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February 09, 2012 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2012-02-09

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2B Thrsay Fbrar "

Textiles and style
Students take

Thursday, February 9, 2012/ The B-Side 7
U' students balance runway, classes

The flexibility
o f surnames

fashion design into
their own hands
Daily Music Editor
Take one step into Emily Pit-
tinos's East Quad dorm room and
it's immediately apparent you're
stepping into a space used for more
than study and sleep.
Trash bags packed with fluffy
wool are crammed beneath the
bed. Jars of fabric dye line the sink.
Handmade headbands dangle bril-
liantly from a reading lamp. It may
not be a layout worthy of an HGTV
special, but for Pittinos, it doesn't
need to be: Ever since she started
making yarn, her bedroom doubles
as a makeshift yarn workshop, a
place where raw materials stand
beside twin beds and spinning
supplies outnumber textbooks.
Pittinos's habitations haven't
always been clogged up with spin-
ning wheels and fibers, though.
Working with yarn is an art form
she has only known for a year -
even if the tools and fantastically
colored products piled on her floor
suggest otherwise.
"It's all super new to me," she
said. "I have a friend who I met in
high school who lives in Maine.
They have their own sheep farm,
and when I went there in the sum-
mer, his mom taught me how to
spin in a couple hours. I ended up
doing that the entire time I was
there, and when I got home, I
bought my own spinning wheel."
It didn't take long for her craft
to grow into something bigger, as
the Arts and Ideas major designed
her own fiber-focused independent
study through the RC. From there,
she taught herself to spin, dye and
blend wool - dorm-room style.
"I had to create my own method
for dyeing," she said. "Usually, you
have to boil the water, but I can't
really do that."
This method involved glass
jars, an electric heater and a tiny
sink. It may be unconventional,
but that's exactly what sets her
apart from the rest of the crafting
pack. Twisting the materials into
jars allows Pittinos to put her own
spin on every product she creates,
resulting in rich hues and eclectic
designs typically unseen in the

Student designer Ryan Perkins found his sewing machine on the side of the road.

fiber fairs and Etsy.com networks
she frequents.
It's hard to say exactly where
Pittinos's woolen art will take her
next, but with handmade purs-
es and the Ann Arbor Art Fair
already on her mind, it's clear that
she isn't short on ideas.
Pittinos isn't the only student
balancing university life with
design. Ryan Perkins, an Engi-
neering senior and creator of the
clothing line R. Perkins MFG, is
also finding time to pursue his
fashion interests - all while main-
taining a student's schedule.
The hectic workload began two
years ago, when Perkins taught
himself to sew, starting with a
leather backpack and later grad-
uating to jeans. While his first
machine was outdated (he found it
discarded on the side of the road)
and not actually designed to with-
stand the thickness of denim, Per-
kins gave his find a chance and still
uses it to sew his products.
"This is one of the best and
strongest home sewing machines
you can find," he said. "Everything
else is geared toward old ladies
making finger puppets."
One year later, R: Perkins MFG
was born - a brand complete with
a website and list of goods and ser-
vices including pants, scarves and
free men's haircuts for his bravest
customers. The line's highlight,
however, is its custom-made jeans
- a passion that started when
Perkins grew tired of paying too

much money for designer denim,
he wasn't entirely happy with.
"I kind of use other designers as
inspiration, or 'uninspiration,' if
that makes sense," he said. "A lot
of brands use different embellish-
ments and colored threads ... I like
to keep it as simple as possible."
But this minimalistic style
isn't executed simply. One pair
of jeans takes Perkins at least 15
hours to make, a feat tackled with
handmade patterns and vintage
equipment in his Broadway Street
apartment. The intricate process
limits his production to one pair a
week, but ensures customers (who
pay in cash, paintings or beer) a
quality of material and craftsman-
ship they can't find in stores.
Because of his rigorous class
schedule and interest in engineer-
ing-related jobs, Perkins plans on
maintaining R. Perkins MFG as
a side project for now. But with
steady business on his website and
possible deals with local vendors,
there's no telling when the proj-
ect will transform into something
From self-taught sewing to jam
jars bloated with yarn and dye,
little about the artistic process is
black and white for student design-
ers Pittinos and Perkins. Their
secret isn't following the rules, but
redefining them: It's about setting
down textbooks, grabbing their
work by the needle and turning
each stitch and splash of color into
something more personal.

ince the day of my birth,
I have been both blessed
and burdened with the
inheritance of a hyphenated last
name. The 16 characters don't
quite fit on
the yoga class
sheets,
they definitely.
don't make
the cut for
the standard-
ized testing
box, and they JULIA
comprise one SMITH-
hell of an EPPSTEINER
But perhaps a hyphenated name
is memorable, like sharing in
the Additional section of your
resume that you bear the skill of
reciting the entirety of Christo-
pher Walken's gold watch "Pulp
Fiction" monologue. Mom and
dad, I love you up to the sky and,
down again, but what were you
thinking? Did you hypothesize
what might come of my kids'
comically never-ending names?
For my mama, choosing to
keep her maiden name Smith and
not take my dad's name was more
practical than anything else. As
a lawyer, she had already made a
name for herself, established an
identity in the workplace and all
aspects of life. It wasn't a par-
ticularly feminist or ethics-based
decision, and it wasn't just the
avoidance of the paperwork that
comes with getting new credit
cards and all of that not-fun
business. Hyphenating her name
with my dad's just made sense,
but for others, it's a forceful and
moralized decision involving
issues such as women's equality,
religion and tradition.
For Kim Kardashian, on the
other hand, plans were in place"
to follow the customary path and
become Mrs. Kim Humphries,
despite manager-mother Kris
Jenner's resolute advice not to.
The reasoning was that Kim's
fame, identity and career are
all intimately attached to her
last name. Thankfully for Kim,
she hadn't yet gotten around to
legally switching her name in
the - don't hold your breath - 72
days they were married.

The trend of brides opting to
keep their maiden names and
hyphenate their children's last
names with their husband's is
possibly a fashion of the '90s, but
one that is possibly still continu-
ing - it's difficult to decipher.
But it's one with interesting
ramifications that are finally ris-
ing to the surface. Not for myself,
I must specify.
Stuff White People Like, aka
Christian Lander, addressed the
inclination toward hyphenated
last names, describing it as "a
direct result of white women
thinking it's sexist and outdated
to take on their husband's name."
Theorizing about the prospects
of this "recent phenomenon,"
Lander "(has) a feeling that col-
lege lacrosse and soccer jerseys
are going to look pretty strange
in the next few years."
Why limit
the many
possibilities of
last names?
The situation isn't as dramatic
or problematic as I've been mak-
ing it out to be, because there
truly are alot of options. And it
seems that most people who were
given hyphenated last names
were not raised in traditional
families with traditional values
and would probably be open to
progressive alternatives such as
using one's middle name as their
last name for their children's
surname. To clarify, let's imagine
a very distant scenario - I; Julia
Alix Smith-Eppsteiner, marry
phantom spouse John Doe. This
would mean that our hypotheti-
cal kids would be named Emma
Alix-Doe and Alexander Alix-
Doe, for example.
In the past week, I've gotten
a sense for students' opinions on
the subject from a wide range of
personalities and majors across
the University's campus, includ-
ing those of my classmates. My

SHEI models learn
the ropes of the
fashion industry
Daily Arts Writer
As 3 a.m. approaches, the dim
street glows with the fluorescent
spotlight under which LSA junior
Dana Pennington waits. Ankles
aching and arms straining to fend
off the invasive winter air, she lis-
tens for the next call.
"All right, for this next take, just
smile, laugh, jump around - have
fun with it," the director says.
Ignoring the blistering pain of
too-tight heels, Pennington nods
to the surrounding crew. A music-
video shoot tonight and a Sociol-
ogy exam tomorrow morning - as
a full-time student and part-time
model, it's all just a part of life.
Facebook may be the hot spot
for folders of your roommate's
best angles and that freshly photo-
shopped profile pic, but for many
students on campus, looking good
means more than 14 "likes" - it's a
"You're getting judged on exact-
ly how you look ... most people feel
that way on a daily basis, but (as
a model), that's your career. The
way you look is how you make your
money," Pennington said.
With the opportunity to walk
the runways of local designers and
slither into extreme makeup and
atypical fashion (cardboard and
paper gowns, anyone?), many stu-
dents turn to SHEI Magazine to
dip their manicured toes into the
modeling industry. As the Univer-

sity's student-run fashion maga-
zine, SHEI offers models a peek
into the profession. For Business
junior Cynthia Zhang, who has
worked as a model since the age
of 16, her four years at SHEI have
blossomed into bookings with
fashion chains such as Macy's,
Neiman Marcus, Rag & Bone and
Saks Fifth Avenue.
SHEI welcomes students of all
backgrounds and serves as the
medium through which first-timers
like Art & Design sophomore Grace
Treado gain exposure to the surreal
world in front of the camera lens.
"Someone told me to go to the
SHEI model call, just on a whim
in between classes," Treado said.
"They just called me back ... and
they were like, 'We want you to
do a shoot, and next week we have
a fashion show coming up and we
need extra people.' "
The publication is a celebra-
tion of fashion in which aspiring
writers, photographers and styl-
ists express their passion for the
industry through an annual issue.
SHEI employs models for events
and student-conceptualized photo
shoots, as well as providing oppor-
tunities with local designers. In
Pennington's case, it got her a gig
in a music video for Ann Arbor-
based band The Hop's single "Hi
Weekends consumed by spend-
ing hours sunk into a make-up
chair, stylists molding a model
into an unrecognizable version
of herself, ten minutes of the con-
stant shutter of a photographer's
camera - a tedious, repetitive
process is involved in creating the
glamorous illusion. When asked
about the dedication required for

the "sporadic" career, each model
bemoaned the growing time con-
flicts, which interfere with her sec-
ond life as a student.
"Before I do any modeling things,
I make sure I get my schoolwork
done," Zhang said. "And if I have to
choose between the two, I definitely
go with school. That's what a stu-
dent's supposed to do, right?"
Despite the tiring conditions,
Zhang revels in the ability to evolve
in front of the lens, pioneering the
extreme designs in which fash-
ion transcends the racks of local
boutiques and_ solidifies as art. For
Zhang and Pennington, the runway
is a stage and the model is the per-
former and the audience, enthralled
by the very act in which she takes
"It's your moment on stage,"
Zhang said.
"I am (scared by it), but that's the
reason I like it ... Knowing there are
so many people that I'm directly.
putting the show on for, it's really
exciting," Pennington added.
As a model and photographer,
Treado appreciates, the creative
and technical aspects of posing for
the camera. Describing fashion as
one of many creative outlets, she
expressed surprise at the respect
she has gained for modeling as an
alternative form of art.
"It proved every expectation I
had about modeling to be wrong,"
Treado said. "I thought if I started
(modeling with) SHEI, I'd dress in
a couple of pretty outfits, like maybe
my face will show up in a magazine
and that'll be it. But this was all
edgy and conceptual and weird."
Whether it be trekking a car-
peted runway in 7-inch Louboutins
or rushing through the next outfit-

Cynthia Zhang has been modeling since the age of 16.

change of a hectic show backstage,
models not only suffer for their art,
they suffer for the art of others -
designers, photographers and styl-
ists. For Zhang, Pennington and

Treado, models work to represent
a collective vision. As described by
Treado, artists embrace a multi-
tude of creative outlets, but "fash-
ion is just a different one."

From Page 6B
World War II film, "The Thin Red
Line." He saw his film, a dramati-
zation-of the Battle of Guadalca-
nal, as a look into the unspoiled
Eden of the Pacific island invad-
ed by the "green poison" of war.
Instead of honoring the dead
and the dying who struggled to
keep the world free, Malick gave
us birds twisting in agony as the
pristine forests of Guadalcanal get
shredded apart by artillery.
It's beautifully shot and there's

no denying that Malick has an eye
for composition, but it's utterly
unmoving, especially when framed
against perhaps the greatest con-
flict the world has ever known.
With a degree in philosophy, it's
surprising that Malick failed to
realize material things can always
be replaced - come peacetime, the
island will slowly restore itself. It's
the hunan element of war - the
millions of young soldiers who laid
their lives on the line in the Pacific
theater - that is truly irreplace-
And when he tries to deal with
these human characters, Malick
is, unsurprisingly, inept. The

film's central character - a man
who deserts his unit in favor of
the simpler life of an island native
- is impossible to relate with. His
internal musings are cloying, and
though they're obviously meant as
the words of a jaded man tired of
fighting, they come off instead as
a veneer of meaningless posturing
that cloaks his internal cowardice.
"What's this war in the heart of
nature?" he asks. "Why does nature
vie with itself? The land contend
with the sea? Is there an avenging
power in nature?"
Snore. His companions are no
better. There's a soldier who kills
an enemy and muses that nobody

can touch him for killing that man
and committing murder. No shit,
Sherlock - this is war. Another
soldier, whose words end the
movie, ask questions that are even
more insipid: "Where is it that we
were together? Who were you that
I lived with? The brother. The
Through his pretension, Malick
manages to suck all the power and,
for that matter, all the dramatic
tension from one of the clearest
examples of good versus evil in
recorded history. Who says phi-
losophy majors don't contribute to

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