The Death of the Musical

I grew up watching musicals. Lots of them. Over and over...and over. West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie, Oklahoma, the list goes on and on...and on. Over the past few days I've been re-watching Singing in the Rain whenever I've had time, and it made me think...damn, the art of the musical is lost. Yes, I loved the modern day musicals Moulin Rouge and Across the Universe...however, both of those films were totally over the top and over-produced. Where has all the showmanship gone? What happened to the time when all people used were their own instruments, their bodies, to entertain? No gimmicks...just good wholesome singing and dancing...

Gene Kelly was...and is...the ultimate showman in my book. He had grace, he had style, his voice was so familiar and warm...and this man puts Usher to shame with his moves. This is what true dancing and movement are all about:

Anne Margaret
used to be my idol. In Bye Bye Birdie she plays a confused teenager in love. My fav part of the dance face-off starts around 3:16:

The Gym Scene from West Side Story...actually every dance scene from West Side Story...sigh, so energetic and vibrant and passionate:

You can't beat it. I know most people aren't down with musicals, but I figure since it's Saturday, most people aren't sitting around reading blogs, so I have a little bit of leeway. Have a great weekend...try to find some time to enjoy something as much as Gene Kelly enjoys the rain.



When Fashion Meets Fitness

Though I've never really talked about it on the blog, fitness is a pretty significant part of my life. I work out at least 5 days a week, I try to eat only whole foods, and I love love loooove talking to other people who love to work out (in fact, I kind of judge people who don't).

"Mihal, that's all well and good," you must be thinking, "but if I wanted to read about fitness I would be on a fitness blog". Don't worry, this ties into fashion...it's coming.

**But while we're on the topic of fitness blogs, I should mention that a new favorite of mine is The Great Fitness Experiment by Charlotte Andersen (she also blogs for Huffington Post, another fav). Check her out...she's hilarious and oh so sassy.**

Anyway, I had a gym-epiphany earlier this year, and I'd like to share it with all of you.

I have always been the type of girl who works out in cut-off sweats (capri length) and a baggy tshirt. Not because I was self-conscious about my body, and not because I thought it was particularly cute, but because it was easy and I didn't have to think about inadvertently showing skin, or - let's be real here - maybe my armpits hadn't been shaved in like 5 days and I didn't wanna flash my hairy pits.
Ok well it wasn't that bad...but you know what I mean? I just didn't wanna think about the way I looked while I was a-pumpin'-tha-iiiiiron. Then I'd see girls dressed like this...
...and I'd think to myself, wtf, is this a friggin Miss America contest? That's not what all this is about!

Guess what, it is. Yes, working out is about health, but it's also about vanity. I didn't truly understand the benefit of this until my mom came to visit and took me to Nike where I got real workout outfits...like clothes that were made specifically for working out. I got pants like these:
They hug the curves real nice and magically don't show pantylines (I think working out in a thong is the worse sounding idea EVER). So by this point I was wearing the new pants and still rocking the baggy tshirt, and I thought to myself, go all the way Mihal, live a little. The next day I wore the pants with a beater...and honey, I've never felt better! I have become one of those girls and I'm loving it. Check out your arms when you're doing those bicep curls! Steal a glimpse at that those tight quads when you're coming up from that squat! Swish those hips on the way to the water fountain! And stretch without getting caught up in extra fabric at the end of your sweat session.

Do I miss the days of cut-off sweats and oversized t's? Nope. Though I keep the t-shirts around for those off-days (read: bloated belly, hairy armpits, etc.), aint nothing like seeing your progress in some fun sexy gym outfits. Go ahead, buy some real clothes that were meant for working out...shave those pits and put on a tank top...strut your stuff, flaunt that bod...if you've got a little jiggle, Nike makes clothes to suck that shit in!! And maybe try a spinning class while you're at it.



Yes Jon Stewart...I Do.

It's probably safe to say that my dad has given up on the idea of me marrying a Jewish man. Surely it's every Jewish father's dream that his Jewish daughter find a nice Jewish lawyer, doctor (etc. etc.) to love her and nurture her and help her raise their children to be decent Jewish offspring...but my dad has a good head on his shoulders and knows there are more important, more relevant things.

Well daddy, this might be your lucky day, for your Jewish daughter has found herself a great Jewish man, to love and to cherish as long as we both shall live. Well, right now he's actually married to a Catholic woman, but psh...I feel as though that can all be worked out.
Yesterday MJ and I were audience members at the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. After standing on line for 2 hours in the FREEZING COLD, we were ushered in, through the metal detectors, and into the studio. (No pictures allowed sadly - they were actually confiscating people's cell phones). Once we were in the studio we waited about an hour for the hype man to come out - luckily there was an entertaining high school student with a lisp who was sitting next to us. He interjected random giggles and questions into our conversation, but mostly played intently with a rubrics cube.
I'm not going to go into the details of the show. You know Jon Stewart and how freakin hilarious he is. Here's a clip from the show:

Here's another relevant video:

Oh...he's already married, you say? Well at least my head's in the right place, right daddy? No? Dammit. Honey, if you ever change your mind, I've got the perfect glass to stomp on with your name on it.



How Tall is Sarah Jessica Parker?

It's Sunday evening, and like usual I'm watching Sex and the City. At this point I've seen each episode so many times that I mostly keep it on in the background while I'm doing other things (like right now). But today, for one episode, I sat down and watched. One scene in particular caught my attention, when Carrie was standing with Aiden, and I thought to myself, "this woman is so perfectly proportioned, but damn, she's a PIPSQUEAK!!" then, "let me Google her, I must know how tall she is" (I figured about 5'3" or 5'4", but I had to know for sure).

But as I started to type in "how tall is..." into my Google search, a few of their suggestions popped up and I found myself getting sidetracked. How do these suggestions work? Well according to "Google Suggest FAQ":

"Our algorithms use a wide range of information to predict the queries users are most likely to want to see. For example, Google Suggest uses data about the overall popularity of various searches to help rank the refinements it offers..."

So whose heights are people Googling the most? In order of popularity:
1. Barack Obama
2. Michelle Obama
3. Lil' Wayne
4. Tom Cruise
5. Obama
6. Taylor Swift
7. John McCain
8. Miley Cyrus
9. Sarah Palin
10. Oprah

So there you have it. We care about politics, musicians, movie stars, and talk show hosts. I believe that's quite an accurate summary of America. I mean really, who else is there?

Then of course I went on a rampage, typing in "how ___ is..." to see what else these people are searching. Type in "how smart is" and Google suggests:
1. Obama
2. Sarah Palin
3. Your dog
4. Your right foot
5. Barack Obama
6. Your baby
7. My dog
8. A dog
9. Palin
10. McCain

...people really wanna know how smart their dogs are. This is where my searching frenzy stopped.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, Sarah Jessica Parker is 5'4".



Life-Size for Grown Folk

Fashion week has been provoking a lot of thoughts for me. The ones I'm having now in particular, however, come not from the fashion on the runway, but from the people attending the shows. The celebs, the socialites, the people in the fashion industry - editors, models, bloggers, groupies. Why do these people catch my attention? What separates them from the rest? Well, a lot. But specifically, their accessories. Yes, their outfits are bangin'...but I'm talking specifically about shoes, jewelry, bags, scarves...the little things that tell the rest of us, "I'm important. I know about fashion. And not only do I have the money to show it, but I have the taste to put it together so you can witness how this little game is played."
Source: Jak&Jil

Accessories elevate a person to one step above the rest. The more exclusive, the more "better-than-all-the-rest" you become. Like toys when we were kids. We'd trot around with our brand new Barbies or She-Ra Princess of Power dolls (yeah, He-Man and Transformer action figures too) - and we'd know that if our "accessories" were exclusive or new, we were headed to the best seat in the cafeteria. Accessories are like dolls for grown folk - we've simply replaced the hot pink Barbie Ford Mustang Convertible for the latest Yves Saint Laurent Ankle Boots. Remember that movie with Tyra Banks and Lindsay Lohan called "Life-Size"?
Essentially little Lohan's character brings her doll (Tyra Banks) to life when she tries to cast a spell to resurrect her dead mother. I'll stop there, don't wanna give away too much. Anyway, a walking, talking life-size doll has probably been every little girl's dream at some point - that's why we played with dolls...in our heads we were making them come alive. Now, as mature grown-ups, we have much more physically possible, more attainable dreams: like the $965 Christian Louboutin Mary Jane Platforms at Berdorf's, or the $2,150 Chloe Heloise North-South Tote bag that appears in my dreams from time to time.

Sigh...ok, so maybe I should go back to trying to make dolls come to life.

Thankfully I don't have to try too hard, because Barbie had it's 50 year anniversary this year and there was a runway show in her honor. The looks were created by 50 American designers, including Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Anna Sui and Diane von Furstenberg, among others. Some dolls were retro (50's and 60's), some were more 90's Malibu that we all know and love. Below is a video of the show, the models begin coming out around 3:30...

For those of you without the patience for moving images, here are some still ones:
The perfect combination of fantasies: the life-size Barbie for all the young girls within us, and for the grown folk in us, they're dressed by all of the most fabulous designers, with show attendance by the most glamorous people...with the most exclusive accessories. The whole thing is enough to help me sleep peacefully for at least a week. With the memories of Fashion Week still clear in my cabeza...no need to count sheep when you can think about necklaces, no need to buy a new mattress when you can fantasize about stilettos. The lull of waves from a sound machine ain't got nothing on the serenity provided by the images of Klein and Posen and Phi. New York Fashion Week will be back soon with a whole new batch of accessories to covet - so breathe easy. Breathe fashion. Sweet dreams my dear readers.



The Wasson Has Surpassed the Wang

I know, I know...I'm obsessed.

Erin Wasson, who began as a model (and as designer Alexander Wang's muse), has now put out her second collection for RVCA...and since she's my muse too, obviously I have to post it. Her Fall 2009 collection debut was Wednesday night and since then I've been scouring the internet for all the photos - here are a few of my favs:

In a way, this line is everything I had hoped Alexander Wang's line would be, before I was horribly disappointed. It's sexy, it's rugged, it's rock, it's country...and it's a little raunchy. In a way it's very feminine but by the same token it's pretty androgynous. Hello??? A black leather jumper??!! Perfect. Though I feel like in the fashion world it's pretty hard to go wrong with a combo of black things, leather, ankle boots, and something short (shorts, dress, skirt, etc). Fringe, slouchy t-shirts, garter belts, and see-through tanks never hurt either.

Though most of these looks are very Goodwill/thriftable, they just seem so much more fabulous with the Erin Wasson stamp of approval on them. You know? But we can't all afford torn up jeans for $400 (that's just a guesstimate).

When will the Wasson obsession end? Hopefully it never will, because it gives me ferocious inspiration. Hopefully she won't flop with her next line like Wang...though even if she does I'll probably still adore her.

And until I can afford her clothing, you can find me at Goodwill with a handful of Erin Wasson/RVCA clippings in my hand and a $20 bill in my pocket.


It's Cool Whip Time, Baby!

This morning in the locker room at the gym, some soccer moms were talking about Cool Whip vs. home made whipped cream. Which one tastes better, which one is better for you, which one the kids like better, etc. etc. As I left the gym, feeling good with my post workout glow, I found myself thinking about a little diddy from the past and reciting the lines in my head..."I'm mister Cool Whip, the hippest in town, I make your snacks the beeeest around, a little Cool Whip, a cookie or two, and baby your snacks will be so good!". I bring you the Cool Whip commercial from my childhood:

If you're an 80's or 90's kid, I'm assuming you know that commercial well. So after getting home from the gym and looking up the Cool Whip commercial, I thought to myself damn, there are so many great commercials that I've forgotten about...mostly from Saturday morning cartoons.

Remember Kid Sister?

Coincidentally, Kid Sister the artist named herself after that doll.

"I love the way your ring looks," - "I love the way my ring tastes!" Ring Pop:


And how about those TV show theme songs? What Would You Do?


Those crazy turtles:

Uhh, My So-Called Life?

Obviously there are endless possibilities to this post. ENDLESS. In fact, if you Youtube "80's commercials" or "90's commercials" they have volumes and volumes of compilation videos. I encourage you to go there, kick back and enjoy yourself.



Nico Vega Reintroduces Rock 'n' Roll

Monday night I made my way down to the Mercury Lounge to see LA-based band, Nico Vega. Well, that's not all true...I mostly went to see their sassy frontwoman, and my long-time friend Aja Volkman. Holy rock 'n' roll was I in for a shock. Let me post a video to set the mood:

Oh shit, I was just gonna post one, but after watching that I have to post another:

Now...I don't know what kind of feeling you get watching this, but for me, seeing Nico Vega perform has redefined my feelings about rock 'n' roll. I feel re-inspired by the genre, the lifestyle, the messages behind the music, the revolution of it all, and it made me remember the abandon I used to feel when I listened to it...and on Monday night I surrendered to it all. Comprised of Aja (vocals), Rich (guitar), and Dan (drums), the band is LIVELY and the chemistry between them is ON.
But my homegirl Aja, she's one to keep your eye on...actually it's impossible to take your eyes off of her. She's got a deep husky voice that fills the room and kicks you in the gut - every time she screams into the mic you feel her angst and passion, and every time she carries a melody you wish you knew the words so you could sing along. Her energy thrusts her around the stage and into the crowd and on the ground and back up again - bouncing, dancing and jerking uncontrollably:
And did I mention the whole lotta sexy??? Always barefoot and often prancing around in leotards and other skimpy numbers, this girl oozes raw sexuality. Guys want to touch her and girls want to be her (and maybe touch her a little too). Not to mention guitarist, Rich, in his skinny jeans, boots, and nipple-revealing tank top (did I mention a southern accent?!), and drummer Dan with his bangs-in-face je ne sais quoi.
So where does the reintroduction of rock 'n' roll come in? Well, I think maybe like love or beauty or happiness, I don't know if it can totally be explained - it might just have to be experienced. They're on tour now with the Von Bondies...check out the Nico Vega Myspace for a complete schedule (and for more videos and photos). Oh! And their album just came out, you can buy that on their Myspace too. Take my word for it, this is something you want to go out of your way to see.

Love you, Aj.



Fashion Meets Politics...Part 4

Here's an interesting piece from the Wall Street Journal - an interview with Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of American Vogue, about the future of fashion, the economy, politics and how they all intersect. LINK to article, by Rachel Dodes.

When the editor of Vogue rails against consumerism, the economy must be in a tailspin. Before she headed to the New York runway shows, fashion kingmaker Anna Wintour—dressed in taupe Manolo Blahnik boots, a Carolina Herrera sheath dress, and a tweed coat with a large fur collar draped over her shoulders—sat down in her office, with a perfect fresh bouquet on the desk, at Conde Nast's midtown Manhattan headquarters and discussed why "value" is in and "too Dubai" is out.

If fashion is a barometer of the prevailing mood, what can we expect to see for fall 2009?

Ms. Wintour: It is so important for designers not to run scared, and not to be too worried about what's safe and what's commercial. Right now, what's going to work is something their customer doesn't have in her closet and that has a real intrinsic sense of value. …Because to be honest there's been too much product, too much copy-catting, and, probably too much consumerism. I think a sense of clarity, a sense leveling off and a sense of reality is needed.

So people want to look understated?

Yes, I don't think anyone is going to want to look overly flashy, overly glitzy, too Dubai, whatever you want to call it. I just don't think that's the moment. But I do feel an emphasis on quality and longevity and things that really last. This morning I went to see Ralph Lauren, who designed a tiny but superb collection of watches. You can look at those watches, you can see if you buy one you will have it for the rest of your life.

During the boom, were people buying too much stuff?

I think it was excessive, and there's a very correct correction going on.

When do you think the consumer will be confident enough to shop like she used to?

I don't think she's is going to shop the way she used to in the immediate future.

Will she ever?

I am not saying never. Who would ever say never? That would be ridiculous. I think what she buys is going to give her more pleasure because it's going to last longer, mean more.

Are you trying to add more moderately priced clothes to fashion spreads?

I think we need to give women the aspirational clothes that can make them dream, and another portfolio that's about mixing high and low, certainly the way the First Lady is dressing. It's about a mix. …In the Index pages we are looking more rigorously at price and value and asking, 'is something worth that particular price tag?' A thing that wasn't worth it? Without naming names, we had a little sequined thing that wouldn't come down to here on you [points to chest.] And I said, 'How much is it?' $25,000. I said, 'No. We're not going to photograph that right now.'

How is Michelle Obama and the Obama administration affecting the fashion mood right now?

Hopefully, the bailout package will have a positive effect on the economy, although it would be ridiculous to think it's going to have an instantaneous effect. Previous First Ladies seemed to feel the need to wear a sort of uniform, whereas Michelle Obama likes fashion and is very comfortable in fashion. She's happy to mix high and low, and she loves emerging designers. That will do nothing but good for our industry.

Are you personally inspired by the way the First Lady dresses?

She wears clothes beautifully. They always look like they belong to her. It's extraordinarily refreshing, and it's empowering for women all over the world. I think what's different about this administration -- and I am talking strictly about fashion here -- is that they really enjoy it. Working with other brilliant people in Washington previously, I felt they've been nervous about clothes, about being criticized and not taken seriously. Washington has been very conservative. But I think now we have a beautiful and brilliant First Lady who loves clothes and enjoys them, and she is going to send that message to women all over America -- they can wear beautiful clothes and still be taken seriously.

By creating the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, you've helped fund and mentor young American designers. How can you support young designers in such a challenging environment?

My editors and staff have to be out there in the next 10 days. We have to be very visible, very supportive. …[For designers,] keeping collections extremely focused while maintaining quality is also important. Making everything suddenly inexpensive is not the right way to go. I have to say how incredibly generous the industry is -- how supportive of young talent. It's an incredibly impressive group: Patrick Robinson, Kate and Andy Spade, Andrew Rosen, Reed Krakoff, Diane [von Furstenberg, president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America]. Even the beauty industry, they really do believe in giving back. None of them are stepping back at this time, which I think is remarkable.

If many of the most successful emerging designers are still struggling, what do you tell all the fashion students who want to be just like them?

It's important for young women and men coming out of the fashion schools to think seriously before starting their own collections. Anyone who wants to be a designer and thinks they're going to be the next Calvin [Klein], Ralph [Lauren], or Michael [Kors] is not realistic. It is much more helpful for them to go and study with an Oscar [de la Renta] or a Carolina [Herrera] -- someone who can teach them.

Many well-known designers have recently created cheap-chic lines for stores such as H&M and Target. Why don't they just license their own low-end labels? Do you think they've ceded ground to some of the purveyors of fast fashion?

I am sure that the checks from Target, and the exposure, are very helpful. I don't agree that [they lost ground to cheap-chic retailers]. If it's the right fit, [I encourage it] absolutely. One of the collaborations we do through the Fashion Fund is with the Gap [wherein the winners design their own twist on the classic white shirt]. Gap takes the designers all over the world, and photographs them with young models wearing the shirts. And the shirts are fabulous. [End]




Runway Roadkill

Unless you live in a cave, you know that it's currently Fashion Week in NYC. The glamor, the celebs, the fashion...the photos, the labels, the crowds...everybody with any remote interest in fashion wants to be a part of it. I am no exception.

But apart from all of the fabulosity that I wish I could partake in, I have a great deal of interest in a very specific component of the runway shows. I've been to about 5 or 6 shows in my time and I've never gotten to experience it first hand, but I'm always crossing my fingers with the hopes that someday I'll witness it...the collapse of the model. The trip, the slip, the wobble, the fall.

**I should preface all this by saying that I LOVE watching people trip in real life. In college I used to look out my window on snowy/icy days and watch people walk by on the sidewalk, with the hopes of catching them in a fall. I love it. And without fail I laugh out loud every time I see it. I love their scared facial expressions on the way down, I love their body movements, I love the embarrassed looks on their faces on their way up, and I love love love when they look back behind them as they walk away, suggesting that the fall was not their fault, but instead that something had been there to trip them. It's a beautiful thing.

Huffington Post beat me to the punch and posted some falling photos from the Herve Leger show...which are all fabulous...but I'm going to take it one step further and dig through the fashion video archives of falling...enjoy!!

This video has to be my fav - I love how wobbly this model is, especially during the second fall, and the anchors' reactions are fantastic:

Skip to 16 seconds on this one:

The dancers before the show made a hole in the runway, obviously the model had to fall in it...skip to 24 seconds for the fall:

And last but not least, a falling compilation:

I don't think I've ever written LOL on the blog...but if ever there were a time to do it...this would be it. I hope that brightened your day as much as it did mine. Until the next time, walk tall, walk steady, and if you trip, laugh at yourself.



Alexander Wang? More Like Alexander Laaaaame!

"It's almost like this modern day carnivore, but being contrasted with something that felt very structured and tailored and refined and sophisticated. My girls like to have fun, they like to go out, they wanna explore, and that's kind of very animalistic in a way, you know, no rules apply, no boundaries." - Alexander Wang

That's my boy Alex talking about his latest F2009RTW collection. We all know this kid is fabulous - all the celebs love him, all the bloggers gush about him, we're always on the edge of our seats, waiting to see what he's going to do next. Let's take a trip down memory lane, shall we?

Rugged, sexy, young, undone, flirty...he gets it, and he gets it good.

So, without further ado...highlights from the Alexander Wang F2009RTW collection!!!

Fierce right??!!! WRONG. What happened here A-Wang?? Where's the SASS?! Where's the EDGE?! Where's the ORIGINALITY?! What about this is "animalistic" and "fun"?! You're Alexander Wang, dammit!! Psh, more like Alexander Lame...or Lamexander Wrong. Sigh. I'm tragically disappointed. Yeah, ok, there were a few cute things. But I don't even feel like they're worth clicking the "save as" to my desktop and uploading - they're so overshadowed by the boringness of the rest of the line.

Thankfully, people show up to his shows looking fantastic, so at least there was SOME fashion eye candy to speak of...
SJP and Anna Wintour

(that's not a typo, she changed it - buh bye Santogold)

Diane Von Furstenberg

Erin Wasson

Hamish Bowles

Zoe Kravitz
(photos from NYMag)

I can't decide if it would be smarter to pretend this line never happened - a forgive and forget situation, if you will - or to blame him for his wrong-doings and put him in the 15 minutes of fame gone by box. Since I love him and he's mostly done me right, I think I'm going to forgive and forget on this one...but I have my eye on you A-Wang. Let me down once, shame on you - let me down twice, shame on me. See you next season boo.