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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.

Fantasies and illusions over reality- a tale of inaccessibility in fashion

Fashion fluctuates between two images in mainstream society: firstly, there is the more common one, which is represented by a golden door locked with a million security codes, only accessible to a certain exclusive group of people. Secondly, there is the image of fashion being the world of outsiders, the industry of freaks and geeks, where all the mad ones end up. Those two images couldn’t be more different to one another, but still, they represent the same construct- a reflection of an industry that seems to be fast-paced but is the slowest in its internal development.

It is all about selling an emotion or a fantasy, that ties someone so close to the garment that they feel the need to possess it. As the fantasies got bigger and more glamourous, they continued to move away from what fashion should be about: the people, that give the life to the garment that it needs to communicate that fantasy.

That’s why fashion feels to a lot of people so inaccessible. It may not even the price in some cases, but the fantasy that the brand is trying to sell.

Fantasies and illusions are what we spent our childhoods with, living in our little bubbles, sheltered from the ugly truths of the world we have been born into. When we grow up, we realize that the world is different than we used to believe growing up, so we naturally distance ourselves from fantasies and illusions. We crave understanding, not escapism. We want to see ourselves in fashion, not size 00 models that Céline sends down the runway or a golden covered fairy-tale fantasy like Dolce and Gabbana, when they do xenophobic campaigns at the same time. We want to see equality; we want to see what we envision for our world to be but in a real picture. We want genderless, but no men in baby doll dresses, since society might not be ready for that yet. But where does genderless start? Is a woman in a suit not also genderfluid dressed?

We want to see our reality, in a mirror. Not the escapist fairy tale book, since we are old enough to know that we won’t magically wake up in a perfect world. In times like these, we want runways to be the voice of those who seem to be invisible but are louder than ever.

The fantasies a brand tries to sell feel as unrealistic as a fairy tale itself- with the complete ignorance of reality, being determined to offer a source of escapism, a lot of people who have to deal with those ugly truths daily feel excluded. No matter how hard they would try, they would always feel ignored, like when you place the children at a big dinner on a small crappy plastic table in the storage room, they will always feel like “the other”.

Louis Vuitton is selling a vison of French craftmanship. Gucci under Alessandro Michele is escaping into a world without the gender boundary, where a man can wear a velvet baby doll dress with a handmade lace collar, decorated with pearls and gemstones without any means of judgement. Celine under Hedi Slime is all about punk and grunge, two by-gone eras that a gen-z member is more than unlikely to have experienced with their senses.

In times of ever-growing change, brands hold on nostalgia, and title everything that has nothing to do with the present reality as “timeless”.

But what is “timeless”? And does such state of human taste even exist in decades being defined by change? Isn’t timeless the most mediocre word to describe something that clings on to the past, refusing to adapt to the present?

Adapting to the present zeitgeist, especially in fashion, is a discipline in itself that demands a lot of proactivity and the ability for constant reinvention. Maybe the past year was exactly about this in fashion. What are some brands without their elaborate shows at fashion weeks? This raises the question whether this is the funeral of the traditional fashion show, ending with the innocent bride in white since there may have been more divorces than weddings in this changing year. And most importantly, now that people have ripped the elitist’s eyes open, how can you make something as exclusive as fashion more inclusive?

coat- Manoush over Vestiaire Collective, dress- old and altered Topshop, collar- vintage, bag- Telfar

That’s why brands like Telfar or Grace Wales Bonner are so successful, especially this year- they embody what the current generation cares about, without selling a tale of exclusivity. They are what most brands could be but refuse to be- they are real.

A victorian child meets glitter- an outfit roundup

They say creative blocks don’t exist. What might feel like a rustic brick wall, ripped out of a trendy New York loft and planted right in the middle of your creative brain, is nothing but an illusion. What really happens, is apparently, the fact that you are not allowing yourself to produce bad work. Something really shitty, like so shitty that you would try raising a billion pounds to get it off the internet. You probably already sensed it, this post is the place where I am allowing myself to write something not necessarily amazing. And what do bloggers normally do in such times of bleak and desperation? Either a Q&A, which is not an option, since nobody asks me questions, so this week it will be a lovely gallery of what I wore this week. Outfits that kept my body covered and my mind sane. As we all know, in this house, dressing up is our cardio.

blouse- Alexa Chung archive, skirt- very old American Apparel

Monday-

Terrible lighting, since I missed the point before the sun said goodbye indefinitely that day. This outfit could be described as a Victorian child rediscovering their identity on Tik Tok, jumping straight on the tennis skirts track.

jeans: old fast fashion, blouse: Sonia, coat and blue blouse: old H&M

Tuesday-

I was rediscovering bits of my old teenage wardrobe that day, such as the sparkly jeans, which already lost half of the stuck-on sparkles to the tumbling of the washing machine or the light blue frilly blouse that I bought right after I got sacked from a fundraising company after only three days of working for them. Throw a Sonia Rykiel archive piece and a cherished coat into the ensemble, and you have a look that literally communicates layering as its philosophy. Also, this was the first time I have worn that blouse in years, and I must admit, now I understand why I haven’t worn it in so long. Hands off fast fashion kids, it will burn them.

boots: vintage, dress: old fast fashion, Coat: Manoush, but second hand sourced

Wednesday-

I have imagined this look in my head since my digital existence came across this gorgeous Manoush vinyl coat on a reselling platform online. When I saw it online, I felt an inner connection to my eleven-year-old self, who felt like a Manoush store must be heaven. I first went into one of their stores somewhere in the south of France, and I felt very seduced by their pink glittery interiors. I was eleven, that’s how you get brand loyalty. If I have to name this outfit, this one literally screams, I miss showing off random pieces of my versatile wardrobe being thrown together with absolutely no sense. I had a lack of confidence that day, so I wore my vintage cowboy boots, which, at least sometimes, make me feel cooler than I actually am. Also, there is an actual bag in the plastic bag, I am not that much of a fashion victim.

dress- Ganni, blouse: vintage, tights: Calzedonia

Thursday-

On Thursday, I discovered my love for white tights and decided to dress like a big fancy Victorian baby. Under the lovely horse print dress, even though I don’t practise that sport anymore by far, I am wearing a frilly vintage blouse, which I bought years ago in Paris. This ensemble is one of my favourite looks ever, it kind of provokes the thought of a crossover of Blair Waldorf’s iconic tights hierarchy and the heavenliness of danish design. Also, I am aware of the fact that the last sentence made very little to no sense at all.

dress: old Urban, vest, blouse and beret: vintage

Friday-

Ranch girl escaped her country life, ran away to Paris and tries to undercover herself whilst wearing a beret. I actually haven’t been to Paris in years, but it seems like I am drawing a lot of visual references to that magical place. I love wearing that dress, even though it constantly reminds me of nights out and messy decisions, at some point I even avoided wearing it for more than a month, since I couldn’t bear being reminded of the foolish things several things made me do- what would we all give now to be foolish again without the fear of certain germs?

trouser: old fast fashion I believe, dress: &other, blouse: vintage

Other-

I would call this look “you wanted to go to a rave but your parents have forced you despite your age to attend Christmas dinner first”.

all vintage, the ultimate grandma x gucci look

Saturday-

A vintage ensemble, aka the ugliest blouse that I ever purchased, and my forever failsafe pink 80’s dress. Together, it looks like Gucci on acid. And believe me, you could tell everyone it was actual Gucci and nobody would doubt it.

So that’s it from my nonsense this week.

N x

The lonesome hood of the travelling jeans

Yesterday, my favourite pair of jeans declared their dramatic end by ripping between the thighs. I connect clothing to certain moments in my life, whether it is that unflattering mini dress that my chaotic mind thought would be the best companion for a first date or those jeans that I had in my possession since I was 17 years old. Those mom jeans I am talking about, are that certain type of clothing that mutate to a staple in your wardrobe, and for some reason, are somehow always with you. They move to a new house with you, get taken off by someone else and they carry you through your heartbreak. I don’t know but seeing that this pair of jeans has now officially arrived at their end, it made me feel strange, it felt like the end of an era. I am no longer seventeen, and if I would have not owned the jeans anyway, it is a debatable question on whether I would rebuy them. The answer is, I genuinely don’t know, since when I think of those jeans, the last thing I think about would be their faded blue colour and worn-out denim material.

When I think about this pair of jeans, I first and foremost think about how much I loved them when I got them and how much my parents and everyone else around me hated them. I got them back in 2015 when everyone in the small village I grew up was only aware of one possible jeans shape, skinny jeans. Everything else around that small spectrum was not accepted. Now, when I see young girls there, they all wear mom jeans and doc martens just five years after I did it. Some things do change, don’t they?

I think, back in the day, the reason why everyone seemed to hate it, was my ultimate reason to wear them. It felt like a mini protest, communicating to the world, probably in caps, that I wear what they hate, just to stand out. I tried to source imagery from back in the day, but unfortunately (maybe fortunate for my sake), they are lost somewhere between two dusty hard drives and a couple of hundred flash drives. Even though I remember how horribly they fit around the crotch, I still wore them every day, and the fact that everyone apart from my humble self, disapproved of them, gave me a sense of strange confidence.

The second thing that I associate those jeans with is the fact that no matter how many times I moved flats and countries in the past two years (let me tell you, it’s been a lot), this pair of jeans always made the selection into the suitcase rather than the charity shop bag. I took them to Manchester, to Toronto, I sweated through countless deadlines in them, and I wore them when I put on a holding deposit for my first flat (in Montreal’s -12 degree cold). I also wore them the day after on a very cold 5-hour long bus journey from Montreal to New York, sitting across, what was in my eyes the most handsome guy existing on planet earth, but not having the courage to speak to him.

the outfit of that 5 hour bus journey, which I have spent 5 hours contemplating of speaking to that boy or not, spoiler: I didn’t.

I wore this exact pair of jeans when I eventually made my move back from Toronto to Manchester, which also marks the occasion when my feed had been the last time on Canadian soil. I had my first Wendy’s and my last Canadian poutine whilst they hugged my legs. Subsequently, I wore them when I was hungover at my stopover in Iceland, and I still had them on when I landed in Manchester and saw my best friend for the first time in about seven months.

not exactly what I wore on the flight- I wore this when I transferred the deposit for the flat. Trust me you don’t want to see the flight outfit, it was horrendous.

These jeans have never been stripped of my body by a man. This is not due to the fact that my last slightly sexual activity is more than 422 days ago (okay, maybe), but to the fact that those jeans are not seducing jeans. They are not this kind of jeans that guarantees you a pull. They are more like an “I am an independent woman and you can’t tell me any otherwise” jeans. I wore them once when I tried to win a guy back, it didn’t work. Those jeans are more men- repelling than any other jeans I own, why did my juvenile self think that this was a great choice to get someone to bed? Today, I know, those jeans were my literal guardian angels, and they’ve saved me from the worst.

I may have not been sharing my travelling pants with three others, but maybe their lonesome hood was what made them special. They are not magical or anything, to be honest, they really were never fitting around my crotch, but they have witnessed more key moments in my life than other garments did.

N x