About Me

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Christine Ama is a freelance fashion, arts and culture writer. She has contributed numerous articles to ADONE Magazine and SheDoesTheCity.com and worked for several years as a product copywriter for the Hudson's Bay Company. With a BFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and an intensive Fashion Merchandising program under her belt, Ama is passionate about marrying her love for creative culture with the written word. In the past, she pursued music as a self-produced electro pop singer/songwriter called Christer (rhymes with "shyster" ;) releasing a full-length album, two music videos and touring internationally. After visiting over five countries in Europe, Ama temporarily relocated to Berlin, Germany where she worked and wrote for over a year. She currently resides in Toronto, Canada.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Read My Lips

Let’s talk about lips. I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately. Sexy, defined mouths are everywhere. We can thank pop-cultural phenomena such as Mad Men for the return of the nostalgic, perfectly made-up face. More female fashion fanatics are taking time to focus on the details. Make-up is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to punch it up. We’re seeing this in 1960s-reminiscent cat eyes and the recent nail polish boom, which has evolved into a worldwide craze for the varied intricacies of nail art. Similarly, a sweep of devil red or fuchsia pink on the lips can, in seconds, take a simple LBD or jeans & t-shirt combo from wow to meow.

Models on the runway and girls in the street are rocking vivid, pronounced hues for both summer frolics and winter hustles. I’m pleased to say that this idea isn’t going anywhere. Rather, the trend is rising and refreshing itself in new, unexpected ways. Come Spring 2012, one assumes everything to lighten up, including the face. Florals and pastels continue to reinvent themselves. Kiss goodbye the dewy, neutral palette of previous years. Expect to see less shimmer and sheer and more unabashed brights and bolds in valiant combinations. Hot fluorescent pink from Nanette Lepore. Ultimate blue from Stephie Christiaens. Hakaan’s crisp white mini-dress topped off with inky black.. And don’t even get me started about the luscious deep purples taking over the show for Yohji Yamamoto. Once I have the cash, you best believe I’ll pick up this royal shade from YSL.

Not for the faint of heart is also the latest two-toned lip concept, pairing contrasting colours for the top versus the bottom. Colour is taking more risks these days. So have fun. Experiment. Dye your hair Florence Welsch-red, stain your lips goth, but most of all, be fearless.

Being Erika

Meet my first client for my first attempt at personal styling - Erika Thorkelson. Erika is a writer of fiction and non-fiction whose work has appeared in Joyland Vancouver, Herizons Magazine, and the Vancouver Sun. Born in Winnipeg, she has also lived in Ireland, Japan and just finished an MFA in creative writing from UBC. She is currently finishing her first novel.

Recently, Erika contacted me to style her for her birthday. With a budget of about $200, we hit the downtown core and managed to put together an ensemble that works both for her figure and personality. The results couldn’t have been better. Erika’s final look is modern and sexy without being slutty. Most importantly, she looks comfortable in her clothes and in her own skin, which is paramount to successful styling.

We started at Urban Outfitters where, after waiting in the change room line-up for about half an hour (why don't they expand they're change room service??) Erika tried on several dresses that were okay, but not quite enough. "It's nice,” we remarked, gazing at her image in the full-length mirror, “but we can do better."

I had heard rumours about the new department at The Bay, simply titled "The Room," where one can find accessible contemporary and diffusion brands such as Stella McCartney and McQ by Alexander McQueen. It was there, at the Top Shop department, where Erika spotted an A-line black miniskirt adorned with small golden crucifixes. Edgy, but chic, embellishing Erika's micro waist and ladylike gams.

A full-volume skirt like this needed something tighter and body-conscious on top, so off to American Apparel we went to pick from the dozens of scoop-neck bodysuits available on their colourful shelves. Once we saw it paired with the skirt, black lace was an easy choice. On to ALDO, just a few doors down, where among several options, school-girl black oxfords with a short platform heel gave Erika the appropriate lift and comfort, all the while looking very now.

The whole venture took about three hours. Erika and I worked brilliantly together. Usually, I style myself. Now, I was working with different tastes, different sensibilities, different body. I was enthusiastic because this is what a fashion merchandiser does, and Erika has a keen eye for what she likes and is a woman who knows her body. She told me later that what's great about having a stylist is affirmation of one's own choices, collaborating with someone openly and honestly to create a final, polished look.

A few nights later, Erika and I shared a few glasses of wine and talked about hair and make-up. "I think we should do a lip," I suggested (are we noticing a theme here?) Erika agreed. $18 later from the nearest drugstore, Erika purchased a luscious red called "Sweet Kiss" from Bourjois. A quick curl of the hair and a few good head bangs is all it takes to give fine hair more attitude. Pearly cream lids, eyeliner, brow definition and a coat of Sweet Kiss, Erika looked amazing, ready for her birthday and the next year of her life.

CLIENT QUOTE: Christer has an instinctual understanding of how fashion can draw out essential truths about who we are. She sees the person and then finds the clothes that most express her individual character. Everything she chose for me felt so natural, I could hardly believe I hadn’t picked them out myself, except that I know I’d never have thought to put it all together without her. Her real talent shows in the details—the way the skirt sits just so, the smooth line of the lace, the counter-intuitive but perfect oxford heals that are my new favourite pair of shoes. I’d trust Christer to dress me for anything.

Want to get styled by Christer? Contact her at christerama@gmail.com

Trouty Mouth

Lana del Rey has been a buzzing topic in the music scene for the past couple of months. The video for piano-charged ballad “Video Games” went viral in the same way Die Antwoord’s “Enter the Ninja” dominated the interweb last year. Lana’s indie-pop ghetto-folk differs entirely from the South African zef rap of Die Antwoord, but the commonality seems to lie in public reaction. Upon first view, questions of authenticity come up again and again. Is it real? Is it an act? Is it satire? Mimicry? Is her visual caricature intentional or is she oblivious to, what some consider, her own affected theatrics?

I can't help but feel that there is some brutal sexism going on when reputable journalists hiss that del Rey is "a puppet controlled by a group of wealthy, clever producers" or that "the 25-year-old New Yorker is actually called Lizzy Grant – she admits the name Lana Del Rey was made up by 'a series of managers and lawyers'.”

I’m sorry. How is this different from what hundreds of other musical artists have done and are doing in dingy, cross-country jam spaces as we speak? As far as female musicians are concerned, can we FOR ONCE leave image out of it. Just listen to the goddamn song.

That being said, I don't think I've been this excited about a female artist since Anna Calvi. Again, there seems to be some correlation between really weird mouths and incredibly awesome music coming out of them. The overlooked 2009 Lizzie Grant album exhibits a voice and tunes which stylistically echo, on some level, beloved songstresses like PJ Harvey and Amy Winehouse.

The same way every woman in music seems to bare the brunt of passive, intellectual attacks from mainstream music musings, confirmed by equally aggressive and inarticulate ones from YouTube comment pages, Rey has been so harshly criticized by social media that it leaves me, both as a music lover and a woman, to question the judgments of music listeners the same way they question Lana’s pouty, coquettish countenance, as if this was the deciding factor of whether her music is good or bad. The debate continues – is it indie or is it pop, but rather, and what seems to be of greater importance, are her lips real or injected with nasty collagen?

Watch the video for Blue Jeans. Better yet, play the video and clean the house, concentrate on the simplistic sonic mastery of what del Rey calls “honouring love and staying strong in the midst of love lost.” If you’re anything like me, you’ll end up falling in love with del Rey, and if you do get curious about her appearance, start watching at minute 2:40 and see her graduate from urban DIY Nancy Sinatra to in-your-face fashion icon. Bright bold lipstick in tow.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11/24/2011

    I love me a strong lip more than anything! Also, that is fab that you are starting work as a stylist - I can't think of anything more fitting.

    I really loved reading this post Christer!