A Few Words on Fashion

Category: travel

Primary Colors, Shanghaia



Seeing Red/Stars, Huangshan


Street Seamstress, Shanghai




So my New York trip didn’t quite pan out, mainly due to dental emergencies (three surgeries in four weeks) and scheduling issues with work. But I really did pack in the exact manner I detailed and I had I gone, I would’ve traveled with said baggage. Unfortunately other baggage was heavier. Le sigh.

Never mind, I am Shanghai-bound tomorrow so let’s excuse my previous domestic travel mishap, shall we? Packing strategy for this trip: none.

Back-track for a sec here. Let’s approach this the way we approach everyday enrobement at our best: channeling.

Channelling (v.): the appropriation of a visual idea, usually from pop culture or—if we are to be very erudite and arcane, a literary or historic character, ex. Eleanor of Aquitaine, Daphne of Arcadia if we’re feeling demure—translated into one’s own dressing habits. Blah blah blah you get the idea right? Ok let me put it this way: you want do to flapper. You’re feeling blasé. Throw on some pearls, a loose fitting dress, and kitten heels in which you can’t properly drive and you can run all over people like Daisy Buchanan. But don’t do that; it’s a terrible look and doesn’t age well. I imagine Daisy ended up wrinkly and saggy as if she had been floating in a pool too long, which is justice in the end. Too bad they didn’t have La Mer in the 1920s, D.

But back to packing for our 10-day China adventure: These days we don’t have porters to carry our hat boxes and steamer trunks, and Hong Kong is done being British. Ergo, we must pack economically as per the times. In this case, I’m thinking sporty-tourist chic: Stella McCartney for Adidas mixed with Helmut Lang and Alexander Wang T tops, a large Gryson bag for major expeditions and my little Marc by Marc sling for night. Prada sneakers I picked up in Milan 10 years ago when they were a major thing, never really caught on in the US, but Fashion is afoot in Shanghai.

I’ve also stashed away a knit Rag and Bone pencil skirt that can do day or night outings, and a great strapless black Vince jumpsuit which I plan on belting with a vintage YSL rope number courtesy of my very fashionable mother, to whom I owe all my fashion and traveling savoire-faire, and a pair of jeweled Choos which have seen much, much better days. Please stay tuned for November when I elaborate on both these subjects.

But in the end, this really isn’t a fashion trip. I’m going to look weird no matter what I wear, because I’m a blue-eyed redhead and probably taller than most Shanghai residents. I don’t speak the language and I don’t read the characters. I have no idea what I’m getting into other than some notes I have on medieval China under the Yuan (I wrote a thesis on Mongol art my senior year in college) and an episode I saw of No Reservations. Only one of those things is probably still relevant, but from what I know of Shanghai—a city in constant flux at the epicenter of global exchange—neither may be.

So here I go, LAX bound in the morning, arriving in the PRC the following evening. Back in 10 days.

To Be Continued…

xx Z

Do You Know What it Means?

The thing about writing and managing your own blog is that you work on your own schedule; it’s not like in school where your paper is due and you either pull an all-nighter to git er’ done or get an extension that still ends with a due date.

I realize it’s been awhile since the last post but, if it’s any excuse, I was out of town this weekend in the City That Care Forgot (and where I forgot to care about this blog) and I have only just gotten back. When I say “just” I mean five days ago and when I say “this” weekend I actually mean “last.” But since I’m moving on Louisiana time this is practically prompt.

And of course whilst I was away I shopped. I didn’t mean to—I really didn’t—that’s not why I went. But shortly before I left I read an article in Women’s Wear Daily entitled “New Orlean’s Retail Rebirth” (Rebecca Kleinman. Tuesday, July 31, 2012) and I felt it would be a complete waste of my subscription if I didn’t visit at least one of the shops mentioned. We always find a way to reason.

One of the things I love best about New Orleans—the city I called home for several years until last September—is the symbiotic relationship of death and creation: it is quite literally a civic Shiva.  For every Rita churning in the Gulf there is a marg doing the same at Superior; for every timepiece that stops ticking, an artist’s cogs to turn the thing wearable again.

I bought the bracelet pictured above at last year’s Bayou Boogaloo festival where Forrest, the guy behind Arts Kinetic and these awesome creations, had a booth set up. Among the cleverest in the line: little watch cog people earrings, which I unfortunately have no image of but you can find them here. There are a bunch of other super cool collections too. I love this one especially.

Schade für mich, the bracelet broke (not due to faulty craftsmanship—I’m just seriously ungraceful) and I had forgotten to have it repaired until I saw similar pieces this weekend at Vernon, a shop on lower Magazine and also the only place mentioned in the WWD article I made it into.

Vernon’s walls are decorated with these awesome (I’m assuming vintage) James Bond movie posters and they stock a mixture of men’s and women’s ready-to-wear as well as fragrances and jewelry and other lifestyle tchotchkes. The space is pretty small but well used and there’s a small, old-school bar in the center back, maybe for decoration but since this is New Orleans it’s probably functional as well.

Of course my attention was immediately diverted to the shiny things in the cases around the register and since one of the shiny things was also a skull thing, well…you can see where this is going. The wares were by St. Claude Nola, another local designer/artist. I use these terms in conjunction with one another because most New Orleans-based craftsmen are totally hands-on with their product, which is pretty indicative of the local spirit in general. Anyone can tell you: it isn’t Washington that’s rebuilding New Orleans; it’s New Orleanians themselves, both natives and transplants, that are bringing it back.

Serious political talk over, let’s get back to the pretty things:

These are one of two pieces I bought that day. The skull earrings really aren’t an original design; I could have picked something similar up anywhere. I bet if you googled “skull earrings, buy” you could find a pair for sale quicker than I was able to type the suggestion.

But that pair won’t have soul. To me, there’s a significance in the fact that these were locally made, made from brass—which is a pretty unique metal for jewelry—and follow in the tradition of vanitas art: a visual reminder of our mortality, albeit a lovely one.

I acquired this necklace by St. Claude that day too. Since I couldn’t fit into the Saints bikinis Vernon stocked (apparently I have been eating my feelings about no longer living in NOLA for the past year…?), my funds fell on this.

Remember kids, you can never be too fat for jewelry.

And, on a separate outing to Magazine–because, yes, there had to be more thane one–I picked up these, courtesy of the Defend New Orleans store:

Hilarious. They’re not a fashion thing but I felt they needed some publicity. AND they go to a good cause, so while you’re preventing one spill, you’re helping clean up another. I don’t know if I can handle the level of puns here.

As a post script, I’d like to ask everyone to keep the victims of Isaac in our thoughts this week. It wasn’t a big storm, but a hurricane of any category is a serious thing, especially for that low-lying area of the coast.

xx Z