Saturday, June 26, 2010

Stripes and bars

“Geometrically and metaphorically, there is a very strong link between the horizontal stripes of penitentiary wear and the vertical stripes that make up the prison bars. Intersecting at right angles, stripes and bars seem to form a web, a grill, even a cage, that isolates the prisoner even more from the exterior world. More than just a mark, here the stripe is an obstacle. Moreover, it is the same obstacle stripe – very often red and black – that we encounter today at grade crossings, border posts, at all places where it is necessary to stop.”

Pastoureau, Michel, 2001. The devil’s cloth: a history of stripes. Translated from French by Jody Gladding. New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, Singapore: Washington Square Press, p. 58

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Nude fashion and the colour of human flesh

“Sometimes fashion sets out to provoke. Sometimes it provokes by accident. ‘Whatever you do, don’t call the vogue for nude colours and flesh tones the vogue for nude colours and fleh tones,’ the stylist warned. ‘Last time someone used the word nude to describe a colour, the letters pages went nuts.’ They were apparently upset on the grounds that only a nude Caucasian actually matches the shade referred to as ‘nude’. ‘Flesh’ tones have been big in womenswear for a while, as part of the underwear-as-outerwear thing (no signs of that crossing over to men) and have nothing in common with flesh of African or Indian descent.
You may warily adduce from this that people must live in a state of vigilance for things to be offended by, but I know what they mean. ‘Flesh’ colours bear no resemblance to my flesh, either. […]
The overall effect of this vogue for whatever-you’re-supposed-to-call-them colours is to wash me out, making me look even more like something you’d set about with a crucifix and garlic than I do already. […] You need to exercise extreme caution, and not just when talking about them.”
Alexis Petridis, How to dress, The Guardian Weekend magazine, 19 June 2010, p.49

Sunday, June 20, 2010

If you can’t swim, blame the swimming trunks...

“It is impossible to escape the feeling that at some point not far away – perhaps even tomorrow – Capello will pick up the phone to Umbro and say: ‘I’ve just lost a reasonably important game of football, and basically I’ve checked all other possibilities and it’s come down to the shirt.’
He would have a point. One can only observe, yet again, how perfectly good, even excellent players seem automatically to malfunction the minute they don the accursed garment. The England shirt is the precise opposite of a superhero costume, turning men with extraordinary abilities into mild-mannered guys next door. Were Stephen Fry to pull it on, he would be struggling to string a sentence together. Were Lucian Freud to slip it over his head he would turn his easel round to reveal a childlike scribble of a cat. Psychological meltdown is now part of the warp and weft of its wretched fibres […].”

Marina Hyde, In the absence of a better excuse we could blame Umbro, The Guardian 19 June 2010, Sports, p.5