Tuesday, December 30, 2014


-Miuccia Prada is a genius! says Diane, who owns more than her fair share of Prada’s clothes
-Oh, she just does the opposite to everyone else, says Eartha
-No, no, says Diana, pursing her lips together. Diana’s lips are a marvel: they are plump and shiny like one of those blow up sculptures that were hip in contemporary art ten years ago. They are Eartha’s first encounter with botox. They don’t have botox where Eartha comes from.

Diana frowns, and the whole table frowns with Diana.
-But she’s so much more than that! says January,
-I know, says Diana, I know. –She’s a genius
-I know, says Eartha. She drinks her wine. It is red wine. Diana’s assistant makes sure they have both red and white wine at the table. It saves ordering.
-But that’s what she said in the New Yorker, says Eartha again
Diana has already moved on from the genius of Miuccia Prada. She is now considering the genius of others. Gareth Pugh, for instance, who nobody will care about in years to come. Her lips move upwards, forming a blow-up sculpture smile.
-Excuse me? she says
-Oh, I read a profile of her, where she said she just does the opposite, says Eartha
-Oh! Journalists! says Diana. She knows Miuccia Prada, personally. She knows the genius of Miuccia Prada. She is also a little scared of Miuccia. Nobody understands the female zeitgeist quite like Miuccia. Nobody except Phoebe Philo, perhaps, who is less scary but she doesn’t know personally.
-It kind of is opposite, though, isn’t it? says Diana

-Look at my shoes, says January. They are chunky and have little birds printed on them. –Is that just opposite?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

New Yorker, Misspent youth, etc

The most money anybody ever spent on me, whilst this blog was a popular and happening thing, was POP magazine. I am unsure if POP magazine exists anymore. It probably does. I never liked magazines very much (even when this blog was a happening thing)- I couldn’t get used to the ads and the terrible and inevitably breathless prose. The only magazine I read is the New Yorker. For years I would go to whatever library happened to be nearest to where I was living at the time and religiously read it, paying attention to all the current exhibitions and goings-on and the delightfully snarky comments hidden between lines of holier-than-thou well-fact-checked reporting. The library nearest where I lived in 2010 had a pile of old New Yorkers dating back to 2005: I took all of them. I carried them up the hill (like Kate Bush, but not running) in plastic bags and they ended up as a vast stack beside the toilet of the place we were living. The house was a depilated Victorian villa, which at some point during the 60s had been cut-up randomly into two flats. The fellow in the flat behind us lived somewhere else, and used his flat almost exclusively to brew beer. He made weed beer once, and gave me some to try.

-Weed beer! I said
-Yeah,  dock weed he said
-Oh, I said.

Dock weed, you see, contains a good quantity of vitamin C and as such was brewed by sailors to prevent scurvy. It tasted like one of those vitamin C pills people take around winter (you see them advertised in health shop run by women who smell like incense). It tasted suspiciously healthy. It probably would be worth marketing to people who eat kale (I realize kale jokes are old by now, but will there be any vegetable more iconic than kale is to the first two decades of this century? Coconuts, though not a vegetable, are perhaps a contender but kale is to our generation as turtle soup was to the Victorians).

I read most of the New Yorkers with great vigour. Outdated New Yorkers are great- especially reviews of restaurants which have no closed and profiles of things which are not a thing anymore (zunes, ipods, etc). One can gather a similar thrill from reading old NY Times fashion reviews of houses which do not exist anymore, or exist in a mutilated state. Now I subscribed to the New Yorker and I do not go to the library anymore. The only good thing at the library is the New Yorkers. Each week, a nicely packaged magazine comes, and I throw away the shrink wrap and I am up to date on the soylent situation or whatever. The library near where I lived has been changed somewhat, and the reading there is no good anyway.

My short digression on the New Yorker (and my love of it) is mostly to reflect on how absurd it is that I, one who is indifferent to magazines, was paid for to go to London and make some kind of pull-out poster zine with a bunch of other people. I don’t hate magazines. I was simply raised to believe they were too expensive, much like cafĂ© food, and buying things “full price”. It is hard to rid myself of this nature, but I am progressing. I have spent around two hundred (NZD) on an alarm clock, and a hundred dollars on a candle (the candle smelt nice). The only magazine I ever purchased was the POP magazine I was in, because they never sent it to me. Logistics, etc.

Tavi was invited to go to London, and she ended up being on the cover of said magazine. Tavi invited me to tag along, and her friend Laia, and her friend Arabelle, who couldn’t come, so Elizabeth came along instead (now Elizabeth makes amazing ceramics: I know because of facebook).

I was sixteen and wore t-shirts and jeans and everybody dressed better than me. A driver in a black car took me from the airport to the POP magazine offices, which were down a nondescript street near a storefront with scale models of luxury yachts (they probably couldn’t fit the full-size yaughts in, ha ha) and one of those ubiquitous sandwich shops with a star logo. Several years after London I lived in the UK, and those sandwich shops were still around. The British must really like sandwiches.

We sat on a rooftop balcony and bottles of Evian seemed to aperate before us. We met a photographer named Jamie J! who had long hair, the kind Sirius Black might have if he were a hip! happening! fellow, and a similar squint to Marco Pierre White. Later googling would come to show that Jamie J! had a hit single (and only released one single). It was a cover of Walk on the Wild Side. Thereis a fantastic video which goes with  it. Jamie J! used film and had a nervous assistant who put new film into his cameras for him. He gave us each a copy of Buffalo, a book of photos from the 80s almost entirely of young attractive men. Perhaps he thought of this as his CV, because nobody else had heard of him. He said “punky funky” a lot. A few days later Jamie J took photos of us in a studio. I wore a Chanel cardigan worth too much money with the interlocking “C’s” as buttons, and big glasses.

-You look so handsome! said Elizabeth
-I mean, really? I said
-Yeah! said Elizabeth. I blushed inwardly. Elizabeth has a lot to answer for: she introduced me to Lauderee macaroons. That’s like, Big City Life, right there.

I kept the polaroids in my old violin case, along with a typewritten letter from a friend and a postcard from another friend. The polaroids made me feel less like a greasy, socially cumbersome teenager- they were like a reflection of an idealized self. A self who, obviously, could afford Chanel cardigans and big glasses.

the author, brooding and malcontent, a la Nick Cave circa Boatman's Call, circa 09

Saturday, December 27, 2014

On (failing) to ask Rei Kawakubo what her favourite book is

I had the opportunity, once, to ask Rei Kawakubo a question. My question was "what are your favourite books?" and her answer on the sheet provided (her husband translated) was written as NO ANSWER, in caps (all her answers were written in caps, because Rei Kawakubo did Kanye before Kanye). This is partially due to my incompetence as an interviewer- is "what are your favourite books?" a good question? and partially due to my star-struck-shell-shocked self at being given the chance to ask the famous Ms. Kawakubo a question. I still think "what are your favourite books?" is a good question, because it seems so harmless. Most candidates will answer one of the hundred or so 'classics' which litter best-of lists with the reassuring predictability that best-of movie lists declare Citizen Kane the best film, like, ever, even though I am quite sure the number of people who have actually seen Citizen Kane decreases with every day, as the people who have seen it progressively die off. In twenty years the best-of lists will declare Fargo to be the best film ever. They are probably right.

There are multiple possible reasons we can gleam from Ms. Kawakubo's refusal to answer: perhaps she does not even read, per se, at all, merely absorbs the content of whatever book she is interested in by some form of osmosis, and in a library is confronted by the sheer bulk of knowledge that it all blends into some ultra-book, where Joyce meets Atwood meets Mahy. Perhaps she refuses all forms of media, in order to incubate herself from outside forms of interference (a more sophisticated version of wearing a tin-foil hat). Perhaps she thought my question was stupid and pointless and not worth answering. I am certain it was the last answer.

It is a banal question, though unintentionally revealing. Yohji Yamamoto has talked about The Family of Man being one of his favourite books. Once you connect Steichen to Yamamoto, all kinds of connections begin to appear: the worn-in, 'dusty' everyday feeling Steichen captures so well. Yamamoto's coats, with their odd proportions and heavy duty fabrics take on a logic beyond their stylistic lexicon. It's as if grandpa Yohji is trying to capture the broadness of the whole world. Or as Steichen puts it: "If the human face is “the masterpiece of God” it is here then in a thousand fateful registrations."

I don't know if I knew what Yamamoto's favourite book was when I asked submitted the question. Yamamoto's answer helped me understand his clothes better; in the same way, Kawakubo's answer did too. NO ANSWER explains Kawakubo's mindset perfectly, just as Family of Man explains Yamamoto's. I should've asked what her favourite pizza was.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

post-script (or: why I stopped writing this, and is anybody still reading anyway)

It has been a long time, followers. It has been years! Partially because, as the saying goes, Life Goes On, and the less well known saying, When You Think You Are Above Writing As A 70-Something Germanic Fashion Designer. Here's the thing: I could keep writing as Karl 'til the cows come home and are turned into artisan burger patties, and for a while (several years) this bothered me, because it's like, how will you ever know the real me!(!) and it's like, does it even matter who I am? It probably doesn't. All this time I could've been the cleaning lady at the Vogue offices, writing award-winning judgements of ya'll whilst vacuuming impractical carpets and emptying dustbins full of rejected spreads. Or I could've been the guy who wrote the Fake Steve blog, and presumably that is why I've been so reticent in recent years- 'cause when the Fake Steve blog guy came forward he exploded into a pile of ashes from the sheer disinterest of his general readership.

In hindsight, writing a blog as someone other than myself was a slight misstep if I wanted to achieve the fame and glory that customarily comes with being a semi-successful fashion blogger. I was in the Yohji Yamamoto store in London some time ago, and let me tell you, they didn't get down on their knees and kotow to me! I said, "don't you know who I am? I am the great fake Karl Lagerfeld! I once was published in Elle magazine!", and immediately they presented me with a dozen boxes of roses, and within those boxes of roses were boxes of clothes Yohji's own mother made herself.

Another thing about me: I used to really love Bob Dylan. I met Tavi 'cause we talked about Bob Dylan (the big BD, BD-daddy-o) on twitter. I don't remember the last time I listened to Bob Dylan. I went to a concert of his a couple of years ago. He played baseball music when introducing his band. I know nothing about baseball, being a New Zealander, but it was the music you hear at baseball games on the TV. I don't know if they really play this at baseball games. I hope they do. Rest assured, I will defend Bob Dylan if ending up in one of those "Bob Dylan can't sing/is a shit musician" arguments (more often replaced these days with "Nicki Minaj is so terrible!") but I have not listened to his music in some time. The point of this paragraph is people change, etc. Didion would be proud.

I started this blog when I was 15 or 16 and a lonely high school student with no friends and a bad haircut. I researched like mad- satirising, developing a 'voice', does not come without reading every material one can obtain on Karl Lagerfeld. Yves Saint Laurent interested me as well- I read The Beautiful Fall and, amongst many NYT articles, it was probably the most valuable resource. Lagerfeld's interviews are a goldmine too, of course. I studied how he dressed. I emulated how he dressed. I went to a school halloween party as Lagerfeld: two girls knew who I was. Emulating Lagerfeld is hard work. It's about understanding a kind of futurist mindset- constantly moving forward- acting as a magpie of the zeitgeist.

Stopping writing regularly coincided with "graduating" (although in NZ, there is no graduating, there is merely an end) probably- this was inevitable, because when you are 'famous' (note the scare quotes) for being something other than yourself you develop a kind of complex. It's a very dull complex. It is mostly a if-I'm-so-good-at-this-people-must-like-my-other-stuff-too, which may well be true, but it is a combination of teenage arrogance and stupidity that makes one think one best do this starting from scratch all over again. It's like that novel JK Rowling wrote under another name, except nobody is dying to work out my identity and when people know that I have done x project or xx project sales are unlikely to go through the roof. I will be sincere again: I saw Rookie, which is fantastic and wonderful, and I saw people I'd known for a while, in the same 'circles' as me write on Rookie and progress from their blog-lives. I so wanted to progress. I studied to be a chef, which is totes logical in a twisted kind of way, and I was published in 'literary' magazines and my noisy band has had some success and rock critic Everett True likes us, and Everett True has a wikipedia, so. I don't recommend this move into the low-fi-junk-seafoam-noise sphere, fashion bloggers. It will make you seven dollars or so.

Incidentally, I tried to write for Rookie because, as I said before, I really like Rookie- I check it pretty regularly. This seemed like a 'moving into the persona-of-myself' move. My writing was awful. I tried too hard. It lacked the ease of Fake Karl and the tone of my short stories didn't match their tone. I 'expanded as a person', which is good, but to some degree I missed the blogging thing. I found myself living in the desert with only a very valuable samurai sword and a small bag of dried-out broad beans. I started a broad-bean plantation. Bono came to visit me. He said, "why don't you use these old songs of yours". I said, what songs? He said look to the sky, or your closet. I looked in my closet and there was nothing there. Bono said, there is no spoon, and I said, that's from The Matrix, and he said he hasn't seen Interstellar yet.

I'm going to continue blogging here, anyway. I am now twenty two (almost twenty three, golly goose). It is entirely possible I'm broadcasting to dead air- that's OK too. Hi.