hail mcqueen

One of the highlights of my New York trip was getting to experience the Alexander McQueen | Savage Beauty show at The MET. It was insanely busy as it was the first weekend it opened to the public. But it was so worth it. 

The show was, for me, a celebration of McQueen's exquisite craft. It was a celebration of beauty – however melancholy or dark. It's impossible to cast aside the brilliance and complexity of the ideas behind the work. There is no doubt that this falls under the category of high art. Being allowed to see his thinking and his inspiration was eye-opening. I was so thrown by how beautifully executed and tailored everything was. His pieces required undeniably precise detail and quality. He respected and studied the rules and, therefore, knew how to break them. The work is so modern and yet so rooted in tradtion at the same time. Looking at these dresses as I walked through the show, I saw the intensity of McQueen's passion for beauty. He not only put powerful women on a pedestal, he wanted women to be powerful in his clothes. The show itself was billiantly curated...stunning. Possibly the best exhibition of art & fashion I have ever seen. McQueen is awe-inspiring. He was a genius. 

If at all possible, go see the show before it closes in July and see where it might be traveling to next. Or at least check out the site. Looks like they're having trouble keeping the book on the shelf (pick one up if you can).




Savage Beauty exhibition images via metmuseum.org

bossypants. bossypants. bossypants.

cover image from audiobook pdf

If you follow me on Twitter and have already seen my multiple tweets about Tina Fey's book, Bossypants, well here it is again.

I particularly loved hearing Tina Fey narrate her own book. As far as I'm concerned, it was the only way it could have been done. I believe everyone – especially women – should read/listen to this audiobook. I was already a huge fan of Ms. Fey (and of her show, 30 Rock) this book just mutliplied it by a thousand. Her clever and humourous insight into the endless issues all/career-driven women face today is not to be missed. Her whip-smart, Gen-X brand of feminism is the best I've read in decades. There's also valuable advice to all women – and all of it wrapped in laugh out loud humour (mostly from her own confessions). She makes it ok for us to laugh at ourselves and at the absurdity of it all. Among them is the one where she tells women to make STATEMENTS instead of questions when we speak – as in don't say everything in question form. Speak in statements if you want to be taken seriously. I also love her for the chapter entitled All Women Must Be Everything. In fact, I love all of the chapters on women's bodies. I won't give spoilers away but it's the best, most truthful and most hilarious piece of writing about women's bodies I've read in a very long time. Oh, her description of how in any given nail salon in Manhattan there are at least eight Tracy Ullman characters represented had me laughing out loud during my commute home from work. She then proceeds to do a couple of the voices herself. It's funny because it's true.

I can't say enough about this book. I love Tina Fey. I am about to listen it it a second time. Go download it already! 

more than a dress

images via allsaints.com

There aren't many articles of clothing that I lose my marbles over. But this All-saints Anais trench dress is one of them. I blogged about it back in August, some of you might recall. But a big move and various budgetary constraints prevented me from purchasing it. At the time, the importance of buying a dress paled in comparison to everything else going on around me. Then I realized recently that it was still available (yes, I was still thinking about it) and it is now on sale. I could NOT pass it up.

I have to say, it's probably the best dress purchase I've made in the last year (or two). It's perfect for spring and fall. It's impeccably tailored, it's modern and classic with an edge. And unlike most dresses I buy that require some alterations (specific body-type reasons). This one will only require two buttons above the waist to be re-located, you could say. Otherwise, it fits me like a glove. I have been very impressed with the construction of all the dresses I've ever purchased from All-saints. Their mostly neutral (and black) colour palettes really work for me I'm just really not usually a rainbow-brite kind of woman. 

I realize this is only a dress. There are numerous things going on in the world that are far more important. Who cares? Well, it's been a very tough winter, a lot of adjustments to make and a big (HUGE) life shift. The people who know me best understand this. Spring is (arguably) here. New and exciting ventures abound in more ways than one (more on that later). This represents a fresh start. Sometimes, a great dress especially this one carries with it a kind of significance that gives you that extra little bit of flourish. And sometimes, it's all you need to feel good again ...and that's very ok.


on being photographed : george pitts, an artist at work (part 2)

Having the opportunity of being photographed by a master like George Pitts is something I will remember for the rest of my life. Finally getting a chance to have a look at a few of his final selections is, to put it mildly, very exciting. So here are some of the results of the photo shoot in July. In case you missed my original post, these photos will be considered for publication in George Pitts' upcoming fine art book for Taschen. The subjects for the book will consist of provocative photographs of women 35 and over. I am intrigued by this project and deeply honoured to be asked to be a part it. I was, needless to say, thrilled to be shot by such an accomplished artist. 

Prior to the shoot, George Pitts did ask me whether I would need help with hair and makeup. Having reasonable faith in my own ability to handle this, I chose to do it all myself. I also didn't feel as comfortable working with someone who's work in this arena I wasn't familiar with. So I also wore all my own clothing and jewelry. I wanted to look timeless, elegant and definitely did NOT want to look as though I was in costume. 

The whole experience was incredibly liberating. I was beside myself that whole day. I learned new things about who I am through the experience. I definitely pushed my own boundaries and forced me to confront my own insecurities. Although I consider myself to be quite confident (generally speaking) there is NOTHING quite like being photographed without your clothes on. It was as empowering as it is humbling. As someone who is already hyper-aware of popular imagery, it is a challenge to view my own photos without the filter/bias of commercial photography in advertising. I had to also come to terms with the idea of being photographed in a more provocative manner. This is something that became all the more real after actually seeing the final photographs. Another interesting discovery I made is that although I typically am pretty attached to eyewear (which I have worn and identified with for years and years), my favourite photographs turned out to be the ones where I am NOT wearing them. I actually like the way my face looks without the glasses. A bit of a surprise for me. 

These photos have memorialized a time, age and place in my life here in New York that I can fondly look back on when I'm, say, 60. In many ways, this year has presented more challenges and changes than I have ever gone through. In many ways, it seems quite appropriate that this transitional period be recorded – on film, no less. Thank you to George Pitts for the amazing photographs, the incredible experience and dialogue. 

To see the rest (and more revealing...) photographs, you'll have to wait and see if they make it into the yet-to-be-named book. ;)



on being photographed : george pitts, an artist at work

Last week I had the privilege of being the subject of one of the masters of American photography. George Pitts is not only a highly regarded figure in fine art and editorial photography, but also in the world of academia. Few artists have been able to achieve this level of success in all these realms. He started out as a painter and is also a writer. He has been Director of Photography for such publications such as: LIFE magazine and VIBE/SPIN. He is a fine art photographer for the New York Times, Taschen Books, etc. For the past three years, he has been Director of Photographic Practices at Parsons The New School here in New York. Currently, he is also consulting Director of Photography for Latina magazine. He is working on an art book for Taschen featuring provocative photographs of women 35 and older. He was interested in photographing me with the possibility of the photos being published in the book. Needless to say, I was thrilled at the chance to work with him.

I knew after our first meeting that I wanted to be photographed by George Pitts. We had such an interesting discussion about photography and sensuality. I felt that I was dealing with a very thoughtful, humble, intelligent creative and a true artist. I was comfortable around him which was really key for me. He also challenged me and was genuinely interested in my ideas, my biases and my general point of view as a female art director/designer who is conscious and critical of media's image of women. When I asked about the inspiration behind photographing women over 35, he told me that it started out as a personal project, born out of a genuine love for women. He found older women were not only more interesting, but also largely invisible in the media landscape. Unlike the French, there is clearly a glorification of youth in American culture (as with many others). Taschen was so interested in this work that they proposed the idea of a book. Partly because no one else has taken on the subject matter. The fact that he has photographed women from all walks of life (doctors, artists, mothers, writers, etc) for this book project made it even more interesting to me. I saw it as an homage to women and a once in a lifetime opportunity. 

I consider myself a feminist, one that believes in celebrating female sexuality. I think women are entitled to it and should feel confident in owning its power. I knew going into it that it would involve being photographed in the nude. It was something I was, perhaps, intellectually ready for, though it look me a while to fully feel emotionally ready. I took time to really consider my own limitations. But I felt confident that I would be in the hands of someone who had a critical eye and took this art very seriously. 

Last Friday was our scheduled shoot date. I came to a studio in Dumbo, Brooklyn – nervous and excited. I was looking forward to the experience and to continue the conversation with him. I had done a lot of thinking since our meeting and was as prepared as I could be. George Pitts used a Mamiya C330 medium format (2 1/4") film camera and used a combination of natural and circular strobe light called a "beauty dish" (I had never seen one before). He also had an old school Polaroid film camera to show me and test the lighting. He meticulously measured light before every shot. The conversation about the photos was a constant throughout the day. He took into consideration my ideas and my thoughts on style which I shared with him at an earlier date via email. He was a consummate professional. He was generous about sharing knowledge about fine art, teaching and publishing. He took notice of my awareness and attention to detail. He talked me through everything he was about to do — always conscious of my comfort level and personal preferences. Admittedly, my only hesitations were limited to personal insecurities about body image – which I knew were normal. During the shoot, we listened to everything from the soundtrack to my favourite film, In The Mood For Love by Wong Kar Wai to Grace Jones and Serge Gainsbourg. As a side note, he told me that the film In The Mood.. is also one of his favourite films and is required viewing for the class he teaches to both graduate and undergraduate fine art students, Picturing Sexuality. We discussed everything from film to art, culture, music, Michael Jackson, dance, ideas about eroticism (and the semantics around it), fashion, you name it. There was a healthy dose of laughter thrown in as well. Conversation was constant. Only interrupted during moments when he was actually taking photographs. I knew I wanted to look elegant. My design background, of course, informed my point of view and taste. He told me that he actually prefers photographing real women as opposed to professional models. 

There were things that I only realized about myself through the process of being photographed. There are things I'm only now able to articulate. My mind was—and still is—spinning from the experience. On some level, it was an out of body experience. Quite surreal. I will write more about it later when I share some of the photos from the shoot. There were many things that were unexpected that came out of working together that were interesting. The experience overall was an empowering one, personally. I am grateful for the opportunity. When we discussed the difference between the term "erotic photography" versus "pornography" he shared this: a model once told him that "erotic photography allows you to dream, whereas pornography erases the need to do so." It was a statement that stuck with him. In a recent interview I read, he mentions that he doesn't "believe the eroticized body only lies in the domain of porn... A central concern of mine is how to render contemporary sexuality creatively, with beauty, wit, depth, intensity and compassion; introducing newer paradigms in the process." This really struck me as well. It is a great learning experience to me to work with someone that is able to have critical dialogue about his work. 

Below is a selection of George Pitt's fine art and editorial photography.