Fashion Week in Quarantine

July 13th marked the beginning of Fall fashion week, setting off shows across Europe. However, this year coronavirus conditions have forced many designers to reimagine the ways they present and produce runway works of art. One of a limited few to proceed with a physical show, Jacquemus hosted a socially distanced fashion show in the Parisian northwest in the middle of a blisteringly gorgeous barley field. The sun set upon the guests as they indulged in libations after the show’s conclusion.

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Quick + easy comfort food

Whether it be the dead of winter, the middle of a ravenous workday or when presented with an unexpected dinner guest; it is important to have a reliable comfort food recipe on hand. Something requiring minimal preparation, ingredients, and dirty dishes but still produces spectacular results. A trick up your sleeve, a plan B in your back pocket. This is my dearly held sloppy joe recipe that sustained me through many broke weeks in college. Dependable and delicious, I hope you give this easily adaptable recipe a try sometime. Feel free to substitute anything; that’s how I got this ever-changing recipe in the first place!Continue reading “Quick + easy comfort food”

Best Thing I Read Last Week

“we’re feeling pretty speechless about the current state of things. Though, maybe speechless isn’t the best way to describe it. It might be that we feel ill-equipped to speak to something as large and complex as the systematic racism that this country was founded on and that we are complacent in. As we write this, there are protests happening all over the country. Continue reading “Best Thing I Read Last Week”

How to finally get through that pile of books

Reading. That one shameful hobby that most of us wish we did more of but can never seem to find the time. If we finally do steal a moment away to read, we doze off before we can make it through the second page. We know it has potential to enrich and expand our knowledge but it doesn’t seem to fit into our fast-paced digital lives. Turning the pages is a slow, tedious and predictable task that betrays every dopamine-dropping instinct we have learned from the endless availability of information on the internet. The texts we read grow shorter and shorter, shrinking to fit a wide assortment on our small screens. It seems many of us have lost the art of stillness, making it impossible to sit in silence; we find ourselves reading the same sentence over and over again.

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Amsterdam

I was in Amsterdam the last weekend of January. The brisk, rainy weather was a shock to us all but we found ourselves dancing in the street at the beauty of it all anyways. We toured the Anne Frank house which was a somber, staggering piece of history. We also toured the Van Gogh museum which was my personal highlight. The paintings are beautifully displayed and his biography is told artfully through the displays of his distinctive periods.

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Trick Mirror: Book Review

Jia Tolentino’s first book, Trick Mirror, consists of meticulous yet concise essays spanning across a wide range of relevant social topics. She examines the transformation of society by the internet, our obsession with productivity and optimization, the limited roles of female characters in novels, and long held ideas and expectations of marriage. Her perspective is broad, making allowances for all while always being cognizant of her own inherent human biases. Her references are well explained and contribute to her examination of each various subject matter. This collection does exactly as the subtitles suggests, reflecting on delusions that affect & limit our notion of reality.Continue reading “Trick Mirror: Book Review”

Luxury Fashion & the Coronavirus

The fashion industry has been both an unsuspected victim and hero in the spread of the coronavirus across the globe. The coronavirus originated in Wuhan China in December of 2019 and then quickly spread to Italy by February of 2020. By March 7th, the entire country was placed on lockdown with trips outside being only permitted for necessary shopping or work purposes. The shows of Milan fashion week were in the precarious center, having been scheduled for February 18 – 24th. Many designers decided to proceed with their shows, not wanting potentially unnecessary precautions to ruin months of dedicated work. Giorgio Armani aired on the side of caution, electing to carry out the show inside of an empty theater to be recorded and posted online after. The Luis Vuitton group, LVMH, instructed its employees in Hong Kong and China to stay home from both Milan and the upcoming Paris fashion week shows. The closing awards ceremony scheduled for Sunday evening was canceled by the National Chamber of Italian Fashion along with the Monday market for emerging designers. The Lombardy region which Milan inhabitates, was placed into lockdown around the show’s closed doors as the numbers of cases rose hourly. 

As the coronavirus spread to Paris in late February, fashion houses preparing for scheduled shows faced the same difficult choice. On the first day of shows (Feb. 24) there were only 14 cases in France and by the March 3rd conclusion, there were over 200. The United States Louis Vuitton and Chanel communications teams were instructed to stay home. Various other guests also opted to stay home; 20-30 percent of media guests canceled on attending the week’s penultimate Lacoste show. The fashion directors for Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman, as well as The New York Times reporting staff, left Paris before the week’s conclusion as swirling rumors spread increased panic alongside rising numbers. Meanwhile, Anna Wintour stayed in the quickly emptying city alongside other Condé Nast editors to discuss future steps. Most shows continued as planned despite decreased attendance but future shows have been postponed indefinitely including Dior’s May 9th cruise show in Puglia, Gucci’s May 18th cruise show in San Francisco, and Ralph Lauren’s April New York runway show. Every fashion brand has had events and orders affected worldwide as the reality shifts daily, the spread of disease propelling forth a new version of normal. 

The purchase orders that are normally made following the debut of collections at fashion week have suffered as human interaction has been increasingly discouraged in favor of safety. This compounds the manufacturing problem initiated at the onset of the coronavirus since Chinese manufacturing companies went into stand-still as lockdown procedures were implemented. This left brands struggling to fulfill orders and meet demands. Now that many Chinese employees have returned to work, however, they find their orders canceled as their buyers now face the same economic constraints of lockdowns in their own countries. Customs closures and delayed payments prevent delivery of goods as this complete reversal shows companies who begged China for goods only a few weeks ago now turning down their orders due to decreased cash flow. The large scale economic effects of this disruption of supply chain and subsequent decline in external demand are poised to change Chinese manufacturing permanently. 

The fashion industry is a front-runner to suffer the consequences of this economic upheaval due to China’s strong participation in the purchase of luxury goods. Since January, luxury boutique storefronts have been closed in mainland China, closing the world’s largest luxury marketplace (according to “South China Morning Post”). Last year, Chinese buyers made up 40% of luxury good sales worldwide according to Jefferies Group investment bank. In addition to this already existing dominance over the market, they are also the fastest-growing luxury shopper demographic, creating increases in sales year over year. Fears of racism and disease have now kept these shoppers home, creating rippling effects throughout the larger luxury fashion industry. 

Many luxury fashion houses have already pivoted their resources to better serve consumers in this time of pandemic. LVMH group, L’Oréal and Estée Lauder have commandeered their manufacturing plants to make hand sanitizer. Meanwhile, Prada, Christian Siriano, and Chanel have charged their factories with producing face masks and hospital gowns. In an unexpected twist, nurses on the front lines may find themselves wearing custom-made designer gowns. Their altruistic efforts will be undoubtedly remembered at the end of this tumultuous time. The luxury fashion industry is just one of many facets irrevocably affected by the coronavirus, and designers are being forced to pivot and expand. Old ways no longer work and this disease has revealed long-hidden cracks in a structure previously presumed to be concrete. These losses in revenues will force brands to contemplate the future of fashion and how to develop a sustainable structure in which all demographics feel represented and protected.

In Meeting Myself (2)

In these difficult times we are seeing a transformation of routines we were born into. Inherited to-do lists, commuter traffic and constant encouragement to do more more MORE shaped our reality. Relentless narratives on billboards, magazines and television convinced us of invented issues. My hair will never be that shiny. My stomach will never be that flat. My eyes have never opened that wide. My body didn’t belong to me anymore.

The message was clear– If I couldn’t look like those women then I couldn’t be that woman. I wouldn’t be smiling in front of a fireplace, suffocated by family cuddles. I would never be proud in my bikini. I couldn’t see any path that lead to self-acceptance because all the proud women looked perfect. Of course they loved themselves. Logically then, of course, I shouldn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t.

The conversation about the female body has always been held under the watchful eye of men, eager to step in should any woman get too emboldened. American culture has long since been defined by images of women from girls in daisy dukes to moms cooking dinner. What started as marketing campaigns to sell things to women (who traditionally did the shopping of the house) began snowballing until a woman’s identity itself had to be bought back, bit and parcel. “How to tell if he’s into you!” “How to shed pounds with this one superfood!” “(insert celebrity name) spills how to REALLY please your man…” Advertisements like these target women and coerce them into buying product that are sold as the one thing they’ve been lacking. These marketing campaigns promote the idea that there is something inherently missing from women but thankfully, men are here to help. It perpetuates the idea that women are too emotional to think logically and identify their own desires. We are taught to align ourselves with male desires so that hopefully a man will like us and finally reveal to us what it is that we want.

To earn respect, a woman must be liked. A man who knows what he wants is decisive and strong. A woman who knows the same is bossy and emotional. The issue lies in the fact that the entire language is derived from masculine ideals of physical strength and dominance. Intellect, introspection and patience are all seen as softer (feminine), less valuable, traits. Women are viewed to be weaker than men because of this devaluation of their areas of strength. The commodification of the female body supports this view– making the body a spectacle. It’s fine if guys want to joke about it but any real talk from women about the vagina is considered widely inappropriate. Female sexuality is sold back to us but owning oneself as a sexual being is discouraged.  It’s okay for guys to talk (openly & proudly) about f**king us but we can’t talk about wanting it without being shamed. Women are still largely expected to remain quiet, take up as little space as possible, keep those thoughts to yourself. We are expected to see ourselves as men see us, as dazed and confused, waiting to be told what to do. It’s unexpected that a woman would be able to communicate her own needs.

 

The World Economics Forum’s 2020 Gender Gap Report ranks the United States 53rd, a two position drop since 2018. This scoring is made up of 4 considerations: Economic Participation & Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health & Survival and Political Empowerment.  The top ten features Iceland, Sweden, Nicaragua, Spain and Rwanda. Many countries rank higher than the US, contradicting the claims of American superiority. Bangladesh ranked 50th, Serbia 39th, Mexico 25th and Colombia 22nd.

When just looking at Political Involvement, the US ranks 86th. The other countries I mentioned largely hover in the top 20s, the lowest being Serbia at 41. According to the report, this is the United States’ weakest area. Europe has closed 41% of this gap, Latin America 27%, South Asia 39% and the US has only managed 18%. Because of America’s slow growth, it is predicted to take 151 years to close this gap– opposed to Europe’s expectation of 54 years. We are marketed as “the land of the free” and yet, our women have some of the lowest political representation amongst other countries that the US perceives as being jealous of our apparent success. Media shapes the identity of countries and the United Sates has long-held a strong advertisement campaign. Despite these projections, the real data of this report shows painful realities about how far we have truly come and how far we still have to go.

The most disheartening rating for me was seeing the United States rank 70th in the Health & Survival category. 39 countries tied for first including the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Kenya, Korea, Panama, South Africa, the Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Syria, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Out of 153 countries, 70th certainly isn’t starting from square one but shouldn’t we be better by now? We Americans love our mothers, our models, our students, our soldiers. So why can’t we keep them safe? We all clamor to shock and outrage upon seeing the treatment of women in other countries and yet, our own women are suffering right under our noses– under our claims of being the “best”.

 

Now the world is at a standstill for the first time in recent memory. We suddenly find ourselves with an abundance of time and for once, not much to do with it. We have a powerful opportunity within this stillness to challenge the accepted structure. A responsibility to develop new cycles now that we have uncovered the true fragility of things we accepted as truth. I encourage you to expand in the silence.

Consider your idea of yourself as a woman. Consider how you think about women, what you expect from them, how you speak to them and about them. Consider the standards that you accepted before you were even aware. Consider the times you felt undeserving.

Think of a time you felt guilty for opening your mouth. Think of a time you wished the woman would stop talking. Be honest in confronting a past of betrayal– against the self, loved ones, peers. Be compassionate in knowing you do not bear the full weight of the blame. You were trained to do that, to think that way, to build that version of yourself, to repeat bad habits. It’s hard to break this training but being aware of ideas you absorb is the first step. Understand and unfold your identity by making conscious choices to build up your favorite parts of you and to dismiss negative thoughts. You are not your thoughts. They are just a construct and can be proven wrong. Just like the idea that there is a right way to be a woman. Just like the idea that the United States is the inarguably the “best”.

In Meeting Myself

I discover raspberries blooming under my fingernails
and my hair turns to drops of honey when it falls onto my pillow
my skin sings sweetly when strummed, my teeth pull on pink

I love looking in the mirror with mascara and the fourth outfit I tried
I love seeing myself as a beautiful woman

By the time day rolls over my hair is tangled wheat
my skin itches and my lips are chapped & chewed
I avoid meeting my eye in the mirror, tiny bald eyes

My status as a woman is lessened because the girls on tv are laughing
and I’m laying here with a double chin and cheeto dust

When the sky is back to sunny side up
I make waffles
because my therapist said it will help

I call my mom but she doesn’t understand—
she has been a woman longer so it sticks to her better
she forgets how it feels to buy it from catalogs

I look for more women,
tangerines, eye cream, sunshine on pools
someone I can make myself at home in

The next day I call my doctor
she recommends meditation
unfathomable quiet

I am skeptic and have never seen still water
I cross my legs on my dollar store yoga mat
I place feathers on my intruding thoughts

In my reflection I smile at my unwashed hair
I remember a joke and I laugh without looking
honey, wheat and pink

I begin to bake my femininity daily
in my silent chest, soaking in sunlight, stealing seconds back
from the woman I am expected to want to be

I make myself a home
pour iced tea, squeeze lemons, crush ice
it’s the little things that show I care

I live there and lock the front door
I no longer crave company to tell me my curtains compliment the carpet
I know they do

These days I am more idea than woman
I close my eyes and see myself wrapped in gossamer and tulle
indistinguishable and exquisite — elegant and eternal