“Nostalgia is denial – denial of the painful present… the name for this denial is golden age thinking – the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one ones living in – its a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present” – Midnight in Paris
Two weekends ago, and again this past weekend, I took a ride on the nostalgia train in New York City. This is a train composed of museum train cars that were used on the subway lines between 1931 and the 1970s. It was so much fun seeing everyone dressed up for the occasion and to read some of the advertising signage inside the old cars, which had ceiling fans and not air-conditioning (obviously). The train runs during the winter holidays on Sundays, along the M line, making all the stops between the 2nd Ave and Queens Plaza stations.
There is only one weekend left this year (30 December) – for more information, visit the MTA website.
Fact – New York City is amazing. Fact – you can do amazing things for free here. Case in point – the Brooklyn AfroPunk festival – acts like Erykah Badu, Janelle Monae, Tv on the Radio – all performing at a free concert. Pretty much unheard of back home. I arrived there a fair amount of time earlier than my friends but since it was a photographers dream I entertained myself by snapping away. The style of the people was incredible – it is funny because in Joburg you will see a lot of people looking great, but very fashionable as opposed to doing there own thing. Here you can see people really have their own style, which extends far beyond the bounds of fashion.
On Saturday I dragged myself out of bed after two hours sleep and tried to make myself feel and look human before rushing to the airport and getting caffeine into my system. Traveling – no matter how short the journey – and looking good while feeling comfortable is never easy. As I rushed out I grabbed my little vintage brooch and pinned it to my light denim shirt from Zara. This was finished off with a navy blazer. I’m really enjoying this style lately – buttoned up shirts, blouses, Peter Pan collars. Yay
Anyone who knows me, or who has read my posts before, knows how much I hate cold. I hate the dry croc skin, feeling like a sausage squeezed into stockings and the discomfort of walking into a warm place and feeling trapped in your layers….
If you have any friends in Joburg right now you will have no doubt seen the posts/Facebook updates/tweets about how cold it is. They aren’t joking. But I’m using this as an opportunity to embrace winter fashion (albeit begrudgingly), because after photography there is nothing I love more than clothes and fashion. Moving to Joburg was a huge education in this regard – in Durban a pair of stockings, some cardigans and a light jacket will suffice…here it is a different story. I think this is the first time in four years I’m ready to be warm and stylish in winter.
This is what I’m wearing today on top of a foundation of stockings and vests: black leggings from Zara in Poland, mustard jersey from Zara in SA, crochet-collar made by my mom, and flat boots from Country Road.
I was explaining to Elizabeth – the girl in the second photo – why I love the people who live in Johannesburg – because they dream big, they’re ambitious, they exude energy, they’re edgy and stylish because they know who they are.
These photos were taken at the Neighbourgoods market in Braamfontein, a great new bar in called Great Dane, also in Braamfontein, and in Newtown (specifically that cool little kid standing all on his own)
Great Dane is located on 5 De Beer Street, next door to Kitchener’s and opposite the neighbourgoods market. For more information it is best to become a fan of their’s on Facebook – that way you can get details about the password.
A few weeks ago I had a blogpost-comment-discussion with 2Summers about buying African fabrics and then not doing anything with them. Yesterday I got into a discussion about African fabrics with a friend a work and we stumbled across some amazing designers using traditional prints in contemporary designs. The two I really like are Lalesso and Sika.
So this morning I hauled out my fabric collection and decided that if I can’t get around to making something with it, I should at least photograph it. I have always been a sucker for bright colours – so African textiles (and of course Indian) are an absolute dream for me. I also really enjoy the strange prints you get on some of these – from Presidents to chickens, you can find almost anything.
Maybe I will take a trip to Fordsburg on Friday and see what I can negotiate with a tailor…
On Saturday I decided I needed to take a break from the usual bird necklace that I wear around my neck, and while I was trying to decide what to put on, the vintage silver locket I bought a few years ago caught my eye. It was really dirty from hanging on my wall for a few months so I used a trick my mom taught me of cleaning silver with toothpaste and an old toothbrush – worked like a charm.
It is undoubtedly one of my favorite pieces of jewelry because it carries a history. Very sadly I don’t know any of it – I just picked it up at a small vintage store in Melvill. Other than the beauty and attention to detail the reason why I love vintage jewelry so much is because there are no family heirlooms in my family, no pretty shiny trinkets that have been passed down from generation to generation.
But having said that, I was lucky enough to receive a ring and a pendant (the little silver teapot) from my grandmother a few years back – the ring was bought for her by my dad when he visited Russia as a young man. They are completely worthless in monetary value, but they are incredibly important to me because one day I will be able to pass them down to my daughters or granddaughters, together with the other pieces I own.
These are photos of some of the vintage pieces that I have picked up over the years. The rectangular ring with the pinkish stone is the one from my gran. The oval ring with the purple stone I bought at a vintage store in Japan in 2007 – I love it because it reminds me of a fabrage egg. The flower brooch I bought in Cape Town at the market in Longmarket street.
The delicate little gloves I bought in South Africa which I very quickly had to replace in Europe with a warmer pair.
Trying to look good under the coat was a challenge too.
My trusty pashminas – I would never trade them for a traditional scarf.
As I write this I am sitting in a vest and short-shorts back in the comfort of the South African summer. I also have to admit that I did not manage to find the holy grail this holiday; that is the ability to look and feel stylish while staying warm.
While we were in Paris walking along the river, a beautiful girl, in all black, long hair loose and blowing in the wind floated past (stylish people don’t walk, they float). I looked at her with all the envy and horror my body could spare since all my energy was concentrated on not crying from the cold. She had on a very light coat, no scarf and no beanie. I think she was even wearing heels.
At that same moment I on the other hand had on:
*two thermal vest,
*2 pairs of stockings and jeans,
*2 pairs of gloves,
*2 pairs of socks cutting off the circulation to my feet, and
*a beanie AND a scarf wrapped around my neck and over my beanie.
It didn’t matter that my coat was grey wool and really classic, or that my boots are a rich warm dark brown leather. I felt like a war-time refugee from Eastern Europe. I had failed.
Call me vain, it’s okay, I admit it myself. I am also sure I am not alone. I was devastated that the soft caramel-colored leather gloves I bought at the Market on Main before I left made my fingers feel like I was climbing Everest. I detested the layers and layers tucked into stocking pulled up to my waist.
Maybe the secret is acclimatization, or maybe the beautiful winter fairy was just as cold as I was. All I know is that I long for the day when I can walk beanie-free along the river in Paris, in the dead of winter, smiling like I’m on the beach in Mauritius.