As urban dwellers many of us have a propensity to stick to a uniform that is dark, full of greys, and blacks, matching the pavements and streets that physically define the cities in which we live. Moreover, as the winter months kick in, the sartorial likelihood of seeing color, or even white for that matter, diminish greatly. Yet we live in a day and age where the rules of the closet are always challenged or even broken. Fashion, whether we like to admit or not, can be uniting but also dividing, all at the same time. The sartorial goddesses prescribe that even though many of us may shop at the same stores, the trick is to own what you wear and never the other way around.
In this sweet paradox comes an occasion where the idiosyncrasies of style are limited to white and the masses throng together in harmony. In the indigo luminance of a cool fall night on Saturday, October 26, thousands flocked to the Barclays center, all clad in white, unconsciously united, surrendering to the sensory bliss that is Sensation. The evening, dubbed “an ocean of white”, is an imported European concept, where the arena is converted into what a night rave might be like under the sea.
Salutes to the 90’s were cleverly referenced, a two minute Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” intermission which pleased anyone who grew up in the 90s, and diehard alternative music fans. Yet for the most part the evening was dominated by light exhibitions, jellyfish, mermaids, bubbles, and other water-based theatrics, all assembled to exploding beats by celebrated acts like Fedde Le Grand and Nic Fanciulli.
It could be a worthy thing to recall Diane Birch. Her 2009 debut titled Bible Belt seemed like a decent effort, sandwiched in that female adult pop category that safely touches upon the likes of Adele or even Norah Jones. Truth be told, if that’s where you sit on the Pandora station algorithm, it’s an arduous task to prove that there might be more to your music than plain café pop.
Fast forward to 2013 and Ms. Birch has resurfaced with Speak A Little Louder. There’s something about this release that rouses a cause for comment. While Ms. Birch always erred on the retro sound of things, she’s channeling a different musical landscape now, particularly one that pays homage to the 1970’s. Her opener, “Speak A Little Louder” touches the later work of Dusty Springfield, Ms. Birch’s voice hitting those haunting notes that are iconic of the blue-eyed soul singer. “Lighthouse”, the second track, almost seems like a Stevie Nicks B-Side that never made it on a Fleetwood Mac record due to artistic differences. Comparisons aside, it’s an adrenaline-inducing number that allows Ms. Birch’s vocals to exhibit a tenacity that takes you by surprise.
Every artist must carry in their music arsenal an awe-inspiring number. For Ms. Birch, this song is “All The Love You’ve Got”. It possesses melodies, lyrics, and a unique arrangement that is complicated with detail, yet seems so easy on the ears. It is a great example of life imitating art, evoking those sharp unresolved feelings of regret and remorse towards a lover. “Love and War” follows a very strong 1970’s rubric. It’s the kind of song that most artists would never record today. It’s production harks to a time before CDs were invented, having sparse moments of disco, perfectly enveloped with a musical arrangement that relies heavily on guitars and Ms. Birch’s reedy vocals.
Not every track on Speak A Little Louder is worthy of admiration. However, the album remains a testament to an artist who likes to experiment and do something different, further fine tuning her musical modus operandi.
He seemed like he was in his late twenties, perhaps leaving work on his way to a dinner date. His ensemble was awfully simple, yet he pulled a monochromatic look that many have failed to properly exhibit. His secret was due to a deliberate exercise in adhering to contrast. Be it in the shade, tint, or texture. His ensemble was composed of office trousers in a graphite that held a subtle shine, and a textured crew neck sweater in charcoal.
© 2013 Words and Art by Faris Habayeb
With a mantra that states: “the perfect bag elevates your look, but doesn’t define your style”, Everlane is set to inflect more than the few ripples it has already made in the fashion waters. In an age where startups now make up a significant portion of technology and service industries, Everlane is an exemplar model of a young enterprise spawned from an identified gap in the market.
Similar to the Warby Parker model, Everlane is an online only fashion retailer devoted to eliminating the mark up costs that add to the average suggested retail prices of branded articles. Based out of San Francisco, the brand has received accolades from the fashion press heralding its formula as the good Samaritan in the fashion basics realm. Their inventory is limited to the fundamentals of a wardrobe. T-shirts, sweaters, button downs, and basic accessories like bags, belts, and wallets. More recently the brand is now toying with the luxury market. Cashmere sweaters are now offered as the cooler months kick in, and a very limited line of leather accessories under the name of Black have been introduced. Items in this category are crafted from the best materials sourced by the very same factories that partner with established luxury brands. The Petra Collection is the first to debut under this class with a limited edition tote bag made in Italy. With only a 1,000 made, it requires interested buyers to be put on a wait list, prior to making the purchase.
The sixteen year old, Kiwi newcomer, Lorde, has an acquired skill for song. Best of all, it isn’t disfigured with performance theatrics, skimpy outfits, or the sort of rebellion musical kids partake in these days. Signed to Columbia Records from the budding age of thirteen, after being scouted at a talent show in her native New Zealand, Lorde has just released her first fledged album, Pure Heroine. However one chooses to interpret the double entendre, the album has become an astonishing chart topper in the US, despite lack of substantial promotion—the digital charts alone are testament to this.
“Royals”, the first lead single has been a burning hit since its debut this summer. The track is a lyric poem, better described as an ode to the 99%—to those who have the guts to call bluff on a culture that encourages make-believe exuberance. It has elements of trip hop, fantastic harmonies, and a vocal style that is hauntingly cool, but all the while filled with spirit. Lorde’s style sometimes evokes Kanye West ironically, Sbtrkt, and a perkier Xx, or even a less warbling version of Ellie Goulding. Whoever her musical references may be, Lorde carries her own weight as a sampling of her debut will strongly attest. In addition to “Tennis Court”, Lorde’s latest single, “Buzzcut Season”, is perhaps the album’s crowning moment. A multi-dimensional track with dazzling, hair-raising melodies, it graces the ears with the musical minimalism we’ve been yearning to listen to for quite some time now.
Listen to Buzzcut Season below: