And Away We Go

Well, that was hard.  And it’s likely just one of many hard things that I’ll be doing in the next few months.  This man here just set me up like a queen though.  Here, he’s rearranging the dishes in a more sensible way.  Now, he’s far away.  That’s all I’ll say about that.

That's not where you put plates.
“That’s not where you put plates.”

I won’t give you the whole story now but here’s the quick and dirty version: I was in Paris for the month of January as a co-director of a study abroad trip.  That’s done.  Now, I’m in Madrid, Spain for four months because I was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship.  I’m a very lucky gal.  I’m sorting things out still.  Namely, how to reframe my beloved blog.  Is this about teaching? Fashion? Spain? Does it matter?

Well, I’m no Rick Steves.  I won’t tell you where to get a churro or why a plaza is named what it is.  I will tell you about fashion and Spain and the sensory things though.  It’s my duty now.  I’m here to research and lecture on fashion and communication these days. One way I like to examine communication is through the five senses so that’s what I’ll do here.

Spain smells good.  Like laundry detergent from long ago when it was okay that it was scented. And that smell is mixed with a neutral, cologne-y smell that I’m guessing CK One was inspired by. There’s fair amount of unapologetic smoking but I get just a whiff here and there and it reminds me of my rebellious days.

Just your average store brand washing detergent mixed with….
2016-02-08 16.44.05
Alvarez Gomez “Agua de Colonia Concentrada” Eau de Cologne

I have “crappy” (you’ll get it in a second) internet but the landlady and I are working on it.  Until then, the bathroom has the best connection so I get a whole new olfactory experience from the old plumbing when I’m checking emails.

Not so great smells.
Not so great smells.

No surprise here but Madrid is yellow to me. All shades of yellow.  From the canary yellow on the flag to a buttery yellow to gold leafed wrought iron.  It’s everywhere.  The buildings are short by American standards but seem to stand up straighter, pose proudly.  They’re all punctuated with a sculpture or spire on top and seem to say, “I am here!” In Paris, they wind around and are creamy and white to me and say “I don’t need you.” In Rome, they have nooks and crannies and are extremes of gray and white and seem to say “Screw you”.

See. Told you.
See. Told you. (Photo collage by me.)

This is stretch in terms of touch, but this is a clever foot thing to open the door to my building.

Sin manos!
Sin manos!

This is the best tasting bubbly water I’ve ever had.  It’s like the bottle is tainted with briny vermouth.

I chug this stuff.
I chug this stuff.

They do have ice.  It’s perfect and it’s shaped like jumbo marshmallows. It comes like this:

Eggs for scale.
Eggs for scale. Isn’t the bedspread cute?

Ham. Ham is plentiful. Yes. Tapas. We all know tapas. Will discuss later.

The old radiators in my apartment are workhorses and have been painted 42,000 times.  I takes a special house call with a special wrench to turn the knob.  (“Either on or off, Señora!!”)  So, I’m a little warm. I’ll figure it out after I figure out everything else.

No clanging though.
No clanging though.

So, sounds.  I love the word “bricolaje.” It sounds just like what it is: a store with household stuff in it. 

It has yellow too.
It has yellow too.

I haven’t witnessed the oft-spoken of lively 10 o’clock dinners yet.  It’s pretty damn quiet here.  I only hear a distant phone ringing or murmuring of Spanish TV or plates being stacked.  The buzzer to my apartment gives me a heart attack though. It sounds like a big, mean bumblebee coughing. 

I'll imitate it for you when I see you again.
I’ll imitate it for you when I see you again.

That’s it for the standard senses.  I’ll have to be here a while longer to get an idea of non-traditional senses and ESP.  There’s a lot to experience and share.  Aside from the gentleman in the first picture, there are many people to thank for their support and encouragement.  I didn’t get here alone and I truly appreciate the advice, positivity, and for shoveling the sidewalk.  I hope to see you soon.  Until then, abrazos!!! xoxoxoxo






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Fashion Forecasting and Lidewij Edelkoort

You’re just gonna have to look it up to see how to pronounce that.  I did.

"There is no creation without advance knowledge, and without design, a product cannot exist. " Lide
“There is no creation without advance knowledge, and without design, a product cannot exist. ” Lidewij Edelkoort

I’ve been getting really excited preparing for a lecture about trend forecasting.  I’ve always loved pouring over the books I got at trade shows but enlightening students on this career has made me want to cultivate my own micro-forecasting world.  I don’t know anyone who has a career in this but I would love to hear all about it if anyone out there is one!  The thing that excites me the most is that in order to become one, you basically need an immense amount of knowledge on all things past and present.  The end.  And then you need to be able to interpret how they affect our lives.  That’s all. (I’m guessing they’re probably very smart people.)

This is what one looks like.

Can I be you one day?
Tissue scarves are IN.

Her name is Lidewij Edelkoort and she’s been doing this for at least thirty years.  From her website, it looks like she knows a LOT about cool things like fashion, color, design, technology, art, history, politics, the environment, literature and… sigh.  I bet she sits at her cool kitchen table in Paris and flips through Taschen books she gets for free and takes calls from Virginie Mouzat while sipping some tea we won’t hear about for 4 years (am I glamorizing this job or what?)   There are a few other impressive forecasters out there too like Martin Raymond and David Wolfe but their pictures aren’t nearly as dramatic so here’s a book one of them wrote:

"Trend forecasters are lifestyle detectives." Martin Raymond
“Trend forecasters are lifestyle detectives.” Martin Raymond

It’s not lost on me that “forecasting” sounds like something mystical and interpretive.  It sounds like a scam to a certain degree.  When I introduce the concept in class, I always have a student ask me, “If designers are the ones setting the trends, why do they hire someone else to tell them what’s going to be popular?  That’s crazy!”  It’s like when I got my fortune told and the fortune teller said my “aura was stuck” but that she could help me if I came back and paid her more.

Rasputin knows the colors for Fall 2016.
Rasputin knows the colors for Fall 2016.

So it’s a really good question.  And it’s a big one to answer but I have a two thoughts on it: 1) times have changed and 2) it’s complicated.

The Kaiser said, “You cannot live in an ivory tower and make fashion or anything artistic….You’re to live in the real world.”  Indeed.  Even a couturier like him knows he’s not alone in creating fashion.  Gone are the days when a single person decided what was in.  If a couturier with all the skill and talent at their fingertips is truly an artist, they need to consider more than what their subjective view of the world is.

And when you’re living in that world as a designer, there are a lot moving parts.  To get a garment made requires many different people, across many cultures, with many steps and things to keep track of.  You’re like an air traffic controller except the thing you’re trying to get down the runway doesn’t weigh as much (but it took the same amount of fuel to get there.;))  Simply, you don’t always have the time to shop the market and see what’s out there.  Sometimes you need someone else to organize that information for you.

Like these guys.
Like these guys.

These agencies are smart and know what they’re doing, so don’t be too shocked when you see the price tag that goes along with their reports and subscriptions   However, remember that while they might be seasoned at interpreting the trends, they get their information from the exact same world we all live in.  Your most important skill to foster your inner trend forecaster is to keep those eyes open, make connections about what you see, and, for goodness sake, find inspiration in them.