29 December 2007

Pretty great

Yesterday was a pretty great day--and it's spilling over into today. I wrote copy for a mailer at work. My concept is pretty bitchin, if I do say so myself. I lit out early due to "inclement weather." (I'm puzzled by the pantywaist, alarmist talk on weather.com, by the way. It's winter. And we live in Wisconsin. Therefore, it snows.)

I'm loving the new Alterra in Riverwest, it so happens. I signed up for a crochet class--which I've been wanting to do for the longest time--at the adjacent Loop yarn den and met up at the cafe with my best young man. I added it to my list of Riverwest places I love with great interiors like Art*Bar and Nessun Dorma. And it's all the better cuz you always run into folks from the neighborhood. Yay! We had a great conversation--during which I connected Velvet Underground with Thai food...and explicated on Hedwig and the Angry Inch along the way. Oh, I also requisitioned the houndstooth trousers I bought at Fischberger's and wore them yesterday. I looked great!

Also adding to the Riverwest goodness: I'm going to be doing Poetry Marathon this year! Yeehaw! I worked last year's event as a volunteer, but this is my first time as a reader. I didn't get one of the A-list timeslots (chile, you gotta sign up early!), but I'm looking forward to my 5 minutes of poetry fame--which adds up to about .005 minutes of regular fame--nonetheless. So, give me a donation!

28 December 2007

Do We Want What We Want? Or Do We Just Want To Want It?

Dig? It's easy as a woman to get into the habit of thinking, Wow, if only I had the sandals/sunglasses/hair my life would be completely transformed. Earlier this year I went to a store in my neighborhood well known for its shoes. I had been craving a very three-dimensional or else 1940s-ish heel. Yet, when I spied the sculptural shoes of my dreams, I hesitated! I shilly-shallied and looked at other inferior shoes.

Finally, I went over to inspect my little beauties up close. The heel was absolutely everything I'd been fantasizing about--rounded and weighty, Cubist almost.

Yet, I found there was something daunting--maybe even disheartening--about being stared down by exactly what I was looking for. WTF?! Where was the jubilation? The triumph?

Therein lies the conundrum of setting one's heart on stuff: the inevitable let-down of acquisition. This has to do with the expectations we're encouraged to place on objects. We expect fulfillment, transformation, transcendence. But by the time I've saved my money for the Balenciaga sunglasses--if I can even get on the wait list--they're already over. That avenue to acceptance and status--and its downright magical powers to transform my drab little existence--is closed.

Once I confront the actual thing I can't help but notice it doesn't live up to my expectations. But there is no way an object can live up to all the attributes I've imposed upon it. I don't feel any different. I don't feel like I thought I would. I'm exactly who I was before.

That's what's so depressing about getting what you thought you wanted. If these material totems fail us--what's next? Where to now? What is there to believe in? Most people conclude they had the wrong stuff picked out--and pin their hopes on something else. Something more expensive, more exclusive. Cuz that has to do the trick.

26 December 2007

How Was Your Xmess?

MK does not celebrate Christmas, the birth of little baby Jesus notwithstanding. She did, however, exchange Solstice gifts. As Yoko Ono would say, Yes, Ms. Kansas is a witch.

This past Saturday, Ms. K made the jaunt to Fischberger's, 2445 N. Holton, for the first time. It seems like a Milwaukee classic-in-the-making to MK. It's an adorably brilliant variety store full of fabric and sewing notions, old-fashioned toys, attractive futuretro kitchenwares, candy and lifestyle novelties and well-curated secondhand clothing. Tres charmant!

Ms. Kansas picked up a pair of houndstooth trousers for her fella and bubblegum cigarettes. The lively little emporium has actually been open for a year. It's now a must for anyone's Riverwest itinerary.

Photo from onmilwaukee.com.

18 December 2007

Jury Is Out

I went to my first Art v. Craft on December 8. Yes, it's the very first one I ever went to. I was wearing the really cute old man hat I picked up at one of my Super Secret Shopping Spots earlier this month. This time, the wing-ding was at the Humphrey Scottish Rite Masonic Center right downtown.

I saw people I knew there, including The Little Friends of Printmaking; local fashionette Leslie Vaglica, who is working for tenniswear-maker Eliza Audley and loving it; Jim Herrington, the excruciatingly hip photographer with Nashville cred, motherfuckers; a woman I used to work with at Discovery Hell, er, World; and, of course, the doyenne herself, Faythe.

I guess I was expecting some sort of life-changing baptism in hipness--or, at least craftiness, but A v. C was pretty much like any other event that Milwaukee scenesters are going to be at. Though, maybe the weather kept some of the Madison wanna-bes at home. I guess my disappointment stems from the fact that I didn't see any cool clothes there.

Though, I did pick up a card wallet from Barry's Farm for a special someone.

P.S. The photo is from the Barry's Farm website.

06 December 2007

Haute food

Last week, in a rare break of form, MK went out on Friday night. Oh, perhaps it's not what youngsters these days call going out, but it was livelier than, well, Ms. K's apartment. The site was Hinterland, a spot newly opened in the Third Ward.

Well informed vegetarian hypochondria/fastidiousness notwithstanding, a good time was had by all. Ms. Kansas supped on tempura goat cheese stuffed zucchini. Zucchini are admittedly not MK's favorite veggies--she is not much of gourd kind of girl. However, these toothsome little morsels were accompanied by shiitake mushrooms, totsoi and bamboo rice saute, pickled carrot salad and sunchoke puree. It was a delicately savory melange. Hell, eating there was worth the rosemary-infused bread alone!

The decor was New-Mexico-with-a-trust-fund:lots of bleached out woods and dark browns. And texture, texture, texture! The service was good, and the crowd was rather smart.

27 November 2007

In My Jeans

Though I'm sort of embarrassed to admit it, I miss wearing jeans. Why is that? They're such a no-brainer, default mode for clothing. No more thinking about what I'm going to put on on the weekend! And they are--happily--rather durable.

When is Easter again? Oh, yeah. March 23. That's, like, four months! That's a really long time. Maybe I can quit on Ash Wednesday? Erm, no.

Though, I am proud of the fact that I haven't worn jeans once! Not once! Not around the house! Not to do laundry or housework! I haven't even tried a pair on. Ok. I can do this. In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that I have been wearing denim trousers, which are--trust me!--different from jeans.

24 November 2007

Am I A Bag Bitch?

Yesterday at work I had a mini-hissy fit over Marc by Marc Jacobs bags. The backstory is: last Monday at work we had a bag and shoe sample sale. I snapped up a cute little number and 3 wallets. Yippee! Since then, I've been noticing other women's bags.

Ok, and I've had a bag crush on the Marc Jacobs "Christy" yoga bag for years. Putzing around on the Nordstrom site earlier this week was the fine spray of gasoline on that little flame.

Retailing for $450-ish, I could totally put this on my Visa, I "reasoned." I clicked feverishly from site to site, cursing retailers offering the "Teri," but not the obviously much more desirable "Faridah." At the height of this bag spiral, I reminded myself I had a few hundred hanging out in my savings account. The "yes, but" part of that sentence is that it's next month's loan payment. The things we're willing to do to feel like Halle Berry!

The thing is, I know the bag would not have made my life better. In fact, it likely would have set off a chain reaction of debt resulting from my bag-stimulated desire to freshen my hairstyle; buy a new pair of shoes; book a facial, mani and pedi; and spruce up my apt's decor just a tad.

But then I realized Marc by Marc Jacobs bags are probably made in China. If I decided to buy a new bag I could collaborate with a local designer like Fashion Ninja's Areka Ikeler--who recycles preexisting materials and sews on her machine right here in the USA.

06 October 2007

Dirty Thirties

Last night I attended a Wisconsin Book Festival event at the UWM Union Theatre. Larry Widen and David Luhrssen discussed Milwaukee's film past and present. Kicking off A Weekend of Silver Screens at 9PM, there was a screening of Libeled Lady, starring Milwaukee's own Spencer Tracy. (Clara Bow classic It, from which we derive the now-overworked term "It Girl," screens this afternoon at 5PM.)

This was my first official screwball comedy. I remember a photo of Jean Harlow, with her pencil-thin brows, in a book about classic Hollywood movies I check out obsessively in grade school. In early adolescence, I became fixated on It Happened One Night--though, I haven't seen it yet. Though Libeled Lady wasn't a substantive film, I became invested, hoping Harlow would end up with the Gable-ish William Powell. There was enough plot twist to keep it from becoming facile. Evidently, someone liked it, though; this 1936 gem was nominated for an Oscar.

One of the reasons I opted to stick around so long past my bedtime was the anticipated feast of 1930s fashions. Though not as mind-boggling as Vera West's work in Three Smart Girls Grow Up, Harlow was a knockout in a bias-cut satin wedding dress and in classic 1930s dresses in later scenes. She wears jacket and trousers in one scene, too, delighting my "Garbo pants"-seeking self. Also, there are great opportunities to look at well-groomed, well-shod men.

I just have a place in my heart for the 1930s! The clothes have an unbelievably elegant, but tough and cool-headed quality--typified by the bare backs of blouses and evening dresses.

02 October 2007

Fiona Apple: That Chile Can Sang!

One of the perks of work is iTunes, through which I've rediscovered Fiona Apple's oeuvre. That girl can sang! She has excellent control and a beautiful sense of coloration and tone. Also, she works with really excellent musicians. I've known Tidal was a great album since 1999, but I haven't listened to When the Pawn...almost since the year it came out. Her vocal attack on the album's first few songs will make the hair on back of your neck stand up. ITunes also made it possible for me to listen to Extraordinary Machine.

Happy birthday to this hyperliterate bona fide chanteuse. Life only gets better once you're out of your 20s!

01 September 2007

Wait...There's More!

The Church of Style myspace page is a little less visually disgusting. Check it out at www.myspace.com/churchofstyle. It's September already? Oh, fuck! Putting that aside, what's going on in Church of Style?

Took in Aesthetic Apparatus lecture at Discovery World and wrote it up for thedailypage.com. Read it here! Interviewing Holly Golightly--she of You Can't Buy A Gun When You're Crying fame--for Madison's Isthmus. See her British bluesy excellence at Mad Planet in Milwaukee or Cafe Montmartre in the Mad. I last saw Ms. Golightly and her excellent band when they played at High Noon Saloon on the same bill with...the Dirtbombs. There isn't time to go into the Dirtbombs Debacle of 2004 here; suffice it to say it's ok to blow off your shift at the Fair Trade store if the Dirtbombs are in town. It just is.

What else is happening? There have been some very interesting adventures in the name style the past few weeks--oh, yes. Like: getting an electric charge run through my face when I got a facial at Aveda Institute. Thanks, girls! I finally ordered a Panic t-shirt yesterday. I bought it on sale; with shipping, it still ends up under $20! I am talking about Panic so much I'm feeling as if I might have to start up a Panic label. I'm not sure if the Church of Style is ready for that yet. I'll keep you posted. Work on the button progresses via email and cameraphone snapshots. For real. I haven't seen Arekchik since March. In other news, under the influence of Tilly and the Wall, I signed up for tap dance lessons at Milwaukee's Danceworks. Well, let me amend that. At the age of 12, I saw Sinatra's Pal Joey and became obsessed with the idea of being a showgirl. Unfortunately, in the late 1980s, that area wasn't seeing a lot of what our economist friends call job growth. But now, with the whole neo-burlesque movement, I am happily poised to make those pubescent dreams and fantasies come true. I cannot wait to make like Jo Baker in a fringed skirt!

Last--though, obviously now least, a couple weeks back, I bought my ticket for the November 3 Tori Amos show at the Riverside in Milwaukee. So, there is a blog post to come about that. Maybe there will be a Tori label. That seems fair.

07 August 2007

Spreading Love, Spreading Style

Church of Style is entering an exciting expansion phase! Urk!! Whoops, sorry. I forgot where I was for a minute there. Although it is true that some things are happening that I consider pretty cool and neat. The first thing is that there will soon be a Church of Style button. You heard right! They're not just for bands! My friend and design wunderkind Arek Miaskowski is Quarking away on it as I type. Secondly, and not quite so grandiosely, Church of Style has a myspace page. Um. Sort of. I haven't had a great deal of time in the past month to redesign it--but I totally will soon! And add friends! The url is myspace.com/churchofstyle. Embrace my phenomenon.

01 August 2007

Straight Outta Omaha? or Midwestern Kings and Queens, also known as Tilly and the Wall

Having started a new job last week, I was unable to turn this around in time for thedailypage.com in time for Tilly's Milwaukee show. But as we know at Church of Style, when life gives you style--make styleade, dammit! Tilly's interested me for some time, with their cute clothes, off-kilter instrumentation and Midwestern mystique. These answers were supplied by the talented Miss Kianna--to whom I offer many thanks. I hope you're back to 20/20 soon...and say hi to Conor for me. Photo from Tilly's myspace page.

What musicians or artists inspire you?
I am inspired by so much more than music. Life…waking up and living. Quantum physics, evolution, chaos theory, these are the real inspirations. Real honest feelings come out of learning incredible things everyday and experiencing life as it goes.

How would you describe Tilly and the Wall?
A band of harpies, fierce and loyal.

[Some of your band members were inspired to move to Omaha.] Most young folks go,I’m gonna move to New York or L.A. to do my thing! Omaha must be infinitely more affordable, though. What was it like? Though, some of the band members are from Omaha. Do any of you feel committed to the Midwest?
Omaha is a place to be if you have friends and family here. It's a place you can have lots of fun in if you have loved ones to share time with, Otherwise, don't get prepared for too much stimulation.

Do you feel like you're part of a scene or movement?
We are part of a growing group here in Omaha. The artists and weirdos are few but growing. We are proud to be friends with most of those people.

Bands as diverse as yours, Dresden Dolls, Panic! At the Disco, Gogol Bordello and the Ditty Bops, embrace a performative, theatrical element missing from the "average band." And there's an audience, even a hunger, for it. What do you make of that? What, if anything, does it signify?
I have not heard or seen any of those bands. I actually did hear that Panic! At the Disco song a bunch, [b]ut a[m] mostly unfamiliar. BUT we dohave a huge interest in our live show being something fun to watch. More so, we want to break the barrier between us and the crowdwatching us. We want to blend the two into one awesome party.

What do you think of how the media portrays your band? Would you say there are any misconceptions?
I don't know. I don't see any one theme coming across in anything I've read. In the beginning there was a lot of skepticism about the tap-dancing. We don't really care about being misconceived, though. Tapping is just someone's feet hitting the ground. One time or another it must've been taboo to hit animal skins with sticks.

What are you listening to?
I am listening to The Ssion, 2 Live Crew, Times New Viking, and the Folk and Pop Sounds of Sumatra.

24 July 2007

MK Writes Ads Not Tragedies

Well, not quite yet, but she totally will once she can sign on to her computer. Yesterday was MK's first day at the finest department store in the Paris of Wisconsin. Though she has not started writing ad copy, she will go to a meeting tomorrow regarding her first assignment, an ad for Beauty Week. Wouldn't that be a great band name? Or maybe the Beauty Editors? Har har.

During her interview, MK actually talked about this here blog with the fella who's now her boss. Talk about self-conscious self-referencing scensterism! But it is good to be queen...

Who would have thought it? Now Ms. K's mom can say, "My daughter works in advertising." Lo! The years of textile and clothing history do pay off. In other fashion news, Ms. Kansas is trying to connect with Milwaukee fashionette Leslie Vaglica to get herself a pair of non-jeans made. Stay tuned...

In music-and-fashion-just-blur-more-and-more-now-these-days-my-god-what-are-we-coming-to news, MK plans to buy Panic! tees, solving at least part of the ever-present Top Question. She imagines they will go nicely with suspenders and trousers for work. (If Ms. Kansas were 10 years younger she would surely be all about Ryan Ross. Doesn't he resemble the age-appropriate-for-MK Nick Zinner? Is it the hair?)

And in um-yeah-they-dress-kind-of-cool-but-my-deadline-is-kinda-coming-up news, can someone get Tilly and the Wall to holla at a sister?

23 July 2007

Envy Me!

And not because I'm rap's MVP, y'all...Yesterday I went out looking for a pair of pants. I thought it would be a quick and dirty into Starship. Erm, no. You see, while everyone was sleeping the evil retail genies replaced all the pants with pairs of tights that are 34 inches long--no less. Or, at least, that's what it seemed like.

I had wanted to buy the pants last week, but made myself wait. I pictured myself flitting here and there in my grey pants. Woe! Woe! It wasn't meant to be. As I struggled into and shucked off three different pair, I found myself thinking, This would be great if I needed leggings.

Somewhat traumatized, I skittered off to Detour hoping to luck onto something at their big sale. What the hell's going on? Let's just say you shouldn't go near anything made in Sweden if you aren't unbelievably tall, long-legged and skinny.

By this time, I was disgruntled, but I knew which way salvation lay. Envy has not only a shoe selection--including a sweet array of PF Flyers--sure to cause your brain to release endorphins--but also reasonably priced (and cute!) bags, hats, pants and shirts. I scooped up an adorable pair of black lounge pants to meet my yoga instructor's knee- and leg-baring requirement, a striped maxi shirt in one of my sought-after poison yellow-green shades, and a pair of pants my butt doesn't fall out of.

There isn't time to go into my own personal Vans debacle here (caused by my own short-sightedness), but, rest assured, Envy is the place to hook up your sneaks. Everyone you know will be beside themselves with...what else?

09 July 2007

Apartment Beautiful

Yikes! It's nearly mid-July! I wanted to do a post before now, but it's been a very busy two weeks of covering Summerfest, Art v Craft and reviewing Panic! At the Disco.

But here's something I've had in mind for a while that's really relevant this time of year: a handy checklist for finding an apartment. I'm about to move, and my hopes are high that I've found the perfect place. I tend to become somewhat obsessive about where I live. Having lived in New York, I can testify that living in the wrong place can ruin your whole life--let's just leave it at that.

Without further ado, here are the things to remember to look for in your perfect Milwaukee apartment:

Duh. It doesn't matter how cute your Art Deco studio is; if you don't have some place to put your towels, it's going to seriously cramp your style vibe.

Counter space
It's very hard to cook without them.

Quiet neighbors
Sometimes someone has to call the po po. Don't be afraid to be that person.

Quiet street
Unless the sound of semis changing gear is actually part of a desirable lifestyle.

Water pressure
It's easy to be taken in by a charming old-fashioned bathroom, but make sure the water doesn't shoot out of the shower like so many fine needles.

Oh, the delicate balance! It's important to live fairly near the bus stop if the neighborhood gets a little iffy at night. But, the bus stop on your block is probably too noisy.

No pets in the building
I really like animals, but I'm sticking by this one. This is probably a paranoid holdover from having lived in what became a flea circus at one point. Seriously.

No moldering Victorian smell
It's impossible to banish and it probably means something somewhere is structurally unsound or becoming that way.

Apartment's location within building
This affects noise from the street and the all-important natural light factor.

Lots of windows
It's depressing as hell to live in a place with a total of three windows. A good rule is that it should be possible to see outside from all but one room.

Terazzo in the kitchen
No gummy lino! Terazzo is beautiful and you'll feel like a 1920s starlet.

Gas stove
You're not serious about cooking with electricity, are you?

Placement of electrical outlets
This doesn't become apparent until you realize the shelves for your stereo are across the room from the plug-in and you've got a surge protector dangling on the wall.

Light fixtures
Are you going to have to call your lazy building manager every time you need to change a lightbulb because of how high the light fixtures are? Will it be easy to put on a shade or install a new pendant?

How covetously Milwaukee-dwellers eye friends' and neighbors' built-ins. They're sweet reminders of a bygone era of craftsmanship. And very handy. And, honestly, a status symbol.

Move-in deals
Don't be afraid to turn the screws before you move in! For real! Can you get a free month? Can you shave a couple months off so your lease is 9- or 10-month instead of the cumbersome 12? Learn to smell a landlord's desperation.

Onsite laundry
Having to schlep to Soapies is the easy way to become a person who does laundry four times a year.

No manky carpets reeking of cat pee or cigarette smoke
Don't even bother with the carpet cleaning service. The smell won't come out. Ever!

No concrete under wooden floors
I would advise asking about this out and out. It's bad for the joints.

I hope this has been somewhat helpful. Good luck finding your beautiful, amazing new apartment!

21 June 2007

Panic! At Summerfest

Though I'm not a Milwaukee native--or even longtime resident--I have developed genteel distaste for Summerfest. Watery beer for $7? I don't even drink! Though I am looking forward to seeing Panic! At the Disco--the multiplatinum Las Vegas band under the tutelage Fall Out Boy. Their shows apparently bring the old-timey visual appeal and theatrical flavor.

Those boys are in Las Vegas as I type working on a new album, but they're taking time out to come to Summerfest. In its run-up, the band's songwriter Ryan Ross--a Bukowski admirer, no less!--took the time to talk a little bit this afternoon. They'll probably be the saving grace of Summerfest for me. And they know their way around eye makeup. Photo from Big Hassle.

20 June 2007

Jeans Replacement

I have been off jeans since at least late February. I gave them up for Lent, but now my plan is to remain jeans-free until next Easter. In the interview with Alissa Anderson, I asked if she wore jeans--as I always do. Apparently, swearing off jeans is not as radical as one would think. Alissa didn't wear jeans in high school, for example. Melora Creager doesn't wear them at all. Piney Gir puts them on only if it's really, really cold out. In response to the question about what she wore in real life, Alissa described different pairs of non-jeans she has. My own search for non-jeans this past spring convinced me that it was just soooo hard to find a replacement for jeans.

Au contraire! At the end of May, I went to a jiu jitsu class and--ethnic trouser alert!-realized the students wore these really snappy traditonal Japanese trousers hakama. They're very full-legged and graceful. I could imagine wearing them to the office or out for the evening.

Alissa was a great reminder that patience with non-jeans is the key; pretty soon it will be corduroy season. Also, Alissa hipped me to TINC, the line by San Francisco designer Savannah Knoop.

I like the trousers Savannah makes, especially the Malandro, for their original silhouettes. I also still like the idea of having a uniform--something I can just put on if I'm not having any brilliant ideas that day and just feel comfortable and pulled together--and the dark TINC trousers are an excellent anchor, I think. Photo of aforementioned trouser courtesy of Savannah Knoop. Check out Savannah's wares at her website. Click here.

09 June 2007

Love Beads

I went to a preview of the Bead & Button Show at Midwest Airlines Center on Thursday evening for a piece I was writing for thedailypage.com. Go to the Bead & Button Show! It's absolutely amazing and inspiring. I wanted to convey that in the story I did for the Isthmus, but it took me a long time because I didn't want to come off as inspirational and cheesy. The show is the biggest bead show in the country. I think I'm going back to buy beads from Lillypilly Designs to make earrings. People come from other countries to buy beads and take workshops and classes offered. I think "Your top is cute!" must be cmprehensible in any language. It's genuinely amazing to see what comes out of other people's minds and hands--and that's the best part.

05 June 2007

Lovely Times

Grey and red
Pleasingly disarming when worn together! MK has a Tulle--she thinks--sweater that looks like it was copied from a 1930s or 1940s original with its styling (e.g. self-covered buttons, slight pouf at the top of the armhole), almost-delicate gauge and lilac grey and boisterous red colorway. She also pairs a vintage wool coat with a grey wool "old man cap" to get a fix of this combination.

Of course, this also applies to bicycling, but MK does not have a bike--and thinks only of the outlay of money required to get oneself in proper bicycling mode. At any rate, begs the question: exercise, transportation or quality time? All three! Wear Danskos or Earth Shoes for a cute bluestocking look.

To wear a boot, or not to wear a boot: the question is "How?"
MK loves the look of her tan cords with a pair of vintage Frye boots she found at an Iowa City yard sale. It's an unbelievably comfortable chic look--as right as boots and khakis are irrevocably, tragically wrong.

Brown or white glasses
Ms. Kansas is saying once more: "Enough already." Actually, she had this conversation with an ex-boyfriend this past weekend. Stop the black glasses. The lady in HR has a pair, ok? They're completely over. Freshen up your face with a brown or white frame instead. If you're at all dark, this will be a gorgeously striking look.

The Low Countries
Well, yes, Ms. K did pick a pair of new glasses recently. And, yes, they're brown. The most interesting candidates were from Belgium and the Netherlands. (She picked the Belgian pair. She admits to overweening smugness over this fact.) Margiela, Koolhaas, de Stijl--honey, what are you waiting for?

Tote bags
Let's pull back from the big, bloaty bags, shall we? It's understandable that so many women lost their heads. Tote bags--from the museum, from a conference, from Lands' End--are cute and pluckily utilitarian. Throw your stuff in and you look effortlessly pulled together.

02 June 2007

Interview: Alissa Anderson

Alissa Anderson is many things to many people: m i t t e n m a k e r creatrix, Vetiver cellist, style icon, friend of Joanna Newsom, supporter of fellow indie designers, thrifting goddess. The Massachusetts native-turned-SF-dweller fit the Church into her very busy schedule, which includes touring Europe. Many thanks to Alissa for the thought-provoking answers. Photo by Virginia Morrow.

Q. What led you to move m i t t e n m a k e r away from t-shirts?
When I started reconstructing t-shirts it was because I appreciated the graphics and fabric and wanted to just make them fit better. I initially made them for myself but got so many comments on them that I started making more. There's an infinite amount of t-shirts in the world, and many of them are quite large so there is always more than enough fabric to work with. The first shop that carried m i t t e n m a k e r was Wednesday & Proud, a boutique in Hayes Valley in San Francisco run by Marisa Meltzer, who later wrote the piece for Venus. They sold very quickly so I made more and found a few other shops in San Francisco to carry them. Very soon afterwards, I started seeing "reconstructed t-shirts" appearing in Urban Outfitters! So I moved on out of a combination of not feeling that what I was doing was really necessary anymore and wanting to challenge myself with different materials. That's when I began making jackets out of vintage tweed blazers, wallets out of tennis racket covers, jewelry, etc.

Q. How would you describe your style?
I have always approached my personal style with a sense of humor and creativity. The question of "what to wear" is what everybody must answer every day, so why not have fun with it? Personally, I am drawn to things that are interesting or unusual in some way. Sometimes I think, What will the theme be today? By "theme" I mean a combination of the many things that are running through my mind at the moment to create my outfit. My style has definitely changed (dare I say "matured") over the past few years, as I have been making a more conscious effort to wear things that are more flattering and not just weird. Because of my coloring (I have red hair and slightly olive skin), I have taken to wearing a lot of "autumn" colors like various shades of brown, off-white, and gray, with splashes of bright colors.

Q. How has your band and/or playing with your band influenced your personal style?
When I performed in orchestra and marching band in high school, we had dress codes and uniforms to draw attention away from the individual, so when I started playing with Vetiver it was quite liberating to perform while maintaining a sense of individuality. Although I don't think playing in a band has influenced my everyday style at all, playing the cello definitely determines what I wear onstage. There is something about playing the cello that is rather formal and feminine to me, and for a long time I felt that I just had to wear a skirt or dress when I played. Wearing pants just seemed...weird. So I had to find skirts and dresses that were open enough at the bottom for me to play in. Lately I am more open to wearing pants while playing, especially if I don't want to seem "overdressed" compared to the other musicians. As far as makeup goes, I definitely need to wear at least lipstick if I'm performing.
Providing that color and contrast not only makes you look better under the stage lights but it makes me feel more like I am giving a performance. I grew up feeling like sort of a clueless tomboy when it came to wearing makeup, but since I have gotten better at it with practice (because of performing) I do tend to wear it more than I used to. Finally, since touring is a reality, I only take on tour with me things that pack well and I try to be as minimal as possible so I have less stuff to carry. Recently I went on tour with Two Gallants and tried to bring as little as I could and made sure it all "matched," in that I wanted to be able to wear anything I brought with anything else. That worked out great and was a fun challenge.

Q. Do you feel like an icon (after being featured in Venus Zine?)
Definitely not! Especially since my friends who have also been named "Venus Style Icons" like Paz Lenchantin, Bobby Birdman, and Jona Bechtolt, are all basically super down-to-earth people who just naturally have a great sense of style without making a ton of effort. It's flattering to be recognized for something like "style" that is so innate to one's personality, but there are certainly tons of people out there who have way more fantastic style but are just not in the public eye because they're in a band or whatever.

Q. Please describe the perfect outfit.
The perfect outfit is the perfect combination of sexy, creative, and comfortable. If I'm not physically comfortable I don't feel good about myself—I am constantly distracted. If I am comfortable then I certainly feel more confident.

Q. What are you currently listening to?
The sound of cars driving by on 6th Avenue and Andy making a "New Age mix" in the living room.

Q. Do you wear jeans?
Funny you should ask! I used to be vehemently opposed to wearing jeans in high school. I don't believe I even owned a pair. I dressed pretty rebelliously, much more extreme than I do now. I was so against looking "normal" and jeans represented the epitome of normal, boring, and unimaginative. Nowadays I am much more open-minded and own a couple of pairs, but I still feel like there are just so many more interesting things to wear in the world. I would say I wear jeans maybe once every month or two. I do own a pair of what I would call "denim pants" made by my friend Savannah Knoop of TINC. They're inspired by jodhpurs and I love them to pieces, but I don't really consider them "jeans". They're what I was wearing in the Venus feature.

Q. What labels or designers do you admire?
After recently seeing the Vivienne Westwood exhibit at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco (which I highly recommend), I was totally blown away. The punk stuff Westwood and Malcom McLaren basically invented in 1971 still looks totally amazing, especially in person, and her more formal, tailored, yet extremely avant-garde pieces are basically the epitome of "haute couture." It's ridiculous how ahead of her time she was—and still is. I admire that she adheres to her vision so resolutely and insists that most modern clothing is ugly and mediocre—because it is.
Also, and more importantly, my friends and colleagues in both the music and design worlds are infinitely inspiring to me. Knowing the story behind a song or item of clothing attracts me more to it and makes me appreciate it more.
I feel very fortunate to be part of a community of independent designers who are mostly self-taught artists with very different personal styles. Locally, I am inspired by the androgyny of TINC, the elegant cuteness of Minnie Wilde and Paala, and the romantic idealism of Venus Superstar—all designers I consider friends. My people are those who design because they have an artistic need to create something they feel is not in the world yet—even though many of them can barely afford to.

Q. How would you describe the fashion scene in SF?
Honestly, I can't really describe the entire "SF fashion scene" because it is made up of so many different kinds of groups, from Marina society types to Noe Valley moms to Castro queens—but there are definitely a few themes I've noticed. Compared to other cities, San Franciscans definitely dress more casually, in general. You don't see a lot of suits and ties and stilettos, that's for sure!
Current SF "hipster" fashion is extremely inspired by bike messenger culture, and also just by biking in general since that's how a lot of people get around. So many kids have stripped-down track bikes (I like to call them fashion bikes), tight pants, and messenger-style bags they wear high and tight on their backs. Sometimes it's impossible to tell hipsters from bike messengers, which I think is hilarious.
Also, 90's warehouse-party culture (and Burning Man) unfortunately still play a large role in the underground fashion scene. If I see one more outfit that consists of fake fur hot pants, platform boots, day-glo dreads, goggles, and some serged-on-the-outside, extra long- sleeved but belly-baring, reconstructed hooded sweater I am going to throw up.

Q. What do you wear in "real life?" For example, what have you worn in the past two days?
My new favorite "everyday pants" are these awesome, brown, soft, fuzzy pants I got at the Salvation Army in Sacramento for $6. They're some random brand I've never heard of, but they're super comfortable and make my ass look awesome. They are basically 5-pocket jeans style and slightly bootcut, but not denim. I've also been wearing these brown paisley Juicy Couture stretch corduroy pants that I got at a clothing swap. They lace up at the top with leather and they used to be bell bottoms, but I took them in so they're narrower. They sound really weird, but I love them! On top I usually layer some soft, thin shirts together, usually combinations of gray, off-white, gold, etc., and often stuff I've made or altered in some way. SF has been pretty cold lately, so jackets are a must. I have a lot of interesting jackets, but my trusty friend is my dark brown hooded leather jacket I wear when I ride my scooter. I got it at my friend Elissa's store Calico in New Bedford, Mass. It's super tight and goes with just about everything. If I'm riding my scooter I pretty much have to wear boots, but if I'm walking around my neighborhood I tend to wear flats. I wear the same earrings everyday (ones I made), a silver turquoise ring that used to be my mom's, and switch my necklaces around depending on the outfit. A current favorite is my leather one by my talented friend Amy of Daughter of the Sun. It never fails to attract many compliments!

Q. What are your other creative projects?
I just got back from Europe playing cello for a Two Gallants acoustic tour, which was a lot of fun. Before I left I took some band photos for a relatively new band called Port O'Brien, which are some of my favorite portraits I have ever taken! I have always taken photos in some capacity and can't imagine a time when I wouldn't. Also, I have become much more domestic in the past few years and really enjoy gardening and cooking, which I feel are creative activities but also really relaxing.

Q. Do you ever dress theatrically? (That is, to make an artistic impact to the utter disregard of comfort.)
Dressing "theatrically" shouldn't necessarily mean being uncomfortable! I certainly don't dress as extreme as I used to, although I should more. Thanks for reminding me! Maybe I'll bust out that wig soon...

Q. Are you still into spats?
I really like the look of spats, but honestly I hardly ever wear them because I only wear them with heels—and I don't wear heels very often. I have one pair of white canvas Army spats that are pretty cool. This shoe designer in San Francisco, Paolo, makes these beautiful leather ones in all different colors, but I have yet to splurge on them. They are definitely an underappreciated accessory that automatically makes any outfit more interesting. They can turn any heels into boots!

Q. Please describe your favorite items from your wardrobe.
Here are a few things I love:
*vintage Marshall Field’s dress from Painted Bird worn with brown velvet
reconstructed m i t t e n m a k e r jacket;
*Miss Velvet Cream dress made out of beige grosgrain ribbon, worn with Daughter of the Sun leather necklace, m i t t e n m a k e r "pom pom pow wow"
necklace, & a couple more m i t t e n m a k e r necklaces;
*beige Japanese asymmetric blazer from Goodwill on Clement St.

Q. Where do you buy clothing? Do you do retail/malls?
I don't think there is any need to buy "new" clothing, really; there is just so much already in the world. Although I love going to places like H&M and seeing what's currently trendy, I have major moral issues supporting companies that make their clothing in sweatshops in other countries and from virgin materials. I get by just fine finding things at thrift stores, clothing swaps, and estate sales, and by supporting other independent designers. When I have an urge to wear something new many times I just make something out of stuff I already have, which is far more satisfying than spending money. Especially since most of the time I don't have very much! My favorite places to shop in SF are Thrift Town on 17th and Mission and Painted Bird on 24th and Guerrero.

Q. Please describe a moment of style euphoria from your life.
Seeing Elliott Smith in his cute white suit at the Oscars. Precious.

Q. Do you sew "formally?" That is, can you, for example, you read patterns or drape fabric?
Nope! Although I have made a few very basic patterns, I have virtually no formal training, just growing up watching my mom and grandmother. I have often thought about taking some classes but m i t t e n m a k e r has always been more of an experimental project. I kind of enjoy approaching designing with somewhat of an outsider's perspective, although I sure would love to make a pair of pants someday!

Q. What got you into doing m i t t e n m a k e r?
To create what wasn't available from things already in existence.

Q. Do you have any advice for would-be designers?
Be prepared to be poor! Unless you have financial backers or a trust fund, it's a hard road. There are lots of expenses and tons of competition. Start small and be creative with your resources. Experiment with materials that are inexpensive or unusual. Take apart clothing to see how it's made.

Q. Whose style do you admire?
My friend Joanna Newsom. She always looks totally fantastic and sexy and adorable no matter what. I have known her for quite a while and I have never seen her looking remotely sloppy in any way, not even right out of bed on tour! Also, she is quite the fashion forecaster. If you want to know what people will be wearing two years from now, take a look at what she's wearing today. I mean, shit, those Gunne Sax dresses are now practically known as "Joanna Newsom dresses," which I know really pisses her off!

26 May 2007

Icelanders Are Just That Way, I Think, Pt. 2

3. Having been told by guys at the ticket window there would be no coat check for the show, I take my backpack to the hostel half a block away. A Colombian girl there with a Swedish girl who's actually lived in Milwaukee told me the hostel checks bags for a mere $2. I change into my trusty black party dress, brown tights and rust-colored suede Natural Comfort platforms, in the grotty hostel bathroom. I top it all with the manky cement-colored suede jacket for a perfectly raffish, perfectly adorable combination.

4. Finally, finally they let us in! Even though I have an "orchestra seat," it still sort of sucks.

5. Björk's countrymen Ghostdigital--which they pronounce with a hard "g"--including fellow ex-Sugarcube Einar Örn, are the opening act. The first song Örn dedicates to glaciers, which seems appropriate. Their music is electronoise that was not danceable. To me, music is for dancing. They had the volume up very loud, preventing a thoughtful critique of their work. Many audience members hied themselves to the lobby against the considerable onslaught. The production designer, it seems, was given free reign of the strobe lighting effects. Icelanders, I surmised, are just that way.

6. This set list was provided to me by Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune:

Cover Me
Earth Intruders
Venus As A Boy
It's Not Up to You
All is Full of Love
Pagan Poetry
Pleasure is All Mine
Army of Me
Hyperballad(LFO "Freak" outro)

Declare Independence

The gigography section of bjork.com lists it thus:

01. Cover Me
02. Earth Intruders
03. Venus As A Boy
04. Aurora
05. Unison
06. All Is Full Of Love
07. Immature
08. Pleasure Is All Mine
09. It's Not Up To You
10. Pagan Poetry
11. Army Of Me
12. Innocence
13. Bachelorette
14. Wanderlust
15. Hyperballad
16. Pluto

17. Oceania
18. Declare Independence

7. "Cover Me" was the intro, and I thought, I cannot believe it. In a few moments I will be looking at Björk. I will be in the same "room" with her.
When the lady appeared the audience obviously surged to its feet and cheered. The next song was from the new album ("Earth Intruders"), so I didn't know it. Next a stripped down version of "Venus As A Boy."
I could not believe Björk performed "All Is Full of Love." I had goosebumps. She did a version that is on the Greatest Hits disc, including very interesting and effective trombone slides in the last part. This song is special to me because it's so unbelievably compassionate. In 2003, I was working in the Periodicals Department of the University of Iowa Main Library. To combat eye-crossing boredom, I listened to music through headphones at my computer, including Homogenic. There are other very compassionate songs on that album, including "All Neon Like," which includes the lyrics: "Don't get angry with yourself," and "I'll heal you." Quite interesting from a lady who seems very no-nonsense and, well, a bit unsympathetic compared to say, Tori Amos, the Great and Compassionate Earth Mother/Goddess. A year later, I was visiting a friend before she left for Argentina. We were staying with this couple we knew through Iowans For Peace. Consequently, they had an excellent sound system. The morning after I arrived they were playing music they'd downloaded onto their computer through those very fine speakers, including Telegram and Homogenic. This is the first time I heard the version of "All Is Full of Love" that appears on Greatest Hits.
So, I got a few tears in my eyes. Later Björk also sang "Pagan Poetry," which I've always found a very beautiful love song. More tears coming to my eyes necessitate the use of manky jacket sleeve as hanky. Omigod, I thought, my favorite songs! If the set had also included "It's In Our Hands" I would have surely had some sort of collapse right there.
Of course, a Björk show is no fun if you can't dance. The effects, including the pyro during "Army of Me," absolutely enhanced the experience. I was jumping around, waving my arms and singing along. (To people who complain, "I didn't pay to hear you sing!" 1. Since I'm not miked or amped and Björk is, I think you're not going to hear me, ok? 2. Shove it.) It was a bit disappointing that, from what I could see, most people weren't dancing like their lives depended on it--or at all. The best part came toward the show's end during "Hyperballad" and "Pluto." By then I was sweat-damp and breathless. It was like a present, really--the best club experience a person could ever hope for--Björk was right there, and the beats were excellent. Also during my tenure at the library, I had listened to "Pluto" thinking, This is a club anthem waiting to happen. By that point, there was little else to do but jump up and down to the beat and fling my arms around. Thank god the floor was wooden.

8. For the encore, Björk performed "Oceania" and "Declare Independence." The second song was perfect for pogo-ing, and that's what I did. The audience clapped along to the 1/2 beat. I thought she was doing a cover of some punk band because of the lyrics "Raise your flag" and "Don't let them do that to you!"
Björk said only "Thank you," and "Thank you very much." Though she did introduce the band much later. Everyone seemed to find it charming that she curtsied. I wrote in my journal the next day: "Her speaking voice is more whimsical and lilting than I thought it would be--or more so than it's sounded on recorded media." She has touring with her very talented Icelandic brass players--women--who looked as if they were enjoying themselves very much. They also sang. Oh, good, I thought. It must be nice for her to have other Icelandic speakers around.

9. In a dream last Saturday morning, I was explaining that Icelandic is a Germanic language and not so scary as I'd once thought. Remarkably like German, it has the same four cases. (And the same declensions for gender and number--and the same three articles--masc, fem, neuter--I think. This info is all from the Wikipedia entry on the Icelandic language.) In the past, I had imagined it was a ferocious language with 15 or so cases like Russian or Polish. I also noticed that Icelanders pronounced "Björk" to rhyme with the English word "work."

10. Photo from bjork.com.

18 May 2007

Icelanders Are Just That Way, I Think, Pt. 1

1. Last week I was preparing for the Björk show in Chicago. I was in my neighborhood library doing some emailing. A woman sat down next to me. When I glanced at the book she had, I saw it was one I had previously read: Silence of the Grave by the Icelandic writer Arnaldur Indridason. So, I said: "I read that. It's a good book. It takes place in Iceland." It turns out this woman had been to Iceland before and written about it previously. So, we started talking about Iceland. She, of course, encouraged me to go. A few moments ago I was checking job listings at University of Wisconsin. I could not prevent myself from clicking on the listing for Lecturer in Scandinavian Studies out of curiosity. Oh, ha ha, I thought, perhaps they are looking for a teacher of Icelandic. (It's well known that virtually the only place in the US to learn Icelandic is the University of Minnesota.) Scandinavian Studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison is looking for a teacher of Icelandic, Finnish, or Scandinavian Literature. The coincidences were too great to be ignored.

2. Actually, just as I was writing this (here in the same library), the same lady I saw last week sat down by me.

11 May 2007

The Ponys, Chicago, etc.

Brown is the new black, or at least, I'm thinking so as far as eyeglasses are concerned. Brown warms a face up a bit more than black does. Let's try that for a few years--or white.

On the eve of Björk show, still don't know what to wear. Perhaps rust-colored wedges and purplish 1940s vintage dress. Though I am tempted just to wear my standby black dress. Listened to Drawing Restraint 9 soundtrack and Gorecki in the past couple days.

The interview with Vetiver's cellist will go up a bit later than I thought because she is travelling around right now. However, check out piece I wrote about the Ponys/Milwaukee's Riverwest by clicking on the headline.

03 May 2007

Keeping It Creative

Spring is like nature putting on her prettiest dress. Though, in Milwaukee it's still rather cool. Earlier today I chatted with the lead singer from the Chicago band the Ponys and walked around Riverwest for a story I just finished for the Madison weekly, Isthmus. Yesterday afternoon I got out my sketch book and actually did some drawing. Otherwise, it has been a not-so-great week. I wore a pair of boots today hoping it would make my back hurt less. (Yes, there is a logic in that, thank you very much.) Though, it does make me feel somewhat better to know that I will have an interview with Vetiver cellist Alissa Anderson to post in the near future. Keep it real, kids. Keep it creative.

22 April 2007

Hair Peace: Black Hair Is...Black Hair Ain't

MK has noticed that she keeps on writing about hair--particularly Black women's hair. So, she's decided to roll out a series about this sorely neglected topic that she will whimsically call "Black Hair Is/Black Hair Ain't."

A few notes: when Ms. K refers to that institution, "Black hair," she refers specifically to the kinky, coil-y kind. Yes, Black hair is an institution housing a multiplicity of types--curly, wavy and even the more-or-less straight. But because Ms. K has more-or-less kinky Black hair--thus, this it is the area of her 30+-year expertise--this is what she shall be discussing. Also, Ms. Kansas will admit right now her bias against wigs, weaves, extensions and all manner of follicular duplicity. Having said that, she must duly admit this bias is predicated upon the fact that her own hair grows rather quickly. And if it's not glaringly apparent from previous posts, Ms. K will have no truck whatsoever with chemicals that change Black hair's molecular structure on the grounds that such chemicals are exceedingly harmful and dangerous. As MK has said before: hair is like a gay man. If it's not that way to begin with, don't destroy it trying to make it straight. So, having parsed all this out, gentle reader, know that even if one does not necessarily agree with MK's hair homilies, she may still have something to offer.

21 April 2007

Put Your Hair Up!

How to say this? Yes, MK has certainly previously weighed in in favor of coiffure qua coiffure. In the past few weeks, though, she could not shake the feeling that women's hair worn down is over. Yes, over.

Oh, sometimes MK makes pronouncements that seem a bit out there. But certainly that's the price one pays for being ahead. For synthesizing history and zeitgeist to see what no one else can see. Sometimes one sounds a bit out there, yes. But then 6 months to 2 years later, one finds--lo! and behold--that one's "kooky" preferences or predictions are "in the air" as received wisdom. Go fucking figure!

And so, she says to you: ladies, please put your hair up. Braid it, knot it, twist it. Do something messy and adorable and secure it with an old hatpin. (Just mind those ends, kittens. Those things can be sharp.) Do you see that?! Such a style secret of near-incomprehensible genius she's just given away!! But, hell, if it improves the appearance of the general population Ms. K considers it no less than what civic engagement demands of her.

As she was saying, ladies: hair up. If one's hair is too short to go up, please proceed as one of those 1920s bobbed ladies. In fact, MK is currently growing out her hair for the express purposes of braids and bobby pins.

Why should one wear one's hair up, one may well ask. Among African-American women, Ms. Kansas thinks it's no secret that wearing hair "down" has wrought unimaginable havoc on scalps across the country--if not the world--due to the effects of chemical straightening, whose ghastly results really cannot be exaggerated. It's time to stop the insanity. Look around. It's very common these days for Black men to have longer, more abundant hair than Black women. Why is that? Because Black men, in general, don't pursue straight hair that "hangs down." The natural state is ok for them. Note bene: MK is not pushing long hair as the norm. Only: if one wears one's hair short it should be by choice, not de facto.

Secondly, hair worn loose is a tad on the grody side. Loose, unbound hairs are more likely to stray into food or unwelcoming mouths.

Last of all, hair is power no matter one's gender. That's why balding men get so het up. This is why drag queens wear the most enormous wigs. In the old days, women wore their hair down only in private--like when they were getting ready for bed. In the movie Titanic, Kate Winslet's character Rose wears her hair down. All the other ladies have their hair up. This cues the audience in to the fact that Rose is different, rebellious. She is suffocating in her surroundings, etc. This is all apparent just from what's going on with a head of hair. Now then, as MK was saying: borrow a page from that old book. Or part of a page. Think about it: what could be more erotic than taking down one's hair for a lover?

20 April 2007


Not to sound like a hyperventilating, overemotional teenage fag hag, but: OMKG, a Björk album and a Tori Amos album--both out the same month. Somewhere in the afterworld Kevyn Aucoin is surely getting verklempt. The artwork looks fab, and Ms. Kansas read that Tori goes back to the harpsicord for the first time in more than 10 years. Where's MK's inhaler? Photo nabbed from www.toriamos.com.

17 April 2007

Sweaters, Gems, Gold Pants

Anyone with even a nodding acquaintance with her work will be not at all surprised that Leslie Hall is an all caps kinda gal. The Lady of Gem Sweaters of Awesome and Solemn Beauty and Power is also a gold pants-wearing art dynamo. The School of the Museum of Fine Arts alumna makes videos, curates the Mobile Museum of Gem Sweaters (MMoGS), and tours with her band Leslie and the Ly's. But wait--there's DIY cred! The L & L album is self-released. They've done all their own booking and publicity for their country-crossing tour. And Leslie, unsurprisingly, is a rampant crafter. This very busy Gem Sweater Lady and Ames, IA, native gave the Church some of her time via email. Photo from www.lesliehall.com.

Q. Who and what inspires you?
Elvira, Ginger Spice, the chubby Ricki Lake years, and dill pickle potato chips.

Q. How did you get into gem sweaters?
I just couldn't walk away from such detailed craftsmanship in a single sweater garment for $3.99. I became obsessed and passionate about the beauty and orphan-like qualities of a thrift-store sweater.

Q. Do you have a cat?
YES. He's a stray and I named him Turtle. He's neutered.

Q. What do you wear as you go about your "everyday life?"
To disappoint and to be honest I dress as a sloppy art school student. And I wear a lot of our band merchandise because it’s on a really soft shirt that feels good on my body. Stiff cheap t shirts are a thing of the past to me.

Q. Is there a fashion figure in history you identify with? Do you havean idol from history?
Wow. Fashion history idols? I've never been asked that!

Q. Do you wear jeans?
Yes, but not those low-ride jeans EVERY store seems to only carry. I like'em MOM-style. HIGH on the hips keeps everything I got LOCKED in. And deep pockets to carry spare change, cell phone and car keys.

Q. Does costuming (in its performative aspect) inform your music/songwriting?
Well, trust me: if I'm in a gold suit draped in 36 inch long fringe I will do a lot of reaches and grand waves. If I'm in a gold suit with a puffy power vest I'm gonna do a lot of shoulder pops and laser launches.

Q. Are you much into the New York fashion scene?

Q. Did you grow up sewing? Were you in 4-H? Which town did you grow up in?
I just pick up sewing on my own for fun. I sewed 24/7 in high school. I made a lot of wallets, some vests, and purses. I really think i would have liked 4-H. The competition. EVERYTHING!

Q. Do you knit, crochet, sew or otherwise "craft?"
I AM A CRAFTER. Hot glue, jewel it, tape, plaster: I love it all. I am a craftaholic. At any moment in time I could have 10 projects going.

Q. Do you thrift?
OH, HONEY thrift is a golden song I sing. It’s right next to the grocery store. I pop in, check things out. Then off to the produce section. Ames, Iowa, is a wonderful place for my kind of people. Hunters of the fine recycled love items.

Q. What do you listen to?
Country music is my 100 percent fave right now. Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood. LOVE LOVE LOVE it. I sing along. I cry for sad songs. OH, don't get me started. YES, I LOVE IT.

Q. Do you have a "day job?"

Q. Will you be touring to promote your album?
YES! Check out my website www.leslieandthelys.com. I have all my tour dates. We are coming to every village and town to promote gem sweater rescuing and gold pants lady jams. HOLLA!

07 April 2007

Interview: Melora Creager

Behold! the Incomparable Melora Creager of Rasputina. Cellist extraordinaire, artist, mommy, former designer, muse and Kansas native. Now living in New York, she was nice enough to talk to the Church about her style and what goes on in her one-of-a-kind mind. Photo from www.rasputina.com.

Q. Who and what inspires you?
For visuals: movies from the 1930s, collagist Henry Darger, Native Americans. For music: Michael Nyman, Nina Hagen, Leadbelly. These are just a few examples.

Q. When you started your band, did you have the performative historical aspect in mind—or just playing the cello? Did your pre-existing sensibility inform what became Rasputina?
I wrote a manifesto to start the band. I had theories about girls who played the cello—that they (we) would have to be prim in a way, having studied such a thing since childhood. There are so many movies with a scene where a whole lot of girls are in a big bedroom in their corsets and bloomers (Gone with the Wind, Oklahoma, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, etc.) I wanted to make a cello rock band of that scene.Yes, it's what I think looks good. I'm using my personal aesthetic. It has changed and expanded over time. Rather than a "Victorian thing," we now dress to embody something vaguer and more iconic: cowboys and
Indians, medieval Maori swashbucklers.

Q. Do you have a cat?
No, I'm not much for cats.

Q. What do you wear as you go about your "everyday life?"
I'm an every-season layerer. I've been big into leg-warmers and skirts over pants this winter. Marilyn Manson taught me about the pantyhose t-shirt, which is a Rasputina costume staple that I wear in everyday life.

Q. Is there a fashion figure in history you identify with? Do you have an idol from history?
No one person—I mix it all up. The costumes from the original Rite of Spring—I’ve always wanted to imitate that, but it's hard to find pictures of.

Q. Do you wear jeans?

Q. What contemporary or past designer's work do you like?
Designer James Coviello is my best friend. I am his muse, but he won't admit it. I wear his clothes all the time. I like Vivienne Westwood a lot. I have a lot of designer clothes from a job I had long ago, and I still wear those—Ghost, York & Cole. I carry a crazy Dior bag with spikes and buttons.

Q. Does costuming (in its performative aspect) inform your music/songwriting?
My songwriting is very visual, but not about clothes. I've stopped wearing a corset so much because I just want to sing at my best.

Q. Are you much into the New York fashion scene?
I used to be when I was a jewelry designer for Ericson Beamon. Not anymore. I just go to James' shows and Anna Sui.

Q. Did you grow up sewing? Were you in 4-H? Which town did you grow up in?
Yes, I used to do a lot of crafty sewing as a kid. My mom helped me. I made a purse out of jeans butt, you know? I wasn't in 4-H. I was too "town" for that. I'm from Emporia.

Q. Do you knit, crochet, sew or otherwise "craft?"
My daughter goes to a Waldorf school, where the handwork is most important. So I just learned to crochet so I could help her. I can't stop doing it! That's why it's taken so long for my new record to come out. I only want to crochet!

Q. Do you do work in other media—like visual art?
I fancy myself an artist, and believe that an artist can work with anything. I draw, paint, work in the computer. I make dioramas, silhouettes and felted pictures.

Q. What do you listen to?
Right now, Robin Williamson (from the Incredible String Band), Hildegard von Bingen, The Smiths and brain entrainment tapes.

03 April 2007

A Girl Like I

Yes, kittens, Ms. Kansas is Courtney Becks! But of course! Here are some things to look forward to this week: the eventual posting of the Church of Style interview with Rasputina's Melora Creager. Yep, she's a Kansas girl, too. That'll happen later this week. Another MK Is Feeling. This week's installment about my style week will include shopping for glasses, among other things, and a word about Gem Sweater Lady No. 1 Leslie Hall.

Last week I did go soak up the Classic Movie at the Charles Allis Art Museum, refusing to let dank weather hold me down. And a treat it was! First of all, it's in a, like, mansion. Though Three Smart Girls Grow Up did suffer from a flimsy plot, one element was very surprising in that, decades ahead of its time, it addressed the issue of the deletorious effect of fathers working too much. Of course, the reason for the overwork is to give the family "things," which offer cold comfort if one's parent is a stranger.

Anyway, the costumes were insanely beautiful. There was just too much to take in! The sleeves! The drape! The shoulders! And so beautifully wrought!! Interestingly, this film solved a lifelong conundrum. As a girl, I watched Destry Rides Again one Sunday afternoon. I was just a child, but I copied down the name of the Costume Designer in a notebook when the credits rolled. I could never find out anything about "Vbra West." When I asked Dale E. Kuntz who the designer was for Three Smart Girls Grow Up, he said: "Vera West." As a person who's always thought in pages and words, it clicked instantly: it had been a penmanship mistake.

01 April 2007

Interview: Piney Gir

Hmm. What can one say about Piney Gir? She's a Kansan-turned-Londoner? She plays a mean accordian? She is No. 1 Thrift Store Fashionette? Here, lovely and amazing Piney was nice enough to talk to Ms. Kansas about her unique style. Photo from pineygir.com.

Q. Who and what inspires you?
Life and living!

Q. What town in Kansas are you from? Did you spend significant growing-up years there?
Kansas City. Pretty much my whole life, apart from the farm in Wisconsin for a year and that town outside Seattle where Twin Peaks was filmed for a couple of years.

Q. Do you have a cat?
No, I don't like cats—achoo! I LOVE DOGS THOUGH! But I am not home enough to care for a doggie they are pretty high maintenance pets.

Q. What do you wear as you go about your "everyday life?"
Dresses, every day.

Q. Is there a fashion figure in history you identify with? Audrey Hepburn, Doris Day, my Grandmother.Do you have an idol from history? Well Hildegard Von Bingham was pretty cool. I love Dolly Parton but she's still alive. She's a legend though.

Q. Do you wear jeans?
Only if it's really really, really cold.

Q. What contemporary or past designer's work do you like?
I'm into vintage clothes, but I don't champion a designer as such; I get excited by whatever I find. The thrill of the hunt is all part of the fun of wearing something. I can't afford to be into Chanel or Prada, and the treasures I find in vintage boutiques are one of a kind!

Q. Does costuming (in its performative aspect) inform your music/songwriting? Costuming does affect the Piney persona, but the songwriting happens very much inside my head and has nothing to do with anything else really.

Q. Are you much into the London fashion scene?
I did take some evening courses in fashion at St. Martin's School Of Art And Design and have been to a few parties and shows during Fashion Week, but I'm not a designer myself (unless customising things counts as designing).

Q. Did you grow up sewing? Were you in 4-H?
My Grandmother was an amazing seamstress and she taught me a lot. We used to get lost in her basement, design dresses and make them together, that was fun... We started doing that when I was really young like 4 or 5. 4-H was never my scene. I tried to be a Girl Scout, but they seemed more concerned with learning how to moonwalk than making crafts or walking around in nature, and that was the stuff I wanted to do.

Q. Do you knit, crochet, sew or otherwise "craft?"
I have just learned to knit. Galia from Psapp taught me how in the tour van, [but] I'm not very good (yet). I do love to needlepoint! It's so calming. You can't think about anything else; it's like meditation. I like to stitch unlikely things, like a hot dog on a tie or a pin up girl on an apron. I also like to make sock puppets.

Q. What do you listen to?
I love all kinds of music, but lately I've gotten into old stuff like Dolly Parton [and] Johnny Cash. I have just discovered the Rolling Stones. As new stuff goes, I am liking that Beirut album, and The Hidden Cameras are GREAT. Psapp is amazing as well. I just like good music whatever it is!

Q. Has being from Kansas affected your aesthetic?
I don't think being form Kansas has affected my style much [cuz] there are all kinds of people in Kansas City. But I do think my Grandma has affected my style. She looked like a Hollywood starlet, but she was a simple country girl. She had the most amazing dresses and a lot of them she handed down to me (we are the same size!) Even at a young age I wanted a 50s frock, not a new store-bought dress. I credit Grandma Margie for that.

Q. What do your boots look like?
Ummm... Which pair? Right now I'm wearing a pair of cowboy boots: brown with black toe tips and black flames on the top with red piping.

Q. Do you have any style obsessions or quirks?
Yes, vintage dresses, boots or stilettos, tortoise-shell sunglasses, mismatched earrings, flicky black eyeliner.

30 March 2007


I just bought my Björk ticket for the Chicago show. I really can't believe it. Sure, it relieved me of a great deal of money. But so what? I got this photo from the great lady's myspace page.

28 March 2007

Day In the Life

Ms. Kansas has had a style day that would wreck a woman of lesser stuff: first, a failed attempt to buy a ticket for Björk's Chicago show (MK will have to scrabble around for hers when they go on sale for the Ticketmaster plebeians); then, the discovery that she already has one top with the coveted Adult Onesie neckline; staying warm in pastel wellies; and receiving soon-to-be-posted results of Piney Gir interview.

Oh, but there's more: no matter how cold and rainy it is out today MK will go forward bravely with her plan to take in a classic movie at the Charles Allis Art Museum. She does so love off-the-beaten track events to keep things unique. Dale E. Kuntz curates the series. He's picked Deanna Durbin films for the next few weeks. Popcorn and a gander at the decorative arts holdings! Perfect.

27 March 2007

Also Feeling...

Books Written by Britauthors
One doesn't realize how one's been groping around in the dark until learning the phrase "What in arse?"

Shopping For Winter Coats Right Now
MK chanced upon a beauty this past Friday. Crimson red. Sweet little rounded collar. Leather-trimmed pockets. Perhaps it's living in Wisconsin that creates this consuming mania for having a winter coat that is both drop dead gorge and dead toasty. One is never enough. Oy vey ist mir! MK also has her eye on a slighty manky, but still regal, old fur she saw in a Milwaukee resale store. In it, she has no doubt she would fee like a mysterious deposed duchess fleeing a regime crack-up. Add turqouise eyeshadow, and MK is thinking she'd have a look.

Blotting Papers
Essence magazine's Beauty Editor Miki Taylor was right when she said that powder was unnecessary if one used these. The truth is, MK's maquillage is nothing more than Aveda sunscreen and Burt's Bees rice powder oil-absorbing papers to knock off the resulting mortifying shine. Truth be told, Ms. K ran from a M.A.C counter, tail between legs, the last time she was in her namesake state in a state of unseemly intimidation.

26 March 2007

MK Is Feeling...

Oh, how MK loves spring--as, who does not? Right, kittens? On a totally gorge Milwaukee day, here are some of the things Ms. Kansas is feeling right now:

So flirty! This insouciant little circular flounce makes you glad you have hips. Provides lovely structure for your top, too.

Forever 21
Woo boy! No, MK would not go back to being 21 for anything in this world, let alone forever 21. That is MK's definition of hell, hell, hell, right there. Yes, MK has only ventured into F21 for the first time this month--after years of buzz. She is absolutely jacked on how it's wall-to-wall cute knit tops in there.

Sculptural Heels
MK wouldn't know what to do without the rust-colored suede ones she wore for the first time to a Public Allies shindig this last Friday--believe you her. God forbid, these shoes make her happy. Oy! But isn't it bad luck just to say such a thing! Not chunky, not blocky (see the whizz-band pair YSL has out in all the fashion editorials). But rather they have heft, a definite 3-D presence. Like strapping sculptures to your feet, rather.

MK absolutely cannot get enough of chartreuse. It is her favorite color. In fact, she is enamored with a whole range of poison greens. At the Gallery Night in January, MK strategically sat herself down on a chartreuse Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair at the Little Friends event at Design Within Reach. "Wow," remarked a woman, "you look great sitting in that chair." "I know," replied the red plaid-coated MK, never one to feign modesty. And lately, MK is loving fig. No, not the specious pasty filling of always too-dry Newton repute. But rather fig as fragrance. Thymes has a tart fig leaf and cassis scent that makes MK's mouth water. A welcome palette cleanser in the world of Gucci Envy Fuschia 819. In a whimsical moment, Ms. Kansas decided that if chartreause had a smell, it would be figs.

22 March 2007


Let there be rejoicing! I can't wait for the new Björk album! I didn't know it was coming out until a Tuesday when I was wasting time on the Internet. Am I verklempt? Well, yes, because Björk will be playing a show in Chicago. I've read around, and apparently this album is "commercial" in that she's worked with Timbaland. (Did anyone else find it interesting how he recycled that beat from that almost-10-year-old Aaliyah song for Justin Timberlake? Do I ever have memories of that song! Ah, me...) I'm absolutely looking forward to Volta and the cover art. Flipping through the liner notes--that's the reason iPods make me balky--I realized Björk wears a Hussein Chalayan jacket on the Post album cover. Yep, I nicked the photo from www.bjork.com.

20 March 2007

The D Word

In retrospect, MK’s mother had superb taste in music. (Of course, MK did not realize this until she was in her late 20s.) She remembers that when Marvin Gaye died it was as grim about the house as a fugue. And MK’s mom (Mrs. Oklahoma) was right about The Commodores, though, hopefully, she would disavow their later recordings. Ah, those hopeful days when MO wore trig little hats, shortie gloves with a self-covered button at the wrist, and the odd coat of purple lipstick.

That’s why it’s so odd that MO has had nothing to say about Dreamgirls. Reader, understand that as a tiny girl lisping her lessons at her mama’s knee, MK heard Dreamgirls this and Dreamgirls that. So, the fact that what must surely be a major occasion in MO’s life as a Dreamgirls fan goes unremarked, let alone unheralded, portents ominously, no?

Does MK dare approach the topic—though, however delicately, only to have her hair blown back? Does MO hate Beyoncé? MK is no fan of Ms. Knowles herself and finds it difficult to imagine transferring her money for her enrichment—and what for? To watch a thinly veiled historicization of the way Beyoncé’s daddy did those other girls from Destiny’s Child dirty? Hmm. No thanks.

Is MO a Dreamgirls purist who holds Jennifer Hudson in the iciest contempt as some Effie-come-lately MK must confess that she is to this day unable to distinguish Stephanie Mills from Jennifer Holliday.

Or perhaps MO objects to Jamie Foxx. Golddigger, indeed, fuck you very much. And, really, hasn’t he become a tad overexposed in the past year?

Then again, perhaps MO has old axes to grind with Eddie Murphy—whose old comedy videos taught MK to do a James Brown impression.

Perhaps it is sheer folly to knowingly walk into some sort of Dreamgirls diatribe—yea, bring it down on one’s own head. MK may pluck up her courage—or throw caution to the wind—and put the question to MO. She’ll let you know.

16 March 2007

The Cod

Creative Director Grace Coddington is my heroine at Vogue magazine. To me, she seems like the Glenda the Good Witch, the isle of common sense and humor, in the Oz that is the industry.

I imagine she works hard, loves what she does and--no doubt--enjoys the perks of her world. But I think of her as the thinking woman's editor. In photos I've seen she's not a label victim. The Cod looks ready to get down to business and as if she brooks no foolishness.

I see her cloud of red hair in my mind's eye as she relaxes at home. She sits knitting as she reads a beautifully photographed book about 20th-century Finnish textiles and clothing. The cat drowsing on her feet is undisturbed as she rises to show her partner coiffure master Didier Malige a particularly stunning example. They have a light lunch, then motor over to an event sponsored by the Costume and Textile Collection at a nearby historical society. Afterward--it's a summer weekend--more reading and a walk before bed. The Cod's outfits are comfortable, yet unusual.

Erm, ok, I'm pretty much assuming The Cod is the way I want to be at the full height of my power and maturity. But I wouldn't be surprised if some of it were true.

10 March 2007

So Fresh, So Clean

The fresh and clean I refer to is the design of Selvedge, a journal about textiles--only not stodgy and insufferably boring--or pitiful in that tacky art-to-wear kind of way. The issues are works of art, as one would expect from people passionate about the beauty of textiles. Each issue has a theme. There's something for everyone: "Directed towards an international, discerning audience, [it] covers fine textiles in every context: fine art, interiors, fashion, travel and shopping." The only uncool thing about Selvedge is how sodding expensive it is. "How can a magazine cost $20 dollars?!" I yelped the first time I encountered a copy at the Barnes & Noble on the east side of Madison, WI. Yep, $20. Selvedge is British--and Britmags do cost a bit more. Subscribing, though, is nominally less expensive!

21 February 2007

MK to Jeans: Drop Dead

Ms. K has had this on her mind for several weeks now. She will be the first to sound the alarm. Without preamble: jeans are over. Yes. It was inevitable, really. MK winces at paying more than $50, topping out at $55. In a materialistic moment around the turn of the century, she found herself in Henri Bendel or Barneys heatedly arguing with herself about buying Paper Denim & Cloth cheap for $99. And, honey, these days, the girl finding status jeans for $99 would count herself oh, so lucky. Since 1999 MK and the everyone else have suffered through jeans with sequins, glitter, rhinestones, buttons, beads, faux spray paint, feathers, decals; jeans abraded, scratched, ripped, dipped in acid, attacked with enzymes, aged, boiled, distressed, whiskered; jeans made on special looms in Japan, made to measure; jeans with ridiculous pocket crap, jeans to make booties look bigger, butt-cleavage revealers, jeans to make butts look smaller; skinny jeans, bootcut, low-rise, stovepipe, sexy, flare, bell bottom, elephant leg, palazzo, this fit, that fit--and even the ill-conceived "patchwork" jean. But that's it. This far--and no further. Enough. We need to give jeans a rest.

Of course, MK cannot make a statement so bracingly true as to be hyperbolic without offering readers suggestions. She's not going to tell you to cast off jeans and leave you with a poor, naked bum! As is often the case, let's look to "ethnic" or "folk" costume, kittens. MK once read an interview with Tilda Swinton in which Til mentioned Thai fisherman pants. MK was intrigued. So, there's one option. Flipping through old issues of Fiber Arts, MK noticed an ad for Folkwear's "Japanese Field Clothing." How about so-called harem pants? Or salwars? Churidars are very stylish. Or the southeastern Asian sampot.

For those made queasy by real or perceived post-colonial appropriation, MK says: knickers. No, you dirty bird, not undies--but rather the sartorial expression immediately identified with the 1980s. Culottes. More trou with Reagan-era flavor! Gauchos. Glamorous wide-legged 1930s trousers evocative of Garbo. Even cords in a pinch. The point is: we all need to cleanse the palette a bit and give jeans a much needed rest.

08 February 2007

African Fashion

Well, it seems like Africa is the uncontested It Continent just now. Dare to dispute? Where did Brad and Angelina have their baby? To say nothing of where their latest adoptee came from... Where did Madonna get her new one?? Africa, people, Africa. MK's thinking they were thinking that getting that baby from East Asia is just too white Volvo-driving, too middle-to-upper-middle class, too--let's face it--over. Why, the African baby is just the breath of fresh air the avant-garde needs. And you know how Madonna takes a trend and puts it out for mass acknowledgement. You just watch! African babies are the new navy blue! And you can accessorize your baby and yourself with some gorge Ndebele jewelry! Even if your baby's from Senegal! Don't miss out on being an early adopter--har har!
This didn't happen overnight, though, kiddies. Think Bono and Alexander McCall Smith; think Iman, Liya and Waris; Xuly Bet and Ozwald Boateng; Dior in 1997; think Nancy Cunard and Picasso. Diamonds, for the love of god. Where did you think Van Cleef and Arpels got them from? Connecticut?

27 January 2007

Kinder, Gentler

Ms. Kansas had an insight: style is a team sport--not necessarilty cut-throat competitive. Though it shames her to admit it, MK, in her past lack of enlightenment, had the attitude that she had to outdress every Ugg-booted cow out there (and Uggs are so over the she hasn't mentioned them in years) and rub their nose in it with the aggression of a bodycheck.

No more. Style is a collective endeavor. The rising tide improves the lives of all. One of the ritualized behaviors signalling non-agression among women is the vocalization of admiration of another woman's appearance. It makes both parties feel better. In this beatific frame of mind, MK vows to share her style acumen--though not her secret shopping spots. She hasn't lost her mind...

20 January 2007

Friend of The Little Friends

Ms. Kansas enjoyed some fine gallery hopping indeed--all last night. Fittingly, the Little Friends of Printmaking were ensconced within DWR in the Third Ward for show of their screenprints. MK had the luck to interview the Little Friends of Printmaking--or Melissa and JW Buchanan to those not in the know--for beloved Milwaukee alternarag Undercurrents last fall. Ms. Kansas first heard of them when she was grubbing around on a committee for the Madison Zine Fest in 2005. They are quite the design hotshots, snapping up design awards like the Art Directors Club YoungGuns International Advertising & Design Award as a matter of course, though they are rather too modest to say so. Of course, not all the interesting bits could fit into the story, so Ms. Kansas is here to give you all the goss and backstory. So, it is no small matter of gloating and smugness that Ms. Kansas reports that it was her idea to ask Little Friends to design the issue of Undercurrents in which the cover story about them was published. It turned out beautifully, of course.

First of all, their house is dead stylish. Yummy little 1930s kitchen. Adorable bedroom curtains run up from material they bought at Ikea. Grayed-pastel knick-knackery. Built-ins to sigh for. Really, their place is like being in some hipster lifestyle mag. Oddly, their computer isn't a Mac!! They have two cats. Ms. Kansas remembers the name of only one--Ralph or Ralphie. Thing is, they did everything themselves. The house, which has the classic Milwaukee basement bar, was apparently very much a mess when they moved in.

They both studied print-making at University of Wisconsin-Madison, which is one of the best programs in the country (though Ms. Kansas, having lived in Iowa City for some time and befriended many print-making students there, takes exception to the idea the Madison--which has certainly produced no Lasansky, now, has it?--has been ranked in first place), and stayed on after school. Little Friends as design giant--they were actually a student group at Madison for a while--started when local promoter Jonny Hunter asked them to do a poster for a show. A job opportunity in the Printing and Publishing Lab at Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin lured them here; though, Melissa is actually from Milwaukee. Aside from those responsibilities, LFP does lots of book illustrations and other work for many clients around the world. One of their clients, they confessed, is Clear Channel.

JW and Melissa are so nice that she felt guilty for leaving their house in a paroxysm of house envy.

16 January 2007

Our Lady of Silvery Glamour, Pt. I

Ms. Kansas has been thinking about Louise Brooks a lot lately. Ever since she read that book Silver Screens: A Pictorial History of Milwaukee's Movie Theaters. This morning Louise Brooks was in MK's dream wearing a gorge biscuit-colored 1930s dress and a pair of gloves. She had meant to wait to do this post, but MK has rather always been one to jump the gun.

You see, Ms. Kansas has elected Louise Brooks to be the patron saint of the Church of Style. Well, her actual title is Our Lady of Silvery Glamour, the Queen of Breathtaking Sleekness and Patron of the Church of Style. Blessed be. It is oh! so fitting, really the only thing would do--the only patron saint imaginable. For, bambini, Louise Brooks is the original Ms. Kansas. But, yes! Louise Brooks is from Cherryvale, KS, a town through which Ms. Kansas drove often in the first 17 years of life in her native state and namesake. (As a point of fact, Ms. Kansas grew up in a town not far away from Cherryvale called Parsons. As it turns out, Vivian Vance, Ethel to Lucille Ball's Lucy, is a native of the selfsame burg--Cherryvale, not Parsons, lovelies. Ms. Kansas knew this, but no one had bothered to mention Miss Louise Brooks. An interesting coincidence since I Love Lucy is the show that first lured Ms. Kansas into the1950s-sitcom-rerun-loving ways that first fueled her style imagination.) It was meant to be, no?

Gotta Be Me!!

2006 was a great year for personal growth. Well, at least it was for me. I had a few important realizations. I'm not like everyone else. Yes, it took 31 years for this to soak in. I mean, not that anyone is like anyone else--not even identical twins. Erm, but, really--no. I've gotten myself into all manner of situations because I never realized people weren't just like me. Because lists are fun to read, here is one of the things I do on an almost daily basis:

1. Listen to classical music
2. Watch movies with subtitles--in "obscure" languages like Hebrew, yet!
3. Maintain nodding acquaintance with "Decorative Arts Studies"
4. Learn about history
5. Drink tea
6. Read
7. Maintain a journal

All unbelievably fey, isn't it? But, so what? That's what I do. That's who I am. One of the realizations I had--anew, I'm afraid--is that I'm interested in style. Lo, I remember the days of grad school! when, taking a class about the 19th-century home taught by a visiting professor, I cottoned on to the fact that people actually did study and think extensively about things like interiors. And, by extension, fashion. (All kissing cousins within the effete Decorative Arts universe, my lovelies.) Oh, but it all felt so decadent! A wholesome Midwestern girl like myself wallowing in the dissolution of faience and frou-frou on the East Coast? Oh, dearie me, no. One doesn't have a grim Protestant streak for nothing. I was accepted to the the Costume Studies program at NYU and actually ended up attending the analogous program at Madison, but all the while an inner voice was tutting, Oh, my, dear, you should be doing something useful...like saving the world.

Ah, but as it turned out, this was a misunderstanding of and disservice to myself. My unwillingness to suffer fakeness and facade would seem to render me unfit for the fashion world. And I must admit I'd quite agree. As I famously once said , "Fashion is bullshit." It's style I'm after. And goddamn if I don't have a flair for it and always haven't...