Glamour Girl

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Emergency Preparedness

Lisa Simeone

Being by nature a cautious and frugal sort, Glamour Girl believes one can never be too prepared.  She also believes one must respect the fact that science marches on, whether we mortals are ready for its advance or not.  And by George, when science is married to preparedness, for the benefit of all mankind, that, to paraphrase Keats, is a thing of beauty that is a joy forever.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Emergency Bra:

This is something not even science fiction could’ve come up with.  (I take that back—the producers of Nude on the Moon would surely have thought of it first if only they’d been interested.)

The accompanying text from the photo in the Sun (Image #4) is simply too good not to quote in its entirety:

Dr. Elena Bodnar holds up one of her ‘Emergency Bras’, as John Durant (R), Director of the MIT Museum, and Gus Rancatore wear the bras as facemasks, at the MIT Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Elena Bodnar of Hinsdale, Illinois and colleagues who designed and patented the bra that can be quickly converted into a pair of gas masks, one for the brassiere wearer and one to be given to some needy bystander, won the 2009 Ig Nobel Public Health Prize.

Love the “needy bystander” part.  And red facemasks are so much more fetching than white, don’t you think?

Speaking of lingerie (a topic in which Glamour Girl has much interest, as evidenced by her very first article for Style many moons ago), I feel compelled to tell you that an adorable little shop in New Hope, Pennsylvania, called Le Chateau Exotique is holding a corset swap on Thursday, September 30th. 

Now don’t be put off by the URL.  It really is an adorable shop, and you don’t have to be into “fetishwear” as they call it.  It sells the most gobsmackingly gorgeous corsets you will ever see, in colorful silks and satins and brocades and velvets.  (If you want a feel for the place, click on this report I did for NPR back in 2001).

You won’t find much lingerie at this weekend’s Best Dressed Sale at Evergreen, but you will find everything else.  Get there early if you want the best pickings as the place gets mobbed.  All proceeds benefit Johns Hopkins Hospital.  So, bra or no bra, you’ll be helping science march on in Baltimore.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/29/10 at 04:57 AM

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Of Blue Jeans and Blue Collars: Levi’s and Braddock, Pa

Lisa Simeone

Though Glamour Girl feels thoroughly Baltimorean, having lived here for 28 years (and even longer in the Chesapeake region as a whole), she was raised in Pittsburgh, and still has a soft spot in her heart for the old ‘burgh.

A few steel mills were still operating, just barely, when I was growing up, and I got used to seeing the smokestacks of the J&L (Jones & Laughlin) Steel Mill alongside the parkway as I rode the bus into downtown.

Seemingly long-forgotten names, therefore, come to life in unexpected ways.  Names of places I thought I once knew, far back in time.  Like Braddock.

So when a cousin sent me a story about a new marketing campaign by Levi’s set in Braddock, just a few miles from Pittsburgh, I was intrigued.

The jeans company is using residents—not models—in the latest incarnation of its “Go Forth” campaign.  This one’s called “Ready to Work,” which state of mind is apparently what the company thinks is going to reinvigorate the collapsed economy of Braddock.

I soon smelled a rat.

Levi Strauss is a multi-national powerhouse.  Its sales hit $7.1 billion in 1996 before starting to dip amidst competition from other jeans makers.  Its profits have risen each quarter in 2010, however, topping $499 million in gross profits in the second quarter, compared with $415 million for the same period in 2009.  No word on what it’s spending on the Braddock campaign, but if the past is any indication, it’s around $50 million.

And what is Braddock getting out of this?  National attention, for sure.  Feel-good billboards, yes.  And a million dollars from Levi’s.

Yep.  One million bucks.  Spread out over two years, no less.  That’s pocket change for Levi’s.

Braddock’s impressive and relentlessly optimistic mayor, John Fetterman, is featured in the campaign and is understandably proud of it.  Standing 6-foot-8, 325 pounds, with a shaved head and Braddock’s zip code tattooed on his arm, he’s got a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard and first came to Braddock as an Americorps volunteer.  He says he doesn’t see any exploitation in the Levi’s campaign.  Anything to drum up interest in his town (which, by the way, is designated a “distressed municipality,” meaning it’s under water the same way foreclosed homeowners are).

Fair enough.  Even though the movie version of Cormac McCarthy’s apocalyptic novel The Road was filmed in Braddock, I can see why Fetterman would be happy for some good publicity.

But there are plenty of people who see a dismal irony in Levi’s’ trumpeting of “real work” and deliberate evocation of the Depression-era images of Margaret Bourke-White and Dorothea Lange. 

Levi’s doesn’t provide “real work” to Americans anymore.  Its jeans aren’t Made in the USA.  It, like so many other corporations, has outsourced its jobs to foreign workers, most of them in sweatshops and other appalling conditions.

From Levi’s’ own press release:  “the residents of Braddock shine an authentic spotlight on how vision and hard work can not only change one community, but also help to inspire the nation to aspire to greater prosperity as a whole.”

Really?  There used to be 20,000 residents in Braddock, when there actually were real jobs and real work.  Now, there are 2500.  Are the good intentions and hard work of Braddock’s citizens a match for the self-serving marketing campaign of a multi-billion-dollar corporation?

I think not.

If you want to read more about Braddock—which provides, in a way, a capsule history of the industrial U.S.—here are several good sources:

Beautiful Ruination by Ginger Strand

Out of the Furnace and Into the Fire by Jim Straub

and the facetiously titled Boring Pittsburgh.

(Oh, and by the way, if you’re brought up short by “malignant beauty” as I was, know that the phrase comes from the novel Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar.  Apparently Mayor Fetterman is as literary as he is visionary.)

(Photo Credit:  Boring Pittsburgh)

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/16/10 at 03:08 PM

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Recycle Runway

Lisa Simeone

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” has long been the mantra of frugal souls (as well as just sensible ones), long before the so-called Green Revolution.  Those of us who wear vintage have been doing it simply for love of beauty, with the tangential benefit of making the world a teeny bit better by not mucking it up with yet more stuff.

Over the years, I’ve tried to point out recycled goods I think are worth one’s attention, such as here and here.

But this is surely the pièce de résistance:

It’s a dress made out of recycled Coca-Cola cans.  Yet it’s just one of the many creations by the phenomenally talented Nancy Judd of Recycle Runway.

Take a look through her fashions—all made from recycled trash—and tell me these aren’t beautiful as well as gobsmackingly creative.

Plastic bottles, bags, crushed glass, even rusty nails—nothing is too “trashy” to be refashioned into something stylish and wearable.

Lots more on her website, and be sure to take a look at the schedule:  her dresses are touring the country and might be coming to a venue near you.

While we’re on the subject of recycled duds, don’t forget that the final drop-off days for the Best Dressed Sale are coming up:  Monday, September 21st, and Tuesday, September 22nd, at the Carriage House at Evergreen.  The Sale itself is Fri-Sun Oct 1-3.  Details here.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/11/10 at 02:06 PM

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