October 2008

I hold a disdain for the watches of the Digital Age, mass-manufactured electronics housed in technicolor shells – their battery-powered pacemakers depend on the same lifeless quartz. The casings impress me not. Their interiors are ugly nothings compared to this:

Have you ever witnessed the movement of an automatic? They have entrancing heartbeat-like oscillations. The precision and craftsmanship involved in designing and building a mechanical watch is fascinating. The end product is so incredibly organic, for something made completely of metal and precious stones. I love skeleton watches, built to showcase the insides.

Unfortunately, a high-end automatic is beyond my budget, but it’s on my wish list for the future. I won’t settle for less. There’s something awful about owning something that costs less to replace it than to repair it (unsustainable, much?). I’d much rather have something irreplaceable, to treasure and maintain.


[Quotes via The History and Evolution of the Wristwatch By John E. Brozek]

Less than 100 years ago, no self-respecting gentleman would be caught dead wearing a wristwatch. In those days of yore, real men carried pocket watches, with a gold half-hunter…

Wristwatches, when they first came out, were looked down upon by watchmakers as nothing more than flimsy women’s jewelry.

Wristlets, as they were called, were reserved for women, and considered more of a passing fad than a serious timepiece. In fact, they were held in such disdain that many a gentlemen were actually quoted to say they “would sooner wear a skirt as wear a wristwatch”.

But things quickly changed.

…soldiers discovered their usefulness during wartime situations. Pocket watches were clumsy to carry and thus difficult to operate while in combat. Therefore, soldiers fitted them into primitive “cupped” leather straps so they could be worn on the wrist, thereby freeing up their hands during battle.

Makeshift wristwatches allowed the easy synchronization of troop movements, artillery fire, and naval attacks.

After the Great War, many soldiers returned home with souvenir trench watches—so named for the trench warfare in which they were used. When these war heroes were seen wearing them, the public’s perception quickly changed, and wristwatches were no longer deemed as feminine. After all, no one would dare consider these brave men as being anything but.

The modern wristwatch, born of military necessity, inspired the watchmaking community and gave rise to companies such as Rolex, Cartier, Patek Phiillipe, and Jaeger-LeCoultre.


First place at the NYC Cupcake Decorating Championships  & Ignite NYC went to Nick & Danielle Bilton’s adorable Iphone App Cupcakes!

“So you’re probably looking at this and thinking, yech…but bright colors are huge in Japan…”

I went to hear several UCD alumni speak about their experiences working for outdoor (e.g. The North Face, Gregory Mountain Products) and apparel product companies (e.g. BCBG MaxAzria). Definitely sounded like a lot of fun.

“I was in a whole new field! [industrial design]…but the nice thing is that here, the designers are all men…and not to say that fashion designers are, ah, high maintenance or anything like that…but it is way more laid back working with them.”

The North Face sponsors athletes to test the performance of their products and extends testing opportunities [i.e volunteer trips] to their employees to ‘live the brand’.

“…will this sleeping bag keep you warm and alive at negative ___ degrees?…well I wouldn’t be able to tell you, since I slept with my shoes on – I wasn’t about to take any chances.”

I missed the part about the TXC 171 course project, unfortunately, the one where students are assigned build a lightweight carbon fiber bulletproof vest with moisture-wicking properties.

I had a lab in textile science, where all I did was burn fiber swatches and make pre & post ignition observations. A burning test is an official means of fiber identification that is well suited for pyrophiles such as I. Also, fabric swatches are awesomeness!

I love materials, the tactile feel of things and the way they drape and fold on the body and become expressively wearable. Meaning is secondary.

I have been considering an internship in the textiles & apparel industry, but I keep putting it off. This is problematic since the longer I wait, the more entrenched I become in solidifying my actual career path towards the biotech industry. And so it becomes less beneficial for me to entertain my other interests. I am too far along.

I would be so happy working in the textiles & apparel industry – unbelievably so – but it would be too easy, in a sense. Like choosing a cup of coffee over a shot of pure adrenaline to the heart. I simply crave another breed of innovation more: the one that lies on the cutting edge of biotechnology research and product development. It is innovation that benefits mankind, resuscitates the environment, and explores the fine details of what it means to be alive (how everything works and relates). That has always been the greater thrill.

If only there were more intersections between fashion and science. At best, there exists an indirect relationship between these constructions of style and fiber/polymer science of textiles. Science, I feel, is overlooked and not integral except in the other sections of the industry (that I don’t care about) where durability, health, and protection are valued more than aesthetics, such as in medical, military, and industrial textiles. And of course, skateboarding footwear.

Oh, to work within the footwear industry…Now I’ve gotten completely sidetracked thinking about shoes and will abruptly end my blog post here.

Upon entering the lecture hall, I was handed a bag containing some measly dried scale insects and a piece of silk. The professor instructed us to add water and crush the exoskeletons. The significance? A vivid red quickly spread throughout the bag – the notorious cochineal dye that was once valued more than gold. An insect has never impressed me more.


[Excerpt from A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire]

Throughout much of the world, red represents events and emotions at the core of the human condition: danger and courage, revolution and war, violence and sin, desire and passion, even life itself…It is one thing, however, to assign meaning to a color; quite another to create the color itself. For thousands of years artists met with disappointment as they tried to reproduce the flaming scarlets and deep crimsons they saw in nature…

Elusive, expensive, and invested with powerful symbolism, red cloth became the prize possession of the wealthy and well born. Kings wore red, and so did cardinals. Red robes clothed the Shah of Persia, and in classical Rome red became so synonymous with status that the city’s most powerful men were called coccinati: the ones who wear red.

It was big news, then, when Spain’s conquistadors found the Aztecs selling an extraordinary red dyestuff in the great marketplaces of Mexico in 1519. Calling the dyestuff grana cochinilla, or cochineal, the conquistadors shipped it back to Europe, where it produced the brightest, strongest red the Old World had ever seen…Cochineal became Europe’s premier red dyestuff, and Spain made a fortune selling it to dyers around the globe.

As far as Europe was concerned, the only trouble with cochineal was that Spain controlled the supply, guarding its monopoly so jealously that the dyestuff’s very nature remained a mystery. Was cochineal animal, vegetable, or mineral? The best minds in Europe argued the point for more than two centuries.

Few, however, disputed the new dyestuff’s value. In an age when textiles were a major source of wealth, cochineal was big business. Determined to break Spain’s lucrative monopoly, other nations turned to espionage and piracy. In England, the Netherlands, and France, the search for cochineal soon took on the tone of a national crusade. Kings, haberdashers, scientists, pirates, and spies all became caught up in the chase for the most desirable color on earth.
The history of this mad race for cochineal is a window onto another world — a world in which red was rare and precious, a source of wealth and power for those who knew its secrets. To obtain it, men sacked ships, turned spy, and courted death. This is their story.”

Amy Butler Greenfield


Part of a shawl with chains of elytra (beetle wings). Brought in by a guest lecturer, for an unusual discussion of insects & art history.


New finding: UCD has an Entomology Museum with the 7th largest insect collection in North America. There are roughly 7 million bugs from all over the world.

The new MacBook & MacBook Pro are fucking gorgeous (as always). Who needs a MacBook Air, these are both on par. I’m on the verge of cancelling my preorder for an Asus Eee PC 1000H so I can save up for a MacBook Pro. Speaking of the MBAir, Apple is offering 128GB Solid State Drives (holy shit!) – the Apple Store is down right now, but I can’t wait to see the pricing on that.

The sleek aluminum unibody casing and the display glass enclosure are stunning.

Today I volunteered to serve cakes at Central Park amidst the birthday festivities in downtown Davis. There were 100 birthday cakes, large ones, at that – it was sort of like being in cake heaven…free cake heaven. Emphasis on the free.

When there’s too much of a good thing, people need to be reassured that it’s real: “These are…free?” / “I can have more than one slice?” My response: “Free! Have as much as you want!”

I’ve never seen so many cakes in one spot in my life, all shapes and sizes and flavors. They were devoured quickly.

I loved the water tower cake. It was like something straight out of the Ace of Cakes on Food Network.

There are all sorts of silly events planned in lieu of our university’s hundredth birthday. UC Davis makes me feel like this:

I burned my tongue drinking black coffee at four in the morning. Sucks. My throat is still raw. But I have made it to Thursday! Which means Friday AKA fun and relaxation is only a day away.

I am looking at images from the JSXAdidas collection, which is super cute – jacket with coat tails? hoodie with claws? = aww. Images via Tenisufki (click to see more). The animal print fits with the shoe shape (cheetah + deer), at least, that’s what I see. Three claws, three stripes, trefoil. I could rock these in the urban jungle, no problem.

I really want to watch this series, but the online videos are only available if you live in the UK. Can someone upload these somewhere? I’m clicking around the site and I am frustrated because it looks so interesting.

British Style Genius
Sir Philip Green and Arcadia Group brands Topshop & Burton are to appear in a fantastic new BBC Two series…which takes a fascinating look at what makes British fashion and style so distinctive and so influential.

The episodes (that I am unable to watch even after they air) :

  1. A Fashion Democracy – The High Street Look
  2. A Cut Above – The Tailored Look
  3. Breaking the Rules – The Fashion Rebel Look
  4. By Royal Appointment – The Country Look
  5. Loud and Proud – The Street Look

My window is open and it is freakishly windy; the trees are bristling green creatures. Things are flying off my desk, but I’m too dazed to care. Now to pick an outfit and run off to class.

The Lenovo IdeaPad S Series
Starting @ $399: 10.2″ screen, Wi-Fi, 80GB hard drive, Bluetooth, etc.
Best priced ultraportable that I’ve been able to find. But alas, I don’t have money to spare!

My love of the three stripes is making a comeback with this collaboration between Jeremy Scott & the Adidas Originals collection. Only interested in the footwear, of course, but the apparel line is worth a look.

The tallest tongue on a pair of hightops that I’ve ever seen. Shit, those Adidas Metro Attitudes are even higher than the Ato Matsumoto Cow Hide Boots that Kanye West rocked at his performances

The size of that Trefoil logo makes me drool – I want. The silhouette makes me think of reindeer, which are adorable – it would be awesome if it came in a brown colorway. Nice lace locks, too. [Click for larger pictures]

I don’t like the model per se, but that soaring wing accessory is GORGEOUS!

The Adidas Metro Attitude, also in white. Hermes/Mercury, anyone?

Photography: The Cobra Snake [via nitro:licious] & Piotr Niepsuj [via Tenisufki]

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