Saturday, October 31, 2009

Gogol Bordello and The Rebirth of Punk Gypsy Soviet Chic

I have been in a funk. And that is a HUGE understatement. The corporate world, recruiters, bosses, PTSD from the constant paranoia of KNOWING that someone is going to backstab you and the threat of poverty and homelessness and the proverbial Damocles sword of losing your day job (which allows you to eat and have a roof over your head) perpetually hanging over you. That is the horrible reality of working in the modern corporate world. 5 years into our careers and we are all like walking Reinfields. The fact that I am not on psychotropic medications and I am free of substances of abuse and I am not compulsively munching on insects is a testament to my strength of character. 90% of people in the corporate world ARE on anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, anxiety medication, sleeping pills, do drugs, drink too much or are sex addicts. And trying to get a new job is worse. You have to submit to proctological, insultingly invasive "investigative consumer reports" where your prospective employers want access to everything in your life from your credit score (why is it any of their business?) to you D in PE (why the hell do they care?). All of these things have turned my nerves into string cheese and completely asphyxiated my creativity and inspiration. And that is not an easy thing to do. That little light of mine sparkles like a disco ball. But lately, I've been feeling like a candle with its wicker about to give out.
I needed something to bring me color and joy.
So last night I took myself to see Gogol Bordello. I love the hell out of this band.
The show was incredible and the music and mood full of energy, theater, and that sad, funny, angry and unapologetically cool vibe that accompanies Eastern European anything.
Eugene Hutz is a gifted show man, artist and performer. And he rocks a handlebar mustache like no one's business. In 2009.
I love the whole band, the Sergey's absolutely beautiful tzingane violin, the fierce percussion chicks in their guerilla cum Sporty Spice get ups...The Spanish rap by Pedro Eraso brings me back to my Mexico City Latin urban punk roots.
I was standing next to two extremely tall Polish guys and we were jumping like crazy dancing, feeling the music, soaked in the energy of the crowd.
Here are some photos of the concert and the band:

I fell back in love with this band after I saw Madonna's directorial effort "Filth and Wisdom":

The idiot critics did not really get it, but I loved this movie because it is all about accepting yourself and your life and squeezing every minute of joy out of it and living without regrets. Self- hate and self-denial in Western culture have become the norm. You perpetually have to wear a mask of conformity and discipline as if we all were some sort of masochistic capitalism zombified Jesuit monks. I refuse to participate and Gogol Bordello joins me as a soundtrack to self-acceptance, hedonism and celebration of the sweet and sour of life.
The music of this band inspires me plenty.
How about taking your sequined leggings or boyfriend jeans or tuxedo pants and a plain black t-shirt and paring them with this:

All spiced up with some of these:

(All Loulou de la Falaise at

Or a pair of plain black leggings, these boots by Loulou de la Falaise($109.90 at

this t-shirt ($20.00 at Mr. Pitt online store:

With a black leather blazer or shrunk denim jacket and perhaps the Alexander McQueen skull scarf? or substitute the leggings for this skirt by Fashion Overdose:

And add a pair of black ballet flats?
I think it's absolutely Multi-Contra Culti....

Friday, October 30, 2009

Blogging Project Runway: Knockoff Junction or Wannabe

I have been reading a pretty awesome blog called "Counterfeit Chic" that basically is about the different knockoffs of designer clothing in the market. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Knocking off even your own self is a common practice in the fashion industry. And EVERYBODY does it. One of the most priced pieces of my couture collection is a Vivienne Westwood jacket from her Anglomania range. It is so structured and complexly tailored, with so many beautiful and surprising details and a built-in corset/vest. Here are some photos:

Well, she did the exact same jacket, in a slightly different fabric, for her "Black Label" line for probably 3 times the price ( and my Anglomania one was nowhere near cheap... but finding a Vivienne Westwood tailored jacket in a Euro size 50 , like a US 16, is almost miraculous. So I could not let it pass). I know because the "Black Label" one was in the book for her retrospective exhibit at the V&A. The quality in my diffusion piece is comparable to the "couture" piece and since it was done by the same designer no one would call it a knockoff, but Dame Viv knocked herself off.

This is so commonplace, it's not even funny and more like SOP. In fashion, you are after all working with a somewhat finite vocabulary and you are always going to find similarities, homages and downright ripoffs. Marc Jacobs has ripped off Chanel. Karl Lagerfeld has ripped off Franco Moschino. Everyone has ripped off Schiapparelli and Vionnet and Adrian Gilbert. Then there are the mass conterfeiters who do it shamelessly and commit the sin of not being famous or somewhat expensive. There was a bookstore/ antiquary place/ fashion magazine archive in NYC called Gallagher Paper Collectibles at 126 East 12th Street between Third and Fourth avenues, where EVERYONE in the fashion industry from Galliano to Donna Karan went for "inspiration". Which means they went there to rip off designs. I know because I have been a Gallagher's customer. Not to rip off anybody but because they also sell original sketches at a steal which I use as art on my bedroom wall:

Original Isaac Mizrahi Sketch-Purchased from Gallager's in 2005.

In this last episode of Project Runway the copycat accusations flew wildly in the workroom. Althea saying that Logan knocked her off. Irina saying that Althea knocked her off. As if ANY of them had come up with something that had not been done before...Seriously...Using zippers as something other than zippers? It has been done WAY before Althea. I have seen this a gajillion times on Moschino clothing ( not to speak of Jeffrey Sebelia's Bryant Park collection). Shoot, I even did it myself on my apparel construction final project. Moschino (Couture, Cheap and Chic AND Jeans) regularly uses notions (safety pins, zippers, hooks and eyes, snaps, buttons) as trims or embroidery or ornamentation. Just saw a dress with a safety pin starburst "applique" at Nordstrom's last week. I even have an Alexander McQueen cardigan in my closet right now from the capsule collection he did for Target where the zipper is used around the collar.
The ginormous floppy sweater? Hardly an Irina or Althea original. Donna Karan has done them, Benetton has done them, Ralph Lauren and Valentino have done them. How do I know? Because I have some of those too. And basically the cocoon shape is a Paul Poiret knockoff. Pays off to have listened in Fashion History class.
The accusations were all pretty ridiculous I think.
But other than paranoia and a lack of self-awareness here is what they came up with this week...

Carol Hannah (aka Proenza Schouler cocktail dress)

Cute little cocktail dress. That's all.

Christopher (aka wannabe Lacroix gown):

Puffy gown with decently fitted bodice and train wreck on the skirt. Ugly fabrics. Poor design. To me this was the one that should have been auf'ed. But who listens to me? This was like the dress for a depressed Quinceanera one step away from ECT treatments...

Logan (I want to be Franco Moschino or Jeffery Sebbelia):

To me it was not that bad. Original? No. But hideous? No either. Self-indulgent and student project-ish? For sure. But with nowhere near the lack of taste and eye for design as Christopher's.

Althea (Maharaja pants -pays off to shop in the UK- and Donna Karan cocoon sweater):

At least she did it well. I would actually wear this. So yeah.. I agree with the win.

Irina (If you wannabe Versace, you got to get with my friends...):

I am TIRED of the slutty Heidi Klum aesthetic being championed on the show. Tight and short is not sexy nor elegant. It's whore wear. This was a great look for a high end strip joint in Moscow. It was well sewn and it related to her other look.

Gordana ( I wanna uh, I wanna uh, I wanna channel Rick Owens ah):

I cannot believe that after all the crap they give this poor (and incredibly talented and admirable) woman, they still have the gall to comment on her lack of confidence. NOT ALL FASHION IS TIGHT, SHORT, COLORFUL DRESSES. Some of us actually LIKE long tailored jackets and somber colors. There is a reason why Comme Des Garcons and Rick Owens and Yohji Yamamoto sell so well and are very wealthy designers. Some of us do not want to look like Bratz dolls. I would have made a cool pair of pants to go with that jacket. Maybe even a pair of jeans and put a red or blue top underneath to give it a pop of casual elegance and color but I actually LIKED the jacket, saw nothing wrong with the skirt and would have put this look MILES ahead of Christopher's gown.

I think that there is something terribly ironic about lots of knocking people off accusations on a show where the challenge was basically asking the designers to knock themselves off. That is the beautiful post-modernism of reality television...
And I leave you with this:

And this:

Until next time at the same bat-time and on the same bat-channel...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

'Tis The Season for Cool T-shirts ... Fa La La La La

Being that I am of the dark love persuasion, this is my favorite time of the year. It is even made better because here in Atlanta, Pride is celebrated Halloween weekend. So this upcoming weekend is like my birthday and Christmas all rolled into one. Plus, I have been reading the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris and Kelly Armstrong's "Otherworld" books. And right now I am very much in a vamp and werewolf frame of mind...Cannot wait to see who they cast as Alcide in "True Blood" next season.
I love t-shirts because it's the simplest and easiest way to add punch to an outfit, you can dress them up or down or transform them in a billion different ways. Put a cardigan on and you have casual. Leather jacket and you go rockalicious. Tux jacket and you are ready for an evening out. A t-shirt can immediately tell the world what you feel, think or love. The t-shirt is an intrinsically democratic garment. They are affordable (unless you go Lanvin or Chanel). They are easy to care for. They look good on everybody and cotton jersey feels good against your skin and breathes.
I <3 t-shirts!
This time of the year really awesome ones can be found... And with the au courrant love for all things supernatural (I was born to love them. I was named after "Carmilla", Sheridan Le Fanu's sapphic vampire tale. My Dad was so Goth I am amazed my name is not Lenore or Annabelle Lee) the goodies are plentiful.
I was checking out the Torrid website and found so many cool ones I can't even pick...

Are ready for this weekend yet? You can find all these t's at