Red: A Sine of the Times

Red Leather, Gloves, Glovettes, Fingerless Gloves, Imoni, Intermix, Driving Gloves, Kid Gloves, Jen Blair, Jennifer Blair, Change Machine

I bought these red leather gloves by Imoni at last year’s Intermix Christmas sale, in order to match my New Year’s dress (the open-backed merlot red gown you see here).  My hypotheses that both the gloves and the gown would prove themselves as worthwhile investment pieces seems to be holding up quite admirably this fall, as both red and leather have been all over the runway reports and are, it would seem, right on-trend.

(As time goes on, I’ve noticed that the act of shopping increasingly takes on this feeling of forecasting; or rather, that of some practiced skill of calibrated, subjective probability, with a built-in margin of error.  You have a certain amount of money to spend, and certain choices to make in order to future-proof your spending; so you stick your thumb to the wind, guide your arrow at the target, and release.  With increased facility and a bit of luck, you find you are able sail your dart through time and space and change of trend to hit, ever and ever closer, to the mark.)

Red Leather, Gloves, Glovettes, Fingerless Gloves, Imoni, Intermix, Driving Gloves, Kid Gloves, Jen Blair, Jennifer Blair, Change Machine

Red Leather, Gloves, Glovettes, Fingerless Gloves, Imoni, Intermix, Driving Gloves, Kid Gloves, Jen Blair, Jennifer Blair, Change MachineRed Leather, Gloves, Glovettes, Fingerless Gloves, Imoni, Intermix, Driving Gloves, Kid Gloves, Jen Blair, Jennifer Blair, Change MachineI always make a preliminary sweep of available retail when we hit a new seasonal shift.  Before I buy, I assess what themes I like or dislike, make note of certain items I want.  Then I go home, open up the closet, and take stock.  Decide what to subtract (this year, I will also have to remember what I’ve got in storage), and determine how to wear the remainder.  Ultimately, I am guiding my arrow – myself – towards the target, the person I wish to become.  

And so it was that I made an obligatory trek down to Midtown recently, in this case to reconnoiter the new fall stock at the Barneys on Madison Ave. (I like midtown, I don’t care what people say, even in spite of all the tourists.  It’s always full of life, and everything smells of exhaust and those honey roasted street peanuts, the combination of which is one of my favorite smells in the world.  I often go to St. Pat’s and light a candle, not because I am particularly Catholic anymore if I ever was but simply because I’m a sap, I like the intention of candles, and I’ve always loved the building.)

Besides, they’ve got Barneys and Saks down there, and that giant new Zara.

And what better setting for a forecast than Madison Avenue?

So I made my trek down to Midtown.  I took stock of all the shops.  And I noticed, – simply but with a surging well of realization – that the color red was everywhere.  In every shop in Manhattan.  And that not only was it plentiful, that it was the thing.  The thing that looks and feels the best, now.  This was very exciting, especially in the wake of the personality crisis that invariably is (for me) “summer dressing;” at long last, with a stroke of Prometheal light I once again understood what was going on in the current, and that what was going on in the current was something that I wanted to be.

“Wearing red” – particularly red leather – was something I already liked and recognized and responded to in my gut.  Indeed, the feeling of knowing it looks good now was an intuitive kind of over-excitement, a warm rush in my core and a buzzing in my head, the kind of feeling I get when I am in the zone performing, or studying folklore or linguistics or various forms of esoterica, or reading the work of any author who simultaneously gets it with me and is well ahead of the curve, like Maxwell or Ellis or Dion Fortune — I mean to say, some combination of instinct and enlightenment, like understanding matrices for the first time...you realize that you were wired up to understand it all along.  Only now, some invisible hand has finally bothered connect the circuit, and – all of a sudden – you’ve got too many thoughts and too much of everything going all at once, so that any attempt at articulation results in the feeling that Björk describes as “trying to fit an ocean through a straw”…

All I knew was that I wanted something red.  Because – gazing stupidly at a rack of Lanvins at Barneys – I understood that red was and is not simply a “trend” this year, or even a color; rather, it is a frequency.  A sine of the times.

There’s a warmth and a sensuousness and a passionate, terrible magnitude to it all that I think we now collectively crave, and need.

This is how they get me to buy things.  Fascists.

Red Leather, Gloves, Glovettes, Fingerless Gloves, Imoni, Intermix, Driving Gloves, Kid Gloves, Jen Blair, Jennifer Blair, Change Machine

Red Leather, Gloves, Glovettes, Fingerless Gloves, Imoni, Intermix, Jen Blair, Jennifer Blair, Change MachineAnyway.  I went home empty-handed, disgruntled at the fact that I am too broke this season to risk any big-ticket impulse purchases (though those are the only purchases I’m interested in making anymore, impulse or otherwise; I already own, as it were, plenty of “filler”).

Several weeks (and one red pleather dress) later, I remembered my pair of Imonis.  I dug them out, put them on.  They felt correct.  I had aimed well, with my shooting gloves: I’d invested wisely.

Already I am making a mental portfolio of red-gloved F/W outfits.

(What will I wear them with?  Everything, of course.)

Including nothing, as the case may be.

Red Leather, Gloves, Glovettes, Fingerless Gloves, Imoni, Intermix, Driving Gloves, Kid Gloves, Jen Blair, Jennifer Blair, Change Machine

Gloves, Imoni at Intermix.

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The Lightbox

Jen Blair, Jennifer Blair, New York, See by Chloe, SweaterPlaces, I believe, are as people are; we each affect the other in the living.  And as I am with certain people, when it comes to farewelling certain places I often find I am terrible at goodbyes.  Suffice it to say, I am finding it very difficult indeed to farewell this one.

Here I attempt to pay certain homage to a rented room, in which I was fortunate to stay for the month of July.  I didn’t know what I was getting into when I stumbled into it just over a month ago – this (as it turned out to be) spiritual springboard of sorts, furnished only with my bed, the afternoon sun, and a bird’s-eye view of the Great Metropolis (better than any snow globe) – rented (by chance) on Craigslist, of all places.

But so it goes, I suppose: the best homes – like the best friends, the best men – will often surprise you.

Queens, 30th Ave. Manhattan, Skyline, Window, Astoria Condos, Clouds, New York I’ve never really bothered to make a home for myself in nice places.  Since the age of 18, when I was forced to move out of my parents’ (lovely and very spacious) home and into a weed-suffused hippie cathouse of a college dormitory, I’m not sure I’ve ever really felt I deserved one; or maybe (simply) I genuinely never permitted myself to put down roots and create one, which (for a lot of my life) would mean admission that I was living in Texas. (Note even my use of the gerund, here; I will not say “I lived there,” for sake of being too finite or concrete.  Rather, “was living” implies that it was always a temporary condition.  How I got there in the first place – grudgingly, and against my will – is another tale for another time).

And so – even at times in my life when I had quite a lot of money – I always chose scruffy-ish apartments, into which I never fully settled.  There was always a big pile of unpacked boxes at the front door or some piece of furniture that I hated, or maybe the place itself was too small or had a broken appliance in the kitchen or an alcoholic boyfriend living in the corner – some critically crummy component (or several) about the place that I convinced myself to disregard because, after all, I would be leaving soon anyway.  Of course, there is only so long you can maintain this illusion before it begins to take a toll on your psyche – particularly when that psyche is as fixed and domestic as my own (secretly, truthfully) is.  It was like wearing shoes that are just a little chintzier than they should be: so the arch is in the wrong place and your back is thrown out of line…so you compensate by standing just so, and carry your bag this way instead of that way, and on it goes until all of a sudden you ache all over, and find you don’t sleep anymore at night.  That’s the way it went, that nagging state of constant unsettledness.

A smudge at the edge of my perception.

Inevitably, it was only when I moved into this empty new condo – in the absence of friends, family, lovers, money, immediate opportunity and artistic outlet, all of which were (freshly, and all at once) more obscured for me then perhaps they had ever been – that I suddenly found myself living in something that felt like a “home.”  Or, at the very least, a place of rest, because my residence there was of course presumed to be a temporary engagement at the outset (it was a sublet, after all, though I like to think that the apartment and I simply had an agreement, in the vein of a short-term love affair).  Indeed, the place itself managed to become a constant – the constant – full up with a kind of living stillness that always had my back.  Places, I discovered, really can do that for you.

(Though of course I owe the owner a tremendous gratitude, as well – that is to say, my monthlong roommate and new friend.  We rarely crossed paths, though he is a significant presence; after all, I am always grateful when I am able to stay somewhere nice, and the experience is of course exponential when the host is kind.)

Jen Blair, Jennifer Blair, See by Chloe, Change Machine, Sweater, Knits, Knitwear, BlackWindow, Astoria, New York, Condos, Manhattan, View, Home, Apartment “I was afraid that condo was gonna fuck you up,” my gentleman confessed to me this week, once I’d moved out and successfully landed in a new place of my own (and after we’d begun a surprising and loving climb out of a more-than-heartbreaking monthlong separation).

“Why?” I asked.

Because it was so goddamned nice.”

And it’s true: my new apartment is substantially “less glamorous,” as it were, even it is a private one-bedroom (a luxury in and of itself in New York).  It has plenty of terrible linoleum and a kitchenful of crummy appliances, along with a suspicious Doctor Who-style crack next to the heating pipe that wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if it opened up into another dimension when the climate control goes on this winter – so, all in all, back to business as usual.

He was right, though, my boyfriend: that condo did fuck me up, more than I’d like to admit.  And the experience of moving out of it has been tantamount to waking up in another life (albeit with a strange, lingering memory of the old one, now diminished to a hazy tone poem of en-suite washer-dryers and private, granite-lined baths…dimmer switches and birchwood floors, ay me!). Though of all the luxuries inherent to that abode (and there were many), none were as pronounced or eminent – and none will I miss so thoroughly – as this:

The light.

In that place.

The sixth floor in Queens is equivalent to the 30th in Manhattan, I discovered, in that the lucky individual who lives there is likely to be higher up than everything else around.  Each room had a large, floor-to-ceiling window facing West – towards the East River, and New York Proper – which meant at least twelve hours of constant, unobstructed sunshine every day, including a good five of magic hour.  And it was here, inevitably – nested at the crown of that building, up above the canopy of that metropolitan forest – that a certain veil was removed from my vision that I’d allowed to languish there for far too long.

Rarely have I permitted myself to spend that much time living in the Light.

I will not say much more than that, take from that statement what you will.  That said, I do have at least one one serious, tangible take-away prize from my time spent living there: at least I have begun taking pictures again, spoiled as I was by that light.  Maybe, if I am lucky, some influence from the the whole experience will manage to bleed through in that way, now or in some time to come; the same sunlight shines everywhere, after all, even in my crummy apartment in the Lower City (make no mistake, however: I have ensured I have several large windows here, and that they face West).

So there it goes.

Ta-ta for now, with hugs, kisses and an ocean of love from Down Below.

May you be blessed with an abundance of bright days and white nights, for time enough to come.

“My mind withdrew its thoughts from experience, extracting itself from the contradictory throng of sensuous images, that it might find out what that light was wherein it was bathed… And thus, with the flash of one hurried glance, it attained to the vision of That Which Is.”

- Saint Augustine

Sweater, See by Chloé.

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Spotty

Spot, Cat, Bengal, New York, Queens, Astoria, Jen Blair, Jennifer Blair, Star Trek, Data

The smallest feline is a masterpiece.

- Leonardo Da Vinci

Hello, friends!  Today I’d like to introduce you to my beautiful cat, Spot – snapped unawares one sunny afternoon in July, 2012, as you see here.

Spot (or Spotty, Spotski, Spotlet, or Spotty McSpottlestein, alternatively – named after Lt. Commander Data’s cat on “Star Trek: TNG”) has been my companion – a genuine extension of myself, my Little Soul – for just over a decade now.  And I suppose it was only inevitable that New York – which has always felt more like home than any other place in the Cosmos – never felt truly “correct” until she was able to join me here at the end of May.

Oceans of love to you and your familiar spirits – be kind and take care of one another, because perhaps (on some level) you are one another.

And until next time:

Hugs & Hisses!

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Curiosity

Jen Blair, Jennifer Blair, Mars, Eye, Curiosity, Space, Orange Eye Shadow, Pantone Color of the Year 2012, Sephora, Makeup

In celebration of the Curiosity Rover and its safe passage to Mars this week, I felt it would be good to say or do something fittingly observational in whatever public forum I’ve carved out as my own – even if that something (or that forum) is rather small.  After all, the US Space Program remains uncertain (if hopeful), and until we arrive at the far end of some still-secret corridor of human history these occurrences remain, at best, occasional.  So when they do come to pass, it is of course important to lend them the appropriate credence.

Besides: it’s my absolute belief that armchair exploration and interested observation on blogs and forums just like this one are huge contributors to the reason we’ve managed to keep ourselves from stumbling into the next Dark Age.  Show a kid a picture of a nebula on a screen, and he looks up in wonder at the stars; it’s miraculous if miraculous ever was.  Of course, you could say that we’re so inundated with images of Space these days that Space itself is beginning to feel pedestrian – like skinny jeans and dubstep, my Gods (there’s a galaxy on every Apple machine, after all) – though therein (for me) lies the awe: at the end of the day, knowledge should be accessible, ubiquitous, and timeless.  It’s important to embrace the Spirit of the Armchair.

Not all of us can fly in the avant-garde, after all.

If you grew up in a certain age, at a certain age – when regular NASA shuttle missions were a typical front-page event – you grew up believing that you, too, could – someday! – launch yourself into to space as an astronaut.  (Indeed, I was young enough when Sally Ride was in her heyday that I didn’t really recognize the significance of any potential gender barrier until I was much, much older; women in space – and indeed, people in space at all – were absolutely business as usual.) It was actually a wonderful time to grow up, on that cusp, because everything seemed possible.  I admit there is a tiny part of me that still believes it’s possible – to go to Space, even me, today! – though I think I’ve always known that I would make a genuinely terrible explorer.

(I’m sure it has something to do with my extreme disdain for any kind of voluntary physical discomfort, or – more truthfully – any voluntary risk of physical harm.  You’ll never see me driving some new “flying machine” off a cliff just to test it out, for example, or setting sail for some new world unless some brave soul has already ventured forth, survived, and figured out some safe and proven return – “Why would I do that?” I will tell you.  “That looks dumb.”  I don’t remember any point in my childhood when I was unaware of any potential danger to my physical being, and this includes my engagements with diving boards, trampolines, roller skates and bicycles – all of which I avoided as thoroughly as I could manage.  It’s only when we enter the arena of emotional or intellectual discovery that I begin to become intrepid, and fearless – sometimes to my detriment, as certain ex-boyfriends may tell you…though, I should say much to the benefit of my actual chosen career.)

Besides: I’ve always been a bit of a princess, especially in terms of travel.  Never mind Space: I for one can barely make it cross-country to Los Angeles without forgetting something, and – my stomach knots in fear at the thought! – there can’t possibly be a Sephora or an all-hour Duane Reade waiting upon arrival in zero-g to replenish any missing, oversized, or forgotten items.  One cannot make it to the Moon on travel-sized products alone, after all, and at the end of the day you really do want some of those Virgin Airlines, Richard Branson-style creature comforts in order to make the journey a pleasant one.  At the very least, you want to find a bit of L’Occitane or Malin + Goetz in the bathroom…not to mention plenty of room to float around in business class…

(Indeed, so long as the issue is on the table, I’m all for the partial privatization of space travel.  That is, of course, in addition to upholding a national Space Program as a fully-funded public endeavor: again, knowledge belongs to everyone, and exploration should remain the priority of governments.  That said, when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of actual travel, we enter an arena where I imagine I’d like some options.  I consider my options when I fly to Europe, for example, and in fact am rather picky about them.  Why should Space be any different?  There is only one city in the Cosmos in which I genuinely trust the public transpo, and I already live in it.  When I fly to The Moon, conversely, I’m certainly not taking the MTA.  Or worse, Aeroflot (speaking of the shackles of the Shuttle Age…).)

I digress into fantasy-land, admittedly.  Though I do hope for a time when the idea of space travel for the common man once again feels like a tangible, pragmatic reality.  Alas: as of today, that particular sea of knowledge remains for me – and for many – a speculative one.

Which is why, I suppose, I’m glad that I’ve chosen the career that I have.  I considered “astronaut” at some point, certainly, just as I considered a great number of careers (including “paleontologist,” “lighting photographer,” and “psychic”), though they all fell away as passing childhood fancies until I arrived, finally, at “actor.”  There, perhaps, is the one thing that I, the Curiosity Rover, and NASA have in common: the responsibility to pave the way for the human spirit via the creation and perpetuation of images.

If you can beam a few pictures of something new into the hearts and minds of others, then I suppose you’ve done your job.

And so: in honor of Curiosity – and of course that 24.6-hr. Sephora that will someday be waiting for me when I arrive at long last, stranger in a strange land, to set foot on an alien planet only to discover I have forgotten my Ole Henriksen eye cream – I post here a few photos of my new and much-loved Pantone Color of the Year 2012 Eyeshadow Kit, which just so happens to contain a shade of beautiful Mars Red (“Carnelian,” to be accurate).  The whole shebang is of course available for a limited engagement at Sephora.

In the meantime, to paraphrase a wise man, it is our duty to be attentive.  Let us go forth to our glowing screens and – in so doing – turn a wondering eye to the heavens.  Naturally, you may rest assured that my own wondering eye will be a well-painted one.

Jen Blair, Jennifer Blair, Mars, Eye, Curiosity, Space, Orange Eye Shadow, Pantone Color of the Year 2012, Sephora, Makeup

Jen Blair, Jennifer Blair, Mars, Eye, Curiosity, Space, Orange Eye Shadow, Pantone Color of the Year 2012, Sephora, Makeup, Carnelian

Pictured, on eye: Sephora + Pantone Color of the Year 2012 Eyeshadow Quad: Carnelian on lid, Sparrow in crease, Scallop Shell up to brow bone to blend; Make Up Forever Star Powder in #902 Pearl Gold at inner corner; Givenchy Phenomen’ Eyes Mascara in #2 Brown; Chanel Automatic Liquid Eyeliner in #20 Brun.

I’m not in the habit of promoting lobby or fundraising groups on my personal site, but let’s face it, kids: space travel is EXPENSIVE!  Like it or not, There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Launch.

If you’re interested in supporting continued funding for the US Space Program, check out Penny 4 Nasa, a movement devoted to raising federal funding for NASA to a full 1% of the federal budget.  Sign the petition, donate, or simply learn more: when it comes to awareness, it’s all worthwhile.

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Girl Next Door

Jen Blair, Jennifer Blair, Girl Next Door

Unbeknownst to my new neighbors, I have slipped in during the the night and discovered that I am able to mooch off their unlocked WiFi – which will hopefully serve as sufficient to tide me over until the Communist Bureaucracy that is Time Warner Cable shows up for my scheduled appointment on Tuesday.  In the meantime – just in case the signal doesn’t hold up – I shall avail myself of the opportunity to create a quick post.

Here you see me, in a photo leftover from some shoot or another last week, looking more GND than (perhaps) ever before – at least publicly.  There are some people who are just born with a knack for looking artfully rumpled and casually approachable all the time; I am not one of these people, and (on the contrary, like wearing jeans), “Girl Next Door” remains one of the most difficult characters for me to comfortably pull off.  Unless, of course, the “Door” in question leads to a pod.  Or a tower.  Or that shitty apartment in Let the Right One In.

Regardless, this is a look I typically save for boyfriends and bedmates, and one or two tight-knit best friends.  Those people you trust to see you with your glamour off.  If I am perfectly honest (and with the notable exception of my cat and my mother), those people for me are always men (or boys, as was the case when I was very young, as young as three – you will always have a place in my heart of hearts, Andrew Tonkery); and, I should say, it’s nice to be looked at this way.  (Not that I would go out in the world all rumpled up on any kind of regular basis, then I think the whole effect would be lost; the intimacy, as always, lies in the reveal).

I don’t mean to make myself out to be some kind of good-time-girl, of course.  I trust few people at a time and try to choose them with care, though I often wound myself on the sword hidden within those pinions; and currently (in the words of Frank O’Hara), “now there is only one man I like to kiss when he is unshaven.”

He knows who he is.

Though that is for him to acknowledge.  In the meantime, I’ll put on my lipstick, I guess, and walk the streets.

“In the great town where there are many houses and so many people, that there is not room enough for everyone to have a little garden, and where consequently most persons are compelled to be content with some flowers in flower-pots, were two poor children who possessed a garden somewhat larger than a flower pot.  They were not brother and sister, but loved each other quite as much as if they had been.  Their parents lived just opposite each other in two garrets, there, where the roof of one neighbor’s house joined that of another; and where the water-pipe ran between the two houses, there was a window; one had only to step across the pipe to get from one window to another.”

- HC Andersen, The Snow Queen, Second Story: A Little Boy, and a Little Girl

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The Happy Marriage

“Time still, as he flies, brings increase to her truth, and gives to her mind what he steals from her youth.”

- Edward Moore, The Happy Marriage 

Ring, Skull, Clock, Clockwork, Jewelry, The Evolution Store, Topshop, Little Black Dress

Ring, Skull, Clock, Clockwork, Jewelry, The Evolution Store

A note to you, my love, snoring on your pillow or in front of the teevee, hard evidence of the Great Unity refracted through the moment:

A partnership is an organism that fights to live, and its demands are nothing if not honest: that is, simply, to begin at the beginning and go until it won’t go anymore, then stop – but not before.  Never before.

(It’s tacky to play the end at the beginning.  Is that what we’re doing? Pshaw.)

Ring, Skull, Clock, Clockwork, Jewelry, The Evolution Store, Topshop, Little Black Dress, Jennifer Blair

Skull, Jewelry, Ring, Accessories, Clock, Clockwork, The Evolution Store, SoHo

Skull, Jewelry, Ring, Accessories, Clock, Clockwork, The Evolution Store, SoHo, Topshop, Little Black Dress, Jennifer Blair

Make no mistake, my love.  Same as I ever was – from the first instant I fought kicking and screaming through the barrier of Light and Sound – I am nothing if not stubborn.

I promise nothing less than a good fight.  Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.  And when it genuinely doesn’t go anymore, we’ll simply see if you and I are up to the task of letting it.

The Evolution Store, SoHo, Ring, Jewelry, Clockwork, Gears, Watch, Accessories, Steampunk, Skull

Skull, Jewelry, Ring, Accessories, Clock, Clockwork, The Evolution Store, SoHo, Little Black Dress, Topshop, Manicure, Jennifer Blair

All the same, I can’t shake a persistent, lingering hope:

The hope that the whole of our life together still exists somewhere up on the cloud.  Exists even now.  Light upon Light, preserved in a chain like a strip of film – so that some kind or interested party might someday thread it back round through the machine of Time, and play it once again.

Skull, Jewelry, Ring, Accessories, Clock, Clockwork, The Evolution Store, SoHo, Gel Manicure, Valley Nails NYC, Jennifer Blair

Ring, The Evolution Store, SoHo; Dress, Topshop.

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Dolce Vita (Sweet Science at NARS)

NARS, Lipstick, Dolce Vita Lipstick, Pink, M&Ms, Rose, Sheer Lipstick

 Kiss me, my love, and the whole Universe vibrates on my tongue.

In all my life, I can recall meeting very few women who are truly flexible about lipstick.  In theory, it’s one of the cheapest and easiest ways to adjust one’s look day-to-day, though in practice I meet many women who simply gravitate towards one particular color and stay there – at least for most occasions.  A sucker for reliability, I am no exception; as with men, I tend to become a hardcore loyalist once I form a devotion to something, come what may.  As such, here I’ll share with you my current favorite – my sweetness, my love, my most cherished shade.

(Honestly: if I were chosen to go to the moon tomorrow, it’s what I would be wearing when I set foot there, so important is the color.  A constant companion it would be, a firmament in the midst of the waters of the Sea of Tranquility.  I dream.  Reality such as it is, the color will simply continue to accompany me for every Earthly triumph, heartbreak, and moderate happening).

The color in question is NARS Dolce Vita – listed (blessedly) as a “Cult Classic” on the company website, so it’s unlikely to fall into the “Discontinued” category anytime in the near distant future.  It’s a sheer buff pink (lovely for redheads), with just the right amount of mauve in the mix to keep things classic and sophisticated – unapologetically feminine, but not “girly,” per se.  The application is very light, with enough transparency to allow the color of your own lips to influence the shade – a fact which (I imagine) must make it extremely wearable for a lot of people.  And with a number of different outfits.

I’m a longtime devotee of NARS lipsticks, for their geisha-like array of colors, rich, painterly textures, and overall lack of fragrance (I’m very picky about scented products, particularly lip or hair products; if a scent gives me a headache I’ll never use the product, no matter how well I like the color or the performance).  Previously, I went through a big phase in which I wore a nude tone called Pago Pago, though I wanted something with a bit more pink in it and so I switched to this one. (Secret?  My sardonic little heart loves pink.  It looks nice against my skin and reminds me of ballet class.)  I also enjoy NARS Lip Lacquer in Eros, and (as a nice, all-occasion red) Semi Matte Lipstick in Fire Down Below*

Finally, it’s worth mentioning the very best thing about this lipstick, which is its subtle luminosity. Glosses are wonderful in theory (and in pictures), though in practice I often find them less than ideal; this particular formula is a great solution, containing just enough sheen to plump your lips suggestively without any textural tackiness.  Prep with Fresh Sugar Lip Polish for an extra-soft, bee-stung pout – and don’t be shy, because empirical evidence suggests that it’s as fun to kiss off as it looks.

Bella!

M&Ms, pink, rose, lipstick, chocolate, candy, makeup colors

NARS, Lipstick, Dolce Vita Lipstick, Pink, M&Ms, Rose, Sheer Lipstick

* After years spent gathering hard data at the makeup counter, I can safely claim that I almost exclusively prefer blue-based lipsticks.  I am very fair but have a yellow-like undertone to my skin, and I find that blue-based shades balance it out quite effectively.   However: as I have red hair and green eyes, I do gravitate towards a warmer overall palate – reds and pinks – so finding the right shade can, on occasion, become an absolute hell.  A million-billion virtual kisses to NARS for their beautiful collection of colors, in this regard, and freeing up a few of my brain cells for loftier pursuits – like philanthropy, long walks on the beach, and sex.  

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Red Leather Day

Jen Blair, Jennifer Blair, Red Leather Dress, Free People, Sundress, Bloomingdale's, Red, New YorkThere are certain days (everyone has them, I’m certain) when it’s all you can do to keep your fingers crossed for something (anything) good.  When the last of your childhood’s faith seems to be dissolving in your hands only to drip, in an ugly foam, into the gutter.  When you just can’t shake the nagging sensation that any attempt to spin some web of personal happiness is doomed to go horribly awry, no matter what you do, who you trust, or how well you love.

I do not blame New York, my new home, though the rent control here certainly leaves something to be desired; on the contrary, flying by the seat of my knickers with a career on pause, friends that are half a continent away, and a relationship in the midst of a nervous breakdown, I often feel that the city itself is the only tangible thing to have my back.  All I have to do is walk down the street in the afternoon, hear some cabbies shouting profanities at one another, and the song rises in my heart: Ahh, the Motherland!

How can one be sad in such a city, this Metropolis?  Here you can drink until 4 in the morning, then take the train to the Atlantic Ocean!  You can walk down the street with no pants on, and nobody bats an eye!  You can buy Kérastase at the Duane Reade 24 hours a day!  There simply must be something good coming ’round the bend for us all, regardless of any stubborn, lingering affection I must have for pessimism – that cock-eyed prestige of a love affair that’s somehow left wandering the stage even now, long after the initial, years-old trauma (another story) that caused it has slid safely down the trapdoor and out of sight – even, perhaps, to land softly and surely in the downy realm of forgiveness.

I suppose we all have our methods of survival.

Speaking of which.  

It was after one such particularly heartbreaking week that I – tired, miserable, and once again facing imminent, sublet-induced homelessness – took the N train into Manhattan just to have something to do, only find myself stopping, impulsively, at the Bloomingdale’s on 59th & Lex.  Only to spend a deliberate and very zen hour disconnecting myself from myself by rifling through the racks.  Only to emerge – one hour and a small lifetime later, convinced I’d found the absolute best thing in the whoooole goddamned store – with the piece you see here: a red pleather sundress, size Extra Small, wrapped safely for transport in a Medium Brown Bag.

Mental exorcism aside, the dress was for me a small but important victory, for reasons such as follows:

Firstly (and also fore-mostly), there is of course the color.  Red – my favorite non-neutral color to wear – is having a lovely moment this fall, and I consider anything ruby, crimson, or oxblood to be a worthwhile investment.  In addition, its sleevelessness makes it ideal for transitional dressing (an important consideration when New York remains a 90-degree cesspit in the shade).

Secondly: there’s the fabric.  I like the fabric.  Free People is marketing this dress as “Vegan Leather,” but I don’t see much point in that kind of hoopla.  I ain’t no vegan, for one; I don’t know about you, but I personally need to consume the still-beating heart of the Cosmos in all its bloody glory, to allow the juices to drip down my chin and flow onto the pavement below and  – in so doing – become One with All Things once again, otherwise I get anemic, Holy Christ, this is why I live in this city.  I suppose what I mean by this is that I value honesty.

So wear what you please, of course. If you dislike wearing leather, I can’t find a reason to bother you, just like I won’t bother that bum over there with no pants on.  Just don’t pretend that it is what it isn’t. (Call it pleather, maybe, or even the charmingly old-fashioned “leatherette;” both paint the appropriate picture.  The important thing is to revel in its fakeness!  To delight in the sheer, glorious artificiality of it all! )

Though I suppose people who wear vegan leather will waste no time telling you that it’s vegan. Sigh, so there you go.  Honesty achieved.  For myself, however, I still prefer a terminology that acknowledges the idea that this isn’t at all a natural kind of fabric…it is after all 100% polyurethane.

Though I meander.

Thirdly (and lastly) there’s the matter of the cut.

Jen Blair, Jennifer Blair, Red Leather Dress, Free People, Sundress, Bloomingdale's, Red, New York

Jen Blair, Jennifer Blair, Red Leather Dress, Free People, Sundress, Bloomingdale's, Red, New York

The cut.

Skip forward to the very next day, when of course I tried the whole thing on and immediately wondered what the hell I was thinking.  What am I going to do with a red pleather sundress?  Is silly, cheap, juvenile?  Is it “me?”  At the end of the day, the main point of contention turned out to be the cut.

What do men think of girly, fit-n-flare dresses like this, particularly red pleather ones?  Are they sexy? Ridiculous?  “Trying too hard?”  Would a gentleman meet a lady in a dress like this and feel that he is speaking with a grown woman, rather than a girl?   I’ve never been interested in “man repelling,” as any time spent in the wilderness of an awkward childhood tends to effectively remove the luster from this idea.  As a result I spent some serious clock cycles wondering if I should have picked a red pleather dress in a more sophisticated cut to balance the overtness of everything else.  (The things we ponder in the modern world!  Long Live the Metropolis!)

All the same, we have to acknowledge what’s going on on fashion:

Flippy, skater-style dresses are definitely having a moment, and I have purchased a few for the sake of experimentation despite the fact that I can’t shake the nagging fear that they make me look quite young – younger than is comfortable.  I am after all older than I look, and I’ve fought tooth and nail for every ounce of adult credibility that I possess.  And besides, I maintain a healthy amount of skepticism regarding the effect pleating has on my ass.

I am pleased to admit that the dress photographs quite well.  Ladylike hair and makeup are key to balance the cut, at least for me: if I wear it with my hair down, I remain convinced that I look about twelve years old.  Ah, well.  I’ll simply consider the cut a victory in branching out, and wear it for youthful things, like clubbing.  A vintage Yamamoto jacket would really tie the room together, here…

(And I suppose I shouldn’t complain about looking immature or sacrificing my “adult credibility” until I learn to swear less, and stop talking like a cabbie.  Sigh…)

Esteem hiccups aside, I do remain completely confident about the color and fabric.  (I think everyone should have a red pleather dress, and the nuts to wear it!…and so on.)  In fact, if my finances weren’t currently under the thumb of the New York housing market (and all its associated fees and deposits), I would do the whole thing properly and invest in this number from Lanvin (see how the timeless cut balances out the aggressive sheen of the material; you can get away with so much when you stick to a clean silhouette…I saw it on the mannequin at Barney’s just the other day, and it looks even better in person than it does in the photograph).  It’s too bad we need things like roofs, actually, because I suspect that the Lanvin would stick around well into my Helen Mirren years – long after whatever apartment I take next is long gone from my life and sufficiently relocated to the aether of Memory.

Alas.  For the moment, my assets stumble.  Though interested sugar daddies may always reach me via my contact page…

(I am of course kidding, until you say yes.)

In the meantime, sincerest wishes for a beautiful day, friends.  All my love, and an ocean of kindness.

May the Universe bring you something good.

Jen Blair, Jennifer Blair, Red Leather Dress, Free People, Pleats, New York,

Jen Blair, Jennifer Blair, Red Leather Dress, Free People

“I don’t care, love is all; I dare to drown, to be proven wrong.”

  – Björk, “Hope

Dress, Free People at Bloomingdale’s; Lipstick, Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet in #39 La Somteuse.

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Assorted Ephemera (Smoke, Mirrors, Makeup)

Jennifer Blair, Jen Blair, Nars, Beauty, Girl with Headphones, Stila, MAC, Makeup

“Reverie is the steam of thought.” 

- Victor Hugo*

These are actually from a photo test I did last week; the light was starting to do interesting things in the afternoon, so I began taking pictures around the apartment.

Here you can see evidence of a fairly typical look for me, beauty-wise (as well as evidence of a typically introspective afternoon**).  I don’t mix it up much day to day even as beauty trends come and go, as I really hate the shock of looking in the mirror and seeing a different person (than I am used to) looking back (unless of course the makeup is for a role, or when some skilled person does it for you for – then, it’s a treat).

For me the whole effect feels like sort of toned-down version of ballet makeup, containing certain elements I gravitate towards over and over again: some subtle champagne iridescence on the eyelid, a defined lash line, a strong brow.  (You’ll never see me do those soft, pale, unplucked brows that have been the thing in recent seasons, as my face is soft-featured enough as it is and I find I need the structure; brow powder – as opposed to pencil – keeps it modern.)

One day, maybe I’ll get ambitious and draw out a proper makeup plan.  In the meantime, a list of products and where to buy appears below.  In addition, it’s probably worth noting that the photos themselves are ever-so-slightly finished but completely un-retouched, as evidenced by the scar on my nose and the blemish on my chin (which I should have thought to cover up).   Light is often a more truthful veil than anything I could personally attempt behind the machine, so here I prefer instead to let the makeup, the sun, and the lens do the work for me.

Jen Blair, Jennifer Blair, Headphones, MAC, Stila, NARS, Makeup, Cosmetics

Jen Blair, Jennifer Blair, NARS, Stila, MAC, cosmetics, lip gloss, NARS Eros, eyeshadow, ecstasy

Beauty is not a need but an ecstasy.

- Gibran

To approximate the look:   Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer SPF 15; Make Up Forever HD Invisible Cover Concealer in #305 Porcelain (as lid primer, under eyes, and at corners of nose); Chanel Double Perfection Compact in #10 Vanilla-Lumiere (on nose and forehead); Stila “In the Light” Palate (Champagne on the inner half of the lid, with Bare up to the brow line to blend; for a smokier look add Luster lightly smudged into the lower lash line with a thin brush, concentrated at the outer corners of each eye [1.]); M.A.C. Eye Shadow in Patina (around the outer socket) and Cork (as brow powder, applied with a #208 angled brow brush); Givenchy Phenomen’ Eyes Mascara in Brown; Chanel Automatic Liquid Eyeliner in 20 Brun; NARS Lip Lacquer in Eros. [2.]

Appendix 1

[1.] To punch up the iridescence (or if you’re looking tired that day), add a tiny bit of Make Up Forever Star Powder in #902 Pearl Gold at the inner corner of each eye.

[2.] I generally avoid lacquers and glosses for every day, as I find that men don’t like them and will often avoid kissing a woman who is wearing them (remember, ladies: that glassy sheen that works on a MAXIM cover does not necessarily translate to an enjoyable tactile reality); as such, I’ll wear the Lip Lacquer for the camera, and switch to a regular NARS lipstick in the same rosy-mauve family (in Dolce Vita, typically) for every day; the color is smooth but subtly lustrous, and (I find) quite kissable indeed.

Appendix 2

* As poorly translated on the inside wrapper of an individually-wrapped Baci chocolate. (That must be a great job, to be the person who gets paid to compile love quotes to print for those things.)  Anyway, I’m fairly certain the real line from Hugo goes, “Thought is the labor of the intellect, reverie is its pleasure.” Today, however, I prefer this new version…same as it ever was, the filter of misunderstanding brings out some truth.

** Also, what was I listening to?  It may have been Broadcast, one of my all-time favorites; I remember listening to Ominous Clouds and Arc of Journey over and over and over last week.  It may have been this or that by Florence + the Machine.  It also may have been the new Hot Chip.  Pick your favorite soundtrack, and (in the words of the Brothers Coen) “accept the mystery.”

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