Sunday, July 31, 2011

Make It Work.

When I watch shows like Project Runway, even though no single part of me can sew, stitch, construct a garment - I find myself feeling incredibly inspired.

There's something about the fact that there are all these supremely talented designers, who would continue to be unknown without the help of this show putting them on the map (I feel like that is such an overused phrase in every single reality show - along with, "I'm not here to make friends, I'm here to win [insert show name here]").

Without shows like Project Runway, we never would have met the ridiculously talented (and so adorable in an "I want you to be my new gay best friend forever and ever" kind of way) Christian Siriano, who is still wowing Mercedes Benz Fashion Week with his unique style.

To me, it's inspiring to think that a television show is shaping the fashion world, and introducing us to designers with so much passion and talent who probably would never have a shot in hell of introducing their own collections without the help of shows like Project Runway.

You need some tough skin and some serious skills to get before these judges.
tumblr_ln8zgg32Uv1qltgkuo1_500

When I was student teaching, one of my students was always, always sketching - she was putting together outfits and colors, bringing in swatches (seriously), and could tell you any Crayola color in the box. One day, she seriously (a ten year old), said to me, "Miss B, I love your shoes. Michael Kors, right?" My jaw dropped to the ground.

When asked what she wanted to do when she grew up, she rolled her eyes and would say, "I want to go to Parsons and study fashion design with Tim Gunn." She and I would talk Project Runway (she hated Gretchen, as did I, and we bonded over our love of Andy South - no, seriously), and seeing her eyes light up as she discussed fashion design was really adorable, yet inspiring to me.

Whatever dramatics happen on the seasons only increases my interest slightly (because I can't lie - I enjoy a good catfight every now and then), I tune in to Project Runway for the clothes/challenges. It's crazy to me that the designers can get an instruction to craft something out of things they find at a party supply store, and come out with these gorgeous haute couture garments.

Plus, I just really love Tim Gunn. I don't know who I'd want to be my gay bff more - him, or Christian Siriano.

timgunn-ep10

In honor of the return of Project Runway, these are some of my favorite looks from the previous seasons (and you best believe that I have seen each and every season - my dad even watches with me sometimes, and critiques all the looks he hates. This coming from the man who has to come in and ask my mom if what he's wearing matches before he goes out -apparently reality television turns anyone into a CFDA member!).

If you haven't seen the show, these were some of the looks that came from my favorite challenges throughout the seasons (each episode is focused on a challenge that ends with a runway show). The contestants have to get as innovative and creative as possible, and their inspiration and dedication always amazes me.

This was the challenge that won me over - Austin Scarlett in season 1 constructed a dress made entirely of cornhusks.
293.austin.projectrunway.100808Austin Scarlett-corn-husk-dress_l

Daniel Vosovic's "Garden Party" dress (season 2).
Daniel-Vosovic-garden-flower_l

And of course, this season 2 gem during the "Garden Party" challenge, which is basically my boy Tim Gunn at his absolute best.


Mychael Knight's dress made of coffee filters (season 3).
Mychael-coffee-filter_l

I LOVED this challenge, and Jillian Lewis's dress made out of Twizzlers (!) was ridic (season 4).
pjrunway_twizdressJilliantwizzlers

Korto Momolu's garment made of seatbelts (season 5).
project-runway-korto_l

Irina Shabayeva and Shirin Askari's garments created from newspapers (season 6).
Project-Runway-Season-6-Paper-Challenge-IrinaProject-Runway-Season-6-Paper-Challenge-Shirin


Anthony Williams's dress from season 7 that was literally made from a potato sack (I love that he dyed it - this color is divine).
AnthonyWilliams


Gretchen Jones and Andy South's dresses all made from materials found at a party supply store - no seriously, both were constructed from party supply materials (season 8).
project-runway-8-gretchen-party-supply-challengeproject-runway-andy-south-party-supply-challenge

Christopher Collins' look for the Jackie O. challenge (season 8).
christopher collins-jackie

And then the final three contestants (sometimes final 4), create finale collections that debut at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in the city. These are always so beautiful and well constructed - it's amazing to see the designers visions and how they bring them to life over the course of only a few months with a very limited budget.

Of course the judges have some well practiced poker faces while watching the collections come down the runway, so you never quite know what will happen or how they're feeling.


My my my poker face..
Fashion Project Runway Show Celebrities

Some of my favorite finale collections/looks.

Daniel Vosovic, Season 2.
BestofProjectRunway_Finale_DanielVosovic_1

Jeffrey Sebelia, Season 3.
jeffrey-sebelia-06-2006-9-15jeffrey-sebelia-09-2006-9-15

Laura Bennett (originally an architect, so her clothes were always structured and beautifully designed), Season 3.
LauraBennett_3LauraBennett_1

LauraBennett_Spring2007_21

Uli Herzner, Season 3.
Uli Herzner1Uli2

Christian Siriano's finale work, season 4.
Christian_Collection_6aBestofProjectRunway_Finale_ChristianSiriano_1NUP_115521_1489

Leanne Marshall, Season 5.
LeanneMarshall_3LeanneMarshall_2
Leanne Marshall s5 PR

Kenley Collins, Season 5 (who was criticized for her looks being too McQueen-esque).
Kenley Collins

Irina Shabayeva's finale looks (season 6).
Irina Shabeyeva


Anthony Williams, Season 7.
anthony-williams02

Andy South (who remains one of my favorite Project Runway designers EVER in the history of the show). His entire finale collection featured gorgeously constructed headpieces, Season 8.
andy-finale-fave2andy south-favorite-finale

Also, I am currently accepting gay bff applications, so if you are in any way reminiscent of Christian Siriano or Tim Gunn, I will gladly seek out fashion advice from you/give you boy advice. ♥

Who were some of your favorite Project Runway?
And what have some of your favorite challenges been?

xox, hope you're all doing well! Your comments on my previous post were so overwhelmingly amazing - I love each and every one of you so incredibly much.. Honestly, I can't even articulate how much I love you all. Thank you for letting me share something so personal, and do it without judgment!

Currently listening to: Cheese Smoothie - TOKiMONSTA.


All pictures found via Google Image searches.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Finding My Way Back to Myself.

Putting my thoughts into words isn't usually a challenge for me (especially when I can write them out) - I've always been able to voice my emotions and make my point/voice heard (which pisses my parents off to no end, because when we disagree on things like politics or religion - or even curfews when I was younger - I was able to articulate my feelings in a way that made them understand where I was coming from).

However, I am the type of person who never, ever wants to come off like I'm asking for pity from people - I've always been able to deal with problems on my own, and have never sought out to use things going on in my life to try to get other people to give me attention.

I'd rather get attention because people genuinely like me and my personality, than because they feel sorry for me. Sometimes I have a hard time sharing my feelings with people - even my good friends, because I'm afraid that they will assume that I'm trying to elicit sympathy. I know that's weird, but that's how awkward and uncomfortable talking about the hard things are for me.

Even now, I'm sitting here with my heart pounding, my mouse flicking back and forth from the "publish post" button - because once I click that, it's all real, and I've put myself out there to be totally vulnerable.

My blog has always, always been a place where I've been open and honest - whether it's about my love for fashion and shoes (because I love shoes oh so much), my past history with eating disorders, or struggles lately with the death of Poppy - I've felt such an overwhelmingly beautiful amount of support from you all that it has encouraged me to continue being open.

I think this post is just kind of an outlet for me - a final cutting of the ties, and a cathartic exercise to alleviate everything I've been feeling these past few months.

tumblr_lggsruhV6N1qclvgyo1_500

Lately, I've been doing so much self reflection about who I am, and how far I've come. It's been a challenging few months, for more reasons than the loss of Poppy (which is not what this post is about, promise).

As many of you know (though newer readers probably don't), I ended my two year relationship with Jason in mid-January.

I can't even pretend that this was a difficult decision for me - and not a day has gone by that I've sat and thought, "Maybe I made the wrong decision." It was one of those things that needed to happen and was completely necessary, and therefore I'm lucky in the regards that I didn't spend my nights needing to be comforted by Ben & Jerry's and terrible chick flicks.

In fact, the more that I've thought about it, the more I wish that I had gotten out of the relationship sooner, because it was probably one of the most unhealthy things I've put myself through in a long time.

I'm not writing this post to bash Jason, or say that I was miserable for the entire duration of our relationship, because that would a complete and total lie. I will say though, that I missed a lot of warning signs - signs that things were just not what they appeared from the surface. Things started out great, but when they went downhill, they went downhill quickly.

For the good part of a year and a half, I felt really, really bad about myself, and was made to feel that way by Jason.

At first, when I really thought about it all, I got really angry, and wanted to completely write off every male as being an egotistical jerk, who was going to behave the same way -- but this lasted about a week, if that (because I really hate generalizations - and also, I've met so many beautiful, decent, wonderful males through blogging that I could never lump everyone into that category!).

Just kidding, guys.
tumblr_lgx8l84Alc1qgxsdvo1_500

Looking back, I think the it all probably started off quickly - but I was so in that honeymoon period that I didn't realize what was happening.

The subtle comments that I dismissed as him caring, or being supportive - "Don't you think that's a little low cut? I don't want other guys looking at you..." or, "I really feel uncomfortable with you hanging out with Guy Friend X - I see the way he looks at you."

I was constantly compared to other girls - they were smarter, prettier, thinner, curvier, less high maintenance, less materialistic than I was. The interrogating over every action of mine began, and was unrelenting.

Did I really need another pair of jeans? I could feed a family in Africa for the price of a pair of Joe's - how could I live with myself knowing that? No good girls go out and drink with their girl friends - that's asking for trouble, and that's why girls cheat. Why didn't I respond faster to his texts - did he need to be worried that I was texting other guys? Why did Guy Friend X write that on my Facebook wall - was it because I was dressing slutty when Jay wasn't around?

I listened - I felt guilty any time I bought shoes, or jeans, or even food at Whole Foods vs. buying store brand things. I stopped going out with my girl friends, and tucked myself away in the apartment, finding meaningless things to occupy my time. I lost contact with my guy friends from back at home - ignored their texts and calls, because I thought I was being respectful to Jay.

Then, it wasn't enough for it to be just about me - he started insulting my family and the way that Pat and I were raised.

My parents were "too focused on money and their careers" and weren't good role models for Pat and I because they let us drink or swear or talk to them about sex.

How could they justify having a vacation home when people in America are starving? How could my mom throw her doctorate degree at people and make them feel inferior? How could my parents justify having our kitchen remodeled, or buying a new car when the economy is crumbling and people are losing their jobs? How dare they?

After a while, I started believing all the things that were said to me - every underhanded, nasty little comment. And they were little comments - it was never yelled at me, or anything extreme - but every day, it was pointed out to me in one way or another the ways that I was a failure as a person.

I felt guilty for driving my car (which he constantly criticized my parents for buying for me), for going to China, for going out dinner as much as my family does - everything became something that I was made to feel guilty for having/doing/experiencing. I had always known that he and I came from different economic backgrounds, which I never saw as an issue - until he made it into one, bringing it up constantly - using it as something to hold against me, rather than celebrate the fact that I came from a family of extremely hard workers.

It even got down to him picking on the fact that I did well in school and that getting good grades was something I strived to achieve - which still completely boggles my mind.

My friends saw a different side to me - I became a shell of myself, because I was so overwhelmed with feeling bad all the time. Feeling bad about the things I loved that were clearly so trivial, feeling bad about the way that I was raised and the lifestyle that I was accustomed to that clearly was too extravagant, feeling bad about wanting more - wanting someone to accept me for what I was, because I was clearly just ungrateful for what I had.

I felt ugly every single day, inside and out. The thing about negativity and criticism is that eventually, you start to believe it yourself, no matter how much you believed in yourself before.

One morning (this was only a few months ago - like, early January), my friend Vickie came over for breakfast at my house, and we were sitting and talking, and she said to me (because this girl knew me since 6th grade, went through high school and college with me), "Al, you seem so miserable - you're not yourself, and you're so beautiful that you deserve to be happy. No one should ever make you feel like you don't deserve that - ever."

I can only pray that everyone in a similar situation has a Vickie in their lives, to pull them out of the slump, and give them the wake up call that they need. Without my even saying anything to her, she just knew, and knew the words to say to give me what I had been lacking for almost two years - acceptance and comfort in who I was. I think that at that time too, I was ready to hear and accept it - and that became the catalyst that I needed to really examine how much was wrong in the relationship.

Girls - or guys - if something feels wrong or if someone is making you feel like you need to change in order to please them - please, please, please don't be afraid to be alone. You are who you are, and you should not have to change that to live up to the expectations of someone else. Not only is it unhealthy to sit and take someone else giving you shit for who you are, it's emotionally abusive.

You don't have to be hit, or have someone yell in your face for things to be unhealthy - believe me, I realize I could have had it a lot worse, but that doesn't mean that someone you're in a relationship with (including friendships!) picking on you is ever, EVER okay.

tumblr_lnh8dhP1Ri1qiln3bo1_500

The things you love - that belongs to you and no one else. Find someone who loves you for all the little quirks you have - the things that set you apart from others, and even the things that they don't understand (like a love for fashion or Christian Louboutin). Your friends are your friends - your loves are your loves, and no one should dictate those things to you, or make you feel bad about them, in a relationship.

So you know what? Maybe I do love overpriced footwear and denim, I listen to really, embarrassingly dirty hip hop and dubstep, my skin still gets breakouts, I can have trouble articulating my emotions and tend to withdraw, I may never be the prettiest girl in the room, and I get self conscious about my weight or hair from time to time - but I love myself, and I'm worth more than someone picking me apart -- and so are each and every one of you.

Okay, I know this is cliche - but it's so, so true. Doesn't matter if you're male or female, heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual, fat or thin - whatever. You deserve the absolute best - each and every one of you.
tumblr_l9h8zqoE6t1qdbbywo1_500

As for me now - for the most part, I really love myself. I have flaws, and I still do have some scars from this past relationship, because building your self esteem up after it has been practically diminished takes time - but with the help of my beautiful family, friends, and a kick ass therapist (ha, clearly I have no shame), I'm on my way back.

And you best believe I'm rocking Louboutins on my way back to being 100%.

(Or attempting - my ankles were killing me).
251385_10100103410142154_11300729_47775854_7269351_n

So many of you are in beautiful, healthy relationships/marriages - and all of you give me hope. I see the genuine happiness that you have and am deeply, deeply touched by it.

I love you all so much and am always, always here for you if you need someone to talk to! Thank you for all the love and support -- honestly, it means so much to me.

Currently listening to: Back Against the Wall - Cage the Elephant

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mother/Daughter Tea Time.

I think that we all have people in our lives that we look and think, "Wow, I have absolutely nothing in common with this person." Usually we luck out and that comes in the form of a bad date, friendship that we can cut because you move from it - unfortunately for moi, that person is my mother.

My mother is a lovely, sweet, compassionate person and I obviously adore her. However, we literally share absolutely nothing in common.

tumblr_lg44ytvNEl1qexe9no1_500

I love fashion, literature, sarcasm, modern art, being in the city, and coffee --
She prefers Hunter boots (only because I threw away her Crocs) merely for gardening, Danielle Steel novels, does not understand sarcasm at ALL, loudly makes comments at MoMA about how she could have done the same thing (to which I hiss, "But you didn't"), could care less if she never stepped foot into the city again, and is a tea drinker.

Down to the smallest of things, we have so much trouble finding similar interests.

(Funny sidenote: in high school, I took AP English Lit and LOVED symbolism. I thought it was fascinating that there were things that the author hinted towards instead of being overt -- especially in Hemingway's Hills Like White Elephants. My mother - who is a doctor, so she's no dummy - hates symbolism and can't understand it. She told me that in high school, she read Fire and Ice by Robert Frost and literally thought he was writing about fire and ice. She cannot grasp the higher concept. Le sigh).

Needless to say, having almost zero in common makes doing things together difficult. And since my parents have almost everything they could ever want, I usually try to plan activities for birthday gifts. This year, I literally racked my brain trying to think of somewhere that my mom and I could go to enjoy the company of each other.

Finally I found it - a cute little teahouse a few towns over that seemed like the absolute perfect place to go for lunch.

We ended up going last Saturday and having a lovely time together, over tea (though let's not pretend - I obvi made a Starbucks run immediately after) and lunch, and really enjoyed the company of each other (and I even gave her fashion advice when we went to a little boutique after lunch around the corner from the teahouse -- and Starbucks).

DSCI2445

The place itself was adorable - it doesn't look like much from the outside, but inside it's small and intimate, with only six tables in the entire restaurant. Every person has a different teacup and saucer, which adds to the charm of the place.

DSC_0257

DSC_0259

DSC_0260
DSC_0256

DSC_0261DSC_0258

Mom's Georgia Peach Rooibos iced tea.
DSC_0262

Bourbon Street Vanilla Rooibos tea.
DSC_0267DSCI2447

We ordered the "Tranquili-tea" which was a pot of tea, finger sandwiches, mini desserts, a scone, and either a soup or salad. SO good (but luckily the sandwiches and everything were so teeny-tiny that it didn't seem so unhealthy).

Cold summer fruit soup.
DSC_0264

Cranberry crusted goat cheese salad.
DSC_0265

DSC_0269DSC_0276

Little baby sandwiches, and mango tart.
DSC_0272DSC_0277

DSC_0273DSC_0274

She told me she would hit me in the mouth if I put this on my "little blog thing," but oh well. I think she's adorbs.
DSC_0280

Very fun mother/daughter lunch out.
DSCI2448

Are we surprised that tea just wasn't cutting it for me?
DSCI2451

All in all, it was a super relaxing, fun time spent with my mom - obviously it didn't open up the floodgates from heaven and make her interested in fashion or me interested in digging around in dirt in a garden, but it was a step.

And it shows that there are things we can connect on, and places we can go to escape from all the things we argue about so often, or just cannot seem to connect on.

How does your family celebrate birthdays?

(P.S. I promise I do actually have friends - there's just been a lot of family events happening this past month!). ;)

Currently listening to: Anti-Matter - N*E*R*D (I've been on such a N*E*R*D/Pharrell kick these past few weeks).