Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fucking Amal

'Fucking Amal' (sanitized version: 'Show me love') might be my favorite film about adolescence (and a few other things). Small town, depressing provincialism, quietly beautiful misfit Agnes loves Elin, the popular blond whose spirit is too big for her clique. Earnestly assumed growing pains deserve the happy ending, which is just a beginning, really.

I like the use of red in this film. Granted, red for non-conformism isn't all that original, but the details make all the difference. Elin's dissent is raw, unbound energy. Although the strap of her bra showing from under the glaring red camisole is probably deliberate, the ensemble looks vulgar. The interesting thing is that Elin seems uncomfortable in her skimpy outfits: too exposed, shivering in the evening cold on the bridge, or doubtful, in front of her mirror preparing for the party. Agnes, on the other hand, is a 'closeted' free thinker who, wisely, doesn't make a point of standing out. Her khakis and red sweatshirt, her classical haircut are respectfully conventional yet beyond passing trends: she could be from the late seventies or the eighties or the nineties. Maybe it's a case of using convention as a shield, though I doubt it: militancy isn't her thing, she wants to live and let live. We never see her trying to decide what to wear. Comfortable and secure within convention, Agnes doesn't need to wear statement clothes to be herself. But there are symbols of serene superiority, too, like the air balloon pattern on her shirt.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chanel's Fall 2010 Couture

Yes, everyone's raving about it, and I'm jumping on the bandwagon. The first half of the collection was kinda boring. No really, it was nice and all, but way too wearable and less than couturey. Some of those furry hems and golden mid-calf boots made me think of Russian fairy tales, but I flipped to the next picture thinking 'It's just my imagination trying to fill in for Karl's.' The first seriously weird outfit came about halfway through the show, but still, it was kindergarten matinee kind of weird, which is good enough, but still, depending on what else is there. Well, there was ...tapestry! At least it looked like it. Some of it had roses and went with lace and tulle:

And some of it - or was it still just my imagination? - looked like what Vassilisa the Beautiful might wear to a business meeting:

To give you an idea, here's Vassilisa's everyday get-up:

Towards the end of the collection, however, came something which cannot - I don't care about Karl's actual inspiration, which seems to have a lot to do with lions, whatever - cannot be anything but Vassilisa's Sunday best:

And happily, the bride's dress was a variation on the same theme (it's probably good that the groom's not wearing a caftan; it would have looked corny, I guess. But so did the tuxedo, in that context):

Right, and there were a few dresses which seemed to be decorated with frog skins:

Saturday, July 3, 2010

the uncanny

the first time I saw these elderly twins, they had the same hairstyle, wearing the same lipstick, and the same trench-coat and chiffon head-kerchief, except one was all pink, and the other was all green. They were walking quietly, minding their own business, and after passing them by I turned away to stare some more. There was nobody else on the street, and for a while I wondered if perhaps they were a hallucination. Or a dream that I remembered as reality (I do that sometimes). This was three years ago. Then last year I saw them again, on the bus. Again, their get-ups mirrored each other, down to the little redhead dolls dangling from the zippers of their purses. After that I started running into them more often, sometimes on that bus (always on Tuesdays around 1pm), sometimes on the street, and the fact that everyone was passing them by as if not noticing made me doubt my senses every time. Until once, finally, another guy turned his head in amazement as they were getting off the bus.

A few months ago I saw them on the cover of a health magazine. There was an interview with them. That's how I found out that they're local celebrities (which explains somewhat why nobody looked surprised; and also, duh, it's not polite to stare), that they're 84 and have been living together for the last 50 years, that they've always studied then worked at the same places, as seamstresses and then in restaurants. They were never married, and they have a strict schedule that they follow every day. Their names are Jeanne and Marcelle.

None of this subtracts from my amazement each time I run into them. They're like a rupture in the metric flow of being. In case you're beginning to doubt my account (completely understandable), here's a video. You'll see them talking, singing, dancing, doing laundry, and throwing looks of disapproval at a woman in a short skirt. Oh, I used to go to that laundry once upon a time.