Archive for February, 2010

blank pages

In the middle of a bad day next last week, I indulged in spending 26 dollars on a new Lechtturm notebook (not like Moleskines) that I justified by saying it was for my thesis. Buying a pair of boots would probably have been more therapeutic than a notebook, but the chances were low that I would actually find a pair of interesting boots and a level of itching excitement derived from the fresh pages of a new notebook is always guaranteed.

my current set of notebooks from the practical to the private

One or two notebooks is never enough which is a headache when packing. It seems at that any point even while traveling, I need at least two notebooks (three is preferable) to fulfill the range of desires and responsibilities in my life.

purely practical
The Five-Stars’ spiral bound college rule notebook with a plastic cover is my favorite for standard lecture classes. The lines are not too dark or light and the plastic withstands shoving into the backpack well.

My set of Moleskines and Lechtturm1917s are my most used and expensive notebooks. I wish every one of their pages was composed like a work of art with drawings and ideas, but no matter how hard I try, they always end up a jumble of bad sketches, to-do lists, random thoughts, list of library book call numbers, drafts of thank you notes, sketch maps when I go somewhere new, class notes when I forget the spiral notebook. Each size serves a slightly different purpose: large for thesis, medium for most things, small for when it’s more convenient.

My loyalty these black notebooks is not pretentious, it’s practical. The beauty of the Moleskines and Lechtturms is not the black cover, but the milky smoothness of their off white paper. In comparison, writing on most other notebooks feels like dragging your pen across sandpaper.

One of my favorite notebooks I’ve received as a gift (from Hannah!) has birds and flowers sewn on the cover and thin plain pages on the inside. It has become a place to collage my four pound collection of magazine cutouts and even heavier archive of NYTimes style magazines. Even though I collect images obsessively, I hate that they usually just sit there in a large pile passively gathering dust. It always feels important to me to process what I cut out and create something new from it or try to synthesize it in some way or else it just become a pile of collected junk which is a useless. This is the only notebook where I have any success in composing the contents. Sadly, I don’t do it enough. It was last updated in August 2009.

“The journal is a vehicle for my sense of selfhood. It represents me as emotionally and spiritually independent. Therefore (alas) it does not simply record my actual, daily life but rather — in many cases — offers an alternative to it. There is often a contradiction between the meaning of our actions toward a person and what we say we feel toward that person in a journal. But this does not mean that what we do is shallow, and only what we confess to ourselves is deep.” – Susan Sontag in her published journals

Compositions notebooks have been my journals since third grade. It’s the thing in my life, along with collecting magazine cutouts, I have been the most consistent about. The pattern on composition notebooks begs to be covered by cutout images, so the two go hand in hand. (If I were still playing piano that would have beat out both, but oh well.)

I write in it sometimes consistently, sometimes sporadically. While it is the most unfiltered version of self, it is probably the least interesting notebook to anyone else. For one, I don’t write nearly as well or profoundly as Sontag. What is there is too circular, convoluted, and sloppy to be worth it to read even for me years later.

yet to have
Le Maxi. Square. A nice shade of blue. Good thickness. Maybe this will be the one where everything is beautiful.


alexander mcqueen

I was always aware of Alexander McQueen reputation as an extraordinary designer, but for some reason his collections were always on the periphery of what I looked at closely during fashion week. Revisiting his women’s collections today season by season starting 2001 (the earliest available on has been fascinating, mind-blowing, shocking.

The sheer volume of production is incredible. Compared to the usual 30 some looks that most designers send down the runway, McQueen’s 40-50 looks per season seems completely mad. How does one even have time to think when there is this level of production twice a year? And this is in addition to his work for Givenchy and resort and pre-fall collections.

I am equally astounded by his understanding and imagination of woman and their bodies. He loves the hourglass figure and is not shy about accentuating, exaggerating and admiring it. Clothes that accentuate the hourglass silhouette especially with a belt usually look typical and tired, but McQueen manages to create the hourglass with a level of toughness, never dainty. With him, the hourglass silhouette is empowering rather than stereotypical or overly idealized. I can’t identify how he does it and why others can’t replicate it.

The hourglass is never the same with McQueen. Pictures from

The list goes on. Insane detail, incredible volume, pure creativity in presentation, referencing the past but never repeating it, ability to create unexpected textures.

Detail, volume, the austere and the extravagant. Pictures from

When it came to textures and materials, I particularly appreciate what McQueen did with furs (or faux-furs?). He always manipulated them such they were not just a puff of material to get lost in. Or rather he does not just let fur speak for itself, he fashioned the fur to convey what he wanted.

Pictures from

Truly beautiful work.

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