political thoughts

I am a die-hard liberal. I’m not particularly proselytizing, but I am the type of liberal that, when meeting someone who identifies as Republican, will judge him for his views in an instant. I am not proud of this reflex, but there it is.

In light of today’s inauguration of Donald J. Trump as president…there were a lot of thoughts. In elementary school, I remember some of my friends gossiping about Trump on The Apprentice; and even at the age of 9, I’d already written him off as a brassy, crude, primitive type of man in my mind. 15 years later, these views have largely not changed, though they have been tempered somewhat by the many accounts of him actually being a decent human being. I won’t go into him there, but as of right now, my opinions of him are: he is still a very primitive sort, especially for President of the United States, and while I still find his public persona to be insufferable and unbearably absurd, I can’t but feel that he is actually very different in private – still vulgar and foul-mouthed and forceful, but t the core still well-intentioned, charismatic, and responsible. I absolutely stand by my belief that the character he’s donned for the media is just that – an act for the tabloids and headlines so he can keep grabbing attention from the billions of people watching his actions.

But even if he does have a softer edge to him at all, it still doesn’t forgive the fact that he is now 45th president of our country. It’s still surreal to even think that I watched him being sworn in at 12pm today. 9 year old me would’ve never believed this possible, and even she would’ve been flabbergastingly upset at the flippancy with which millions of citizens treated the thought of presidency in 2016 – enough to elect a man like Trump.

On the other hand, as I was watching the Obamas exit the White House for the final time and board perhaps their last Air Force One ride, I started getting tears in my eyes because of how magnificent, wonderful, generous, good they were. America, collectively, still doesn’t know how good she had it with the Obamas. I may not have like Michelle very much but I fully respected her nonetheless, but Barack Obama is legitimately one of my strongest role models. A lot of it has to do with how we embodied most of the same ideals, politically, socially, and economically; but also with how he was just a cool guy, when it came down to it. He wasn’t incompetent, like Bush; or so powerful as to be unrelatable/unapproachable like Clinton; or stuffy, like McCain; or so painfully 1%er, like Romney. He genuinely had the best intentions of America at heart, and he knew both how to shoot someone down in Congress with lawyer speak and smack talk someone on the basketball courts. He was a proud dad and loving husband. He clearly delighted in hanging out with little kids and cute dogs, and wasn’t afraid to be caught off-guard or in unattractive poses, like Hillary. Part of me is so achingly proud to have had someone like Obama as my president in the prime of my life, but another part regrets not being more interested in politics to have appreciated it more.

In any case, thank you Obama for showing the world what a class-act president is and should always strive to be.

In Which My Wannabe-Master Perfumier Ass Reviews Some Perfumes

Title says it all. I’ve been obsessed with finding a new fragrance lately, and I mean obsessed. Like, I’ve rushed to the nearest Sephora after work every day this week and basically just camped out in their fragrance section until they closed. I guess you could argue that considering I usually get out of work pretty late, this doesn’t seem like the most impressive statement…but it’s the dedication that counts, okay. In three evenings I’ve smelled literally every single women’s fragrance the FiDi branch offers, from designer Dior and Balenciaga to the more niche Nest and Atelier Cologne. Every. single. one. And I actually mean that literally – I started at the first row, first column, matrix[0][0], of all the shelves and just worked my way down and over, perfume by perfume. It was exhausting and my nose is the most incredible trooper in lower Manhattan, but I’m here to tell the tale of what I learned this past week.

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Quitting Running…or at least taking a break

I started running the summer after my freshman year of college after I gained the Freshman 20. It was the first semi-regular exercise I ever did my in my life, and even though I wasn’t consistent or very intense about it (think half an hour on the treadmill every other night, with 1/3 of that spent warming up and cooling down), I still managed to bring my weight down to some semblance of normal in time for the start of sophomore year. Since then, I’ve run numerous races from 5k to 15k, have been unintentionally on and off with it, have occasionally loved it and found it really enjoyable – but the one constant across the past several years is the struggle.

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A Mini History of Fashion Month, and Fashion Show Overhaul

If you think about it, the current fashion show system is pretty outdated, whether it be just NY Fashion Week or the entirety of Fashion Month. There were three main steps in history in the progression leading up to the modern day fashion show:

  1. Louis XIV set the precedent for replacing clothes semi-annually, as part of his economic stimulus plan
  2. Charles Frederick Worth introduced the runway aspect with his atelier line
  3. Eleanor Lambert paved the way for the frenzied media coverage of Fashion Month – a brilliant marketing tactic

 

The practice of releasing fall clothes in the spring (on Pentecost, or the 7th Sunday after Easter) and spring clothes in the fall (on All Saints’ Day, Nov 1) can be traced back to Louis XIV, the original fashionista who was fabulous as hell while also still deftly ruling a whole country. In his regime, he mandated that textiles appear twice a year, half a year before the season in which they were supposed to be worn in, in order to stimulate the then-flagging clothing industry and larger French economy. Patterns and trendy styles were to be updated every season – this was genius in ensuring that the French people had to update their wardrobes frequently as well, not because the clothes were worn out, but because the garments were to be replaced by new ones. I’m thinking of writing a more in-depth post on this because court dress and the rules around fashion at the time are fascinating topics.

Around the turn of the 20th century, Charles Frederick Worth, called “The Father of Haute Couture”, introduced the runway aspect that eventually burgeoned into today’s fashion show. Though all couture was ultimately and impeccably tailored to each client, Worth began to display detailed ‘templates’ of his styles for the season, which would then be client-customized later on. This practice codified and streamlined the French fashion industry (it was kind of like the online/catalog shopping in the day), and the long lead time between seasons allows him to make all the necessary tailoring adjustments just in time for the new season.

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Eleanor Lambert. Check out those arches!

Finally, Eleanor Lambert was instrumental in making Fashion Week as much of a social force as it is today. In the aftermath of World War II, the French fashion industry was heavily crippled and Lambert saw this as a golden opportunity to promote American designers more. Up until that point, the French were unsurprisingly the absolute authority on anything fashion – they were the serious ones, the talented ones, the culture with the ‘real’ fashion and style; anything remotely vogue came out of France. America, on the other hand, was regarded as the place for cheap, knock-off couture. Yet the new Fashion Week (or Press week, as it was called back then) completely transformed fashion on a global scale because it not only proved that America did have plenty of its own ideas to offer, but also led to the creation of Milan, Paris, and London Fashion Weeks as well, each celebrating the fashion and trends of its respective locale. It firmly established New York City as a respectable fashion capital in its own right. Lambert went to great lengths in her efforts to put New York on the map: She arranged for journalists to travel all-expenses-paid to the city, organized countless cocktail parties, set up audiences with the mayor, and gifted Broadway tickets – not to mention it was her who started the practice of the runway parade. By the time Paris recovered from the war several years later, America was already a tour de force in the fashion scene; even though the French were still viewed as the global capital for fashion, it didn’t hold the same complete dominance over the rest of the world anymore.


 

With that history behind us, it’s worth coming back to the idea that even though the fashion show system has worked well for decades, maybe it’s time for an overhaul. Changes I’d love to see / are already underway:

  • In terms of the models themselves – more nationality diversity, of course. I think the fashion industry has done a pretty stellar job with this in the past couple of years – whereas model lineups even five years ago were largely made up of lanky and elfin Eastern European girls, now the roster has evolved to include many more faces of Asian, African, and South American descent. I especially love the proliferation of East Asian models lately – not only the classic Liu Wen (all time overall FAVE), Sui He, Ming Xi, Tao Okamoto (to me, one of the most beautiful faces in all of fashion); but also the newercomers like Jihye Park, Ping, Wangy (name cringe though), and Hyun Ji Shin. I’m also appreciating how more Indian models are making their appearance as well.
  • Body diversity has been growing too – of course 80% of models are still thin as reeds and have pretty much no extra body fat whatsoever and 100% are still two standard deviations below the average American female’s weight, but at least there has nonetheless been a growing push towards models who aren’t stick-thin. Lara Stone has naturally been the iconic face in this department, but I was also surprised in a good way the first time I saw Gigi Hadid’s figure – she’s a bit more filled out than your average model, and she is gorgeous! Plus she actually has thighs! Thighs that move when she walks! Maybe I’m getting excited over nothing but every little bit counts in such a skewed industry.
  • On exhibition: While I have no particular issues with the current runway standard of showing collections and actually quite like it for how uniquely ‘fashion’ it is, I do think it’s time to move beyond this and take the next step. It’s 2016 already and fashion, especially live fashion, should be leagues more accessible to everyone. Runway shows are terrific in their own way but are also notoriously elitist and exclusive. It’s nigh impossible for the average person, even if he/she really loves style, to get an invite to one of the more top-tier designers; but again, this is 2016 and if there are two places that should embrace inclusivity more, it’s finance and fashion. It’d be amazing if shows could open up to the general public – maybe a lottery system or first-come first-serve, anything. I really liked how Givenchy did open up last season, but what if we did that on an even bigger scale? Perhaps designers could rent out larger spaces or team up to rent out larger spaces, so that more people would be able to spectate as well.
  • On accessibility via technology: Stemming from the last point, it’d be wonderful if designers personally communicated with their fans and the public more. Some already do, and it’s fantastic – it gives the entire brand a much more human touch. But they can also use technology to showcase their collections via the web.
  • On seasonality: As great as Louis XIV was, what if we lost the seasonality in fashion? It’s quite an antiquated notion considering how fast-paced and instantaneous today’s world is – we certainly don’t need to wait half a year if it’s currently summer and we want to start stocking up on winter coats, so the whole seasonality concept doesn’t make sense anymore. At most it gives designers a base point to rally around – if winter is coming, focus on coats and pants; if summer is coming, focus on sheers and dresses, etc – but that’s a pretty loose argument. We should start moving towards seasonless clothing – if designers want to create coats in winter, then they should do so and showcase it in their winter collection.
  • On show location: New York, London, Milan, and Paris are the four world capitals of fashion, I get that. But I don’t see why we can’t start moving away from this outdated idea as well so designers can be more creative with their show locations. Show always invariably seem to end up in the same 3-4 buildings in each city – but what about a runway on the beach in Brazil? At the base of Mt. Fuji? On the edge of the Gobi? What if the CFDA chose a new city/landmark/area every year for Fashion Month? Of course logistics would have to be worked out since schedules wouldn’t be as streamlined anymore, but I think there’s a lot to be said for showcasing both fashion and the world at the same time.

Zuhair Murad SS 16, pt. 1

Zuhair Murad can do no wrong. His collections are always so flawlessly feminine, oftentimes delicate, oftentimes more art than clothing. I love the corset-inspiration of the first part of this set, though his corsets aren’t like any other with how pure and delicate and breathtaking they are. Every petal of these dresses is sewn on individually, making everything all the more incredible.

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Those pants!

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Capes like these need to be vogue again (though maybe not capes that drag on the floor, especially cream-colored ones)

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These petals were all individually sewn on thread by thread. I love the disappearing neckline that makes the ivy and flowers look like they’re appearing on the skin itself.

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The belt is a harsh addition here, but the rest of the dress is a stunning shower of rose petals

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That shoulder gauze is made of fairy floss

Review: Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover

This is it. I’ve found my Holy Grail for Life eye makeup remover.

I used to make do with the Neutrogena remover for years, like literally ever since I started wearing eyeliner. It worked fine, maybe had some trouble with waterproof mascara but otherwise did its job – or so I thought, until I met this classy vixen of a remover. My mother somehow gets tons of sample bottles of these but she doesn’t wear eye makeup anymore, so she passes it all onto me. Score.

This product takes the entire regimen of remover to another level, it’s that good. My cream eyeliner, which can be a little stubborn at times, swipes right off; even my Heroine waterproof mascara, which comes off for nothing unless I (im)patiently hold a cotton pad soaked with makeup remover on my eyelashes for three minutes, melts off much more easily with this. It still doesn’t come right off, no, but Bifacil makes the process so much shorter and more bearable. It’s gentle and has never caused me any breakouts or bumps or redness, and you don’t need a lot of it to go a long way.

Compared to your standard eye makeup remover I’d say this one leaves your eye area a little more greasy-feeling, but that’s hardly a deterrent for me as I’m about to wash my face afterwards anyway. At $30 for a full size bottle this doesn’t come cheap, but I’d bite the bullet any day for the ease with which my eye makeup comes off and for how long each bottle lasts.

Even Gudetama is coming out of his shell for this.

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