Monday, 17 April 2017

I'm Older than I Was

Ph. by Natalie

As of yesterday, I am one year away from no longer being a teenager. I'm growing up and I've never hated anything more.

"Aries- Soon the fragility of your existence will hit you Aries and you will recede deep into your own mind, trying to cope with that." - Nightvale Horoscopes

Act I: The Mask

1. Last year I had completely denounced fashion week and fashion events in favour of being a pretentious asshole who a) thought all the shows sucked and b) found herself above trying to be a part of a crowd of smooches and posers who engaged everything superficially and could not form an original opinion. If you cringed more than once, I'm sorry.

This was after two-three years of trying to make it as a fashion girl a la Tavi here; going to parties, making connects ("aye, let's build, my G!"), and getting photographed. I spoke about masks earlier (here, specifically), and how once we don them we can become our real selves but after all that posturing and posing and trying too damn hard, I realised my face was the real mask and much of my life had become a performance. I pretended to enjoy going to Taboo and the apartments of older men with friends I hated so we could trot around in high heels and tiny tops and drink champagne. I pretended to enjoy talking to people who liked to kiss both my cheeks and rave about this collection and that launch all while looking through me for someone much cooler to whom they could attach themselves. I pretended that all these self-portraits I was collecting on this here Internet space was me looking through a mirror.

So I stopped. I looked at my blog and I cringed. I rolled my eyes at fashion show invitations. I grimaced and said "maybe some other time" when we could go to this club and see this rapper and this Instagram guy. But somewhere in between giving up the superficiality and trying to live a more earnest life, I'd just given up.

I'd taken off my mask and there was nothing behind it.

2. The year was 2016 and I lived by myself in a deceptive ennui where I swore I was conquering loneliness, falling in love, making lifelong friends and soaking up the self-love, self-care zeitgeist. I'm gonna call this stage maturity because it seemed to add up to everything that meant growing up and leaving my teenage forever. Like, wow, I had a real job and deadlines and lecturers and groceries to buy and lights that went out. I was in a real relationship were we spoke and changed tires and had wine at home. I even had debit orders for crying out loud.

Eighteen and all grown up, finally. The sad girl shit, the posturing, the posing-- the absolute high school-ness of it all was finally over. I was on the pursuit of happiness and light and my anxieties, fears and pain were going to disappear the moment I reached my destination.

Eighteen and I had it all figured out.

3. I did not have it all figured out.

Ph. by Zandi

Act II: High School Never Ends

There were at least three major events this year that made me realise high school never ends. The second was SA Fashion Week. I went for two out of three nights because I was meant to be in Cape Town the week after that. And when I say I was meant to be in Cape Town, I mean in more ways than pre-planned flights and The Internet performing at Jazz Fest.

In one moment, I was giggling with my friends and getting free drinks and then, in the next, outside myself wondering what it was that other people had that I didn't. And then I'd be forced back into myself, overly aware of this sudden hunger to be both a part and apart. I was Nick Caraway wandering New York, Chris Kraus driving cross country, the neighbourhood boys watching the Lisbon girls.

Once more, I was in grade eight realising my best friends didn't like me very much but still inviting them to my house. I was sixteen, quietly watching my first love with his girlfriend. Seventeen, in the corner of VIP trying to look like I was having fun while my friends did.

I'd naively thought I'd leave the bells, the math and extracurriculars for belonging.

I didn't and I won't. The rest of my life is going to be a hunt for belonging, to unequivocally, completely and wholly be within or without.

(And not both.)


"C: I feel so teenage. When you're living so intensely in your head you actually believe when something happens you've imagined, that you caused it. When Leonora OD'd on bad acid from my boyfriend Donald, he and Paul and I sat up all night in the park and made a pact that if Leonora wasn't out of Ward 16 tomorrow we'd kill ourselves. When you're living so intensely in your head there isn't any difference between what you imagine and what actually takes place. Therefore, you're both omnipotent and powerless.

S: You're saying teenagers aren't in their heads?

C: No, they're so far in that there's no difference between the inside of their heads and the world."

- I Love Dick by Chris Kraus (1997)

The first time this year that I realised high school never ends was when almost in the same moment my boyfriend broke up with me, I fell in love. Head over heels, school girl love. I stopped eating, I stopped sleeping and I couldn't stop working and writing. Suddenly, I was every part of myself because of this one person. I was nervous and unsure, awkward and clumsy and not the least bit shameful. Of course, that boy soon disappointed me and I was falling in a new way.

I'll never forget being lit by a Jasmine candle and the blues of my computer screen as John Legend crooned "let's call out names, names, I hate you more" and the dizziness and disorientation  felt exactly like my first kiss. The first time I cried this year it tasted like champagne, a Marlboro Gold Beyond and my musty, old carpet.

Two days later, I woke up tired and hungry
and the world didn't end.

Troy Bolton said "East High is having friends we'll keep for the rest of our lives," and I now realise that as much as high school never ends, neither does the magic. I know great sadness because I know great love, I know great loneliness because I know great friendship and I'm going to know a great life because I've died so many times.

Act III: "I want to own everything that happens to me now." - Chris Kraus

I'm never going to resolve anything because I'm always going to be going through it. Growing up means closure and alone-ness and I don't want any part of it. If "the loved person can become a holding pattern for all the tattered ends of memory, experience and thought you've ever had" (Kraus, again),  I want to dedicate myself to loving everything.

(Part of me's already rolled my eyes, finding ideas of "peace, love and light" juvenile and pathetic.) (Part of me thinks real life is all about the academics of it all - living it is tired, studying it is the key.) ("Transcendence!" the hotep shouts.)

All of me realises darkness exists, death and grief are living objects but just like anything teenage, it's all expressed in love and belief.

Growing up isn't the target, it never should be, but being alive and living is.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Being Big in Japan - Girls Season 5, Episode 3

 "I don't even really care about people in America anymore." - Shoshanna, Girls Season 5, Episode 3: 'Japan'.

There's a quote floating about Tumblr or the world or something about how you can be your truest self once you don a mask. The moment you adopt some sort of anonymity or disguise is when you are not hindered by the presence of the outside world's gaze (and judgments) nor your own inner monologue that has dictated who you are, who you should be and how that affects what can and can't go on in your life. You wear a mask and you flirt with the wrong kind of boys because you are no longer you. You keep your Twitter avatar as an egg and troll people on the Internet because you're no longer constricted by the fact that your boss could see it. You move to a different country and engage in sadistic sexual acts because no one (you know) is watching.

That's what I loved about the latest episode of Girls, as well as what made me realise that despite my desire to be a Jessa (minus the being a shit friend thing) (she's just so cool, you know), I'm very much a Shoshanna. From her incredibly fast speech (which she's, like, never been told about before) to her apparent commitment-phobia (God, watching Scott trash his 'Shosh is the Most-sh' sign and flowers broke me), all her outfits (that halter top over a blouse thing was inspiring) and, finally, running away from her problems in America to become her best self in Japan; where no one knows her, no one ties her down, no one has checked boxes of who Shosh has to be.

Which isn't to say that Shoshanna moves to Tokyo (and that rad apartment) and completely transforms in a "New Year, New Me" style -- she is still very much Shosh: spoiled, self-involved and redeemably inconsiderate. But she also appears to be gaining the growth and experience that everyone constantly tells you your 20s is all about, she's making beautiful memories and exploring the world. And at the same time, she's somewhat abandoned her (not so great, IMO) friends in America and her very lovely boyfriend, which while the romantic in me wants to strangle her (SHOSH IS THE MOST-SH, you guys), I completely adore and admire.

Now that I'm, like, totes growing up and adopting my own Tokyo Shoshanna in college, where I'm given the freedom that means I don't really have anyone watching or anyone to answer to, I admire the idea of dedicating your youth/20s to self-service and self-interest. Not so much in the way that would leave me a vacuum of callous narcissism and apathy, but one that would mean that I am the first person I take care of.

At the end of the day, my own well-being and growth and development should be my number one priority. I am the only person I really have in this world, and while some days are very hard, I'm actually beginning to like my Tokyo Shoshanna and I want to make sure she's OK.

I hope Lena Dunham gives us more Japan adventures for Shosh, as well as a lot more screen time for Yoshi (like, omg, so many heart-eye emojis) and less of Marnie's "marriage" or her ridiculously white tourist pronounciation of Ecuador.

Also, while I didn't really care much for the non-Shosh aspects of the episodes, I would like to add that I loved the pseudo-Elementary tie in (more Lucy Liu all the time please), Elijah's general Elijah-ness ("Try ones with a coy smile... like you know a cake is coming later,") and while extremely childish, Hannah's comments when she was deleting Fran's ex's nudes were absolutely hilarious ("Oh, hey, indie nipples,").

Thursday, 18 February 2016

All White Sucks

Kim Kardashian is not to be trusted.

Olivia Pope is not to be trusted. Country club members on tennis courts are not to be trusted.

Anyone who regularly wears all-white ensembles is very clearly a psychopath or privileged enough to have a mousy assistant who serves them red wine in sippy cups and puts down sheets when they're about to take a seat. In addition, anyone who regularly wears all-white ensembles enjoys having everyone look at them sideways when they choose to stand a metre from walls, inspect surfaces supposedly for sitting and ask for the driest dishes on the menu.

See, to live an all-white life is to continually struggle. Sure, you're super aesthetic and an Instagram wet dream but you will die inside. Your once adorably clumsy friend with a thing for cranberry juice is now your enemy. You can't enjoy outdoor excursions with your friends because you can't catch any of the jokes, preoccupied by the thought of grass stains. What is the point of being oh so crisp, so clean, so minimal when you can't even enjoy lunch with your friends because everyone thinks you're a priss for putting down ten serviettes before you sat.

Wearing all-white means you must sacrifice your life for the aesthetic, essentially doing everything for the Vine.
My mesh top is from H&M, tennis skirt Mr Price, Rubi/Cotton On flats and one sock is Reebok, the other addidas. My choker and marabou cuff are handmade by yours truly.

Anyone wear all-white ever? Why do/would you like to suffer like that?

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Sahara Nouveau Via SA Menswear Week

Not more than four days ago, my creative design teacher expressed how lucky I was to be interested in designing menswear in this day age because of how much it's all changed since she was making men's clothes. For one, sex and gender issues are at such a fore in our popular culture that designers have more leeway to explore gender neutrality and some even moving towards postgender (Gypsy Sport comes to mind here). In addition, the idea of functionality being the defining trait of what makes menswear is taking a backseat to more notions of decorativeness and aesthetics that women's clothing fully embodies (think of the amount of prints, patterns, silhouettes available to women, versus the often solid colours and linear cuts of men's clothing).
Of course, this isn't to say that functionality is being abandoned to the scale that it often is in women's clothing. In fact, current menswear is made all the more innovative and interesting by the meeting point of aesthetic and function, or as Vogue's Maya Singer puts it: Practical Peacocking.
While designers use soft, girly colour palettes or maxi-skirts and assymetrical hemlines, there's a harder emphasis on straighter, harder line, dramatic movement, and toying with structural fabrics. This idea of functionality has kept more avant garde designs from appearing completely dandified or cross-dresser lite but retained a signature look exclusive to menswear. 
From NY Menswear Week and London Collections Men, I've seen  the Rude Boy or Dark Prince aesthetic (a la McQ Alexander McQueen and Siki Im), abstracted atheleisure, postmodern deconstruction by way of Greg Lauren and a new clean cut Mr Man look (think Public School) or a rougher, street smart prepster like the Theory or Orley man.
Interestingly enough, local designers at South Africa Menswear Week didn't blindly follow suit as many popular designers are prone to do. While the influence of international aesthetics like the Rude Boy and prepster could be seen, they only served to enhance an inherently South African look: a look that varied from a haute couture safari adventure from an African gaze (like Jenevieve Lyons), initiation/bush school retreats (Pilgrim), references to South Africa's huge Eastern/Arab/Persian culture (Imprint) to pop cult, Internet culture tones like in Dicker, Maxivive and Blanc.
Clockwise from top left: Dicker //  Dicker // Blanc //

Clockwise from top left: Maxivive // Augustine // Maxivive // Blanc
Clockwise from top left: Blanc // Blanc // Taf the Taylor // Jenevieve Lyons

Clockwise from top left: Jenevieve Lyons // Jenevieve Lyons / Jenevieve Lyons // Maxivive

Clockwise from top left: Maxivive // Dicker // Pilgrim // Imprint

Clockwise from top left: Imprint // Maxivive // Martin Kadinda // Martin Kadinda

Clockwise from top left: Martin Kadinda // Imprint // Augustine // Augustine // Dicker // Dicker

Martin Kadinda.
Clockwise from top left: Blanc // Pilgrim // Pilgrim // Taf the Taylor

All photos are from SDR Photo.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Do What You Want When You're Popping

A few new developments:
1. I just started fashion school.
2. I cut my own bangs a day before school started. (I have no idea if my hair will stand the constant heat.)
3. Real life is hard.

Things that have not changed:
1. Shirts are still being worn backwards, cardigans still double as V-neck tops.
2. I still only own one belt.
3. Real life is hard.

Shirt: Identity | Skirt: Mr Price
(Above is my first day of school outfit. I left my house in such a panic (late as always) and didn't notice that my prints weren't matching up in colour.)

Part of me is completely thrilled to have a reason to wear makeup every day, plan outfits the night before that I scrap each morning and actually take my hair out of its bun every morning. This part feeds into my general new beginnings, new life excitement where I'm meeting new people, creating memories and making new friends every single day. But, wow, it's exhausting being a real person.

As much as I enjoy already having a signature everyday makeup look and wearing clothes that were meant for growing, teenage girl bodies, I am so tired. Orientation Week was only three days but I feel like I've just trained for and complete the Comrade's Marathon. I am very ready to retire. I also like to dig my own grave by being my most adult self by deciding to visit the latest Museum of African Design exhibition last Thursday night. I put aside my school/real-life fatigue to enjoy walking around the gallery in a pencil skirt and discussing mise-en-scene and drinking dry white wine.

The exhibit was really cool, by the way. Unfortunately my camera died two minutes in and I couldn't capture the magic of the Angolian art on display. I do suggest that anyone in Joburg makes a visit quick, quick.
Cardigan: thrifted | Skirt: Mr Price | Socks: Factorie | Bag and Creepers: somewhere in Istanbul | Harness: Glitter Betty
For my second day of school, before I got home in this black-and-red ensemble, I wore a nondescript green t-shirt and high-waist short-shorts. I remembered that morning that I was meant to be trying minimalism out for a while. And once again it came out hella basic.
Romper: Mr Price | Harness: Glitter Betty | Belt: my dad | Jewelry: Glitter Betty | Socks: Mr Price
Day/morning three was hard on account of my having been out the night before and only coming home in the AMs (but side note: how cool am I now) (hahaha, still not very cool, I know). I wore this romper which was almost my uniform in December just because of how easy it was to wear and dress up/down.
Upon looking at these photos, I realized I was very barely trying out  a new aesthetic but updating something I'd already done before (bangs, backwards shirts, high hemlines).

 Anyway, I should probably be preparing for school or whatever tomorrow.
Also, I think I deserve major daps for not titling this post "This Ain't High School" or including Nicki Minaj's High School or Beyoncé's Schooling Life.

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