John Galliano through rose-coloured glasses

When John Galliano created his own fashion brand in the 90’s, fashion had never been so ethereal. With runway shows based on the romance of times gone by and his use of colour to create a certain atmosphere, he managed to transport the people who were invited to his shows to somewhere they never believed could exist on this earthly plane. With women draped in diaphanous materials and faces painted beyond recognition, they looked as if they were otherworldly beings, gracing the audience with their glittering presence. The designer himself is a controversial figure, and I certainly don’t agree with what he has said in the past, but it isn’t his opinions that I am going to examine with this article. It is his creations that have left me spellbound; everything else is superfluous.

Below are a few of my favourite Galliano collections.

Princess Lucretia, own label, 1993

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A young Kate Moss looks wistfully behind her shoulder, almost as if she is the embodiment of the mysterious figure Princess Lucretia. 1993

Inspired by the grandeur of Russian nobility, one of Galliano’s first ever runway shows showed the trials and tribulations of a Russian princess named Princess Lucretia, who escaped from her lavish yet suffocating life at the royal court to pursue her love of a young serf. There was the image of the Princess running through the dark forests of Russia, her long skirts ripping and her curled hair unbinding itself as she calls out for her love. The large crinolines the models, including a young Kate Moss (pictured above) wore contrasted with the short bodices with appeared to have ripped or come loose from the skirts themselves, making the pieces seem as if the models have truly been running through the forest, not caring whether their extravagant gowns survived, for love is by far more powerful and well-wearing than a gown, no matter how luxurious by Victorian standards could ever be. The silk that rested on top of the crinolines seems to have almost been thrown on them in a rushed, uncaring manner, giving the collection a lavish yet distinctively unpolished look.

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Backstage of “Princess Lucretia,” 1993. This picture is particularly good in illustrating the skirts and the crinoline underneath them.

Asia Major, Dior, 2003

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“Asia Major,” 2003. This is such a good picture for showing more than one of the pieces because like many runway shows every piece is different. Note the makeup

Inspired by his visits to China and Japan the previous year, Galliano created a salivatingly sensual collection that was a burst of colour in the fashion world. Models strutted the catwalk with their faces painted white, their lips painted red in the shape of petals, contrasting with the prismatic garments that were draped on their shoulders and piled on top of their heads. Their hair was bound with hairsticks that were decorated with ribbons and small flowers (the technical term being “kanzashi”) that cascaded down their shoulders, alluding to the Japanese geisha. Colourful fur trims, tinsel and patterned fabrics are used in a way as to symbolise not only the staunch traditions of China and Japan respectively, but also the change these countries underwent once they began to trade with European merchants, and this particularly changed the way the Chinese and Japanese dressed. The European merchants brought them different goods such as furs and cotton, and the Chinese and Japanese peoples traded silks and spices.

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Detail from “Asia Major,” 2003. The influence of Indian culture is evident here

Some even take inspiration from India, with the use of gold trimmings on the face as shown above, which links to decoration used in Hindi customs. One of my favourite pieces from another Galliano show from 2007 is similar to the oriental theme, yet seems to take upon the western world’s view of glamour more than “Asia Major” does.

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Dior, 2007. The hair and makeup are very oriental inspired and the dress reminds me of origami!

Ready-To-Wear Collection S/S, Dior, 2004

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A piece from Galliano’s Ready-To-Wear collection, 2004

Rosy-cheeked, lace-clad mademoiselles of times gone by and porcelain dolls were the inspiration of Galliano’s most decadent collection. Models with their hair piled on top of their heads and pearls falling from their necks strutted onto the catwalk with virginal allure, draped in frills and lace and knee-high stockings, making them appear so darling and sweet, perhaps even sickengly so. Their hair was back-combed in order to achieve the same look as the towering, powdered wings worn by members of the aristocracy of the Georgian era, Marie Antoinette in particular, who was the very person who made those imposing wigs fashionable. They would be decorated with all kinds of delicacies available at the time, even fresh fruit and model ships! The ribbons and silks are used in a way to make the models appear like porcelain dolls themselves. They are almost wrapped up in these beautiful materials in order to protect them because of how delicate they are.

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Detail from Galliano’s S/S collection, 2004. This is an example of the tear stains running down the model’s cheeks

Their cheeks are rouged, linking back to the fashions of long ago, but their eyes are darkened using purple eyeshadow, and in some cases streaks run down the models’ cheeks where tears have fallen, adding a slight edge to the collection. In a way this adds a different element to this particular collection, as it is almost as if everything not as it seems. For me that is what intrigues me about Galliano’s collections because they always seem to tell a story, and for me that is what pulls me to his designs.

Paris Fashion Week F/W Collection, Dior, 2009

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Galliano’s Paris Fashion Week F/W collection, 2009. The glitter in the background is the fake blizzard the models would have walked through. Note the details and wintery colour palette

This collection is probably the most theatrical of all of Galliano’s collections. Taking inspiration from the hostile wastelands of Siberia and the Baltics, the models, who almost appeared like winter faeries in floating veils and golden body adornments, walked through a glittering whirlwind of fake snow, their hair dusted with silver paint and frosted winter flowers. Their eyes and eyelashes seemed to glitter with the reflections of another world as they gazed intently upon an imaginary horizon.

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Details from Galliano’s Paris Fashion Week F/W collection, 2009. I think the makeup in this show is my favourite out of all of the others

© Bethany Edna Adams and Sinner’s Paradise, (2017-). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bethany Edna Adams and Sinner’s Paradise with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The “nymphet” community and why it can be harmful

Anyone who has an account on either Tumblr or Instagram will have encountered the “Lolita” or “nymphet” community at some point. The community is more like a girls gang than an Internet subculture, and they are taking over. Donning heart-shaped sunglasses and summer dresses, they stare coquettishly at the camera they point at themselves, captioning the pictures they take with forlorn lyrics from various indie bands and quotes from Vladimir Nabokov’s novel “Lolita,” sometimes without even knowing the context. The girls and women that form this seemingly exclusive community don’t at first seem to be doing anything harmful in their sugar-coated, childlike actions, but at second glance it can be said that their actions are doing a considerable amount of damage to not only to those who are most vulnerable, but to themselves as well.

Before we explore how this subculture could potentially be dangerous, one must know the definition of the word so often used by the members of this community to describe themselves- the word “nymphet.” Before knowing anything about the community, one would think that this word is just any other word people use without any grim undertones. However, according to the Collins English Dictionary that I painfully dug out of my old school bag, the word “nymphet” means “a girl who is sexually precocious and desirable.” Now, I do realise that that doesn’t sound too bad at first, but it sounds worse when this phrase first earned its spot in said dictionary when it was used in the aforementioned novel “Lolita,” which is infamous for it’s narrator and protagonist developing an obsession for a 12 year old girl named Dolores, who later becomes his stepdaughter when her mother, his landlady, tells him she will kick him out of his lodgings if he doesn’t marry her. With that, Humbert has an opportunity to become closer to Dolores, for whom he creates an exclusive nickname- “Lolita.” It is in the very beginning of this book, the book’s ill-fated (and for good reason) and dangerously eloquent narrator Humbert Humbert first describes the concept of a “nymphet.”

“Now I wish to introduce the following idea. Between the age limits of nine and fourteen there occur maidens who, to certain bewitched travelers, twice or many times older than they, reveal their true nature which is not human, but nymphic (that is, demoniac); and these chosen creatures I propose to designate as ‘nymphets.’

In short, the word “nymphet” not just describes a young woman, but a prepubescent girl, and if you haven’t guessed already, Humbert is attracted to girls around the ages of nine and fourteen. The correct term for it is hebephilia, but I just call that creepy, and in my personal opinion, I find the fact that some young girls, some of whom are at the latter and women tag their pictures with the term “nymphet” could be a way for people like Humbert to look for sexually suggestive pictures of young women, and perhaps even girls around Dolores’ age.

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The character Dolores Haze, portrayed here by Dominique Swain in the 1997 film “Lolita,” before Humbert Humbert changes her forever

Despite the fact I’m writing about this certain community, I absolutely have nothing against them as people. I pay very little attention to them whenever I encounter them online. Live and let live, you know? The things they do in general aren’t particularly harmful at all, but there is one thing I object to that some who are involved in this community tend to do. The moment they begin to romanticise the relationship shared between the two principal characters of “Lolita” is when I really begin to have problems with this community. When doing my research for this article, I noticed two viewpoints on the story online. One group say that Humbert was a predator who ruined Dolores’ life and she wasn’t responsible for what was done to her due to her age, but the other group believe that Dolores was “the incarnate of the devil” (which is the opinion of one Instagram user I have encountered who will remain anonymous) who lured the innocent Humbert in with her “nymphic” charm and had “daddy issues” (taken from the same Instagram user’s words), and if I had to put myself in one of these groups, it would be the former. To agree with the anonymous Instagram user in the latter group would be sheer naivety and ignorance of the book’s plot. To say Dolores was responsible for what Humbert did to her would be exactly like saying a woman who had been raped has “asked for it.” It is nonsense. At times I have noticed times when people, mostly the girls who are involved with the community, talk about how much they want to be in a relationship similar to the one portrayed in the book and films, calling it a “forbidden romance.” This may just be me but the last thing I want in life is to be in a relationship where someone “accidently” kills my mother and repeatedly emotionally and sexually abuses me whilst dragging me across the length of the country, and I feel sorry for anyone who wants that because they clearly have issues they need to sort out. They either do this because they are ignorant of the book’s plot, just like our dear anon is, and cherrypick the details they want from the films, which are both highly unfaithful to the book, or they’ve read the book or seen the films and have completely misunderstood it’s message. The book is a warning of how one person’s sexual obsession can ruin everything, including the other person’s life. In the end Dolores ended up dying in childbirth at the age of 17 and Humbert died of coronary thrombosis while in prison. So romantic.

There is also the problem of the impact this community of self-titled “nymphets” can have on the social media community as a whole. Some of these “nymphet” accounts post pictures of actresses such as Brooke Shields and Natalie Portman when they were young girls (surprisingly) around the same age as Dolores Haze was meant to be, and tagging them with the word “nymphet” along with their own suggestive photos. Imagine how much fun a paedophile on Instagram will be having now! This kind of behaviour occurred even before the internet existed, with films such as “Pretty Baby” being made in 1978. This particular film centres around a 12 year old prostitute, played by Brooke Shields who was of the same age at the time, following in the footsteps of her mother in early 20th century New Orleans. Despite it’s commercial success, it (surprisingly) aroused controversy because of scenes of a sexual nature involving an actress who wasn’t even a teenager. This is clearly child pornography, and many people agreed. It was banned on release in Canada but was repealed in 1995. Before becoming involved with the “nymphet” community I had never even heard of this film, but once I saw pictures of the young Brooke Shields on the internet accompanied with captions saying how much of a “nymphet” she was, I was in shock to realise how young she was and how she had been exploited in the film. When the term is used in the same context as it is on poor Dolores Haze, it sexualises a child, and not a fictional one. Shields herself years later talked about how the role had affected her, and it’s terrible that these images are still circulating around without her control, just like they were taken without her control.

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Brooke Shields in a still from “Pretty Baby” (1978)

To conclude this essay, I need to add something that I haven’t already. Its probably one of the most vital things that I feel makes me able to write about this community, which is my own involvement in it a couple of years ago. The fact I did used to tag my photos with the word “nymphet” on my old personal account, which I have now deleted, is not really something I’m particularly proud of. I used to think it was alright since I had read the books, but on hindsight it didn’t really make things any better. I just liked the vintage aesthetic the community have, and in a way I was stupid to not realise it was dangerous. As a result of that men did used to comment strange things on my photos that I only half understood, and I never really knew what to do, because I was too naïve to realise they were sexualising me. I have this to say to people who are still involved with the “Lolita” or “nymphet” community- be careful what you post and with the people you’re involved with online. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t post cute pictures of your outfit or your new heart shaped glasses. No-one deserves to be sexualised, no matter what community they belong to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Bethany Edna Adams and Sinner’s Paradise, (2017-). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bethany Edna Adams and Sinner’s Paradise with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

“Lust For Life” review- one small step for Elizabeth Grant, one giant leap for Lana Del Rey

After a two year hiatus, Elizabeth Woolridge Grant, aka Lana Del Rey, released “Lust For Life,” a glittering new addition to her repertoire of albums. When she announced her new album in a short YouTube video depicting her as a magical figure who lives on the H of the Hollywood sign, linking back to her references to the faded glamour of the 1950s in her other albums such as “Honeymoon,” her fans couldn’t contain themselves in their excitement. But does this album live up to Lana Del Rey’s musical aesthetic, and most of all, is it any good?

At first listen, one cannot ignore the glitzy optimism of the first track, entitled “Love.” There is the use of the minor chords and the slow tempo, which at first makes it seem like many of her other works, but when you listen closely to the lyrics, it contains a shimmer of optimism which is absent in many of her other albums. The middle eight of the song in particular shows the artist’s new-found vivaciousness, as it is simply Grant almost whispering the phrase “Don’t worry baby,” which can almost be interpreted as her comforting the listener, and perhaps even herself, that things will get better. The next track, “Lust For Life,” has very much the same hopeful atmosphere to it. The male vocals in the song, provided by Canadian singer and rapper The Weeknd, are smooth and almost songbird-like, almost calling in the new sun of the morning, a new beginning literally and metaphorically for Grant.

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Grant expresses her new-found love of life through a smile gifted to us in music video for “Love”

 

However, Grant’s hopefulness for the future and optimism seem to disappear from “13 Beaches,” “Cherry,” “White Mustang” and to an extent “In My Feelings.” It is almost as if she returns to her wistful, almost lethargic self, ignoring the fact that she ever did have a “lust for life.” The songs in my opinion seem rushed, almost as if she didn’t have enough songs for an album so she wrote them at the very last minute. However, all albums seem to have “filler songs” in them in order to balance out the more successful ones and to give a different feel to the album, and for me this is what Grant was attempting to do. With “God Bless America (And The Beautiful Women Who Live In It),” Grant links back to songs such as “American” and “National Anthem” from her earlier album “Born To Die” through it’s patriotic, anthem-like atmosphere. This could indicate that Grant is not only optimistic and continues to be enthusiastic for her own career, but for her country too.

However, the thing I find the most interesting about this album is that Grant has begun to introduce a political slant into her music which she has never before. With “Coachella- Woodstock In My Mind,” Grant explores the idea of having fun when the world around her is in such a dire situation, and how she wants to escape that. This becomes obvious when she at first sings, “I was at Coachella, leaning on your shoulder”, which at first sounds optimistic, but she then adds later on, “And what about all their children? And what about their children’s children?”, almost lamenting the struggles of others. She also adds a historical slant on her work in “When The World Was At War We Kept Dancing,” which is a link to the US’s position in World War 2, since whilst the Allies of Britain and France fought the Axis Powers of Germany, Italy and Japan, the US’ film industry boomed, along with it’s culture and fashion. She may not know that’s what she has done, but like everything in this review, it’s just my interpretation. I think this is one of the great successes of this album, since 1) Grant has never done this before in any of her previous albums and 2) it’s a fascinating idea that I personally haven’t really heard any other songwriters in the modern pop industry do.

Even though Grant has changed the way she writes her songs immensely, there are some elements I have noticed that she has kept as a part of her personal style, such as adding her signature siren-like sensuality. “Groupie Love” is a sultry account of a band’s female superfan (a groupie) having a sexual relationship with one of the band members, and I think this is very faithful to the flirtatious femme fatale persona that Grant has created for herself. The “edgy” aspect of her style is something she has also carried on into the “Lust For Life” era, and “Summer Bummer” is one of the prime examples of this. In this song heavily influenced by 90s hip hop, Grant almost raps the lyrics, and the addition of A$AP Rocky’s harsh style of rapping in the middle eight of the song almost makes it appeal to a wider market other than just her faithful fans, who could be dubbed her “groupies” in reference to “Groupie Love.” “Beautiful People, Beautiful Problems” and “Heroin” both follow suit, with Stevie Nicks’ nasal vocals adding a certain “edge” to the former, and the theme of drugs for the latter. I also think that “Heroin” is similar to many of the songs in her previous album “Ultraviolence”, since the song of the same name seems to glamourise power imbalances, and perhaps even violence, in relationships (“he hit me and it felt like a kiss”), and for me this is a reason why I dislike that particular song. However I did like the next song in the track, entitled “Tomorrow Never Came,” because it was an almost humorous mix of major chords and sad lyrics, and its pessimistic mood contrasts from the earlier songs. For me, “Change” and “Get Free” were saved for last because together they are a match made in heaven. They are both very similar in atmosphere, and perhaps could even be considered non-identical twins musically, since they sound very much alike, but in the best way possible. “Get Free” is perhaps the more joyful sounding one, whereas “Change” sounds sadder because of the amount of flat notes, but both are united in their dream-like atmosphere.

In conclusion, I believe some aspects of “Lust For Life” are clearly stronger than others. Grant explored parts of songwriting she had never attempted to before, such as adding her own viewpoint on politics and history through songs like “Beautiful People, Beautiful Problems” and “Coachella- Woodstock In My Mind,” and the fact she has done this makes this album more successful than it would have been otherwise. The notes alternate from major to minor chords, which is different from the other albums she has written which I find all have one distinct “mood” to them, and her style has changed somewhat to cater to a wider audience, such as adding more “modern” aspects, such as rapping, to her songs.

Some may dislike the fact she has introduced these influences to her songs, but I believe the fact that she continues to experiment with different harmonies and techniques is a good sign that she and her work will continue to be successful in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Bethany Edna Adams and Sinner’s Paradise, (2017-). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bethany Edna Adams and Sinner’s Paradise with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Why are people so obsessed with the Kardashians?

Unless you have been living under a rock, which has made you unable to follow the various escapades of today’s beautiful and famous, then you will have heard of the Kardashian-Jenner family. With their bronzed perfectly sculpted and contoured faces and their designer attire, it can’t be argued that the Kardashians have not taken the world by storm. Adore them or despise them, they have had an immense influence on both the fashion and the media of today’s appearance-obsessed world. But the question on the minds of many middle-aged dads and sensible people who are too scared to ask is, why have so many people fallen head over heels in love with one family, who, before their TV show was created, were just a normal American family?

 

One reason they are popular might be due to their hit TV show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” which in its ninth season racked up an incredible 3.3 million viewers. The show was created in 2006 after Kris Jenner, the mother of the famous Kardashian sisters, voiced an interest in being in a television show with them. The people who worked at the TV channel E! knew that the reality TV show “The Osbournes” was a huge success which focused on the lives of the family of heavy metal rock star Ozzy Osbourne. It was, and still is, an addictive Hollywood equivalent to “The Simpsons,” the only difference being that the Kardashians are extremely wealthy and feed off of the Western world’s obsession with fame and capitalism. The family have a solid foundation of mutual love and respect whilst engaging in a few squabbles minor enough to be entertaining, but still meaty enough to be sheepishly intriguing, possessing the sort of appeal that leaves you exclaiming “I can’t watch!” while half-opening one eye so you can still follow every tidbit of drama unfolding. The leak of Kim Kardashian’s sex tape in 2007 helped the family’s rise to fame since it was released a couple of months before the first episode of “Keeping up with the Kardashians” aired, gaining her a lot of media attention, more than she was given when she was personal assistant to fellow socialite Paris Hilton.

 

Once the Kardashians had rose to popularity, they realised they were able to complete a Pokémon style evolution from a family to a fully blown brand reaching out to multiple demographics. The Kardashians™ have made millions selling clothes, makeup and even mobile games. In June 2014 a game called “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” was released on iOS and Android by mobile game developers Glu Mobile. The goal of the player is to increase their reputation and fame, surprisingly enough in the glittering, cosmopolitan neighbourhood of Hollywood, and unsurprisingly the game was immensely popular. They have been able to extend themselves to various industries, due to Kim Kardashian’s adventures in business, and the Jenner twins’ efforts in fashion, makeup products and modeling respectively.

 

The OJ Simpson case could also be mentioned as a reason why the Kardashian family has become prominent. The OJ Simpson case is probably one of the most controversial court cases of US history, managing to split the United States, making it as un-united as ever. Many were swayed by Simpson’s reputation as a successful football player with many falling at his feet, in awe of his golden, unbreakable persona, the unstoppable ‘Juice’, who had many people believing, in spite of the overwhelming evidence, that he did not murder his wife and her lover and he was an innocent victim of police racism. Simpson was defended by a group of lawyers later known as the “Dream Team,” Rob Kardashian, the father of Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian and ex-husband of Kris Jenner, being one. Along with his colleagues, the father of the now unstoppable Kardashians was propelled into a whirlwind of media attention, taking his family with him.

 

There are a great many ingredients to the Kardashian cake of fame. From something as serious as the OJ Simpson case to a mobile game, the Kardashians have involved themselves in every event that has had any influence on anything since the late 20th century, and they show no signs of stopping. Despite receiving a great deal of criticism of deriving fame from people’s obsession with materialism and conning their way into people’s wallets and hearts through fabricated story lines on their TV show and empty lip kit boxes, it is an undeniable fact that in some way they are clever in fulfilling their unquenchable desire for fame, and who can blame them for wanting fame and fortune in a world which measures the worth of a person by how many followers they have on Instagram or how many designer brands they wear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Bethany Edna Adams and Sinner’s Paradise, (2017-). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bethany Edna Adams and Sinner’s Paradise with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

my first blog post

Hi! Before posting a few things I’ve already written, I should probably introduce myself.

I’m a 18 year old British girl who lives to write all sorts of things, most of which is rubbish until I actually write something good, which happens once every blue moon! This blog will be where I’ll rant about things I’m passionate about and maybe post a few of my short stories if I think they’re worthy to see the light of day.

Other than that, I’m active under the Instagram handle @sugarcygnet where I post pictures that fit my personal aesthetic, and I have a personal account but I don’t really use it very much.

I hope you enjoy this blog as much as I will writing it xoxo