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...