Tag Archives: art

Beauty in Paris

I’ve been MIA the past week, partially because I was out of the country and partially because I picked up a nasty bug on my travels and have been mostly laying in bed and whining about it since. Sadly, I haven’t pulled it together to do beauty in the movies this week. I promise a return to posting next week, but for now please accept some pictures from our trip to Paris instead.

A stolen picture of the art nouveau rooms at the Musée d’Orsay. I want to live in these rooms.

The Two Windmills Cafe, just like in the movie—no sign of Amelie though.

The view from our hotel, the Montmartre cemetery, it might be creepy to some, but the dead make for quiet neighbors and it’s actually a very beautiful graveyard.

Lots of black cats to watch too.

We were in the red light district which means there were tons of sex shops.

The Eiffel Tower is quite the phallic symbol.

The beautiful St. Pierre De Montmartre, the site of the equally gorgeous wedding which was the real reason for our trip.

A peek into a storage room at the Louvre.

The ridiculous hubbub around the Mona Lisa—with so many insanely gorgeous paintings it seems unfair that she gets all the attention.

We were right around the corner from the Moulin Rouge, unfortunately we could not afford the two hundred euro to see the show.

Thankfully they weren’t in need of our business though, as you can see by the massive line outside on Valentine’s day.

Our own Valentine’s day party—macaroons, champagne, and Paris, what more could we ask for?

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Broken Ballerinas

When I was 5-years-old I wanted to be a ballet dancer. I was obsessed by pink slippers and black leotards and most especially tutus. I changed into my pink sequined tutu when I got home from preschool, and I idolized my babysitter who studied ballet at LaGuardia High School and wore high ponytails and motorcycle boots. She gave me a pair of her toe shoes which I carried around in my backpack for most of first grade, maybe to impress my friends, but also just because I loved them. There is something so beautiful, so elegant, so feminine about ballet. It may be the most graceful art, but it is also the most disciplined. Which is why after age 7 I lost my patience for it and took to drawing on my walls instead—the visual arts are far more freeing.

I saw Black Swan a few weeks ago and then last week I saw The Red Shoes for the first time. Both films are set in the excruciatingly perfect world of ballet, and both are beautiful and devastating as they linger in your thoughts for days. There is no room for error in ballet, the movements must be perfect. If you can’t get your body to perform with the required grace, you either work harder, or give up. Part of the fascination with ballet (aside from the beautiful costumes and sets), is the perfection—it’s exhausting to watch at times, but when performed with ease, it’s completely mesmerizing.


Both the protagonist in The Red Shoes, Vickie Paige, and in Black Swan, Nina Sayers, are forced to make enormous sacrifices for their art—love, family, health, even sanity. The two films look at the world of ballet from the back, and both show us the physical and mental torment that come with the quest for perfection. Obviously not all ballerinas have nervous breakdowns, but it does seem that, more than other art forms, ballet projects the idea of beauty through pain. Maybe that feeds our fascination, or maybe it’s just the pretty costumes and the breathtaking elegance. Either way, both these films give deeply effective portrayals of the complexity of the ballet world and the dancers within them. There is the expected theatrical drama of who will get the lead and who will succeed, but it’s the vice-like pressure, the fear of failure, and the need to be the “ideal” that acts as the driving force. The pressure isn’t just from overbearing directors, or mothers, but all the more disturbingly, from within the individual.

Whether you’re a fan of ballet or you think Swan Lake is danced by hippos and ostriches, you will find yourself caught up in these films. While Black Swan takes the viewer on a spiraling trip into the psyche (the actual dancing not being very important), The Red Shoes delivers a heartbreaking account of impossible choice (with incredible dancing), both films make clear that an artist cannot achieve perfection without a certain degree of sacrifice. In the end, it is left to us to decide whether we believe the sacrifice was worth it.

I can’t take screen-shots of Black Swan because it’s not out on DVD yet, but The Red Shoes is simply gorgeous, here are some stills to convince you to see it.

Look, 40s era costumes with ballet slippers—how can you not love that?

Is this not gorgeous?

At a certain point it’s so beautiful, it doesn’t even look real anymore.

This post is pretty much just an excuse for me to do two things, 1. tell you to watch both of these amazing movies, and 2. make a pretty ballet collage on Polyvore. I hope I’ve gotten through to you on the first point, and see below for the second—I’ve never outgrown my 5-year-old self’s love of ballet inspired pieces, and I still love tutus—don’t you?

Odette / Odille by justinez featuring a ballet skirt

Lover Muse lace dress
$935 – net-a-porter.com
Lace dresses »

Black Feather Dress**
110 GBP – missselfridge.com
Black cocktail dresses »

Organic Bamboo Drape Dress
149 GBP – fashion-conscience.com
Wedge dress »

Relevé Dress
$78 – modcloth.com
Print dresses »

Ladies Shrug
10 GBP – peacocks.co.uk
Shrug cardigan »

Tanya Tie Front Shrug
42 GBP – monsoon.co.uk
Bolero cardigans »

White feather shrug
49 GBP – dorothyperkins.com
White tops »

Lanvin skirts BLACK
1,365 GBP – matchesfashion.com
Black skirts »

vita viscose bodysuit
$48 – usa.frenchconnection.com
French Connection »

Kia Luxury Leggings by Theory
161 GBP – my-wardrobe.com
Leggings »

Repetto Bolchoi Metal
$350 – cultstatus.com.au
Flat pumps »

Ladies Ribbon Bow Belt
8 GBP – peacocks.co.uk
Ribbon belts »

Classic crystal tiara
35 GBP – houseoffraser.co.uk
Crystal hair accessories »

NARS Night Collection Eyeshadow
$23 – barneys.com


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Beauty in the Movies: Ghost World

This week for Beauty in the Movies we take a trip to the bizarre limbo that occurs between high school graduation and the rest of your life in the film adaptation of the cult comic Ghost World.

Based on the comic by Daniel Clowes, the film Ghost World follows the adventures of Enid (Thora Birch) and her friend Becca (Scarlett Johansson) in any-town USA. After graduating from high school the girls plan to get jobs and an apartment together. While Becca sets out to find a job straight-off, Enid isn’t as sure of what she wants. The two of them act pretty much like most teenage girls, especially of the indie persuasion, they’re jam-packed full of sarcasm and lacking in empathy, they love to tease their dopey friend Josh (the sadly deceased Brad Renfro), who they both probably have secret crushes on, and Enid in particular has a fascination with the weird and feels alienated from the rest of her generation.

In an act of both teenage stupidity and immature cruelty, they answer what they deem as a “pathetic” personal ad in the newspaper, and then watch as their victim, Seymour (Steve Buscemi), waits for his date who never shows up. They then force Josh to follow Seymour home, and continue to stalk him in that crazy obsessive way teenage girls do to entertain themselves. Later, they stumble upon Seymour at a garage sale in his apartment complex and Enid buys an old blues album from him, which she subsequently falls in love with. After visiting him again, the two enter into an unlikely friendship which ends up having a profound effect on both their lives.

I was exactly the same age as these girls when the film came out, and in some ways found the characters so relatable that watching it again makes me feel like I’m looking back at my teenage self. The way the girls behave in this film reminds me more of the way I acted at 14 than 18, by that age I had developed more empathy and understood people better. Ghost World lets us watch as these characters mature and realize there is a world outside themselves.

The best parts of this movie are the strange characters, the wheelchair coffee-guy with his piano scarf, the couple at the diner Enid deems “Satanists”, even Melora the girl’s incredibly annoying, endlessly chipper high school classmate—and there are so many more. All the oddball individuals will totally crack you up, there is something for everyone in this movie.

Enid is a likable character because of her humor and creativity, but she’s also pretty vile at times. She is selfish, mean, and she obliviously screws up not only her own life, but the lives of nearly everyone around her. It’s interesting that a girl who so deeply observes her surroundings, constantly watching and commenting, could be so completely ignorant of how her actions affect other people living in her world. That’s part of her charm though, the audience sees her doing these stupid things and wants to grab and shake her. We see how unconsciously naive she is, while she acts as if she has it all figured out—until she realizes she doesn’t, and I think most of us have been there in our youth.

Daniel Clowes went to Pratt Institute, where I graduated from as well, so one of my favorite parts of this movie is the summer art class Enid is forced to take after flunking art in high school. The kooky, pretentious teacher (expertly played by Illeana Douglas) puts an emphasis on “art with meaning” rather than the “amusing”, “lightly entertaining” sketchbook Enid submits—a perfect example of the frustrations of fine art. And who could forget the tampon in a teacup presented by the teacher’s pet as a “shocking” commentary on womanhood? It’s so flawlessly art school bull-crap that it’s delightful.

I never read the comic, I know I should have and I still plan to one day, but from what I’ve read about it (and what my fiancé tells me) the story in the comic revolves more closely around the relationship of the two friends. I’m not sure why they made the choice to focus on Enid’s relationship with Seymour, but I think it would have been interesting if the friendship between Becca and Enid, and how it changes and falls apart after high school, was a bigger part of the story. Everyone has that person you were friends with in high school who you grew apart from after graduation, it’s a strange and sometimes painful thing, and very much a part of growing up.

Ghost World captures perfectly that time in life when you simply don’t know what to do with yourself, and you haven’t really figured out who you are yet either. In some ways it’s one of the closest examples of a female coming of age story on film, which is something we don’t see too often, and I hope we’ll see more of in the future.

Have a great weekend everyone, see you back here next week!!

ghost world

ghost world by justinez featuring topshop skirts

Grand Prize Winner Dress
$113 – modcloth.com
Wrap around dress »

Ad-sheer to the Rules Top
$38 – modcloth.com
Sheer tops »

A.L.C Top with peter pan collar
220 GBP – brownsfashion.com
Brown tops »

Woven Mini Mini Skirt
$50 – topshop.com
Topshop skirts »

Leopard Bow Mini Skirt
25 GBP – missselfridge.com
Leopard print skirt »

MADRAS MINI SKIRT
396 GBP – mytheresa.com
Miu Miu skirts »

Purple and White Polka Dot Bow Tie
60 GBP – start-london.com
Silk belt »

Zebra Print Jeans Belt
$60 – topshop.com
TopShop belts »

OPI YODEL ME ON MY CELL NAIL LACQUER (15ML)
12 GBP – lookfantastic.com


Sketchbook Pocket Size Notebook
9.95 GBP – coggles.com


ghost world
betaparticle.com


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Shameless, Shameless, Self-Promotion

Yesterday I talked about being an unemployed bride. I also mentioned that I’ve been trying to keep myself as busy as possible so I don’t give into the unemployment misery. So today I’ll share with you one of those things that keeps me busy. I had sort of wanted this blog to be anonymous at first, but when you’re writing about your life that gets difficult pretty quickly. I thought I wanted to keep parts of my life separate and I didn’t want to seem self-promoting either, but whatever. The point of all this is that I have an etsy store! Ta-dah! Aren’t you so excited? That’s what I thought.

For real though, I paint these boxes, and make other products too, and I really enjoy it. I’ve come to realize that people who blatantly promote and embellish all their talents, are inherently more successful. I’m naturally predisposed to be annoyed by people like that, but they always get the last laugh when they have lots of money and accomplishments, and I’m sitting in the dark muttering to myself while I make clothes for my cats. So, I’m adding my etsy shop in my links section, you can check it out over there to the right, farther down, under my blogroll. It’s a big part of me and it’s something I love doing, and now when I say that I’m “working on a bridal box”, you’ll actually know what I’m talking about.

My shop is called Sweet Gum & Oak as a wink and a nod to my deeply missed grandfather. My sister and I were city kids growing up in an apartment in Queens, so when we would go visit my grandparents on Long Island my grandpa assigned us each one of the tall trees in their backyard, because we didn’t have any trees of our own. Mine was a Sweet Gum, my sister’s an Oak, and there they still stand in my grandparents backyard. This fall when my grandmother moves out of the house she has lived in for 58 years another family will inherit those trees, I hope they love them as much as we did.

So yeah, I’m an artist, I have trained myself to say that as much as possible because I have thousands and thousands of dollars in student loans from art school that I’ll be paying off for the rest of my life, so at the very least what that money bought me is the unabashed right to call myself an artist with confidence.

I could paint more “meaningful” art, or stuff that was harder to interpret and therefore seemed more meaningful, but honestly, getting to make these for people’s weddings makes me very happy, and as sappy as it sounds that really means a lot to me.

I love to make things and give them away to people, for years I’ve been doing that, every Christmas my house is like a workshop, and I love when I’m in someone’s home and I see something I painted for them sitting there. It’s like “oh hello old friend, look at you!” (I don’t actually say that out loud because then everyone would know how strange I am, but I always think it). At some point I realized I needed to start charging for my work because it takes a lot of time and supplies.

Etsy is great because while it has some really weird/cheap/bad stuff, it also has some amazing/gorgeous/beautiful stuff too. I have spent hours paging through regretsy, and it can be pretty damn hysterical, I pray to god I never end up on there, and if I do, I hope I can maintain a sense of humor about it.

There is just something different about things that are hand-made, they’re almost always better made, and they just feel special.

Recently while watching the show American Pickers (if you haven’t seen it check it out, it’s on the History channel), there was a moment that really struck me. In the midst of their “picking”, the guys came across some object or other that was hand-made in the USA (I think it was a tin toy), one of the guys then said something to the effect of “It’s important to preserve this stuff so that future generations know this country used to be producers and not just consumers”. For some reason that moment hit me hard, because it’s incredibly sad. Pick up most things in your house and you’ll find that they’ve been made somewhere far, far, away. I’m not talking about beautifully crafted traditional items like Indian scarves, or South American woven blankets—things that are made with love, care, and tradition from other countries. I’m talking about products that were mass-produced for incredibly cheap, and specifically to be marketed to American consumers. These things rarely have any meaning, and in the years to come they won’t have any real value, if they have any now.

It can be expensive to buy hand-made products, just like buying organic vegetables. But a piece of furniture or jewelry, or even a pair of socks, will last much longer (and probably bring you more enjoyment) than a bundle of produce, so it’s worth it. I can tell you that everything I make is made with precise attention, I want to be proud of what I do and I want the person I make it for to feel like it’s unique, because it is. I love that through etsy I get to connect to people all over the world. I’ve sent things as far as Australia, and I love thinking about items I’ve made being sent off to new homes where I hope they’re loved and appreciated.

Maybe the nest time you need to buy a gift, instead of going to the mall you’ll check out etsy.com, there are lots of great sellers on there and I hope to feature some of them specifically. I’m not asking anyone to buy anything from me, I just want to draw your attention to the idea of hand-made products and hope that you’ll check some out. On etsy you deal with real people, so you can customize your gifts and also barter with sellers to create something for you in your budget. Maybe, if we all do that, we can start a revolution, and MADE IN THE USA won’t just be a piece of nostalgia, but a part of America’s future.

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Let’s discuss

Hello and welcome! My name is Justine and I invite you to join me in a discussion about beauty. In a world where there are so many beautiful things for us to discover and appreciate (flowers, iPhones, baby ducks!) so often we seem to be completely unable to see the beauty in ourselves. I’m not sure if this is from reading too many magazines,  being bullied by peers as children, or from not being given proper encouragement from our parents. It’s different for everyone, however most of the women I know struggle with issues of body and beauty acceptance, myself included.

Everyone has some part of their lives that makes them feel beautiful, whether it’s putting on make-up, dancing, hanging out with friends, hiking, or any number of things. Unfortunately we so often leave that confidence at the door and go out into the world feeling awful about ourselves, and then we tell everyone else how awful we feel too. We forget how easy it can be, how simple little things are, we throw them all out the window because we don’t have the perfect nose or the flattest stomach, and it sucks. I’m sick of hearing the beautiful women in my life trash themselves all the time, and if I have to start a blog to get them all to love themselves, well then here I go!

So stay tuned, my first real post is going to be about one of the many women who is adding to other women’s scorn of their bodies. Surprise, surprise, she works for a beauty magazine.

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