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Ciao, Lolita

2 Aug

 

Lolita Lebrón passed away last night in a hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at age 90. Known for her attack on the U.S. capitol in 1954, on behalf of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, Lebrón’s message continues to go on unanswered in the commonwealth status of Puerto Rico.

None of the congressmen who were shot at during the attack died that day & Lolita was granted clemency from President Jimmy Carter after serving 25 years in prison, later to be received in Habana as a guest of Fidel Castro.

The Washington Post ran an article today, remembering Lolita Lebrón, my favorite exerpt from the article:

In the photograph, a striking Ms. Lebron wears a set jaw and a stylish skirt and jacket. She had expected to die that day, and police found a note in her purse along with a tube of lipstick and Bromo-Seltzer pills.

“My life I give for the freedom of my country,” the note read. “The United States of America are betraying the sacred principles of mankind in their continuous subjugation of my country.”

More images after the jump:

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Goodnight, Lena

10 May

The lovely & unforgettable Lena Horne passed last night, 92-years-old, at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. I was interested to learn recently that Lena Horne was born to an upper-middle class family in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn (Each side of her family belonged to what W. E. B. Du Bois called “The Talented Tenth“) & that she was blacklisted from working in Hollywood during the “red scare” because of her progressive political beliefs.

My most memorable Lena Horne moment to follow:

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Adieu, St. Vinnu

13 Apr

St. Vincent's Hospital, 1916

I thought I’d do a post in the wake of the tragic/shameful closing of New York’s 160-year-old St. Vincent’s Hospital (which welcomed my pops to the world).

It’s also National Poetry Month, which is fitting, as St. Vincent’s was once called “Poet’s Hospital” after it became the birthplace of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay and deathplace of Dylan Thomas. Check out the short and sweet article in L Magazine.

I’ll also include this poem by W.S. Merwin:

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Parade of Nations, Runway Edition

14 Feb

Last night was the opening ceremony for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Like every opening ceremony, there was a parade of nations, where each country’s competing olympians walks with their flags through the auditorium. This year the U.S. team’s outfits for the parade of nations were designed by Ralph Lauren. I’m always interested to see what each country chooses to walk the aisle in.

Below, I’ve chosen my top 5:

Bermuda, chose to walk proudly & bravely into the cold wearing their Bermuda shorts

Ethiopia, looking fine in the colors of their flag, sent one hopeful Cross Country Skier to this year's winter olympics

Austria, I love that they chose these navy blazers with gold accents

Ireland, did not shy away from green, in their citron-toned track pants

Monaco, ever luxurious, cracked me up in their argyle sweaters & matching ivory scarves

Images from NBC

Aerial Thread

10 Feb

Two days until the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, one day until New York Fashion Week, snow on the ground. I’m sort of obsessed with the meeting of these worlds, which is why I was especially keen on Rodarte designing outfits for Olympians. Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte have dressed the athletes in photographer Ryan McGinley’s Olympic fashion mash-up portfolio, “The Highfliers”. The photographs are stunning and Rodarte’s designs are essential to their beauty and athleticism. They sort of remind me of an icy Where the Wild Things Are in arctic, aerial, space.

The sisters talk to T Magazine about the project:

Did you guys grow up watching the Olympics on TV? Do you have a favorite winter sport? Or maybe a winter sport “outfit”? The downhill skiers, for example, wear some pretty amazing getups! Almost like superhero costumes.

We have always loved the Olympics. Our favorites are ice skating and all of the aerial sports. We love the downhill skiing uniforms, as well as the snowboarders.

Any surprises along the way — good or bad?

Yes! Ryan broke his arm and still took photos of Hannah in a blizzard.

Some of my favorite photographs to follow:

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Jet Ride

5 Feb

I came across a ton of  1950’s covers of Jet Magazine, here are some I thought were super-trips:

<images from Vieilles Annonces>

Freezing Point

27 Jan

a young Vera Wang with skates

Two of my favorite things: The Olympics & Sarah Lawrence alum Vera Wang. With the Vancouver winter games around the corner, Wang is gearing up to design for male skater Evan Lysacek. An ice skater herself, and former Olympic hopeful, Wang reviews past skating outfits and discusses the nuances of designing for athletes with the Associated Press:

“You wouldn’t want someone to lose Olympic gold because their sleeve ripped off,” Wang says.

Other considerations: The outfit has to sparkle like eveningwear but function like workout gear; it has to stand up to the considerable wind generated by skaters’ speed; and it must be show-stopping from every angle, unlike a Hollywood-starlet gown that is usually photographed straight from the front or back.

“This is more pressure than an Oscar dress in a strange way,” she says.

The costume also has to complement the music. “I have to have the music for a skating costume,” she says, “and that’s not the way I normally work.”

Some of Vera’s skating outfits from the past:

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Soldier of Love

6 Jan

After a decade of albumlessness, Sade releases her 6th record, Soldier of Love, on February 9th, 2010…and I am pumped! In a statement today, Sade said of her musical timing:

“I only make records when I feel I have something to say. I’m not interested in releasing music just for the sake of selling something. Sade is not a brand.”Helen Folasade Adu

It’s hard to believe that as she releases Solider of Love, Sade will be celebrating her 51st birthday. Few women are as beautiful and down-to-earth cool:

‘Soldier of Love’ single, below:

Read the Pitchfork review, here.

“Universal Empty Point”

14 Oct

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To post or not to post: the controversial 14-page French Vogue spread featuring model Lara Stone in blackface (and body). I’ve read innumerable reactions to the photographs with perspectives ranging from indifference to condemnation to absolution.

Reasonable questions fog this concept: Why do a shoot like this? Why not hire a Black model? Is this meant to suggest white women are more beautiful as black women than black women? Why 14 pages of this? Where does this controversy lead us? I would say that provocation is most effective when it confronts an idea, when we are forced, at long  last, to consider a difficult question, and then to grow from our discomfort. This spread appears to do none of this, it seems frustratingly empty at its core. Its implications are in no way progressive, in fact, the contrary. I might suggest that the entire aim of this concept is this: here we are, reading and writing about this Dutch woman, painted black, more than we would discuss any other fashion spread in any other issue of French Vogue.

The responses I’ve found most interesting have come from Paper Magazine‘s Fashion Market Editor Zandile Blay and Minh-ha of Threadbared.

Blay writes:

despite the cheap gimmick of white model/black face/”African clothing,” I don’t believe it was meant as racist or malicious, nor should it be interpreted as such. To do so – no pun intended – is painting the topic black and white. Carine Roitfeld doesn’t hate black people – she probably doesn’t know any. More to the point she likely doesn’t have any on her staff, especially in an editorial capacity. And that points to the real issue: not a white model painted in blackface, but a dirth of black faces in a white industry.

I’m most interested with what  Minh-ha writes of recent blackface in the fashion industry:

…some are defending French Vogue for its provocativeness (”creative images . . . can sometimes [be] off-putting”) and for its postracialism (arguing that it is “sort of beautiful in that having a person of one ethnic background look convincingly like she might be of another race shows the interconnectedness of us all”). But what is on display in French Vogue and on Diez’s runway is not beautiful black bodies, but what Nirmal Puwar describes as “the universal empty point” that white female bodies are able to occupy precisely because their bodies are racially unmarked.

she continues…

Such images and their inevitable postmodern, postracial, freedom-of-artistic-expression discourses and apologists are not only tired, today they are tiring.

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Read more at The Blay Report & Threadbared

Lines in the Sand

14 Sep

This is an awesome video of Kseniya Simonova, a Ukrainian artist who just won “Ukraine’s Got Talent”. She uses a giant light box, dramatic music, imagination and “sand painting” skills to interpret Germany’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine during WWII. <via Huffington Post>

The war saw nearly one in four Ukrainians killed. A population of almost 42 million lost between 8 and 11 million people, depending on which estimate one references. Ukraine represented almost 20 percent of all the causalities suffered during WWII <source>. The Audience reaction is pretty incredible. It’s difficult to imagine this kind of performance finding its way onto “America’s Got Talent”.