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Funny Time of Year…

6 Jun

Beth Gibbons still is one of the few reasons it’s not entirely pointless to have a look at the pop-rock shelves…

Unfortunately, as it happens in more than few occasions, her huge musical talents do not really translate sartorially. It makes me kind of sad.

C’mon Beth, would it really be beneath you to sport a decent pair of shoes? Like these deliciously punkoid Jen Kao high wedged platform sneaker booties (!)


Punk's not quite dead. It just turned expensive.

In the Navy…

18 Mar

… is just where I’d like to be, sailing the deep blue waves, far away from this leaden sky and that never to come spring.

Or maybe I’ll just dream about the Flying Dutchman, listening to the wind in Wagner’s overture. Had I to meet with the dreaded Captain, I would wear the following.

First, a red striped marinière

Saint James

… and of course sailor pants…

Junya Watanabe

… striped shoes to match the top…

Tabitha Simmons

and a navy coat on top of that…



And since I’m clad for the Fliegende Holländer, here’s a classic version of one of the greatest innamoramento scenes in the whole history of Opera. Senta meets the Dutchman, he looks for redemption, she looks for a destiny, they recognize their own fate in each other… which is as good as tragic: they will soon die together.

Hans Hotter and Birgit Nilsson are arguably some of the better Wagner interprets ever, and boy one can hear it! Try at least to reach 6″30, when the entanglement of their compassion reaches a first peak. I cannot hear it without feeling the tears rise to my eyes.



The slow and irresistible process of their falling in love, the over-present marine element in the Opera, all of this by some mental association lead me to this sublime poem by D. H. Lawrence, The Elephant is Slow to Mate.

The elephant, the huge old beast,
is slow to mate;
he finds a female, they show no haste
they wait

for the sympathy in their vast shy hearts
slowly, slowly to rouse
as they loiter along the river-beds
and drink and browse

and dash in panic through the brake
of forest with the herd,
and sleep in massive silence, and wake
together, without a word.

So slowly the great hot elephant hearts
grow full of desire,
and the great beasts mate in secret at last,
hiding their fire.

Oldest they are and the wisest of beasts
so they know at last
how to wait for the loneliest of feasts
for the full repast.

They do not snatch, they do not tear;
their massive blood
moves as the moon-tides, near, more near
till they touch in flood.


That’s it for today, my little shrimps.

Joho ho hoe!

As I lay…

1 Mar

… sniffing platinum salts in order to recover from the Dionysiac abuse of Swabian Riesling, and from the nerd overdose of talking three days with a handful of peeps who you know are maybe a third of the living people remotely interested in what you do and understanding it, as I lay (said I) I realize it’s been a while since I posted.

I owe you.

And while I try to cure an intoxication by another intoxication, I thought I should share with you some of the top dope of the history of music. Watch out the mystic fumes, you may begin to feel you have a soul before you know it. Here it i: Johannes Ockeghem’s Deo Gratia. 36 voices Canon (Motet, actually). This stuff is seriously good. Listen to the circling voices at the end.

And while we’re at it, why not ask ourselves some deep sartorial question. Assume you’re invited by this most refined friend, a choir director himself, for a concert of Flemish 15th century sacred music in the Saint Bavo Cathedral in Ghent. The place is beautiful, the performance will be excellent. You need to match. But such spiritual events call for a very toned down femininity. But you wouldn’t want to look like a nun either: you’re not one, you respect them, and literalness is at best a risky business, when it’s not downright stupid.

I found exactly what I need in Missoni’s collection:

Exactly the right amount of Christianity

Of course, I wouldn’t be caught dead in this aberration of a boot. But this little pair of Thakoon would do a perfect job at keeping the whole outfit suitably in tune with loosing myself in the counterpoint subtleties of the early Flemish Renaissance.

Keeping the correct notions. Forgetting about wellies


I woud certainly add a coat. Ghent is often chilly. A discreet biblical allusion, sheep on my shoulders, and this parka trend defused by wearing it on not too soir clothes. That’s what I call being attentively inattentive to fashion trends.

Iceberg, unsheepishly

So you’re riding the bus…

22 Feb

… on this Sunday morning, and it’s a classic spring morning, clean and fresh and promising a beautiful day. You’re going downtown to meet with those two guys you want to convince to DJ in your neighborhood’s Fall Festival. They are really good and having them would boost the little event you’re in charge of. So this brunch affair will be a matter of setting a good vibe and building trust, with a touch of seduction. You feel good in this Acne outfit you paired with Mulberry’s long socks.

Fall, with grace

Quite brilliant, these socks.

And since this is a fantasy, there’s no reason you wouldn’t spend three thousands bucks for a bag. This would be exactly what you need:

But you’re looking through your tracklists for some ear candy, to give you the little extra pep to really shine. A kind of mental gloss if you wish. Here, a suave Brazilian groove that will put you in glam mode.

What we are listening to…

16 Feb

… is a little Pink Martini for the morning. Just the kind of booze that gets me started. I have notoriously painful starts. Martini greases the joints.

But the random PM? Oh no. I’m listening to what they describe as an “hypnotically precise reworking (with a hint of early seventies Japanese film noir) of the Japanese Saori Yuki hit” Tanya Tan. Here is a fabulous mix where the song blends to perfection with Zhang Ziyi’s modern techno-geisha number.

I could cry.

(Actually I am, but you don’t need to know.) So, to console us all from the grief caused by Marc Jacobs’ M collection, cruelly demonstrating that preppy is the new boring, I decided to provide you some early seventies Japanese film noir inspiration. Like when you’re going out to hear a Japanese Nu-Jazz combo, and of course you want to be hip, because hipless jazz is utter nonsense. Japanese film noir is a good place to start digging. Take Meiko Kaji for instance. She was a true badass girl in the flicks of this wild wild cinematographic era. Look:

Call me Scorpion

Prisoner 701/Convict Scorpion .How cool is that?

Gunfight chic at its best. Let’s go for a recent interpretation. Vera Wang is cool with is, she gives us some kimono inspired cut, noir as hell, but without being exotically kitsch.

Put a tanto in that obi, girl.

For a jazz night, I’d certainly put a well fitted white shirt under that. With cuff links and a wing collar, two buttons open. Then of course, we’ll put a trench on this. Y-3 makes a nice one.

Noir on noir

It’s not really a trench, but who cares? If someone makes a snappy comment, we’ll give him the Scorpion stare. Shoes? Bicolor brogues. The mob touch. With heels:

Miu Miu SS11 for the wise gal

And you? Do you hip up for jazz?

What we listen to…

9 Feb

… is a charming and deceptively simple aria from Vivaldi’s Juditha Triumphans. The text goes like this:

Transit aetas,
Volant anni,
Nostri danni
Causa sumus.
Vivit anima immortalis
Si vitalis
Amor ignis, cuncta sumus.

(Time goes,/ Years fly,/We are the cause of our own troubles./ The immortal soul lives/ While our fire and passions are but a cloud.)

The beautiful Judith warns Holophernes the warrior that he should not sacrifice the spiritual to the sensual, for the raging passions of the flesh are but a vain and fleeing dream. Alas, she’s much too beautiful for him to take the hint. So she ends up curing his passions beheading him. Which is good, of course, since she and her deluded friends see the decapitation as some pious deed, blessed by their God.

The aria should sound like a somewhat dreamy presage of the gory end, in a scene dealing essentially with Holophernes’ passion rising to poetic heights. There is a cruel irony in the contrast, and the admirable economy in the means adds to the dramatic intensity.

Interpretations of this Oratorio are not many. The best, in my opinion, is given by the Academia Montis Regalis, directed by de Marchi, with Magdalena Kožená as Juditha. But there’s a wonderful rendition of the aria in this recital:

But when attending to a Baroque concert, what should we wear? First, let’s not make the basic mistake. Baroque concerts are not like the big 19th century operas. Unrestrained displays of grand soir for Monteverdi’s Madrigali will always seem to me a bad mistake: baroque audience is there, more often than not, for the music more than the show (which is not so typical when you go to hear Aïda for instance).

I want to be as sharp and smart as I can be, but I want to do it ninja-style. NO attention getters, much less head turners. I just want the guy who would happen to see me by chance to drop dead from gorgeousness overdose. But not to kill everyone in sight.

Well tempered badass

That’s exactly how you want to look at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw when Herreweghe conducts Bach. Paired with the right bag, it says: don’t get me wrong. I’m here for Bach. If you really dig the stuff, you can even do it casual.

Contrapuntic Casual

Dress that up with the Loubies.

What we listen to…

6 Feb

… is a typical Sunday morning treat. Sunday morning call for a special kind of music. It’s the only moment in the week genuinely free of work, or whatever hassles of modern life reminds me that, in its obscene cruelty, the world denies me the place I was born to be: the libertine sister Madame du Châtelet never had. We would have translated Newton together, and discussed the foolishness of men and the brilliance of the 1730’s fashion. Which was more than good, of course.

But I digress. Sunday morning music should always be witty and smooth, an ode to the coming of the day. I go for easy pleasure with a zest. One of the best place to find this (beside late Italian Renaissance — but that will be for another post) is contemporary female vocal jazz. The place is crowded with gifted musicians of fine taste and culture. But for wit, in the lyrics or in the piano phrasing, for sheer poetry, you’ll hardly find any better that Patricia Barber. She’s refined.

For those of you who have a hard time with the somewhat harmonically destructured intro, please give it a chance and listen to what comes after 2’40”.

So, it’s Sunday morning, and Barber’s Mythologies is already playing, there comes the time for an oolong tea, and I wonder: what should I wear? I want relaxed without being too casual, I want comfortably sexy and modern. And matinal, of course.

Morning Mules

From this up, I’ll need something fluid and appropriate for a tea and good music. I think this Bottega Veneta outfit would do well (obviously, without the black touches — make them grey).

Sexy? check. Comfy? check. Modern? check.

I’m all set. Bring in the Tie Guanyin.

And you? What do you wear for the morning tea?

What we listen to…

28 Jan

… is Murray Perahia playing Chopin’s first concerto, with Zubin Mehta conducting the New York Philharmonic. For the fortunate who are still to discover it, here’s a good version with Martha Argerich.

Perahia’s phrasing is wonderfully sensitive and delicate, almost shy, dominating the technicalities in such a way that the listener is spared with Chopin’s interpretation worst pitfalls: frivolous showing off and plain sentimental cheesiness.

Take the beginning of the third movement. Neither hysterical nor subdued, it is rather a vivid echo of childhood’s playfulness, in which time, like for good whisky, took out the fire living the warmth, just enough to make it perfectly pleasant. So, one should ask, what would be the perfect pair of shoes to match such a mood? A mature and tender reflection of childhood?

I’ll go with those deliciously summery wedges by Louboutin:

Something obscurely coming from childhood

And then I’ll match them with something obviously romantic, flowery, but not too much. Like this dress from Alberta Ferretti’s SS11 collection:

AF says: "Fantasy is so important". Chopin says: "yep".