quiestnina

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for you.

On our last facetime call, you asked for a letter. More specifically, a letter in your inbox, a week after we called it quits, from the writer you dated. You walked out of my life like a breeze after coming into it like a storm. We danced, high on infatuation, just to realise that we are too young to commit, too young to take the distance upon us, too young to keep something that’s good. I know, I didn’t send you a letter. I think about it every day since I have written one to almost each one of my exes, apart from you. The irony is that you are the only one who would deserve one. And I know, it’s foolish of me to commodify my sadness and my fragile heart, just to publish my work, and if I were you, I would be confused, too. I know, I should send this to you directly, instead of giving it to the biggest space we have, the internet. But I don’t have the guts to give it just to you. I don’t dare to slide in your inbox, I don’t dare to ask you how you’ve been, and I don’t even allow myself to think about you. Since you unfollowed me on Instagram, I felt compelled to do the same, even if I didn’t want to. I got the message, my love. It was as clear as the look in your eyes when you looked at me.

I know, we’re not talking anymore. We’re strangers now. But the thought of you is more prominent in my head than anything else. When I close my eyes, I still feel your touch or I see the way your eyes stared into mine. Your doll’s lashes, you must be god’s favourite, I keep thinking. Do you ever think of me? Probably not. You are probably dwelling on your own problems and sadness whilst reading a Murakami novel. I don’t want to think about you, I don’t even want to write about you anymore, but what can I say? From the moment you stroked my hand in the moonlight, I knew, you’d take me down.

It’s not that I have not written about you. Of course, I have. I mean, what did you expect? The truth is, all my poems, all my essays, are still inspired by the blue in your eyes, the chestnut in the colour of your hair and the softness of your lips when they carefully touched my shoulders. It was liberating to write, but even more painful to edit. I wish I could read it to you, but I am scared. We used to talk every day, and now you feel like a distant stranger. I guess I want it to be different. I know, we are doing the right thing. Doubting that the other person even exists out there in the world. Sometimes, I wonder, how it would be like if we’d run into each other one day. Will it just be like I dreamed it to be? You, getting soaked into my storm again, and staying, without moving the furniture behind my back? Or will it just be a smirk and small talk until we pretend that what we had never happened?

It’s strange to think that you don’t know who I was before I met you, and you don’t know who I am now. I wish I could tell you. I wish I could feel your fingers hugging mine once more. I wish I could soak in the way we looked at each other, just for one more time. Maybe binging Kacey Musgraves new album made me nostalgic for what I only experienced so briefly. I wanted more of that, even though I never dared to say it. There were days when all I wanted was to be in your arms, but distance sometimes cuts deeper than a knife ever could.

Every time the train stops in your town, I glaze out the window, wondering if you may stand on the platform, spotting me. In my dreams, we look into one another’s eyes, with nothing but sadness and regret. The kind of regret that cuts deep. So deep that you wish to numb it. You’d probably walk away, just like you did before.

I think of all the women you’ll meet on the internet and take back to your apartment to watch movies. All the pretty girls you’ll pull in clubs and take to your bed. All I wonder is, will they be anything like me? Will they torture you with Taylor Swift romance songs, just to show you how much they like you? Will they invite you to their place and cook for you? Will they see the stars I saw in your blue eyes? I feel nothing but jealousy for them. Jealous that they get to feel your touch, hear the sound of your voice, and taste the sweetness of your lips. It’s strange to think how easy you’ll be able to replace me. She’ll fall for you, just like I did. Deep down I hope that when you look into their eyes, you’ll see the colour of mine when you hear them talk, hear my voice and when you touch them think of how it was like to be touched by me.

A few weeks after we broke up, I kissed someone, and it wasn’t you. He was good. Better than you, but I couldn’t go home with him, knowing that as soon as someone else undresses me, I would think of you. Think of how your touch felt on my warm skin. Think of how you looked at me after our lips touched. How you took care of me, without knowing it. How we spent 24 hours together and I just kept thinking that I want a million more hours with you.

Last night, someone else held my hand, but it didn’t feel the same way. Why does everything feel so wrong, why does the only one I want not want me? I titled you as my mistake, the banker stuck in skyscrapers, risk manager failed at calculating the risk of falling, but I didn’t say that you were my favourite of all my mistakes.

When we hung up the phone, I instantly regretted my words, my accusations to you when I saw the hurt in your eyes. Of course, I said a million and one things I didn’t mean, gushed out of my anger I kept inside for so long, would this even be a proper breakup if I wouldn’t regret it after? I wanted to hold your hand, cry, scream that we should give one another one more chance. I wish I wasn’t so cold. I wish I admitted that I felt for you. Cause I did. A part of me still does, even if I don’t want it to do so. I am following all the rules, I punish myself when I think of you, and I even try to avoid self-medication. The other night someone offered me gin, and all the memories came back up again. When I was younger, seven doubles got me over any boy, but you’re different. Not even fourteen doubles would help me. You are still living rent-free in my head, and I guess that’s okay.

You soaked me in, London Boy. You caught me whilst I was lost in the dark, searching without knowing that I was searching. You took my hand, not realising you did. In retrospect, you were the first man who really liked me. You made me disrupt my whole belief system, in a good way. You were that kind of boy I’d only refer to as “the one who got away”. Boy with the shiniest eyes in town, I guess you don’t know it, but you changed me, for the better- and for that, I’d like to thank you.

dress: Ganni

And I secretly hope that I’ll be the only one you baked brownies for on the first date.

getting the cherry black lipstick out of the drawer

I always knew this day would come. From the day we sold her house and moved her into her room, a care home with bright yellow branding, and orange curtains everywhere, making the light look warm even on a cold day. Today, day X, the day where everything may come to a close after 9 decades, felt so dangerously close. When I sat next to my grandmother’s bed, mourning the closeness we lost years ago in the blink of an eye, she looked at my face, not noticing that I had recently just cut a fringe to get over a persona I no longer was. She used to look at my hands and express how much she despised my decision to paint my nails every day in jet black, instead of rosy pink like hers. She used to make comments about every single detail of my appearance, from the rings to my cat winged eyeliner, to my doc martens- something was always wrong, something always mirrored the person she never wanted me to become.

But today was different. I straightened my fringe this morning to cover up half of my face, I wore the most goth-like dress I could get my hands on and put on dark tights despite the sun tickling my skin. Post-graduation life is depressing, and today, my clothes are as dark as my thoughts. I know she does not understand the way I communicate with clothes, but still, maybe this is the deepest message I have subconsciously communicated to her.

Her blue eyes, darker than mine, nobody from afar could guess that we have similar blood running through our veins, looked around the room, searching. She looked at me, hopeful yet naïve, asking for her husband who died nearly a decade ago. My anxiety kicked in, how in all honesty, do you tell your grandmother, that her husband, the only person she has ever been with, is not here to hold her hand through all this? I might feel too much, and maybe it’s not as deep for her, but how in this world am I supposed to tell her the ugly truths about her life that her old mind has seemingly forgotten now?

When I humbly tried to tell her that her husband, my grandfather, is no longer with us, I saw her lip trembling, almost like the one of a little child, when they lost their mother in the depths of the local playground, but she is made of steel, not allowing herself to shed a tear for the truth. The only sentence coming out of her was “why did nobody tell me that?”, and all I wanted to say was, “why did nobody prepare me for this moment, why did nobody tell me how painful it is to see someone slowly but surely forget the moments that brand marked their life?”, but I didn’t.

I got my first call for grief when I lost my mother, aged only 14 years old. While others were innocently getting their first kisses in cars, I was busy swallowing the grief my young brain felt so scared of. I can talk about my mother’s illness without changing my facial expression as if I’d tell some random anecdote from my life, but catch me in public, hearing her favourite song, and nearly breaking down as if I had just gotten the message of her passing. Grief is a strange emotion, it’s so deeply rooted, and it has its own uncontrollable nature, which comes and goes in waves, just like the ocean.

dress: Batsheva

Now, eight years later, when I finally started to face my grief, the second call for it knocks on the door, louder than ever. It’s almost as apparent as a very bright ray of sun, blinding away all other emotions my heart has ever felt.

There she lies, 90 years old, more years than my mother could have ever seen, more days than anyone could ever dream of, unable to process the news that isn’t exactly news. Break the truth to her, I think, maybe then, she’ll remember more of her life that so weirdly seemed to slip through her fingers. I say, “I think” and “I guess” a lot, because the older I get, the less I feel like I know. I thought I was a genius, swallowing everyone up with my words and thoughts, but now I am just twenty-three, sitting by her bed, being so painfully kicked out of my fantasy.  I want to hold her hand, say that I am sorry, for all these years we couldn’t be close, cause I am deep down so scared of love and attachment that I cannot let it happen, but instead I just break the truth of how her alcoholic son, the uncle I have never met, died to her. Using the word “alcoholic” usually made her react strangely, since all her life, or at least the time we’ve known each other, she avoided using this label. Using the term meant acknowledging the truth, and that’s what she could never do. Until this very day, she keeps telling people that her alcoholic son died of an “accident”, not his addiction. “He died of his addiction, he poisoned himself slowly but surely”, I say. She looked into my eye, as deeply as she never did before, saying “I thought so”. How come is everything she kept so tightly under wraps no surprise to her now? Does age mean that we come to terms with our mistakes, earthquakes, regrets and unacknowledged truths?

I feel so stuck in a film reel I never asked to be part of, it feels like I am the actor who forgot his parts, and fear is reigning over the craft. Seeing her memory vanish, suddenly feels like a part of my own self vanishes too. She no longer feels like someone I knew, her mind is leaving her body, letting the outer shell float around the room like a ghost in the hallway.

When I close my eyes, I still feel it all. The sound of the old wood in her house, the cracks on the floor, the sticky air filled with heat, the sugar-coated strawberries she gave me to snack in the summer. The sound of her laugh, which I hadn’t heard in months- it all vanished, and all that’s surfacing is her own grief for the fall of the castle of her own dynasty.

It’s strange to admit that the last time she remembered everything came without a warning, just like the last kiss before a sudden breakup. You never know when it happens, and maybe that’s the terrifying part of it all.

There is so much I want to tell her, all the stories from uni, all the rankings of the boys I’ve kissed, or the countless times I’ve cried in the back of a taxi, regretting that I am so painfully more introverted than extroverted. I want to tell her how cold the Winter in Montreal feels like, how weirdly liberating it is to walk through northern rain, and how the Toronto sun brightens up even the most depressed and anxious of my days.

But how do you tell someone who can’t even remember her husband’s death stories about a world she has forgotten even exists? Change is what made us drift apart all these years ago and instead of trying to find one another, we continually swam into other directions of the ocean. We never told one another how much we loved each other, we were busy getting caught up in our own lives, her protecting her sacred reputation from the village’s voices, me being the rebel with cherry black lipstick nobody wanted me to be.

I used to be so excited for birthdays, to age another year older, another year wiser. Looking at her now, I feel so terrified of ageing, as if it’s an invisible demon in the room. I want to run back home, grab the cherry black lipstick and bleach my curly hair to hold onto what used to be. This lipstick shade, all the plateau heels and band t-shirts, a visual collection of a person she despised in me, the complete antithesis to the little girl she used to love so much.

I want to show her every piece I have written, show her every picture I have taken and all the art I have made in between. Maybe, I want to give her something to be proud of, but in the end, I am only 23, knowing less and less every day.

Melodramatic notes- getting dressed, but for who?

I am back in the blue melodrama of my teenage years, maybe that’s the magic effect of spending the majority of my time in a room I used to listen to “teen idle” by Marina Diamandis almost religiously. When I moved out here, I wanted to embark on the golden years, but as soon as I step my feet back in this room, the melodrama and teen angst is back- more present than ever.

dress- old UO archive, shirt- some concept store, bag- The Vampire’s Wife

The art of dressing, may or may not be the thing I have dedicated my life to so far. In my room, I am surrounded by rails of clothing, in my bathroom are mountains of laundry, and my browser is full of tabs displaying rare vintage pieces I’d like to own. Long story short, I guess, I think about dressing, or more precisely, getting dressed a lot. Maybe more than the average person. All the time.

It’s funny how “getting dressed” has changed in the past 18 months. If Karl would have seen the surge of sweatpants, I bet he would have fainted. Since life is this constant on and off the battle with an airborne virus, I cannot help myself but constantly wonder, who do I dress for? Is it the zoom meeting, men on dating apps, Instagram, the catholic neighbours I only glimpse when I walk the dog or is it myself?

When I grew up, the most common sentence I can recall when it came to getting dressed was “oh dear, what will they think?”. The pronoun they did in this case, not stand for a gender-neutral identifying individual, but more for an accumulation of different personas I did not have a direct relationship to, encompassing neighbours I never speak to, people I could bump into at the bus stop and classmates I couldn’t even remember the name of. “They” are, in short, a group of people, I didn’t care about as individuals. But put together, they were this imaginary army of critics, who had the destruction of my clothes set as their goal. No matter how I tried to be a rebel, there were certain days, when the word “they” was the scariest sound I’ve ever heard.

It’s weird, how I, or other people, reserve so much headspace and energy, just to see themselves in the mirror through the eyes of someone, who subjectively does not like the way they dress. Of course, we all want to be loved, at the very end of the day. Maybe we are scared deep down, of what negative emotion the way we dress could evoke in someone else. Life is delicate at times, minds can be manipulative, and the last thing anyone wants is the destruction of something real.

If you are rather anxious like me, on some days, the way you dress can either uplift you or sweep the bottom off your feet.

Since I have been back at my parents’ house, I have been wandering through my closet, partially enjoying the weird emotions of reunion with who I used to be. Sometimes, I flick through my closet and realise how many times I dressed for others, not myself. I am very guilty of dressing for either Instagram or for men, which are two things closer intertwined with one another as one may think.

Dressing for Instagram, as well as dressing for men, is connected with that infectious rush of dopamine and serotonin. Both substances, my anxious brain is clearly lacking, hence why it gets addicted to them so quickly. On Instagram, bold colours and anything rather risky is what the algorithm loves. And anything the algorithm loves is what the people love. Your sense of style gets conditioned to work for this alternative universe, dominates by likes, comments and shares. Growing up on the internet, I guess it would be wrong to deny that my sense of self-worth is not affected by “likes”. Of course, it is. Remember the Gucci Marmont bag a few years ago, which seemed to be living rent-free in anyone’s Instagram feeds? This bag is in my humble opinion a perfect example of how a piece can work well for the virtual world. On Instagram, wearing a marmot bag suggested belonging to some sort of cool online style subculture, which had contradictory to “real life subcultures” no real substance apart from the possession of an it-bag. Joining the club was expensive, firstly because of the Gucci price tag, and secondly, wearing a marmot slowly became connotated to the ultimate loss of individuality. The real question in this game here is, what do we want from viral garments? Do we really want to possess them or just be part of what they express?

Dressing for men, as I said, can be connected with dressing for Instagram, since in times of a pandemic, when every aspect of life miraculously morphed into the tiny screens, is mostly happening on Instagram. If I would have to take a shot for every picture I have ever posted just to get the attention of a male human being, I would be very drunk very quick trust me. On the internet, I felt like I could dress sexy to show them what they are missing out on or to stimulate their desire for me. Instagram felt like the ultimate weapon of control. I could wear whatever I wanted, without wearing it in real life necessarily.The result was the feeding of my male validation addiction, which is too easy to fall into, especially when you are young. There is no doubt that I (like many others) had inhaled the male gaze like toxic smoke, just for it to be forever engraved in the back of my head.This might have been the point where the persona I was on Instagram started to contradict the persona I seemed to embody in real life.

On Instagram, I show the greenest grass I can grow, I show the highs more than the lows and just generally how glorious my life is. I stopped taking myself seriously on Instagram ages ago- but just because I did that, does not mean that others won’t. My parents still look with a surprising seriousness at my profile, which never fails to stun me. I always reply, “it’s just art, or at least be trying to curate, not an accurate depiction of my real life”, which in their generation makes little to no sense. Sometimes, when I lie wide awake in bed, in the middle of the night, I imagine how my life would be like if I would actually be the person I pretend to be on Instagram. I still have no answer for this. On Instagram, I picture just a very curated side of mine and leave out the other stuff, the “melodrama” as I like to call it.  

Who do we dress for now? A question so deep and personal, unable to be answered in a single sentence. I have written more than a thousand words about it now, and oh well, I still don’t know.

Confessions of an unemployed fashion student: Molly Goddard Tulle and other illusions

I always wanted to be a columnist. Like Carrie Bradshaw. Wearing Molly Goddard Tutu dresses, writing about everything that comes to my mind whilst residing in a trendy New York City neighbourhood. In my dreams, I am still that woman. But, in dreams, everyone is their own version of Carrie.

In reality, I am, as the title suggests, an unemployed fashion student, permanently occupied with telling people what a fashion course is, whilst desperately trying to cover up the anxiety-triggering worries about my future. No, I don’t design fashion or am a model, are probably two of my most common answers, and I’d be hospitalized very quickly if I had to take a shot of tequila every time someone would ask me those questions.

What is studying fashion, really? Collaging mood boards, waiting for the day where you are finally awarded an unpaid internship at London Fashion Week, desperately wrapping size 0 models in the silkiest fabrics, whilst waiting for the moment your talent is finally recognised and discovered?

It’s not quite like that. Even though I imagined exactly this scenario, when I started studying fashion in 2018. Now, doing my course in a global pandemic, I am rather conflicted about the illusion whether my unpaid internship Cinderella moment will ever become reality.

Since I have admitted that studying fashion is not what the majority expects it to be, I can also admit, that I am not what my 10-year-old-self imagined my 22-year-old-self to be: I am not a successful columnist (yet), I don’t live on Cornelia street in New York (yet, but we can all dream) and I am not near financial security or anything else that would put me “having their life together” category.

What my reality truly looks like is a chaotic mess, mainly taking place in the four walls of my childhood bedroom, which I feel married to since last March. In the confinement of those four walls, I am constantly staring at my tiny laptop screen, outdoing myself with creative CV’s, still hoping to get hired during a pandemic, trying to spice up my Instagram feed by going with the flow and pretending that I am cooler than I actually am, and attending university through the Microsoft team’s icon.

So what do you study? Fashion, of course, as mentioned a million times, since it is apparently defining my personality so much I want to start my own column on my own blog about it- is there a more millennial thing to do in this world? I don’t think so.

Anyway, when you study fashion, you study history, humans, sustainability, creativity and counterculture all in one. You make a deep connection with every subculture that has ever existed, you learn how humans (un)intentionally wear their personality in form of garments, you realise how capitalism birthed fast fashion and is subsequently one of the climate crisis’ roots, and you express every issue this world has ever faced in a creative way.

That’s why it’s the industry of the freaks and geeks, all the mad ones end up there.

JACKET: Resume CPH, TROUSERS, TOP AND BERET: Vintage, SHOES: Dr. Martens

Fashion is a lot more than you think, and it all happens in a bubble- sometimes isolated, sometimes integrated.

Well, this is my bubble.

Welcome to the confessions of an unemployed fashion student.

Cottagecore, but make it goth.

Out of all the available adjectives in the English language, “escapism” would probably be the best one to pick to describe the past year. Turns out living through history does not necessarily have to be outside the comfort of your own home. From being out and about, to being inhabited 24/7 in the places we were residing in, it might be sure to say that we are now familiar with every hidden cupboard in the places we live in. When the world outside seems to stand still, your mind is hungry for a change of place, surroundings, another place to hide. Our homes, that used to be our hiding spot, are now where the action, the magic and the sadness of our lives take place. Naturally, our mind desires to escape and dreams itself into another reality, a reality outside cramped city-centre flats, skyscrapers and early curfews. We are dreaming ourselves into places with less noise, more fresh air and sunshine. We are creating our cottage core in the comforts of our minds. Like a Holly Hobbie illustration coming to life, is how you can simply imagine this trend, according to the New York Times. In terms of lifestyle, cottage core reinvents what people used to consider as boring in the pre-pandemic age: the simple pleasure of rural life, accompanied by a breeze of fresh air and the sounds of the birds every morning.

Fashion gives us the ability to wear our inside out, and whether we choose to do this consciously or not, we all do it in our ways. A frilly dress might not directly scream that you have been training to become the new sourdough baking champion during the lockdown, it can express a variety of things, from a simple appreciation for the garment to a deep devotion for a trend.

Cottagecore’s fashion aspect, as mentioned, is all about dreams, frills, and femininity. To me, it looks like a cross of Vintage Gunne Sax and a stylish grandma frock. I have been a devoted fan of Vintage Gunne Sax for half a decade now since I discovered that Lana Del Rey used to wear upcycled Gunne Sax dresses to her live shows. As long as I can remember, I have been dreaming of having a full-on wardrobe, filled with those frilly frocks and tiny waists, but as someone who rather fits in modern sizing, the Gunne Sax dresses won’t fit my body shape in this world. Thanks to brilliant designers such as Bathsheva or The Vampire’s Wife, who also collaborated with H&M in the past year, a modern version of the Gunne Sax Grandma frock is ready to move into our wardrobes. I won’t lie, I do own some Batsheva dresses, but I did not purchase them because of the cottagecore trend. So, what makes the farm aesthetic so desirable? A pandemic, terrible falling outs with friends and family over several lockdowns perhaps. Maybe the fact, that our whole going out wardrobes have been in an exile status since last March. Or maybe they desire to dress up, but appropriately- honestly nobody wants to wear a super tight bodycon dress on a day-to-day basis.

But even in a fashion context, the cottagecore trend feels rather like an ideal fairy tale than a strain of reality. As someone who grew up in a rural area that embodies just the cross between rural and suburbia, I can confirm that absolutely no one would think of wearing a dress that has the slightest connotation to cottage core.

So, why, if this trend is nothing but a lavish fantasy has taken over our lives in the past year? The answer is neither Folklore, evermore nor Bathsheva, that would be way too easy. The answer is deeply rooted in culture and is more than an obvious response to the pandemic.

Cottagecore is a lost strain of nostalgia, that now, blossoms between vintage vinyl records and worn-out cardigans: it is the desire to brew oneself a cup of coffee, instead of buying an overpriced one in the coffee shop around the corner, it is the longing for the rural life, which oneself abolished for a shoebox-sized city centre apartment. Cottagecore, a trend decorated with frilly sleeves, is the seeking of peace, even if the world, right now, is unable to give anyone peace. Cottagecore stands for an ideal world, where Facebook does not ping us every two seconds, where we are not chained to our messy working from home desks 24/7, where we can be happy and content with ourselves. In the cottagecore universe, we don’t have to impress anyone with our looks and what we wear, because in this universe, every look equals a sugar-coated reality, having idyllic illustrations telling fairy tales on the torso of the dresses we wear.

The revival of the countryside and its attached aesthetics, a revival that nobody saw coming. But is cottagecore, the trend that is lusting for the simple pleasures of life, away from social media, the way into a conscious future of fashion? Will all fast fashion retailers now retrain their designers from sketching bodycon dresses to sketching the dreamiest countryside inspired frilly garments? The rather devastating answer to the never-ending dreading question is probably no. Once this is “all over”, a sentence as hopeful as nothing else ever created in the world of literature, people will go out again. The bars will be full again. The cities will live again, and then cottagecore will turn into citycore. The mundane pastoral life is the current escapism lived through social media, music and fashion- but as soon as the cities will get their excitement back, people will be more than willing to swap a cottage for a shoebox sized city centre apartment with no daylight.

DRESS- Alexa Chung archive, BOOTS- Vintage

And then, the frilly dresses will enter their afterlife, away from the comfort of the online subculture. They will be detached from the cottage you’ve never had and the Taylor Swift stories that never happened in your life.

The dress will always come to life once you wear it- if you let it do it’s magic.