occurrences are not just a matter of a timely coincidence.

It should be interesting to see how this documentary, shot in 2007, will fit in today's less than opportune economic and journalistic climate. As magazines are closing down their publications how will the "September Issue" compare with the actual September issue of 2009. A dearth of advertisers and profit will make this upcoming September issue a couple of thousand of Lanvin dresses difference. Yet whether you view Wintour as a dictator or messiah of fashion, a creative genius or a clinical businesswomen, a fashion enabler or anorexia advocate one thing is for certain, the September Issue displays Anna Wintour as one intimidatingly powerful women in tough skin. And I'm not just talking alligator.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cult Lit

Browsing though the book store you will come across chick lit ( anything with pink stilettos and/or martinis), lad lit ( anything by Tucker Max or Maddox) and Cult Lit. Many subdivisions of pop culture have donned the label of "Cult Status" from Fight Club (before they started showing it on Fx every weekend) to the Rocky Horror Picture show to virtually anything with Edward Norton. Yet it's not just the provoking dialogue or the moving metaphors that make people attracted to these Cult items, they also serve as a tool of superiority. A way of feeling a cut above the less esoteric masses. Yet just because something isn't transgressive fiction or a Kurt Vonnegut novel doesn't mean it isn't worthy of acquiring the ever so elusive legion of cult followers. So if your getting sick of watching Trainspotting, here are three books, in my so humble/self indulgent opinion (I do have a blog after all) that I think deserve a shot in the not-so-obscure hall of fame.

1. Youth in Revolt: the Journals of Nick Twisp by C.D Payne: It's part Catcher in the Rye and part Confederacy of the Dunces. Nick Twisp is precocious, smart and has just the right amount of self deprecation to make this book funny, awkward and realistic.

2. King Dork by Frank Portman: If you've ever seen someone with a "Sam Hellerman is a Genius T-shirt" they probably know what I'm talking about. Don't let the YA label turn you off, this funny and almost painfully realistic novel is, as a fellow reader states, perfect for those of us who are "still mourning the cancellation of Freaks and Geeks."

3. Stuff White People Like by Christian Lander: Okay so this isn't technically a work of a literature and majority of people have already read it but in case you haven't you should go out and buy yourself a copy, prefebaly on your way to Whole Foods while listening to NPR in your car.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ice, Ice, Baby

Picture this: It's January and snowing in Moscow and you're walking across the Red Square to the Saint Basil's Cathedral. As the image is taking shape somewhere in the walls of your mind what exactly do you picture yourself wearing? Is it a luxurious wool skirt topped with a bright red cashmere turtleneck along side over the knee boots and a fur caplet? Or, is it a sweatshirt elegantly juxtaposed with snow pants and Ugg boots? Even in our most nebulous dreams (I bet a lot of us pictured this scene without even knowing what the Red Square looks like) our mind meticulously chooses our wardrobe for that particular moment (if you've never pictured yourself walking along the Champs-Elysées in a beret than you are just depriving yourself.) Yet our mind does not actively take in the windchill factor (a skirt in a Russian winter?) in these moments of delusional reverie, but the question is should they?

In photographs across the blogosphere (The Satorialist and Garance Dore for example) you see pictures of youths in Berlin in punkish streetwear, refined ladies in Moscow in skirts and elbow length gloves and Parisian coquettes in ankle booties and a bodycon dress. Despite the fact that it's winter, these nameless subjects dress for there mood. The weather plays a key role in the process but not the sole role. It is more of an adviser than a dictator. Which is why I find people's response of my going to Northwestern slightly surprising. I think at least everyone who I've told that I'm going to Northwestern has elicited a response similar to "You know, Chicago get's really cold!" I used to believe that my irritation to these predictable responses was just part of extensive collection of neuroses, like the way I can't stand people touching my hair or my utter aversion to feet. But I have recently found out that I am not alone, on Facebook there is a whole group (case in point, they really do serve cathartic purposes) devoted to my neuroses felicitously titled "Yes damit, I KNOW Chicago gets really cold, now shut the hell up about it!" Now these meterologist-esque and informative responses seem to be perfectly acceptable segways to a conversation, except when they go on how it gets so blood freezing cold that the winter becomes dreadfully unbearably, that one must stay inside most of the times wearing Northfaces and Ugg boots perpetually.

Now this is where my irritation starts to turn to a light simmer. I mean must cold weather be synonymous with the "It's Sunday and I've got a the flu" outfit? Can't there be a balance between the ever famous duo of fashion and function? According to a former U Chicago student and a present Michiganite resident the answer is no. Upon asking my cousin if wearing skirts with tights was pushing it in the winter, she started to laugh. She looked at me seriously and said, "Heba, if you dress like that in Chicago you will die." This to me sounds like an exaggeration. I mean how do those statuesque Russian residents dress so elegantly while strolling through St. Petersburg? I bet Anna Karenina wasn't wearing a Puffy Coat and a face mask that's for sure.

Photo Credit Photo Credit
Now which one would you choose?

To me it seems like a question of mind over matter. Wearing a skirt with wool cable knit tights doesn't seem completely ludicrous to me. But from the bemused looks I was receiving from my cousin and my sister you would think that I was suggesting making snow angels in hotpants. If Anna Karenina can dress alluringly in a Russian winter than I think we all have the potential to, even in the windy city. After relaying these thoughts to my cousin she said, "It's going to be Chicago vs. Heba and Chicago's going to kick your ass." And well, I can't say that I'm not excited for that face off.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Well, My Therapist Told Me...

When people get frustrated, infuriated and pushed to their limit what do they do? Back in the olden times people would complain to an ear in the nearest vicinity, deface public property and passionately march in rallies and protests. What do people do now? Create Facebook groups of course. You didn't need to hold up and anti war poster to join the eloquently titled "Bush is a F***** Idiot group" nor do you ever need to donate food to join the "Feed a child with one click" group.

Yet Facebook groups have a unifying effect, they give people that "so we're really not alone" feeling. Now you know that you're not the only one who flips their pillow to get to the cool side and thinks that Dora the Explorer is an illegal immigrant. Not only do Facebook groups unite people with their common cyberspace kinsman but they also make people feel angry about happenings that they never consciously knew bothered them. I mean, I never knew that I wanted to "Punch slow people walking in the head" until I joined the group, nor did I ever consciously recognize my wrath for crocs until I affirmed with millions of others that "Crocs make you look like a dumbass." Just like a therapist, Facebook groups bring out pent up emotions, the struggles and inner demons that we battle with everyday, whether it be our yearning for 90'a Nickelodeon or our fuck this, I'm transferring to Hogwarts attitude. So the next time you have the uncontrollable feeling to punch that elderly lady in the walker in the back of her head don't blame on your anger issues. Simply explain to the elderly lady that you're working on your dark childhood with your cyberspace therapist, on your way to the ambulance that is.

Thursday, July 2, 2009