Friday, July 29, 2011

Review of online luxury retailer Luisviaroma

I finally ordered an item and received successful delivery from the online luxury clothing retailer, Luisviaroma.

Luisviaroma offers a variety of extremely fashion forward brands that you would be hard pressed to find in Canada, such as Gareth Pugh and Rick Owens. Of course, it also features more mainstream designer brands such as Burberry, Dolce, Lanvin, etc.

The site is so fashion forward that I entertain myself by browsing through the selection of weird and wacky stuff that you simply will never see trickling down to the major North American retailers of designer clothing.

In fact, the site is among such an extreme fashion vanguard that it actually has a "Legging" and "Skirt" categories in the Men's section! Although I myself am unlikely to order  male leggings or skirt any time soon, this site is far, far more interesting than a luxury site such as bluefly, which offers the blandest and most pedestrian selection of designer clothing.

Overall, I find the site to be very easy to browse and  user-friendly. I also like the way the site intelligently spies on my ISP address to deduce my country of origin and automatically quotes me prices in Canadian dollars.  The prices aren't terribly cheap, but there are some deals to be had, especially during sale season.

As for the order, I experienced a small amount of delight when my order (a pair of shoes) arrived (from Italy) relatively quickly (under a week) and was also very handsomely wrapped in a bow and Crêpe paper. It's definitely a nice way to add a touch of elegance to the otherwise faceless online shopping experience.

-The Scandal

Blade Runner: Analysis of Rachael the Replicant

I've recently had the opportunity to watch a famous cult classic film entitled Blade Runner for one of my classes. I was pleasantly taken aback by the great costumes designed for the film. My favorite character was Rachael who was played by Sean Young before her days of boozing rants. I had to do a small presentation based on Sean Young's (Rachael's) appearance in this movie, so for those of you who are either familiar with the film or have read the book, here it is:

Blade Runner is a science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott based on Philip K, Dick’s novel entitled Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. The movie as the book can be read as a critique on contemporary society. This critique displays the future direction human society could take due to corporate dominance, disregard for environment, and lack of empathy for humanity. The film was released in over one thousand theatres in 1982; however, the opening was quite disappointing. The critics were at odds regarding their opinions upon the film’s release claiming that it was a rather slow and cliché adventure film; but others predicted that it would stand the test of time because of its complexity, and multi-layered meaning. While the film was not initially a success with North American audiences, it became popular internationally and subsequently a cult classic. The film’s dark futuristic film noir style has influenced many science fiction films and to this day and still continues to influence modern trends.
                The synopsis of the story is about a group of four replicants or “androids” who escape from Mars in order to find a solution to prolonging their four year life span. Tyrell is the genetic genius and the head of a giant corporation who designed these replicants.  He had given them a short life span as a fail-save device that serves as protection against their increasing desire for developing human emotions. Replicants are forbidden to be on earth because of their potential of becoming too human thus a special unit force also known as Blade Runners is established to hunt down replicant renegades.  Blade Runners use the Voight-Kampf test to distinguish replicants from the rest of the human population by checking if they can pass an empathy test. The most experienced Blade Runner, Deckard, played by Harrison Ford is hired to investigate and kill (or retire) the four escaped replicants. During his investigation at the Tyrell Corporation, he conducts a Vogt-Kampff test on an experimental replicant model named Rachael, who not only does not know she’s a replicant, but has also been programmed with memories from a non-existent childhood. After discovering the truth about her true identity, Rachael flees the Tyrell Corporation and begins a romantic relationship with Deckard.  Rachael’s discovery that she is a replicant paradoxically inspires her transformation from Tyrell’s robotic ‘human’ niece to a more liberated and even humane character. Her transformation can be charted through her appearance in different scenes. I will analyse the changes in her wardrobe and make-up and argue that they reflect Rachael’s increasing self-awareness about her true identity.

                In the beginning of the movie Rachael is introduced to us as the niece of one of the richest men responsible for manufacturing replicants. Being involved in her uncle’s company she is aware that replicants are products and objects. However, once she starts to suspect she is not a human as she previously thought, but a replicant, her identity slowly starts to change.
                Rachael is presented to us as a mysterious and a seductive woman. She walks towards Deckard in a calculated stiffness, with her hand in her pocket, she introduces herself, sits down, and lights up a cigarette. In this particular moment she is very reminiscent of a stereotypical femme fatale type of character. As she holds the cigarette in between her long immaculately well polished fingers she transforms into a popular film noir actress. What is important to note in this image is how assuredly and gently she smiles at Deckard before she takes the test.

                She is presented as a cliché 1940’s movie star rather than someone with a unique identity which can be analysed though her appearance. Her hair is carefully styled and pinned up similar to that of a film noir actress. Her make-up, including her lipstick is meticulously and perfectly applied. She is dressed in a two piece black suite: a tight black pencil skirt and a well-tailored buttoned up jacket with high shoulder pads. She presents herself in rather formal and stiff attire which is accentuated by the small tie on her neck.

As Rachael’s suspicion about her identity progresses she decides to escape and go against her creator Tyrell, going as far as shooting another replicant to save Deckard’s life. She is in a state of uncertainty about her future and seems distraught. It is quite evident that Rachael is no longer the perfect specimen we encountered in the first scene. She is taking on traits that are more human because she is becoming less perfect in her appearance as opposed to well composed and formally attired. In this scene she is still wearing the pencil skirt and the well-tailored buttoned up suit jacket; however, now we notice that the small tie around her neck has all of a sudden become loose and her eye make-up is running down her face. The colour of her suit is different in this scene - now it is grey instead of black. The lighter colour may suggest a progression to a more informal state. She is no longer the formal well-composed Rachael we first encountered as her appearance is slowly starting to change.

                 Eventually Rachael’s appearance takes a dramatic turn. She is not longer wearing the high powered formal suit jacket as in the last two scenes. Here, she is in light loose -fitting unbuttoned silk shirt playing the piano. The colour of her wardrobe has now changed to white. She methodically puts down her hair in an awkward gesture. Her trademark scarlet red lipstick is gone and her smudged eyeliner disappears. She seems to be more natural in her appearance. This scene ironically suggests that when she comes to fully accept that she is a replicant she becomes more human and less perfect. She finally accepts who she is and she seems to be more vulnerable and scared. Her face is more child-like as opposed to the femme fatale which was presented to us in the first scene.

                The theme of the film is based on the nature of humanity and what it means to be a human. It is therefore important to note in the film the change which occurs within Rachael. By closely analysing her shift in style and aesthetic appearance it is quite evident that her physical appearance changes in parallel with her change in her self-awareness. In the beginning when she identifies herself as a human her attire and gestures are stiff and calculated, almost reminiscent of a robot. However, as she learns that she is no longer a human but a replicant she in turn becomes more humane and falls in love with Deckard. Ridley Scott was able to establish a certain sense of irony whereby replicants upon their discovery of their android identity, became more human. Perhaps he wanted to reflect the way current society has become desensitized within the corporate establishment. The presentation of human beings in the movie suggests that they lack empathy. Their drive for destruction and corporate monopoly ultimately creates a society that is caught in a polluted and depressing environment as opposed to the replicants who desire to live and love.


Monday, July 25, 2011

2 pieces, 2 thoughts

After my last posting on men's swimwear, I was asked to do a posting on women's swimwear.  Mariya and I generally keep a church-state separation of men's and women's fashion. That is, I stick to menswear (with a few exceptions), and she, womenswear. The reason for this is pretty simple: I don't now much about women's clothing. But I guess today is another exception, so, bottom line (pun intended), I'll share some quick thoughts:

Non-matching bikini

I've made my position on matching clear, but I should have carved out an exception for bikinis.

When I see a girl wearing a bikini top that does not match her bottom,  it looks like she either lost half of it under the bed, or that she decided to spontaneously  strip down to her bra and panties and jump in the pool.  And while I'm all in favour of a girl deciding to act on such a whim,  she should probably keep a (matching) bathing suit in her purse should she feel such an urge.

Seriously,  a non-matching bikini looks like underwear, not swimwear.  Just like a pair of socks, if you've lost one half, you should probably only use the other half to wash the car.

One-piece suits 

Unikinis or monokinis, or whatever silly word you want to use to refer to these bathing suits, look great on the runway.

 The problem is that in real life, the fabric "bridge" in the mid-section gets displaced and all puckered up. That's why figure skating outfits that appear to show skin are actually covered with see-through nylon.

-The Scandal

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Need no Speedo

In this blog, I often discuss how high end fashion designers appear to be somewhat out of synch with the needs of many stylish men. A classic example of this is the constant roll-out of the skimpy Speedo-style bathing suit. Yet, they're pretty much staples for brands such as DSquared.

I really don't know any North American man who'd be comfortable in it, or alternatively, any woman who'd feel comfortable talking to a guy wearing one-- or any other similar monstrosity.

Another favorite party trick of designers is to dress up the Speedo in a completely unrealistic outfit.

Call me old-school, but I'd say if you are going to wear a Speedo, do leave the topcoat, silk scarf, and monocle at home.

I don't mean to suggest that men ought to wear over-sized knee length shorts,

but there does seem to be a smart middle ground that can appeal to the style-conscious water frolicker.

-The Scandal

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Accost Lacoste

I really can't wrap my head around this Lacoste  advertising campaign:

If Lacoste is going for some kind of avant-garde look, it's terribly misguided, especially since as far as I know the slick tuxedo is not a Lacoste product. I've actually sometimes seen guys slip a t-shirt over over a long-sleeve sweater or shirt thinking that the reversal of layers is in some way stylish simply because it's unconventional. It just looks asinine to me.

Upon further reflection, maybe the image is supposed to convey the message that a man wearing a Lacoste polo shirt will feel just as  luxurious and formal as he would wearing a tuxedo. By analogy, we've seen car ads that imply that the family sedan is really a race car in disguise.   If this is the case, the ad makes a bit more sense, but it seems to me that an ad's message should be more immediate and intuitive.
Only a fashion blogger would waste time pondering and deconstructing the deeper meaning.

-The Scandal

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mind games, Head Wear

While I was recently browsing through the latest John "I love Hitler" Galliano show, I was struck by some of the tall, rounded and feathered hats that some of the models were wearing.

I'm afraid I'll have to admit that (after a bit of web research) I'm still not quite sure what this hat style is called. Maybe it's some form of modified Quaker hat. Whenever I see it, I am reminded of the hat worn by the great American poet Walt Whitman.

I was drawn to the hats in the Galliano show not only because I thought they were striking, but also because I had recently been admiring John Lennon's getup in his "Mind Games" video.

 In the posthumously created video, Lennon walks around New York City, especially Central Park, and engages in what appears to be authentic and affectionate interaction with  his fans.  The clip portrays Lennon in a rather charming light, which only makes his senseless murder all the more tragic.

But let's get back to the clothes. Lennon, so legendary in almost every other facet, is definitely underrated as a style icon. Lennon's style in this video perfectly expresses his artistic and political persona. The dark coat and turtleneck assign him the maturity that he was starting to assume in his post-hippie days, and his trade-mark rounded sunglasses give him a bit of rockstar glamour. But what really makes the outfit is his feathered hat, which gives him a fantastic bohemian flair. 

There are other bohemian icons who have worn a hat in a similar manner. Bob Dylan and Johnny Depp come to mind (although Depp is wearing a wide-brimmed fedora, just in a somewhat conventional manner).

I suppose if you want to be the voice of your generation (as poet, singer or actor), you will probably need an impressive piece of headwear.

-The Scandal