I was staying with friends in Astoria when I came to New York City to search for my apartment. After a boozy brunch, we wandered to PS1, the MoMA extension in Queens for art too modern for the Midtown Manhattan museum. The gallery was in transition and only two exhibitions were open, so we spent some time browsing the gift shop. It was there I discovered Worn Stories by Emily Spivack.
Worn Stories epitomizes the intimate relationship we have with our clothing that is so difficult to articulate. Instead of composing a novel or stating it outright, Spivack prompted individuals – from personal friends to fashion industry veterans – to simply select an article of clothing they couldn’t part with and tell the story behind it. The collection of sartorial memoirs could easily serve as a character study of diverse, fascinating individuals. However, the focus of the highly personal tales and recollections remains on the clothes.
“… when one of the sleeves ripped off, it reached a point where I felt like I couldn’t wear it anymore. I had a friend named Guy who was a painter in Tel Aviv. He’d been doing a series of paintings of everyday objects, so I commissioned him to make a painting of the shirt… When he was working on it, I’d get emails like, ‘Karuna, this shirt, it’s killing me. So simple and yet so complicated!’” – Karuna Scheinfeld, VP of design at Woolrich
The role of clothing in the stories and in these individuals’ lives emphasizes the significance of our apparel to our core being. Our clothing is not just what we wear, it’s who we are. Not in the sense that wearing a particular label makes you better or more elite – in fact most of the articles of clothing selected for Worn Stories are quite mundane and ordinary – but in the sense that our clothing is an extension of ourselves.
Emily Spivack is the creator of Threaded, the Smithsonian’s fashion history blog. She is also a public speaker, teacher, creative spirit, and the author of Worn Stories (which can be purchased here.) For more worn stories, visit the ongoing project here.
“Costume is all about developing characters and telling a story.” – Academy Award winning costume designer Angus Strathie
The year is 1937. You’re twenty nine years old, a young mother in your prime. By a twist of fate (and a little magic), your body miraculously stops aging. For the rest of time, you’ll experience the world in a young woman’s figure, but you’ll grow into an old soul.
“Adaline is somebody who has an incredible wardrobe. She’s dressed a little more conservatively because she’s not 29, she’s a hundred.” – Blake Lively
The year is 1976. Although your life is anything but ordinary, you’re still just like any other woman. You find it hard to resist the latest fashions. As the decades go by, your wardrobe is evolving into an archive of memories and moments, past experiences and people.
“Since the piece took place over almost a century, it was extra challenging to be able to find all those periods and all those moods and all those emotions of this character.” – Angus Strathie
The year is 2015. For seventy-eight years, you’ve had to define and re-define yourself, often through what you wore. Each article of clothing holds a sentiment and tells a story of a particular time, a particular version of you. Sometimes, when you head to the closet to get dressed, you find yourself wearing something from every decade.
“What we felt was right was to actually incorporate those vintage pieces into her contemporary look. The 2015 look is contemporary clothes mixed with vintage pieces or vintage accessories.” – Angus Strathie
We all have a relationship with our clothes. After imagining yourself as Adaline, a woman who has lived for almost a century, consider how deep that connection might be with certain articles of clothing. This is how costume designer Angus Strathie employs fashion to enhance Adaline’s story in The Age of Adaline. With a variety of styles and silhouettes from nearly ten decades at his disposal, Strathie makes use of color, pattern, and accessories to reflect Adaline’s character in her wardrobe.
In both flashbacks and present day, variations of red, blue, and black are dominant in Adaline’s wardrobe. I believe Strathie focused on this palette because each color represents a piece of Adaline’s story. Red hues carry a spectrum of meaning, anywhere from danger to love. Because of Adaline’s unique condition, she’s forced to conceal her identity and lives with the constant threat of being discovered. Adaline also spends her life grappling with relationships. Her secret prevents her from allowing herself to build deep connections or fall in love. The color blue continues to illustrate Adaline’s struggle. Blue is often associated with sadness and loneliness. It’s also a color that’s rarely found in nature, much like the miracle of Adaline’s agelessness. Finally, black represents Adaline’s mystery and intrigue. While her beauty is alluring, Adaline internalizes a great deal of vulnerability and insecurity because of her secret. Keeping people at arm’s length to hide her truth proves to make Adaline’s story even more interesting.
Strathie also uses pattern, specifically florals, to characterize Adaline and develop her story. Flowers symbolize growth and renewal. They’re often given as a sentiment at milestones throughout our lives: birth, marriage, holidays, and ultimately death. Because of her inability to age, Adaline circumvents the typical human life cycle, and she must constantly reinvent herself to hide her true identity. Flowers represent the normalcy Adaline so intensely desires.
Adaline’s collection of clothing and accessories helps to keep her grounded despite the lack of stability and consistency in her life. Strathie uses a particularly unique accessory as a signature for Adaline’s look: the scarf. Scarves were a popular accessory in the first half of the twentieth century, during Adaline’s true youth. Although they’re a more unusual contemporary accessory, scarves remain a part of Adaline’s style in present day. For Adaline, the past feels never-ending, but her scarves signify a time when she was purely young at heart.
Strathie’s costume design in The Age of Adaline beautifully illustrates the connection between clothing and storytelling. Whether you’re a wardrobe stylist working with an individual, an editorial stylist working on a campaign, or a costume designer working to develop a character, fashion is a way to express a narrative. Clothing is a part of our daily lives, from what we wear to the magazines we read to the films we see. Most of the time, we don’t realize the impact clothing has on our interpretation of a person or character. However, the saying, “clothing speaks louder than words,” is often true. Within a single article of clothing, an outfit, or a closet, there’s a story.
The Age of Adaline debuts in theaters nationwide this Friday, April 24, 2015.
AN INTRODUCTION TO EIDE MAGAZINE and THE ADVENTURE ISSUE
As someone who prefers short stories to novels, Eide is the ideal publication. Each “article” or story is like a tapas plate: easy to digest yet leaves you hungry for more. When you think of adventure, what comes to mind? A cross country road trip? Backpacking through Europe? The idea of adventure initially sparks the notion of a grandiose journey, but Eide’s Summer 2014 issue, The Adventure Issue, reminds us that “thrill-seeking isn’t relegated to the lily pads of Taiwan, architecture of Prague or tranquil beaches of Mexico, it’s found right outside your carport or bus stop.“
Each issue of Eide starts with a concept, like adventure, and “stretches that concept as far as it can,” according to founder, CEO, and Editor-in-Chief Tova Gelfond. In this issue, Eide challenges us to shift our perception of what constitutes an adventure. While a “self-imposed scavenger hunt” in Panama and a photographic journey through the mountains of Peru are part of Eide’s Adventure Issue, these more traditional adventures are nestled between a guide to foraging and an expose on glamping. In Eide you’ll find something for everyone – the food connoisseur, the fashion lover, the thrill-seeker – so if you’re not keen on adventure in the conventional sense, skip the story on skydiving and turn the page to the feature on athletic fashion and the Atlanta Ballet’s Thom Panto and Ben Stone. “Some people are just hardwired to crave the feeling that danger provides” and others aren’t, according to the magazine’s piece on calculated risk. However, after exploring The Adventure Issue, you may realize you’re more daring that you thought.
In nearly all aspects of my personality, I consider myself dichotomous. I can be introverted or extroverted depending on the situation I’m in, the people I’m with, or my general mood at the moment. But when it comes to adventure in the traditional sense, my response aligns with the introverts: “University of Amsterdam researchers determined that extroverted people have an enhanced sensitivity to rewards based on how their brains react to dopamine. When compared to introverted personality types, extroverts had intensified responses when their risks resulted in rewards…” Before reading The Adventure Issue, I considered myself a somewhat unadventurous person – I don’t like heights, I’ve barely traveled abroad, I rarely throw caution to the wind and do something spontaneous – and I’ve always found myself envying those who are conventionally audacious. I may never be the overtly thrill-seeking type, but this issue of Eide taught me there’s an adventurer in all of us, even me.
I can honestly say that each and every story in the Summer 2014 issue resonated with me in some way, but there are two in particular that really spoke to my brand of adventure. The first of which is a story I feel many women can connect to, particularly twenty-something women like myself who “tread the line between adolescent and adult.” In the story Seeing Red, Senior Editor Jaime Lin Weinstein takes us on her adventure of “rebelling against growing up.. [and] dying [her] hair red. Not auburn red. Or strawberry-blonde red. But red, red. Shock value red.” Jaime and all women know “the inexplicable importance these strands hold within the female psyche.” I’ve never changed my hair dramatically with color, but at a monumental turning point in my youth, I chopped off a good eight or so inches of my long locks and traded them in for a short bob. I’d never thought of this particular experience as an adventure, but when I take myself back to that moment in the salon – “blood pressure [increasing], heart pounding” – I realize my haircut was an adventure after all.
The second story that spoke to my newly discovered adventuresome side is Beautiful Bacteria, also by Jaime Lin Weinstein. This piece appeals to my dichotomous nature. I’m both a scientist and artist at heart, and the prospect of “clothing crafted from microbes” makes my heart flutter with excitement – and there it is again – that sensation – an adventure is about to ensue. “A new breed of textiles” made from bacteria is not only an incredibly exciting advancement for the fashion industry but also an encouraging step toward diminishing “our wasteful wearing ways” and making fashion more sustainable. “In the future, we might compost our wardrobes and grow something new, or, at the very least, return them to the store for recycling,” according to fashion visionary Suzanne Lee, founder of BioCouture and former research fellow at the School of Fashion & Textiles at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. Although “it’s not quite ‘ready to wear’… bio-manufactured materials could be making their debut in clothing stores in the next two or three years.” This sounds like the cusp of an adventure that has barely begun, and I cannot wait to continue to tag along for the ride.
Whether you’re the type who salivates at the thought of introducing a new flavor to your palate or the type who burns with desire to be the founding member of a roller derby league in your hometown, Eide’s Summer 2014 Issue connects you to all breeds of adventurers. The take away from the issue – at least my take away – is that adventure is all around us and life itself is one great adventure.
If this exploration of Eide’s Summer 2014 issue has left you craving more, you can read the digital edition online or purchase the print edition at Barnes & Noble locations nationwide and select Whole Foods stores and specialty boutiques in the Southeast. Then, stay tuned for Exploring The Adventure Issue – Part II in which I sit down with founder, CEO, and Editor-in-Chief Tova Gelfond for an exclusive interview about the creative process that goes into each issue of Eide and how Eide is emerging as the voice of fashion in the South.
Erica Bryan has pursued her artistry through theatre and music since childhood. From an early age, she realized that she’s not afraid of failing, she’s “only afraid of never trying.” This principle has guided her craft and her career around the country from her hometown outside of Atlanta to New York City, and finally to her current home base in Nashville, TN. Erica believes her theatre experience has enhanced her new journey as a singer, which springs from her realization that her goals for theatre and songwriting are one in the same: to make people feel something.
I can say first hand that Erica is making people feel something through her artistry. She gave me an exclusive preview of her debut single, This House is Haunted, and encouraged me to draw inspiration from the song to compose the wardrobe for her upcoming performance in Atlanta at Smith’s Olde Bar.
Erica’s debut single has a beautiful balance of light and dark. When you first hear the title of single, the word “haunted” elicits that feeling of darkness and possibly a place that is plagued by something or someone. As you listen to the verses, a lightness trickles in, revealing a sense of nostalgia and fondness. While it’s evident that the speaker is in fact haunted by a person or memory, there is a warmth and deep connection, possibly even love, with the “ghost.” It’s this sensation that is truly “haunting” the speaker and illustrates the dichotomy between light and dark in the song. This duality instantly became the inspiration for her look.
While styling Erica for her performance in Atlanta, I focused on the balance of light and dark, the juxtaposition of softness and strength, and the harmony of femininity and edginess. As I proposed concepts, we both felt inspired by Kristen Stewart’s upcoming Chanel Pre-Fall campaign, Paris-Dallas, which plays with opposing styles from the cities and blurs the line between the two cultures.
We built her ensemble around a key piece featuring one of spring’s top trends, fringe. In addition to the cropped fringe faux leather jacket, Erica purchased a pair of statement studded black booties. The rest of the outfit evolved from staple pieces in Erica’s closet: faux leather pants, a flowy silk and lace tank, and vibrant turquoise jewelry. The finished look stayed true to Erica’s Country/Folk vibe and illustrated the play between light and dark in This House is Haunted.
For more information on Erica, please visit her website and listen to her music on Reverbnation. Her debut single, This House is Haunted will be available for purchase on iTunes May 13. Until then you can listen to this exclusive preview on Erica’s YouTube page. Erica is also active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, so connect with her on these platforms to follow along with her journey!