Saturday, February 19, 2011

Unlikely Sources of Inspiration: Jeremy Bentham's Auto-Icon as... Fashion Icon

Jeremy Benthan inspiration

One of my favorite philosophers is Jeremy Bentham, a man who was both eminently sensible (his interest in social reform was sparked as a young boy when he observed the inequality between women and men) and very, very kooky. He stipulated in his will that after he died, he wanted his body preserved, dressed and left as an "auto-icon." It now hangs out in the University College of London, occasionally attending meetings as "present, not voting."

As I stared at this photo of Bentham's auto-icon, I found myself thinking: "Wow, his outfit is both practical and attractive! Just perfect for a late 18th century to early 19th century utilitarianist!" Thus inspired, I made a collage of items I think Bentham would have approved of. Everything is in simple neutral hues, in silhouette that are both basic but have just enough details to make them special, like the cutaway hem on the cardigan, the studs on the black brogues and the little bows on the gloves (though Bentham's gloves are apparently there because his auto-icon's preservation didn't go that well).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Outfit: The Catting Hour

2.16.2011 A Rainbow Too Far
Dress: Oasis, cardigan: Macy's, leggings: American Apparel, shoes: Aldo, bracelet: Blah Blah Blah, hat: Earth Tree (地球樹)

It's been about eight months since my last outfit post! I've pretty much spent the entire time in sweatpants encrusted with tears. I'm kidding. To be honest, working from home doesn't really inspire a lot of sartorial creativity, even though I get annoyed with myself for just putting on jersey tops and leggings every day (unless I have an interview, in which I do make an effort). Last summer was also extremely hot and humid, even by Taiwan standards, and I wore nothing but long, batik-print skirts (NT$300 each from the night market!) and black T-shirts. How I dress does affect my mood, however, and I'm trying to make more of an effort on a daily basis.

My dress is from Oasis, which used to have a shop in Taipei 101. When they closed, I screamed (though I believe they still have a location in Ximending). The prices were way higher than the Oasis stores in the UK, but it was one of the few stores here where I didn't encounter obnoxious saleswomen who acted as if my butt is so big that it single-handedly changed weather patterns in Taiwan (well, we are having an unusually chilly winter). My shoes are just Aldo heels I got on sale, but the leather detailing caught my eye. My magical bracelet is from Blah Blah Blah, one of my favorite indie Taiwanese brands (I recently interviewed their owner). I love how it riffs off of Marian iconography. When I wear it, there's nothing I love better than making my husband ask me what time it is so I can yank my sleeve back and scream "it's the catting hour!" Being easily amused is fun!

(My photos for this post were organized with a template by the awesome Pugly Pixel.)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Magnificent macarons by Sadaharu Aoki

(All photos from

I just watched a fascinating video by WSJ Asia about the different categories chocolatiers introduced to Japan to capitalize on Valentine's Day. Chocolates are marketed to women to give to female friends, male colleagues and male subordinates (like a T-shirt shaped chocolate that says "I gave you this, now can you work harder?").

Usually I disapprove of traditions that were created solely to sell people more stuff, but chocolate warps my powers of critical thinking. CHOCOLATE!!! The words "Japan" and "chocolate" make me think of the gorgeous macarons and candy by Sadaharu Aoki. He has a shop in Bellavita shopping mall here in Taipei. Everything is pricey, but I've sampled a few Sadaharu Aoki macarons before. They were so pretty to look at that I was sad to eat them, but eat them I did. The polka-dotted candies below are actually macarons enrobed in dark chocolate. My friend bought me some for my birthday and they were fantastic.

Picture 5

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Plucking at my heart strings


Long, long ago, I came to terms with the fact that I am profoundly tone deaf and have zero rhythm. I took piano, violin and flute lessons when I was a teenager, but any song I tried to play sounded the same, like a high-pitched, miserable keening. Oh, it was awful. But these instruments from Celentano Woodworks make me wish I had some musical talent. I would strum the apple ukulele in the park next to our house and children would gather to dance. Bluebirds would alight on my shoulder, squirrels would clap and all would be well in the world. Alas, I can only enjoy their loveliness from afar. But when we have kids, I'll definitely make them learn a plucked string instrument just so I have an excuse to buy one of these!





Bunnies! Lots and lots of bunnies!


f you celebrate Lunar New Year, then you know it is the Year of the Rabbit (unless you are Vietnamese, in which case it is the Year of the Cat, lucky you!). This is a good excuse to stock up on truckloads of bunny emblazoned items. I wish I were born in the Year of the Rabbit. I was born in the Year of the Rooster. Chicken shapes are not so aesthetically pleasing because they are basically just a blob with a beak and maybe a crown, while bunnies have their long ears balancing out their fat behinds (yes, I've spent some time thinking about this). One of my favorite Taipei stores, Blah Blah Blah, currently carries the pendant above from their jewelry series based on tiny vintage plastic toys. The rest of the these items are from Etsy... click on each photo for the listing.