Unordered List

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Pre-Fall 2013: DSquared, Badgley Mischka, Carolina Herrera, and Prabal Gurung

Previously: Ports 1961, Pringle of Scotland, Vera Wang, and more. 

I probably complain way too much about the aesthetic mid-season lookbooks. You know, they way the photoshoots are often just a series of sullen-looking teenagers standing in a glaring white refrigerator unit while wearing a minidress. WELL. DSquared's lookbook is not so. The clothes themselves are not exactly groundbreaking, but they are stylish as hell. And better yet, the model and her poses are full of personality.
"Make a comment about my socks and sandals. I dare you."

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Menswear and The Hour.

Previously: Bel Rowley and Freddie Lyon.

I should probably save myself some time and just rename my blog "Not all suits look the same, you know!" since that's what I always seem to end up writing about. My favourite movies for costume design are often ones where the characters wear nominally similar outfits like uniforms (Alien; Master & Commander) or suits (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; Inception), thus forcing the costumers to be extra thoughtful about differentiating each character's personal style. Since The Hour is a 1950s office drama it definitely falls into this category in terms of menswear, although the women do get a little more leeway. In fact the costume designers took pains to make sure each of the female characters has a very distinct dress sense -- even to the point of anachronism, in the case of Bel's unrealistically glamourous office attire. For the men this job was a little trickier since they were hampered by the ubiquity of the modern suit, but they still managed to include a great deal of character-specific variety within those parameters.
When he first appears, Hector seems like the ultimate upstanding English gentleman: masculine, confident, and soberly dressed. However, part of these assumptions stem from the way he clashes with the far more eccentric and scruffy-looking Freddie, a relationship that changes drastically in season 2. Actually, Hector has a very relaxed way of wearing a suit. He looks comfortable, and wears rather more casual styles than many of his peers -- paler, and often made from thicker, softer fabrics, which fits in with his past as a sportsman and a soldier. Freddie's transition from youthful rebel to ambitious adult journalist is illustrated explicitly by his new wardrobe of narrow, black suits, and as soon as he starts wearing them he begins to stand taller and have better posture. Not so with Hector, who was always comfortable in a waistcoat and tie -- and looks it. I think the difference is that Hector is happy to look conventional and has never really thought about dressing any other way, whereas Freddie's new appearance of conventionality is just a veneer he puts on for his own purposes.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Pre-Fall 2013: Ports 1961, Pringle of Scotland, Vera Wang, and more.

After the spectacle that was Chanel's Mary Queen Of Scot's-inspired show, I was fully prepared for the rest of Pre-Fall season to underwhelm me. And here, living up to those expectations, are some of the highlights of the first couple of days.
Ports 1961 was actually one of my favourite shows so far, for all that they went for that old favourite of mid-season lookbooks, the "teen zombie in a refrigerator" photoshoot. Focusing on Autumnal colour-blocking, this collection was dramatic and strangely oppressive -- perhaps thanks to the model's undead gaze directed straight into the camera.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Chanel Pre-Fall 2013: Lagerfeld, King of Scots?

Click here for previous Chanel posts.

As a Scot, I can be kind of snobbish about supposedly Scottish-themed fashion shows. However, this season's Chanel managed to avoid any of the expected ugly-tartan pitfalls and turned out to be just as spectacular as last year's Pre-Fall India collection. I suspect this is partly down to the fact that Karl Lagerfeld has the luxury of visiting Imaginary Scotland, which is significantly different from Real Scotland in that it primary contains castles and expensive whisky rather junkies, mud, and football hooliganism. Had it not been snowing on the night of the show, I can only assume that Lagerfeld would've hired kilt-wearing male models to grate ice-cubes onto the audience from the parapets above.
pics from Style.com
One of the problems with the backwards nature of fashion seasons is that when you're looking at Summer clothes it's usually Winter in real life, meaning that one's critical faculties are occasionally taken over by thoughts like: "WHY would anyone want to wear a floral miniskirt when everything is so damn cold?" Not so in this case, wherein the "Pre-Fall" (ie, Summer, as we would say in non-Fashionese) collection looks entirely suitable for the weather we're having in real life. I found it immensely comforting to know that all the models striding through the chilly hallways of Linlithgow castle got to wear flat shoes and blankets instead of looking knock-kneed and frostbitten as they so often do.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Star Trek Into Darkness teaser trailer theories.

If you thought my posts on The Avengers were in-depth, then gird your loins because Star Trek is gonna be 10,000x worse. Despite being raised in a household without access to television (yeah, I know, I'm making up for lost time now) I've always been a maximum Star Trek fan thanks to a combination of tie-in novels, and a mother who subscribed to xeroxed Bring Back Trek zines during her own childhood. So you could say that I'm kind of invested in this movie. 
This trailer really takes the name "teaser" to heart because it's so damn uninformative that the Star Trek corner of the internet is already self-cannibalising. WHAT IS HAPPENING? NOBODY KNOWS, BUT EVERYONE'S CAPSLOCK KEY SEEMS TO BE STUCK ANYWAY. To be honest, it would still inspire this type of reaction even if it was just a couple of shots of the Enterprise flying around and Kirk flossing his teeth. Unfortunately, we can't even analyse the style of the trailer for ~hidden meaning~ because it's clearly just following the same formula as the recent Avengers, Dark Knight Rises and Iron Man 3 trailers: vaguely apocalyptic danger, with the villain providing an ominous monologue in the background. The biggest question right now is Who Is Benedict Cumberbatch? There were already three popular theories knocking around -- Gary Mitchell, Sybok, and Khan -- but I think that all three can still be backed up by things we see in the trailer.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Costume design and "The Hour": Bel Rowley and Freddie Lyon.

(N.B. This post is mostly about costumes so I've tried to keep it as spoiler-free as possible. There are a couple of minor characterisation spoilers, but nothing plot-related for either season.)

I recently mainlined the entire six-episode first season of The Hour, and it quickly rocketed to the top of my list of Best Historical Dramas Ever. Basically, it is flawless. I think it's fair to say that I'm pretty easy when it comes to overtly feminist historical dramas, but while The Bletchley Circle is great, The Hour goes a lot deeper than a three-episode crime show could ever manage. On top of working with the intriguing premise of the birth of TV journalism, the main characters are all beautifully three-dimensional and interact with the same levels of humour and emotional complexity as seen in The Good Wife. 
I love the way The Hour manages to integrate an obsessive attention to historical detail with a few necessary elements of romanticisation. They sourced period-specific pencils for the characters to use on set, but at the same time the basic concept of the show relies upon a 28-year-old woman being the producer of the BBC's flagship news programme. Obviously in 1956 this would be impossible but The Hour makes it effortlessly believable, and Bel's relationship with the two male leads -- Freddie the writer and Hector the presenter -- is the heart and soul of the show. As for historical detail, The Hour bears most of the hallmarks of a classic thriller about journalism, censorship and government conspiracies, and the topics Freddie and Bel investigate are very well chosen. The first season focuses on Cold War paranoia in London while the Suez Crisis rages on overseas, and I'm already obsessed with the amount of historical detail going in the background of season 2. Freddie, Bel and Hector are currently looking into corruption and vice in Soho, and we're already starting to see hints of Rachmanism and precursers to the Profumo Affair -- even though in 1957, all that was still unknown to the general public.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Yoko Ono's provocative new menswear collection.

"I always wanted to put this line of clothing out in the world. But the humor of it was not understood, maybe, until now." -- Yoko Ono.

I've reviewed my fair share of supposedly-ridiculous menswear since starting this blog, and it always inspires a very different reaction to the more outlandish fashions for women. It's not exactly news that women get a lot more leeway than men when it comes to personal style, but I feel like Yoko Ono's designs are not even all that bizarre when compared to something like the puffball outfits and rubber fetish masks of Walter Van Bierendonck.
The clothes in Ono's line for Opening Ceremony (originally drawn in 1969, and inspired by John Lennon's "sexy bod") are relatively simple, mostly consisting of conservatively-cut trousers plus a range of t-shirts, jackets and hoodies. They're even in a restrained palette of black and white with a few pink accents -- and in 2012, pink is no longer a big deal for mainstream menswear. The "weirdness" is honestly very low-key, but is still getting huge amounts of publicity because a) Yoko Ono, and b) isn't it super hilarious when men's fashion makes overt references to sex?

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World. (Part 2)

Previously: Master & Commander, Part 1.

The characters in Master & Commander have a lot to say about the division between Navy and non-Navy sailors, whether it's out loud in dialogue or implicitly through their costuming. The final battle of the movie hinges upon the HMS Surprise being mistaken for a whaling ship, a ruse which is helped along by the recent addition of some former whalers to the crew. The idea of a Navy ship being neat and organised is so ingrained that their "disguise" is merely to seem messier and less competent than usual, and for the officers to wear brown oilcoats over their uniforms. For the everyday crewmembers, the task of upholding the image of the British Empire is to keep the ship running as cleanly and smoothly as possible; for the officers, it's to maintain an appearance of upstanding British aristocracy even in the middle of a storm.
The finest example of the British Seafaring Gentleman archetype in Master & Commander is, surprisingly, not Captain Aubrey. In fact it's one of the midshipman, Peter Calamy. Calamy is the most well-respected of the midshipmen -- experienced enough to be a good leader, but still young enough to be idealistic. With his short hair, sideburns and long trousers he definitely falls into the category of the proto-Victorian gentlemen, and unlike the younger midshipmen he's relatively clean and kempt. By contrast, Aubrey looks a lot more 18th century and careworn, and has clearly relaxed with age. Most of his clothes are old and worn, and in private he regularly strips down to stained shirtsleeves and knee-breeches. 

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Now I, too, can look just like Joseph Gordon Levitt and Sherlock Holmes...?

It's a while since I wrote a genuinely stupid post (see also: my immortal treatise on the topic of wallpaper in BBC Sherlock), but I got some new shoes today and they're OMG totes amazing, you guys. OK, "new" may not be the most accurate word, but believe me when I say that when it comes to spending £20 on men's shoes, going vintage is infinitely better value than buying something new from, say, Primark. These particular shoes are in a style I've been vaguely admiring for a while, now: a kind of cross between desert boots and wingtips.
I've never written a post about Inception (one of my very favourite movies for contemporary costume design) because the topic has already been covered very skillfully by someone else. But I will say that one of my favourite details in the movie is the pair of boots worn by Joseph Gordon Levitt's character, Arthur. All of the main characters in Inception are snappy dressers in their own way, but Arthur is definitely the most dapper and fashionable of the lot. And in almost every scene in the movie he's wearing this particular pair of John Varvatos spectator boots:

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World. (Part 1)

Master & Commander is #1 on my list of movies where I pine for a sequel. The thing is, even nine years on, they could still totally make one. The hope just makes it all the more painful, my friends. Master & Commander is so close to perfect that it even withstands the presence of Bach's Prelude for Cello in G, one of the most overused pieces of classical music in movie history. And as for the visuals, while M&C is mostly dominated by Naval uniforms, I find its costume design to be far more satisfying than a hell of a lot of other historical movies.
As a war story with an all-male cast, Master & Commander is immediately predisposed to look more realistic because in movieland, war + men = dirt = authenticity. While men's costumes in period dramas are typically less showy than women's, they tend to be a lot more accurate because female characters are almost always idealised. Pirates of the Caribbean came out at around the same time as M&C, and while it's a Disney comedy about zombie pirates and therefore can be taken with a pinch of salt, it's still weird to see so many scenes where Keira Knightley looks immaculate while the male leads look like they haven't washed for a week. The female lead in a historical drama is expected to be alluring regardless of the state of everyone else, but the cast of M&C is made up of rugged, grime-spattered sailors who occasionally happen to be played by handsome movie stars. They even made the actors get their teeth stained in the name of historical authenticity, which I can pretty much guarantee has never happened to Keira Knightley in anything. Although in Master & Commander's defence, a 19th century Naval ship is one of the very few instances where it's legitimate for there to be zero female characters, so it doesn't actually bother me in that regard.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Rick Owens, Spring 2013.

Rick Owens is a maximum expert in the field of draping people in 37 yards of fabric that look like either dust sheets or blackout curtains. Conversely, he's also pretty damn good at tailoring, albeit the sort of tailoring required to make the shoulderpads fit really well on things that look like a High Priestess costume in an episode of Star Trek. Given this combination of gothy apocalypse drapery and Needs More Gold alien royalty-wear, it's probably not all that surprising that I kinda love him.
pics from Style.com
This season's show opened with the simplest outfits in the collection, a selection of shapeless shifts that will be surely an A+ choice next time you decide to dress up as a Sexy Coffee-Filter for Halloween. Not being massively psyched about beige shift-dresses at the best of times these outfits didn't really grab me, but thankfully things warmed up pretty quickly after that.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Skyfall: The Costumes

Previously: Part 1: Bond as a blunt instrument. and Part 2: The new Bond Girls.

You thought Bond Season was over? Well, it's never over. I gotta be suitblogging 24/7, or else I wither away and die. Bond costumes are always a big deal because the films rely so much upon 007 coming across as the coolest guy you could possibly imagine, which can sometimes be a little tricky when you're dealing with a man who wears a two-piece suit every day of his life and spends most of the time interacting with other men in two-piece suits. But hey! They managed it. And will almost certainly be ignored at the Oscars for their trouble, because when it comes to costumes nobody ever nominates movies set in the present day.
The lynchpin of Bond's style is his timelessness. His staple outfit in the novels is a navy blue suit with a black silk knit tie, a costume that can be handily reintroduced at any point during the five-decade history of the films. While Bond's style does evolve somewhat over the years, the only slip-ups have been when he tried to be too on-trend, such as that period in the '70s when Roger Moore thought it would be a good idea to start wearing flares. In many ways 007's character is rather conservative, meaning that while he does come across as stylish and timeless, he's also the type of guy who'd be tremendously out of place in mainstream modern culture. Even back in the '60s he was overtly and manfully ignorant of popular culture, claiming that the Beatles were unlistenable. The James Bond brand has survived this long in part because it's so damn hard to make him seem out of date.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Skyfall: the new Bond Girls.

Previously: Skyfall: Bond as a blunt instrument. 

In the form of Judi Dench's M, Skyfall gave us two things I never thought I'd see in a Bond film: an awesome female character who is emphatically not a Bond Girl, and a secondary character who has real impact on the plot. The latter is almost more surprising than the former, because Bond movies are by nature such a one-man show. The formula is simple: someone melodramatic, weird, and probably foreign wants to torpedo the world economy and/or build a giant space-laser, and Bond has to stop them. Along the way, Bond is helped or hindered (in the case of most Bond Girls, usually both at once) by various other characters, but ultimately he's a lone wolf. Skyfall is the only movie I can think of where a secondary character receives so much screentime and is so clearly vital both to the story and to Bond as a character.
Judi Dench's M was partly inspired by real-life MI5 director general Stella Rimington, the first woman to hold the job and the first to have her identity revealed to the general public. While Rimington served from 1992-1996, Judi Dench's M was in the job from 1995 (GoldenEye) until the present day, making her 77 years old at the time of her decision to fight Javier Bardem's campy cyber-terrorist supervillain using home-made nail bombs and a sawn-off shotgun. If you don't think that this is the best thing ever, then you're clearly a slug, because, well... do you know how many old ladies you see in roles like this? The list pretty much begins and ends with Helen Mirren in RED. And before you all rush to the comments section with your various Favourite Old Ladies Who Get Shit Done (although obviously I would very much appreciate that list), remember that for every fifty Dumbledores in popular culture, we get maybe one or two Professor McGonagalls. M's role in the earlier movies was mostly that of a generic representation of The Man rather than a person with much background of his own, but Judi Dench's M grew into a fully-fledged character in her own right -- in many ways, an antihero as compelling as 007 himself.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

A "take your mind off the election" fashion special: Part 2.

Link to Part 1: Thierry Mugler and Viktor & Rolf.

Can I tag this with "apocalypse fashion"? Sure, why not; I do what I want. These clothes may not fulfill my strict requirements of looking like they were dragged from the dismal rubble of a dystopian cityscape and/or desert, but I think the spirit is definitely there.
This season's Yohji Yamamoto was rather grimmer than usual, full of frayed edges and the black, draped fabrics of mourning clothes. While Yamamoto has a history of dressing his models like bag-ladies (his term, not mine), this season had a more graceful look to it -- even though there were still a lot of rough fabrics and scruffy hemlines on show. The only acknowledgement of the Spring season was the amount of skin on show, but thanks to the models' aggressive demeanour and the chilly colour palette, it didn't seem like a very warm or cheerful Spring.

Spring fashion, 2013: A take-your-mind-off-the-election special edition.

Obviously the appreciation of beautiful things is a universal pleasure, but today's posts (yes, posts, plural!) are specifically a gift to everyone out there who is currently stressing out over the US election results. I'm not even American, and I still feel tense about it. So as a balm to everyone's nerves as we try to ignore the grim horrors of a 24-hour news cycle with nothing to report on until tomorrow, here are some pretty things to look at:
For a label that's managed to bridge the divide between Ready-To-Wear accessibility and fidelity to its own design history, look no further than Thierry Mugler. Four seasons on from Nicola Formichetti's introduction as the label's new creative direction, Mugler are still coming up with fresh designs that run the gamut from Lady Gaga-influenced PVC dresses to some comparatively sedate (but still fashion-forward) business attire.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Elementary 1x05: "Lesser Evils".

Previously: Elementary 1x03, Child Predator. 

This show really needs to solve its "Oh, it's that guy!" problem. As in: Who was the murderer this week? Oh, it's that guy! That guy we saw on The Good Wife, or Castle, or Suits. This week's murderer was based on real-life Angel Of Death Kristen Gilbert, which makes me wonder... has there ever been a real serial killer who based all their murders off episodes of CSI? Has that happened yet? If not, it's only a matter of time. Then CSI will make a special episode about it, and the universe will implode in on itself in a metapocalyse of mediocre TV writing.
This episode saw Holmes and Watson deal with another criminal who exploits his perceived position of authority to prey on the weak. Also, this is the second time we've seen Holmes come up against someone who uses their medical expertise to hurt people who trust them, indicating that this may be a theme for the show in general. Does part of Holmes' backstory in London, and his subsequent addiction, relate to someone having exploited their power over him? It seems unlikely that it'd be a doctor because he clearly trusts and admires Watson with relative ease, but... maybe a psychiatrist? The writers' ongoing focus on power dynamics is surely there for a reason, and I suspect that Holmes' insight into dominant/submissive personalities might end up being this show's equivalent to House, MD's infamous "everybody lies" motif.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Banana Karenina.

Anna Karenina is a book about Keira Knightley falling in love with some guy from History, and then some problems happening as a result. Banana Republic is a shop that makes clothes for non-poor Americans. Finally, at long last, these two have come together to give birth to the selection of Russian literature-themed womenswear that we've all been waiting for.
The thing is, I do understand why movie tie-in fashion lines exist. They're a cynical moneyspinner, but the reason why they work as a cynical monespinner is because people like the clothes they see in movies. Unfortunately, this Banana Republic collection is so distant from its supposed inspiration that it could just as easily be a tie-in for Gossip Girl or Mad Men or... anything ever produced by Banana Republic. It looks quite nice, but what's the point?

Monday, 29 October 2012

Gareth Pugh, Spring 2013 Ready-To-Wear.

It's important to remember that no matter how obscure your demographic, the world of fashion will have something tailored specifically to fit you. Gareth Pugh primarily designs for the alien robot market, a small but apparently significant group that's managed to keep him in business for several years. It's so hard to find clothes that flatter one's chitinous exoskeleton, you know?
This show was considerably more relaxed than anything else I've seen by Gareth Pugh. It definitely qualifies as Ready To Wear, but is that really what one wants from this particular designer? I miss the metallic robot outfits and the black-and-white pierrot gowns. And quite apart from that, Pugh just doesn't seem to be all that good at more conservative designs like these. By the previous standards of his own work this show was surprisingly wearable, but not necessarily very interesting.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Skyfall: Bond as a blunt instrument.

When Daniel Craig was first cast in the role of 007, the aim was to revitalise Bond as a more realistic action hero like Jason Bourne. Unfortunately, Casino Royale never quite lived up to that -- and the less that's said of Quantum of Solace, the better.

The two main problems with Casino Royale were that it's damn difficult to make an accessible thriller about the unavoidably static environment of a card game, and also that the writers of had the wrong idea of how to make Bond "serious" in the first place. After twenty films of varying levels of quality and ridiculousness, I understand the reasoning behind trying to make a grittier 007, especially since the genre has been parodied so often already. But in the case of Casino Royale, the filmmakers' idea of how to make Bond more realistic was to excise much of the humour of the old-school films, and add more angst. As an origin story for the character we see in Skyfall, it works. As a Bond film, it was slick but not very much fun.



I'm honestly surprised by how excellent Skyfall turned out to be. I'd heard good things, but the concept of a well-written Bond film with nuanced characterisation hadn't even occurred to me. The phrase "best Bond ever" comes to mind, although it's probably unfair to compare a lightweight post-war spy movie with a big-budget thriller made in 2012. This was a smarter, more modern Bond that still gelled perfectly with the legacy of the series as a whole. Rather than going for the "any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic" gadgetry of the Pierce Brosnan era, the cyber-terrorism plot of Skyfall forced Bond back into his original role as a blunt instrument. And yes, Skyfall is a movie that manages to use the term "cyber-terrorism" in a non-embarrassing fashion. Who even knew that was possible?

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Haider Ackermann, Spring 2013.

Haider Ackermann is my fave and Tilda Swinton's fave, which means two things: 1) that he's been judged to be Objectively Awesome by a panel of experts, and 2) that Tilda Swinton and I are destined to be BFFs.
Ackermann tends to stick very closely to his tried-and-tested design themes, but I'm of the opinion that that's A-OK because no one else is doing what he's doing. I'd divide this particular collection into three sections: pajama-style outfits that closely resemble his other recent work, tailored suits, and translucent, floaty gowns that represent an interesting step away from his usual fare.

Monday, 22 October 2012

SUPER IMPORTANT: Iron Man 3 promo pics.

This is the point where you lose all respect for me as a writer and an adult and a human because I'm posting about a) a trailer for a trailer, and b) a bunch of uninformative photos of superheroes standing around and looking at stuff. (N.B. Yes, a trailer for a trailer. Please direct your tears of frustration at Marvel, not me.)
These promo pictures truly are a reassuring balm because thanks to them, we no longer have to worry that Iron Man wouldn't appear in Iron Man 3, or that Robert Downey Jr had suddenly become non-handsome. We can now rest easy in the knowledge that RDJ continues to be pleasurable to look at, and that at some point in this movie he puts on the Iron Man armour and fights something. I swear, superhero movie promotional material is more tightly controlled than press-releases from presidential campaign offices. 

Friday, 19 October 2012

Elementary 1x03: Child Predator


Previously: Elementary 1x02: While You Were Sleeping.

The opening scene of this episode was so dire that I was straight-up boggling at the screen. A twelve-year-old gets into a car with a strange man, who then leaves "THANK YOU" balloons behind as a taunting gift for the kid's parents? WHAT. First of all, this is cheesy as hell, but also it doesn't make sense once we know that the boy has the emotional intelligence to begin manipulating his captor almost immediately, and within two years is masterminding his own crimes. Our society is so riddled with paranoia about child abduction and paedophiles that the "get into my van" narrative is something that children are warned about from a very young age, making this episode's opening scene rather difficult to believe. I realise that putting it this way does sound somewhat like victim-blaming, like smart kids "shouldn't" get kidnapped, but considering the characters involved I feel like it's a fair point.
It would have made more sense if the writers had implied that Adam had shown signs of psychopathy even as a child, and that he might have "allowed" himself to be abducted out of curiosity. There was already some hint of that in the form of Adam saying he enjoyed seeing his grieving parents on TV, but it was never really followed through. Either you can have a manipulative teenage genius serial-killer who forces an adult man to be his accomplice, or can you have a character who at the age of twelve is naiive enough to get into the car of a complete stranger in a scene that seemed like it was lifted directly from a PSA video. I just don't think that they can plausibly be the same person, even allowing for the effects of trauma.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The iconic menswear of James Bond.

In the run-up to Skyfall I've had a few requests for Bond-related costume posts. Well, I'm afraid that's probably not going to happen, except maybe for Skyfall itself. The reason for this is I try to write about things that are slightly off the beaten track, costume-wise. There are some TV shows and movies that already get a lot of mainstream coverage for their costumes, either because they're showy and beautiful like Downton Abbey or Titanic, or because style and product placement are an acknowledged feature of the story. The James Bond franchise definitely falls into that second category, with Bond's suits being some of the most iconic movie costumes of the past 50 years. Just try counting how many lazy dudes you see at Halloween parties this year, wearing a tux and claiming to be 007.
The character of James Bond is all about style: signature cocktails, well-tailored suits, and vehicles and weaponry whose serial numbers are lovingly recited in every single movie. There are entire books dedicated to Bond's costumes, to his accessories, his gadgets, and the love-interests who are purposefully written as being less memorable than his trusty Walther PPK. There have been whole museum exhibitions catering to fans of Bond props and costumes. Basically, as a casual watcher rather than a hardcore 007 nerd, I have little to offer. It'd be the blogging equivalent of an English undergrad thesis on Pride & Prejudice. HOWEVER! I am able to offer you a plethora of links to other, far more well-informed people!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Chanel, Spring 2013: At least there's no iceberg this time?

Click here for previous posts on Chanel.

What's the theme of this season's show? You know there must be one, because Karl Lagerfeld is in charge. This time last year it was an Under The Sea theme featuring Florence Welch emerging from a conch shell, but this one is a little more obscure. I'm going to let you mull it over a bit and then reveal the truth after the cut, so for now just take a gander at this outfit and try to divine its ~hidden meaning~.
pics from Style.com
Of all the challenges one has to face in order to reach the Fashionista's Stone, Lagerfeld's would surely be the Snape-style brain-teaser that relies too heavily on metaphor. Actually, the idea of Lagerfeld as Fashion Snape is worryingly believable... 

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

My continuing love-affair with the costume design of Revenge.

Click here to read previous Revenge reviews. Warning: This post contains unavoidable spoilers for the first two episodes of season 2.

I'm impressed by the way Revenge has transitioned smoothly from its original single-season arc to a more long-running format. With a specifically goal-oriented storyline like Emily's revenge plot I was worried that we'd end up in a Twin Peaks type situation with the writers frantically trying to pull new plotlines out of nowhere, but season two is already shaping up to be excellent. I don't see much point in discussing every little plot detail because there are just so many, but my favourite thing so far has been the way Victoria's resurrection was revealed almost immediately. Revenge is a soap opera at heart, but it's damn well-written, and I admire the decision to let Victoria out at the beginning of the season when a lesser show would surely have kept that secret hanging over half of the characters for much longer.
The huge gap in Emily's backstory is a real gift to this show, particularly since it means we now get to see a whole bunch more of her Batman side. Batmanda is one of my very favourite parts of Revenge because watching intelligent women coolly brutalise their enemies makes my heart blossom like a flower. Sadly this storyline also comes with one of the worst aspects of the show, ie the two-dimensional racist stereotype that is Takeda, but fortunately it seems like his mentor role will be explored more thoroughly this season. Flashback scenes to her Batman training with Takeda are particularly interesting because she has such a radically different attitude towards him than she does towards anyone else in the show. In the Hamptons every person aside from Nolan is an unknowing pawn in her revenge plans, but Takeda is in the unique position of having Emily genuinely look up to him for guidance.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Elementary 1x02: While You Were Sleeping.

Previously: Elementary: characterisation, the unaired pilot, and its relationship to Sherlock Holmes canon.

This episode cemented the main opinions I formed from watching the pilot: that while the Holmes/Watson dynamic is a delight, the crime storylines are very generic. I actually found this episode more predictable than last week's, because once you introduce a pair of soon-to-inherit heiresses and a collection of murder victims who all share the same genetic traits, it's not hugely difficult to put two and two together. While the heiress-murderer plotline fell comfortably within the scope of classic Holmesian mysteries, the procedural crime drama episode structure was so formulaic that most similarities to Sherlock Holmes were lost. This is particularly true because while canon Holmes did make mistakes on occasion, this type of episode structure requires so many red herrings that just like in the pilot episode, Holmes hardly seemed much cleverer than any other TV detective. Hopefully the crimesolving and deduction scenes will improve as the season progresses.
source
Until the crime writing picks up, the other aspects of the show will definitely be enough to keep me watching. I'm already loving Joan Watson's characterisation, particularly the objective fact that she really is good at her job. First of all, she's excellent at establishing boundaries, which is pretty rare on TV. Usually characters end up either with an established BFFs dynamic from the very first episode, and standoffish female characters are almost always portrayed as defensive bitches who need to be thawed out. Secondly it's pretty explicit that her relationship with Holmes is (currently) professional rather than friendly, which I honestly find rather refreshing considering my previous point that most buddy-cop stories have the main duo setting the tone very early on and carrying on in the same bickering-partners dynamic ad infinitum.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Alexander McQueen, Spring 2013.

It's almost expected at this point for Alexander McQueen to be one of the most critically acclaimed shows of Fashion Week, but this season's collection was so good that I dove off a waterfall like Pocahontes and then spontaneously sprouted wings on the way down. While most of Spring season is taken up by catwalk shows that showcase too many trenchcoats and not enough imagination, McQueen (currently headed up by Sarah Burton, McQueen's protege) breezed in with 32 stunning outfits themed around bees and beehives.
The show opened with a series of suits in black and gold, bearing the recurring motif of honeycomb patterns and accompanied by stylised beekeeper hats. The silhouette was familiar: rigid bodices and nipped-in waists, with the angular peplums McQueen have been using for several seasons now. "Wasp waist" is already a well-known term, but some of these suit jackets reminded me more of the iridescent shells of a beetle.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Spring 2013 Fashion Week: Erdem and Vivienne Westwood Red Label

Vivienne Westwood Red Label
The beauty of Vivienne Westwood is that she can start off with literally any theme and still have the resulting show turn out like a giant "fuck you". With this season's Red Label collection she went for a ladylike mid-20th-century aesthetic, using boxy woollen suits and 1950s cocktail dresses as a jumping-off point.
The styling helped a lot to temper the relatively conservative nature of this collection, with models stepping out onto the catwalk wearing Crayola-hued facepaint and Stepford-parody hairstyles. This wasn't my favourite Westwood collection, perhaps because for once she didn't seem to be designing for her own personal wardrobe. I often find that Westwood is at her best -- or at least, at her most Westwood, which is pretty much the same thing -- when she's courting outright ugliness, rather than this watered-down throwback to the period when she was mocking the fashions of the British aristocracy.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Doctor Who 7x05: The Angels Take Manhattan

Previous reviews can be found on the Doctor Who tag.
 
Maybe it was a bad idea to watch Doctor Who on the same day as going to see Looper, because Looper was so goddamn amazing that most other time-travel stories pale in comparison. But Looper issues aside, this episode still wasn't terribly impressive. I avoid Doctor Who spoilers as much as humanly possible, but if you live in the UK it's very difficult to ignore widely-reported information such as the departure of the Ponds. All the coverage seemed to focus on "This episode is a real tearjerker!!" which annoyed me because a) you're not my dad, Steven Moffat, don't tell me what to do, and b) show don't tell, for god's sake! Surely it's enough that most viewers already knew that this would be the Ponds' final episode -- why bother hammering home all the stuff about how upsetting it's going to be? Let the story tell itself.
The end result was one of those TV moments that made me feel like a sociopath -- ie, a screen full of people crying hysterically to an overwrought orchestral soundtrack while I sat there, utterly unmoved. I find it increasingly disappointing that while Moffat's episodes were some of the very best in previous seasons, now that he's the showrunner I find myself practically groaning out loud when his name comes up on the credits. Of the five episodes we've had this season, the two that were written by Moffat have been laden with speedy emotional conflict/resolution subplots and the kind of sudden U-turn revelations that are beginning to remind me of M Night Shyamalan.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Bletchley Circle, Part 2: Costume Design.

Previously: The Bletchley Circle.

Historical dramas have a symbiotic relationship with costume design, with the clothes in high-profile shows like Downton Abbey receiving almost as much coverage as the stars. I suspect that this is one of the contributing factors to the popularity of historical movies about aristocrats, since it's a lot easier to interview Keira Knightley about corset logistics for the fiftieth time than it is to publicise a bunch of photoshoots of people wearing muddy pinafores and staid woollen caps. I love a good crinoline as much as the next girl, but sometimes movies about The Poors can be just as visually interesting because the costumes can illustrate more than just a statement of expense and luxury.
Downton Abbey is the reigning queen of costume-design coverage because it just entered the 1920s, and fashion magazines looooove the 1920s. Downton is in an enviable position, costume-wise, because several of its main characters are real clothes-horses and are rich enough that it's believable for them to be agonisingly on-trend as the show inches forwards into the first years of "modern" fashion. Once you reach the mid-20th century, popular fashions begin to move fast enough that most viewers will know the time period without much need for scene-setting, whereas it would take a historian to tell the difference between, say, 1830 and 1850 based on visuals alone. The problem is that it's easy to get carried away with year-by-year trend accuracy, and forget that not everyone could or even want to be up-to-date with the very latest styles.

Monday, 24 September 2012

The Bletchley Circle

This may seem like an idiotic complaint coming from someone so obsessed with costuming and appearances, but one of the reasons why I'm so judgemental about historical dramas is that they're often so much more concerned with style than with substance. Not that style's necessarily a bad thing, since if historical dramas were actually "accurate" then it'd be damn near impossible to write them for a modern audience. A tremendous amount of research and effort goes into making things like Downton Abbey and Titanic into glittering caricatures of a particular time-period, but it's less common to see that same effort go into the non-visual aspects of the setting, mostly because very few people want to watch a movie that directly reflects the culture of actual real-life humans in the 17th century. You know, back when everyone was stunningly racist, people had wooden teeth, and public executions were the popular equivalent of Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
The Bletchley Circle is one of those rare historical dramas that combines modern writing styles (in this case, a murder mystery) with real emotional and psychological fidelity to the time-period. British television is unwaveringly obsessed with the two World Wars (as evidenced by the simultaneous popularity of Downton Abbey, Upstairs/Downstairs and War Horse, not to mention Doctor Who's unerring ability to end up in 1940s England at least once per season), but I can't remember having seen anything that illustrates the post-war period as well as this show does. The protagonists are four women who worked as codebreakers at Bletchley Park during WWII, but following the War found themselves falling into dull and disappointing routines either as housewives or in jobs that failed to measure up to the excitement of foiling Nazi spies. When we first meet these women they're in their element, working diligently to break German codes and help the men stationed overseas, but the moment the show skips forwards to 1952 it's immediately obvious that things have changed for the worse.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Honour Among Punks: Sherlock Holmes like you've never seen her before.

Did you know that I quite like Sherlock Holmes? DID YOU ALSO KNOW that there's a comicbook where Holmes and Watson are both women and it's set in an alternate-history 1980s where Victorian society continued on throughout the 20th century because World War II never happened? And Holmes (Sharon) is a punk who solves punk crimes that are ignored by the police? And she has an angry punk girlfriend named Sam, who lives with her and nerdy American med-student Watson at 112 Baker Street? THIS IS SO IMPORTANT, YOU GUYS. So important.
(source)
I had a couple of long train journeys today, and found myself reading the entire run of Baker Street by Gary Reed and Guy Davis (two full story arcs, "Honour Among Punks" and "Children of the Night") from cover to cover. And now I'm passing on the love, because a) the premise is so evidently super-awesome that everyone should at least give it a try, and b) more selfishly, I want people to write fanfic about it for Yuletide. If you haven't heard of Yuletide before, it's an annual fanfic festival for people who want there to be fic for something reeaaaally obscure like a yogurt advert or a song by The Supremes or, say, a now-defunct queer lady punk Sherlock Holmes comic. Many Yuletide participants are have little or no previous experience with fandom or fanfic, because Yuletide is for EVERYONE and you can request anything. Seriously, there are multiple Kierkegaard fanfics out there, all thanks to Yuletide. But I digress from our main focus: Sharon Holmes: Punk Crimefighter.
Sharon and Watson.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Elementary: characterisation, the unaired pilot, and its relationship to Sherlock Holmes canon.

Previously: From Arthur Conan Doyle to New York City's "Elementary": The Costume Design of Holmes and Watson.

Given the nature of Sherlock Holmes fandom, it's not entirely surprising that people were forming their opinions of Elementary and arguing about it before anyone had even seen the show. Some Holmes canon purists hated the fact that it was set in America; some fans of BBC Sherlock hated the idea of "another remake" so quickly on the heels of the British series. And people from both groups seemed irritated by the concept of a female Watson, prompting the first wave of backlash from pre-emptive Elementary fans who were determined to love it because Lucy Liu is awesome and sexism is bullshit. My own reaction to the early Elementary announcements was trepidation, partly because I didn't trust American network television to make a crime drama centering around a male/female relationship not be a romance. But since the showrunners had expressly put out statements to counteract this worry among Holmes fans, I decided to give it a go.
(source)
I should mention now that this post will contain some spoilers, although they won't be connected to the crime plot. The main focus of the episode was the fledgling relationship between Holmes and Watson, and to be quite honest the mystery/crimesolving aspects were not good. Even by the standards of long-running formulaic crime dramas like Bones or CSI it wasn't particularly interesting, and the vast majority of deductions made by Holmes were ones that could well have been made by the police. Not to mention the fact that it fell for the old crime-TV problem of there only being one believable suspect, ie "that one actor you kinda recognise". Which isn't to say that I'm giving the episode a negative review -- I just feel like the detective work never really approached the quality of the deductions in Holmes canon, or indeed in BBC Sherlock.

Friday, 14 September 2012

New York Fashion Week, spring 2013: Proenza Schouler, Ralph Lauren, and more.

Proenza Schouler
The close-up shots from this show are far, far more interesting than the overall effect of each individual outfit. The silhouettes were boxy but chic, as I'd expect from any season of Proenza Schouler, but this kind of unique design detail is one of those moments where you can really understand why these clothes are so stupidly expensive. (Something that I don't alway believe when it comes to -- totally random example here, guys -- Calvin Klein's neverending supply of knee-length white dresses.)


Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The new Judge Dredd movie is a great chick-flick.

Most people have a favourite genre of fiction, one where they'll watch or read any old crap as long as it ticks the right boxes. For my mother, it's those crime novels that always have a dark picture of an alleyway on the cover and a blurb including the phrase "web of deceit". My friend Alex is a great aficionado of any and all vintage SF/F where the sets and costumes look like they were made out of cereal boxes. My own speciality is dystopic sci-fi/action movies, meaning that I got near-equal quantities of entertainment from the truly brilliant Children Of Men as I did from the baffling cinematic fart that is The Spirit. (For those of you who haven't seen The Spirit, it's basically what would happen if someone tried to remake Sin City while tripping balls. And allowed Samuel L Jackson full creative control over all of his and Scarlett Johansson's costumes. Seriously, ask me about The Spirit sometime. It has a bellydancer/Nazi/dentistry scene that you would not believe.)
My point is, you could not pay me to watch a three-star movie about a middle-aged white guy angsting over his divorce from Kate Hudson, but a three-star movie where the exact same guy duels a malfunctioning android in a city made entirely from neon striplighting and concrete rubble? I'm sold.

The problem is that my own outlook on the world often seems to clash with that of the filmmakers I love, ie: I generally view women to be people, and the creators of the films I watch give every impression of disagreeing with this viewpoint. Of course, I could try watching nothing but feminist documentaries and serious real-life dramas about women overcoming personal tragedies, but quite frankly those kinds of movies don't fulfill my needs vis-a-vis mutant zombie hordes, improbable leather body-armour, and soundtracks that sound like twelve-ton steel girders being banged together by Skrillex. Sadly, if I want to sit down and watch some ridiculous bullshit about a bunch of murderous idiots rappelling down the ruins of a post-apocalyptic megacity, then I generally have to put up with the only female characters in the movie either being Lara Croft clones, or a roomful of strippers who get gunned down in the second act.

Monday, 10 September 2012

From Arthur Conan Doyle to New York City's "Elementary": The Costume Design of Holmes and Watson.

(This post is spoiler-free for CBS's Elementary.)

Like many Sherlock Holmes fans I had mixed feelings about the BBC's plan to make a modern-era Holmes adaptation, and was once again rather doubtful when CBS announced that they were going to film what sounded worryingly like Sherlock: New York City edition. But since BBC Sherlock won me over within about five minutes of its first episode, I decided to keep an open mind when it came to Elementary. I can understand people who don't like the idea of a US-set Holmes (particularly one that exists within the strictures of an episodic crime procedural), but I have no worries whatsoever regarding the casting of Lucy Liu as Watson. If Holmes and Watson are still platonic friends -- which the Elementary showrunners have already assured us will be the case -- then in a 21st century setting, it shouldn't matter that Watson is a woman. Will this be a close adaptation of Conan Doyle's vision? Probably not, but it isn't as if the existence yet another Holmes can retroactively damage any of the hundreds of other versions we have to choose from.
The PLAGIARISM SCARF in action.
I was impressed to notice that even though all we've seen of Elementary so far are a few publicity shots and (in some cases, anyway) screener DVDs of the pilot episode, Holmes and Joan Watson already have very distinctive costuming styles. Most of the costume-related fan-commentary I've seen so far, though, is people expressing irritation at the apparent similarities between BBC Sherlock's famous coat and scarf, and the costume worn by Jonny Lee Miller during some scenes in the Elementary pilot. The two outfits are, I suppose, quite similar, but in general Elementary Holmes' styling couldn't be more different from BBC Sherlock's. And it's worth noting that Elementary takes place during autumn/winter in New York, so a thick coat and scarf aren't exactly out of place.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Doctor Who 7x02: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.

Can you get high from watching Doctor Who? Signs point to YES because right now I'm sitting here giggling to myself because this episode was just. So. Delightful. After last week's rather patchy season-opener I had my doubts, but episode two was an absolute slam-dunk, incorporating just about everything you could possibly hope for from a standalone hour of Doctor Who: silly jokes, exciting space adventures, cool side-characters, poignant Doctor/companion moments, a handful of adult jokes for the grown-ups, DINOSAURS, and an old-school Doctor Who moral underlying the whole thing. They even managed to include a couple of funny talking robots who miraculously didn't annoy the crap out of me, which is well-nigh impossible. (Funny talking robots: not for amateurs. They're the Jar Jar Binks of Doctor Who.)
(source unknown)
During the opening scenes I was concerned that the spirit of Moffat was lurking in the form of a flirty girl hitting on the Doctor for audience laughs, BUT NO -- Nefertiti turned out to be awesome, and provided an excellent foil for the other characters. Really, all the companions were brilliant this week! Dinosaurs On A Spaceship definitely falls into the category of lighthearted, non-plotty episodes, but that didn't make it bad. The tone and pacing were perfect -- funny and fast-moving enough that there was no real need to explain anything, especially since Rupert Graves' character seemed to have traveled with the Doctor before and Nefertiti had just had a run-in with another set of aliens. As for the dinosaurs, they were an ideal choice for this type of episode. Gimmicky cameos and ideas like "dinosaurs on a spaceship" can often be too flimsy to hold up a full episode, but in this specific case? Not so much. Firstly because the storyline (such as it was) had enough separate components that it wasn't just relying on the draw of dinosaurs on spaceship, and secondly because, well, everyone loves dinosaurs. If Doctor Who had 2012-quality special effects in previous decades, you can damn well assume that they'd have been making at least one dinosaur special per season, because dinosaurs are in the near unique position of appealing to kids and adults on exactly the same level, ie, "OMG dinosaurs!!". 

Friday, 7 September 2012

Spring 2013 at NYC Fashion Week: Duckie Brown, Zac Posen, Gary Graham, and more.

Duckie Brown
Containing enough plaid and denim to clothe several platoons of stereotypical lumberjacks (or, more likely, rich hipsters), Duckie Brown's latest collection was not for me. Having very little patience for double-deniming in general and catwalk fashion "explorations" of the ubiquitous jeans/plaid combination in particular, my favourite looks from this show were the weirder ones such as strangely-tailored mess of wrinkles and ruffles, which would have looked more at home at a Yohji Yamamoto show. The most memorable trend of the collection was the plethora of long strips of leather looped around the models' torsos (shoulder belts?), a non-functional accessory that I highly doubt will catch on.
pics from Style.com

Gary Graham
My love of short, bloomer-like pantaloon trousers is partially responsible for my love of Gary Graham's latest effort, but even beyond that one appealing component this collection is an intriguing combination of floaty weirdness and more down-to-earth hippie styles. The colour scheme and styling are distinctly earthy and unglamourous, which only serves to highlight the numerous details that are clearly founded in high-end craft fashion and impracticality.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Star Trek's original 1965 pilot episode: The Cage.

If you haven't seen Original Series Star Trek, you are missing out, dear readers. This may sound counterintuitive, but I love it so much that I... still haven't seen all of the episodes. I have to keep something for my old age, you know? But the other day I did watch the original pilot episode for the first time -- the pilot pilot, back before James T. Kirk was even a twinkle in Gene Roddenberry's eye, and the captain of the USS Enterprise was still Christopher Pike.
The premise of the unaired pilot is similar to a typical seek-out-new-worlds Trek episode, but the cast and overall tone is fairly different. The main trio of Kirk, Spock and McCoy plus crewmembers Sulu, Uhura and Scotty didn't settle down until halfway through the first season, but the pilot episode featured the rather dour and worn-down Captain Pike backed up by first officer Number One (we'll get to her later), a surprisingly emotional Spock, and a crew of mostly interchangeable American men. Kirk's absence is significant, highlighting how gosh-darn serious the pilot is when compared to the rather jokey, colourful tone of "real" Star Trek episodes. I mean, there's still a hell of a lot of campy stuff to laugh at in The Cage -- angry humanoid pig-bear alien, anyone? -- but it was surely a good decision to replace the cynical, world-weary Pike with the more youthful, ridiculous Kirk and his love of doing forward-rolls in the middle of fight scenes for no apparent reason. (Sorry, have I mentioned yet that I LOVE CAPTAIN KIRK? I love him.)

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Doctor Who 7x01: Asylum of the Daleks. (SPOILERS!)

Is it bad that I'm now kind of wishing that Jenna Louise Coleman (Oswin) isn't the new companion? Not because I disliked her or anything like that, but purely because I'd find it funny if the entire photoshoot/announcement/etc turned out to be a complete fake-out. The Doctor Who team tried to do that with one of the previous companions (Donna, maybe?) but in reverse, although the casting info got leaked early so everyone knew it was her anyway. I just enjoy the idea of them being able to pull one over us, although of course there have been tons of photos of JLC in the newspapers and so on so I can only assume that she'll be playing a different character (Oswin's... identical twin...?).
As for the actual content of the episode... I have mixed feelings. The latter half of last season was kind of a mess, and starting off this season in what felt like the middle of another storyline may well have been a mistake. Amy and Rory's divorce, an adult and complex topic, was handled and wrapped up in one episode, with the entire problem being solved purely by the Doctor leaving them alone together to talk it out. I feel like we've already been through this kind of conflict several times with Amy and Rory, and it seems pointless to rehash yet another variation on the same old song right at the beginning of a new season. The issue of Amy's infertility was handled convincingly by the actors, but the fact that it was introduced and then cleared up withing about ten minutes cheapened it entirely. As a card-carrying sap I was 100% onboard with every hackneyed emotional cue when Amy and Rory predictably reunited at the end, but up until then I was unimpressed by the decision to throw in a break-up subplot for what may or may not have been no good reason at all.

Links post: The Creature from the Black Lagoon, literary bathing costumes, 2500-year-old tattoos, and more.

Behind the scenes of "Creature from the Black Lagoon", 1954. 

Kate Imbach matches famous book covers to bathing costumes. How do you even come up with an idea like that?? I love the human mind. (Matchbook)

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

One Direction, teenage Tumblr fandom, and how to be safe and private online.

Thanks to this Daily Dot article about Larry Stylinson "believers" (fans of One Direction who, rather than taking the more conventional fannish route of merely writing fanfic about their favourite boyband, truly believe that two of the bandmembers are secretly in a real-life relationship), I've been seeing way more of 1D fandom than I ever thought I would. But while I found the subject of the article to be very interesting (as was the near-immediate fandom backlash against the article), the points in this post aren't specifically targeted at Directioners -- just a particular subset of Tumblr fandom that seems to include a lot of 1D fans. I've been in a few fandoms myself and have no problem with anyone shipping whoever the hell they want, provided they're courteous to other fans. What I am worried about is the attitudes a lot of younger fans seem to have about fandom, Tumblr, and online privacy.
Larry Stylinson being super adorable. (source)
Aside from the large quantity of messages/comments/tweets the Daily Dot received regarding the actual content of the article, there were a lot of complaints that the article had "broken the Fourth Wall" of fandom. This phrase was bandied about quite a lot and seemed to mean something a little different from its more typical meaning. Another way I've seen this sentiment phrased is "what happens on Tumblr stays on Tumblr". I totally understand these fans' discomfort at the discovery that non-fandom people are suddenly aware of their secret online hobby, but I also find it very troubling that so many of them seem to think that Tumblr is a private place.
    Fandom isn't a secret
    I found out about fandom around 2002, when I was still a kid. Tumblr didn't exist yet, most of Harry Potter fandom lived on Livejournal and fanfic sites such as FictionAlley, and the way I found out about all this was via a newspaper article about fanfiction. So in my personal experience, without even having to do any research on the subject, I know for a fact that the mainstream press has been reporting about fandom for at least ten years. In recent years, fan culture has come into the mainstream in a big way, with entertainment news and gossip magazines regularly reporting at Comic-Con, and 50 Shades Of Grey topping all the bestseller lists for months. A lot of reporting on fanfiction/fandom is still pretty ignorant and disrespectful because most of the journalists aren't involved in fandom themselves, but fanfic isn't the secret society it was twenty years ago. And I'd find it vanishingly unlikely for anyone currently starring in a fandom-popular TV show or in a band like 1D to not be aware of fandom. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if winners of reality shows like American Idol and X-Factor were actually briefed about RPF as part of their press training, just so they wouldn't alienate fans by seeming shocked or appalled by the concept.

    Tuesday, 28 August 2012

    The Edinburgh Fringe: Surrealist Dutch mime set in a wooden box, stilt-walking Polish astronauts, and a man in a gorilla suit.

    Previously: The Edinburgh Fringe.

    When I first arrived in Edinburgh at the beginning of the month, my friend Hector told me about the Gorilla Show, a one-off event that he'd heard happens at the tail end of Festival season every year. It's unlisted and unadvertised, and the audience is mostly made up of comedians. And the entire show consists of a man sitting in a rocking chair, wearing a gorilla suit and doing nothing while the audience claps and cheers for an hour. To me, this sounded like the ultimate hipster bait. An untitled show about nothing that people only hear about via backstage word-of-mouth? Excellent! And entirely unprovable. The ultimate in Fringe cliche, really -- ridiculous, fascinating, and based entirely on rumour.
    With one exception, I did manage to fulfill my goal of seeing at least one Fringe show per day after work, and amazingly enough only two of the thirty to forty I saw turned out to be truly dreadful. Most of my experiences were either unphotographable or indescribable, but managing to get pictures of the Polish astronaut stilt-walking play was enough for me. Oh, and regarding the photo above? It's not the asinine inspirational slogan it looks like -- in fact, it's a prop from a brilliant show I saw a few weeks ago, a surrealist Dutch mime comedy that took place inside a large plywood packing crate and began with the performers sawing off bits of plywood and handing them out to audience members. NOTHING IS REALLY DIFFICULT, said the side of the box -- written upside down.

    Wednesday, 22 August 2012

    Costume design and movie/TV review masterpost.

    Time to make Hello, Tailor more navigable! This blog has been going for almost a year now, and it's getting to the point where old posts are sinking down into the murk. I won't link to everything here, firstly because I'm lazy and secondly because I doubt anybody would be interested, but if you feel a real yearning for reviews of catwalk shows from six months ago then feel free to faff around with the tags until you find what you're looking for. Try stuff like fashion week for more general posts, or Spring 2012 for more specific timeframes. More recent fashion posts are also organised by designer, ie Chanel.

    The basis for most of my TV/movie writing can be found in A fan's introduction to costume design, wherein I explain how and why costume design is more important than you think, and the ways in which costume design is often misjudged or misunderstood.


    TV shows

    The Revenge tag should lead to all Revenge posts, beginning with New style crush: Nolan Ross in REVEEEENNNGGE.

    The Teen Wolf tag should lead to all Teen Wolf posts, beginning with Teen Wolf 101: A guide to the eighth wonder of our world. 

    The Good Wife: Parenting Made Easy.

    The Killing, and the iconic status of Sarah Lund's jumpers.

    The most important thing about BBC Sherlock's "A Scandal In Belgravia".

    Game Of Thrones: Unwashed Northerners, royal conspiracies, and decapitations all round.

    Sunday, 19 August 2012

    Haute Couture 2012: Armani Privé and Valentino.

    Still no time to write a Teen Wolf finale post. Instead: FASHION.

    Armani Privé
    At first I thought this collection was terribly '80s, but then I realised that the clothes weren't particularly retro in themselves -- it was the styling. The colour scheme was all chilly blues and watercolour lilacs, and the long, loose silhouette looked like the fashion drawings of the '80s rather than the fashions themselves.
    Overall I'd rate the accessories in this show far higher than the actual clothes. The plethora of simple, floor-length blue suits and dresses seemed rather boring, whereas the feathered headdresses and sparkling veils were among the few details that seemed worthy of a big-name couture show.

    Wednesday, 15 August 2012

    The Edinburgh Fringe.

    This is going to be the kind of What I Did On My Summer Holidays post that seldom appears on this blog, mostly because I've been living in what amounts to a gigantic artists' commune for the past two weeks and am consuming about 1% of the geeky pop-culture stuff I usually do.

    Some background, first: The Edinburgh Fringe is an alternative theatre/comedy/music/art festival that runs throughout August, in conjunction with various other arts-type festivals around the city. This year's Fringe programme includes 2842 "official" shows, most of which are stand-up comedy and experimental/indie theatre, plus tons of street performers and unofficial stuff on the side. Basically, for the duration of August every single building in Edinburgh that could conceivably be turned into a theatre venue, is. Up to and including lifts, taxis, and peoples' bedrooms. I'm currently living in the lap of luxury because I have an actual bed to sleep in (thanks to my lovely friends Grace & Hector!), which is more than many of the performers get.
    (As an experienced Fringe-goer, I sensibly reinforced my programme with duct tape as soon as I got my hands on it. People may smirk, but WHATEVER. By the end of the month I'll be the only one whose programme hasn't had to be replaced at least once.)

    I'm going to as many shows as it's humanly possible to fit around my work schedule, covering as wide a variety of genres as I can. I assume that it's rather obvious at this point, but I LOVE THE FRINGE. There's something for everyone here, from cheesy mainstream stand-up comedy to weird experimental theatre to circus acrobats to jug bands to Tibetan Book Of The Dead: The Musical. Picking what to go to is very difficult, particularly in the first week when reviews haven't come out yet, but the way I see it is that if you're there for the entire month it's almost a good thing to see some terrible theatre in the first few days -- it's an interesting experience, and it provides a kind of palate-cleanser for the rest of the month. (I'm especially sticking to that philosophy this year because the first show I saw was without a doubt the worst piece of theatre I have seen in my entire life.)