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condensed from How to Repel Men With Style | Luke Leitch
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Left to right: an ‘inexplicable hip extension’ from David Koma, frayed yarn face masks at Rick Owens and a typewriter dress by Mary Katrantzou PHOTOS: REX/VLADIMIR POTOP
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Until his retirement in 2007, Valentino Garavani enjoyed a career rich in fame and fortune, all thanks to his near-peerless skill for doing one thing extremely well. That skill, which propelled him to the apex of 20th-century fashion, was in wreathing the world’s most beautiful women in dresses of devastating elegance. Whether it was Grace Kelly, Jackie Kennedy or Sophia Loren, Valentino had an unerring knack for transforming celebrated head-turners into unforgettable heart-stoppers.

Now it has been announced that a 100-strong collection of Valentino’s finest couture gowns is to feature at Somerset House’s blockbuster show this November – and I for one can’t wait to see it. For these days, women’s clothes that are designed to reduce any man who sees them into a jibbering, crush-struck wreck are rare indeed.

In the last few years, at show after show, I’ve confronted catwalks packed with ensembles outré enough to make a man’s veins run suddenly cold. Beautiful (albeit sillily thin and inappropriately young) women dressed in a manner guaranteed to wither the male gaze far more efficiently than a nun’s habit.

This withering is not because they look covered up and chastely tasteful. It’s because the outfits they’re wearing make them look like freshly escaped loonies. A few burned-into-the-retina regrets from the Autumn 2012 collections include camel-toe-flashing body stockings in jester’s diamonds, ruffled tulle pink buttock-skimmers wider than anything in My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, and post-apocalyptic cult robes with frayed yarn face masks and death’s-head make-up… the 21st-century womenswear catwalk is all too often no place for men who relish a little black dress.

I – off duty – am one of those men, like any other. And yet I’m also employed to attend these fashion shows, then try and make some kind of sense of them. So as my inner bloke baulks and bolts for the door, I stay, sit and watch – and try to work out what on earth the designers are getting at. Furthermore, why on earth would women want to wear some of this stuff?

Take the peplum. This inexplicable hip extension is fashion’s current equivalent to the appendix: entirely useless yet utterly ubiquitous. Or the current ankle sock with high-heel trend: why subvert a sexy shoe with saggy, granny ankles? And what’s going on with the stupid, sadly not-quite-yet-over neon movement? Surely only paramedics and binmen could wish to dress in that saccharinely virulent shade of orange. Over the past few years I have silently asked myself scores of similar questions, adrift in a fragrant sea of rapturously applauding female fashion editors.

The discovery of a blog entitled The Man Repeller helped me start to square womenswear’s circle of aggressively ugly. Written by a young New Yorker named Leandra Medine, it amusingly recounted her flirtation with fashion fripperies that she not only knows but delights in knowing will send most men running to the hills. And then the comment of a female colleague after one particularly to-the-male-eye unattractive show – “you’ll never understand that! It was brilliant!” – cemented the thought: perhaps some fashion appeals to women precisely because of its burka-trumping capacity to confound masculine attention. Fashion has become an arena in which conventional male tastes, whether we like it or not, are an irrelevance. Sometimes, a designer’s freedom to whip up whatever they want – the loopier the better – can produce brilliant results. Mary Katrantzou’s pencil skirt made of pencils and her red Olivetti dress are great recent examples. Too often, however, contemporary fashion is an impenetrable in-joke as inexplicable as the worst type of contemporary art.

Still, now I can watch bunny-boiler collections that everybody else in the room says they adore without perplexedly wondering what it is I’m missing. Because sometimes women’s fashion operates on a frequency that most men simply aren’t supposed to hear.

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read the article How to Repel Men With Style | Luke Leitch

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fashion, pretty girls, and other things with price tags

The Playground

I spend a lot of time criticising the boys who work on Wall Street, but if you’re not after anything too cerebral they can be quite good fun to hang out with. Fraser and Kathleen started spending a lot of time together in a weird sexless mini-clique. There had been rumours flying round that her job wasn’t as secure as it might be, and I think she was keen to get close to anyone who could help her career.

As a girl, you get used to bawdy comments from guy-friends. One of the things that really shocked me about the city guys was the number of them who had been with call-girls. Usually on foreign trips where nobody knew them, but sometimes at home in New York. “Their work builds up a lot of testosterone,” Lina would say, “they have to let off steam somehow.”

“Does your brother go with…

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The Patience Stone: “Sang-E Saboor”
by Atiq Rahimi

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“For far too long, Afghan women have been faceless and voiceless. Until now. With The Patience Stone, Atiq Rahimi gives face and voice to one unforgettable woman–and, one could argue, offers her as a proxy for the grievances of millions…it is a rich read, part allegory, part a tale of retribution, part an exploration of honor, love, sex, marriage, war. It is without doubt an important and courageous book.” from the introduction by Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns

In Persian folklore, Syngue Sabour is the name of a magical black stone, a patience stone, which absorbs the plight of those who confide in it. It is believed that the day it explodes, after having received too much hardship and pain, will be the day of the Apocalypse. But here, the Syngue Sabour is not a stone but rather a man lying brain-dead with a bullet lodged in his neck. His wife is with him, sitting by his side. But she resents him for having sacrificed her to the war, for never being able to resist the call to arms, for wanting to be a hero, and in the end, after all was said and done, for being incapacitated in a small skirmish. Yet she cares, and she speaks to him. She even talks to him more and more, opening up her deepest desires, pains, and secrets. While in the streets rival factions clash and soldiers are looting and killing around her, she speaks of her life, never knowing if her husband really hears. And it is an extraordinary confession, without restraint, about sex and love and her anger against a man who never understood her, who mistreated her, who never showed her any respect or kindness. Her admission releases the weight of oppression of marital, social, and religious norms, and she leads her story up to the great secret that is unthinkable in a country such as Afghanistan. Winner of the Prix Goncourt, The Patience Stone captures with great courage and spare, poetic, prose the reality of everyday life for an intelligent woman under the oppressive weight of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

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via Elephant Journal

11 Reasons Why I’m Getting Married (Again). .

Warning: some adult language ahead.

I swore off marriage when I was 12-years-old.

I was a jaded preteen with a bit of a feminist streak who had witnessed the demise of her parents’ relationship a few years before. I decided that I was never going to fall prey that heteronormative, societal slave trap. I was going to make something of my life and no amount of schmaltzy, romantic bullshit was going to stand in my way.

Ten years later I was married. (Life has a funny way of taking our belief systems and packing them with dynamite.)

I was a good wife—or at least I tried to be. I cooked and cleaned. I was understanding and kind (sometimes). And I really, really cared about my husband. But admittedly, my heart was not in it. It was nobody’s fault. We simply weren’t the best fit for each other and hung on for much longer than was respectfully necessary.

So, I ended up joining the ranks of one of the real housewives who get to say fashionable things like “My ex-husband this,” or “My divorce settlement that”—all before the age of 30.

Joking aside, it was a pretty intense period of my life. Walking away from everything I had known about love and relating made me Feel like a total failure, a selfish, sick little girl with no stable ground to stand on. Even though through it all, I knew I was making the right choice, I was shaking with fear behind my mask of quiet bravery.

And with that mask came a resounding voice from the past: don’t ever get married again.

No really. You are not wife material. You are not a mother. Do you want to put another man (and possibly innocent children) though hell?

Then five months ago, he came along.

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| Capital Lifestyle. reblog

 Heard of ‘The Obedient Wife Club’?

June 3, 2011 – A group of Malaysian Muslim women say they will fight divorce, domestic violence and other problems — by appealing to wives to be more obedient, one of the organisers has said.

Maznah Taufik said “The Obedient Wife Club” being launched on Saturday is aimed at drawing women who will be taught how to please their husbands better to prevent them from straying or misbehaving.

“We just want to ask all the wives to be obedient wives so that there will be fewer problems in our society,” such as infidelity, divorce and domestic violence, she told AFP.

“Obedient wife means they are trying to entertain their husbands, not only taking care of their food and clothes,” Maznah said. “They have to obey their husbands. That’s the way Islam also asks.”

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Malaysia is a Muslim-majority country, with some 60 percent of the population practicing the religion, alongside large ethnic Chinese and Indian communities who are mostly Buddhist, Hindu and Christian.

According to local media, the country’s divorce rate doubled from 2002 to 2009, with rates higher among Muslims than non-Muslims.

Maznah said it was also the men’s responsibility to teach their wives to be obedient.

“Some wives, they just want to get married for leisure but they don’t know the responsibility,” she said.

“To entertain their husbands is compulsory. If she doesn’t do this, the husband will look for another woman… and the house will break down.”

Saturday’s launch near the capital Kuala Lumpur will include speeches and a show to demonstrate to women how to be good wives, Maznah said, adding that a similar club was set up in Jordan last month.

Maznah is already involved in another controversial venture — the Ikhwan Polygamy Club, which was launched in 2009 to promote polygamy. Muslim men in Malaysia can take up to four wives.

She is herself in a polygamous marriage, as the second of her husband’s two wives.

In 2010, a study by a Muslim activist group found men in polygamous relationships find it difficult to meet the needs of all their wives and children, and that the result is often unhappy and cash-strapped families.

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by Frederick Seidel

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iPhoto

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The second woman shines my shoes.
The other takes my order, curtsies. Thank you, sir.
Others stand there in the rain so I can mount them when I choose.
It’s how protective I
Can be that keeps them going. Look at her:
She clicks her heels together, bowing slightly. Try
To put yourself in her shoes: boots, garter belt, and veil.
She’s amused
To be a piece of tail.
She’s smiling. Is she really so amused? I’ve recused
Myself from judging whether that means she’s abused.
So far I’ve refused
To let myself be called confused.
I hope these photos of St. Louis will be used.

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via Paris Review – Five Poems, Frederick Seidel.

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