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Sun, Oct. 18th, 2009 11:52 am
Style apparent

The trouble with writing about world hunger -- as I did yesterday -- is that any other topic pales into triviality next to it. And yet one of the things the ongoing and super-inspiring North Korean films at the Asian Women's Film Festival are teaching me is the value of taking great pleasure in the cheap, simple things. The high point of yesterday's film A Bellflower was the illumination of a bare light bulb in a mountain village electrified for the first time.



I take a lot of pleasure in dressing well-slash-cheaply-slash-eccentrically. I also take a lot of pleasure in seeing other people dressed well. The arrival of wintry conditions to Berlin in the last week or so has provided a few simple pleasures related to the re-discovery of woolly winter things, like an Ital hat I found in Palma Majorca, or an old black cape. I enjoy posting pictures to my Flickr page of myself dressed in some new cheap, weird find from the local market. These three euro diamond baggy PJ-like tights, for instance, were pure impulse-buying (actually Hisae suggested I get them) but worked out well. "YOU are my style apparent. Period." writes someone called Ashley under the photo.



Reviewing an art show called Scorpio's Garden recently for Scottish art mag Map, I saw someone whose style I really admired: an artist called Fiona James, who put on a performance which involved dancing, marking her tights with a marker, and mimicking Ayn Rand by standing, whitefaced, in a projector beam and miming along with Rand's words in a TV interview. James was wearing a blue tunic-dress and grey tights, and something about her made me feel she'd arrived in Berlin from London recently. She had that fresh-off-the-boat feel, as if Berlin were still liberating her, and enhancing her London style, rather than dowdifying and provincialising her, as it might do later if she "lets herself go" here.

I sometimes think that Berlin is a place where people "let themselves go to seed", visually. Because the city is removed from the capitalistic hubbub of cities like New York, London and Tokyo, people end up spending less money here on hair, make-up and clothes. Now, that only shows in people who lack the nous to replace cash with dash -- it certainly hasn't applied to stylish friends like Emma and Joe, coming up to the anniversary of their arrival in Berlin.

For those with the will and the imagination, Berlin's plethora of excellent markets does allow you to dress well here for next to no money, and I think this "post-materialist" style more than compensates for the absence of super-trendy hairdressers or whatever.



I'll be in London next week, and Tokyo in a few weeks, and I'll be paying close attention to the look and feel of those cities. Is the recession giving them a more Berlin feel, a more down-at-heel (but cheap-and-cheerful) feel? Will I see breathtakingly interesting-looking people on the streets, making original gestures (like the gel shoe worn by a member of the Asoko Koenji artist party, above)? Will I think to myself "We don't -- we couldn't -- have people like this in Berlin"?

Mostly -- like my New York friend Hikaru, whose WonderWonder blog documents the preference with advanced visual gorgeousness -- I find non-Western clothes the most inspiring thing these days. The clothes in the North Korean films are wonderful, Indian colours take my breath away, African patterns clash boldly, the older, more trad Turks in my hood command my respect. Suits and jeans remain the designated sartorial enemy, unless you really tweak them and take them somewhere strange. In that sense, suits and jeans are to dress style what painting is to the art world; you generally have to go a little further with those media to justify the evident conservatism of your choice.

38CommentReplyFlag


(Anonymous)
Sun, Oct. 18th, 2009 10:47 am (UTC)
Charity begins in shops

DATELINE, LONDON: I've been scooping Margiela and Demeulemeester out of the local charity shops - the volunteers often miss certain labels and price items for £5 next to M&S business suits at £20 and very tired Gap jeans at £8. Friend found Helmut Lang trainers for £4 and a Prada skirt for $7. Paid about £45 (in America) for late '20s dress in perfect condition - I don't think I've had something "new" for a year and that £45 is far and away the most I've spent on anything to wear in 2009.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Oct. 18th, 2009 10:49 am (UTC)
Re: Charity begins in shops

You should write for i-D!


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Oct. 18th, 2009 10:51 am (UTC)

Sorry to hi-jack your post for this, but how much Eintritt does Asian Women's Film Festival charge? I might make it for the Abschlußfilm (what a cute word) on Tuesday if I'm lucky.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Oct. 18th, 2009 10:53 am (UTC)

Oh, sorry for my impatience, after some clicking around, I found out it's listed on the "Veranstaltungsort" page - 6,50€.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Oct. 18th, 2009 02:21 pm (UTC)

How can you wear clothes at a time like this when so many are starving out in the world?


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oracolodeifont
oracolodeifont
ed.
Sun, Oct. 18th, 2009 03:05 pm (UTC)

I found a house an will move to Berlin in two weeks. I'll let you know the effects on my visual outputs, from work to dresses. Alas I'm a boring dresser, so I'm not holding my breath about that.


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olamina
olamina
blackgirlgenius
Sun, Oct. 18th, 2009 03:23 pm (UTC)

your posts about fashion really do influence the way i dress. i actually do think more about patterns and hopeful colors and stuff. it totally creeped in, very effective propagandizing!


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count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Sun, Oct. 18th, 2009 05:02 pm (UTC)




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count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Sun, Oct. 18th, 2009 06:42 pm (UTC)

inspiration


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pulled-up.blogspot.com
pulled-up.blogspot.com
Sun, Oct. 18th, 2009 05:10 pm (UTC)

I am flattered, but I hate to tell you I am wearing age 11 boys jeans today...

My Berlin style icon of the moment is Iris 'Feedbag'. Librarian turned seamstress extrordinaire - http://tigerteardrops.com/


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pulled-up.blogspot.com
pulled-up.blogspot.com
Sun, Oct. 18th, 2009 05:21 pm (UTC)



I feel like this pic should be part of the winter clothing conversation too


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Oct. 18th, 2009 05:38 pm (UTC)
Off-topic,

but where can I buy Book of Jokes in Berlin? Duffman Kulturkaufhaus, right?


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Oct. 18th, 2009 05:51 pm (UTC)
Re: Off-topic,

Dussmann, I mean.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Oct. 18th, 2009 08:07 pm (UTC)
london fashionistas

last time i left the house it was kinda:

Jim Reid hair
moustache
buttoned up plaid
skinny black trousers or jeans
vintage brown brogues
big scarf - bigger the better - looks like a grey sheep hanging around your neck

may be changed

immigrant look: black puffa jacket, dark blue fleece, jeans - the timeless don't-stand-out approach..


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viceanglais
viceanglais
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 12:24 am (UTC)
Re: london fashionistas



The blue-and-black thing is a nod to Galliano. Although no head seems to be in. So that wouldn't be an actual nod nod.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Oct. 18th, 2009 09:08 pm (UTC)

I LOVE YOU, NICK CURRIE!

Love Ashley Andel from a Vancouver SkyTrain (bergamot cherroot etal)


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georgesdelatour
georgesdelatour
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 02:31 am (UTC)

Here's a classic problem for me as someone who loves to read your blog posts.

1. You say that "any other topic pales into triviality next to [world hunger]".
2. You also say how much you love North Korean propaganda films, because they explicitly "espouse code of ethics to live by, and a system of family, work and community relations".

So I go to Wikipedia and read the entry on North Korea. Here's what I find out:

1. Between 1995 and 1999 North Korea experienced a famine which killed 300,000 to 800,000 people per year. The famine fits exactly with the theory of famine stated by Amartya Sen:

"Famines are easy to prevent if there is a serious effort to do so, and a democratic government, facing elections and criticisms from opposition parties and independent newspapers, cannot help but make such an effort. Not surprisingly, while India continued to have famines under British rule right up to independence… they disappeared suddenly with the establishment of a multiparty democracy and a free press… a free press and an active political opposition constitute the best early-warning system a country threatened by famines can have."

Returning to Wikipedia: "In 2006, Amnesty International reported that a national nutrition survey conducted by the North Korean government, the World Food Programme, and UNICEF found that 7% of children were severely malnourished; 37% were chronically malnourished; 23.4% were underweight; and one in three mothers was malnourished and anaemic as the result of the lingering effect of the famine. The inflation caused by some of the 2002 economic reforms, including the Songun or "Military-first" policy, was cited for creating the increased price of basic foods."

"China and South Korea remain the largest donors of food aid to North Korea… In 2005, China and South Korea combined to provide 1 million tons of food aid, each contributing half. In addition to food aid, China reportedly provides an estimated 80 to 90 percent of North Korea's oil imports at "friendly prices" that are sharply lower than the world market price."

"According to the CIA World Factbook, North Korea's life expectancy was 63.8 years in 2009, a figure roughly equivalent to that of Pakistan and Burma and slightly lower than Russia. Infant mortality stood at a high level of 51.34, which is 2.5 times higher than that of China, 5 times that of Russia, 12 times that of South Korea."


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 09:21 am (UTC)

I spoke out a few days ago against the songun "guns before butter" policies of North Korea. Basically, when I'm writing about North Korean films I don't consider it my duty to write about every single North Korean problem every single time. As I said before, that -- applied to the US -- would require every music reviewer to talk about slavery every time they talked about Michael Jackson, or Hiroshima when they reviewed a Margaret Cho routine.

But yes, Wikipedia is your friend.


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analogeewhiz - (Anonymous) Expand

(Anonymous)
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 06:02 am (UTC)
The sadness of madness.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGg8fXL16qg

I love you THIS MUCH, big brother.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 09:25 am (UTC)
Re: The sadness of madness.

Oh, that's by Ashley Andell? It all makes sense now. I saw that video a couple of weeks ago. It's a great performance -- very impressive! Except that "if I were you, if I were beautiful" doesn't work here, because the fellow is beautiful!


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count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 07:03 am (UTC)
okinawa soba

have you seen these photo sets of old japan?




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milky_eyes
milky_eyes
milky_eyes
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 07:42 am (UTC)
Re: okinawa soba

Love the photos.

What a wonderful world we live in!!!

p.s. someone please explain the code to add photos...?
thanks


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milky_eyes
milky_eyes
milky_eyes
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 07:43 am (UTC)

love the photos....



I wear jeans and tshirts.... I guess I am just boring. But I prefer to think of it as john Cage/brian eno boring...

nice right? now boring is the new exciting. fuck all those strips and extra thinking... do as little as possible and look as normal as possible but push it to new levels of amazing. Make normal the new amazing.
normal= not normal
normal= something unexpected
normal= "_____________" close your eyes, rub your nipples and empty your mind.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 09:30 am (UTC)

'In that sense, suits and jeans are to dress style what painting is to the art world; you generally have to go a little further with those media to justify the evident conservatism of your choice.'

But Momus, not everyone wishes to stand out or be visually noticeable to some extra-degree. 'Conservative' clothes don't necessarily mean conservative minds. And as for painting, disregarding critics for a second, I don't think any painter today thinks their choice of medium is radical. Is there something wrong with enjoying paint /painting pictures / producing artworks revolving around paint?

You write. I wasn't aware that the use of words is any more or less radical -or conservative- than the use of paint. I'm not saying you yourself don't go 'further' than others in your use of them, but the medium of writing is surely as open to criticism as painting.


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