16 December 2011

AWP in Chicago

Another event I'm looking forward to in Chicago this spring is the Association of Writers & Writing Program's annual conference. There seem to be hundreds of sessions. I'm especially interested in the one by public radio bigshots like Starlee Kine.

National Book Award-winning poet Nikky Finney is a featured presenter.

I'm volunteering.

Photo of Nikky Finney from nikkyfinney.net.


I first heard of Batsheva in 1998 when I studied abroad in Israel. I subsequently fell in love with Israeli contemporary dance. It is absolutely unlike anything else the balletomane will see. It's weird, propulsive, and completely beautiful.

I last saw Batsheva in 2002--and I had to go all the way from Iowa to New York. Batsheva will be in Chicago in March.

Watch below. 

28 November 2011


I worked at SERRV during the 2004-2005 school year. And I'm working there again now! The people who come in are generally very nice and quite easy to talk to. I was first introduced to fair trade and SERRV through my undergraduate involvement at Ecumenical Christian Ministries (ECM) at University of Kansas. (Hi, Thad!)It brightens my day to go in and interact with the people who come in, really.

What has changed? Well, I'm quite impressed by the uptick in desirability and quality of everything from ceramics to MarketPlace clothing to jewelry to baskets to furniture. Also, the current store manager's background in art means the space is always impressively arranged.

This semester I've bought a dress, a jacket-y thing, churidars, scarves, mittens, many baskets, a mug, measuring spoons, Singing Rooster coffee from Haiti, three different types of yarn, crochet hooks, chocolate, a trivet, placemats, coasters, a rug made from old saris--as well as one of the cubes pictured above, which makes a handy little table.

Also, there is much affordable, beautiful jewelry from around the world. And don't miss out on the baskets for which SERRV is rightly well known.

Fair trade is affordable. It's the right thing to do. Dress your family and furnish your home in fair trade and secondhand.

The photo above is from SERRV's website.

27 November 2011

Happy Jewish Book Month!

I'm a little late out of the gate with this, but there are, like, still three days left! So, Happy Jewish Book Month!

I want to congratulate Lisa Pearl Rosenbaum, whose book A Day of Small Beginnings, which I recommend for anyone wondering how to celebrate Jewish Book Month, was chosen for Spertus's One Book | One Community initiative. I read her book a few years ago and emailed her about how much I loved it.

Some other suggestions for Jewish Book Month, ahem, from Church of Style's Favorite Books include: Black Box by Amos Oz; Lover of Unreason, a biography of the hyperliterate hussy who stole Ted Hughes from Sylvia Plath; the atmospheric, unbelievably beautiful Suite Française; The Chosen; or the dazzling Mazel. Or revisit Anne Frank's eponymous diary. Or read Erik Larson's new book about William E. Dodd, who sounds like a very interesting person.

Happy reading!

29 September 2011

How This Post Happened

This past summer I, ahem, spent a lot more time on Anthropologie's website than I do now. Meaning: I got more of a life and less money. At any rate, it's a good thing that I'm spending less time on the site.

If you know me, you know that I don't really wear jewelry. But! Earlier this summer I bought a Maasai collar piece (that I haven't worn yet). Toodling around town in the past month, I happened upon Calabash Gifts. There, I bought a couple Ndebele choker-like items. I put them on--and it worked. I didn't feel dangly and busy because they just sort of nestle on one's collarbone in such a way that one forgets one has them on. Nice. So, hmm, maybe collars?

Meanwhile, back at Anthropologie, they'd redone their website. At some point, they've included "Featured Artist." Basically, I had reached the point at which I would look at anything on the Anthropologie site--even jewelry, of which I did not consider myself a wearer. I was intrigued by the "collars" or "bibs." (This is known as the "statement jewelry," I suppose.) So, I clicked on "Featured Artist: Marion Vidal." I liked her jewelry, which reminds me of candy and gumballs. Nipping over to her website, I saw that the only stockist in the U.S. is Maryam Nassir Zadeh in New York. So, I checked out her website and learned about a new boutique.

Of course, part of the power (and dread!) of the Internet is discovering where it can lead you. I never would have heard of Refinery 29 if I didn't check "Rag Trade" on jezebel.com every day. God knows I never would've heard of Carven without Refinery. And not having heard of Carven would be completely unacceptable because that's the cool fashion blogger label. I wouldn't have heard of Fancy Treehouse if I hadn't been mucking around on N.E.E.T.'s blog because new issue wasn't up yet.

I forget where this photo is from.

24 September 2011

Shopbop.com To It!

Some brands I wish shopbop.com carried:

Rachel Comey (I mean, how can you not???)
Isabel Marant
Gary Graham
Marni (sigh)

23 September 2011

Speaking of Faythe

You probably know Faythe Levine as Art vs. Craft Lady. And Handmade Nation Lady. She's a curator and artist in her own right, as well. You've probably seen her table at Milwaukee's East Side Green Market. Her latest project is movie about sign painters. Hand-painted signs are delightful, aren't they? Sort of a surprise and subterranean delight in our network, digitized world.

I saw Faythe this past summer at said market. She was wearing a dress I assumed was a vintage find. The dress was from Anthropologie, it turns out. I was intrigued. So Faythe Levine knew from Anthropologie? I guess I hadn't thought it would have been on her radar. What else didn't I know about what she was wearing? Why not interview her?

Faythe was game when I asked for an interview, but she's kinda busy. So, I guess I'll get to the Faythe Levine Personal Style Interview a little bit later.

05 September 2011

Just So You Know

Vintage Madison is holding its second ever Fall Fashion Show at High Noon Saloon on Wednesday (that would be September 7).

I had the chance to interview fashion show coordinator/Vintage Madison member/Wanderlost Vintage doyenne Jess Parvin the Saturday before classes started here in Madison. I realized I had not described myself to her—nor had she to me. I knew who she was the instant I saw her, though. She was wearing a pair of sandals I thought were from Anthropologie (!), a full skirt with a colorful print, and a strappy little gamine top.

We had the chance to talk, and I am convinced Jess is living the dream. All vintage all the time. I’m convinced anyone making a living of secondhand is living the dream.

High Noon Saloon September 7. Vintage Madison pop-up shop at the Project Lodge September 11 and through the following week.

Illustration of Jess by, I'm assuming, Jess.

What If?

What if fashion labels were nothing like what we know now? (I was thinking this recently. I wasn't sure what that meant. What would it mean if labels, in fact, were nothing like what they are now? What would that mean? What would they be like instead?) What if there weren’t shows every season? What if clothing made today were made as well as it was 50 or 60 years ago? Why do we have to have the fashion system we have now?

Why do we have to act as if every dress and pair of pants is completely “amazing” when it’s the same thing (e.g. “folkloric” or “white” or “trousers” or “ladylike”) as it ever was? Why do we have to act as if we “get” something that’s quite far beyond everyone else? Yuck.

Why spend so much money on marketing instead of just making better stuff? Is that a naïve question?

Second what if: what if fashion blogs weren’t talking about shopping all the time? Sure, there are street style blogs—but their raison d'être is photos. And it’s not as if there’s a diversity of style images. What about thoughtful writing or criticism? Another naïve question?

And what if domestic apparel manufacturing were reborn in the U.S.? In the none-too-distant future, fuel prices (and cotton prices, too?) will make manufacturing in China for the domestic market unthinkable. This country has a strong production history, but it was jettisoned in search cheap production. Solid jobs disappeared, leaving shitty service sector jobs in their wake. Of course service sector jobs pay less, which means less disposable income to buy the goods now cheaply made overseas. Very Gift of the Magi.

For these reasons, I think I’ll be buying second-hand and Fair Trade as much as possible for a while. Alexander Wang does not need my money.

10 August 2011

Bloggers Gonna (Irregularly, It Would Seem) Blog

What can I say? There was a little hiatus there. During which I've had the opportunity to look at and think about other people's blogs. There are things I need to do better. I just need more photos. I need to post more regularly. And I need to get on top of my marketing game.

I'm really excited about "rededicating" myself to Church of Style. I have ideas for posts (that I'm actually writing down!) and some plans. Right now, for example, I'm waiting to for interview responses from DIY doyenne Faythe Levine. Another thing is that I "get" what Church of Style is as a blog. It's a lot "wordier," more verbal, more literate, than other blogs. Yep. It is. I will not be using the word "amazing" to describe everything. And that's ok. My posts are often sort of essays. And I like that.

Anthropologie Student

Oh, I see what you did there, Anthropologie. Riffing on fall’s brights trend in your own time-honored not-so-post-colonial, appropriating manner. In other words: getting Afropop chic on everyone’s ass. Characterized by bright, flaring color with prints, patterned tights, ladylike proportions, and “eccentric” heels. Exhibit A: page 4 in the August 2011 catalogue. Other examples on pages 2, 7, 8, 9, 15, 16, 31, 32, 40, and 42 of same.

And that’s kind of ok. I like Afropop chic! And, I mean, it’s better than the oh, so tired cardigan-and-emerald-green-or-some-such-pants take on brights—am I right?

But, argh, I hate myself for loving “Anthro!” I can’t break free from the things that it [sells]. I’m a fool for their art direction—their visual displays are such eye candy! Their catalogues and web design are pretty brilliant.

Anthropologie’s socioeconomic issues—to say nothing of its Santorum-loving CEO—have been well documented on jezebel.com. What has implications for my creativity and, thus, my style, is the way this chain positions itself as a one-stop shopping extravaganza for all the bourgeois bohemian flea market-like goodness you’ll ever need or want. The thing is that—as in so many aspects of life—nothing worth having is easily achieved. The “look,” the culture, the texture, the development the eye for such factors that Anthropologie apes is truly an art. It takes time and practice. Browsing stores and boutiques, thrifting, flea-marketing; reading magazines, books, blogs, researching, following obsessions; looking at, well, the whole spectrum of visual culture and finding inspiration—isn’t onerous work—but it’s work nonetheless. That’s how I build relationships with artists, designers, shopkeepers, and others; that’s how I develop my eye to create the kind of material culture and projects around myself to give my life beauty and meaning.

I’m mistaken if I think I can outsource that to Anthroplogie or anyone else. Not just mistaken—but lazy and stupid, as well.