Tag Archives: designer

grimes appreciation post

grimes album cover for visions

the first time i heard a grimes song, i’ll admit i was on the fence. i was browsing on the cbc radio 3 website ages ago and came across some of her demos… but i was compelled enough to press the “like” button, so now the internet tells me i’ve been a fan since january 2010. even in may 2011 i wasn’t quite sure.

but after seeing her perform in july, i was sold. she was a fantastic performer, and seeing her on stage helped me get a better sense of what i think she’s trying to do. i’ve got a lot of admiration for pop stars who will play with the abject. not to mention, what talent! i’ve seen many a more seasoned musician tackle that many looping pedals and beat machines and trip up (*cough* owen pallet *cough*) but boucher did not miss a beat. not to mention the fact that the crowd was kind of mostly a bunch of talkative dicks, and she still doled out a great set.

lately, her name and face is popping up everwhere. she’s getting a lot more mainstream attention, thanks to a tour with lykke li and signing with 4AD. well, that, and the fact that her new album is kind of incredible. it was being streamed for free on NPR, and made for perfect background music as i tackled reading a handful of interviews with her… and some of the questions just struck me as so assinine. and i loved the way she responds to them. read for yourself:

Pitchfork: I feel like there’s something patently feminine about the way Visions sounds.

Claire Boucher: I hope not. I don’t want to think it’s patently girly. Vocally it is, because that’s where my capabilities lie, and my influences as far as pop goes are female stars. But production-wise and instrumentally, my biggest influences are primarily men: Aphex Twin, the Dungeon Family, OutKast, that kind of shit.

I also feel like those [gender] lines are changing. A couple of years ago, it wasn’t nearly as OK for guys to like girly-sounding music. But all of a sudden a lot of my guys friends who would like have been really disdainful of female singers are way more accepting. My brothers’ friends are all basketball jock-bros, and they really like Lykke Li and Robyn.

part of me agrees with her, but mostly i hope she’s right. i really hope the days of people saying “i don’t like music made by chicks” can be the way of the past. why do we need to constantly remind music journalists, reviewers and fans that ‘woman’ is not a genre of music? can’t we talk about her music, the inherently nostalgic quality of such a young person’s music,  her creative ways of playing with her appearance on stage rather than whether or not she is “patently feminine?” what, because she has a high-pitched voice? fuck that.

photo cred: marie jane / ashley, claire wearing jewelry by morgan black and dress by renata morales

photo cred: marie jane / ashley, claire wearing jewelry by morgan black and dress by renata morales

aaaaand this brings me to my final point – i fucking love her style. she’s messy, surly, playful, and seems like someone i’d really like to hang out with and have a living room dance party with. for her press photos and magazine shoots, she’s worked with a lot of montreal designers including one of my favourites, renata morales (who is also known for working with regine chassagne of arcade fire).

claire boucher photographed by raphael ouellet

claire boucher photographed by raphael ouellet

here’s how she describes her own style, from an interview with out magazine:

You’re also a pretty snappy dresser. How would you describe your style?

Tank Girl or sci-fi punk. I’m always wearing skirts that I’d cut shorter and just don’t hem. I always wear combat boots at all times—that’s the basis of everything, the combat boots. I have this really sick trench coat from the Korean war that I always wear, but when I do photo shoots that not my clothes really its what they bring.

hey guys! surprise! photoshoots are the mainstream equivalent of playing dress-up. i love it when pop stars and actors pop the bubble of fantasy illusion that they look and dress how they do in photoshoots in their real lives. in the end, i recommend you check out her new album visions, and catch her live if you can.



Filed under currently, fashion, Uncategorized

a different kind of closet visit.

closet visit header of a plain wire clotheshanger

disclaimer: i’m hoping this won’t fall into a slightly passive-aggressive girl-hate post (which i feared my rant about the man repeller would fall into) but i wanted to know if any of my readers felt similarly.

closet visit has been around for a year now, and i find myself back there from time to time. it partly reminded me of the selby, which i’ve been a fan of for eye candy for a while now, where we visit creative people’s homes. but closet visit focuses solely on, you guessed it, closets. here is a description of the site from the creator herself: “Artist Jeana Sohn visits creative, inspiring and stylish ladies’ closets.” sounds simple and straight-forward enough, right?

and that it is. a simple formula with beautiful results.

i was really drawn in by the concept, and was happy to virtually meet some of these people via their closets. i was even surprised to find an old livejournal friend and the creator of the popular livejournal fashion community newestwrinkle there, and to see that her style was still captivating, and her advice still sage (Be patient and shop vintage. The quality is great and the pieces will be unique. Invest in great quality shoes).

but overall, i must admit, i felt a bit… frustrated. very quickly, i started noting some overwhelming trends in the kind of woman profiled and was ultimately left desirous for actual depth in digging through these strangers’ closest.

where i feel closet visit is strong in visual content and stimulation, it lacks in storytelling. ultimately, it strikes me as superficial and vapid. yeah, that’s a bit harsh, but of the “creative, inspiring and stylish” women featured, how many of them fall outside the norms of fashion? how many have a body type that is difficult to dress in straight-sized clothes or couture? how many of them struggle to pay the bills, let alone buy the latest prada shoes? i found myself thinking, of course you can have twenty different leather jackets when you have the money for it and are a straight-sized person and have a closet the size of my house. of course you can describe your beauty regimen as “low maintenance” and then list off products i didn’t even know existed just because you can.

part of me can’t decide whether i love or hate the fact that nearly all of them list frida kahlo as a style inspiration (i almost wanted to go through each interview and do a tally, but honestly i don’t think it’s exaggerating to say it’s 80% of them). but even though frida kahlo is an inspiration, not one of them has a hair out of place (facial or otherwise). none of them talk about having a disability, or being queer, or their politics. i think a lot of that is inherent to kahlo’s presence in photographs, in history, in her art. it was radical for kahlo to talk about those things in the 1930s and 40s, yet women who list her as a “style inspiration” or icon don’t touch any of those issues in 2010.

i could go on, but i don’t think it’s productive. i don’t want this to come off as a criticism of the women profiled, their warddrobes or their tastes: rather, i think it is disappointing as a project. disappointing because it seems to me yet another instance of the illusion of the democratization of fashion via the internet. because there are no ad dollars going into this, because there are no space constraints like you would find in print, it is more radical than a magazine feature. to me, this is no different than a vogue profile of affluent people-who-know-the-right-people showing off their warddrobes. perhaps i am being unfair: closet visit never states it sets out to be radical, nor does it express a desire to be different, go against the grain. in fact, all it says is that it seeks out creative, inspiring, and stylish women’s closets. how about i leave it at this: why are all of the creative, inspiring and stylish women also affluent, rich, largely white, thin, mostly designer wearing people?

my closetme showing off my closet to my friend annemarie in january

how many people do i know who fit the criteria of “creative” largely due to the fact that their bodies are not reflected in mainstream fashion, and they have to alter and mess around with clothing that wasn’t designed for them? how many creative, inspiring and stylish women do i know who had to sell their vintage treasures gathered over the years in order to be able to make rent that month (myself included)? how many broke ass crust punks do i know with incredible style because they dumpster dive, because they can’t afford designer clothes, but also because they reject them? and how many stories do their warddrobes tell because of those factors?

maybe this all ties into the fact that personally, i feel like your closet and your clothes can be a huge reflection, or at least a window into the story of yourself, your personality, your life. of the 35 or so interviews and features on closet visit, i don’t feel like i got to know more than two or three of these women on anything other than a superficial level. and perhaps i am to blame for searching for that.

when i dig through your closet, i long for stories of what you were doing the last time you wore it. a memory that bursts forth every time you see that scraggily old t-shirt. a hat you wore when you first met your best friend. a dress you tore because you were having too much fun to be careful with the delicate old lace.

instead of just grumping about it, i thought i’d throw the question to you.

whose closet (or suitcases) would you want to visit and rummage through?

my choices:

phew! okay i’ll leave it at that for now.

what do you think? am i totally out of line with this one? is closet visit great on its own, and doesn’t have to be critical?


Filed under politics, vintage