Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Paradise

Some of my girl friends recently told me about a BBC drama that has totally consumed me...

The Paradise, starring Emun Elliott and Joanna Vanderham, is a two-season series that dramatizes the life and culture of the first department store. It is loosely based on the novel by Émile Zola, Au Bonheur des Dames.

Denise (Vanderham) is a shopgirl who comes from a small town. Seemingly out of her league in the metropolitan atmosphere of the Paradise, she proves herself resourceful and graceful. With never-ending ideas, though, she threatens others above her; entrepreneurial, independent woman are not part of 1870s culture.

The owner of The Paradise, Mr. Morray (Elliott), is a devilishly handsome and enterprising man. He captures the hearts and loyalties of everyone with is dimples and inventive ideas. While he is engaged to be married, he and Denise have an undeniable chemistry as like-minded members of The Paradise staff.

So what all will happen? While drama and romance have their moments, the most exciting part of The Paradise is the novelty. The staff must come up with different advertising campaigns, sale schemes, and funding. They host the first one-day, store-wide sale; a special ladies' night for lingerie (which would be too uncouth for everyday display); the creation of a confectionary attached to the department store. It's revolutionary and romantic.

Also, the lighting and color-scheme are gorgeous, and the costuming divine.

Watch the first season on Netflix and the second on iTunes!

Photos via: 1, 2, 3, 4

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Thinking & Doing

I've been thinking about writing my thesis for two and a half weeks. I've been doing this zero days out of said eleven. As we approach the new year with excitement and anticipation, I'm thinking a lot about what I'll be doing.

I'll be starting a new internship at the remarkable Coffee House Press in Minneapolis. (Thrilled might be an understatement.)

In May I will graduate from the University of Minnesota, entering the job market with spunk and enthusiasm.

I will stand up in my charismatic friends' wedding and attend others throughout the summer. (P.S. I need suggestions for summer wedding-worthy dresses.)

I'll have my own room after years of roommates and twin-sized beds.

There are momentous life events coming up this year, along with little extras that are just as important. I know that resolutions are difficult to keep, so Abby is insisting that we make specific, attainable goals for ourselves. Here's one of mine:

Think, then do. I'm not a procrastinator, so I might seem like the most unlikely person to aim for doing instead of thinking when it comes to projects. However, I'm a realist and like most people my worst critic. It's easy to hold yourself back by thinking about what you could do instead of just going for it. So this year, I'm fearlessly going to do more in all sectors of my life.

I'll do more when it comes to my health; less screen time, more green veggies and whole foods, enough rest. I will do more for school to finish strong––that means finishing my thesis (egads!), knocking that internship out of the park, and launching the 2015 edition of Ivory Tower. I'll do more as a friend, sister, and daughter; I'll be there for the big moments along with the little ones, listen intently, and value time.

2015 is the year of doing. I know that sounds like a Nike commercial, but who are we kidding? The new year is ridiculously optimistic and at times cliche. Entering with confidence and a plan isn't the worst idea we've ever had.

Photo via my Instagram of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

MIA Italian Fashion

There are only a few days left of the MIA Italian Style exhibit, and it is a must see. The exhibition features postwar Italian fashion, displaying clothing that rarely travels beyond the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum, as well as photographs and video from the archives of designers and museum collections. If you're looking for name drops, here they are: Pucci and Prada, Valentino and Miu Miu, along with other recognizable fashion-house names, illustrate the evolution of postwar fashion. Italian designer's attention to craftsmanship, quality textiles and innovative designs, while embracing prêt-à-porter style, enabled the "Made in Italy" label to wield so much influence over the fashion industry.

While postwar style, the exhibition begins in 1939, with two immaculately tailored women's' suits. To demonstrate the evolution of style from Italy, the former Fascist model must be represented. Here's what is shocking: the clothing is not behind glass. The ensembles are beautifully on display, viewable from every angle. Out in the open, you can see the little imperfections, the evidence that these pieces have been worn.

Moving through what feels like a prolonged runway show, you encounter evening gowns arrayed in delicate beading, gorgeous fabrics, and silhouettes that would still be worthy of red-carpet or runway fashion. Also featured are photographs and video of early runway shows. Remarkably intimate compared to today's mega-events like New York Fashion Week, the shows introduced the scheduled change of the fashion industry. It is not only desired, but necessary, for designers to introduce new, reinvent old, and test expectations with annual, and then biannual seasonal runway shows.

Of course, the clothes worn by everyday people are moving. They induce that bit of curiosity in us that wonders, who was the woman who wore this dress with navy gloves and a woolen hat? The runway footage and samples are breathtaking in the way the couture seems like an otherworldly creation of beauty and revolution. And then we encounter the celebrities.

Video of Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday plays while the dress she wore in the movie and a replica vespa are displayed nearby. It is truly breathtaking to see the garment portrayed on screen and in person; the former separated by glass and decades and Hollywood mystique, the latter a tangible memento from the past in our presence.

That is the beauty of Italian Style. The transformation of fashion over the years does not make style or clothing irrelevant, but instead all the more exquisite.

Tickets are available through the MIA website or at the museum. The exhibition will be here through January 4. Photos via MIA Exhibit Preview.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Nine Kisses

Last week the New York Times released their annual short film series featuring the year's best actors. (I loved when they did the genre episodes that were melodramatic and captivating.) This year the series is called Nine Kisses, and the brief episodes are diverse and endearing. I found Steve Carell and Laura Dern's clip hilarious––a comic surprise. Julianne Moore and John Lithgow (some of my quiet but consistent favorites) nailed theirs. The color, mood, and atmosphere is a hit and their inhibition is electric.
Still shot of Julianne Moore in Still Alice (d. Richard Glatzer, 2014)

Speaking of this year's films and actors: I have been woefully out of touch with films this year, so some of these actors were a surprise to me. I know that Benedict Cumberbatch is a real favorite among the ladies, but I've never quite found him appealing. (Something alien about his pale, smooth face and high cheekbones...) However, I want to see him in The Imitation Game. There is always one good history film around the holiday season, and this seems to be it. I also want to see Wild (with Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern), the movie based on a true story, as well as Still Alice, which addresses the diagnosis of Alzheimer's for a prolific academic.

Photos via: NY Times, Indie Wire

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Staying Sane

Hello, all! Welcome back from the holiday weekend. How glorious was it to hang with friends and family over wine and pie? We did Thanksgiving with our family friends and brought the dessert. I worked a Black Friday shift, which is always kind of a blast, and we finished the long weekend with a lazy Saturday brunch and family game night––Scattergories and brandy slush is absurd.

Now that I'm back for the final weeks of semester, I'm definitely feeling the crazy. Here's how I'm staying sane these days:

1). I read this article, and after visiting Germany this summer, I overhauled my correspondence habits. While in Berlin, I didn't have cell service; since then, I don't habitually check my phone. I also only send emails between 8:00am and 8:00pm in an attempt to keep work and life separate.

2). Sleep. It's so contradictory sounding when you have a to-do list that is a mile long, but I got over seven hours of sleep last night (!!), and now I'm refreshed for a productive day. I'm also less cranky, which my roommates appreciate.

3). Watching less television. I usually fall into a dangerous habit of turning on Netflix when I have down time, or when I'm doing homework. Abby did something brilliant over holiday: she started Gone Girl and she just finished it last night. Reading unwinds you like none other. (I'm dying to start and finish 100 Years of Solitude as well as Both Flesh and Not over winter break.)

4). Cheer-boosters: our apartment has strings of lights, a small tree, and a silvery wreath. Even when our unit feels freezing, the twinkling colors make us feel cozy and cheerful.

Top photo via Instagram; Scattergories photo via Abby Carlson Instagram

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Interstellar: Water Cooler Currency

It seems as though everyone in the office at work as seen Interstellar, and we're all talking about it. Critics have been a little split on the film, with some praising it's stunning visuals and entertainment value and others critiquing its lack of sophistication/intellect. Here's what my co-workers and I have determined over coffee and the copier:

1). Paying for IMAX seems to have been worth it. My co-worker Kate said its enormity was astounding.

2). Along that's visually spectacular. We think the sublime of nature in romanticism is being replaced in the twenty-first century with galactic film.

3). Matthew McConaughey is so orange!

4). The dimensions of time (especially near the end) actually blew our minds. Worm holes, black holes, alternate universes, etc. We talked about time and relativity for 20 minutes and still felt perplexed/curious!

5). Matt Damon and the snow planet: gratuitous macho scene that came off as foolish boys having a snowball fight.

6). Robots were not as impressive as our beloved original HAL: their voices were almost too real; their design was bizarre and nonsensical; but their programming capabilities fascinated us.

7). We're happy Anne Hathaway is out of Hollywood hiding.

8). As per usual, Hans Zimmer knocked it our of the park with a shimmering and cavaliering (albeit loud) soundtrack.

9). Dylan Thomas's poem, "Do not go gentle into that good night," while a lovely poem was overused and felt forced. We get it, Nolan, you're an intellectual! 

10). The pathos was delicately balanced––it wasn't cold, but it wasn't sappy.

Photo via Wired, by Paramount Pictures. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

{On Repeat}....Bal-Musette

I was listening to a podcast of Fresh Air the other day and heard some of the most whimsical music: Bal-Musette. It's a style of French music that predominantly features the accordion (I had always thought of polkas when it comes to accordions) and from turn of the twentieth century. Musettes were played in dance halls in France and are inspired from Italian, Bohemian, and Auvergnat cultures.

Fun fact for coffee lovers, bal-musette dance was also known as java.

I never would have guessed, but I'm finding bal-musette to be the perfect early-winter music. It's fun, upbeat, a little romantic in a goofy way, and feels very exotic. Listening to it is like a mini vacation––everything seems sparklier and more special.

I suggest listening to: The Paris Musette, Guy Visuer, and Accordeon Melancolique

Image: lithograph by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1892), via MoMA