Friday, August 7, 2009

Need vs. Want

Want. Only the heel's height – at 5 inches somewhat impractical, even for me – and the fact that I have two perfectly lovely pairs of black stilettos in my closet keep these from being a Need:
Brian Atwood Nico woven leather stiletto heels,
$414 (originally $1,035),

Your Weekly Mr. Littlejeans

.what're ya doin' dad?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Stay On Target

"Laura and Kate Mulleavy of Rodarte at the Apex Electronics store in Sun Valley, Calif. The colorful wires they found there [were] incorporated into the shoes for their spring 2009 collection." Photo Tierney Gearon for The New York Times

Sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy are designing a Rodarte collection for Target. Fifty-five pieces will be available from December 20th through February 6th, 2010, with a price range of approximately $10–$80.

Rodarte is justifiably expensive because of its otherworldly meticulousness and material. It will be interesting to see how Laura and Kate's highly conceptual ideas translate into an extremely affordable line – but more than almost any designer I can think of, they are equal to the task.

Here's a short documentary from on Rodarte's most recent collection. Try to ignore the part where Elijah Wood says "whimsical."

I recommend watching the Fall 2009 runway show (as well as backstage photos, past shows, etc.) at Rodarte's website.
Click here for more Rodarte on Pacific Standard.

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In A Dream You Saw A Way To Survive
And You Were Full Of Joy

[ click images to enlarge / click here for more ]

In a dream
You saw a way to survive
And you were full of joy
-Jenny Holzer

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Lingerie & Cracks

Lillian Bassman: photo for a Warner's lingerie advertisement, 1951

Photographer Lillian Bassman (b.1917), who cut her teeth shooting for the legendary Harper's Bazaar art director Alexey Brodovitch, and herself directed the short-lived but highly revered Junior Bazaar, is getting some much-overdue attention lately.

Lillian Bassman Park Avenue 84th to 90th, Frame #19, 1975

It's not like Bassman is unknown, but she tends to be a bit overlooked because of the fact that, as active as she was from the '40s through the early '60s, she quite decisively removed herself from the world of fashion photography in the early '70s, destroying many of her negatives and literally throwing the rest in a trash bag, where they sat until now.

Lillian Bassman More Fashion Mileage Per Dress
(model Barbara Vaughn, NYC, 1956)

Some of that lost work is currently on view at KMR Arts in Washington Depot, CT, and a new book of Bassman's photography is due later this year.

Lillian Bassman: model Barbara Miller in a photograph
Harper's Bazaar, Paris 1949

Lillian Bassman: photograph from Junior Bazaar, June 1950

Part of her resurgence has to be due to the popularity of Mad Men/Kennedy-era style; her work feels very current. As Ginia Bellafonte wrote in The New York Times:
The clothes have a structured beauty; the gloves are mandatory; the necks are long. Elegant men with cigarettes between their fingers occasionally enter the frame, encountering women who appear utterly indifferent to their attention. The perversions of inequality are absent; what appears instead is the glamour of a protracted cultural moment in which women were free from any expectation of sexual pursuit. The power of Ms. Bassman’s photographs is the power of a woman who is never moved to make a call....conveying a world in which women seemed to linger in the pleasures of their own sensuality.
Lillian Bassman: model Evelyn Tripp in an outtake from a shoot
Harper's Bazaar, 1948

Hers was a quieter, more private sexiness, seen most dramatically in her work for lingerie advertising. Again (yet again) from the Times:
In the period dominated by Avedon and Irving Penn, Ms. Bassman was one of the few female photographers in the fashion business, and her work had a distinctly different cast from the outset, one less distancing. In most of the lingerie pictures, for example, the faces are averted or obscured, the result of the Ford agency’s insistence that its models not be identifiable in such provocative advertising. The effect of this constraint is not cold anonymity but an unusual intimacy that leaves the images feeling almost entirely divorced from commodity, as if they were the visual entries in the personal journals of the women photographed.
Lillian Bassman: photo for a Warner's lingerie advertisement, 1951

In short, Bassman tired of the increasing overtness of sexuality in the '60s, and by the early '70s, decided she was done shooting people. A series of photos of cracks in the sidewalk followed; the Connecticut show features those, juxtaposed with her fashion photography.

Lillian Bassman, age 92. Photo Damon Winter/NYT.

Now 92, she has learned Photoshop and is revisiting her older work; in addition to the show in Connecticut and the forthcoming book Lillian Bassman: Women (Abrams), a retrospective in Hamburg, Germany, this fall will feature her work and that of her husband, Paul Himmel, a photographer (and later a social worker) who died earlier this year.

Lillian Bassman: Lingerie & Cracks runs through September 5th at KMR Arts in Washington Depot, CT; I highly recommend reading Ginia Bellafante's entire feature at

Young, Gifted and Black

Black Models Take Center Stage: Naomi Sims photographed by
Joel for the October 17, 1969 cover of Life magazine

Pioneering '60s supermodel and entrepreneur Naomi Sims has died of cancer at the age of 61. The story of how she pushed her way into what at the time was a highly discriminatory modeling world is fascinating – read it here.

Naomi Sims, a muse of Halston, in one of his dresses at Harlem's Lucky Spot Restaurant. Photography Berry Berenson, ca. 1972.

Naomi Sims by Peter Beard, 1972

Naomi Sims with Andy Warhol on the cover of Interview magazine, December 1972

[ More images ]

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Blue Angels

Some photos from yesterday's airshow over Lake Washington – too cool for words.

Good 'ol Seafair – I love it.

The Soul of Wit

Three-quarter length portrait of Jack Binnes, wireless operator,
using a telegraph machine at a desk in a room in Chicago, Illinois.

Chicago Daily News negatives collection, DN-0054177.
Courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society.

I love Ben Schott's column on the op-ed page of today's New York Times. Mr. Miscellany notes that the "restrictions on articulation" imposed by Twitter's 140-character (and SMS's 160-character) limits are nothing new, having been preceded in the 19th century by privacy and cost concerns associated with sending telegrams (telegraph carriers apparently often charged more for words longer than 15 characters or for telegrams longer than 10 words). These concerns led to the spread of telegram code books, which contained lists of various phrases reduced to a single word.

Telegraph machine in operation at The New York Herald in 1900.

Just looking at the examples Schott provides from The Anglo-American Telegraphic Code, published in 1891, provides a pretty good sense of what America was like at that point in time. I mean, a society that constructs shorthand for phrases like "A battle is reported to have begun" ("Barracan"), "The prisoner(s) will probably be condemned" ("Confuter"), and "You must send my allowance immediately" ("Amphimacer") only exists at a very particular time and place in history. A few more examples below; see the whole list here.

Abandonee: Abandoned in a sinking condition.
: Cattle are scarce.

: A crisis seems to be approaching.
Crisp: Can you recommend to me a good female cook?

: Has been dead a long time.

: Destroyed by a cyclone.
Emication: The epidemic has broken out again.
Foretold: Abundant reason to be frightened.
Geyser: Do not pay in gold.
Hurst: The hunting expedition will not set out.

: Stocks have reached panic prices.

And, my personal favorite:
Orangeman: What is the opinion on the street?

Also this, while we're on the subject of words and 19th-century America: