Wednesday, December 20, 2006
"How dare you betray the pageant system by behaving like a sex object?"
Both John Stewart and Stephen Colbert had some good commentary on this story yesterday. It reached a level of absurdity that demanded their attention.(from THE WORD segment, entitled TIT FOR TAT)Note: To see a clip of this commentary go the the Colbert Report home page by clicking on the image above.
However, it was a bit like shooting fish in a barrel for Stewart and Colbert since the story involves Donald Trump. The second Trump came into the story the audiences began to laugh -- before the joke was even finished. They automatically know that he's the punch line.
Is there a more perfect representation of the comic grotesque?
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
And by hilarious I mean uncomfortable and pathetic.
Tara Conner was not dethroned. It would probably be better for her career. She could jump from opening Target stores to making the talk show rounds. She could take control of her career. (Her first order of business: meet with John Waters.)
More importantly, she would be out from under the control of Donald Trump and the Miss Universe Organization who clearly can't deal with the fact that even when she's sober she's a loose cannon likely to say things that are off-script:
Her stilted, extemporaneous comments spurred the accompanying woman on stage with her from the Miss Universe organization to abruptly yank the mic away from Conner, and speak for her.Naturally Trump will "give" her another chance. This way he still has control over the story:
"She left a small town in Kentucky and she was telling me that she got caught up in the whirlwind of New York. It's a story that has happened many times before to many women and many men who came to the Big Apple. They wanted their slice of the Big Apple and they found out it wasn't so easy. Especially when I'm in control of their lives.
Okay. Maybe he didn't say that last part.
What really slays me about all of this is the completely lunatic levels of hypocrisy that just keep collapsing in on each other.
Let me explain. Miss USA Pageant is this slutty girl who moved into the neighborhood because she has this really rich but very creepy step-dad. Miss America Pageant wants everyone to know that they are totally not related to each other. They didn't even go to the same school or anything. In fact Miss USA never went to school.
If you just go to the home pages of the two organizations you can see the differrences immediately. The Miss Universe home page mainly features soft porn photo images of the winners (Miss Universe, USA, Teen USA). Until today the home page had an image of all three women, now it just has Miss Universe as the image for their erotic Christmas Card. Which says something about the visitors to their site.
Many of the "fashion" photos show the women with that sexually ecstatic look (slighted parted lips, slightly closed eyes). Here is one juicy image of Tara Conner in a savage pose, in lingerie, crawling towards the camera:
First of all Miss America is an .org and not a .com. Secondly, Miss America's home page is butt ugly. It is filled with blinking advertising and information about ticket sales. My first response was to cry "my eyes, my eyes!" and hit the "back" button to be returned to the peaceful icon Zulyka Rivera, who is without question exquisitely beautiful. As an experiment, test your heart rate as you switch from one page to the other. I swear to god that Zulyka Rivera could become part of the treatment regime for heart disease.
Anyway, as most people know. Miss America gives more scholarship money to women than any other organization in the United States. What this says about the United States is another matter. The Miss Amiercan site demonstrates that it works hard to establish itself as "relevant." It stresses education and public service. Even the swim suit portion includes the idea of "fitness."
The Miss America organization makes it very clear that their focus is about raising funds for scholarships. There are lots of places for visitors to the site to give donations. Places where you can see the lists of scholarship winners. etc. Their slogan is "some people call her a beauty queen, we call her a scholar."
The fact that this is all organized around beauty pageants -- where the basic is so culturally bizarre that when you think too much about it your head might explode. (Why don't we give the most amount of scholarship money to girls and women who are, you know, smart?)
There is nothing particularly contradictory about the Miss Universe/Miss USA corporation. The women are nothing but sex objects and there is little attempt to pretend they are anything else. The Miss U pageants are like Donald Trump: crass.
Their focus is on tits and ass and making money. Making money for the Donald that is. So you can bet that the reason Donald Trump gave Kara Conner a "second chance" is because it was a good business decision. He can still make money off of her even with her tarnished crown. In fact, perhaps even moreso.
Miss Universe/USA is about selling. The women can be used to sell things like shopping at Target. But mainly they sell themselves, i.e., mainly they sell sex. So why shouldn't the women dance on the tables? And take the tips for their dances? Why? Because those tips are supposed to be going to Donald Trump not to them. Trump is the ultimate pimp: he's the beauty pageant pimp. Trump controls the images of his products, i.e., when and where they are allowed to be sex objects: when he is making money off of them.)
Although they are more like a harem than a whore house -- since apparently they are only for his private use. They are not allowed to have men in their rooms. (For chrissakes what is Trump running -- a sorority house??) And given the ban on men in their rooms -- (oh, how we laughed!) the all-time kicker to this story is the alleged kiss between the two Miss USAs. Now that is rich.
Sure -- she can be Donald Trump's "comeback kid." At least for a while. I just hope Tara doesn't get rehabilitated too much. One doesn't want her to stop running off at the mouth until they have to take the microphone away from her. And the more that she's a pain in the ass for Trump the more I like her.
And it will make a great movie. In the hands of the right director . . .
Monday, December 18, 2006
(Unless it was for Russ Meyers?)
Especially Mister Trump.
He's very classy.
He likes to own things that are big.
He has a building where he keeps his collection of beauty queens.
She gets to live in one of the fancy apartments.
She shares it with another really nice girl who has just arrived in the big city.
There's this one boy, Ryan, he's kind of dumb but whenever Mister Trump gets mad he always takes him into a room for a few minutes and when they come out Mr. T. is happy. So he's useful for the girls, like a handy tool.
But the girls aren't supposed to be going out at night. In fact, Mister Trump is the only one with keys to their apartment. He only lets them leave once a day and they have to be accompanied by his ninja spies who make sure that they behave in a wholesome manner at all times. They must uphold Mr. Trump's image as a classy guy.
But soon the girls start breaking out every night. They get reckless and start having parties in their cell - - er, apartment.
even Ryan can't calm him down
(I put this up in a hurry today so the image credits are still to come
but the women in prison pics are from Prison-a-G0-Go)
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Three remarks about the article above:Breaking news: a new study shows that celebrities are more narcissistic than the general public.
You wouldn’t be alone if reading that made you think, Well, duh! Everyone knows that. But you’d be wrong. Until recently, no one had studied celebrities to determine whether they’re truly narcissistic. Why? Because celebrities are shielded by public-relations people and managers who reject requests for things like personality questionnaires. Unless you’re Drew Pinsky, the University of Southern California psychiatry professor and host of “Loveline,” a syndicated radio talk show.Pinsky has celebrity guests on his show who talk about their latest projects while he answers questions from teenagers about love and sex. Over the years, during commercial breaks, he and his colleague Mark Young, a professor of sports and entertainment business at U.S.C., have surveyed 200 celebrities using the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, a widely respected questionnaire that measures narcissistic tendencies and ranks individuals on a scale of 1 to 40, with 40 being “extremely narcissistic.”
Pinsky and Young found that on average, celebrities scored 17.84 — about 17 percent higher than the general public — with females ranking significantly higher than males. Interestingly, celebrities with the most skill (musicians) were the least narcissistic; those with no skill (reality-show stars) were, as Pinsky says, “off the narcissism charts.”
When Pinsky and Young published their data, people said, Whoa, celebrities love themselves— what a shocker! But in fact, that’s not the case.
“Narcissism is not about self love,” Pinsky says. “It’s a clinical trait that belies a deep sense of emptiness, low self-esteem, emotional detachment, self-loathing, extreme problems with intimacy.”
Narcissistic Celebrities, Published: December 10, 2006, By REBECCA SKLOOT, The New York Times. Click here to go to the original article.
1. Isn't it nice when scientists decree that something blatantly obvious can now be called true because they have tested it in a scientific study, as if there is no other form of knowledge? On the other hand, I also think these studies are fascinating and I think they are important because they can just as often challenge commonplace ideas we take for granted as true.
2. The study may have something to say about the difference between the contestants who have more or less skills than the others. Or the ones that are more or less insecure about their skills.
3. Everyone on that show has a desire to be a celebrity, which signals their likelihood of being narcissistic. By definition the show is going to attract people acting out various symptoms of their "deep sense of emptiness, low self-esteem, emotional detachment, self-loathing, extreme problems with intimacy." Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Keith, Vincent, Jeffrey.
My point is that they don't need to select the most obviously narcissistic of the applicants -- the ones who are at some level ugly and sad. Project Runway is going to end up with a group of people who are good at attracting attention to themselves. Why not pick the ones who do it through humor? As well as talent, of course. That's a given.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
for the record:
- the markup on the coffee mug is a whopping one dollar
- everything is being offered at the lowest profit level price
- you can also purchase t-shirts that benefit the NOLA SPCA
- you'll notice the only other ad I have is for Powell's Bookstore which is an independent bookstore in Portland Oregan that offers both new and used books. If you have never been there it is worth a trip to Portland just to spend a weekend at the store. It is the size of an entire city block.Of course, if you buy a book through my web page I get a small percentage but it doesn't add anything to the cost of the book and you can feel good about supporting both an independent bookstore and an independent writer!
I'm not exploiting you to get rich, my friends. If I earn twenty five bucks out of this whole endeavor after a year I'll consider myself lucky!
Monday, November 27, 2006
Once you've made it through your morning cup of coffee with these fashionistas you'll be ready for anything.
They don't know much but they know what they don't like and they aren't afraid to tell you.
To purchase this mug (for $12 -- bargain level for online printing sellers) click here or on the images above or go to the kora in hell main storefront at www.cafepress.com/korainhell.
Monday, November 13, 2006
This is the last of the reviews of the final collections. I've already reviewed Michael's, Laura's and Jeffrey's collections.
My next post will discuss Michael and Uli's collections as part of a more general discussion of the idea of "safari" in fashion. I talk a bit about this below so I'm hoping that post will be blessedly short.
Although Michael and Uli's collections are very different, they have a structural similarity: both have a neutral base highlighted by four colorful pieces. Uli's colors are rich tones but they have a more muted and earthy feel to them whereas Michael goes for brighter bursts in more saturated hues.
Uli's collection provides some sportswear and evening wear, but the overall conception is for resort. I've broken the collection down into two sections based on the fabric differences -- the silver and leather, and the flowing silk chiffon fabrics.
This group was a surprise from Uli; indeed it seems like it was a jaw dropper for a lot of the audience. This was Uli's firm assertion that she could make the full range of garments needed for a collection and that she was no slouch when it came to working with neutral colors, different fabrics, and sportswear fashions.
I'm not a big fan of all the silver sparkle but I prefer it to the gold. The thing I like best about all of this sparkly fabric is that I think of it as the fairy dust that Kayne sprinkled on people when he left. The silver material would have been okay except for the third and fourth outfits. They are too much. I would have liked for those to have been a mix of the dark brown and the tan.
The first two pieces (above) are very sophisticated. The last look appears to be too clingy. The fourth dress looks like something you wear when you get out of the shower. The neutral color of the slip underneath reminds me of suntan pantyhose.
I think Uli's shorts are the best by far of all of the shorts in the collections. It would have been nice to have had pants in this style as well. And as I said before, just one or two more pieces in this darker brown fabric might have provided a little more interest in the first half of the collection.
I really wish there had been a picture of the jacket.
I don't know why the tank top is so loose -- how would you wear it? Over a bathing suit I suppose.
I don't know about all this 0-ring motif. It looks like a stylistic mix of s&m and the engineering lab.
This group represents the fashions we expected from Uli. She gave us what we wanted at the same time that she surprised us with the unexpected.
She did edit herself and we didn't see the rows of gypsy ruffles. Thank god. It is hard enough to wear prints when you are short (like me) but layers of gypsy ruffles -- forget it.
Each garment only used one print and two of her dresses used the same, neutral, animal stripe fabric: Uli was really holding back!!! The two tiger stripe dresses provide continuity in the collection and she could have ended the show with the longer dress, coming full circle since she started with the shorter dress.
I think that collar of the short dress is fantastic. The top of the long dress is pretty on the model but I'm not a big fan of that style. How wearable is it really? I wish that we saw more of that purple/brown fabric that peeks out underneath. It looks beautiful. I wish she'd used more of that instead of the suntan pantyhose slip fabric.
I should note that all of the dresses use shells and other natural materials as embellishments or as fasteners or other elements of the design. They function as jewellery and the effect is stunning.
I think the added length to the blue dress (above) is great and the back is fabulous. However I like both necklines and I think it would have been nice to have had both versions in her collection.
Unfortunately the model (above left) is a disaster for this dress: she has a dreadful slouch. As a result of this bad posture her shoulders are hunched forward and her chest is caved in. Added to this her hair styling is a mess. The overall effect practically ruins the look of the dress. This is the one exception to an otherwise fabulous group of models.
It is a shame that this dress did not stand out better not just because it is a beautiful piece but because this blue color is so important to a collection with an African theme. Of course the blue color is so often associated with the Blue Nile. But more importantly a number of African cultures are known for their different indigo textiles and the various forms of weaving, dying, and wax transfer techniques that have been developed over many centuries. African fashion -- both traditional and modern -- often uses this kind of blue fabric:
Note: the images above are from an online magazine www.africa-ata.org, which has a section on fashion, including fashion shows from around Africa.Continuing on this note, a sampling of African fabrics (below) demonstrates Uli's understanding of the safari theme as having a color palette that is about more than just animal prints.
That is, the "safari" reference to Africa includes imagery of landscapes and seasons (among other things). A few dresses cannot demonstrate the full range but Uli's skill with print and color gestures towards a broader and more complex vision of the continent.
Changing topics (sorry I can't come up with a transition here): it appeared that Uli's coverup and bikini impressed the audience more than any other outfit. Of course it is always hard to know if this was in part due to the striptease factor. Everyone had to get a little bit of a kick from this reveal:
You have to have the perfect model to pull that off. So to speak.
The fact that the bikini top is part of the dress was a great design feature: it is so much more elegant than other forms of "cover ups." It turns poolside fashion into evening wear!
I can imagine this being the style hit of the season. No wonder Uli was being swamped with orders for her designs at the end of the show. Every resort shop in the world is going to want to carry these in a myriad of sizes and fabrics. I think this is quite the style innovation.
Refreshingly, there is nothing retro about it. In fact it is a look that depends upon the latest technological advances in fast-drying fabrics.
Finally I want to talk about my two favorite pieces:
The first dress is my favorite. The detailing around the collar is exquisite. It is, in many respects a more elegant dress than the final one. The gold and plum layers move lightly which balances the more substantial top of the garment. (Nazri's dress is the opposite, lighter on top and with more fabric on the bottom half.) I like the long sleeves. First of all because even tropical places can get cool during the evening. Secondly, I cannot be in the sun for more than ten minutes without risking sunstroke and second degree burns so I need the full length coverage. But practical matters aside, I think that dress is beautiful. Just beautiful. That's all.
Although I have suggested in places above that variousother dresses could have been the final gown it is easy to see why Uli concluded with the onw she did. It is the signature Uli style. She had to remind us of why she was there and what it was that she does better than anyone else.
Nazri looks great in everything but the flowing layers of that gown demonstrated how she can really work the runway; in a sense Nazri has a kind of effortless grace that is similar to Uli's. She doesn't have to call attention to it and she makes it look easy. I'm also pleased that Nazri got to wear this gown and not the one that Michael made. It was the best gown for Nazri. Uli/Nazri should have won. They didn't. But at least Nazri got to go out in style.
Where did Uli go wrong?
I'm convinced that a key reason why Uli didn't win a number of the challenges, as well as the final challenge is the fact that her work is so effortless and she herself is so understated. Her talent is taken for granted.
Here are three things that Uli should have done to have improved her chances of winning:
1. be more shamelessly self-promoting
There was no attention paid to the difficult labor put into her collection. All of the detailing -- the shells and bone embellishments -- were labor-intensive. Uli, typically, didn't call attention to this. Big mistake. She needed to tell people about how hard she worked. Otherwise they might think that she didn't have her stuff finished and had to send things out to in order to get done on time.
During the season she should have talked more about how she already had a successful business and that lots of famous people wear her clothes. She could have gotten into a celebrity client show-down with Jeffrey. In her interviews she did not talk about how when it comes to working with prints all of the other designers suck. She really dropped the ball when it came to being a blow-hard.
Not for nothing but when it comes to hard luck stories -- she could have milked that East German childhood. That was a missed opportunity. I think she would have given Jeffrey's sob story a run for his money. In addition, perhaps she could have adopted a child from Africa to prove that she was capable of having affection for the young.
2. be more immature in her designs
Uli was the only one who created sophisticated looks for the office. Laura's clothes are evening wear.We all know the profession Michael was designing for! (Actually that isn't entirely true -- but even the ones that aren't trampy are too leisure - styled.) Jeffrey's clothes are too young. His clothes are for school, or a job at Starbucks. Fashion worships at the altar of youth. Clothing that one can wear to a real job is now considered too "mature."
3. be more unappealing in her designs
Clothing that is attentive to women's bodies and to what women like to wear is too appealing and so it can't be hip.
If women like something it means that it isn't fashion forward. The most radical designers are the ones who don't pay attention to women's bodies or what they look good in or what they want to wear. Because, you know, women are stupid.
In the end, after looking at Uli's collection again, in detail, I have to say that it seems clear to me that she deserved to win. It was the glaringly obvious choice. At the same time it comes as no surprise that she didn't. Given the way things went during season three we should all just feel grateful that Vincent didn't win.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
There are two things I notice when I look at the collection together. The first is that it is really very well conceived as a whole. It starts with crisp whites with gold accents --a classic for resort wear -- and if it is white linen it would be a good choice for the safari idea. Then he does something surprising but not too jarring which is to put in a group of jewel tones. These establish the tropical setting. Then we return to the gold and white adding animal prints for his safari theme.
I now understand why Tim always felt that, despite its problems, in the end the collection came together in its way. I think it demonstrates that Michael can put together a complete working collection. In a way it is the most complete wardrobe compared to the others.
It sounds great, doesn't it? The problem is that it It falls apart at the level of taste.
Which brings me to my second observation. The clothes look like they are from the Victoria's Secret catalogue.
Look at all the positions from which they're asserting their empowerment.
This comes from a well-meaning place, I swear. He is young. He will learn. But basically I think the sensibility of the collection is just immature. I know he wanted his collection to reflect an assertion of a strong woman. Isn't that sweet? Problem is, he didn't seem to know what that might look like. He said some stuff about urban safari and asserting herself and searching for herself and being modern and whatever. But he's actually created a look for the woman on the prowl.
It is a common mistake.
first row : #1-4
I don't have anything much to say about this other than to confess that I never buy white pants or skirts because it is a law of nature that within 24 hours I will spill coffee on it. I like the second look above. The other looks might be okay if you got rid of all the sparkles. But some people like that sort of thing. Some people also like to wear sweaters festooned with sequins at the holidays.
second row : #5-8
First of all. That first model is only a size six at most. And she is tall. Six is not a large size. Especially for a tall women. But that dress makes her look like friggin' cow!! The problem is not the model. It is the dress. This is unfortunate because I really like the fabric.
The best look in the collection is this second dress:
After this the collection starts to plummet. The next two looks introduce the Really Shiny Fabric. The glare affects everything: it is all seen through a sheen of sleaze. The pink outfit looks like the kind of thing that is worn by the drunk girl outside the club after it has closed. The one whose friends left without her while she was making out in the parking lot. By now she has lost the belt and the shorts are stuck to her thong or maybe she's lost that too. Anyway, just compare that outfit to the look Nazri wore for the icon challenge:
And for good reason. There are 70s fashion icons that have stood the test of time and Pam Grier is one of them. Cher: of course. Farrah: not so much. Anyhoo, I can understand why Pam Grier would be a fashion icon seeing as she's da bomb and what not. I will discuss this a bit more below but right now I'll just point out that I noticed Michael repeating something I decided to call "the foxy brown neckline":
A fondness for the seventies look has possessed a large portion of the fashion world. I don't really understand why other than the possibility that people just ran out of ideas.
third row : #9-12
There is just no excuse for that first bathing suit. That is a lapse in taste of truly monstrous proportions. The white bathing suit is something Beyoncé might wear --
-- if you added a few rhinestones. But even Beyoncé might find the gold lamé too flashy. Maybe Li'l Kim.
Oh and there are two animal print dresses in this last group and neither of them interest me very much (too shiny, too swinger) even though these are the items that make the statement about this "strong woman" being on a safari. (I'm going to talk more about this whole safari thing after I review about Uli's collection .)
For the record: I count 5 foxy brown necklines in the collection.
Laura had 5 plunging v-necks in her collection. Yet no one noticed that Michael used the same neckline 5 times in his. I'm just saying.
pmfg & hip hop pop stars
A few comments on why this collection may have gotten a little too trashy. Or, I'm entitled to my wrong opinions. Actually isn't really about Michael. It is more about how my mind has wandered into why everyone is so fascinated with the fashions of the seventies and hip hop / pop starlets.
1. I'm not saying anything against PMFG. By all means she should stay as the brightest star in Michael Knight's constellation. I'm just saying that, although Shaft is a rollicking good time, let's not get carried away: it is not the African American Citizen Kane and while there are far too few of them in film, there may be a few African American women who are da bomb who do not come from the films of Quentin Tarrantino / blaxploitation, i.e., it might be possible to be an iconic black woman and not pack heat.
2. What do I know from hip hop. The last time I knew anything it was called rap and it had something to do with fighting the power and not so much with the benjamins. So I'm a total fogey. However, I recently had a revelation when I saw Dave Chappelle's Block Party (a great concert film -- perhaps the best -- don't get me started) but I suspect that when people talk about hip hop that is not what they are referring to -- at least in spirit.
Anyway, regarding this little epiphany. Epiphanette. Really it is just a statement of the obvious but I'm going to point it out because Project Runway does show how the fashion world dresses the Entertainment Tonight / Weekly world of celebrities and pop stars. They may make good mannequins / customers but in terms of being muses for a fashion designer they are just not worth the stretch jersey that is barely covering them. Especially when you compare them to someone like Lauryn Hill. Have you forgotten? She is gorgeous. Gor-geous. And she has . . . what is that thing called? Oh yeah.
Given that Josephine Baker is a fashion icon associated with the exotic, what if Michael had looked at her for additional inspiration?
For more information on Josephine Baker check out my previous postings:
This might have brought another dimension into the collection, and perhaps pulled Michael away from the sleaze into a more elegant fashion idiom.
I'm talking about her gowns not her banana skirt, of course.
I hate to be a buzzkill but when you look some of the images it does beg the question of how far stereotypes of black women's sexuality progressed from Josephine Baker to Pam Grier.