Monday, December 29, 2008

sometimes i think sitting on trains...

And the award for best use of MIA's "Paper Planes" in a movie goes to...Slumdog Millionaire! Sorry, Pineapple Express.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

oh holy night, the stars are brightly shiiiiiiiiiiiining.

When I was in junior high, Seventeen held a contest for its readers to come up with a new nail color for Chanel. The winner was Ciel de Nuit (french for Starry Night), a deep navy with tiny flecks of silver. Unlike so many sparkly nail polishes, the glitter in this polish was extremely fine. It was both edgy and sophisticated, and it looked fantastic on short nails (big points in my book). I don't remember who submitted the winning idea or how long it was on shelves, but I remember thinking it was the loveliest nail polish I'd ever seen. So lovely that I happily forked over my hard-earned baby-sitting cash for a bottle of my very own.

I've long searched for a worthy successor to Ciel de Nuit, but to no avail. (Essie came close with Starry Starry Night, but that was discontinued. What the eff?) When the dark polish trend blew up a few years ago and Chanel released their limited-edition Black Satin varnish, I hoped its popularity would inspire a reboot of Ciel de Nuit. Chanel's Blue Satin (released not long after Black Satin) was a lovely deep navy, but it just didn't have the same caliber sparkle as Ciel de Nuit. It doesn't look like my favorite star-specked polish will be re-released anytime soon, but it does seem that Chanel has come a bit closer with the release of Chanel Nuit de Russie. The Chanel Paris-Moscou Collection features three jewel tone shades, and this shimmery navy varnish immediately reminded me of Ciel de Nuit. It doesn't have the same silver sparkles, but the polish does have a gorgeous luminescent sheen. My only disappointment is the price tag. $30? It's an amazing color and it's definitely playing on my Ciel de Nuit nostalgia, but for $30, I expect Karl Lagerfeld to come to my house and give me a pedicure while we watch Mean Girls. This is why I so rarely buy Chanel nail polish. But still, so so pretty.

And by the way, I'm home in Nebraska for the holiday weekend. So far, my days have consisted of lighting luminaries, feeding my neighbor's cats, setting the table, and falling asleep during the Christmas Day Sci Fi Channel marathon of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I kind of feel like Holly Hunter in Home for the Holidays. Only without the awesome magenta coat.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

i've got your indie credibility right here.

It's not a breakthrough statement to observe that much of our power as citizens comes from our voices as consumers. By choosing where we spend our money, we make statements about our values and beliefs in an objective and effective way. I make efforts to be socially and politically conscious with my spending, but I also buy a lot of Go International blouses from Target and cheap dresses from Forever 21.

However, in the current economic climate, I'm trying to be more aware of where and how I spend my money, and what political and social statements that those purchases make. Though I'm still pumping my fair share of dollar bills back into the national economy, I'm also making a concerted effort to support smaller independent artists and boutiques. And since online shopping is my crack, I've been spending way more than my fair share of time on sites like Etsy and Supermarket. Here are a few of my favorite finds.

Necklush in Charcoal Grey (Supermarket): Anything that's too tight around my neck immediately turns me from a relatively reasonable 27 year-old woman into a petulant child. "Mom! Get it off!" she cried as she clawed helplessly at the neckline of her embroidered holiday turtleneck. So I love that this circular scarf can be worn nice and loose. The $55 price tag is more than I usually spend on an easy-to-misplace outerwear accessory, but that's because I forgot my cashmere Burberry scarf in the movie theater when I saw Marie Antoinette and I haven't really gotten over it. But this might just be the item that gets me off of the Target outerwear train. Plus, it reminds me of this squid ink spaghetti that I had at the Loring Pasta Bar a couple of years ago. I never knew that dark gray noodles could be so appetizing.

The Robin's Egg Jewelry Box Breakfast Necklace (Etsy): I've been obsessed with this Etsy shop for a little while now. And though I love the kitschy necklaces featuring mouthwatering sweets, it's the Breakfast Necklace that I'm really craving, That is one good-looking over-easy (or over-medium?) egg. Served with bacon and orange juice on a ball link chain, it's like taking your favorite greasy diner food with you everywhere you go. And, well, wearing it around your neck on a chain. I also adore how large the egg is compared to the juice and package of bacon. Seriously, is that a pterodactyl egg? Prehistorically delicious.

Tiny Meat Bird's Nest Card Case (Buy Olympia): Okay, I probably love this because I'm fair-skinned with blonde hair and blue eyes. I'm a narcissist like that. This rosy-cheeked young woman makes me want to slap on some red lipstick and stick some birds in my hair. (Sadly, cartoon birds do not style my hair in the morning like they do in the animated Cinderella. I'll have to get some fake ones from a craft shop. Like Carrie's bridal headgear in the Sex and the City Movie.) I discovered Buy Olympia when it was first heavily advertised in the back pages of Bust, and I'm pleased to see how much it's grown over the years.

14K Gold Forget Me Knot Ring (ReForm School): At $200, this is by far the priciest item on my little list. But what could be a more charming token of remembrance than this little gold string looped around your finger? Hand cast from a real piece of string by Brooklyn designer Kiel Mead, this delicate ring is a perfect gift to symbolize love, devotion and friendship. It's also available in silver, but I think there's something about the gold that makes the idea even more traditional and romantic. Le sigh.

Bubbledog Hamster Plush (Shana Logic): I'm kind of a sucker for plushes and pillows. They don't really do anything but sit there all cozy-like, and I certainly don't need anymore of them. But look at these hamsters' cute little faces! And they're holding cute little snackable mushrooms! They just want you to give them a home on your couch! But if these adorable little fellas are too precious for you (which, you know, fair enough), check out these awesome Roadkill Plushes from London. Disemboweled raccoons and hedgehogs never looked so cuddly!

Norwegian Wood Harness (Etsy): This chained and zippered harness has become somewhat of a cult item on Etsy and in the fashion blogosphere. Whether layered over a cropped tee, a liberty print dress, or an unembellished tank top and your favorite pair of jeans, this harness adds elements of high fashion and bondage to any outfit. And don't worry about this piece being too trendy, as bondage always eventually comes back into style. Just ask Gwyneth Paltrow. And Madonna. And Rihanna. Custom made to your specific measurements with draping antique silver chains, this unique piece is well worth the $60.

Oddball Paul the Pony Necklace (Frozen Peas Accessories): Feathers were a huge trend for fall and it looks like they'll still be everywhere this spring. Trying giving the trend a new twist. Instead of the ubiquitous feather headband (which, although often gorgeous, have been everywhere lately) try this Native American-inspired pony necklace. The leather printed horse is available in two color combinations and hangs on a bright gold plated chain. At 22," it's the perfect length for a fun statement necklace. And the $32 price tag is a pretty good fit as well. Plus, horsies are pretty.

Hooked Studios All-Natural Face Wash (Etsy): The mother/daughter team of Hooked Studios gave me a sample of this face wash to try ages ago (along with an adorable little barrette that I've already worn multiple times). But since the winter was wreaking havoc on my skin, I put off reviewing it as I didn't want to give the product an unfair shot. However, once I threw caution to the wind and decided to recklessly sample this cleanser, it became clear that my hesitation had been unnecessary. Made with fresh, organic ingredients, this powdered formula mixes with equal parts water to create a thick yellow paste that is more of a mask than a cleanser. I applied it to my skin for ten minutes and rinsed it off in the shower every day for a week, and I was amazed at how soft and refreshed it left my skin. My complexion never felt tight or stripped at all. At $9, it's a beauty product that won't set you back too much. Plus, since it's made of all-natural curry-tastic ingredients, I'm pretty sure it would be delicious sprinkled on rice and chicken.

cherry on top

Coco Rocha's new hair color is certainly getting a lot of attention. Saving the big reveal for an editorial in next month's Vogue, the former brunette kept her mane hidden under wigs and headwraps for the past month (causing some fashion insiders to be concerned for her health). Her new lush red mane has me lamenting my weak watered-down strawberry blonde hair. I used to change my hair color quite frequently, but I finally grew my natural color out to my shoulders (which included a regrettable phase in which my pixie haircut was two-toned just like the Heat Miser). It's such an accomplishment that I hesitate to mess with it again, but Coco's deep red has me fantasizing about making another visit to the colorist's chair.

I had a similar feeling when I saw this image from the Spring 2009 Maison Martin Margiela Ready-to-Wear show. It's reminds me of the shade that Angela Chase dyed her hair in My So-Called Life.

images: Vogue,

Monday, December 22, 2008

all i want for christmas is a little less asian fetishism

I know, The Harajuku Girls are, like, old news. And I'm probably not going to say anything new or profound here. But because the Harajuku Lovers Fragrance Solid Coffret has been included in what seems like a bajillion giveaways and gift guides for the holiday season, the subject feels relevant again. I feel like I've been seeing Gwen Stefani's cute little minions everywhere! Because I have! And, as fun and adorable as they are, I've still got some issues. (Plus, I got into a car accident last week, which has made me cranky and a bit rant-happy. Effing Minnesota.)

I used to love Gwen Stefani, back when she had braces and pink hair and danced around singing “I’m Just A Girl,” all the while refusing to become the standard “video girl.” So when she kicked off her solo career, rife with microscopic shorts and her awkward attempts at booty dancing, I felt betrayed. It was as if she’d secretly wanted to be a hot video girl all along, and she’d finally gotten her wish. Time to ditch that fun spunky attitude! Maybe my feelings of disappointment were unfair (after all, it isn’t her job to cater to my every whim), but I felt so let down on a personal level. And when I saw her entourage of silent Japanese Harajuku Girls (Love, Lil’ Angel, Music and Baby—named after her clothing line, of course!), my disappointment increased.

True, her schoolgirl-attired back-up dancers are cute and eye-catching. And I’m sure that when Ms. Stefani came up with this “art project,” she meant it as a celebration of Harajuku style. But I still felt as if she’d recklessly played into stereotypes of Asian fetishism that portray Japanese women as silent, subservient geisha girls. And when Margaret Cho made this statement, I thought it was a pretty fair (and un-aggressive) reaction to Stefani’s potentially offensive marketing ploy. To which Stefani responded: “The truth is that I basically was saying how great that culture is. It pissed me off that [Cho] would not do the research and then talk out like that. It’s just so embarrassing for her. The Harajuku Girls is an art project. It’s fun!” Cho emailed this response to Entertainment Weekly: “I absolutely agree! I didn’t do any research! I realize the Harajuku Girls rule!!! How embarrassing for me!!! I was just jealous that I didn’t get to be one! I dance really good!!!”

That was when I started to hate Gwen Stefani. Not because of her choice to parade around with four female accessories who are contractually prohibited from speaking English in public, but because her reaction to Cho’s statement was dismissive, defensive and condescending. If Stefani had responded by acknowledging that Cho had a right to her feelings, but that the intent of the project was not to encourage racial stereotypes, I would have thought Stefani was, at worst, a bit naïve. Instead, Stefani’s reaction left me feeling that although she’s very beautiful, stylish, and talented, she isn’t particularly thoughtful or self-aware. I don’t have a problem with controversy, but I feel that when someone puts something into the world that is potentially offensive (like a gun-heeled shoe which didn't offend me personally, but is definitely worth some discussion), that person has a responsibility to acknowledge the situation and be a willing participant in the resulting dialogue. So even though I think the Harajuku Lovers perfume bottles and the new Solid Coffret are freaking adorable, and even though I saw a gorgeous and insanely discounted LAMB bag at Nordstrom Rack last weekend, I can’t bring myself to invest my money in her empire.

don't push me cause i'm close to the edge

It's not a secret that I have little patience for "It Girls." So imagine my delight when I heard that Pringle of Scotland, who used supermodel Sasha Pivovarova in their last ad campaign, will be featuring Pixie Geldof, Daisy Lowe, and Lydia Hearst in their spring ads. OMG! Two Nylon cover girls and Pearl Lowe's daughter? Maybe Bijou Philips could art direct! And Cory (pictured!) and Cody Kennedy could style! And Peaches Geldof could write a behind-the-scenes article about the photo shoot because she's a serious journalist! Ahhhhhhhh!

Okay, okay. Sarcasm overload. Approaching mental breakdown. This evening I will pour a large glass of carmenère, put on an episode of Firefly, cuddle with my kittens, and practice my French by re-reading old issues of Vogue Paris. Yes, everything will be right with the world. Ahem, I mean, le monde.

yeah for ellen!

Her new print ad for Cover Girl and Olay:

And a quick flashback to her March 2007 cover shoot for W (in heels!):

Thursday, December 18, 2008

queen madge

Madonna showing off her gams for the new Louis Vuitton campaign:

And in W's 2003 editorial "Madonna Unbound" shot by Steven Klein:

And on that note, I need to start a three hour daily weightlifting, cardio, flexibility and hard-core street fighting routine. New Year's Resolution!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

so bijou says you're fat. well, i ain't down with that.

Oh, Bijou Phillips. Mouthing off about how Michelle Obama's election night dress made her look fat, then trying to cover your ass by explaining that you would have totally voted for her.

"It made her look fat. It wasn’t her best dress. It didn’t fit her properly. And she can look awesome. She needs stuff that’s cut on the bias, and that dress wasn’t …I love Michelle Obama. If you print that you need to print that I would have voted for her. And that I think she’s a great dresser, except for that one dress."

First, I'd like to point out what a beautiful woman Michelle Obama is. I don't think that she's "looked fat" in her entire life. And if her appearance on election night constitutes looking fat, then God help us all. Granted, I don't think that the cardigan/dress combination flattered her figure to the same degree that some of previous ensembles did. But it's a bit a jump to go from "not her best look ever" to "looks fat." And look at her. Even at "not her best look," she is a stunning woman with a kickin' bod and a radiant smile.

Second, oh my petite Bijou. What in heaven's name have you done that makes your opinion relevant in any way? Okay, so your dad was one of the Papas. And you've been on the cover of Nylon (Which, hello, Peaches Geldof has a column in that magazine and Cory Kennedy has been on the cover. That publication no longer has any ounce of credibility, fashion or otherwise.). And you were in Hostel II. But oh wait, you're a skinny 28 year-old young woman who was born into wealth and privilege, and in our current pop culture landscape, that's all you need to be someone worth quoting. I don't care that you were on the cover of Interview when you were 13 (It's far less impressive when you consider that Andy Warhol was your godfather). I don't care that you were in a movie with Shane "A Walk To Remember" West about The Germs (What punk fan really likes The Germs anyway?). And good luck with that whole "aspiring model" thing (ahem, 5'6"). So please, stop making public jabs at Michelle Obama's figure. Stop giving Sam Rockwell handjobs in Chuck Palahniuk movies. Just stop everything. Full stop.

Ed. Note: I am aware of the apparent hypocrisy of condemning Bijou Phillips' comments about Michelle Obama's figure, and then making fun of her for her height (or lack thereof). Please know that I love the petites, and the reason I make fun of Bijou's height is not to mock those of smaller stature, but instead to point out the absurdity of her life of privilege and unearned opportunities. You're not going to meet many 5'6" models who aren't the children of celebrities.

Ed. Second Note: I totally misspelled "privilege" twice while writing this post. Thank you spellcheck. Who knew that word was such a tricky one? Such an embarrassing spelling error would have totally killed the credibility of this rant. Whew!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

what i want for christmas even more than shoes

I love dinosaurs. To the point that I've long been considering getting a triceratops tattoo. Dinosaurs are that important to me. And now there is nothing that I want more than a pet baby robot dinosaur to call my own. Enter Pleo, the cutest little animatronic dino that the world has ever seen. True, I forsee problems with this little guy getting along with my cats (which are not animatronic), but I'm sure they could work through their differences.

it's that time of year again

The one and only l'étoile Holiday Guide is out! So whether you're in the Twin Cities or elsewhere, be sure to check out our gift-giving suggestions. Not to toot our own horn, but our staff has pretty excellent taste.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

ever so excited!

I can't believe the film version of Neil Gaiman's Coraline is finally coming out. I feel like I've been waiting for this movie for five years. It looks just as creepy and funny as I'd always hoped.

Friday, December 12, 2008

the notorious bettie page

Cheeky pin-up girl. S&M sexpot. Inspiration for thousands of bang trims and dye jobs. Rest in peace, Bettie.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

dear santa...

Do you think you could just pop over to Helsinki and pick me up some Minna Parikka shoes and accessories? I promise I'll be a really good girl.

Monday, December 8, 2008

monday nerdery

The other day I tried to list all of the connections between the Whedonverse and How I Met Your Mother. And kids, I left out two big ones. In season two, both Morena Baccarin (Inara from Firefly and Serenity) and Tom Lenk (Andrew from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) guest star in the episode "Swarley." I'm starting to get a little overwhelmed by all of the overlap. Am I missing something? Is Joss Whedon a secret HIMYM executive producer?

Big news for fans of Fables. ABC wants to adapt the comic for the small screen. I've been hoping for a Fables television series for a while, but I'd been crossing my fingers for HBO or Showtime (the latter of which is developing a series based on the now defunct Exterminators series, which I started reading by accident and fell in love with). Nonetheless, beggars can't be choosers and I'm just excited that Fables will be coming into homes across the country. Let's hope that this series gets the great casting and production that it deserves.

I haven't been able to find out much about the Preacher movie, other than the fantastic Sam Mendes will be directing. Hopefully, we'll start hearing some juicy casting details soon. Here's hoping that the project actually happens within the next couple of years. Maybe he'll start production once he finishes filming Middlemarch.

light bright

This weekend was a cold one, kids. I volunteered at a YMCA Christmas Tree Lot for a few hours on Saturday, and by the time we closed up for the day, my face was pink and windburned and my eyes were dry and bloodshot. Not my best look. My schedule was a pretty tight afterwards, so I barely had time to freshen up and have an MGD before heading out to meet friends. I needed to break out a few products that would even out my complexion and brighten my eyes without a major time commitment. So I used a little Too Faced Magic Wand Foundation here, a light dusting of Becca's Pressed Shimmer Powder in Gypsy there, but it was really the following three products that made me feel less like a Minnesota ice fisherman and more like a snow angel.

Rohto Arctic Redness Reliever Eye Drops: Nothing conveys winter misery like dry red itchy eyes. Brightening up the whites of your eyes is one of the easiest ways to make yourself appear awake, happy and healthy (models are constantly naming redness relieving eye drops as pre-photo shoot must-haves). I first purchased these eye drops at Walgreens because I liked the packaging (it's Japanese!), but I quickly became devoted to the product itself. I won't lie. It kind of stings. But after splashing in a few drops and blinking involuntarily for the requisite two minutes, my eyes feel refreshed and I have the whites of a supermodel.

Cargo EyeLighter: I used to have this irrational insecurity that my eyes were too close together, so I became a big fan of applying a smudge of white eyeshadow to the inner corners of my eyes, in order for them to appear farther apart. Well, I'm not sure that it worked (and I've also realized that my whole eyes-too-close-together fixation was less about my eyes' placement on my face and more about my own neuroses), but it became one of my favorite tricks to make my eyes appear bright and awake on cold winter mornings. Eventually I graduated from whatever shimmery pale shadow I had lying around and purchased the Cargo EyeLighter, an eye shadow wand designed specifically for the inner and outer corners of your eyes. With a rounded smudge applicator for the inner corners and a pointed applicator for the outer corners, this dual-headed wand deposits just the right amount of white shimmery shadow. It's quick, easy, and mess-proof enough that I can toss it into my purse without worrying about a potential powder explosion. A huge plus when I'm running out the door in the morning.

Philosophy Big Eyes in Bright and Rimmel Soft Kohl Kajal Eye Pencil in Pure White: I'm a believer in white eyeliner. A little on the the inner rim (also known as the waterline) of the lower lid not only makes you appear more awake, it also makes your eyes look larger. But it's imperative that the liner glides on easily. Irritating the sensitive skin around your eye will just make the whole area redder, negating the entire purpose of this exercise. I'd had good luck with drugstore white liners, but a Sephora sales associate urged me to try this Philosophy Bright Eyes pencil and it was love at first application. The creamy white liner applied smoothly with zero tugging, and the color went on rich and dense. Sadly, this particularly white pencil has been discontinued, so though I'm trying to make it last as long as possible, I knew it was time to try out some other options. I ventured back into the drugstore and fortunately found a worthy successor. Rimmel's Soft Kohl Kajal Eye Pencil in Pure White works almost as well as my favorite Philosophy liner. And at less than $4 a pop, this purchase is about as guilt-free as you can get.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

these are a few of my favorite things

Apologies. I've been a bad blogger. With all of the holiday travelling, long hours at work, and my desperate attempt at a social life, my recent blog updates have been infrequent and somewhat lacking. As has my nail care, but I digress. My recent frazzled state doesn't mean that I don't have a long list of post ideas to type up over the next few weeks. And since my list of recent obsessions includes a healthy number of visual artists (that I mostly read about on Vulture, as I'm not nearly cool enough for Art Forum), I thought I'd put together a little list of the art that has me salivating.

Note: I didn't even notice that all of these artists were women until I began typing up this post. Ladies doing it for themselves.

the creepy crawly work of Tessa Farmer

new pieces by the legendary Cindy Sherman

the sweet but slightly disturbing paintings of Melanie Vote

the delicate work of Jen Corace

the incredible detail of Ali Cavanaugh