Saturday, November 7, 2009


I moved out of home for the first time approximately three weeks ago. I didn't give it much forethought. I was at work when I had received a call from my Dad that my brother had found my diary and trashed my room. I knew then, covering my face so not to draw attention to myself, that there would be no way I could go home.

When I describe what it has been like these past few weeks, I usually start with some ironically snide remark. It's just funny that I don't feel safe in my comfort zone, I would say. I used to think I was safe, simply locked up in my room. In addition to hiding myself, I would hide my writing, in fear that he would find it and read it out loud, pausing to cackle loudly in my face.

But how can you ever escape? I can sit in a rented room on the north side of town, with my suitcase unzipped and my notebooks in full view. I can sleep without having to lock my door for the first time in fifteen years. But I am yet to escape somehow. I know I will continue to punish myself, just as he punished me.

There's nothing more I can say.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Daily Plague 3

Beatles' Love in Vegas.

Ricarda at Cats and Dogs.

Freddie's leather jacket by Jean Paul Gaultier circa 1988.

Quant by Quant.

Something Silver. Yarr.

Drapery by Vionnet.

Post Secret Archives.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"Even if you changed everything, he would still recognise your chin..."

I recently went on a cybercrawl in search of matters to write about. I seemed to recall an article on a blog that discussed notions of femininity at length, particularly in respect of the appeal of the tiny waistline. I could scarcely recall the name of the blog, nor any coherent search terms associated with the post. But I did recall that the lady blogger featured a brilliant picture of Ceci n'est um pas pas, dbroon's brilliant reworking of Ceci n'est pas une pipe. By some interweb miracle, I found it. Gatochy's Blog. I don't think I have even found the original article yet, I am too mesmerized by the vast collection of pretty vintage illustrations, not to mention the varied and many posts that touch upon matters of taste, style and beauty, posed in a way that I had never really considered before.

Illustration by Almanaque Bertrand, circa 1934. Children on leashes, loveit.

Perhaps the most fascinating discovery of my cybercrawl was Mariana's reflections upon female gender-bending. Slightly subversive you would think, perhaps. But she managed to identify another reason why a woman would feel the need to adopt traditionally "masculine" characteristics. I thought it had nothing to do with me, but then I read the article.

I think people tend to see this kind of gender-bending playfulness as a PC wink to trans culture. [...] But I believe in some instances it may be not so much a men-hating based rejection of femininity, as an expression of feminine desire from a woman who is disappointed in herself.


The logic may be something along these lines: "I'll never get boys to notice me as a girl, because I can't compete with other women's feminine charms. The more feminine I try to be, the more I'll just be drawing attention to how lacking in the feminine department I truly am, like a monkey wearing makeup. Instead of trying in vain to emulate the kind of women I find attractive, I'll don the accoutrements of the kind of boys I find attractive. Wearing their skin feels more comfortable than wearing my own, and it puts my mind off the kind of women who only remind me of how unattractive I am in comparison.

I can't have my dream lover, but wearing his 'skin' is like incorporating him into my persona, grabbing possession of him. I'll be as close to him as it's likely I'll ever be. And who knows, maybe such a man may one day see me and interpret my 'look' as a message that I am from his 'tribe', that we are two of a feather, and he'll approach me, and say 'You are just like me, we belong with one another'."

Freddie Mercury by Mick Rock

Perhaps I'm terribly impressionable, but the first time I read that, I couldn't help but acknowledge that Mariana had described me with an eerie degree of accuracy. I don't consider myself a gender-bender, by any means. But long ago, I adopted all the stylistic hallmarks of a lover, who, for all intents and purposes, ruined me. Every misdeed and mistreatment has become ever so slightly blurred with the passing of time, but his uniform has influenced my personal style immeasurably. Everyone who knows me would recognise the boyish aesthetic: navy blue Bonds tshirt, black drainpipe jeans with a white belt, black leather boots and maybe even aviators, if I'm sitting in the sunshine. I wiped out any trace of femininity in my own personal iconography, simply because it's not what I perceive to be attractive. I never had the confidence to wear misshapen mustard-coloured vintage dresses made out of curtain material. It was his uniform that was attractive to me, because it was sexy and understated... and it somehow denoted the existence of a musical kindred spirit. The existence of someone who cares too much about that so-called "indie" musical subculture we've all sold our souls to.

In recent times, I have taken to wearing dresses and A-line skirts. They're usually hidden under trench coats, as I am too embarrassed to show my chest, hips, waist and/or arms. I am happier and more comfortable hiding in the cloak of the past, in the uniform of someone else. I have no doubts that such a stylistic appropriation is unhealthy, I would be the first to tell you that. I would also be the first to acknowledge my poor attitude and details of my self-loathing tendencies. No doubt it'd be packaged nicely, either in a leather bound journal or a PDF document. But, hell. I'm working on it. I'm working on seeing beyond the drainpipes and aviators and being happier and less hateful. I'm working upon developing something of my own, that doesn't embody the hateful figures of my past, but a hopeful representation of the person I want to become.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Daily Plague 2

The Convent, Abbotsford

Yes we know! But who is Celia?

Girl by Ena

By Vidal Sassoon

Strength Training by Steven Klein, from the Exhibit Extreme Beauty in Vogue

Oh, Skylark have you anything to say to me?


Friday, August 28, 2009

Daily Plague 1

Every aspiration for friendship and trenches, captured by The Sartorialist

Daisy Lowe.


The militia, via Polyvore

Famous Five, Dressing Gowns and Secret Passage Ways by Eileen Soper

Celia Birtwell & Ossie Clark by David Bailey

Tube Tunnel by Jonathan

Portobello Road by Diandra

Thursday, August 27, 2009

One Two Five Four

You might not believe me, but I was once on time to one of my classes at uni. It's true. In fact, I was actually early. It was a third year Criminal Evidence tutorial on the other side of campus, past the students napping on the grass next to the ELTs. I traipsed into Menzies College to find a gent already seated at the table. He was wearing a Joy Division t-shirt. It was the artwork to Unknown Pleasures, designed by Peter Saville, concept by Bernard Sumner. My eyes were zapped. Someone in my class likes Joy Division? Surely this must not be so. Without hesitation, I asked if he liked Joy Division. He stopped a moment and furrowed his brow: "What are you talking about?"

It was my first exposure to the artwork of Unknown Pleasures on a t-shirt. Ever since then, I've witnessed an unusually high number of Unknown Pleasures t-shirts around the place. My brother points them out to me when we're walking down the street and it makes me feel narky. How are you supposed to know who really likes the band if everybody who wears the t-shirt buys it on the basis of its appearance? I say this with some reservation, as I understand that I am not entitled to be ungracious about this. It is hardly a Ramones' t-shirt scenario where the popularity of the t-shirt has completely superseded the popularity of the band itself. I can easily recall a time where teenybopper icons would don a Ramones' t-shirt, not because of any due loyalty to Joey & co., but because their stylist told them to. That's right, I'm looking at you, Holly Valance.

My relationship with the Unknown Pleasures t-shirt took a strange turn a week or so ago. In a record store in Brisbane, I found a t-shirt of pre-Joy Division band, Warsaw. It featured the artwork to Warsaw's 1978 EP, The Ideal Beginning. I saw the t-shirt hanging on the wall and I immediately recalled its brief inclusion in Anton Corbijn's first feature film, Control. It was the scene where the fake Bernard Sumner presented his drawing of an HJ banging on a drum to the band. It's a rather haunting drawing, yet eerily enough, it wasn't too dissimilar to all those drawings featured in my girl annuals from the 1930s and 40s. Irrespective of any HJ affiliation, I bought the t-shirt. It's pretty damn cool.

Perhaps my preference for Warsaw over Joy Division highlights a lacklustre desire to be obscure and pretentious. It certainly wouldn't serve as any sort of surprise. Then again, I would hate to wear something that doesn't squarely symbolise my band anymore. That, and I would hate for any confusion to arise as to my allegiance to a musical group. I would hate to receive that odd look of disgust or subcultural suspicion. I'd rather avoid the scenario altogether.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I'm not meant to be here

I'm not meant to be here. I'm not meant to be writing about fashion, style, taste or identity. My best friend from primary school always made it clear to me that I simply had no idea about these matters. It was clear that she was far more stylish and sophisticated than I. She would construct projects based upon drawings of thin girls with long faces draped in short floral dresses. We put together a magazine one time, she was particularly enthusiastic about writing a fashion advice column. For a ten year old, she managed to speak with disturbingly high authority about woolen midriff tops, even more floral dresses and other garb predominately inspired by the clothing worn by the cast of Beverley Hills 90210 and Heartbreak High, respectively. When we sat together and edited the magazine, I felt an odd burn of embarrassment. She had made it clear that every line of her advice was directed towards me. That and her makeover pursuits made it perfectly clear that she always wanted to fix me.

Despite her attempts, she never managed to successfully make me over. A part of it was that I simply didn't have the resources to pull off her desired mid-90s aesthetic. I didn't have the opportunity to shop at Miss Shop or Sportsgirl, simply because my mother bought all our clothes at op shops. At that point in time, op shops did not carry the sort of indie cred as they do now. Op shops were not a haven for stylish bargain buys or unique vintage pieces. They stocked cheap and extremely nasty cast-offs from the late 1980s. You could never disguise the fact that you got your clothing from op shops. Take that pair of purple parachute pants with the odd streaky black lines and fluro-green flecks. Aside from the hideous colours slash material of said garment, there was a very large burn hole around the crotch area. My clothes loudly proclaimed to every kid in the school yard that I had no taste, class or money. There was no way to co-ordinate anything, to pull off a certain "look". There was an incident in August 1995 where I attempted to look decent in an oversized, cut-off denim jacket and pair of slightly tight 501 Levi's. I don't need to tell you that it was an unmitigated disaster.

In retrospect, I should have desperately campaigned for a makeover. I would have wanted her to take away my rag-like flannel shirts, my burnt up purple parachute pants and even my black Cons. I would have wanted her to fix me. Why? Because I am inextricably drawn to makeover sequences in popular media. I love how you don't see very much during the clip itself. I love the feverishly upbeat pop hit that would accompany oblique images of hairspray and lipstick application. Most of all, I love the unveiling where she would look stunning, in a gobsmacked sort of way. All semblance of her former identity would be forgotten, for she would no longer be weird, ugly or different. The success of the transformation no doubt have a cursory effect upon the quality of her life. With some hairspray, lipstick and a short floral dress and she would be set! Love, happiness and success, FTW!

I am starting The Fashion Plague, in spite of the fact that I'm not meant to be here. I never received a makeover, from her or anybody else for that matter. I never conformed to the traditional tenets of feminine beauty. However, that never prevented my growing fascination for fashion design and journalism. Whether it be admiring the cut of a Givenchy jacket in Charade, reading about notions of beauty in Pigeons & Peacocks or sketching designs in my design notebook, this is something that consumes me. It is something that I want to share with you, even though I'm not quite sure I ever got it right.