If you click here, you can see my sketchbook drawing process. And of course everything is posted on Instagram
While travelling, I thought drawing will become a primary tool to record things that invite curiosity and demands more attention, for a while I thought drawing on lose paper would be better than keeping a sketchbook, and for the lose drawings to be sent to friends and/or family all over the world who would then keep the drawings until it's time for me to go home. This didn't quite satisfy me because I then could not go through my drawings again to add things to them. So the sketchbook began in October, just before we head to Kenya. Here's the sketchbook so far.
If you click here, you can see my sketchbook drawing process. And of course everything is posted on Instagram
July 2018- We flew out of Singapore, with just one suitcase and a backpack each, and left behind a place we've lived in for 17 years to travel for a little longer than usual. My cat is safe and loved in a friend's home for the time being. This big journey has been discussed at length for many years. The idea of travelling the world for a year is exciting at the time, and with trepidation I stepped into the scary and uncertain.
Tom and I left Singapore truly stressed out, winded by the travel planning and exhausted the moving logistics, as we put everything in boxes and then into storage. We were spent and desperately trying to stay positive. We looked at each other when we're finally on the flight, "we made it!" We aren't sure what words to use to describe the experience, is it joyful? is it relief? We felt some relief and a lot of hope that we will feel joyful soon. Deciding to book a comfortable (read: Business Class) exit was always the plan as we predicted how the exodus was going to affect our psyche. I am so glad we did that.
I won't elaborate about the travel here, you can go to our travelogue for that. Tom wrote at length there, with my occasional experimental videos and drawing posts.
One thing worth stating here, in case you don't know me well or only know me from a professional distance, I've always struggle with self-doubt, and a very harsh critic, mostly to myself. And over time, this does not have a positive effect on my overall well being. So from the start of this journey, I've just been extendedly exercising more compassion to myself and then to Tom, while eventually trying to slowly unpack in small dosage the emotional and psychological stress of the past few years culminating to this. The intention for this gap year for me is to course correct, to form new habits, and let go of ones that no longer serves me, and I felt there was a lot to work on. Without much further details, I guess this post would not be that interesting to anyone. But let's see how courageous I can be while on the mend. What I slowly realise is that I can start channelling my natural intensity to expand myself instead of letting the old crusty habits of overthinking and harsh self-judgements slowly crush me with that same intensity.
Bear with me, I promise I will elaborate on my process and struggles. It started with The floundering, the Fearsome and Loathsome moments, and the times when I behave in ways I am not most proud of. Maybe this is helpful later for someone somewhere. I hope by sharing with you my struggles and vulnerable moments, it helps all creative people feel less alone.
Golden and silver threads sown into old clothes with holes and tired pulled yarns in sweaters. I discovered Visible Mending from those 3 fashion podcasts I wrote about last week, i think specifically, it was covered in one of the episodes of Bande A parte and Wardrobe Crisis. Since then I have been slightly obsessed, and have started to go through my wardrobe to find items I could start ’visibly mend’. Found one with a hole in the bottom of the sleeve hem and you’ve never seen me more excited.
The joy and pain starts now.
Above are some of my handy work so far.
Di I know what I was doing? not really
Am i confident that I can visibly mend? Yes.
You can be the judge. The last thing I will do is judge this work.
The way I decided I am going to approach visible mending is to think of it in the abstract. I will decorate, I will strengthen and i will think of it like I am painting an abstract painting.
How I used to paint abstract painting, was to use my gut. My gut will tell me this is where you start. This is where you’ve overdone it. When I am painting with thread however, the gut couldn’t be sure if I started in the right place, and there is no issue of ‘mistakes’ in abstract paintings, but in visible mending, when I pull the thread through the fabric and it formed into a ball of knots, that ‘is not’ a mistake, but it doesn’t look good. Most of the time my abstract mistakes looks good.
I have about 3 hours a day maximum of visible mending energy. After that my elbows, back and neck ache. When I illustrate, it normally takes me 4.5 hours before I feel the same ache.
Art and fashion, are bad for your posture.
Here’s the two links I started to stalk about Visible Mending and Kintsugi for clothes.
Always taking notes,
A year has gone by, almost since my last post. Writing is done offline mostly, but here's one that will hopefully re-start my intermittent blogging again. There's a brew of breathless lists that I am beginning to collect that might be worth sharing in the next few months. So here's the first one.
If you love learning by listening, if you don't always want to read, here are three of my most recent podcast finds that is strictly by fashion educators, or fashion industry professionals and are talking about the Fashion themes and topics: Listed in no particular order and is free on Itunes.
1. Unravel, a Fashion Podcast
Location: New York State
This podcast was started in 2015 by two F.I.T (Fashion Institute of Technology) alumni, fashion scholar Jasmine Helm, and textile conservator Dana Goodin, which is sometimes also hosted by a third member Joy Davis. The podcast length ranges 35-60 minutes per episode.
My opinion of this podcast after about a month of listening:
The topics are wide in variety, and covers historical references to modern issues of Fashion, such as interviews and topics on textile, exhibitions, Gender, to specific clothing items in historical context.
A few of my favorite episodes are Women in Pants (part 1 and 2) which talks about the evolution of pants worn by Marlene Dietrich all the way to Le Smoking Suit and the one on Rupaul Drag Race.
What I don't particularly like is sometimes the amount of giggly-ness of the interviewee and interviewer that can be very distracting. I realise sometimes it's hard to notice it when two people nerding on a topic they love is having such a good time, but I think a podcast is addictive when it's hosts can have some awareness of the listeners' experience as well as their own. Good podcasts is not always easy to do. So while this is one with extensive breath, the delivery out of the three I will list here is one of my least favorite.
2. Bande A Part
Rebecca Arnold & Beatrice Behlen discuss fashion - listen to our personal fashion views in our weekly catch up calls. Rebecca teaches at The Courtauld Institute of Art, Beatrice is curator at the Museum of London.
Love this roughly 30 minutes podcasts which is basically Rebecca Arnold calling Beatrice Behlen and having a casual yet very interesting chit chat about different fashion, and sometimes off-the-beaten topics. Two academics doesn't have to be dry, the exchange is enjoyable because while it's small chunks, it's quite delicious pockets of insider thoughts on pop culture, music, movies as related to their love of Fashion.
One of my favorite episodes is one called Visible Mending & Unzipped where they discussed a few different collectives which focuses on mending clothes, one of them especially blows my mind with the use of golden threads to fix holes an rips, inspired by the art of mending broken ceramics called Kintsugi or Kintsukuroi. So inspired that I started to look at some of my beat up items in my closet i was about to give away and rethinking if I should 'mend' them with golden threads. Maybe I should consider joining this mending workshop first?
I love this short and sweet conversational podcast! enjoy it!
3. Wardrobe Crisis
Hosted by Clare Press, Australian Vogue's Sustainability Editor-at-large, who has a range of fabulous interviews with people in the Fashion industry who range from Luxury retail, technology-based fashion brands, minimalism to sustainable and ethical brands. The range is quite extensive as well, and the interview style is excellent, very authentic voice yet clearly a very experienced interviewer.
One of my favorite episode is an interview with Christopher Raeburn, and made me lust his recycled 1950's WWII Silk Map pieces.
I have just discovered this one so I have a long queue yet to go through, and I haven't got anything bad to say about this podcast. I like the format, I like the host, as they say "I am (currently) obsessed" with it.
My current hashtags on Instagram are:
#domorewithless (relates to everything in my life currently)
#oneattemptonly (relates to my street fashion sketching which I will post soon)
#anerdlivestolearn (ditto with domorewithless)
Till the next post,
Always making notes,
Writer: Susan Olij
Written on : 27 December 2015
Do you love shopping for new things? Do you shop online, non-stop, in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep? If you are like me, you understand the exhilarating and delight of buying a new pair of shoes, opening that box, riffling through the tissue as you reach for that beautiful new object, as your hands sink into the box and pull the beauty out, it smells freshly new, it looks commandingly shiny, and you bask in a sense of acquired taste as it overwhelms you with a strong sense of joy. Over time, you might also know that lack luster feeling when that new shoes lost the buzz, when it’s been broken in, it’s comfort becomes unconscious, and when the feeling of newness and that object’s centered excitement lessen, and your shoes, completely and utterly lost it’s new energy.
I call the feeling of the modern buyer’s intoxication with new things, the New Energy. Everyone wants this feeling, some feeling larger in size if you’re buying a new car, or a new computer versus buying a bag of new high street makeup from the chemist. While it is fleeting, the New Energy is powerful, it temporarily changes one’s sense of identity, making one feel more complete, as the object’s offers a future, a little shinier you then usual and this New Energy adds a spring to one’s step, lightens moods, encourages smiling and generates a sense of wholesome satisfaction.
Just like a relationship, we all have relationships with our things. Be it clothing, furniture, kitchen appliances, and lots of other things we wear. How do we develop continuity in these relationships so that we appreciate, cherish and continue to love our things as soon as it’s New Energy started to dissipate? In the age of consumerism, where you’re constantly bombarded and encouraged to constantly buy things, how do you make sure the things you already own continued to be loved, appreciated and continue to be valuable?
Those people who loves vintage clothing, those who loves ‘thrifting’ and those who use apps and websites to dabble in the world of selling and buying pre-loved items knows how to take care of and value the things that has history, things made by hands, and things that has existed and changed owners for many years. I’ve started thinking about this as I began to accumulate more vintage clothing and shoes. Even those things I realize after a few wears that this was a mistake, all new things has a New Energy that appears in some ways as if I attached a particular visualization to the concept of ownership, and that visualization generates a feeling. For example, if you’re an Instagram follower of fashion bloggers who’s quite trend-focused, you’d be interested in owning a double flap Chanel bag, with a logo, a Celine bag, and destroyed jeans with barely there strappy heels.
My own interest at the time was in owning a pair of white trainers/sneakers, because the advice goes that a white pair of Converse goes with ‘everything’ and a pair of white trainers adds glamour to your look as posited by Virginia Postrel in her book ‘The Power of Glamour’. The two pictures above are white trainers I owned, one is brand new, just out of a box, and the other I’ve owned and worn to death, it has travelled with me all over Europe, and it has seen glaciers and the midnight sun in Iceland. It is worn, dirty and very comfortable. I recall the day I first bought this white Converse, the visualization I recall having was to be trendy without being a fashion victim, to be subdued and elegant in my casual wear, and I visualize being able to subvert all my sequined and formal dresses with this white Converse. It generates a feeling of accomplishment because this white converse allows my version of loud elegance that essentially is a short cut subversion of traditional modernity, a far superior feeling then buying a trendy item in my humble opinion.
The New Energy can be regenerated for my dirty worn white converse, maybe by learning how to clean a white trainers so they continue to look crisp, to wear it once a week consciously over your other sneakers, and to be aware when you ankle to work that this idea of subverting traditional modernity is what you carry with you.
You know when you’re a little bit too precious with your new things when you tell yourself you’ll only wear it on special occasions. In the modern traditions of fashion trends, there is no such thing as a special occasion wears anymore unless it’s a wedding, or a prom. If you’re a follower of the fashion cults of social media, you’ll notice and follow a specific preaching of individuality that also dictate that by being individualistic, you need to fit in a specific vernacular that shows ‘relevance’. Being Relevant is the way you can become a modern follower of fashion.
So herewith following the modern cult of fashion, and in social media how-to-lists style, I give you 5 ways you can make an art out of loving your stuff even when the New Energy has plateaued.
Taken from Unfinished text I wrote on 30 August 2013
How an object of desire devalues from the moment you owned it.
Material is a largely emotional object, especially those with a lot of classical attachments to status and identity. A lot of fashion media now are about planting a bug in a consumer so that even if one is unconscious of trend, one circulates and becomes attracted to items without actually understanding why.
The basis of what we might know as objects of desires that are closely linked to status symbols are fast cars, luxury goods, real estate, fine art and antiques. These objects can also be collectible items such as a designed furniture, Wine, Cigars, coins etc.
Let’s look at how items are given it’s power through meaning-making, the seed of thought I call the super bug. A super bug is an idea that is left in our minds about the value of something and how that value can emotionally and psychologically alter (lift, accentuate) one’s mood as well as one’s idea or perception of oneself.
Conquest purchases, Buying to conquer.
Citation: BBC Documentaries ‘Secrets of the Super Brands”.
Some examples of current super bugs in fashion are: Items seen worn by fashion bloggers; The Celine smile Bag, The Givenchy bag. The red sole; a Christian Louboutin, Altazurra gladiator high heels, High end designers going high Street (MMM Maison Martin Margiela for H&M). For a specific age group, it is anything with Spikes, Clear plastics or Lucite heels,
How one would ingest these material is an obsession and is often strategically related to one’s activity in social network platforms, one must be obsess to know what is in trend, because there’s so much movement, granted it’s often very small evolutionary movements between the narrow pants and the combination of stretch in jeans and leggings, but unless one is completely obsessed, the super bugs doesn’t stick.
The clearest example of super bugs can be seen in the religious ‘following’ of fashion bloggers, retailers, trend blogs on instagram, twitter, pinterest and facebook. And the super bugs are planted by fashion trend websites to fashion retailers and designers via the same method.
Facebook“likes” are becoming the new currency of the social networking world, that it almost becomes it’s own economy. Example: If blogger x get 1000 likes, this company will give that blogger a free pair of shoes. If writer gets a 100 likes within a short period, the book publisher will give him an online book review. Thus begins the race to accumulate these social media currency that represents on the most superficial level kudos, that directly correlates to significance.
Q: Raise your hands if you have immediately liked a facebook page you don’t really know anything about but was recommended by a friend?
Noticing some of the fashion bloggers, there are a few types that makes a really interesting social study, those that only blog pictures of themselves styling their own bought clothes and quite a lot of designers and retailers are beginning to send these popular bloggers new items for free so the ladies can prance around in them. Then there are ones that has become the main stage of style accumulators such as the sartorialist. And Jane Aldridges blog ‘Sea of Shoes another example of highly stylized aesthetics and consistently luxurious photography of her taken by her mother, these photography shows what effortless elegance looks like on a 17 year old girl, perhaps something that can only be achieved with undoubtedly a lot of resources. While some of the other fashion blogger of the same ilk has made styling the focus, not so much the product. Can you be a fashion blogger if your featured clothing ‘materials’ are cheap? (Frugalnomics). Can you be an influential fashion blogger when you only shop in second-hand shops or only wear vintage? (Jaglever). Or are you going to just be fairly popular because you’re the only fashion blogger in the area (fashionhippieslove). Can you be influential by featuring only fantastically bold women in their senior years? (advance style).
There are fashion blogs for any types of socio-economic levels, and they can be easily categories. The mainstream, the brand hoarders, the shopaholic, the vintage fiend, the subcultures, the handmade movement, the knitting groups (?)
The objects that seem to be featured in the blogs if they are mainstream seems to be eating itself alive, as they all eventually will show the same shoes, the same bags, the same types of clothes and feature them in a very similar ways. How interesting is that? Eventually there seems to be a point where sharing the same things feels like a lethargic repetition. But isn’t that what fashion is as well? Objects that never stops changing a little at a time and in slow motion?
What is interesting is the idea that NOW is the only thing that have value, before The Sartorialist, you have Bill Cunningham, before Anna Wintour you have Diana Vreeland. If you look back to the history of fashion, a lot of things are already in trend, and it repeated in itself with the anchor (or the super bug) being always in the present, what is hot NOW. This exists in general for other consumer goods as well, but it is highly prevalent and since the adoption of “fashion’ has become a subject matter within its own right.
Back to the concept of objects as materials, the more you see an object, preferably worn by someone beautiful that is not a model, the more this object becomes’ seductive’. It alluded that you too might be able to get away looking as elegant, and if not the worse thing is you are seen keeping up with the ‘trend’. That in itself is a meaning we give it.
Q: Raise your hand if you do any of these things:
Who here own a Celine Luggage Boston bag, or Balenciaga handbag?
What does owning them do for you?
Who is saving money now to buy something branded?
Have you ever considered your reasons?
Objects that has begun to accumulate meaning has in some ways also accrued value, that is whatever you find valuable automatically becomes in some illusory way meaningful, even if you haven’t thought that much about it. The seductive power of a luxury brand that is ‘trending’ cannot be taken lightly.
Fake goods or what is these days called’ designer-inspired’ objects are still at a rampant distribution, it’s not a bad thing if the fashion industry can’t do anything about the copyright, it’s probably gotten worse now because fashion shows can be viewed freely on youtube and every objects hot off the runway will be on sale on websites such as ‘baginc.com, romwe.com and jessicabuurman.com.’ I too have bought from these websites, and the quality varies a great deal. A lot of leather goods made in China has improved in quality if you know where to look, and a lot of them are making a killing online. (Cite BBC Super brands again)
The seductive power of fashion sometimes has its tipping point. Seen in Zed Nelson’s photography project called Love Me is a jarring and possibly rude awakening to the power of beauty. Pictures of steel pins holding up 3 little toes that has just been shortened to fit into a pair of Jimmy Choos and skin and fat lifted off a person’s abdomen during a liposuctions procedures are not the sight of fashion and beauty people see in every day life. You just don’t get it.
“The values that consumers attribute to fashionable clothing have generally been characterized as those that are associated with class, life styles, or subcultures. Each of these types of consumer identities has different implications for the ways consumers perceive and use clothing. “ (D. Crane, L. Bovone / Poetics 34 (2006) 319–333)
Considering the Heels- A material culture lecture
Attempt to hypothesize the stiletto heels in sociological terms by making some psychological assumptions. Looking at 3 areas, a woman in relation to her environment (external), her sense of self (internal), and the culture she is influenced by.
Why do women wear heels? Is it because of men? Is it for men? Historically, men in the 1600’s were the first ones who wore shoes with heels, the best example is Louis XIV who began wearing red heeled shoes as seen in paintings. Aristocrats considers impracticality a status symbol, thus heels on shoes are strongly related to the elite. There’s an interesting similarities seen in ancient China and the practice of foot binding.
In history, it has been argued that women wear heels to appropriate masculine power. High heels, often argued in its functionality has a thin line crossing functionality and superficiality. The high heels meant to signifies elegance, yet quite often women cannot even walk in them, and this resulted in an opposing outcome of inelegance. In it’s functionality, we all need to wear some kind of footwear when we go out of the house, the first world question for people living an urban life are types of footwear. If we just strictly focus on footwear for women, culturally what footwear women choose to wear varied greatly, in countries where fashion is low on maslow’s hierarchy of needs, perhaps place such as Afghanistan, or Yemen, there’s very little reason to discuss what fashionable footwear are. Anyone who puts form over function, such as uncomfortable pair of heels are seeking to assert symbols, where you are not simply wearing clothes as a functional item, even more so in high heels where discomfort is almost a guarantee, and when women puts aesthetic ahead of comfort, this priority made her action a symbol. Impractical clothing and footwear has always been connected to aristocracy, elitism and wealth.
The emergence of high heels on women post 18th century when aristocratic men stopped wearing them, and women began to be portrayed wearing high heels in pornographic images. This could be is the link that connects women in heels with sexuality.
What happens to a woman’s body when they wear heels.
The meaning making of the stiletto's complexity is often overlooked.
One study from the Evolutionary Basis of Consumption found that wearing high heels elevates the buttocks by about 30 degrees thus lifting the female posture against gravity that comes with age. This elevation is seen as an enhancement of the visual pleasure or as known to be preferred by men. On the on hand high heels tendencies to cause podiatric injuries and bone deformity with long wear, yet it has also been argued by some Urologist that wearing high heels strengthened the pelvic floor muscle and thus may lead to improved sex life.
The physiology seen from the perspective of the male gaze expressed fondly in examples like the Marilyn Monroe gait, she was known to cut one of her heels by half an inch so as to accentuate the sexy wobble to her walk.
The arch of a woman’s back and chest changes when wearing high heels and the ventral arching of the spine (known also as the S curve) where her buttocks would face outwards, this is known as Lordosis. A sexual posture present in mammal. (Dogs, rats, sheeps, lions all do this) when they are in what is best known as the doggy style position. The Journal of Evolution and Human Behaviour researcher claims ‘We suggest that high heels may exaggerate the sex-specific aspects of the female walk which could cause sexual arousal in males and make women aware of potential competitors for mates
The physiology might be in discomfort but parts of women’s psychological influences seem to override the pain, and that might have a significant effect on a woman’s attitude. Walking in stiletto heels proves to be a challenge for many women, yet the seduction of the lengthening of her legs, the arch of her foot tightening around her glutes has powerful effect as her body adjusts to the shoes. There is an aesthetic consideration on the choice of high heels a woman choose to buy, often it isn’t related to practical thinking in whether she can walk with it or not. The typical assumptions on the male gaze on women and heels are the lengthening of her legs over her torso and the semiotic of sexual messages it sends out. The 9head drawings or fashion illustrations are good examples where this assumption is present.
Counter Argument relates to deformity: podiatry data advices that anything higher then 2 inch heels are bad for you, bad for your back and posture in general with long term use.
Other research has shown that the foot may also play an accomodative role in pathology elsewhere in the body, as there is a correlation between back, hip, and knee pain and the foot. For example, high heels throw the body out of alignment: Feet are forced up at an unnatural angle, the body is pushed forward, and the balls of the feet are supporting most of the body weight. In turn, the knees tense up, as more stress is put on them in order to keep the high-heeled individual upright. Over time, accelerated cartilage damage to the knees is inevitable
The psychological look of her physiology when the stiletto is worn. The state of her conscious and subconscious mind based on - the way she looks to others, the way she feels when seen by men or women. The way she feels when she walks in those heels projects a state of mind that might be different in a public area, and again if she was in specific social situations. The physiology of a woman wearing a stiletto at home in front of a mirror suggest the illusion we have bought into about what is desirable beauty. The premise of consumption, specifically of fashionable products such as the high heels are the buying of an idea that our sense of self is better off then when we are without it. When we are seduced by a pair of high heels, we are seduced by the idea of how our ‘body’ can transform, and most of the transformation is chiefly psychological, and that meaning-making formation is the basis of all super brands marketing strategy. Brands seen in the BBC documentaries, The Secret of Super Brands shows Adidas, Diesel and Abercrombie and Fitch doing exactly that. The selling of seduction that is successfully shown by the numerous Apple products one person owns these days, clearly incorporated the development of our brain’s improved sense of taste, and at the same time it’s inability to distinguish needs to want, and function to desire.
Her politics is involved in the psychology because she might inadvertently feel empowered, more confident, sexy. But some women has argued whether stillettos are a product to be dismissed as anti-feminism.
The physiology and psychology of the female body has been theorized in terms of proportions: A research done by Dr. Pawlowski from Wroclaw University in Poland:
The perfect legs need to be longer than your torso, but not to long. Male and female subjects were asked to evaluate the attractiveness of different silhouettes of a man and woman. They found that a person of average height (5ft 4in tall) was rated most attractive when their inside leg measurement was 30.5 in, which is 5% longer than the average leg measurement for a person that size.
Business psychologist Zoe Mayson claims on wearing heels at the work place “there are a lot of people who think women do themselves a disservice by wearing heels,… Heels give me gravitas that I would not have in lower shoes. Heels get you noticed and give you physical stature, which in turn, gives you power, without compromising your femininity. So often, women have to take on male attributes to be successful in the workplace, and this is a great way of digging our heels in and saying no.”
The statement indicated the power of wearing heels does to a woman and the psychological state of mind when in the shoes. A quote by Meg Ryan illustrates this.
Another quote by Diana Vreeland gives a little more insight to her views of women and how the unnatural is preferred.
Based on functionalism theory in sociology;
In their most basic form, all functionalist explanations hold that social phenomena persist if they contribute to social stability – and die off if they don’t. From the functionalist viewpoint, fashion trends come and go because they enable social inequality to persist. If they didn’t have this purpose, we wouldn’t have fashion cycles.
Applying this statement of theory to the high heels,
Historically, there definitely seems to be a correlation between heel size and the state of the economy: the height of women’s shoes has been shown to increase during periods of crisis. And this seemed to be similarly indicated by the rise and fall of hemlines.
It seems consistent historically what consumer product expert says about consumers turning into more extravagant, glamorous fashion items as a form of escapism during period of crisis, this was clearly shown in the 1940’s after the Great Depression when the world war II ended on the euphoric state expressed in the frivolity and glamour inspired fashion, one example was the the appearance of the Dior’s New Look in 1947 with its tailored cinch waistline opening up to a gown silhouette with a shorter hemline. The women was essentially ejected from war related occupations to be back at home and becoming the domestic goddess. This pattern of rising heels appeared again later during the 1970’s oil crisis and the 1990’s dot-com boom (which brings me to my case study: Christian Louboutin first started his shoe boutique in 1991). The height of heels seems to rise in slow but significant ways. Although the heel height seems to have reached new heights probably peaking in 2008-2009 with the introduction of platform in shoes and introducing the ‘hidden’ platform.
The platform in shoes originated from Turkey, what is known as the kabkab, which essentially is used only to elevate the foot away from the ground inside a Turkish bath (hamam). Later this platform idea has been integrated into the high heels from an entirely different angle and was actually not meant to lengthen the limbs.
The luxury designer high heels by Christian Louboutin will be used as a case study. Primarily seen from the perspective of sociological and it’s value in psychological terms talked about earlier. I will not be discussing the designer or the man despite his massive influence on the brands success. The red sole was founded accidentally when red nail polish was used in its discovery. Tying back to history, the red sole can be seen in history based on the image of the Coronation of Charles II, who had a red sole, Charles II took inspiration from the French King, Louis XIV which was the first image ever seen to wear a pair of 4 inch red heel with a red sole. Then it was theorized that this red sole and heel is to separate themselves as aristocrats and as to signify status. The symbolic red color of the sole can also symbolize sexual power, seen from the back as the woman walks away communicates a very strong seduction power to the male viewer.
Status symbol elements of the red sole since Louboutin started the company in 1991 proves the power of the French elegance seen in the simplicity of his first pair of heels called ‘Very Prive.’ A Peep toe high heels. The height of heels most popular was 120mm, most well known for its seductive and uncomfortable properties has women all over the world pining and saving and buying them. Young privilege girls receive them for their 21st birthdays. Danielle Steele was reported to own 6000 pairs. Louboutin reportedly never gives away his shoes, but instead he gives discounts. When asked what his advice was to women all over the world who could not afford his shoes, he said they should then choose to buy shoes they can afford.
To attempt answering the sociological question I posted earlier. How might Louboutin shoes enable social inequality therefor contributes to social stability. The social inequality created by the richer clientele is to manage a autograph, and to own pairs that are limited editions. Compare this to the inquality to the ownership of the first pair by a young clientele who saved up for it is pretty stark.
The main appeal of wearing expensive, new fashions is that wealthy clients can distinguish themselves from people who are less well off. Thus, fashion performs an important social function. By allowing people of different rank to distinguish themselves from one another, it helps to preserve the ordered layering of society into classes. (A social class is a position people occupy in a hierarchy that is shaped by economic criteria including wealth and income.) – I shall talk about this part in the case study, status symbol that seperates the different classes of women.
When applied to the context of high heels as a social phenomena, how does the high heels contribute to social stability since it has clearly not die off, it must in some functional way provide women and men with a functional purpose. How does this purpose enable social inequality? In the case of gender divide, many examples on androgynous elements has shown the use of high heels by men, and other genders, specifically transgender, transvestites, transsexual, not to mention the use of high heels in fetishism.
The clear picture on the shoes as a status symbol lies in a few elements. One of them that already shows to become an element Louboutin cannot control is the copying of the red sole. Many manufacturers has already used his red soles, despite his attempt to copyright it, and the many legal issues arising from trying to protect the specific use of the color on his soles. Fashion elements are permeable and desperately porous in this way, the other element that sets louboutins heels apart is the cut and fit of his higher heeled shoes, the quality is rivaled by other luxury designer shoes such as YSL, Fendi and also by his predecessors Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo, however there is the element of extreme arch that makes Louboutin shoes an undeniable fashion fetish.
Speaking specifically on the 120mm height of heels and extreme arch and low toe box, this is not attributes that applies to his lower heels and casual style of shoes, nor does it apply to his mens shoes. . Predominant influence on a woman psyche is the shape of the décolletage or toe cleavage, the height and narrowness of the heels. What is also interesting is the lack of concern on podiatric damage for the sake of beauty. The red sole sends out many symbolic messages. Predominantly the message has sexual connotation. Where the color red resonates closely to the red lipstick on a woman’s lips. There are very few who can wear the 120 mm without significant pain, the shoes are highly uncomfortable, and on purpose. He has been quoted to say that the heel is never high enough.
Is there something in these high heels that contributes to social stability? One of the essence of social stability are the place of gender identity, Is the fact that the high heels are so uncomfortable and only women who accepts that part of the cost of beauty is pain, thus the gender role remains intact. In terms of other gender usage of the high heels, the role of the high heels are used mainly in specific industries. Although it is ubiquitous it is only in certain areas, a few examples of that is the industry of pornography, fetishism or BDSM, the sex-work industry. The Luxury fashion industry tend to focus on heels to add elegance and class, and some of the differences lies in the design and the fit of the shoe and ofcourse in the heel height.
What I observe interesting is the dichotomy between what we consider classy and trashy in the case of heel height. Stiletto is an Italian word for pointy dagger, the sharpness of the stiletto heels aims to change the shape of the silhouette of women’s body, where as the chunkier heels and lower seem to communicate a whole different (matronly) silhouette and thus meaning.
Conclusion: In terms of the value of high heels in women, there is an arbitrary value set influenced by her psychology and her environment which made it possible for an object so uncomfortable to remain a trend. Eventhough the high heels are no longer just the privilege of the elite, it still proves to enable social inequality presented in the types of heels worn in different industries occupied by women, and at the same time it has arguably contributed to social stability by creating a sense of transferred masculinity and power.
What is Fashion?
It’s a way of looking. Just like other’s use it as a way of looking at others, we use fashion as a way of looking at ourselves. It means we are interested in a way how we are being perceived from the inside of the outside of our perception. It does not really matter what the outside really think of how we look, because we will never know this for sure, we are more importantly interested in the way we think others look at us.
In another way, Fashion can be seen as an interest in a rhythm of proportion. Some people who buy into fashion through looking at trend are not aware or not that interested in the rhythm of their own proportion. They are as I said above, more interested in satisfying their own perceptions of their public (especially in the world of social media). I posit that everyone considers themselves having a public if they consider themselves interested in fashion. Even if in fact, nobody is really that bothered with how you look because they’re more preoccupied with the way their own perception of their public think of them.
So what I mean with the rhythm of proportion is that I am imagining a 'me' walking my body in a private knowledge that satisfy a particular rhythm at that particular moment, a set of combination of everything I put on (clothing and such) or in me (in the case of body modifications) that is harmonious only to my mind, a cacophony of the way my walk, my body language, my mood and my movement is to my own sense of belief.
If you consider yoga as a union of your breath and your movements, style is a union of your gestures and your clothing. Sometimes this union is a rhyme, a poetry of shapes and colour that simultaneously add to the gestures when I wear it, other times it’s a union of interruptive beats of colours that sets my body into it’s (ideal) proportional groove. Ideal is when the proportional groove matches the emotion I am feeling at the given moment.
So it's been a long time since the last newsletter. I do apologise. There's a ton of teaching, a ton of travelling and family matters that took quite a lot of energy. Having excused myself for the great big absence, it is good to be back here now and on with the show.
To start the post off. I'd like to invite you all to this talk about Colour.
Most of you know that I love this watercolour brand, I use it with passion, and I buy Daniel Smith with rigour. So here's an opportunity to geek out a bit more with watercolour.
Meet Daniel Smith's owner John Cogley on the 18th of December 2015, He will be in Singapore represented by Arters', our friendly supplier of Daniel Smith's watercolour here, and some of you might already have this watercolour brand and met with Whee Teck Ong.
Anyways, I am passing on the information for all of you, Don't miss it if you can.
A journal of an artist maker about making, creating, travels, ideas, conversations and struggles of a curious person in this world.