Fashion: A Feminist Pursuit?

While we’re still on the subject of renewal (and easing into the Spring 2013 fashion season), let’s take a look at the evolution and cyclical nature of women’s fashion. Because apparel involves the most visible aspect of a person, his or her anatomy, it is inextricably linked to human sexuality and identity and provides reinforcement for both. I think it behooves every industry professional to consider this and adopt the role of scientist, philosopher, and psychologist when interpreting trends. How have changing gender roles and social climates affected modern fashion? Find out in my guest post for The Better Bombshell and check back soon for my review of the book.

Fashion: A Feminist Pursuit?


Can fashion — the industry of waif-like models, rampant eating disorders, and hyper-sexualized imagery — be a feminist pursuit? In this original collaboration with artist Michelle Anderst, Jordan Compton argues in favor of her favorite art form.

On the surface, fashion can appear vacuous. It’s a young, sexy, money-driven industry, right?

Maybe — but that’s not everything there is to the industry. For some people, fashion can be the gateway to an intelligent discourse, involving human sexuality, identity, and self-expression. In the words of stylist Rachel Zoe, “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” And for the modern woman — especially the modern bombshell — the key element is the freedom of choice.

On one end of the sartorial spectrum is the ultra-feminine. Long before Dior’s advent of the New Look (with the narrow waist, high bust, and mile-wide hips), fashion idealized the buxom beauty. We all know the Victorian story: Early 20th-century clothiers viewed the female body as a sort of decorative and erotic object—the ideal trophy—and adorned this female flower in restrictive corsets, girdles, and bustiers.

Illustration by Michelle Anderst.

Popular silhouettes have varied widely since then, but the hourglass has had many a resurgence. The Fall 2010 Marc Jacobs collection for Louis Vuitton, for example, was named “And God Created Woman” — and it recalled the ample curves of the Mad Men era. It makes sense: that fecund hourglass shape is biologically designed to trigger a primal response in men. (Ironically, though, these hyper-sexualized styles prevailed at a time when women had very little sexual freedom.)

Recent years have seen a massive shift in women’s fashion to accompany the new wave of feminism: Enter the push for gender equality (and, sometimes, ambiguity). What began in the ‘60s with Yves Saint Laurent’s iconic women’s smoking jacket and Rei Kawakubo’s line Comme des Garҫons (literally “like boys”) has given rise to an entire generation of designers challenging conventional ideas of beauty, sexuality, and femininity. Said the late Alexander McQueen:

“I want to empower women. […] When you see a woman wearing McQueen, there’s a certain hardness to the clothes that makes her look powerful. It […] fends people off. It’s almost like putting armor on a woman. It’s a very psychological way of dressing.”

Illustration by Michelle Anderst.

Does McQueen’s statement disregard what is inherently feminine? I’d argue to the contrary. Rather than being an uber-masculine compensation, it embraces the wide range of female qualities, paying special attention to a woman’s capacity for strength, resolve, and versatility.

Drawing on this versatility, fashions for modern women combine what were previously viewed as opposing characteristics: gentility and aggression, power and vulnerability, toughness and delicacy.  In doing so, they emphasize what many women instinctively know: that such traits aren’t mutually exclusive.

Illustration by Michelle Anderst.

This new movement — as all do — comes with poster girls. Leandra Medine, a fashion blogger who coined the term “Man Repelling,” is anything but. Lisbeth Salander, the heroine of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy, dresses purely for herself. Designer J.W. Anderson says, “[Salander] dresses like a tomboy, but she’s also in love. She can tie a guy down one minute and [have her heart broken] the next.” She’s both fiercely protective of and empowered by her emotions, and she knows that the ability to forge close connections is a source of strength. But she’s  not one to walk away from a fight.

Personally, I try to employ a fluid style ethos by favoring pieces that are minimalist, structured, and authoritative. It’s fitting, as I was raised in the world of ballet — an art pioneered by men but dominated by women — that dance instilled a certain confidence in me. Rather than choosing a style that’s purely masculine or feminine, I do my best to avoid restrictions of gender stereotypes. I’m open to disagreement. I prefer a sleek black dress to a floral sundress. I’ll wear pants if there’s a chance of an impromptu race. Granted, I also love a well-made bustier — but when and why is entirely my choice.

Jordan Compton is an emerging writer, artist, and ballerina who lives and works in Seattle, Washington. After nearly a decade of training and performing with schools and companies in the Pacific Northwest, she made the transition to fashion. Clothing, she feels, is as much a form of creative expression as dance. She is the founder of Addo Forma, where she shares fashion insights through an artistic lens.

Original images courtesy of Michelle Anderst.

via Fashion: A Feminist Pursuit? : The Better Bombshell.

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Do What Feeds Your Soul

“To this day, I continue to dance, not because I desire an audience but because it feeds my soul. It’s one way that I honor my spirituality and reverence for life. I feel most alive and connected — to myself, others, and the world — when I’m expressing feelings through movement. And it’s something I wouldn’t be able to do if I had let my illness consume me.” – Jordan Compton

I’ve always admired people who, amidst great trials, continue to pursue their goals. I try to write about them here as often as I can. For example, Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, who I wrote about last August, battled depression and obsessive thoughts yet still managed to have a Whitney restrospective, a collaboration with Louis Vuitton, and a career that has spanned over sixty years. Aimee Mullins lost both her legs in childhood but went on to be a successful athlete, actress, model, and muse to Alexander McQueen. Most recently, Lena Dunham used her experience with OCD as inspiration for an episode of the HBO series Girls. While I’m not a regular viewer of the show, I respect Dunham for her willingness to tackle uncomfortable or taboo subjects and portray them in an honest way. It’s a reminder to us all that it is human to struggle, and most importantly, that this reality is nothing to be ashamed of.

But how does one find the will to persist against great odds? By knowing what brings you joy and is life-affirming for you. By keeping sight of your passions. Be it a pastime or a profession, anything that lifts your spirits is worth doing and can sustain you in your darkest hour. Do what feeds your soul.

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Eternal Style: The Ouroborus

The Ouroborus Bracelet by Actual Pain. Available exclusively from Craft & Culture. Photo courtesy of Craft & Culture, Seattle, WA.

The Ouroborus Bracelet by Actual Pain. Available exclusively from Craft & Culture. Photo courtesy of Craft & Culture, Seattle, WA.

For the next few weeks, we’ll be pursuing the theme of self-renewal, so I thought it fitting to examine another symbol of regeneration. The ouroboros (also uroborus or ouroborus) is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent consuming its own tail, and, like the phoenix, is a representation of cyclicality. Its first documented appearance was in the Egyptian funerary text, The Enigmatic Book of the Netherworld. Since then, it has been considered by philosophers, alchemists, psychologists, physicians, yogis, and of course, artists. It has also come to represent the union of opposites, in life and the individual.

In the word’s of Carl Jung:

“The alchemists, who in their own way knew more about the nature of the individuation process than we moderns do, expressed this paradox through the symbol of the Ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail. The Ouroboros has been said to have a meaning of infinity or wholeness. In the age-old image of the Ouroboros lies the thought of devouring oneself and turning oneself into a circulatory process, for it was clear to the more astute alchemists that the prima materia of the art was man himself. The Ouroboros is a dramatic symbol for the integration and assimilation of the opposite, i.e. of the shadow. This ‘feed-back’ process is at the same time a symbol of immortality, since it is said of the Ouroboros that he slays himself and brings himself to life, fertilizes himself and gives birth to himself. He symbolizes the One, who proceeds from the clash of opposites, and he therefore constitutes the secret of the prima materia which […] unquestionably stems from man’s unconscious.”

Those looking to harmonize their own opposing aspects (or simply to revive their wardrobe with a striking new accessory) will love the Ouroborus Bracelet designed by Actual Pain. The bracelet, hand-carved and cast in metal alloy, can also be worn on a chain as a pendant. To see it, visit Craft & Culture, an online store based in Seattle and dedicated to promoting independent designers and craftsman.

Do you have a special talisman or symbol that inspires you to work through challenges or represents your personality?
Leave a comment — let’s start a discussion!

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The Phoenix: A Personal Mythology

“Firebird” by Mark Michaelis (Flickr: Firebird – Feuervogel) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons.

phoenix (n.) [altered (infl. by L) <OE & OFr fenix < L phoenix < Gr phoinix, phoenix, dark-red, Phoenician, akin to phoinos, blood-red, deadly] 1 Egypt. Myth a beautiful, lone bird that lives in the Arabian desert for 500 to 1,000 years and then sets itself on fire, rising renewed from the ashes to start another long life: a symbol of immortality 2 In extended use.  a) A person or thing of unique excellence or matchless beauty; a paragon  b) a person who or thing which rises from the ashes of a predecessor; something which is renewed after apparent annihilation

Anthropologist Joseph Campbell once said, “Myths are public dreams; dreams are private myths,” a statement that recalls the concept of the collective unconscious. Carl Jung, the Swiss psychotherapist who pioneered analytical psychology, coined the term to represent a reservoir of human knowledge and experience, an intangible but very real place in which all our fundamental yearnings and ideas are preserved. Myths rely on subtlety and symbolism to communicate basic human truths, and this trait allows them to serve both as entertaining stories and teaching tools.

One such story is that of the phoenix, a rare bird blessed with immortality. Its legend was preserved by  the Ancient Egyptians, and the Greek writer Herodotus brought the story to his kinsman. Tales of the phoenix are so prevalent that they are also echoed in Chinese and Slavic folklore.

Valentina Blinova in LOiseau de feu (The Firebird), Ballets Russes, 1936-1937. Max Dupain [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Like science, myths are innately flexible and can be adapted to new knowledge and personal experience. My first encounter with the phoenix came when I was still a girl, studying classical ballet stories. I was immediately fascinated by the story of the Firebird, perhaps because, as an artist, the ability to constantly reinvent yourself is a valuable asset. Though, arguably, being able to evolve and rise from the proverbial ashes is crucial to the success of all beings. What can we learn from this ancient symbol of renewal? Resilience. At times, we all suffer a figurative death: perhaps we resign from a job, leave school, end a significant relationship, or lose a loved one to death itself. A story of resurrection can remind us how to rebuild our foundations after they seem to have crumbled.

My dance career officially ended when I was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a type of anxiety disorder, at age fourteen, and with it, so did my dreams of graduating to the national stage. Prior to that time, it was thought by my parents that a hiatus from rigorous training would help me focus on honors level schoolwork — reasoning which proved to be faulty as, without a creative respite, I spiraled deeper into obsessive behavior. Returning to dance at a professional level after such a delay would be a daunting if not impossible task, a fact that I struggled to accept.

In high school, I began to display symptoms of anorexia. I was no longer dancing, nor had I ever struggled to maintain a healthy weight. What I did have were repressed feelings of anger, shame, and depression and the need for control, security, and a sense of power. Of course, voluntary starvation is a slow form of suicide. I will readily admit that I derived a dark satisfaction from knowing I could choose when and how my life would end. To a certain extent, I could control my own fate. But what if I succumbed? All my troubles would be for naught — there would be no point to having resisted for so long. My own suffering might end, but I would leave some behind to be claimed by friends and family. And there’d be no redeeming lesson or ounce of hope to hold.

It was, ultimately, my responsibility to motivate myself. The survival instinct is born into every living creature, though as humans, we seem uniquely able to ignore it. I decided to seek therapy after a trip to Paris proved especially hellish (due to family conflicts and my preoccupation with restrictive eating). With the help of a great practitioner, I was able to recover my health and finish high school on time. My class ring bears an engraving of a phoenix, just below my name. I continue to wear it on days that I need a reminder of the soul’s endurance. In fact, it was only after I retired from ballet that I realized my deep love of visual storytelling through fashion. I went on to take college courses, land a full-time job, and finance my way to a conference with Teen Vogue. To this day, I continue to dance, not because I desire an audience but because it feeds my soul. I feel most alive and connected — to myself, others, and the world — when I’m expressing feelings through movement. And it’s something I wouldn’t be able to do if I had let my illness consume me.

I share this not out of any exhibitionist need (prior to this post, I’d only discussed these matters with my family, doctors, and closest confidants). I’ve chosen to write this because I know that many others can relate to my story — and quite a few may be living with the same challenges now. What I want to tell them, like the author Dan Savage, is that it gets better. Not instantaneously, and not without ongoing management, but it definitely does get better. If you or someone you know is facing an incredible obstacle, remember that the struggle is not a sign of failure but of strength. Our trials do not define us. What defines us is how well we rise after falling. In the words of the late Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, “Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.” Have faith in your own ability to surmount life’s greatest obstacles.

NOTE: Anxiety and eating disorders are serious medical conditions, not lifestyle choices. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness, with suicide being the second leading cause. If you think that you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, you can find help and referrals through NEDA. For education on all psychiatric disorders, refer to NAMI.

I’ve held many occupations in my twenty-four years, including peer counselor, but I am not a licensed medical practitioner or therapist. I will answer questions about this subject to the best of my ability, though in general, I recommend consulting a professional.

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Building a Better Blog: My Resolutions

Most faithful readers,

Here’s what I failed to mention in my segue from December 2012 to February 2013: my blogging resolutions! As a rule, I avoid setting unrealistic and self-punishing goals, but I am always interested in improvement, and this concern extends to my blog. I began this site with the intention of sharing more than a personal style diary or industry news — I wanted to examine the myriad ways in which fashion and art are influenced by our societies, personalities, and environment. I believe this cross-fertilization expands our horizons. Being mindful of this interaction can ultimately enhance the way we dress, work, and view art in general. With that in mind, here’s what to expect from me in 2013:

  • An in-depth guide on cultivating your aesthetic. I want you to feel confident in your creative and personal style.
  • A tutorial on using a moodboard to organize ideas and inspirations.
  • A word on perfectionism (and why we all need to curb it).
  • Lessons learned from creative successes, failures, and challenges.
  • Profiles of successful creative partnerships and muse-worthy individuals.
  • Analysis of recurring trends, the ones that are most relevant to you.

Throughout the year, I’ll also share more of my personal work and that of my mentors, muses, and friends. One example is a guest post I’ve written for a project called The Better Bombshell, a collaboration between writers and artists in an effort to redefine the female role model (and, hence, build a better bombshell). I paired up with Seattle artist Michelle Anderst, who created tough-chic fashion illustrations inspired by my essay. Stay tuned for the post and my review of the book. In the meantime, sit back while I build a better blog.  I’m updating my tools, design, and posting schedule.

Thank you for reading and for joining me on this quest for creative authenticity. Our journey is just beginning.



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All That I Want: The Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

Now that you’re aware of my status as a reluctant romantic, you should also know I love to lavish attention on those I care about. And what better opportunity than Valentine’s Day? Yes, it’s one of the most commercial holidays of the year, a fact that many a retailer (and writer) has capitalized on. That doesn’t mean it has to be robbed of the magic.

To show my love to you, my readers, I’ve compiled a set of gift ideas as unique as each person on your list. If your beloved lives miles away, you have enough time to send them one of these personal selections. And if you’re just a last minute shopper (I’ve worked in retail, so I know you’re out there!), you’re still in the clear.

Finally, don’t forget to treat yourself this year. Self love is underrated.

Below, my fourteen favorite options:

  1. Love Moschino Heart Box Clutch Bag, $195 at Neiman Marcus. Something for even the blackest of hearts.

    Love Moschino heart clutch. Photo courtesy of Neiman Marcus.

    Love Moschino heart clutch. Image via Neiman Marcus.

  2. ‘Love knows not’ watch by Mr. Jones Watches, $158. This design by Mr. Jones, an independent British watchmaker, has been on my radar for seasons. The letters align once an hour to spell, “Love knows not what time is.” At once, a loving reminder and a secret message shared between partners.

    "Love knows not" watch. Photo courtesy of Mr. Jones Watches.

    “Love knows not” watch. Photo courtesy of Mr. Jones Watches.

  3. The Heart Has Reasons necklace by Bjorg Jewellery. A silver pendant necklace featuring uncut diamond and rock crystal and engraved with the Blaise Pascal quote, “The heart has reasons that reason cannot know.”

    Photo courtesy of Bjorg Jewellery.

    Photo courtesy of Bjorg Jewellery.

  4. Rechargeable Hand Warmer by Senses, $20 at Cold hands, warm heart? Perhaps. But it’s tough being cold-blooded. Get these for friends to warm them up at a moment’s notice.

    Image via

    Image via

  5. Exotic Truffle Heart Collection by Vosges Haut-Chocolat, $45. If love is a battlefield, then Vosges’ purple heart box is the reward. Send these treats to both the victors and survivors.

    Image via Vosges Haut-Chocolat.

    Image via Vosges Haut-Chocolat.

  6. Diana Mini Love Letters camera by Lomography, $109. Capture the moment with a new limited edition Diana Mini. This version has a fiery red flash and is cloaked in fabric printed with romantic phrases.

    Image via Lomography.

    Image via Lomography.

  7. Cupid’s Arrow Bath Gel by Not Soap, Radio, $16. Fate gets an assist in the form of this pheromone-enhanced liquid luxury.

    Image via Not Soap, Radio.

    Image via Not Soap, Radio.

  8. Moschino ‘Touch Me’ iPad cover, $85 at Net-a-Porter. Easily the most tactile gift on the list, Moschino’s iPad cover is sure to touch your loved one’s heart.

    Image via Shopbop.

    Image via Shopbop.

  9. Trespass Sweetly Urged Sweatshirt by Wildfox, $192.94 at ASOS. Communicate your desires succinctly with this clever reference to Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.

    Image via

    Image via

  10. “Will Work for Love” Tank by Jeremy Brown, $24. In it for the long haul? Show your dedication with this flowy tank (also available in pink).

    Image via

    Image via

  11. Riedel Black Tie Bliss Decanter, $225 at Bloomingdale’s. Raise a glass to love with this sleek crystal decanter. Teetotalers can sub cranberry juice for a robust red—I won’t tell!

    Image via

    Image via

  12. Anna Sheffield ‘Not to Be F’ed With’ commitment rings. When you’re happily spoken for, put a ring on it.

    Image courtesy of Anna Sheffield.

    Image courtesy of Anna Sheffield.

  13. Venus Nipples Chocolate Box by Rococo, available at Liberty London. Remember my post on ‘Amadeus’? Anyone who’s seen the film will appreciate the power of subtly suggestive confections.

    Image courtesy of Rococo Chocolates.

    Image courtesy of Rococo Chocolates.

  14. This Is for You by Rob Ryan, $11.71 at A love story in the form of a book-length valentine by British papercutting artist Rob Ryan.

    Image via

    Image via

See more of what inspired me this Valentine’s Day in my moodboard.

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A (Reluctant) Romantic on Love & Art

"Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss" by Antonio Canova, 1787. Photographed by Jordan Compton at the Musée du Louvre, Paris, France.

“Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss” by Antonio Canova, 1787. Photographed by Jordan Compton at the Musée du Louvre, Paris, France.

With the year steadily advancing and Valentine’s Day approaching, I must confess that I’m not a typical romantic—neither in the original sense, denoting barbarism and a desire for conquest, nor in the more familiar dreamy, quixotic one. A self-proclaimed Francophile, I think the Romance languages are magnifique. But love? Love seems to come with an inherent amount of suffering.

The lover may consider himself a romantic, but he is also a sadomasochist. Why else would Bruno Mars “catch a grenade for ya”? Bound to another, lovers are often driven by the idea of sacrifice, an idea responsible for some of the best known literary tragedies (like Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet or, more recently, the zombie adaptation Warm Bodies). When enamored, you build someone a home in your heart, hoping like hell that they’ll stay, and in doing so, you give them the power to hurt you. They could betray you. Disappoint you. Find someone else tomorrow. Or they could be hit by a bus. Such is the precarious nature of life and love. And what of the marriages made out of convenience and convention? Surely, a union held together by mere duty is unsustainable. Obligation is no substitute for affection.

No, when it comes to the love “bug,” I’d like to say “I haven’t been infected yet.” But I could be wrong.

My favorite written work is Plato’s Symposium, perhaps the most iconic and enduring discourse on love. Among it’s memorable scenes is an imagined speech by Aristophanes, a Greek playwright and comic poet. In it, he describes an ancient belief that the first human beings were split in half by the gods. Zeus, he says, was afraid of their power, and so he divided them.

“This, then is the source of our desire to love each other. Love is born into every human being; it calls back the halves of our original nature together… make one out of two and heal the wound of human nature.”

It’s striking that this piece, which was written before 378 B.C., anticipates the modern idea of love as a force that joins two unique individuals as a whole. What it also does, in a later speech by the only woman in the story, is cite love as the source of artistic inspiration. The woman, Diotima, states that when someone meets a person possessing both internal and external beauty, “he conceives and gives birth to what he has been  carrying inside him for ages. And whether they are together or apart, he remembers that beauty.” Love, then, is a catalyst for creation.

So, where does all this leave me? Rejoicing at the marriage of fellow blogger Leandra Medine (the Man Repeller). Admiring power couple Garance Doré and Scott Schuman. Admitting that, as much as I value my autonomy, I desire a partner in crime (literary and otherwise). Perhaps the romantics have, in fact, claimed me as one of their own. But, for the sake of my ego, I’d like to think I put up a pretty good fight.

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The Anti-Stress, Post-Holiday Gift Guide

Image via Anthropologie.

Image via Anthropologie.

“‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house…a blogger was typing, trying not to freak out.”

The aforementioned blogger, of course, would be me, and though I’m decidedly calm considering the time, I am dismayed that it’s been so long since my last post. Winter holidays come in rapid succession—one minute you’re donning Halloween garb, and the next, Christmas is upon you (or Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or the Islamic New Year for that matter). Surely, the rest of you have been similarly occupied with school, work, and home life.

It was during a recent city excursion, while taking photos and drafting stories, that an unusual idea occurred to me: why not counter holiday stress with a “post-holiday” gift guide? You’re all as busy as I am (if not more so), and hectic schedules leave little time or energy for shopping and entertaining, let alone much needed R&R.

So, I’ve done the browsing for you. Each gift suggestion is unique, artistic, and above all, inspired (notice that they coincide with past themes of the blog and the season’s top trends). Present your loved ones with a card or handwritten note hinting at their gift, and spend the holiday actually enjoying your time together!

Ahhhh…breathe a sigh of relief.

  1. For the impeccably-dressed, consummate hostess: Jason Wu ornament set, $49, Neiman Marcus x Target (available online and in-store from both retailers). 
    Jason Wu's ornament designs for Neiman Marcus x Target. Image via Neiman Marcus.

    Jason Wu’s ornament designs for Neiman Marcus x Target. Image via Neiman Marcus.


  2. For the animal-loving ice queen (you know, the one with more sympathy for animals than for people): the Polar Bear Druzy Necklace by Kimberly McDonald from the Ursus Maritimus collection, price upon request,
    Icebear by Tilly Meijer. Image via Pinterest.

    Icebear by Tilly Meijer. Image via Pinterest.

    Polar Bear Druzy Necklace by Kimberly McDonald...The piece reminds me of Tilly Meijer's "Icebear" photograph.

    Polar Bear Druzy Necklace by Kimberly McDonald…The piece reminds me of Tilly Meijer’s “Icebear” photograph. Image via Pinterest.


  3. For the stargazer: Tea No. One – The Moon by Blackbird Ballard, $32. Seattle’s own menswear and lifestyle store has developed a tea based on what the moon might taste like (mint, licorice, gotu kola, and Tulsi basil in a base of smoky lapsang souchong).
    Moon Tea by Blackbird Ballard in Seattle, Washington.

    Moon Tea by Blackbird Ballard in Seattle, Washington. Image via Blackbird.


  4.  For the young entrepreneur: “Working from Home” iPad sleeve by Kate Spade, $50. 
    Work (and play) in style...iPad sleeve by Kate Spade.

    Work (and play) in style…iPad sleeve by Kate Spade. Image via Kate Spade.


  5. For the metro man: Cartier’s Juste Un Clou (“just one nail”) ring makes a simple yet striking statement piece. Price upon request,
    Cartier "Juste Un Clou." Image via Trendland.

    Cartier “Juste Un Clou.” Image via Trendland.


  6. For the queen bee: T-shirt with diamante crown by Zara, $19.99.
    Diamante crown tee by Zara. Image via

    Diamante crown tee by Zara. Image via


  7. For the coffee table book collector: Yayoi Kusama by Yayoi Kusama, $33.09 at
    Yayoi Kusama. Image via Barnes & Noble.

    Yayoi Kusama. Image via Barnes & Noble.


  8. For the Neo-Baroque babe: Tapestry Print Skater Skirt, $61,
    Affordable luxury...Image via Miss Selfridge.

    Affordable luxury…Image via Miss Selfridge.


  9. For the Fifty Shades of Grey fan: Love Is Art Kit, Shades of Grey Edition by Jeremy Brown, $79, I’m not particularly fond of the Fifty Shades trilogy…I have no problems with BDSM or erotica, but I think readers can do better when it comes to erotic fiction. What would I, with all my high-brow pretension, suggest? I would tell you, but this is an art blog. So…back to the subject at hand. I’m a fan of abstract artist Jeremy Brown because his products embrace the idea that love is all-inclusive and, essentially, artful. The Love Is Art  kits come with all the materials couples need to safely create an abstract painting while enjoying intimacy.
    The Love is Art "Fifty Shades" Edition. Image via Jeremy Brown's Pinterest.

    The Love Is Art “Fifty Shades” Edition. Image via Jeremy Brown’s Pinterest.


  10. For the artist (and the muse): The 20th Century Muse by Annette & Luc Vezin, available at Amazon. This in-depth look at the relationship between the artist and his or her muse was written by husband-and-wife team Annette & Luc Vezin. The two specialize in philosophy, art history, cinema, and journalism. They currently reside in France.
    A study of inspiration...The 20th Century Muse.

    A study of inspiration…The 20th Century Muse.

    That concludes my list. I hope it serves to inspire you. May you all have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year! Check back soon for my winter art calendar, creative brainstorming ideas, style pics, and holiday recovery guide.


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“Every artist was first amateur.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

This quote came to mind while I was reading The Seattle Times last week. A writing coach who was visiting from Florida wrote an article to preface his upcoming lecture, and in it, he said, “The act of writing makes you a writer.” It’s something he tells all his students. And, honestly, he’s right. Anyone who can pick up a pen or sit at a computer and churn out his or her musings is a writer. Likewise, I consider the class of “artists” to include any individuals who bring creativity to their work or industry. They span disciplines and jobs. You don’t need a gallery opening, a television segment, or a feature in a top-tier publication before you can start calling yourself creative—you can do that now!

People often ask me how they can improve their writing and performing skills. True, talent is part of it, but few people are born with complete mastery of their talents. So, my advice is to practice—the more you work on your craft, the better you’ll become.

Encouragement from Emerson

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Meet Your Muse: Jordan Compton

Jordan Compton. Photographed by Jerome Tso.

With Thanksgiving and the holiday season approaching, most of my muses are busy at work or traveling abroad (or both!). So, in the spirit of fairness, this month I decided to turn the tables and answer my own questions. Let’s see how I did…

Name: Jordan Compton

Occupation: writer/ blogger, dancer, and Founder/ Editor of Addo Forma

Hometown: Seattle, WA

Current city: Kent, WA

Signature look: neutral foundation pieces with colorful accents (I wear a lot of black and white but love jewel tones like deep reds and purples). I also like waist-enhancing silhouettes, mixing vintage pieces with modern styles, and juxtaposing masculine, feminine, structured, and flowing elements.

Attending Teen Vogue Fashion U., October 2010, New York City.


Art movements: Classical, Neoclassical, Baroque, Impressionism, and Art Deco. Generally, I feel the older, the better. To interpret the present (and envision the future), one must understand the past. But I happen to love a variety of modern and abstract artists. Tough question for a former art student!

Bands: Phoenix, Coldplay, Daughter, and Vampire Weekend are on the shortlist.

Set from Phoenix’s 2010 US concert tour. Photographed by Jordan Compton. Showbox SODO, Seattle, Washington. January 2010.

Books: Too many—Cleopatra: A Life, My Name is Memory, Lord of the Flies, The Prophet, Plato’s Symposium, Jane Eyre, and the Griffin & Sabine saga.

Movies: I enjoy watching a variety—indie flicks, biopics, foreign films, documentaries, and major motion pictures. Wes Anderson, Sofia Coppola, and Julian Schnabel are some of my favorite directors.

Travel destinations: Portland, Oregon, San Francisco, Vancouver, B.C., New York City, Paris, France, and the Loire Valley. Also, any museum (they’re my second home).

Clockface in the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France. The clock is a remnant from the building’s original incarnation, a train staion, Gare d’Orsay. Photographed by Jordan Compton.

Current obsession: sexy body armor—a fashion paradox. For apparel, I’m loving underwear worn as outerwear, and for accessories, delicate hardware. I like a look that blends vulnerability with strength.

Premium Ribcage Bodychain by Topshop, Autumn/ Winter 2011-12. Image via Topshop.

A look by Alexandre Vaulthier, 2011. Image via Tumblr.

Fashion allergies: velour tracksuits and anything too frilly or too pink—basically, Jessica Biel’s wedding dress!  

Virtue: extreme self-restraint.

Vice: see previous.

Guilty pleasure: I don’t feel guilty about enjoying my life.

Who is your muse? 

I have several: entrepreneurs, philanthropists, humanists, artistic pioneers, and strong, creative people who make their own rules, confront their fears, and have a positive effect on their community. The people I’m close to always inspire me. For a more specific and comprehensive list, see here.

What is your creative process like?

It’s constant and organic. Ideas form naturally from the moment I wake to the moment I sleep. They can be spurred by a film, a song, a story, a live performance, a lecture, and even a good conversation. I also relate to Katrina Markoff, the founder of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, who insists that the act of falling in love (with beauty, a cause, or a concept) inevitably leads to inspiration. The idea reminds me of Plato’s Symposium.

What would you consider to be your greatest creative success?

Thus far, I’d say my greatest creative successes are this blog, my achievements in dance, the work I did at the Academy of Art University, and my acceptance into Teen Vogue Fashion University, an annual fashion convention hosted by Teen Vogue and Condé Nast . Writing for Addo Forma allows me to share the things I’ve learned as a dancer, as an artist, as a fashion student, and in life.

Have you encountered any personal or professional challenges during your career? If so, how did you address them (any advice for others)?

Yes, I’ve faced challenges, and I think the nature of life is to be challenging—that’s how we grow as people. I’ve dealt with anxiety, family illnesses, conflicting personalities, and a variety of sudden changes, both at work and in the home. There was also a time when I felt I’d reached a plateau as a dancer, and neither I nor my instructor was happy. I resolved to continue my studies and push through the discomfort because I was truly in love with my craft. I’m not into abandonment (of myself or others) during difficult times. That persistence paid off, and I earned a solo in the school’s year-end performance. There are two reactions a person can have to obstacles: to withdraw or to keep going. I choose the latter and admire those who do the same.

What do you think makes a successful creative partnership?

The same things that make other successful partnerships: mutual respect, honesty, openness, commitment, clear communication, and a willingness to compromise.

How do you balance your work with your personal life?

Honestly, that balance is something I’m still working toward. I tend to become fully immersed in a project, devoting 100% of my energy to its completion, so personal matters compete for my attention. I also absorb a lot of information from my environment, after which I need to recharge physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. For that reason, I value my private time. However I also value close relationships and understand the importance of being physically present for loved ones. In the future, I hope to reconcile these needs.

People would be surprised to know: that I know how to bellydance…while balancing a sword atop my head. I also used to have long hair, but I cut it short over the summer. I needed a change and figured the Spartan look would come back!


I have a variety of great interviews lined up to share with you, so keep in touch! And if you have a question that I didn’t answer here, send me a message.

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