Summer in Paradise, 2013

Defining Albums Series: Part 1

Summer in Paradise, 2013

Lana Del Rey - Young and Beautiful

For me, growing up in Danville, Virginia has been both a blessing and a curse, I suppose. When I tell people here at school where I’m from, their reactions often range from a look of confusion (because they don’t know where it is) or a cringe (because they do). Quite frankly, I don’t blame them. Danville came be overwhelmingly boring, and the general population is full of racist and homophobic tendencies. Yet sometimes when I’m at school with people who aren’t from Danville or anywhere close, I ache for people who have a love/hate relationship with their small Southern towns. Stay with me, though, this is just background for the real story, you feel me?

Danville, VA (courtesy of danville-va.gov)

Danville, VA (courtesy of danville-va.gov)

 

There’s always been something so romantic to me about summer time. Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t go anywhere besides my part-time job or occasional lunch with friends (heh). But in all seriousness, music is such a fundamental part of my being in the summer, when it’s just quality alone time at home. I have the opportunity then to appreciate a new album or discover new music that I never would have thought to listen to before. In the summer of 2013, (before I even had my part-time job, so you know I was really lonely,) the EP that personally defined that time was Lana Del Rey’s Paradise. I was already semi-infatuated with Lana from her Born to Die album, so Paradise was really exciting for me. The EP came out at the end of 2012 but what hooked me in was Rey’s featured song in the May 2013 The Great Gatsby soundtrack, “Young and Beautiful.” I was in love with that song! That scene! Those glamorous concepts!

The Great Gatsby (2013) - Young and Beautiful featured scene

 

I already knew I loved Lana’s voice, but that summer Lana was everything I needed - everything that I immersed myself in, every single song necessary for me to cope with living a small town life. I still hear “Ride” and want to get into a sports car and sit on the back without a seatbelt with my hands in the air (not recommended). I still listen to “Off to the Races” (which was technically from the Born to Die: The Paradise Edition which came out at the same time as the EP,) and feel like I’m on the run with my non-existent fiance. There’s something about Lana’s dreamy voice that makes me want to get on a plane and live out the celebrity, bougie Hollywood lifestyle I was born for!

courtesy of genius.com

courtesy of genius.com

Written by Nakia Stephens

Behind the Scenes: Dystopia

In the not so distant future, everything could be different. Colors will change, walls will crumble, and everything will twist and contort until all we knew is nothing like our new reality. For this shoot, we decided to imagine what that landscape might look like, inspired by a fantastical outlook on our current political climate, and every other imagining of a dystopian future we've ever encountered. We decided to cloak things in shadow, only to be illuminated sparsely by intense neon light, all the more striking for its rarity.

D&G: Dead & Gone

Throughout history, fashion has always been used as a catalyst for change. With avant-garde garments and carefully conceptualized pieces, fashion has truly become an art form. It has continuously been used to make a statement -- to provide a visual commentary for relevant social and political problems. Due to this, fashion weeks are one of the only times in which artists are able to showcase their work in an environment where it isn’t seen as strange or off-putting. This being said, Dolce & Gabbana’s Ready To Wear (RTW) runway show during Milan Fashion Week, was a punch in the face to the integrity of the medium.

Dolce & Gabbana has recently been trying to reinvent itself by inappropriately using pop culture references and phrases. As they say, “There’s a time and a place for everything,” and a hand-painted Dolce & Gabbana purse on the runway is no place for the phrase “All I need is love and wifi.” Point blank.

Image via @dolcegabbana on Instagram

This is not the only heinous offense Dolce & Gabbana must be held accountable for, unfortunately. Also appearing in their Fall/Winter 17/18 show was a set of graphic t-shirts featuring the one and only teen heartthrob Justin Bieber. There is only one small issue with this, and it is that the last time I checked Forever21 wasn’t Haute Couture. Albeit, this was for the F/W Ready To Wear line, but it’s still unacceptable. This Italian fashion house has built its name and legacy around its beautifully crafted and intricately designed garments for decades, and frankly, it’s sad to see how low they’ve fallen.

Image via @dolcegabbana on Instagram

The third and fatal flaw, Dolce & Gabbana are currently selling a pair of $1,195 leather sneakers with phrases such as “I’m thin and gorgeous,” and “I love pizza, pasta, and music,” and “So fab!” it’s like Dolce & Gabbana is stealing the drawing-on-your-converse trend from the proverbial fashion prison that is seventh grade.  Yikes.

Screenshot via us.dolcegabbana.com

Dolce & Gabbana has taken the concept of “re-branding” a little bit too far. I completely understand the necessity of bending with the times in order to stay relevant, but Dolce & Gabbana has run the risk of tarnishing its reputation and the integrity of Fashion Week as a whole.

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Written by Alijah Webb

Behind the Scenes: Fruit Shoot

What's better than colorful, fruit-hued clothing? Clothing with fruit actually on it. For this shoot, we decided to channel the whimsical, almost comedic nature of fruit-based design and showcase it against bright, fun colors. We sought to capture the lighthearted nature of the clothes and put a more stylized spin on the final looks, posing models in moody, thoughtful ways. You'll never look at a banana shirt the same way again.

Gestural Drawings

"These are all rough gestural drawings of figures done through my art class here at W&M. We drew for hours but had only seconds for each sketch of the figure’s form, and eventually every pose morphed into one another after the layers of sketches. As these progress they get more abstract and confused, speaking to my own feelings during midterms when these were drawn. However, the beauty in this assignment was that it didn’t matter how these were pieced together. They were done without thought of a general composition or structural plan. There is a therapeutic aspect to not constructing the bones, the foundation of a piece, and just going into it blind. It is very freeing, an important quality to find in an activity or commitment on campus. Take time to enjoy the simplicity of muddled confusion to find harmony and eventually peace, if you so happen to find a minute to do so."  -Julia Bullard.

By Julia Bullard

Behind the Scenes: Sports Luxe

In anticipation of the coming season, and in congruence with the increasingly popular trend of athletic wear, we decided to explore what the clothes only begin to showcase. For this shoot, we sought color, movement, rhythm, and style. In seeking this, we found the human body, in all its lithe, graceful beauty, and the fact that this beauty is evident in every body, no matter the shape, size, or identification.

When the Empire Strikes Back

Amongst the jeweled gowns and fanfare that littered the red carpet of the 89th Oscar Awards, there emerged a subversive, tiny blue motif sparking a message ever more powerful and assertive than has been seen before. As a means to confirm the rumors that the 2017 Oscar Awards would be the most politically charged in Academy Awards history, a handful of stars such as Ruth Negga, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Karlie Kloss, and more adorned their attire with subtle blue ribbons to stand in solidarity with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU, which has been a long-time proponent of LGBTQ, immigrant, and women’s rights, First Amendment advocacy, and government transparency, among other issues, has been vocal in its opposition to President Trump’s controversial executive order on immigration.

Image courtesy of The New York Times

Image courtesy of The New York Times

As a means to expand upon on the outpouring of support that they have received since challenging the President’s migration ban in court, the ACLU said it reached out to all Oscar nominees to participate in the "Stand with the ACLU" initiative. Despite criticisms that the actors and actresses of Hollywood ought to remain apolitical because of a perceived wealth or status advantage that props them above “the people,” the blue ribbons have provided impetus for a subtle resistance movement amongst stars who are either directly impacted by recent developments, or for those who are more empathetic than they are widely perceived. Amongst these stars is director Barry Jenkins, who is nominated for best director for Moonlight. In offering his support for fellow artists who spoke out about politics at the awards, Jenkins claimed that “art is inherently political,” to contest suppositions of a Hollywood that engages in politics it doesn’t understand.

Standing alongside their work, the wardrobes of  many of these artists has further begun to signify simultaneously their resistance and their entrance into a political discourse that is becoming more personal to an expanding group of Americans, celebrities or not. A few other examples of such resistance at the Oscars this year include La La Land  star Emma Stone, who wore a subtle but effective Planned Parenthood pin on her dress at the award ceremony, and Lion star Dev Patel’s mother, who came as his date and wore a traditional Indian sari, honoring her culture amidst saturated Western tradition. Most notably, Ava DuVernay, director of Best Documentary nominee 13th, made the first of multiple political statements through clothing before even stepping foot on the red carpet. DuVernay, who also directed Selma, and the upcoming adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, tweeted a photo of herself with her eyes closed, holding a sweater with the name “Trayvon” emblazoned on it to reference the five-year anniversary of the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was shot dead by a police officer in Florida in 2012. Additionally, the director  made a political statement targeting President Trump’s immigration order as she donned a gown created by a Lebanese designer who, under the order, has been banned from entering the United States.

Image courtesy of Ava DuVernay on Twitter, @ava

Image courtesy of Ava DuVernay on Twitter, @ava

The subtle acts of defiance championed by Ava DuVernay and other Oscars stars serve to represent a larger movement of defiance. As art and fashion become more politically charged, the correlation between increasingly contentious current events, and fashion transforming into talking pieces that carry more meaning than simply, “who are you wearing,” becomes entirely more evident.

Image courtesy of US Weekly

Image courtesy of US Weekly

While there is a resounding cacophony stemming from a large number of Americans across the country who feel that Hollywood’s interjection into politics is inappropriate, I personally disagree with their claims. As politics have become, frankly, less political and more personal, especially in regards to issues of civil liberties that are relevant to women, people of color, the LGBT community, and other marginalized groups, I see it only as more appropriate that Hollywood stars involve themselves.

Image courtesy of USA Today

Image courtesy of USA Today

To remove affected people, even if they are celebrities, from public discourse robs them of their artistry and silences their voices. And while I concede that an economic and class advantage has been conferred upon Hollywood stars that provide them with a blissful detachment from many of the woes that plague society, institutional prejudices remain universal.  I would venture so far as to say that eliminating Hollywood’s voices under the guise of equality is tantamount to a censorship of dissenting opinions.

Historically, media coming out of Hollywood has perpetuated stereotypes and has had a large role in framing the realities of people who are misunderstood or go unseen, and whether intentionally or not, have shaped harmful images of “outsiders” that have persisted over time. So, to treat Hollywood/media’s involvement in politics as if it were novel is disingenuous as I see it. Hollywood has interjected into politics since the inception of film and media, though not always in a progressive manner. The true novelty lies within the act of utilizing an artistic platform to combat social rules that have been longstanding and that ~white~ Americans have historically become comfortable living under. As Hollywood itself becomes more socially-conscious, the condemnation of this vocalism comes from people and parties known to be comfortable with the old status quo, i.e. - Donald Trump.

Image courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar

Image courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar

I believe that Hollywood’s involvement in politics is forcing people to grapple with ideas that Americans find themselves uncomfortable engaging with, and I applaud them for doing so. To truly engage with an uncensored version America’s past will only benefit us moving forward. The ACLU ribbons, the blatant social references, the Planned Parenthood pins, and the indifference towards Western norms at the most recent Oscars demonstrate the diversification of rebellion and the way that it manifests itself through art. As threats to equality continue to mount in formidable ways, our responses to them must be unanimous and widespread. This is where the voices of Hollywood become crucial.

Written by Peter Makey

Behind the Scenes: Corners

In life, there are grounded junctions between what we think, and what we see. However, more often than seeing, we imagine, and we dream our preferred reality.

For this shoot, we decided to face the more tangible crossovers head-on, incorporating the whimsicality of an emerging spring, using contrasting pastels and youthful styling, with all the angst of a winter still holding on. In this way, we were able to creatively ask ourselves, and our readers, to imagine a realm in which what we see and what we dream are one and the same.

Behind the Scenes: Americana

When you think of things, places, and people you see everyday, you think of them in a certain way - familiar, known, and uncomplicated. But consider the fact that despite your familiarity with it, things might not always be as they seem. For this shoot, we decided to play with the traditional Americana vibe of decades past and present, and twist it into something more sinister. Play close attention, for what you see is not always what you get. 

 

Behind the Scenes: Street Style

Inspired by the urban style seen across social media feeds from around the world, street style is a trend that will never fade away. Its very existence is based on the uniqueness and ingenuity of everyday people of every generation. Street style is an important interpretation of the times and an expression of pop culture and music that separates it from other trends. As a genre, its whole foundation applauds self-expression, and for this shoot, we decided to showcase the inventiveness and creative take on street style seen here on campus. The results were an artistic indication of students' views on culture today.

Behind the Scenes: Denim

 

From the "working man's pant" to Britney and Justin's iconic couple's outfit to the skirt or jacket you could very well be wearing right now, denim has played an integral part in fashion history. It truly never has gone out of style - it's just been reincarnated in many forms. We decided to consolidate the best of campus denim style and showcase it in a way that was truly exemplary of just how our generation has interpreted this timeless trend. 

The Crocs Comeback

An article on Man Repeller by Haley Nahman currently sweeping the internet asks, “What if Crocs Were the New White Sneaker?” and since its publishing, people are genuinely wondering if they’ll have to give in and wear Crocs to be considered fashion-forward.

 

On September 19,  during New York Fashion Week, Christopher Kane debuted his spring 2017 line and you’ll never guess what the models were wearing as footwear. Heels or wedges? Nope. Flats? Of course not. Bare feet? You wish. Instead, Kane decided to go for a unique statement piece that we’ve all seen before: Crocs. What is it about this shoe that has everyone so obsessed?

Crocs are by no means a new trend in the fashion world, either. I have been working in a shoe store in my hometown of Danville, Virginia for a little more than two years now, and Crocs have always been a fan favorite among customers. Even before I could work, I remember all of my friends in middle school had different colored Crocs, with disgustingly cute charms to match. I begged my mom for a pair and fortunately, she was ahead of the curve and wouldn’t buy them.

Perhaps the people behind the marketing and advertising for Crocs are the ones to blame for their still being a present-day force on the market. Terence Reilly, who has been the Chief Marketing Officer/Senior Vice President since September of 2015, has put this plague upon us, right?

The answer to that question is a hard no from me. We asked for this. As consumers, as thinkers, as cogs in the system that aid in keeping the fashion industry afloat, we did this to ourselves. Something about this shoe continues to call to us.

The Crocs Classic, the most popular version of the shoe, has “ventilation ports” which allow for  “breathability and help water and debris drain away,” according to the Crocs website. The shoe is also relatively lightweight and is characterized by the website as being “roomy”. This is particularly exciting for all my peeps out there with a wider foot, meaning Crocs are more likely to fit than all of their other infant-sized shoes found on the market today.

It doesn’t hurt that the Crocs Classics retail for only $34.99 for adults, either. Christopher Kane knew what he was doing when he put these bad boys on his models, for sure. Despite it all,  I remain unconvinced. I, personally, find Crocs to be hideous for the most part,  although with enough coaxing, I could see the appeal. Maybe. Eventually. But hopefully not.

Written by Nakia Stephens, Photography by Sydney McCourt