Camp:When “too much” is just right

(All photos: huffingtonpost/Getty images)

Lady Gaga at the 2019 Met Gala in Brandon Maxwell

 

Of course Lady Gaga won the Met Gala. She had to. She could do no less, because she’s been serving camp as industry leader since 2008. But now she has some steep competition from Billy Porter.

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Billy Porter at Met Gala 2019 in The Blonds

And that’s fine, because we love the spectacle. Still, I have to give credit, where it’s due. The men brought it this year. And that pleasantly surprised me. Menswear on the red carpet hasn’t always been known for glamour. But they impressed. Maybe because the bar is so low for them, and so high for women.

This was more than drag (the divine Mr Porter nonwithstanding) or a coloured tuxedo jacket. It’s always interesting to see who tries to hit the theme (a try is better than a fail in my book), just as much as who hits it out of the park. Although it is performance, it says a lot about the celebrity, how they want to be seen, and how seriously they take it all.

 

It seemed that quite a few men (and not just the younguns like Ezra Miller) decided to get in on the fun.

I’m not quite sure what carrying a spare head is about, but it does answer the question “Is this too much?” in the affirmative. And Hamish Bowles’ purple tux and fabulous feather fringed coat checks every box on the list.

Ezra Miller’s extra set of eyes behind his face flips the script and makes the observed the observer, but Jordan Roth’s custom couture cloak from Iris van Herpen deserves a second look.

Closed, it looks like a classic red stage curtain, but when he raises his arms, you see that it opens to reveal not the stage, but the audience seats. So who’s performing and who’s observing. A nice bit of table turning there.

Well done, lads!

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Less, but Better: Fashion Sustainability

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Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Well, it’s that time of year again: Futurelearn’s got a new fashion course out. It’s called Fashion & Sustainability. They‘ve had fashion related courses in the past. This time, the courseis being run by the London College of Fashion’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion in collaboration with luxury fashion group Kering (parent company of Gucci, Puma and Stella McCartney to name a few).

I‘ve only just completed Week 1 of the 6-week course, but I can tell right off, that it’s a bit more academic and philosophical than Fashion Revolution‘s course, but it’s in the same niche.

From a maker point of view, I think Hannah Thiessen‘s Slow Knitting was a great pulling together of sustainability thought in the yarn-crafting community.

Trendstop Founder Jaana Jätyri talks about Less but Better as a means of getting companies to shift their focus and reduce production that ends up on the sale rack.

I‘m looking forward to keeping you updated.

 

What’s on my needles: I‘ve finally cast on again – Alix‘s Lace Prayer Shawl by Myrna Stahman for a dear cousin of mine who’s not so well at the moment. More on the shawl later.

 

The Art and Craft of Optimism

Cicely Tyson Time cover Optimism
Actress Cicely Tyson on Time‘s Optimism Issue

The current issue of TIME magazine, edited by Ava DuVernay, got me thinking about optimism and crafts.

She writes that art, „calls to the optimism within us and beckons us to breathe… a necessary reminder to grasp joy with both arms and embrace it like a great love.“ I think of making and craft that way. There is an eternal optimism in casting on, starting a project, or even just pickingup a work in progress to work a few rows. It‘s a neat feeling of control of the microcosm of a glove, sock, hat or pullover that is deeply fulfilling.

What fills you with optimism?

 

Knitting and PoC

 

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Photo by Thomas Chauke on Pexels.com

I know I haven’t been on a few of my knitting blog reads for a while, but it seems I’ve missed quite a lot.

Makers of Colour took umbrage at a post by Karen over at Fringe Association, who wants to visit India and add more colour to her wardrobe.

Here are links: Original post, annotation and analysis  by thecolormustard on Instagram, Karen’s Mea Culpa and the ensuing Discussion thread over on Ravelry.

The discussion from January 15 is a very interesting read. It was closed after 34 pages, but I think it’s worth a browse. There are moving stories of makers’ experiences, along with comments, questions and suggestions for making Ravelry and the fibre world more inclusive.

 

More great links from the thread:

Jeanette Sloan has a list of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) designers and crafters. What a great start!

Layla Saad’s Me and White Supremacy Workbook

Winter reading: just finished

I just finished reading a book that‘s been on my list for a while now, The Lost Art of Dress by Linda Przybyszewski.

A fascinating work by Professor Przybyszewski, a historian of law, fashion and culture describes the past and the development of fashion, fads (which used to mean For A Day!) and dress codes.

What fascinated me was the decline of Home Economics as women‘s options in academia opened up, and how Pop Art, the feminist movement and the Youth Quake of the 60s and 70s shifted the focus of fashion designers and of society to youth as the ideal of Beauty.

I wonder what she’d think of the Kardashians’ influence on the modern body beauty ideal and athleisure…

Kudos as well to Prof Pski, for integrating African American Dress Doctors into her book. This led me to research African American Dress Doctors Charleszine Spears and Ella Mae Washington, who also penned a teaching text in 1949 called Color in Dress: for Dark-Skinned People. Luckily, I have come across a digital copy archived by the American National Museum of African American History and Culture.

My Pinterest board to accompany the book.

Art in Everyday Life by Harriet and Vetta Goldstein

Interview:Guilt-free knitting

Knitting as Self-care

The best way to get through winter, especially after the party season is to take time for a little self care.

Dion Evette is a young author, who considers self-care as different from self-centredness. Here’s what she had to say:

Why did you decide to write this book?
It was actually suggested that I write a book on self-care by a couple of friends who were looking to take better care of themselves and stay on top of their pampering skills. Better to help them act ‘as if’.

What was your inspiration?
I wrote this book as the pampered housewife, what I believe to be the pampered housewife. At least the one that lives in my head. She lives a very opulent lifestyle.

So the pampered housewife is being pampered by herself?
Yes. I feel the pampering starts with yourself. When your husband and those around you see how well you take careo of yourself, they know that they need to step up their game and I believe it gets you even more spoiled in the end. They want to be a part of what makes you happy and relaxed, so they go above and beyond to make that happen.

Why do you think women are often afraid of self-care?
I think the we are shamed into being afraid of self-care as if indulgence is a sin. As a black woman in [The United States of] America you often get the “who do you think you are?” look as if it is crazy for you to seek any kind of comfort. I believe women of all backgrounds feel some semblance of this pressure at some point in their lives. As humans we believe the more we work and the less we relax means that we are working hard and doing better when we are actually doing harm to ourselves.

What role do hobbies play in self-care?
I think that hobbies are the most fun and exciting part of self-care! You get to try out all the different crazy things you put on your bucketlist as a teenager and find what suits you the most. Hobbies make you happy and just sitting around and vegging out in the bath tub might not be your thing. Maybe you like to watch movies alone or go hiking with a friend or to a cooking class. So many things to do so always make time in your schedule to try a new thing; you might just find a new hobby.

A lot of people, but knitters in particular use acquisition of things (we call it stash) to feel good. And then hide it from their partner. What’s the difference in your opinion between stash and self-care?
I think the huge difference between stash and self-care is the absence of shame in self-care. No need to hide how well you treat yourself because you have no fear that anyone will look down on you for it or think you selfish. That’s the whole point of self-care – getting comfortable being the receiver that you naturally are.

Other Self-care links:Becky Stewart at KnitOm talks about Knitting to help with stress, depression and chronic pain.

From the archives I

Pilgrim and the Heart of the Rose
Edward Burne-Jones Pilgrim and the Heart of the Rose / 1901, wool and silk tapestry

When it’s as warm as it has been last week in Germany, it’s great museum weather. Well, so I thought. A few days ago, I took part in a Museum night (buy a ticket and have entry to museums, events, tours between 6pm and midnight). To celebrate 20 years of Museum nights, many museums dug deep into their archives to come up with something related to 20. The Natural History Museum for instance had an exhibit about hippos in the Rhine back when the Rhine was 20 degrees Celsius (68F). Very fitting considering the temperatures today.

We went to the City Gallery, the Baden State Museum and the museum of Applied Art in Karlsruhe. While textile museums can be few and far between, Applied Art museums (Angewandte Kunst) will often have a few textile pieces, and are generally great at putting art and design into context.

We caught a tour called ‘The 20 years that influenced Art History- 1890-1910’ and saw this lovely tapestry by Edward Burne-Jones.

Hot weather crafting posts from my archives:

Summer wardrobes

Knitting as Deep Play

Autumn Wardrobe planning

As we haven’t gone on holiday yet, it’s hard to wrap my head around autumn knits just yet.

Stay hydrated dear readers!

 

 

Summer Reading

macro photography of black sunglasses on sand
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

My kids absolutely hate the thought of doing anything remotely school-related during the summer. And that includes reading anything that could possibly be edifying or remotely educating in any way. I, on the other hand, like to stock up on books throughout the year so that I have something nearby to read, when the days get too sticky and muggy for me to even contemplate taking up a knitting needle.

Here are a few books (fiction and non-fiction), that I’ve read in summers past, that I can recommend, and what’s on my ‘reading now’ part of the bookshelf… What are you reading this summer?

Books to Change how we see People
Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. The reading of this taught me that gender does not have anything to do with love, friendship and heroism.
Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. Fascinating what behavioral scientists learn about us humans.
Going, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck. Recently translated German bestseller about Germany’s attempt to come to grips with what immigration really means.

Books to Change how we see the world around us
The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. Another translated bestseller written by a forester about how trees grow, form friendships, raise their kids and have a different sense of time than we do.
The Swarm: A Novel by Frank Schätzing. Packed with research and action, bringing science fiction and environmentalism together. I would love this to be filmed.

On My Bookshelf
Limit by Frank Schatzing. My son gave this to me as a gift, and it’s a bit of a doorstop.
Book of Knitting Patterns by Mary Thomas – I jump backwards and forwards trying to envision these timeless patterns in modern yarns living in my stash at the moment.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin  Nosrat. Because it’s lovely to laze somewhere in the shade and read about food and look at the gorgeous illustrations.

 

 

Other reading lists:

Guardian reading list

TED’s summer reading list

Chaos, Gardens and Knitting

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I finally got around to seeing This Beautiful Fantastic week, and it‘s got me thinking about Gardens and chaos.

As I wrote earlier, the german title pretty much gave away the idea that they were trying to make an Amelie film, but I was looking forward to the knitwear. Which was a bit of a letdown, but I started thinking about why people love gardening, gardens, and what the film has tried to say about life.

Bella is an orphan, who was abandoned in a box in a park. That would make anyone anxious, I‘d imagine. Bella attempts to control her life by imposing extreme order on every aspect of her life. She doesn‘t want to let in any chaos, which brings us to gardens. Nature can be chaotic, unpredictable and well, wild. That‘s why humans developed order and culture to tame Nature in its various forms: none more lovely than the garden.

A garden is the creation of order from chaos. It’s the creation of a little paradise, or eden. A refuge from the wild or hectic hustle and bustle of daily life. A chance to centre oneself and reconnect with nature and one‘s self. In fact, it is only when Bella is able to reconnect with Nature through her garden, that she is able to connect with her own creativity and attain her goals of becoming a writer, making friends, finding love and overcoming that anxiety.

Although the garden shots were lovely (although whose point of view were the out of focus flowers supposed to represent?), there were too many references (the story in the story brought ‚The Little Prince’ to mind) to other works for this to shine on its own merits. It was predictable, but that can be comforting at times. If you want a little more excitement, look into how many instances of twinning or doubling you can spot throughout the film.

From gardening, it‘s a short jump back to crafting and knitting, because it‘s all about taking that „chaos“ or undefined potential and making something out of it. And that’s why I love knitting.

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Andrew Scott (aka Moriarty from the „Sherlock“ series) in This Beautiful Fantastic

 

 

 

Diversity in German fashion

Fran Summers Vogue Germany 072018

I ran into this Vogue cover today, and of course had to take it home. Not just because it is simply stunning, but also because it is actually quite rare for a black model to get the cover of Vogue Germany. While Vogue in the US and the UK are considered quite groundbreaking in pursuing diversity in Fashion, Vogue Germany hasn’t so much.

After a bit of digging, I found out how rare this is, and yet, there’s still a ways to go.

A Brief History of Diversity of Vogue Germany Covers

Vogue Germany existed briefly toward the end of the Weimar Republic (1929-1930). It came back to Germany in 1979, following the brand’s acquisition by Conde Nast and the following worldwide expansion. The German language edition serves German-speaking Europe: Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Iman (above, left) was the first black model to grace the cover in June 1982. Of the fifteen times a black model has been on the cover (alone, in a collage or a group of models), Naomi Campbell (middle) is the clear winner, with 5 covers to her name. Special mention to Jamaican model Lois Samuels (right), because although she appeared with a group of models, she actually indirectly influenced the Cover title!

Every few years or so, Vogue Germany will have a black model on their cover. After Iman, came Jennifer Beals, Beverly Peele, Naomi Campbell, Lois Samuels, Kiara Kabukuru, Alek Wek (though sadly inside the fold), Arlenis Sosa, Lais Ribeiro, Liya Kebede, Yasmin Wijnaldum and now Nigerian Mayowa Nicholas. The first asian cover model was Ling Tan (November 1998). Not a lot, still nothing to sneeze at.

I’m hoping future covers of Vogue Germany will show how diverse German society has become in the last few years…

 

photosource: Condé Nast/ vogue.de