Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Post-Poland Dream Sequence for April

sunshine fashion | a summer showcase changes to a dance
the culmination – power and sweat from
an Indonesian prince.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Walk, Don't Run | Tributes

My dear friend and wonderful makeup stylist Drew is fighting the good fight and gathering donations for this year's AIDS Walk in LA. And to make it all even more exciting, MAC Cosmetics has agreed to match him dollar for dollar on every donation he receives. Continuing a week of dedications to my beloved Cockettes, I've made my contribution in honor of Hibiscus and Reggie - they both wore their makeup so well - and now here is your chance to do the same.

Click Here to Help.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

New Studio Mate | Scrumbly Straight Stitch

Generosity has blessed my studio, and I am now the proud owner of my very first industrial sewing machine. This ancient little Chandler/Brother brand straight stitcher is a dream....and in such a perfect shade of green! In honor of my very favorite Cockette, I have named him Scrumbly.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mr. D's Harsh Mistress | A powerful moment in warm correspondence | I miss Patrick

A relevant bit in a letter from a wonderful friend:

"Theatre in general is proverbially a harsh mistress...generally this comes from the same place that your frustration does: the absolute need for a unified vision in order for the piece to work. It is a hard balance for the various directors to achieve between a unified vision made of many voices and a unified vision in monotone (which is the easier and less fulfilling of the two). It seems that the more traditional the theatre, the more likely that it will lean towards the latter option. I imagine that the same process occurs when you design clothes; no one element can be allowed to over power the others, no one influence either (or it would only be reproduction).

The problem with art so heirarchical as opera is that the person ultimately in charge can get cut off from the producers of the art he will eventually claim as his own. In this way, his decisions can easily exclude the artistry of the producers 'beneath' him."

I could not have said it better myself. I tried...really I did...but it didn't come out as beautifully.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Hand of the Cloth | The Hand of the Maker

A 1976 issue of the Journal of the Costume Society of Great Britain highlights an interview with Mr. Daniel Nelson, a gentleman who actively worked as a tailor in and around England until his retirement in 1969. The ins and outs of his tales are exciting and compelling to a guy like myself who obsesses over this sort of thing daily; nothing more exciting, really, than hearing stories of coal burning to heat a tailor shop and keep the hand-forged irons warm in 1917 as cutters snip away at a newly ordered pair of plus fours.

Perhaps the most exciting though, is Mr. Nelson's description of early ways of achieving curves for coat collars and arm holes. He says, "Tailoring is like the work of a sculptor or an artist - you've got to know the proportions of the body. Now, I'll show you how a lot of tailors used to cut undercollars. They put their foot on a piece of paper, and the draw a line from the back of the heel, round the inside of the foot, to the centre of the toes. Then they drew a straight line across for the collar edge."

"A lot of people had a great deal of difficulty in making the curve of a scye. You could use the and laid flat on the table to guide you, like a set of French curves, to draw the shape."

This is all so beautiful to me. When looking at most any tailor's drafts it quickly reads as a mess of geometry and convoluted arithmetic. This bit of history reveals a much more human, more bodily starting point for the pinnacle of architecture and structure in men's clothing.

When reading this I was immediately reminded of my good friend Illenk Gentille Andilolo, an Indonesian dancer, who explained to me that all measurements and folding on his traditional clothing and performance costumes was simply determined by the width of the wearer's fingers. 3 fingers for the front folds of a woman's sarong, 4 on a man's... if I recall correctly.

Article: An Edinburgh Tailor's Story - Mr. Daniel Nelson interviewed by Janet Arnold, march 1975. Journal of the Costume Society (Great Britain) Number 10. 1976

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Life Lessons | On Being A Gentleman | Rules to Live By

As a young boy in Wisconsin, I was fortunate enough to not only have a father who was in the picture, but one who was concerned with matters of style. Dad thought about how he looked, and made certain his boys were raised to do the same. And, being the inherent style junkie I I am, I have crystal clear childhood memories of the mini-lessons my dad gave me as I was growing up. Getting dressed to head out to an important event or just cleaning up a bit before leaving the house all warranted a chance for father to tell son how things work in the world of gentlemanly style.

As I've gotten older, I have come to realize that I still follow pretty much every one of these rules as I dress and groom in preparation to face the world each day. Below a list of the things my dad taught me - all of which I will carry with me forever - and most certainly make a point of teaching any young men that come into my life in future years.

-Properly knotting a necktie. Dad's knot was the half Windsor, and he sticks with it today. Start with the narrow end of your tie at the fourth button of your shirt and go from there. In later years I learned the full Windsor from an uncle and keep that knot in my tool box as well; sometimes life simply calls for a fatter, more symmetrical knot. Dad still rocks the half.

-Applying cologne: I'd always opt for using a bit of his musk...a beautiful brown liquid in an unmarked square glass bottle; not sure what it was, exactly, but I liked it. Splash a little on your hands, then on your neck and chest before putting on your shirt.

-Good posture: sit up straight, keep your shoulders back, and dont slouch.

-The "Cepress Stroll": Good posture sitting means even better posture when walking. And, being the BMOC that my father was in his younger years, he knew that a confident, secure walk portrayed strength and self assurance in all the right ways. This should be nothing cocky mind you, but the "Cepress Stroll" as he called it was important and quietly practiced as we walked down the street as a family.

-Undershirts: If you're really cold, feel free to tuck it into your underwear instead of just your trousers, as long as the shirt over it is also tucked in and conceals the band of your tightie whities. And never, NEVER wear a crew neck undershirt with a collared shirt open to show the hideous white triangle at your neck. This is what V-necks are for.

-Shining your shoes: Capping off any good look requires shoes that have been tended to. Expensive shoes need care so they'll last years. and a routine shine is the ticket to looking sharp and taking care of the things you've worked hard to own.

-Tie tacks: They go between about the third and fourth button on your shirt. As a kid I had a favorite of his to borrow - a small gold oval on a with a minuscule diamond in the center. I still love this particular tack.

-Carry a comb: It gets windy, and you wouldn't want to walk the streets with a messy head. Always carry comb and keep your hair clean. And in a pinch, go ahead a put a hat on to cover an unsightly do.

There is room to bend a lot of these rules, but generally I still follow them religiously even when the rest of the world seems to have gotten over it. Never once will you see a white undershirt peeking out from under my collar, and never once will you view a tack tack positioned in a place that is anything less than carefully considered.

So gentlemen, I ask you this: What did the men of your lives teach you about style and clothes that you've remembered and carried with you as you've headed off to make lives of your own?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Another Celebrity Look Alike | In The Public Eye

This one just in from a guy on the bus during my ride home this evening.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Dance | Have Mercy

As Erk steadily posts wonderful photographic discoveries from the University of Wisconsin dance archives, I'm inclined to mention my rekindled interest in Merce Cunningham. While I continue to design costumes for my Warsaw project with Mr. Wilson, I'm looking to Cunningham, Rauschenberg, Cage and the gang as a major resource - serious inspiration.

In spending time with my new book about Merce, I have come across beautiful images of young Steve Paxton working with Merce in the sixties. To my eye they are stunning.

Here he is with the Merce and Carolyn Brown in 1961 - a photograph that at a glance I briefly mistook for something by George Platt Lynes from more or less the same time period.

And again in 1961 as part of a remarkable composition.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fresh Do | Best Random Conversation In Quite Some Time

Below is a transcript of one of the most fun random conversations I have had on the street in quite some time. It was simple, but I loved it so much. And very urban, no?

Guy on street: Whats up, my man?
Me: Not much, bro
G: Fresh do!
M: Thanks
G: No doubt...

And he was right, my do was fresh - just had it cut the morning before!

No Excuses | Pop | A little bit country, a little bit rock'n'roll

I feel no need to apologize for the melodramatic tone of my last post. It happens. Though I do admit to feeling a little silly about some of the things I said.

As a means of healing, I did however do something I have otherwise only heard tales of: I popped the better portion of an entire paycheck on new clothes all in one afternoon. And frankly, it was wonderful. And much needed. My wardrobe now enjoys two new pair of trousers, one pair of jeans, black ankle boots, and a shoe horn.

We're calling the boots "country mod."

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

RE: Evaluation | The Wonderful Sartorialist | Bus Stop, Bus Goes, He Stays, Love Grows...

Most everyone is trying to figure out what to do with their lives, I suppose. Lately it seems that I have been fixating on this idea with a lot more emotion and persistence than usual. Or maybe it just feels that way.

As I shuffle forward, working to bring structure to a career that currently meanders somewhere between fashion and art and theatre, I’m feeling the need to make decisions to help this identity along; to make decisions about the type of work I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and how it can help pave the path for the big fat life in the arts I have always dreamed of.

Like Mom said on the phone this afternoon, “Maybe now’s a good time for you to reevaluate things a little.” And you know what? She’s right. Again.

When I look at The Sartorialist, I become intensely excited and passionately jealous. Its wonderful. The admiration I have for people who manage style with such intrigue and aplomb is a gimme, so my heart quickly goes into the more reactive mode saying “Ugh…why cant that be ME!?!” My wallet suddenly feels so empty, my own sense aesthetic prowess quickly outwitted by the beauties shown in the photographs. I quickly skim over the images of the women, and jump to the men. Men’s clothing is what interests me most, and is clearly where my heart is.

Yesterday, the Sartorialist featured Danny, who we learn to be a tailor at Duncan Quinn. Tailoring is, to a great extent, my blood flow - though I don’t feel I can call myself a tailor. I want to, but I cannot. The image of young Danny on the street in his custom suit is beautiful. His image seems to embody the romance and charm I see in this craft. The fact that he is young somehow makes me feel aligned with him; like he’s a brother of sorts.

Danny, if you’re reading this, is your life as wonderful as this image makes it seem? Please tell me you’re happy.

I live in a city where it feels like these people do not roam the streets. Style is not on the minds of the public in the same way it seems to be in New York or Milan. I’m steadily encouraged and annoyed by this very fact. Might the seeming lack of finesse in how my city dresses be the perfect reason to work here, or the exact reason to leave?

I wonder what the Sartorialist would come up with if he came to Seattle. Who would he photograph? Maybe I should pretend to be him for a day. What would I wear?

The mere thought of being surrounded by people who actually live WITH style, even FOR style, is exciting. I wonder what kind of baggage comes along with it. I wonder how quickly the charm and thrill of catching a glance at these folks would truly last. I wonder how truly enriching experiencing others’ style in the day to day can be. I’ve seen in from a designer’s point of view, but never from the perspective of an inhabitant in a city that encourages it and understands it. I want it on my streets. I want it at the bus stop. I want it again sitting in the bus seat next to me. I want it as I get off at my destination. I want it everywhere!

Theatre has me worn thin; the artifice is just too intense. It is not real. It is all fake, friends. And while I suppose that is kind of the point, I’m still at a loss with it. Fashion, somehow, merges the most real day to day experiences with just enough fantasy and empowerment by way of clothing that allows it to make more sense to me. I cannot pretend to be fulfilled by invented antics on stage – something more genuine is needed. I can, however, find the deepest satisfaction in making something and knowing it is being lived with, loved, sweat on, washed, pressed and re-worn by a living, breathing human being. Fashion lets the street become a stage. It lets ordinary people find a spotlight and become a more active performer in their own lives. And when the choices made about our daily costume become more articulate, more intentional, more personal, it REALLY gets good. The Sartorialist understands this. I work hard to understand this and live it in my own life.

It has been an emotional evening for me, and this blog is a testament to just that. But, that’s what blogs are for, right?

Wear exciting clothing, friends. And find a way to cross my path so I can see what you’ve come up with. You can ride the bus with me, if you’d like.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Doppleganger | Fetch

For whatever reason, strangers in public often feel compelled to tell me I look EXACTLY like various famous people. Here's an image list of those I have been compared to, Brad Pitt being the number one comparison....mentioned by strangers in four of our 50 united states.

Following His Growth

The fabulous and charming Marty is at it again, this time beginning a lengthy stint in Israel. Of all the guys I have met in Seattle, Marty most actively embodies a desire to learn and willingness to explore that one can't help but admire and envy. Congratulations, Marty, and bon voyage!