“SHE HAS A BRAIN” says Versace

According to Versace, women no longer have a role in the world of fantasy but are about the real world. Women have an obligation to show their strength, diverse beauty, and intelligence. Does fashion represent the woman differently today than it did ten years ago? In my opinion, back then, fashion was caught up with revealing our sexuality, and sensuality self-consciously.  I think now, the crux is what we do with our empowered selves because sharing that power is what will make a difference. The alchemy between inhabiting clothing and audience will persuade new justices, new identities and therefore new tolerance and new inclusive liberation. Maybe this is what equality means.

Sounds like we better show ‘m how it’s done, be the present, and strut the future with our own voices.

I can do that and so can you.









We Get Our Armor from Everywhere






















Actress? Impersonator? Multiple Personality? Story-Teller?  Cindy Sherman grew up in the 70’s and is one of my favorites from The Pictures Generation.  She is an artist whose subject is herself portrayed as a variety of people from fairy tales, to clowns, to high society women, to historical figures, to feminine stereotypes, to men and more. While these images are photographs of herself, she is the photographer who takes them. She builds the characters through dress and becomes them in a single photograph. She takes thousands of photos before she finds the right one that says it all.



Empathy refers to the capacity of understanding, perceiving and/or feeling another from their frame of reference. Cindy Sherman isn’t living these characters she personifies in these portraits, but she is imagining a relationship of herself and them in what it must be like. This is an act of empathy that comes with story-telling. The viewer too empathizes with these characters. Is it like  ‘dress up’ at home while alone with the TV? Yes and deeper. She gives these characters a chance in their ‘moment’ to live on, to be seen as human, to see ourselves in them and our differences from them. She has admitted to feeling  compassion for these characters and when you see them here you begin to understand why. It is like watching a tragedy and a comedy at the same time.

Let’s step out of this universe for a sec…don’t humans try and try after endless defeat after defeat? Living is a constant heroic act, is it not?. How we carry our trials and tribulations comes through in the way we dress and prep ourselves for the next new day. The breasts drop, the face gets tucked and mulled by make-up, the hair gets bleached young and perfected according to cultural norms of ‘beauty’. We work hard on ourselves despite the enemy of time. Living a long life of careful grooming or a fast, robust and furious one is still a tremendous achievement.



Back to reality.

Her work is mostly untitled because she wants the viewer to create their own narratives of these individuals. This feels like a Baroque oil portrait of a woman distraught by something that has just happened. We don’t know what happened but we can invent a story from the exposed clues of her body, her beautiful lace on the shoulders, the secrecy of the closed off curtain, she is half naked, was she desired or not treated right?… She is broken, vulnerable and appears to not know what to do next. I feel sorry for her. As a feminist artist Sherman hits the nail on the head with this one. She probes tragic realities that some women face all the time.



Rock on, love it, this woman is powerful, she rules. I know those shorts, the hair, make-up, the tattoo, the nails and rings, the perked lips, the way she sits, right? I bet she doesn’t have much to call her own, but her pride is there, she knows how to survive.

Despite the criticism around her work as ‘mockery’ of typing people, to place herself as these subjects isn’t a form of mockery at all.  It is as much about Cindy Sherman as those she portrays. She is a master of transformation, of sharing the world of people through trickery and artifice. The number of wigs, noses nails and eyes not to mention clothes and accessories stored in her studio is intriguing in itself. If you get a chance watch the video below and see more.

What makes her work profound for me is the fact that I feel I have seen or know these people somehow before, even though I obviously haven’t met them in real life. Do you? a little surreal, a deja vu perhaps… This makes sense to have seen these characters before because many of us grew up inundated with media and saw all walks of life through TV, film, the news… We travel and see this variety, we live in neighborhoods with other people who are different from and similar to us, we read about human cultures in books, we see them at the beach, strip bars, dance clubs, we walk our city streets and live next to the wild and crazy person up the road, or we know someone who knows someone who introduced us to someone who looks like this etc. It is easy to recognize ourselves but it is hard to empathize with those who are different from us. Our inner judge is a strong magistrate.




These characters are utterances of human culture regardless of era. They are iconic. We grow up with each other and ‘know’ people who could be close to a century older than us. For Cindy Sherman how the history of human life has been presented is of equal value to current mass-media representations of human culture, she researches her sources from everywhere.

Behind the furs, and silks isn’t a cool critic that manufactures identity, she sees and feels the human in everyone.

CINDY SHERMAN ON ART 21 roughly 25 mins

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Film Costumes to never forget

Period costume of Queens

Period Costume ‘Elizabeth’- Cate Blanchett


Cate Blanchett- gorgeous yellow

Fashion is often set by the costume designers in the film industry which influences a culture’s style.  Sometimes ‘Film’ hires fashion designers like Jean Paul Gautier. Here is a list of extraordinary styles that don’t fit current fashion but at the time they were made bear iconic status.

The following is worth the watch, do you agree with the pickings?

C’mon The Wizard of Oz? Really? Don’t think so people!

What’s your favorite of all time costume in film?

I might have to go with ‘to die for’ Brando’s sweaty tee…

BIRD’S EYE VIEW- birds in fashion


 Alexander McQueen Fall 2006 RTW, photos by Don Ashby/Style.com

Alexander McQueen Fall 2006 RTW, photos by Don Ashby/Style.com

Birds live all over the world, and have been around for millions of years. We go birding, pick up on their songs, they meet us somewhere on a hike, they pop by our house and hang out in our trees, they nest like us, live near or on the water, some hunt, dive, some feed on seeds, nectar, meat or fish. They soar, hide, lurk in the depths we most fear. Their razor sharp eyesight and sonar intelligence make them a remarkable part of the animal kingdom on this earth. And while we continue to learn about the diversity of species and their adaptive systems what impresses me most of all is that they know the skies like no other animal, or human. They are our link to a larger universe dark or bright.


Alexander McQueen

Let’s take flight for a sec…

In terms of adaptive systems, the owl’s feathering allows them to camouflage in their environments for catching prey. In image of the dress of owl feathers, the models braided hair and light skin tones would camouflage similarly against the bark of trees. ‘Dress’ acts an intermediary between human and animal.

So why am I connecting fashion with birds? Because fashion reflects human desires, and the longing for a meaningful identity. Some of us turn to religion for example to meet a larger truth of that meaning we so desperately crave, while some turn to Nature for similar understanding and connection to a larger whole of who we are. To my mind birds by nature have a ‘birds eye view’ and fly around that ‘whole’ we seek. They mediate between earth and the unknown of the sky. Fashion designers and artists alike think deeply and act on that connectivity humans need for individual security. The imagery I have chosen to share here is visibly about ‘dress’  but dress that connects us to something larger than ourselves.

Owl illustration

Extinct birds wearing fashions from the year they went extinct- Laughing Owl, 1914, Brian Williams

I am not a fan of anthropomorphism because humans often fail to see animals as they are, we imbue them with aspects of ourselves rather than seeing the animal kingdom composed of distinct species of equal valuable to us. Sometimes we don’t get the message of atrocities like ‘extinction’ unless we imagine being in the same shoes as the defeated like in this illustration above. Is extinction a natural cause in evolution? The image is wonderfully ambiguous with multiple meanings. Is the owl living in our apparel or are we sporting an owl ‘head’ a marker of acute awareness?  Perhaps ‘Empathy gap’ between bird and human might be another way to put it, but the intention I think is to connect humans to a palpable loss of freedom and the constraints of living. The paradox between freedom (the symbolic nature of a bird ) and order (wearing a suit) is indeed standing proudly here.  Oh, too often human needs impose order of many kinds dictating our precedence over the impressive beauty such as the species of ‘Laughing Owl’ and that which surrounds us.

Bird's Eye View

Bizarre Bird- fashion editorial. The dead has plumage

For fashion designers the clothes carry the narrative, the story is in the clothes, and could go something like this: A dark princess went out hunting one day and comes face to face with the death of a bird. “Is she equipped?” and “what would you do in the same scenario?”. “Would its death have any impact on you? how so?”

owl headwear

owl taxidermy

This image is priceless. Taxidermy on the head. Me thinks she is hooting.


The photo above pertains to some of my research as art director for an OWLMAN design I am creating for a movie called Joan in Owl Land. The film is directed by Martin Castaneda https://www.facebook.com/martincastanedayabar?fref=ts with cinematographer Carlos Diaz www.crd.carbonmade.net. Feathers, long black hairy furs, dark leathers, and barks are some of my materials to inspire me.


Woman in Photography- unknown photographer

Birds connect us to the heavens, however the following designs show a subtler current in Nature and one that revolves around human’s affliction with our psychological underworld. Our feathered friends act as messengers between our unconscious and conscious selves. Nature and humans are inextricably linked.




Clothing that circulates and expands into web and trap.


Alexander McQueen



Anglomania at the Met- John Galliano

Birds that take us into mourning



Alexander McQueen- Birds of Paradise

Feathers that keep us protected, cool and detached.


Alexander McQueen – Savage Beauty

And feathers that make us bleed in our wounds.

To an ancient Chinese proverb:

          A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.




Street Performer Statue

Street Performer Statue

Street Magic

Dolly Mix

Dolly Mix

 Street fashion as performance

Elena Perminova

Elena Perminova

Street fashion as… the beautiful shawl (wear yours this summer ladies)

 Os Gêmeos GRAFFITI, Dewey Square, Boston, 2010

Os Gêmeos GRAFFITI, Dewey Square, Boston, 2010

street art as play and feeling

Brazilian graffiti artists

OSGEMEOS- twin brothers

…as…street culture that kinda feels like one can get squeezed out by people, and compressed into places and spaces never considered before (like the concrete silos on Granville Island in Vancouver)

London faces

London faces

 and street theater releasing the emotional intensity of living.

Street life heals the spirit. Thank god we can get wonderfully crazy.


Peter Breugel the Elder, 1520-69

Peter Breugel the Elder, 1520-69, The Adoration of the Magi


While I have just stepped into examining KINGS already there are more than a few to admire. One of my favorites is  Peter Breugel the Elder, 1520-69, The Adoration of the Magi. The Magi are presented here as individualistic, peculiar, grotesque and sophisticated all at the same time. Hieronymous Bosch lurks in the postures. They are exaggerated in an illustrative way; elongated, appearing wise and carrying peasant worn faces of the Flemish Renaissance.  Robed in their own elegant style, their dignity overrides the bustling younger community around them.  Mary caped in sky blue welcomes the 3 strangers with open arms, as she clearly knows they have traveled to Bethlehem following a miraculous star, which has lead them to this nativity scene. Jesus is indulged by their presence and smiles back at them. Their fashion flows between jester, royalty and native non-western ceremonial attire painted in the classical palette of reds, blue, van Eyck green and soft warm whites. Within the ordinary the extra-ordinary (our ‘star’)  guides us. How would you cast the remarkable in your life?

Catherine the Great of Russia

Catherine II by J.B von Lampi 1780

Voltaire called her “STAR OF THE NORTH”. Catherine the Great was a strong proponent of European culture, of art, literature, the education of women and expanded the Russian Empire in western ways. My kind of King in Queen form. Gorgeous decadent color combinations in her attire. However, in her own words on fashion “I did not make beauty or finery the source of my merit, for when one was gone, the other became ridiculous, and only character endured.”  I get it but my mum was ‘royal’ and to her from style your character was born so I will lovingly disagree.

Diego Velasquez- Philip IV in armor

Velasquez- Philip IV in armor

 Look at his unusual  luscious lips, boyish hair and significant nose! A dandy underneath hard exteriors. Mean to Jews, expelled them from France, a nepotist, not a big fan. A fabulous portrait of light, flesh and color, however. Say no more.

Ferdinand VII by Goya

Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes
portraiture of the King of Spain- Ferdinand VII

Something went wrong here. Head and body aren’t connected, his flesh discolors from face to hands, feels like he hopped into some fancy clothes without showering. Can smell his odor, even. Better to have a standin. The formalities of duty call for the ‘pose’ and back to  lordship we go. The background seems unfinished, the legs of the horses on the right are cut off, perhaps two paintings merged into one? Bloated with conceit Ferdinand loves himself, a power that had to pop. Definitely disconnected from his environs. Not impressed.

Portrait of a King- by sam tk

Portrait of a wounded king- by sam  tk

So forget all the grand posturing, really, who are we kidding? I protest! Acknowledge all the wounds that lie herein, I bring thee the opportunity to face them. Yes, we are wounded by our histories, of all our failures, of all our melancholia that forced us to bore into the earth and retrieve something new over and over again. All strata of society and culture need a cathartic release from all this bruising. Let time collapse our tragic past from all kinds of domination.

Instead, let’s turn towards the royalty we are. Inhabit our grandeur within, sing to it with all our heart, let it store within us like a long lasting preserve, a delicacy of profound sweetness. Measure ourselves with the grace of the small, for they smooth all our hard edges and ask us to dance with the gods.




blue monochromatic squares -painting by Joseph Albers

Blue squares by Joseph Albers 


I started to fall for the monochromatic vibe when I became disenchanted with colors, colors that are bright were offensive to me, contrasting colors juxtaposed with one another seemed cheap and gaudy, colors in a variety of patterns were too pretty. When it came to decorating the walls in my house I just admitted defeat and ignorance about color in interior spaces. Out of desperation I reviewed Joseph Albers color studies to retrieve a sense of ethereality in his Homage to the Square.  He made color both material and immaterial. While I knew I loved color, I was trapped by the security of a single color solving a variety of design decisions. Luckily my daughter inspired me with her rainbow drawings everyday. She started to wear fantastic color combinations like kelly green with fuchsia pinks, those preppy arrangements from the early 80’s in penny loafers. She painted patterns with rich darks and bright florals. There wasn’t a color that didn’t have life to her. Over time I grew fond of color again. Now I still don’t know how to wear any yellow nor do I know which yellows go well with purple, but gold rekindled my attraction to color as an elegant option. Gold is everywhere in art history but here it opens up a dialogue in the traditional works of Rubens such as this scene of the couple resting by the honeysuckle with the next image of Rimondi’s distinct Baroque couture against a gold catwalk.  The Baroque Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens is both the artist and male model here with his wife and model Isabella Brant, perhaps around the time of marriage. Their skin tones are remarkably sensual and true to life, the casual togetherness marked by the embrace of their overlapping hands and the extraordinary balance of her hat make this couple oddly knowable and current. Is it the colors?


The Honeysuckle Bower and ISABELLA BRANT BY RUBENS, 1609.

           When I look at both images the ‘classic’ feels grounding and never obnoxious. Darks dominate in several value ranges unlike like our contemporary, flat, uniform, unvarying ‘black’ as staple for every season. And the gold continues its advantage of maintaining the status of ‘special’ in unwavering ways. But gold rarely leaves itself in art or fashion, it can get more champagne like or more rose or green and it can get deeper into earth tones. Essentially it keeps forever like a gold ring.



deep deep blue sea life

deep deep blue sea life

The sea creatures in the image above echo in the line pattern of Rimondi’s dress, the monochromatic values of being visible and then the translucency of not. Here the sea life feel like fabric suspended in medium pushed by the flows of change.




From inside the sea to the human activity outside it two other realities collide such as in Mark Tansey’s Diptych. His mastery comes in re-presenting topsy turvy interactions where the seemingly real meets the unlikely. The monochromatic color scheme has a way of blending and uniting these realities further away from their origins but strangely in the process they make sense.


bLue long-leather-gloves


And lastly I want to remark on how unusual this blue is in these fabulous gloves. It makes sense to have dresses in this color, but when you wear gloves this color and at this length with the same color dress another visual dimension opens up. More glove is more desirable. More glove in blue is simply without interruption more ‘whole’ in the outfit. The monochrome effect unites details, contrasts and the unconventional into a nuanced language of expression.

So the monochrome frequency rules for now, but lucky for my household we have a nine year old colorist leading the way.



uniforms and uniformity

Uniformity  in a team sport such as speed skating is absolutely key to successful performance. Without the right balance, the right push, the right angles, the right timing of when to lead, pass and follow, the right attitude and with the right technology which is their entire athletic uniform the winning edge becomes vulnerable to a potential loss.


One singular option to move forward

Uniforms identify us. Shape, line and color of a second skin outline the body as perfect machinery to perform one task as a solid unit of energy.



a hungry glide 


Then there is the power of concentration-another kind of order in uniformity. Block out any distractions, or unnecessary doubts. Single-mindedness calls for airtight decision making while strategizing a flexible approach from any unpredictable glitch that tips the balance-  an understanding in synchronicity that I can’t even imagine.

hop skip and a jump

and with air


 However, the steps are learned, the mind practiced in winning, the body shaped and sculpted to fine impeccability, a dance no less than superb grace…

pursuit is the urge

PURSUIT is the urge


If we aren’t hungry in our gaming we won’t survive. No place for ambiguity only absolute clarity and determination. Then comes the knowing that you have it- the glee that is upon arrival…


grueling determination

Determined beyond 


 The flogging, sluggish and brutal reality of not giving up…

With all one's might

with all one’s might 


 and means finding one’s way back to that calling for harmony. There is unity of color, a triangular configuration in the variety of movements heading toward a common destination

In the groove of speed

In the groove of speed

 …where oneness has to be certain. Back to the groove and flow of togetherness…


Full Extension and balance of a moment

Full Extension and balance of a moment 


The strength needed to obtain full alignment, one’s every ounce and utter capacity of perfection.




The rhythm from every consequential moment to the next…


...and they're gone

and they’re gone 


WHOOSH! see ya…

fantastic form and purposeful exertion attained in one long musical phrase of physical bliss.








Aviation Garb

Aviation Garb is a particular league of its own








American pilot Amelia Earhart in her plane. Photograph: Popperfoto/Reuters

Aviation Garb is a particular league of fashion and I want more of it. Jumpsuits, boots, bomber caps (I got those going on) goggles, dust, oils, leather, pockets, zippers, numbers, dials, watches, radar contraptions, furs- you name it I want the sci-fi apocalyptic now. To make that happen I better first make a jumpsuit, A shirt and pant combo on the dock- airplanes can come later and we’ll be fine if they are made from paper or lego.

birds flying

birds in flight

Ever wonder about flying? Flying is a bizarre concept. What do you think of when you watch birds? where do they take you? The flight of birds is truly more perfect than that of the human made machinery of a plane. I never think of a bird’s vulnerability. Their speed, their efficiency, their grace seems incredible. If I was a bird flying would make sense. The human species is truly impressive when it comes to inventions however, we wouldn’t know what to design without our beloved nature. Science is nature, and humans manipulate the science to come up with extra-ordinary contraptions.  We are always imitating Nature’s perfections. Here’s to funky aviation technology-

flying machine of leonardo's

flying machine of Leonardo’s


beginning of a wing

beginning of a wing?

The complexity of aerodynamics, shape, and purpose hold the mysterious quality in birds. Observing the delicacy of the wings one realizes how miraculously engineered bird creatures are.

Stay tuned for my next sewing project- THE AVIATION SUIT- shirt and pant combo!