L O U
~Predicaments Of Lou~
A place to indulge in low-brow pop culture, ease into high-brow think pieces, devour recommendations of The New Age of news and sigh over fine tailoring. Welcome to #Predicaments. A corner of the Internet for all things high, low, in-between journalism with rays of girl-bossery and millennial contemplations.
The New Age has begun.
Author Archives: louramsay
With the high street becoming overrun with Girl Power inspired slogan t-shirts this summer, taking inspiration directly from Maria Grazia Chiuri debut Dior collection: I wonder, how feminist is the fashion world, exactly?
The fashion industry has seen a surge of Girl Power and the reintroduction of pink as a staple colour, as millennial pink graces all areas of the catwalk and our Instagram feeds. Our t-shirts are now emboldened with feminist slogans and girl gang mantras. We use #squad in our captions to do our best Bad Blood music video. Most notably of this is Chiuri’s debut design, a t-shirt with the slogan ‘We Should All Be Feminists’. The tee was inspired by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's TEDx talk and essay, both of the same name. Knock-offs come in at £10 on Etsy, as Topshop sell ‘Feminist’ branded sweatshirts for £24. So what exactly is the price for feminism? $710 or £24?
And how exactly did this movement become fashionable?
It is a function of fashion to reflect our time and in it, our desires at its fundamental element. Social media has given us the opportunity to delve into worlds previously unknown; learn of cultures and lives around the world. However, this has also given way for cultural and social issues to become trendable - rather than something more long standing. In fashion terms, trends come and go with the seasons, so should feminism really be treated as such?
Couldn’t this movement be like the LBD and actually, stay?
Moreover, we have to analyse whether or not the fashion industry and high fashion houses are truly championing feminism as a movement, or treating it like a trend. It appears as though Chanel did so back in Spring/Summer’15, with a catwalk march protest seemingly for women’s rights. Signs were held aloft by models read ‘History is Her Story’, ‘Ladies First’ and ‘Women’s Rights Are More Than Alright’. Well thank god for Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld to say so, right?
It’s been three years since Emma Watson was announced as the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and graced the cover of ELLE UK. 2014 was dubbed the Year of the Feminist, with many big fashion houses getting behind the cause like Chanel. In their S/S’15 campaign, Celiné had Joan Didion as their campaign star, a feminist icon and a writer who embodies a level of cool we all crave to reach. Since Phoebe Philo took over in 2008, the house has become a staple for thought-provoking campaign images. As Chiuri keeps feminism alive in the fashion stratosphere, eagerly helped by high street stores like Topshop and H&M, we have to start looking past the printed tee.
How feminist is it...
when those same t-shirts are being made by a woman being paid pitiful money in a third world country, in appalling conditions, who has yet to see any benefit of feminism in her lifetime? As I.D proclaimed “fashion is big business” so really how much of a movement is this fashionable feminism, as the industry would like us to think (and shop). As reported by I.D, ‘for the first time since the Spice Girls, Girl Power has a marketing sweet spot’. And it appears its beginning to sour.
As Gaby Basora at Tucker commented, “it’s not only the woman who wears the clothes who makes a difference. It’s the women who sew the clothes, the pattern makers and the women who go off to work to support their families.” If we are to support our fellow women, the sisterhood that’s being reborn with each Girl Power mantra t-shirt sold, then shouldn’t that mean every type of woman? Dior may now be taking the helm of the high fashion movement, but lest we not forget Dior’s advert campaigns and catwalks have been predominately white.
The label still lacks diversity, both in race and body shape.
As Susie Lau best said on the Chanel S/S’15 shows
“whatever Lagerfeld’s true stance on feminism is, it is difficult to believe the conviction of a uniform of women, held up by an unrealistic standard of beauty, waving such banners whilst wearing clothes that are prohibitively expensive.”
We cannot claim a human rights movement for fashion, if we do not fully show and believe in the core values. A feminism for the catwalk, will not truly be feminism unless it is intersectional. Many things we women today take for granted, was built on the backs of those who fought hard for our rights. Were they catwalk models, of aesthetically pleasing statue, holding aloft banners that read ‘boys should get pregnant too’?
I think not. If feminism is to stay in the mainstream and continue its fourth wave fight, then we need to do more Women’s Marches and less actions designed purely for zeitgeist approval.
#Squad pictures included.
This post was written for Obsessory.com
The word creative is a word once heard rarely, now wildly thrown around. Artist. Creative.
I have previously discussed how we are glamorising failure more and more, missing the step between learning and comfort. Which is where I pause and say, there is no comfort in art.
What I mean by this, is that it is being frequently understood that creative people need reassurance, because the world is large and social media makes it appear even larger. It feels as though our art, the thing we seek comfort from, could be lost in a flurry of a Trump Twitterstorm. A repeated tweet on feeds we've all seen tells us to encourage the art we enjoy seeing, make the author know you dig their blog post or comment on a photographer’s latest work than simply like it. Give feedback; likes and dislikes, but criticism most importantly as no creative person is above improvement. Don't be scared to say your thoughts, because we want to hear it.
In fact, it’s something they are wanting most; comments on improvements, which piece worked, their style – is it successful in projecting their meaning or are you getting lost under the swap between italics and the bold?
However, this does delve into a small tangent of an issue when concerning encouragement and your creative friends. And that is that not all of the time do they need your reassurance that their art is good. Sounds a little complicated, and a little contradictory, right? By this, I mean, you may feel that the encouragement is encouraging, but to them it can come across as disparaging. Not all of the time, but it can be sometimes. Good for too long, means their art has swirled itself into a ball of something I call ‘comfort art’. The art that makes you, the reader and recipient, comfortable. And the creative has settled down into a bundle of comfort art and lacked pushing themselves forward to grow and mature their art the way, deep down, they desire to do.
You can’t comfort those who do not wish to be comforted.
When I say this, I mean the language that renders the recipient of the conversation mute. The ‘don’t worry about it’ or the ‘don’t put yourself down’. These don’ts, they make the creative flutter down to a subdued nod. Their fight or internal struggle with creativity has been boiled down into a ‘don’t’. They no longer can attempt to solve an issue, like writer’s block, nor praise themselves when they exclaim they have written something of possible substance. They have been silenced by a ‘don’t’ masked as encouragement. It is illogical to tell someone not to put themselves down or not to worry about something; the worry will happen, as will the bouts of confidence. It's natural to feel a way if circumstances dictate.
For example, if I as a writer am feeling like what I am writing is rubbish, there is a strong suggestion I am indeed writing rubbish. I, as a person and a writer, am able to fully gauge exactly how well I am doing or how badly. By telling someone not to be of worry or of doubt, you are making them feel as though they cannot feel this way. Almost as if you are telling them off, like a teacher or a parent and thus, making these feelings feel something like a misdemeanour.
"Give feedback; likes and dislikes, but criticism most importantly as no creative person is above improvement."
Moreover, telling this specifically to a female creative, can be seen as not only disrespectful but also dismissive. Dismissive, by this I mean, running through the same vein as seeing an issue as trivial. Already oppressed by a patriarchal society, the last thing we should be doing as a collective is censoring and evaluating a woman’s emotions. There is no need to weigh up an issue as 'deserving' of your attention, fully. Or deserving of more than an easy 'don't worry about it!'. Not to simply glaze over an issue, the way we all can sometimes do.
Especially in a field widely dominated by men. To say ‘don’t put yourself down’ is as if to say ‘don’t say that’. It is censoring. It makes it seem as though, for a continuous use of the previous example, I am rubbish at writing but ‘at least I am giving it a try’. And it sounds, and comes across, as condescending.
"By telling someone not to be of worry or of doubt, you are making them feel as though they cannot feel this way."
It makes it seem as though my confidence comes under question because I am a woman, not because I am a writer. With this, it puts forth the idea women are insecure, especially about their ‘hobbies’, thus making such a thing trivial. I must be insecure and so need a ‘girl boss pep talk’ when really, I am evaluating my work and realising I am making progress. Good progress. And it is more than ok for me to share this and say so.
"I am evaluating my work and realising I am making progress. Good progress. And it is more than ok for me to share this and say so."
I think at such a deeply politically fraught time, the use of which words we use is coming more and more under the question. The consideration we now put into what we say can be argued as being too PC, as people can no longer speak on certain subjects in fear in causing over offence, usually from a place lacking the education on whatever subject they might wish to chat about. And yes, that is completely understandable. Myself included, as I’ve found myself being educated over subjects I was previously unaware of.
"The creative has settled down into a bundle of comfort art and lacked pushing themselves forward to grow and mature their art the way, deep down, they desire to do."
However, let's be real. No one likes comforting words that sound a lot more like a dig. And we all know how insecurity can worm its way into our veins and make a home behind our lungs. It goes deep, especially in younger women. We’ve been told time and time again how to behave, how to look and how to simply be. There's no need to add more. Don't you think?
The last thing we need is our art to be condensed down into something below. This really is mainly about being aware of how the other person feels when you give out advice or pep talks; not about how good you feel giving them. Are they really pep talks, if you’re brushing over their issue with your assumption of their talents? Let them talk. Art isn’t easy.
And insecurity can be infectious, if a worry is dismissed.
Cool has become a spending power.
Or more over, a selling power. With the rise of Instagram advertising and #spon posts, cool has never been more popular.
Or more expensive.
There has always been a seductive allure around looking good; looking cool. It's a recognised level of social status from us all - the ultimate effortless effort in one's appearance.
Currently, cool centres around Man Repeller adored frilly, boxy and oversized shirts. Ranging from bright magenta pink to office whites and blue; pinstriped, embroidered with snatches of phrases (H&M currently has one with 'Girls Bite Back' in red on the cuffs). Blouses with ruffle cuffs and deconstructed openings, slashed down to the collarbone and exposing your décollectage. Colours revolving around primarily millennial pink and bright yellow, which I must mention of Topshop finally introducing a pink suit. The shade? It's millennial pink, of course and it looks delightful. Contrast summer looks with vintage blue levi's and red sling back heels, because pops of colour have never looked so good. See Pandora Sykes' report for more; right here.
Slouchy, awkward length Topshop culottes and mules in every colour of the rainbow. Oversized earrings made with threads and plastic jewels, the type of costume jewellery we were all rolling our eyes at ten years ago. But God, they're just so cool right now, right?
The teeny square sunglasses like Bella Hadid has been recently wearing, or Kaia Gerber (Cindy Crawford’s daughter, yes in those Marc Jacobs beauty ads). The new age of models have cool down to pat. An example best loved by fashion bloggers is Elsa Hosk; baker boy hats perched on top of natural tousled hair, wide leg jeans and 70's style denim like those seen on the Marc Jacobs runway, ready-to-wear catwalk looks right down to the dainty strappy sandals.
European holiday has never been more in. Look to Lucy Williams at www.fashionmenow.co.uk for more, as Lucy does it sp well. The style I'm talking about? That’s beach hair and Parisian dresses, the type frequently seen on Jeanne Damas, best showcased by her company Rouje. Cool is espadrille sandals with ribbon ties wrapped around ankles and trailing up calves.
But it's also...
London girl sports luxe; denim skirts with fishnet tights, bleached hair and pastel coloured hair best done at Bleach London. Mascara done thick, ideal for spider lashes by breaching the regulations of natural shades, hues of pink or blue are more fondly used as seen on Adwoa Aboah at the Gurls Talk event in London. 90’s reinvention trainers (God I hope the 90's stick around in style) like the Reebok classic instead of sling backs, but in canvas tote bags you may find them if they feel so inclinded, because a woman can be prepared and look cool. In addition to this, summer cool means linen print trousers, millennial pink jeans or in soft lilacs as seen in Urban Outfitters. The cool that somehow morphs into New York/Brooklyn cool, maybe it’s the art scene, maybe it’s the lifestyle and the liberal values, who knows?
But what’s most noticed by the Currency Of Cool is that it's now viewed as different forms and different manners. We no longer have as rigid a ‘one size fits all’ (haven’t you seen the rise of plus-size models and roar of diversity rising on the catwalk? Isn't it SO thrilling!). Cool can be anything and everything, because what makes cool is usually the way the person looks all together. Millenials and those in generation Z are pushing the boundaries, being more open with their lifestyles than the Boomers before. And gender fluid dressing, as male MUA’S rise further in popularity, I hear you say?
Well anybody who’s anybody knows it isn’t a straight couple on the cover of American Vogue wearing the same suit.
That? That just doesn’t sell.
Why we adore, yet hate, the terrible failures of life and can't seem stop posting about it.
We all do it. We dress up our failures, claim to make a mess of our lives every weekend, despair at the situations we get ourselves into. We treat our failure the same as a level of success; if we are to fail, it must be magnificent. Glorious. Brag-worthy.
We create stories from our defeats - failure has become a delicious concoction of moments which we can reel off to strangers at parties, acquaintances at work events, drink in hand and laughing. It's a currency we can use to elevate ourselves in social standing. Earnestly explaining how we managed to fuck up and god, doesn't that make us human?
But exactly how deeply have we sunk into catastrophe? Is it as painful as we have detailed, or are we creating a certain level of admiration for failure, in order to wear it proudly on our sleeves like we once did with our hearts?
We call ourselves out before anyone else can, because even if we might be dealing with a level of failure, we still totally know best. Right?
Let's be honest; we're all guilty of exaggerating our failures into successes. We will shriek in horror over drunken mistakes or cringe realising we've sent an email to the wrong person. We'll live-tweet wearing the wrong shoes to work, one black and one brown. The sort of failure only the morning can create, because c'mon, no one is a morning person are they? Running our mouths a bit too much or jumping too quickly onto a band wagon. Attempting to launch a business thinking there's an audience, when really it's a few favourites on a tweet. It doesn't work. But that's fine. We own our failures. They are OURS.
We call ourselves out before anyone else can, because even if we might be dealing with a level of failure, we still totally know best. Right? We know ourselves inside and out. We've read the self help books on the art of creative living like Big Magic and understood how many fuck-ups it will take to become a #GIRLBOSS. Individually been taught to own those screw-ups we've made, because they make us imperfect and human and totally relatable. When we own those failures, describe them in detail or allude to them with a nonchalant wave of a hand, we are spilling secrets our audience wants to hear. They want the red faced moments, so the story swirls from horror to glamour. A rite of passage so cliche, it's disappearing as a moment of shame.
We own our failures. They are OURS.
Failure has become a new buzzword in our millennial-pinked-landscape. Our embrace of all things failure as a generation has helped us to understand the steps to success and fame. Those steps can be more like a good few flights of stairs, but we know that now. However, we have started to make a mockery out of failure. We've turned failure from a roughened, tight lipped figure into something that looks a bit like victim-hood and a lot like a hot mess. Its somewhere in between, because recent failures has become the new go-to party tricks. It's not as if we fear failure, but are we actually learning from it? Or simply claiming to do so on social media?
We're guilty of selling our failures like they're successes, ensuring everyone knows the rumour of an 'overnight success' is a fable people tell when they refuse to look at the work behind the triumph.
Fear; A rite of passage so cliche, it's disappearing as a moment of shame. Becoming it's own banal phrase than a thing to build up from.
But here's the thing about dressing failure up like you're going out for a night on the town. You don't escape failure, the same you can't roll out of bed and avoid the fear when hungover. Failure is an inevitable part of life. The tales of failure to success, a modern day rags to riches, is a tale well told. Richard Brandon at Virgin, J. K. Rowling and her countless rejection letters, or even Samuel L. Jackson finding fame in Hollywood at age 43. The list goes on but the message is clear. You can be successful no matter how many times you fail.
However, there are some things about making the pillars of Failure and Success so close in stature, we run the risk of losing the bit in the middle. The gritty bit. The bit that matters, because not only does it humble us when we find success, but it gives us the confidence to trust the process. You may wear the defeat of a Bad Idea or a Wrongly-Timed-Decision like armour, but you can forget that you can't skip out on the lessons hidden in the screw-ups. The bit that turns us from minnows to a #GIRLBOSS (Netflix series up for debate).
It's only through trusting the process do we grow. Let go of the glamorization of failure and see it for what it is; a moment of defeat. And a moment to rebuild on what you have misjudged or lost.
Yes, failure can be funny when it's You've Been Framed style videos of people falling, but don't fall into the trap of missing out on the uncomfortable lesson failure is trying to teach you. It's meant to hurt, be more than a red face.
You really think J K Rowling made those millions on a red faced moment?