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Life Fashion Music Fiction

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Creative suppression

Something that you - depending on who you are - may not know about me is that I am excessively interested in other people's lives. I am a good Facebook investigator (it isn't stalking if it's publicly available), I am an eager listener, and not to talk myself up, but lots of people tell me that they think of me as the voice of reason. You may also call it compassionate nosiness (the keyword is compassionate, though). By the same token, I am fairly emotionally unrestrained. I am open about almost everything with almost everyone.

That said, I am finding myself feeling extremely uncomfortable about sharing anything online at the moment. People that I'm not necessarily open with can obviously access any of my online channels, which impedes my capacity to be completely honest. I have chosen to ignore it until now, but with my recent move to Toronto (surprise!), my creative freedom is increasingly being taken advantage of. Apparently my pointed #stopstalking Instagram message slipped through the cracks, hey!?

I realise that I can't control who reads anything that I post publicly (as I said, it isn't stalking), but I am unreasonably irritated about the fact anyway. The idea that people I choose to keep at 10 foot pole's length are reading my stuff is so frustrating and repellant, and I can't do anything about it except cringe every time I write or post something personal. I hope that I can mentally return to a place where I care less, but in the meantime, I'm going to be more exclusively professional here.

I will readily accept that this problem is extraordinarily trivial in the scheme of all humanity. However, I think this is the first time I have actually considered the implications of my hope to have a writing career, where I will literally share my personal thoughts publicly for a living without any hope of regulating who reads them. Given that I am actually graduating from university on time this year and looking at full time work next year, I am going to have to make the adjustment swift, right? Think of me, friends.

For now, if you want to know something personal - even after all this time, I can barely listen to anything off the Remember the Titans soundtrack or the 2006 rugby mix tape without extraordinary discomfort. Thanks.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

15 years of Bazaar

I have probably discussed my first experiences of fashion magazines in some detail on Grace and Flowers, but with the arrival of Bazaar Australia's 15th anniversary edition, I felt compelled to revisit. My first fashion magazines were Teen Vogue and Vogue Girl Australia - the magazines where I learnt about mixing prints, statement accessories and high fashion models. I moved into 'grown-up' fashion in April 2007 with my first edition of Bazaar - Cate Blanchett is on the metallic silver cover. I have every issue made since, with some Vogues scattered amongst them as well.

I was reading the 15th anniversary edition of Bazaar when I came across Dana Thomas' article about the changing face of fashion over the last 15 years, titled The Moments. This quote struck me immediately:

"...the biggest change in fashion in the past 15 years is how it seems to have sunk into an existential funk. Back then, fashion shows were exciting and sexy and wholly they feel like a presentation at a corporate trade show."

Next, I flicked through the "A Fine Vintage" photo spread of highlights from the past decade and a half. I remember being enormously inspired by compelling images ranging approximately from 2005 to 2008 in Teen Vogue and Bazaar, creating my own photo shoots with a makeshift tripod and drawing fashion inspiration from the clothes.

You make me smile with my heart - self portrait, 2008
I shot this self-portrait with a point and shoot camera on self-timer, balanced on a huge pile of books. This image was inspired by the iconic images I discovered in Bazaar Australia's 10 year anniversary photo book.


Catherine McNeil in Vogue Australia, April 2008, shot by Richard Bailey
I'm sorry, but these are some of my all-time favourite fashion images. All. Time.

Kate Bosworth in Harper's Bazaar Australia, April 2008
This image is alive, quirky, high fashion and yet tells a story with the use of a single, lovely word. I absolutely love it.

Harper's Bazaar Australia, April 2007, shot by Georges Antoni
Big dress, great heights. Enough said.

(There's also some Teen Vogue/Vogue Girl images that I owe y'all, I'll have to scan them in from home.)

Since then, most magazines have left me fairly ambivalent. I don't often see anything completely repulsive, but I almost never see anything remotely inspirational. I am willing to entertain the possibility that, in this moment in fashion time, the current trends simply aren't my thing. However, I tend to feel that the real problem is that the sense of a story and, perhaps, the beauty of haute couture, has diminished in place of an objective and an aesthetic that is, as Thomas mused, more corporate and commercial than the artistic, inspirational intentions of the mid-2000s and before.

These days, my inspiration mostly comes from Pinterest. It is born of the images whose owners can't be tracked and credited because they have been shared so broadly online. It comes from the photographers, the alternative high street fashion labels and the small businesses who design from scratch - the ones who create fashion and take images without the commercial motivation or enslavement to trends that now colour high fashion and magazines alike. When I examine the images and brands I love, they don't follow trends - they lovingly create beautiful things. That, to me, is an art; that is the kind of fashion that I love.

Summerblossom, Dreamcatcher 2012, shot by Luisa Brimble

Spell Designs, Cool On Your Island

Alannah Hill, unknown campaign

Elleque Designs, shot by Luisa Brimble

To view more of my inspirations, visit me on Pinterest.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Valentine's Day, Schmalentine's Day

I honestly can't decide what irritates me more about people on Valentine's Day - the bragging or the complaining. My only form of celebration of this Hallmark holiday is the following (average sound quality) musical mash-up that I semi-composed, mostly made up towards the end when my laptop screen went dark mid-song.


Featured songs:

Must Have Been Love - Roxette

When I Look At You  - Miley Cyrus

Firework - Katy Perry

I'm Yours - Jason Mraz

I'll Be - Edwin McCain

Smile - Uncle Kracker

Teenage Dream - Katy Perry

Brokenhearted - Karmin

I Won't Let You Go - James Morrison

Hero - Enrique Iglesias

Don't Wanna Miss A Thing - Aerosmith

Love Story - Taylor Swift

Every Rose Has Its Thorn - Poison

Give Me Love - Ed Sheeran

Ho Hey - The Lumineers

I Will Wait - Mumford and Sons

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The perks

"And in that moment, I swear...I finally knew where that quote came from."

Long time, no blog! I have just finished reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky for the first time. Something you should know about me is that I often deliberately jump on the bandwagon quite far after the fact. I am a certifiable bookworm, but even though my friends have been talking about this book for years (literally since the MySpace days), I just never bothered to read it until now.

I love books with words and ideas that stick. I love stories about almost anything if they are rooted in beautiful language, compelling, page-turning style, real life emotions and characters I can be on board with. I recently read J. K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy, and while my love for Harry Potter almost goes without saying, I was significantly disappointed by The Casual Vacancy. I read it and I certainly didn't detest it, but the characters weren't relatable for me. I just didn't think they were nice people. The Perks of Being a Wallflower has a lot of nice people. I can't really imagine a context where a lowly, socially isolated freshman (Charlie) is actually invited into life by some sophisticated seniors, but it happened, and it was uplifting.

An interesting aspect of my experience reading it was that I felt I was faintly confused, or not totally enlightened, in some parts. However, when I reached the end, I realised that my confusion aligned with Charlie's reflection on his repressed memories, and his reaction when Bill told him that he was extraordinarily gifted. This is an extremely positive trait for a book written in the first person - I was experiencing the story with Charlie's perspective, and achieved clarity with him at the novel's conclusion.

A note - I feel that a significant proportion of modern novels I have read in recent years involve drugs, often in dangerous or destructive quantities for the characters. I do wonder if I'm naive and many more people experiment with drugs than I know, or if it is just writers who like drugs, or if writers don't like drugs and they find some kind of enlightenment or satisfaction of curiosity in fabricating the experience of them where appropriate in their stories. In any case, in my experience I usually find it boring and impossible to relate to - like a literary waste of space. Sorry.

On the whole, though, I sincerely enjoyed Perks.

"So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we'll never know most of them. But even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there."

"I think that if I ever have kids, and they are upset, I won't tell them that people are starving in China or anything like that because it wouldn't change the fact that they were upset. And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn't really change the fact that you have what you have. Good and bad."

Thank you for the music

Today was a really good day on the radio, leading to me literally pulling over to the side of the road this morning to pull out my notebook and write down a big list of music I suddenly, desperately needed to buy off iTunes. The list of music I am currently rating includes:
  • Thunderstruck - AC/DC
  • I Will Wait - Mumford and Sons
  • Little House - Amanda Seyfried (Dear John soundtrack)
  • Nothing - The Script
  • Born This Way - Lady Gaga
  • Just A Kiss - Lady Antebellum
  • Deeper Water - Paul Kelly
Without further ado, I will also add my list of favourite musical moments of 2012.

1. Nothing, as performed by The Script at their Sydney show

I scored last minute tickets to The Script at The Metro in Sydney (thanks again, Luna), and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the gig. I'm Yours, Hall of Fame and Six Degrees of Separation were great moments, but my favourite song of the night was Nothing. Lead singer Danny O'Donoghue took an audience member's mobile phone and serenaded the person on the other end - and it was perfectly lovely.

2. Pitch Perfect, featuring Anna Kendrick and Skylar Astin

This movie was absolutely hysterical, and I have now seen it three times (disclaimer: with three different sets of people). The cast was outstanding, from Anna Kendrick's deadpan humour and unexpectedly awesome singing voice to the hysterical contributions of 'Strayan Rebel Wilson and the sparkling silver screen debut of Skylar Astin. Good heavens, that guy can sing (and dance, and make good jokes, and be generally attractive and wonderful to observe). My favourite tracks were the Treblemakers' performance of Right Round and the girl power finale. Aca-inspirational.

3. Lady Gaga, the Born This Way Ball

Tickets to the Born This Way Ball were certifiably one of my best investments of 2012. Strange opening acts aside, the stunning quality of Lady Gaga's voice cannot be fully appreciated until you have heard it soaring live through an arena. The sets, choreography and costuming were everything you could ever hope for from the indisputable queen of live musical theatrics, with inspirationally perfect renderings of Edge of Glory, You and I and Hair (acoustic) to boot. I will definitely, definitely be attending the next Gaga concert.

4. Les Miserables

This film deserves its own blog post and it will definitely receive one. For now, I will only say that anybody who tells me there was too much singing or complains that it was too long, you are so on my List. That is all.

Sunday, 21 October 2012


Regular readers will know I am fond of a music rant. Today I have three assignments to do, so logically, here goes another one.

Currently, there's a surprisingly reasonable proportion of bearable/enjoyable songs to tracks that induce the urge to remove my own eardrums (and then blog about the torture), but a smaller pool to pick at never stopped me. For any tracks you're not acquainted with, hover over the names for YouTube links (if you're game, but I just want to save your beleaguered ears).

Honourable mentions

I am pleased by anything new from P!nk and Taylor Swift, Gangnam Style, Wish You Were Here by Delta Goodrem and Hall of Fame by The Script. I am also inclined to enjoy the latest offering from One Direction.

The list

As far as I am concerned, this song is basically a case of Somebody That I Used To Know all over again except that I find the song about five thousand times less appealing. Admittedly, as I was never a frequent Triple J listener and I sometimes have an obnoxious aversion to being instructed to do things (in this case, listen to this 'freaking awesome new song'), I discovered Somebody That I Used To Know weeks after it first went viral and therefore didn't get over it like everyone else. 

However, I was actually ahead of the masses on Birdy's take on Skinny Love. I had already heard it (and the original by Bon Iver, I KNOW, all you indignant indie kids) many times before the radio inexplicably 'just discovered' it, and now I am just tired of it. I am tired of it indiscriminately popping up on all of the radio stations, and I am tired of it and, admittedly, its non-corniness interfering with the delightfully old-school and enjoyably lame Love Song Dedications playlist on Mix 106.5. It is just not right.

1. Why the hell is he still making music?
2. Why the hell is anyone still buying it?
3. The video is stupid. It is hugely unlikely that anyone could fill an apartment with their tears (unless it was me, I was trapped, and I was listening to Whistle on repeat, because that might actually be possible).

Let me refer you back to what I said about Skinny Love being played on Love Song Dedications, which is known for regular gems like Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On and The Corrs' Runaway (one of my favourite songs ever). The only thing that I have to say to Guetta and co about this bastardising track is that you NEVER go off and flippantly mess with music from the 90s. It is already awesome and it has a loyal fan base that does not appreciate the addition of obnoxious, repetitive bleatings of 'WERK HARRRD, PLAY HARRRRRD'.

That said, Pitbull and T-Pain, you are also on thin ice for Hey Baby - you're not fooling me, 'Armando', the reference to Salt 'n' Pepa's Push It was noted (but your track, at least, doesn't irritate me anywhere near as much as Play Hard).

First, she rhymes God with God about 47 times. Half a second later, she is snarl-rapping about a deer and a horse ranch.

I'm sorry, what?

That's all I've got right now, but fear not - I hear Ke$ha has a new album and, if Rihanna wins Best Video for We Found Love at the EMAs, you can bet your life I'll be on that rant within the hour. Don't miss it!

Monday, 8 October 2012

A guy whose heart bursts when the night comes

This is the guy that Korea said was too old and too fat to have a successful singing career in his own country, let alone in the world.

Today? He has a #1 single in the United Kingdom and over 400 million views on YouTube. This guy is the ultimate underdog and a pertinent reminder to never, ever, ever give up (or, in the words of Heath Ledger as Patrick Verona in 10 Things I Hate About You - 'Don't let anyone ever make you feel like you don't deserve what you want.').