Category: This and That

What is Your Signature Clothing Item?

I think everyone has a favorite signature clothing item or accessory that they like to wear or carry – but what does it say about you or how does your clothing define you?

I have a few different brands and it’s not necessarily a brand clothing item all of the time, and nothing too radical or anything that confounds the eye. Most of my clothing is ready-to-wear or off the rails. I truly love couture but of course it’s expensive, although couture always tends to have a longer life than ready-to-wear in most cases. Actually there is a lot of material in ready-to-wear clothing that comes from couture. What you wear sometimes depends on your age and body shape and I would say my clothes mostly hug my shape as opposed to being oversized and baggy. I am not fond of  clothes that are tight fitting or super skinny – they would look like I was vacuum-sealed into them if I  wore them.  Occasionally I wear faded or ripped jeans but never at a luxury premium.

Most of my shoes that I would declare to be one of my signature items are Converse boots – from Skull patterns to Chuck Taylors (classic and new) and they are both comfortable and practically a fashion icon now. Doc Martens are also another item that has never gone out of style and are another signature item of mine. They have gone from punk-rock to anti-fashion to high-street fashion. My signature jewelry items are mostly silver, anything from antiqued silver chains to earrings. The keyword for all my jewelry is ‘wearable” or something that you can wear all the time. Perhaps one of my favorite signature clothing items are black leather jackets, some that are crinkled and creased as if by hard use – but they look better that way.  I guess I am not always thinking about fashion trends and I try not to let the stores that I go to dictate what I should be wearing.

The Lure of an Open House

The upcoming Open House Dublin event running from 13 – 15 October 2017 offers a citywide adventure. Structures and buildings that are normally off-limits, open their doors to stunning interiors and not to be outdone,  artists will also be exhibiting and opening their galleries and studios this weekend.

There is also the ever-popular Halloween festival which will shortly be celebrated by the macabre as a series of horror films and events hits selected venues in Dublin. Some of the venues to watch out for are the Horror Expo Ireland taking place Sunday 29th October at Freemasons Hall and the annual IFI Horrorthon both are sure to be a veritable feast of blood and terror for folks to indulge themselves in!

Photo of the Interior of the Freemasons Hall in Dublin.
Interior of the Freemasons Hall in Dublin.

However, preceding the ghoulish, a gentler phenomenon takes over the city. One no less intense but which has gained a huge following in other countries among curious and interested parties. Now the streets of the capital, instead of being occupied by a fancy dress parade of ghosts and witches, will ring with the footsteps of people intent on seeking out an open door. An invitation, that asks one to enter an Open House, which is impossible to refuse. No matter where or what the venue crowds are guaranteed and booking in many instances necessary, otherwise disappointment follows. Curiosity must be satisfied either in New York, London or Dublin and its suburbs.

Photo of Cathedral Church of St John the Devine in New York.
Cathedral Church of St John the Devine in New York.

The buildings that throw open their doors yearly are varied and range from the grandeur of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Devine, New York built in the Architectural style of Romanesque and Gothic.

Photo of the Bank of England in London.
Queuing for the Bank of England in London.

The popularity of the Bank of England in the City of London, fondly referenced as the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, may be noted by the long queue patiently awaiting entry.

Photo of The Chester Beatty Library in Dublin.
The Chester Beatty Library in Dublin.

In Dublin architectural diversity reigns, with the buildings under scrutiny ranging from the Chester Beatty Library, home to the collections of the mining magnate Sir Alfred Chester Beatty. There is Busáras, designed in the International Modern style by Michael Scott and his team of young architects and designers, now acting as the central bus station for Dublin.

Photo of Busáras in Dublin
Busáras the central bus station in Dublin.

Finally in County Dublin, looming over the suburbs of Killiney, is the Obelisk, a favorite haunt for walkers. The Obelisk bears the inscription: “Last year being hard with the poor, walks about these hills and this were erected by John Mapas, June 1742.”

Photo of The Obelisk on Killiney Hill in Dublin.
The Obelisk on Killiney Hill in Dublin.

In the City centre alone ninety-six buildings are open to the public. Several of these by a lottery system including what should be a fascinating and interesting event in the Edmund Burke Theatre, Trinity College, in the form of ‘A Conversation with Paul Koralek’ known for the Berkeley Library he designed in the Brutalist style for this University. Whatever the choice of building, open over the three-day event, be it large to the small, it calls for expertise in planning to avail of all locations.

 

Feature Image: Google Gordon House (David Dixens).

Are you a Halloween Scaredy cat?

Boo? Halloween is really all about having fun.

Why do some people like having the living daylights scared out of them? If you have just started noticing pop-up zombies and witches or a full graveyard in your neighbors garden, then you are not alone. Do you have co-workers that have planted surprise spiders, skeletons and bats around the office? Most of us just think of it as harmless fun, some get a little scared, and others simply dread this time of the year. Not me! But Halloween means that everything is cute Autumnal colors, it’s cold, there are tons of horror movies on TV,  pumpkin lattes, horror fests so you just need to embrace Halloween-town and chill!

There are lots of people who are on the lookout for thrills this time of the year. And many have their own reasons for wanting to be scared stiff.

Photo of Galveston House in Texas that looks like a haunted house
Galveston House, TX. A very scary looking house.

Haunted Houses

Peoples experience of a haunted house can be either fun or terrifying. They can be seen as a fear-seeking thrill or even some sort of self-fortification, testing ourselves to see how scared we can get.

Photo of a scene from the film Nosferatu
Nosferatu is a 1922 German Expressionist horror film, directed by F. W. Murnau, starring Max Schreck as the vampire Count Orlok.

Horror Film Fests

Watching horror films can be a mix of having fun and sometimes being slightly scared. Going to Horror fests and being among other horror film enthusiasts is immersing yourself in a scary moment when it happens unexpectedly on screen, and you can suspend your disbelief  in that moment and it’s almost like a loss of control that can feel really good. Or perhaps it just depends on how your brain was coded to handle fear and anxiety.

 

The Rise of the Department Store

The Rise of the Department Store

(and the female consumer)

The Great Exhibition or Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851 took place in a vast pre-fabricated iron and glass structure, and six million visitors passed through the door to view the contents of what is considered to be the first modern world’s fair.

Photo of Crystal Palace circa 1851 to 1854
Crystal Palace. ca. 1851-1854

People were accosted by displays of industrial, agricultural and artistic artifacts, goods in such quantities, as had never been seen before. None however had price tags! The initial entrance was five shillings, soon to be lowered to one shilling, making it was thought, more affordable to all classes of contemporary society – a truth borne out, given the attendance figures. What the event heralded in was the evolution of the culture of consumption, with the glittering glass building itself spawning in size and materials, the huge department stores that would spring up in the urban landscapes. Eventually, these spaces would replace the small local shops heretofore frequented on a daily basis by the Victorian housewife.

Photo of Crystal Palace - the interior.
Crystal Palace – interior.

By the end of the nineteenth century, this woman, the ‘poetic’ Angel in the House’ who had willingly attended to the needs of husband, children and home felt the urge to escape the confines of the kitchen. Where to? Cathedrals of shopping like Au Bon Marché (1887) in Paris, Whiteley’s in London, Macey’s in New York – palatial emporiums, which became ‘the giants of urban retail.’ Consumer culture was here to stay!

Photo of Au Bon Marché. ca. 1887
Au Bon Marché. ca. 1887

Improved transport systems made it easier and more socially acceptable for the middle-class housewife to be seen outside the home, women who formed the congregation of the secular cathedrals, enticed through the doors by spectacular displays and fine selections of goods, displayed to their best advantage in the welcoming interiors. Of course, shopping implied more than purchasing goods. Now away from her domestic responsibilities it became for the housewife a pleasurable occasion – a time for meeting friends, having a meal, maybe going to the theatre. Prior to making any purchase, time was taken to discuss, look at, touch or reject a specific item. It was part of the female buying strategy, especially if an item was a personal luxury rather than a household necessity.

Early location of Bon Marche dry goods store located at 15 S. Main Street ca. 1898.
Early location of Bon Marche dry goods store located at 15 S. Main Street ca. 1898. The name S. Lipinsky is on the awning.

For their part, the department stores – the halls of temptation, did their best to entice the consumer through the door, by providing extras in the form of lifts, escalators, restaurants, tea and rest rooms. While the sales men and sales women enacted a play of persuasion in which the customer was an eager and willing participant. If on the other hand, an object was priced beyond a person’s reach, there would be time to dream and save for another day when the desired prize would become obtainable.

The desire of the female consumer to buy, buy and buy was further encouraged by an upsurge in advertising in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Distinctive brand names became part of the new methods of marketing in which selling the image was an integral part of the product itself.  The rise of the advertising agencies, the department stores and the consumer were all inextricably linked…..but that is another story.

Escape the Confines of the Kitchen by the Modern Woman

A recent visit to a local Vintage Car Show to view the polished and pristine metal beauties prompted a thought about how today one takes for granted this mode of transport. However, in the 1920s the automobile was novel and regarded as a way to escape the confines of the kitchen by the modern woman, the homemaker. She was now gradually loosening the reins that tied her to the kitchen sink–the old way! After her experiences outside the home during WW1 she was loathed to become, once again, a ‘household drudge,’ and wanted to continue to experience the outside world. An independent female, a new phenomenon, now confronted men who returned from fighting. This revolution helps to explain why so few of the early 1920s advertisements, especially in France, pictured the woman alone in the public sphere. Her place was the interior whilst the exterior was the male domain. It was naturally difficult for men to accept the gradual change in gender roles, even those who worked in the advertising agencies. Therefore, in spite of a burgeoning automobile industry, whose product was becoming more affordable and within the reach of a wider public, most of the advertisements still depicted a male behind the wheel of the car. Nonetheless, the time was ripe to tap into the female market for which a new textual and visual strategy was required–though still not one prepared to acknowledge her independence. Instead, the reluctant housewife was astutely targeted via the husband with words tantamount to making him feel guilty his wife was ‘marooned all day’ indoors.

An early advertisement for Chevrolet Utility Coupe circa 1924
An early advertisement for Chevrolet Utility Coupe. circa 1924

Chevrolet asserted the company’s Utility Coupé was the ideal second automobile–price and upkeep low, quality not sacrificed. But you were doing more than just driving a car, you were arguably driving a work of art. Just as the slogan for Anderson’s touring car ‘It’s As Roomy For Five As It’s Chummy For Two’ exhorted the versatility of a convertible that with little effort transforms from a roadster into a ‘a fully-fledged, strictly correct five-passenger touring car.’ Definitely a two for one deal not to be missed! Especially, if one was a member of the expanding middle classes, who was eager to show off a new found affluence to neighbors and acquaintances.

Anderson Touring Car and Roadster circa 1920
Anderson Touring Car and Roadster. circa 1920

However, did many men succumb to the sales pitch or were alternatively prepared to allow the mistress of the house her new desired freedom from domesticity? The motor industry was acutely aware a subtle approach was necessary and ensured the status of “new woman” was never overtly flaunted. Yes, in the adverts she is well dressed (further underlining the prosperity of the family) and depicted beside the car or about to step in and sit behind the wheel, but is invariably accompanied by other people. The implication–all the time, whilst is in the company of family and friends, ‘the threatening potential of a female driving through public places’ is diffused by the presence of companions. The woman is modern! However not one who is heading to the workplace, for the ownership of her own car indicates she has a devoted husband and has no need to work outside the family home. Instead, its use is centered round the family excursion, which is acceptable to the male. The car now acts as a machine of ‘feminine duty,’ and becomes purely a vehicle to assist the wife or mother in her traditional domestic chores of shopping and childcare. The object itself may be recognized as an enticement to return to the house, an area, which the post-war spouse still considered it was her place to occupy. Most probably today’s lady car owner and driver is not aware of the early struggle her predecessor had in her attempt to find independence outside the home!!!!!!