31 May 2006

‘Spirituality and Japanese Design Practise’

Just arrived in Vancouver this afternoon. (Wow, this city has changed!) Arrived to some good e-mails: am now a Professional member of the International Chapter of the AIGA, United States.

Also, I didn't think they would, but Ambidextrous, the multi-disciplinary design magazine of the Stanford Institute of Design (d.school), put the last piece I wrote for them on their blog for public consumption. Thanks, Wendy!

Check the article out here!


eurobrat said...

I love Vancouver.

Fell said...

And I love you. And your fashion. Well, mostly your fashion.

And Vancouver is nice, too. So far it's been good to me. It has kept me a) rained on, and b) drunk. And the fashion out here is okay, but mostly hipster knock-offery, so I dunno about that.

But no one ever said I had style.

Though, the waitress liked the way I smelled at lunch today. No joke. I have good taste in cologne. Or waitresses. One of the two.

Anonymous said...

Okay so this might sound a little or a lot creepy but I was in Joanne Wotypka’s Religion class that you came and spoke to this past April and I did notice that you do use really nice cologne

Oh and don’t worry it is a girl saying this

Fell said...

What better compliment to receive on 6/6/06! I'm flattered.

There is a very interesting chapter on the olfactory sense in A Natural History of the Senses, by Diane Ackerman. Beautiful book. The brain actually grew out of the olfactory nerves; we think because we smelled.

But your compliment is much more enticing.

If it's even a compliment… I suppose it's more of an observation…

Fell said...

Also, inspired by the lovely power of aroma its affect on us, both sensual and powerful, I forgot till just now about this post:

Concerning magical parfums

Anonymous said...

Trust me I meant it as a Complement or if you like you can call it a very good observation.

I found the post “Concerning magical parfums” really interesting because I have seen first hand how scents can influence shoppers……every time this one friend of mine goes into Abercrombie & Fitch the first thing she says is how good it smells…..like guys cologne.....then continues to buy overpriced clothes that she doesn’t need, cant afford and just turned down at another store. Plus I have always been aware of the power that specific scents have on me.

(Sorry if this posts twice it didn’t look like the first one worked)

Fell said...

Yes, I agree. I've seen other studies done with memory and aroma, where it increases recall if the memory is associated with scents, etc. It's neat in ritual magic and meditation because it actually bypasses the part of the brain that tries to register and objectify. If wanting a particular effect or state of mind, aromas are powerful tools.

Really powerful tools can be mixed together, such as colour, scent, and audible signals such as drums or beats set to particular frequencies. If they all correlate, the senses become overwhelmed and you are further drawn that much more easily into a desired altered state of consciousness. It just takes some practise recognising which do what, but there are also plenty of books out there to aid one.

Alternately, this can also relate further to fashion as contemporary mask magic, which I should really post about more.

Anonymous said...

Okay I am not sure if I fully get all that is being said in that post, mainly the comments that were made. But what I did get from it is basically that for most people their clothes dictate how they act and how they are perceived by others, people let their clothing own them rather than them owning their clothing, sorry for the cliché wording.

My friend wouldn’t have gone into Abercrombie & Fitch if it didn’t mean something to her in the first place (most fashion snobs feel that A&F means getting that instant “cool” and “hot” status). And I would be lying if I said that I don’t change the way I dress to be seen in a specific light, i.e. going to a job interview or meeting the boyfriend’s parents for the first time.

Also, my best friend pointed out to me that every time I get well we will call it “noticed” at the bar I am wearing the same outfit (which isn’t my most revealing outfit) at the same time I don’t wear that outfit that often when I go out…why because I personally don’t feel comfortable in it…..so to me it seems like a contradiction, I wear an outfit that I don’t feel comfortable in so wouldn’t my actions reflect that, but at the same time it get noticed. So is it more that the clothes are controlling me or those around me…..I get noticed because of what I am wearing but only because it means something to the other people around me, which causes them to not notice how I feel in the clothing……It is an armor that is hiding what is really there and they are blind to what it is hiding…..

Fell said...

I was sort of bringing up some of these elements earlier today with my friend, Steph, who even though may smack me for saying it, is fashion conscious. We all are to an extent, but yes a huge part of it really comes down to, Does this outfit control me, or do I control the outfit?

Sounds silly, but it is the theory behind branding, as well as memetics:

In marketing, a brand is a collection of feelings toward an economic producer. Feelings are created by the accumulation of experiences with the brand, both directly relating to its use, and through the influence of advertising, design, and media commentary. A brand is a symbolic embodiment of all the information connected to a company, product or service. A brand serves to create associations and expectations among products made by a producer. A brand often includes an explicit logo, fonts, color schemes, symbols, which are developed to represent implicit values, ideas, and even personality. The brand, and "branding" and brand equity have become increasingly massive components of culture and the economy, now being described as "cultural accessories and personal philosophies."

Dawkins said, "Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches." Other examples include god, concepts, ideas, theories, opinions, beliefs, practices, habits, dances and moods which propagate within a culture. Thus a meme is a self-propagating unit of cultural evolution analogous to the gene (the unit of genetic information).

So now you enter into more occult territory, dealing with the essences of what may perhaps be referred to as preternatural intelligences that live out a dance not among us, but through us. Back in the days of ancient Egypt or wherever, now the concept of skater, goth, top forty, and hipster culture don't seem so alien to the worship of certain gods and particular sects, no? Somone worshiping Dionysus/Bacchus millennia ago is not so different from someone willing to worship at the alter of Nine Inch Nails or Eminem.

Of course, back when, the priests and priestesses had refined their communication and observations of the symbols to such a state to allow them a sort of communication directly with the symbols themselves — the gods. This may shed light on the title of Colin Wilson's seminal text: The Occult: The Ultimate Book for Those Who Would Walk with the Gods.

So I just asked my buddy who is over what the first words that come to mind are when he hears "Abercrombie & Fitch." From our point of view, I already knew what he was going to say and the words were anything but pleasant. It's tribal in nature; one group worships at the alter of what you and your friends think is cool, and then there is, raised differently, and we have a totally different concept of what is cool. And, ultimately, a different idea of who we think are idiots, which my friend so pleasantly pointed out.

It's been hard for myself, too, because there is no difference between you and I aside from cultural memes now. But if you see us on the street, we might look undesirable or be on our bikes, and some of your friends might snicker or there may be animosity between your friends and mine. However, put you and I in a room one-on-one and something different happens: we strip away cultural artefacts, brands, and once we start talking — once I can look into your eyes and see you for a human being, just like me — we can begin to create a vernacular unique to us. Through this, we grow together. It's the same as youth and social cliques: experiences bring them together and they develop particular lingos; as they grow they link up to other groups with similar characteristics and dispositions and become cultures.

Thing is, when you strip away the vernacular common to those groups, I guarantee you'll come to find two things:

1. You will go through the liberating trauma of freeing yourself from the prison that your social mores and customs have over you. By taking the time and energy to define what you think is cool, right & wrong, beautiful, et cetera, you will inevitably alienate yourself from what you currently see as the standard social ways of existing. But those are the first steps to wisdom and power.

2. People within your current group will grow at odds with you, and you will find some people you really don't like within your sphere of association. Alternatively, you'll begin to notice characteristics attractive to you in other cliques and social circles. New music, art, customs, and experimentation become increasingly attractive as you conquer your own fears and demons.

So it's funny having this conversation, as you say most fashion snobs feel that A&F means getting that instant “cool” and “hot” status, but I guarantee you that I know some "fashion snobs" (bound to happen, as I have friends and family in fashion industry, and personally worked in the beauty industry for years — hell, my roommate works for Dior, and eurobrat at the top of this comments list runs a couture blog). What I am getting at is, only one market segment thinks of A&F as "cool" and "hot," the rest thinks it's suburban shopping mall wares hucked for an audience of a particular education, definitely not early adopters as far as tech and culture go, and have limited access and knowledge of music, cinema, and culture.

Just like a study I recently came across dealing with the psychographics of the SUV market, who they target: and according to market research, SUV owners are often selfish, vain, and show-offy, let alone other negative qualities the report purported. But that is the job of the marketer, so spin those qualities in a positive manner and make the SUV look attractive to the "tough, cool," and whatever crowd.

Don't get me wrong, I am not knocking your friend, I don't know her. I've misjudged too many people in my life to continue to do so, and I have friends that can attest to that.

In fact, that you're so willing to observe these things about yourself is really amazing and it'd be an honour to meet you in person if that were the case. In as such, I don't look to judge people by their fashion choices, but by their ability to grow and explore the opportunities life afford them.

You are taking your first steps along that path, and that, in the occult, are the first steps along the path of what is known as the Great Work.

So I congratulate you and hope you keep questioning what it is your friends are doing, and why people are attracted to you in one outfit rather than another. Are they even making eye contact, really listening to you? And further, do you even have anything interesting to say, to present to interested suitors, or does the outfit work for you because it makes life easy by defining you for your audience rather than you defining the outfit for the audience. People buy brands cuz they're easy. But get lost in them, and people become hollow shells (how we stereotypically see everyone at top-forty bars), and we have no issues making broad sweeping presumptions like all the girls are fucking idiots and the guys are testosterone junkies that we'd love to see gassed. Not out of spite, but to prevent them from procreating any further.

But like I said, I don't say things like that anymore. Because of women like you, that prove me wrong. Albeit, it's like one or two a year, but I wouldn't sacrifice meeting one of you a year to rid myself of the 10,000 idiots I meet in the interim.


Anonymous said...

I don’t mean to drag this conversation on but I just want to say one more thing

I realize that with fashion there are many different perspectives people can take when looking at brands and what seems to be the new and hot trends in fashion………and that maybe it is just the circle of friends that I hang out with that defines my perspective of what is considered to be the norm and socially acceptable. However, at the same time I do not judge or try my best not to judge (some people just make it way to hard not to) those who dress or act differently then that what I currently see as socially acceptable. Rather than judging it I question it…..the difference being that judging puts a negative label on it while with questioning it I am just tying to understand the person and what statement they are trying to make……and I guess with me the questioning comes in to pay when people like you said get lost in the labels they wear and become hollow shells, which maybe what is starting to happen with my friend.

I suppose what I am having the hardest time with is, were do I sit in all this…..what does my clothing say about me. I honestly don’t have that many articles of clothing that are a name brand…..meaning clothes that are from a big label, since everything is made by some company and thus is a brand of some kind. I said I question people when I don’t understand what that person is trying to say or getting across to others, so I guess I am questioning my self, what is it I am trying to say with my clothing, because I have just always bought what I feel looks good on my body and to some extent fits my personality…..which might relate to how my room mate says that I have no personal style, and what she means by this is that I blend in rather than stand out, which I think can also be related back to what you said by how an outfit may work for me because it defines me to my audience rather than me defining it to them.

So I guess my ultimate question for my self is how do I figure out what it is I am trying to say with the way I present my self to the world, whether it be the clothing I wear, the way I act or any other cultural memes. Or for that matter how do I know that my current cultural memes even reflect who I truly am and how I want to be seen.


Fell said...

Georgina, I don't mind the continuing discussion.

The only way to escape misrepresentation is never to commit oneself to any critical judgement that makes an impact — that is, never say anything.
—F. R. Leavis, The Great Tradition

It's good to question oneself, guaranteed, but at the same time why feel as though it's necessary to say anything with your appearance. As an analogy, people wouldn't expect it but I have friends that are Mormon, Bible-thumping Christians, Buddhist, et cetera, and the ones that tend to annoy me the most are actually the Wiccan/witchy sorts.

And I am sure some of them like shopping at Abercrombie & Fitch.

Thing is, when you strip away the fashion, and more particularly the dogmas we live by — so whatever you may think you're defining yourself by: politics, fashion, accessories, religion, etc — when they are all stripped away, what remains? There will still remain something, trust me on that. It's this something you should be working towards defining, by stripping away the attempts to define onseslf through extraneous elements, like fashion.

The closer you refine this something within, this human element we all have in common, you, me, everyone, then I guarantee you that fashion will be nothing more than an afterthought. Not in that you won't apply it, but that you'll have a much better understanding of it in light of different social cliques, social mores, art, communication, etc.

It's not hard to see that someone working for the U.N. looks down upon those in the small cities of North America for the amount of importance we place on appearance, when his or her experience around the world has reduced our methods of defining ourselves and our little lives to a few articles of clothing bought at shopping malls.

Plus, the more cliques and experiences you begin to experience and identify yourself with, part of sloughing off your currrent interpretations of yourself, the more ground you cover experientially. The more ground you cover, the more cultural and subjective views you have to express yourself.

Last but not least, the less vehement you become defending the one little piece of experience you have. People tend to become very dogmatic and vicious when faced with new elements (not implying you, but in general), when they lack a variety of experiences in life. If it was one religion, or one way of life, or one set of musical/fashion cues to live life by, they tend to defend that little island of experience very diligently, afraid that everything else is "evil" because it is unknown.

So, in a way, perhaps by mixing elements of fashion up from different designers, brands, stores, and overall cultural cliques, becomes a good way to experiment with experiencing new aspects of yourself. All fashion follows some basic tenets, as does all design.

As for actual fashion style and the how of wearing outfits, that is a science and art I am still very interested in and learning more about, slowly. I just tend to mix themes and make sure colours work, but as a man I don't have as much variety for texture and materials as women.

And in that, if you feel uncomfortable in something "sexier" (not slutty, mind you), then it obviously reflect an element of yourself you're uncomfortable with. Issues with one's appearance or esteem can be seen through fashion, sure, just as when I see young women wearing items that were obviously purchased due to their trendiness, but the girls are totally not wearing the article properly.

I dunno what else to say, aside from maybe go to other stores and check out and try on some other stuff. Decadence on Whyte has a lot of vintage stuff, maybe go in a try some of that on. Because it's not ever in or out of fashion, it forces you to adopt the articles to your own fashion climate. And I think it just comes down to experimenting, see what feels/looks right. But don't wear something if you don't like the way it makes you feel, or just the way it feels on in general.

Unless it's garters and something slinky. Then it's always okay.

Fell said...


One other thing I just thought of that might aid you in your current search for definition of your own expression might be with those earlier posts on magicla parfums. Since you seemed to like the bit on fragrance, why not do a little test and experiment with fragrances?

I know Ascendent Books, on 124th Street, carry a selection of oils and fragrances, so they might be worth checking out. I am sure they have a bunch of books on aromatherapy, too. On the other hand, Holt Renfrew downtown carries a large selection of designer fragrances and have exclusive rights to some that, say, The Bay doesn't. There are also three boutiques by the name of Carmela's Profumeria located throughout Edmonton, carrying rare and hard-to-find designers such as Ombre Rose, Kenzo, Creed, Bal A Versailles, Bijan, and Diva.

I once bought a cologne from the Carmela's in Glenora, on 102nd Avenue. The lady there was really helpful and pleasant. Speaking of which, there was a fragrance I wanted from a Japanese designer that I totally forgot about…

Anyhow, I think because the sense of smell bypasses the part of the mind that deals with short-term memory recall and specific parts of language, I believe it might be the best way to see what scene "is you," per se.

But go out of your way to find one that is unlike any you currently have. I don't know if this will be any help, if you happen to have a lot of perfumes, but if you only have a few it might help.

There will be situations where you might think that one fragrance will be more suitable than another. I find two colognes I have, are much more relevant for more formal meetings, and they subtly put me in a headspace which justifies more professional behaviour. On the other hand, I have Jean Paul Gaultier Cologne and it is considerably more spicy, excitable, and all those other funny adjectives. My roommate hates it. But it's definitely a more energetic fragrance and puts me in a particular frame of mind when wearing it. Lastly, I just picked up one I've been admiring, Givenchy Very Irrésistible. Aside from a silly name, it's going to be interesting playing with this cologne and receiving feedback. This is one that I might not normally think of wearing on my self — strong with cocoa with hints of grapefruit and citrus — but it was exciting when I first got to experience it when it débuted.

Through the perfumes, you might be able to find inspiration for new clothing, or more importantly: how you wear the clothing. Again, does the suit wear the man or does the man wear the suit. That is an important disctinction you'll have to make about yourself.

And as a final note: maybe you should check out Vice magazine's DOs and DON'Ts. It always brings a smile to my face.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the suggestion, I think it would be a really fun test to do….cause honestly when I go to The Bay or any department store with my sister all we really do is look at the perfumes. And as it just happens I already have a few perfumes that are designated for specific things….Bob Mackie for those every day kind of events since it is a very subtle sent, Deep Red by Hugo Boss for special occasion or the days were I just want to smell extra nice (It’s my favorite) and I have a sampler of Paris Hilton’s perfume that I have tried out the last few times I went to the bar…..the jury isn’t back on that one yet but it is defiantly meant for that type of setting and mind frame, and I used to have Chance by Chanel and when I wore that I felt pretty damn special.

I hope the Givenchy Very Irresistible works out for you because I have tried the women’s Very Irresistible and I personally don’t like it, it may have just been the bottle I had but it is a very strange and watered down sent.

But I will defiantly experiment with some perfumes that are unlike the ones I currently have, I will let you know how it all works out for me if you like.

Oh and one of my gal pals told me today that unlike our other friend she doesn’t spend money at Abercrombie and Fitch because it smells nice but because she can not resist the “Hot” guys that work there.

And Vice magazine’s Dos and DON’Ts also brought a smile to my face….Thank you for sharing that with me.


Fell said...

You seem to be a night owl, eh?

If you still have the hand-out from the class with my e-mail address on it, send me one. I'd have some more questions for you if I could talk to you privately or meet for coffee.

If you don't have it, let me know cuz I don't have it posted here.

Best of luck,