Thursday, July 28, 2011

I do, Fondue!

There's this little restaurant I'd love to tell you about. Definitely the most unique place I've been to eat, ever! On Saturday we had a 21st birthday celebrate and the night started out at Refuge des Fondus. To get a feel for this place imagine a hole in the wall restaurant that is actually quite popular, you can write on the walls, and it only seats about forty people.

We mapped out our route on we need to take and set off at 7:15 pm. Excited as we were to have a reason to celebrate we put on our fanciest dresses only realize that is not how people usually ride the metro, its more of a jeans/pants/street clothes dress code. It probably didn't help our case with the French people that we got off one stop before the red light area. Needless to say we attracted lots of stares and angry looks. We weren't about to pay for a cab so we held our heads high and continued on our way. The place was easy to find but already packed! No room for six girls. Set on our goal we waited outside only to be joined by a crowd of other people with their sights set on eating lots of cheese fondue.

An hour later a large enough group cleared out that we could get in the restaurant. Our time had come there was just one little obstacle to -literally- surmount. Half of us had to climb over the table to get to the seats that were against the wall. Moments later I was on a chair and yes, over the table with the help of a waiter. This place was already an adventure!

First course was appetizers and an apertif, a little cocktail that was delicious. Fast forward a bit and we are all dipping bread in cheese fondue and cooking meat in hot oil, family style, while drinking wine out of baby bottles. There was something about avoiding taxes if alcohol is not served in a glass.

Notice the baby bottles and bowl of raw meat - it looks like red sauce!

It was a cozy atmosphere because it was one long table and we met the Australians next to us. When they staff found out we were celebrating the entire restaurant sang a boisterous round of Happy Birthday which, was the most English I've heard outside our group since coming here. We thought everything was just about as good as it could get when they asked us what we wanted for dessert! I got chocolate ice cream and it came with a white filling and rolled in cocoa. It looked like a little Hostess snowball but a chocolate ice cream version.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

This ending is just the beginning

Fashion Journalism class is coming to a close today. Ten days of class, five credits, and more learning than I could have imagined were packed into two and a half weeks. For our final assignment we had to write a reflection on our learning. I could think of no better way to express my growth on this trip than sharing that reflection because as this class is ending I have this feeling of great opportunity, of beginnings.

At the start of each new quarter in school, I always think about what I can expect. Who are my professors? Have I had them before? Do others say the class is good? As I looked forward to this course and this entire trip, I did not know what to expect. I tried to imagine what I would learn and experience but I couldn’t even begin to picture it. That’s the beauty of new experiences. When you try things for the first time it is an experience like you will never have again. This is why exploration, adventures, and learning are so important. It is the only way to broaden your horizons, to understand the world more fully.

The last thing I expected from this trip was to have my thinking towards learning styles and fashion completely enhanced. The university I attend is very focused on classroom work, guidelines, and tests. It is a good way to learn a lot of information and I don’t want to make little of what I have learned there. Here however I have learned by experiencing. Each day I packed up my bag with water, a French phrase book, a notepad, bandaids, snacks, and probably most important—my camera. Then with bag in hand I went out to the city to learn through class, exhibitions, and exploration. Every assignment, lecture, and outing inspired me and increased my desire to continue on this path. Each moment, interaction, and passerby is a chance to arouse my creativity and discover beauty and style. Yesterday I sat on the ground by a tree to rest in the shade but my mind continued to spin. Before I knew it I was taking photographs from of those passing by to capture the perspective of looking up into the crowd along the Champs-Élysées. I have learned to never let my mind rest, to continually be experiencing and growing.

This time has taught me not to wait until I am assigned work to start learning. So often I have put off things because I knew I would eventually have to do it anyway for class. But there is no time like the present to learn. Waiting until tomorrow to pursue your dreams never works because tomorrow never comes. John’s (our guest lecturer during this middle of the class) lecture and work is so inspiring because he did not wait to start what he wanted to do. There is no waiting around for some moment when your life begins, that time is now. It is now that I starting taking notes, hounding out internships, and soaking it in so that I can turn around and make my mark on the fashion world.

When you are passionate about something there is no way to be partway into it. This class has also taught me total immersion. To be good at something you have to be interested even when you aren’t on the clock and being paid for it or getting a grade for it. The sketchbook and photographing street style was difficult at first but the more I worked on it, the more I felt I was developing and becoming comfortable with it. There is much more to learn but the foundation has been laid. This course has taught me to look, listen, and learn. To not wait for someone else. To go for my dreams. I am eager to continue learning by doing, by putting what I want to do into practice.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

fashion journalism: trends



A brightness that cannot be ignored is dancing down the streets of Paris for summer and fall 2011. Legs adorned in the colors alluding royalty and passion; in colors that make bold statements and others speaking softly in delicate blush tones. Nothing is off limits; nothing is too much to show off the legs by covering them up in pants.

Once put on, colored pants can take you anywhere be it a stroll in the park, a romantic picnic, the cinema, a quick bite to eat, dancing, loud concerts, or shopping for more colored pants. While available in countless hues, colored pants are most popular in red, blush, and green. More careful variations of the color pants are black, gray, and white versions. These colors are still set apart from the standard denim color but make much less of a statement.

Where did this trend begin and why has it taken root? It may have started with the olive pants, which were a part of the military looks of previous seasons. It may have begun because of a hopeful outlook for the economy in the upcoming months. Or perhaps the rainbow of options is yet another way to focus in on the legs because these tones certainly draw attention to themselves. The list could go on and on but where the colored pants trend began is really a chicken or the egg phenomenon. Will the bright colors lead to further standout fashion styles? Can intense trends help excavate an economy buried under political problems? Subdued colors are safe and easy as they can be worn again and again without being recognized but a bright pair of pants must be in a careful rotation to avoid wardrobe scrutiny. These pants symbolize frivolity and a carefree attitude. Even if they prove more than a fad, each season will bring new colors and another reason to shop again for a new pair. These are not the careful, wear anywhere denim jeans. These pants shout to be looked at and must be worn with a bit of gusto and confidence. As one person wearing red pants said, I feel optimistic when I’m in these pants. It’s like everything good is coming in my direction.” It is clear now that it does not matter where it exactly began but instead where this trend will go. Several designers featured colored pants in their Fall 2011runway, including 3.1 Phillip Lim and Prabal Gurung. Phillip Lim’s relaxed fit ankle pants were tailored enough for some, albeit risky, business casual looks and the pants played a contrast to muted tops. Prabal Gurung used red and hot pink as accent colors on the runway. There is no better way to accent an outfit than with the pink flare pants from this line.

Now these pants can be found in various lengths and styles it is possible to match up personal style to this sought-after trend. Blush chinos could make for a casual chic look while red cigarette ankle jeans could breath new life into street looks. Travelling down the spectrum from safe to quite daring, one way to wear this style is in a monochromatic look pairing shades of the same color together from head to toe. No matter how it is worn, bright colors and anything but regular denim will certainly be on par for the coming months.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Madame Grès: Influence from Obscurity

Today for class we went to the Madame Gres exhibit at the Bourdelle Museum. For our fashion journalism class we had to do a write up about the exhibit, below.

Madame Grès is often a mysterious figure in the fashion industry but the exhibit: Madame Grès, la couture à l'oeuvre, at the Bourdelle Museum in Paris pulled the veil of obscurity back a bit to reveal a couturier of great talent. The exhibit displayed her garments as well as he sketches, and photographs of her work making clear mark on fashion.

Madame Grès’ skills spanned draping, tailoring, and sewing at their highest level. Her gowns were perfectly executed and her dresses lay smoothly. The beauty is in the detail of her work. Madame Grès was a frontrunner of the movement toward using jersey in night and day wear as opposed to only using jersey for men’s undergarments. This formerly hidden textile is made graceful as she gathers meters of fabric into several centimeters of drapes. This use of jersey has now led to use of jersey for every type of clothing for both day and night in current fashion. Her faux-fur jumpsuit was avant-garde and unique. Unfortunately the back of this could not be viewed and so curiosity about the closure of the garment remains. The bows, folds, and colors seen were stunning, from bright yellows, oranges, and even several different primary and secondary blocks of color in one gown. Madame Grès use of innovative textiles for her work of the mid-20th century can serve is an inspiration to designers today to continue striving for innovation and excellence.

Knowing that Madame Gres worked directly on the body or on a mannequin, at times probably somewhat unconventionally, helps her often-unknown work to become clearer. She had a unique understanding of the movement of the female body and how the bone structure, muscles, and shape worked together. She carefully celebrated the female body, sometimes by covering it almost completely and other times by cleverly revealing it.

After seeing the work of Madame Grès, her continued influence on current fashion can be recognized in the seemingly ever-present draped jersey dress as well as in more elegant runway designs. While Madame Grès has been shrouded in obscurity, her legacy lives on in her influence on today’s fashions. This exhibit is very informative on the work of a couturier who is rarely recognized though its setting amongst the works Bourdelle makes it necessary to be very thorough in order to not miss a single piece.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Dutch & their bikes

Amsterdam has a population of about 750,000 yet has 1.2 million bikes! Never before have I seen so many bikes (or inhaled so much secondhand marijuana smoke) so this post is entirely dedicated to bikes.

Here is a bike parking area:

The bikes below are chained to the canal railing; many bikes are not chained to anything. Instead, they have a chain through the wheels so that they cannot turn without unlocking it. Someone said that on average they have their bike stolen every two years.

They bike out in the country too, of course!

I'm not sure how everyone finds their bike back at the end of the day. They have a bike parking garage by the train station but unfortunately I couldn't get a photo as my hands were full of baggage.

They created floating bike parking on the canal to accommodate them all.

And with so many bikes comes special bike lanes, bike road signs and...

bike traffic lights for busy intersections!