Monday, August 31, 2009

100 Songs

I've been playing the violin since I was seven. I don't practice regularly any more but I still play once in a while at church and with friends who have bands or are singer/songwriters. Last fall I started learning the guitar, and a few months ago, I finished writing and recording my first song. I'm waiting on my friend John Chambers to mix it so we can master it, but once it's ready I'll definitely post it on my Myspace page and let you know.

I've been super busy with my line lately, but I do have a longer term goal of writing and recording an album's worth of music. On the demo of my song, I sang, played guitar, and violin, but in the recording I did with John, I let him play the guitar since I'm still not very good.

Anyway, the other day my friend Mike who is a jazz trumpet player told me that Stevie Wonder writes 100 songs for each album he records. That surprised me but it makes sense -- if you write that many songs, you up your chances of coming up with something that's really good!

Similarly, in his book, "Outliers," Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000 hours rule, citing the Beatles, Bill Gates, and classical music virtuosos as examples. His premise is that in order to become an expert at something, you need to log 10,000 hours.

I want to try the 100 songs thing if I ever do write an album, but I also think I should apply the 10,000 hours principle to my work in fashion.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A post about Project Runway...

** semi-spoiler alert **

I'm writing this post even though I should really be going to sleep. I have a canker sore in my mouth, which happens when I am sleep deprived. I have to wake up early in the morning to cut samples for Spring 2010, but now that I know that there are people reading this blog besides my friends, I want to try to update it more regularly.

Thanks to my brother and his roommate's DVR, I was able to catch the premiere of Season 6 of Project Runway tonight. My initial impression -- there seem to be way more dudes than previous seasons. Whiny dudes.

I wanted to write about Johnny Sakalis, who had a meltdown in the middle of the episode. Firstly, I wanted to say that despite the producers' exploitation of this meltdown (the repeated emphasis on how he was a recovering addict, the different shots of him crying, Tim's pep talk), I really felt for him. Sure, in some ways, you could ridicule him -- how could you have a breakdown about making a freaking dress? But for me, it was deeper than that.

Tim hit the nail on the head (why is Tim so awesome?) -- sometimes we're harder on ourselves than anyone else can be on us. That sort of pressure is crushing. It's frightening how the pressure we put on ourselves can paralyze us. It definitely happens to me, and it doesn't seem to go away even when you become "successful" -- in fact it gets worse as the stakes get higher, which explains how even someone like Marc Jacobs could suffer from breakdowns when he is probably the most recognized name in fashion. I've been having really bad stomach pains lately because of my stress over my line.

When you care so much about something, when you're so passionate, that passion can become destructive, transforming into a poisonous perfectionism that makes you hate everything you create. It's hard to find that balance between being objective about your work but also allowing it to be.

But I digress. That particular segment is a good example of why I've never really wanted to be on Project Runway. Don't get me wrong -- it's a great show. There have been some really talented people on it, and anyone who can design and create under those time and psychological pressures deserves respect. But I hate how the producers sculpt each designer into a character. Even Christian Siriano, who is undoubtedly talented and has been doing very well for himself since winning, will always be remembered more for saying such things as "fierce" and "hot mess" than for his actual designs. Also, I have yet to see any of the winners of Project Runway get the kind of respect from the fashion community that other designers who have made it the traditional way get.

Full disclosure here -- I've tried out for the show twice, but both times it was more to appease people like my friend B, a big fan of the show as a lover of fashion and TV (she is a screenwriter), and because I felt like I should try to seize any opportunity to get exposure and cash. My heart was never into being on the show for the aforementioned reasons though, and I always just scrapped a couple of things together at the last minute. While waiting to see the judges, I knew that I couldn't compete against some of the people who had been there since the wee hours of the morning, with a rack of clothes, models to show them off, dressed to the nines. The first time I tried out was the first season, when it took hours to get to even the first screeners.

The second and final time I tried out was a couple of years ago, it must have been in 2007, right before I launched my line. I was still working on my t-shirt prototypes for Graey, and that was mostly what I brought to the auditions. I went on the third day of the auditions in New York and was surprised at how few people turned out that time. (Now I think to audition you first send in a video tape and they contact you if they're interested). As a result, I managed to make it to the final stages. I hadn't expected to make it that far based on my first attempt, and I was actually embarrassed to walk in because I knew I wasn't very well prepared with my t-shirts and last minute portfolio.

I walked in and encountered Tim Gunn, Laura Bennett (the redhead from a previous season), and a couple of others (one was an editor from Elle magazine). I'd like to stop right here and say that Tim Gunn is absolutely as fabulous as he appears on screen. He was mic'ed, so I almost felt like God was talking whenever his voice boomed through the room (not to be blasphemous). He told me that my resume was impressive but the work that I showed him didn't match up (I'm sorry, Tim!). He did, however, encourage me by saying that he liked my t-shirts, "They're not just t-shirts!" (Tim, I love you!) The worst part of the audition was that I really felt like I let Tim down. But I was relieved because if I had made it past that audition, I would have been really conflicted about whether I wanted to be on the show.

I also met Kenley (from last season) several months before she appeared on the show through a designer collective. Yes, she was every bit in real life like she was on the show.

So when people ask me how I feel about Project Runway, I cringe a little bit because I think it is a great show to watch, but I don't think it is for me.

On another note, I was disappointed with the judges' choices. I was expecting them to vote off naked-dress dude (Mitchell was it?) over Ari. Even his stuff they showed from before looked as though it was more styling than design. It would have been interesting to see what Ari would come up with for a couple more episodes. Also, I thought Logan was cute but his dress (which they barely showed) looked crappy (from what little I saw). What'd you guys think?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Finally have internet again...

I have been without regular access to internet for the past couple of months, and despite having my iPhone, it was definitely a nuisance. I love my iPhone but sometimes when you're trying to do research or type an e-mail, it's just easier with a computer.

This lack of internet is partially to blame for not having posted recently. I also went to Greece with my family in July. We went to Athens and then toured some of the islands. Here are a couple of photos:


Not bad for iPhone pics, eh? These two were my fave islands, and I'd love to go back at some point and spend more time on them.

Now it's crunch time, and in the next few weeks I'll be pumping out a small Spring 2010 collection. I'm working with some other independent designers to put up a pop-up shop in downtown Manhattan during fashion week -- will definitely keep you posted on that if we manage to make it happen. Also working on a video, which I'm excited about.

Recently I've been reviewing Season 5 of 24 (it helps me destress). My brother got me hooked on 24 a couple of years ago, and I got addicted. Over a span of several months I managed to blaze through 5 seasons of 24. Anyway, season 6 kind of blew, and season 7 wasn't so great either. My favorite seasons are season 4 and season 5, especially the transition between the two seasons.

If you've seen any of the past seven seasons of 24, you know the first few "hours" of each season are the most thrilling. There's some sort of terrorist threat, and Jack Bauer takes care of it and kicks ass. But then after he takes care of the first threat, there are other threats and plot twist that come up as the "day" continues, and the plot just becomes more and more unbelievable. What keeps me watching though, is my love for Jack Bauer. No matter what happens to his career, reputation, well-being, Jack is willing to sacrifice all in order to protect his country and the people he loves. I realize he is only a fictional character, but there is something about the idea of someone who is so dedicated to doing what's right, even when everyone around him is against him, that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Here's a pic of one of my fave tv characters: