Vanity is my favorite sin.
xiao wen ju, schiaparelli haute couture s/s 2014

xiao wen ju, schiaparelli haute couture s/s 2014

(Source: somethingvain)

styleest-eternel: I'm not sure if anyone has asked this, but camera do you use for taking your photography?

I use Canon 7D! But it does change dependent on what’s at hand - honestly it isn’t the camera, but what’s being taken that’s really important. 

POSTED: 3 months ago NOTES: 1
schiaparelli haute couture by marco zanini s/s 2014

schiaparelli haute couture by marco zanini s/s 2014

(Source: somethingvain)

anna sui s/s 2013 rtw, makeup on liu wen

anna sui s/s 2013 rtw, makeup on liu wen

versace haute couture f/w 2002, selma blair by steven meisel for V magazine 2002

versace haute couture f/w 2002, selma blair by steven meisel for V magazine 2002

Anonymous: do you read a lot since your childhood, because your reading and writing ability seems to have developed really well?

most definitely! I was born in the age of bookworms, that wonderful period when the coming of each new Harry potter book would mark a new stage in my life, and I am forever grateful for that.

POSTED: 3 months ago NOTES: 11
Anonymous: how do you usually write your posts? do you research a lot before sitting down to write a post?

perhaps this will be an answer to my other 3 anon questions as well: I haven’t been idle in my absence from tumblr, so I was able to write this post much faster than I normally would’ve. I am highly interested in Orientalism so my research is ongoing, and my examples are drawn from a recent article on Korean fashion in Foreign Policy Magazine, a piece on Quentin Shih by Trendland, and another piece on cultural appropriation by Jezebel and Democracy Now! that I was reading last month.

POSTED: 3 months ago NOTES: 2
Anonymous: What with the "fashion philosopher" that you are, I'm very interested as to how you dress in real life!

As I said, Somethingvain is an idea that I channel when I write for this blog. In real life, I’d say I’m a remarkably ordinary dresser (albeit a tasteful one), although I have my moments of fashion inspiration. (But, don’t we all?)

POSTED: 3 months ago NOTES: 3
A Culture of Binary Opposition: Quentin Shih’s work with Christian Dior Haute Couture F/W 2010

The individualistic Western agent, posited against the homogenous Asian subject. An age old dichotomy that has persisted in an age of supposed cultural liberation and hybridization. Shih’s work for Dior, especially this particular campaign for F/W 2010 - a collection in which Galliano was inspired by Dior’s love for flowers but was criticised as overly ostentatious and lacking the subtle multi-layered dimensions of meaningful depth of a great couture collection - may be intentionally problematic, but it is eye-catching and undoubtedly memorable. Before exploring the implications of this depiction, perhaps we should take discuss our own reactions to a familiar symbol of what linguists call binary opposition. 
The idea of ‘binary opposition' was formalised by Earnest Renan's philological structure that sought to decode the Orient by portraying it in relation to the west, making the mystique of the Orient 'knowable' to the Western coloniser by relating the 'other-ness' of the Orient in relation to the familiarity of the West. In some ways, the constriction of this system of binary opposition meant that knowledge about the Orient had to be reinterpreted and recreated to fit in with the categories dictated by existing knowledge about the West. But in other ways, it was perhaps the easiest method of making something completely foreign accessible to those removed from the context of this knowledge. This acontextual approach to creating knowledge has been recycled in the use of contemporary Asian archetypes in Western media, to make the East relatable to the West. The fact that these images are so eye-catching to us may not be because they are controversial, but because we have been trained, since the days of the Bible's good/bad angel/devil dichotomy, to 'know' in this way - images and media depicting more clearly demarcated dichotomies remaining more popular because they make sure we can place knowledge rigidly in a pre-created structure such that we can make sense of things completely based on our own experience. 
The age of post-modernism began to question the structure of dichotomy, but only within intellectuals: even today, movies like The Hobbit very clearly create the human-like characters as the good in direct opposition to the alien-like savage Orcs. Perhaps this approach is unavoidable, as it would be difficult to otherwise form opinions within an age of increasingly decreasing attention spans. It’s negative implications are obvious (touched upon in my earlier Alexander McQueen post), but perhaps the most grievous, subtle implication that few explore is the statification of culture. 
By creating an opposite to fit this dichotomy, as the West often does with Asia (and the archetype of the communitarian, same-faced, choiceless subject) there is not only an obvious license being taken by attributing characteristics to cultures acontextually, but to even take this license there is an implicit assumption that the Asian culture is static hence why it can be used as the backdrop for Western action. The problem is not just the depiction of a culture of subjects, but of viewing the culture itself as a subject - static and immutable, defying the very nature of progress. This is perhaps the root of the problem of binary opposition: the view that North Korean fashion is always the military homogeneity it was 10 years ago despite the fact that Russian fashion has changed remarkably, the fact that only traditional Korean dramas depicting the era of imperial rule and Chinese Kung-Fu movies can be popular on the mainstream market when most popular Western movies are centred on the very present. Asian filmmakers trying to create modern-day films are seen as imitators of the great Western art, or “avant-garde”, “daring”. What is so daring, so strange about Asia trying to make a statement that it has a living, malleable culture? 
Asia is made completely into a fantasy, simply because it was once used as the opposite of the West, and to substantiate this ideal of Western progress has been relegated to state of static Asian-ness, and forgotten. Paradoxically, there is perhaps nothing more anti-progress and outdated than the continued use, globally, of this system of binary opposition. 
written by somethingvain

A Culture of Binary Opposition: Quentin Shih’s work with Christian Dior Haute Couture F/W 2010

The individualistic Western agent, posited against the homogenous Asian subject. An age old dichotomy that has persisted in an age of supposed cultural liberation and hybridization. Shih’s work for Dior, especially this particular campaign for F/W 2010 - a collection in which Galliano was inspired by Dior’s love for flowers but was criticised as overly ostentatious and lacking the subtle multi-layered dimensions of meaningful depth of a great couture collection - may be intentionally problematic, but it is eye-catching and undoubtedly memorable. Before exploring the implications of this depiction, perhaps we should take discuss our own reactions to a familiar symbol of what linguists call binary opposition. 

The idea of ‘binary opposition' was formalised by Earnest Renan's philological structure that sought to decode the Orient by portraying it in relation to the west, making the mystique of the Orient 'knowable' to the Western coloniser by relating the 'other-ness' of the Orient in relation to the familiarity of the West. In some ways, the constriction of this system of binary opposition meant that knowledge about the Orient had to be reinterpreted and recreated to fit in with the categories dictated by existing knowledge about the West. But in other ways, it was perhaps the easiest method of making something completely foreign accessible to those removed from the context of this knowledge. This acontextual approach to creating knowledge has been recycled in the use of contemporary Asian archetypes in Western media, to make the East relatable to the West. The fact that these images are so eye-catching to us may not be because they are controversial, but because we have been trained, since the days of the Bible's good/bad angel/devil dichotomy, to 'know' in this way - images and media depicting more clearly demarcated dichotomies remaining more popular because they make sure we can place knowledge rigidly in a pre-created structure such that we can make sense of things completely based on our own experience. 

The age of post-modernism began to question the structure of dichotomy, but only within intellectuals: even today, movies like The Hobbit very clearly create the human-like characters as the good in direct opposition to the alien-like savage Orcs. Perhaps this approach is unavoidable, as it would be difficult to otherwise form opinions within an age of increasingly decreasing attention spans. It’s negative implications are obvious (touched upon in my earlier Alexander McQueen post), but perhaps the most grievous, subtle implication that few explore is the statification of culture. 

By creating an opposite to fit this dichotomy, as the West often does with Asia (and the archetype of the communitarian, same-faced, choiceless subject) there is not only an obvious license being taken by attributing characteristics to cultures acontextually, but to even take this license there is an implicit assumption that the Asian culture is static hence why it can be used as the backdrop for Western action. The problem is not just the depiction of a culture of subjects, but of viewing the culture itself as a subject - static and immutable, defying the very nature of progress. This is perhaps the root of the problem of binary opposition: the view that North Korean fashion is always the military homogeneity it was 10 years ago despite the fact that Russian fashion has changed remarkably, the fact that only traditional Korean dramas depicting the era of imperial rule and Chinese Kung-Fu movies can be popular on the mainstream market when most popular Western movies are centred on the very present. Asian filmmakers trying to create modern-day films are seen as imitators of the great Western art, or “avant-garde”, “daring”. What is so daring, so strange about Asia trying to make a statement that it has a living, malleable culture? 

Asia is made completely into a fantasy, simply because it was once used as the opposite of the West, and to substantiate this ideal of Western progress has been relegated to state of static Asian-ness, and forgotten. Paradoxically, there is perhaps nothing more anti-progress and outdated than the continued use, globally, of this system of binary opposition. 

written by somethingvain

Anonymous: Ahh you're so smart and accomplished, you're definitely going to make it to whatever college you apply for. Any tips for those of us who still have a year before they need to apply? (Also, IB is really bad I heard, but at least there's that bell curve)

ah no, there is a world of far more accomplished intellectuals, and all i can do is hope that by reaching for the moon i’ll land among the stars (one of my favourite quotes, by the way). i think the only tip i would have is not to underestimate yourself - a few of my friends didn’t apply for universities that i’m sure they could’ve made out of fear of getting rejected, and having been accepted to their pseudo-first choices i can’t help but think they would feel a little underwhelmed. 

POSTED: 3 months ago NOTES: 6