It's OK for intellectual feminists to like fashion

Blog title from Hadley Freeman's book The Meaning of Sunglasses : "Prada styles itself as the label it's OK for intellectual feminists to like".

The author is a bilingual fashion editor, writer and translator with a serious blog, cinema and magazine habit.

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Email: fashionmemex(at)gmail.com

Pinterest is a picture-based social network. And despite all the traffic-generating promises it held, my blog is so not picture-based I couldn’t see how to use it. But I signed up because, eh, better make sure I owned my name on it. And once I had signed up, I started using it because, eh, better not waste a traffic opportunity.

My first instinct was to pin my "Which" posts. Built with nothing but photos around an elected theme, they make for rather nice, unified boards, as well as being identified by my Google Analytics as my most traffic-generating entries. But they’re limited. Pinning these posts taught me that a successful board is one which can be expanded with time rather than relying on the few pictures previously selected for a post. In the future, I could see these boards being useful to pin all the fashion editorials and movie stills I find while researching, but end up casting aside due to sheer volume.

In an attempt to build traffic, I’ve also started monthly boards pinning all articles I write, but Pinterest doesn’t really work that way for me: over the past 30 days, the social network has only brought me five visitors. None spent more than 1:30 minutes on the blog, with a bounce rate of 60%. People seem to consume visuals on Pinterest itself, rather than clicking through links.

My second move was to use Pinterest as a way of displaying the Fashion Abecedaire world, going to the reader rather than bringing the reader to me. Social networks are all about bragging and showing off to people how much greener life is your side of the fence. In that spirit, my Twitter feed could be summarised as “look how cool and extensive my readings are”. So I started a board "In praise of stripes", because I love showing off about how many stripes I own, another one on my readings as a way to take over my (mostly defunct) book review category, because I love showing off how much I read, and another one on stationery, because I love the idea that I send a lot of letters. In terms of Liking and Repinning, these are my most successful boards.

My third usage of Pinterest is for research. I used it that way for the first time when writing about the sad demise of Beatrix Ong. I found it a great tool to gather all interesting links in one point and to get an easy overview of her work and marketing strategy in one place. At the moment, I have two posts in the work, one on new French ballerina shoes brand Avant-Minuit and one on the role of fashion in The Bell Jar, and the boards to prove it.

My fourth discovery was that Pinterest was a great way to penetrate other bloggers and fashion cognoscenti’s creative and visual world as well as giving an overview of how brands want to be perceived. It also allows for a glimpse of what people are interested in on any given day, is good for trend forecasting and could be useful in coming up with blog post ideas on one of those inspiration block days.

You can follow me on Pinterest at Lucie M (fashionabcdr) - Fashion Abecedaire was too long…

Posted at 5:45am and tagged with: Pinterest, blog, technology, first person,.

Recently, every word I’ve tried putting to paper has been plagued by doubt, which goes a long way in explaining why this blog hasn’t been updated more often. Here is what some of my favourite writers had to say on the topic:

The writer who loses his self-doubt, who gives way as he grows old to a sudden euphoria, to prolixity, should stop writing immediately: the time has come for him to lay aside his pen.

- COLETTE

Happy are they who don’t doubt themselves and whose pens fly across the page. I myself hesitate, I falter, I become angry and fearful, my drive diminishes as my taste improves, and I brood more over an ill-suited word than I rejoice over a well-proportioned paragraph.

- GUSTAVE FLAUBERT

Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.

- SYLVIA PLATH

Work, and time, and all things are possible. You think you have to have faith and belief first? No. The doubt always comes first. Squash it, then begin the work. The work is the belief. The time you invest is the faith. There is no easier way about it. All goals take work and time, and then they’re achieved.

- JILLIAN SULLIVAN

Drawings: all from Deviant Art - Self-doubt by ~MarianKretschmer; Self-doubt by ~MMelinda; Creative Self Doubt by ~zyphryus

All quotes were first collected by Jon Winokur on his site Advice to Writers

Posted at 8:07am and tagged with: quotes on a Monday, blog, writing,.

Once a week, Fashion Carrousel delights her readers with a selection of fashion photography, from editorials to adverts, chosen around a theme. In recent weeks, blue and red dresses, Paris and Peter Lindbergh have received the Fashion Carrousel treatment. Whimsical, visual and thoroughly researched, the blog has become one of my weekly favourites. As luck has it, Fashion Carrousel also happens to be my sister. She’s accepted to answer my questions about her blogging process.

Why did you decide to create Fashion Carrousel after years of blogging under another name?

It started with this wonderful fashion editorial shot by Steven Meisel for Italian Vogue - my favourite to this day. I decided to look for some of his other work. I really didn’t expect it, but three hours later, I was still on my computer: I couldn’t stop looking for more and more pictures! Keeping them in a folder where I would never look at them seemed useless. Instead I created Fashion Carrousel, to share these captivating pictures.


Why the focus on pictures over words?

Because I am bad at writing. Well, not really bad - I have my good days - but too lazy and private to write each week a good article about a topic I like. On my previous blog, there would sometimes be these pretty good articles, and then strings of boring things about my life, how I bought a dress, how my fridge was empty… I felt guilty because I should have tried writing more good updates. Whereas when I do a carrousel, there is no fear of revealing too much, or not being as good as before. These are not my pictures, so it helps me keep distance.

How do you select your topics?

I try to find names of photographers I don’t know yet; some themes are obvious, because they often come back in fashion editorials. I have a notebook where I write themes when they come to my mind, but very often I don’t stick to them. There are some topics I like very much, but when I look for pictures, it just doesn’t click. A good example is Paolo Roversi: his pictures are beautiful, but it took me three months to do a carrousel about them - they were kind of giving me the creeps !



Is there one topics you’d like to do but haven’t dared yet?

Not really, but I tend to stay away from topics where too much nudity/sex is involved. They always make me feel like the 13-year-old girl whose mother looked down on “sexy” fashion editorials. That’s why Ellen von Unwerth was a daring carrousel for me, even if in the end I only published one of the naked pictures I had selected.


Where do you source your pictures from?

Google Image when I begin doing research. I go on specialized sites, like Fashion gone Rogue, only when I want to find a complete editorial in high quality. I also browse The Fashion Spot forum to find scan of older editorials. However, I browse Google Image a lot, and I try to be creative about the keywords. Don’t ask me why, but I feel going on specialised sites at the beginning is like cheating!


Why only blogging once a week?

Mainly because each update takes me a long time: I need a good two hours to find the theme, the pictures, all the references (and the complete editorials when I can)… Plus, I always end up wandering on fashion forums on totally different subjects, and I really cannot spend all my evenings doing this!

Both pictures from Fashion Carrousel

Related: Become a Femme Fatale in Eight Lessons

Posted at 8:30am and tagged with: blogger adventure, photography, blog,.

Reading personal-style blog after personal-style blog on my Google Reader is often a case of “so many jokes, so little time”. Really worthy, unique style blogs are few and far between. Even though many bloggers out there display very interesting styling, posts tend to be very simila, either vintage-inspired or very-short with high-heels and recurrent stripy tops.

I’ve recently come accross three blogs which have made criticising, and often mocking style bloggers, the core of their content.

In Le Petit Echo Malade, self-described as “a work of art about counterfeits”, Vincent Pianina and Lorenzo Papace post, unfortunately too rarely, parodies of the self-absorbed, soft-focused pictures often found on personal-style blogs.The result is a great commentary on the state of the fashion blogosphere which has been featured on fashion and mainstream French media, including ELLE and Canal +.

Le Petit Echo criticises by using the same media as its targets, photography, and its parodies are stronger for it. Godammit I’m Mad and Fashion Bloggers Why? do a similar wok, but with words, and all the blunders this might entail.

I’ve been following Godammit for as log as I’ve had a Google Reader. Written by Sister Wolf, the blog features rants about topics not limited to fashion bloggers. Last night for instance, she wrote about the nightmare time she had going to “an independent bookshop where a guy we like was reading an excerpt from his new book”.

Fashion Bloggers Why?, which has been going on for under two months, exclusively focuses on style bloggers, with Sea of Shoes and Fashion Toast getting many mentions.

I’m not in favour of anyone calling a girl a slut, be it based on her clothes or her behaviour (unless it’s Meryl Streep having an affair with her ex-husband, that is). I also don’t think that calling someone “stupid” or “idiot” amounts to proper criticism. However, both Goddammit and Fashion Bloggers highlight one of the key problems of style blogs: the amount of money their writers have at their disposal, and how boring seeing picture after picture of the same-ish ensemble can be. They also make for a rather fun read, and even though I don’t necessarily agree with the vocabulary, I generally agree with the content of their posts.

Lastly, if you speak French, I would recommend the Vaness blogueuse influente, influential blogger, videos. Created by madmoiZelle, the series mock the style blogger linguo, all in pseudo-technical terms with a purposefully bad French grammar. She’s also got a blog and a Twitter account.

Pictures from Le Petit Echo Malade

I discovered Le Petit Echo Malade via the always resourceful Helene at The Luxe Chronicles

Posted at 11:09am and tagged with: blog, blogosphere, parody,.