Firstly, I felt a little bit misplaced since all the other fashion reporters were wearing outfits classified as the hottest fashion at that time. However, as soon as I started to conduct the interviews I felt much better. Even before I had asked for a comment about my dress, one of the most famous Swedish designers, Lars Wallin, said that he thought my dress was really cute. The designer who created the Swedish queen’s wedding dress thought my cheap dress was cute! Surprisingly, no one said anything negative about my dress, although I provoked them to do so. Even Miss Jay Alexander, the fashion guru from America's Next Top Model, said it was sweet. Most of the people I interviewed told me that I should keep it in my wardrobe for next summer since it would never go out of fashion.
Miss Jay Alexander, from America's Next Top Model, and I.
This particular show hasn’t been aired yet but you can see another clip from Stockholm Fashion Week at Girlylicious web-TV. Choose “Girlylicious” and then “Fashion week”.
Most people think that hospital clothes are boring and unfashionable, and they usually are. I am not so superficial that I highly prioritize my outfit when being hospitalized; however, I don’t think it would do any harm if the hospital clothes were pimped up a little bit. Obviously, the focus of the design is that the clothes should be practical and serve their purpose, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be boring. When researching this topic, I found that there was already a market out there for designed hospital gowns. Several companies provide a big range of stylish hospital clothes in different colors and designs. But for who? People who live in hospices and nursing homes are apparently one of the main target groups, but according to the information on their web pages and in articles, the companies also turn to people who believe it is important to be fashionably dressed in every possible occasion. It might seem quite strange to buy clothes for such a distressing situation, as being hospitalized, but apparently there are people who do. Rumors say that some celebrities have designed hospital gowns in their wardrobes. I don’t know if this is true, but I would probably also consider having one if I was chased by paparazzi. I mean, I would not like the whole world to see photos of me in an unflattering gown.
Web pages you can check out if you are interested are:
Last year Viktor and Rolf made an amazing collection à la Haute couture...and I was actually one of the crazy people skipping work and waiting outside for hours to get a head start. I wanted almost everything in the collection, but had picked two favorites I intended to fight for. Obviously I wasn't as desperate (or as good at track) as the other people in the store and didn’t manage to get to the finish line in time. When I did finally make it to the end, my sizes were all gone. I grabbed the garments in another size and tried to convince myself that they would look great even if they were a little bit oversized. However, a few minutes later a woman came up to me and wanted to trade her size small with my size large. Yey! So I ended up getting exactly what I wanted, or at least everything that I could afford. So honestly, I must say, that it was definitely worth it. The jacket and the sweater are still the two favorite items in my wardrobe and I feel happy each time I put them on.
If after reading this post, you want to experience an intense shopping moment, take a look at this video:
Six months later I got the opportunity to attend an exchange program at CCSU in the United States. Since I thought the American culture was much more similar to the Swedish, I didn’t think so much about what clothes to bring. Having grown up watching Grease and other college movies I thought I had a good idea about how the American students dress. But no, the first day of school I found out how much it actually differs. I felt totally overdressed when I walked into the classroom, wearing the clothes I usually wear at the university in Sweden. The student fashion at CCSU is much more casual than I am used to and there are for example a lot of students wearing sweatpants for class. I soon realized that I had brought way too much formal clothing and that I wouldn’t walk around in my high heels for long.
Talking to the other international students I found out that they have had a similar experience. One thing that surprised them the most is that some American students show up for class wearing pyjamas. That is something you would never do in our home countries. On the other hand, many of us international students are not used to living on campus. For example, most international students would have to travel by metro, bus or car to get to university and so wearing pyjamas to university would seem much more strange. Even though I would personally never consider walking around campus in my pyjamas, I must admit that it is quite nice to dress down. I have gone to class wearing my dance clothes a few times, which felt a bit weird but quite comfortable.
During the last years I have got so used to representing The Middle Eastern culture that I didn't even take into consideration that they expected me to show the Swedish national costume. Who has got a Swedish national costume anyway? The Swedish queen and princesses usually wear it for the National day and our holiday Midsummer Eve, but that's it. To be honest, the Swedish national costume is not that fancy and I think most of us Swedish people feel quite embarrassed by it when represented internationally. I mean, we look like peasants! Every time I work at cultural festivals and see girls walking around in these costumes I am so grateful that I chose to work with Middle Eastern culture, it is so much fancier and bling bling.
Honestly, what national costume would you chose?
Before this whole Halloween-thing started, a friend of mine took me and another international student to this huge shop called Halloween Express. It is basically what it sounds like, a shop that only sells Halloween stuff. Both my friend and I were quite impressed by the assortment of costumes and accessories, but did wonder how the shop was able to run a business during the 51 non-Halloween weeks. The answer I got when I asked was that Americans in general like to have costume parties and get dressed up. However, I have my own personal explanation for why the business keeps running: the unreasonable high prices. I completely agree that it is fun dressing up like a Green Nymph (what’s scary with that by the way?), but not fun enough for paying $42. It is especially not worth it if you’re only planning to wear it once. According to some of my friends, it is the standard here in the US to show up with a new costume every time. Obviously, I’m not really in to this whole Halloween-thing but I didn’t think it was worth the money to buy a fancy outfit either. As my friend said, think about all the fun stuff you can do with the money saved. Anyway, what happens to all these costumes when Halloween is over? One of my friends bought a monster outfit and asked me if I possibly knew of anyone who wanted to buy it. If any of you readers are interested in investing in it (and I truly understand you if you're not)… just send me an email.
Well, I went to my first Halloween-party (ever!) the Friday before the actual Halloween date. The party was arranged by the International Relations Club at my university, CCSU, and most of the people that attended were international students, like me, who had never celebrated Halloween before. Nevertheless, we were all dressed up and ready to experience something that we had only seen on the TV before. Firstly, we were all informed about what Halloween was all about, and then we started to eat cakes and take funny photos. It was fun, even though at the end of the night I still really didn’t understand what the whole celebration was about. However, from my point of view, every reason to party is a good reason….!
The first time I met Ritva Lundberg was in Bakau in Gambia in 2002. I was there as a tourist and Ritva, who had been living there periodically for three years, became my guide to the country and introduced me to her friends. It was the interest in West African music that drew Ritva and her husband to Gambia in 1999 and they immediately fell in love with the culture. They spend a few months in Gambia every year, bringing its culture and way of life back to Sweden when they return, for example, Ritva often dresses in African fabrics in Sweden but in clothes made with western designs. It is still quite unusual in Sweden to wear this kind of fabric and it is easy to spot Ritva in a crowd. It is always exciting to see her choice of clothing, as she is literally wearing a piece of beautiful art.
“I always receive compliments on my style of clothing and my colleagues say that it is fun, as I add a splash of colour to the workplace, since the Swedish people usually dress so colourless”. The clothes in Gambia, on the other hand, are known for being very colourful and they are often made through tie-dye.
Ritva Lundberg at one of her art vernissages in Sweden.
“Cuub” is the word for tie-dyed clothes in Wolof, one of the main tribe languages in Gambia. Ritva tells me that cuub is the traditional way to decorate clothes and when you walk the streets of Gambia you see a lot of people wearing those patterns. Originally the Gambian people used plant colours to create the batik and the patterns were usually quite small. Nowadays, the colours are synthetic and patterns, colours and techniques are numerous, but the old patterns are still used and popular, beside the new ones.
This is three examples of Gambian tie-dye fabrics
Ritva Lundberg loves the colourfulness and the diversity in the Gambian fabrics and explains that there are thousands of colour combinations and patterns. When I visited a market in Banjul with her, it was the colours of clothing that made the greatest impression on me. Ritva usually buys her printed cotton fabrics at the big markets in Banjul or in the markets of Serrekunda since they have the largest assortment. However, the batik clothes she prefers to buy are from a batik maker named Fatou Sanneh.”I happened to get a good price from her once at the market in Serrekunda, where I gradually became her regular customer and started to visit her home to do my shopping”. Fatou also makes batik on order so you can get exactly the colours and patterns you want. “However, her prices for the special ordered batik patterns are not as low, but on the other hand, her fabrics are of extremely high quality”.
Another interesting thing about the clothing in Gambia is that the women usually dress in the same patterns for big family feasts. “The women wear something called ‘asobi’, a kind of uniform, where the clothes are made out of the same patterned fabric, however, the design can vary. Sometimes even the men get an asobi in the same pattern, but this is not that common”. It is custom that the family who hosts the party buys all the fabric for the guests’ clothes. The choice of the fabric indicate the level of wealth of the family.
A big thanks to Ritva Lundberg for the information and the photos used in this post.
I bet you all have old photos of your parents that you at some point in life have felt quite embarrassed about. For me, one of those is a photo of my mom in a fake leopard coat, shot in the 1970’s. I found that coat in our basement store when I was in high school and stuffed it into a black plastic bag, hiding it well just to make sure she wouldn’t wear it in public again. At that time leopard patterned fabrics was looked upon as “a big no no” and it was always mentioned in the magazine articles as “Trends we never want to see again”. Finally, that leopard coat was given away to charity when we cleaned our basement store and I made it clear that I absolutely didn’t want to inherit it.
I found this video at YouTube and it presents some interesting answers to the question I have been thinking about all week: What is fashion? I haven’t figured out my answer to that question yet. Instead, I will share some of my favorite explanations from the video with you:
“Fashion is having fun with clothes”
“Fashion is your own style”
“Fashion is art you wear”
“Fashion anticipates, and elegance is a state of mind… a mirror of the time in which we live, a translation of the future, and should never be static.” / Oleg Cassini
And of course I found some explanations that I don’t agree with. Two of them are:
“If you are not in fashion, you are nobody” / Lord Chesterfield
“We live not according to reason, but according to fashion” / Seneca
So my question to all of you is: What is fashion to you?