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From the runways of London to the streets of Boston, maximalist print mixing is au courant for Spring. Joseph Gordon Cleveland takes on the trend in a surrealist editorial shoot with photographer Eric Levin.

All apparel, accessories and shoes courtesy of Neiman Marcus Copley Place.

Photographs by ERIC LEVIN, Elevin Studios
Art Direction & Styling by JOSEPH GORDON CLEVELAND
Hair by JILL COLWELL, Studio 28
Makeup by STACEY FRASCA, Studio 28
Featuring OKSANA for Maggie Inc.


DAY ONE: 10AM
I’m hiding out in the pristine lockerroom at the posh Sports Club/LA Boston when it hits me: a faintness in my limbs, an uneasiness in my stomach so strong I can hardly stand.  I’m sweating more than I have in two years, cumulatively, and in my paranoia imagine the dude across the aisle knows what’s up. I’m going to be sick. The question playing over and over in my head is not why but how did I get into this situation?

The truth is pretty simple. It’s my own damn fault.

* * * * * * *

THREE YEARS AGO, I moved from Santa Barbara to Boston for a change of scenery and a change of pace. I’ve since found both, and the short story is that I’ve settled into Boston quite happily, found myself feeling more and more at home here. I can’t say it was that way from the beginning, however. With change comes tumult, and that tumult meant a new job, new commitments, new friendships, and new projects. In my excitement to cultivate this new life, I lost sight of how I was living.

First, my eating habits: somehow they deteriorated further and further over time. There wasn’t a junkfood I didn’t know and love, a fried thing I wouldn’t eat (save for a few, esoteric exceptions). My diet began to look less like a well-balanced pyramid and more like a flat-bed truck chock full of cheese, carbohydrates (of the starch-y, white-bread variety!), cups of coffee (nearly six a day), and, in the spirit of honesty, an awful lot of pie. Lemon meringue. Apple. Strawberry rhubarb. I didn’t really care. If it had sugar and some sort of pastry crust, I was game. And I’d eat an entire damn pie by myself. In one sitting.  I’d like to say this only happened while watching Jane Austen film adaptations and crying to myself about my inevitable spinsterhood. Sadly, that was only some of the time.

In short, I was putting my body through a Sally Struthers sort of hell. And while I only gained maybe ten pounds in the course of three years–a softening of the midsection widely known as muffin top or, during the holidays, Santa belly–the effect on my energy levels was decidedly more dramatic. What was once a seemingly endless supply bordering on hyperactivity has steadily dwindled, settling into sluggishness. I have attempted to counteract that shift with more, and more, and more coffee. And RedBull. In combination. Each and every day.

And then there’s the smoking. An awful lot of that. Because, you know, I work in fashion! And it’s sexy, right? Not so much. But it was a steady habit, around a pack a day. NYFW or photoshoot days meant a far greater intake, and while NYFW is only a few weeks a year, as time passed I found myself doing more and more editorial shoots, both for styleboston and freelance for other publications. Basically, I was smoking a lot. A LOT.

Much as I’d like to, blaming my bad habits on an intensely stressful workload–between sixty and eighty hours per week–is taking the easy way out. How I parcel out my time is a matter of priorities, and at some point about half a year ago I realized that those priorities needed to include my health. Make time, I told myself.

Months passed. My habits remained.

* * * * * * *

My long-overdue change came just a few weeks ago, in the form of a challenge.

Terri, the Creator of styleboston, had told her friends at The Sports Club/LA Boston of my less-than-exemplary lifestyle, but what should have been simply a watercooler joke manage to metamorphose into an offer: The Sports Club/LA would provide a complimentary membership if I’d commit to a comprehensive program they’d devised to get me back to a healthy lifestyle.  Good luck, I thought.

Those who know me know I always accept a challenge. And I decided to write about it because a) I knew it would be damn funny and b) while I don’t know exactly what is in store for me, I do know that if it can help me, it can definitely help you, too.

I mean, honestly, when was the last time you ate an entire lemon meringue pie by yourself and chased it with a bag of chips? Yeah. Thought so.

The Trials and Tribulations of a Health Hater
Near-daily installments of my journey back to health at The Sports Club/LA Boston.

It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to pull off wearing a hat–an amount that typically hovers above the (mostly hatless) heads of most Bostonians. Hats say: Look at me, damn it. Now. And: That’s right, bitch. I’m someone to be reckoned with. If not even sometimes: You know you wish you had guts enough to wear this. None of which are sentiments most New Englanders are exactly comfy with. The ubiquitousRed Sox cap notwithstanding, hats just aren’t our thing.

I’d reckon that was all changed last Monday night. The Boston Fashion Week show of Marie Galvin, milliner and longtime Boston fixture who for years has struggled with a local aversion to flamboyance, had just that kind of impact.

That’s largely because Galvin made two very smart decisions for the show: First, she went for wearability. Gone were her outrageous sculptural creations that may look beautiful behind glass, but would all but eclipse their wearer. (And have, in the past, emitted squawks of, “Where on earth would I wear that?“) No, she kept things earthly, unpretentious, and simply pretty with intricate fascinators festooned with netting and feathers; pom-pom topped wool caps; ’20s, ’30s, and ’60s-inspired numbers topped with petite poofs of feathers. The only hints at architectural derring-do–a fascinator of silk multi-curls here, a gorgeous, asymmetrical black meringue for the finale–were still sized well enough that they stayed proportionate to the models’ heads. Meaning they came off as daring rather than overwhelming or silly.

Her second smart move was tapping CONTRA to style the show, all the clothing and accessories pulled from Neiman Marcus with an eye toward elegance and streamlined refinement that still nodded to the runway. Gauzy blouses, python-patterned pencil skirts, silk shift dresses, and fur-collared coats–all of it a mostly neutral palette, and all of it as ladylike as it was edgy. They were the perfect foil for the hats–and arguably the most convincing argument for the hats themselves.

Together, Galvin and Contra showed Bostonians that not only are hats wearable every day; they showed them how to wear them–as an improvement to an already spectacular outfit. That’s the kind of equation capable of proving to the hatless public that style statements are nothing to be afraid of. And that, even as vintage-inspired as many of Galvin’s creations may be, is an idea that’s time has finally come.

Those of you who read my Letter from the Editor last week know that I spent the Sunday prior in Gloucester, slaving away on a photo shoot. I didn’t tell you why or whatfor because, these days, I like to keep my secrets.

That said, the results are now ready! I have to admit the day ended up being far more fun than it was work (due largely to the crew I worked with, and largely to the phenomenal weather that day…).

So take it in, kids: one of the last vestiges of summer. As a California transplant, I’d say I did all right, non?

All clothes courtesy of Neiman Marcus & Stel’s; all shoes courtesy of Sperry. For purchasing info, leave a comment and we’ll give you the details…

Bitch ain’t kidding. Woman after my own heart.

The inimitable Nastasia and her lackey of a partner, moi, leaving Gloucester late last night. We spent the day along the shoreline, snapping some rather iconic New England scenes with photographer Conor Doherty, suffering sunshine in the name of fashion. [Photograph courtesy of Conor Doherty.]

I’ll admit it: I’m starting to really like living in New England.

August 18th will mark the 3rd anniversary of my move to Massachusetts. But I’m not big on anniversaries. Hell, hardly any of my friends even know my birthday because I find such celebrations contrived. Why ‘celebrate me’ on the day I was born? I didn’t have much to do with that event, really, and all things considered, would probably have done it a bit differently. But that’s neither here nor there. Back to that anniversary…

When I first moved to Boston I was a foreigner. The city felt new, fresh, alive and utterly alien–a city to be explored and discovered, on my own terms. To say I was excited would be a gross understatement of the situation. I was ecstatic. Then came the inevitable realization that I had uprooted myself in almost every possible way, and, not long after, a near-violent loathing for Boston and for its people.  What seemed like the best capricious decision I had ever made took a rather nasty turn to the contrary. How I had not considered that what was attractive to me about Boston also meant I would have to start over completely?

My greatest hurdle was not professional, it was personal: I couldn’t make a friend to save my life. Experience has taught me that my personality is a polarizing one: you either love me or you hate me. But Bostonians didn’t react that way at all. Generally speaking, they were perfectly indifferent.  Cold, even. I spoke to nearly ever stranger on the street, complimented more women for their hair or their handbag than bears repeating (this works wonders in California, LET ME TELL YOU), and made more futile attempts at friendship than I can suffer to share.  A lot of side eye, a lot of  “I’m sorry, who are you and what is that you are wearing?” And goddamn was it discouraging.

But I’m one stubborn SOB. I wasn’t about to pack up and head back to sunny Santa Barbara, no matter how many people told me to do just that. One man’s narcissism being another man’s determination, I decided I was staying. Whether you (or I) liked it or not.

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As promised, the results of my impromptu, avoidthisgoddamned heat photoshoot…

Many thanks to the team at Marc by Marc Jacobs (Dani, my wifey; Connor, nicest guy evahhhh; and to the sales associate whose name I cannot remember but who pointed out the dart necklace, I love you and you’re awesome and no, I’m not just saying that because I cannot remember your name..), and to Brian James and Matt Atwater for sweatin’ to the oldies with me to get some crisp, cool images.

If you cannot already tell, this Mattwater kid is becoming a bit of a muse for me. But don’t tell him that. Homegirl doesn’t need a big ego. Leave that to me…

Yes, I realize how many people have used this tagline before. I don’t care.

The blistering heat of late inspired my latest impromptu shoot, focusing on easy, summer pieces with enough interest to keep you from the t-shirt doldrums, even when you feel like your skin is melting off.

Not feeling particularly up to trolling Newbury for an afternoon, I pulled exclusively from Marc by Marc Jacobs. 1) I was lazy and hot and sticky and miserable and hated everythingeveryoneGODDAMNITGETMEOUTOFNEWENGLAND, 2) they always have dope ish, and 3) their team is always super helpful and super goodlooking.  Legit, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ugly person in that store, which only further confounds me because they are always so NICE. The combination makes me vaguely uncomfortable. I’ll let you speculate as to why. [Also, special thanks to Connor for somehow always tolerating my frantic visits. You’re a gentleman and a scholar and I like your shorts, but I told you that already.]

ALL THAT SAID (with nothing actually being said…), I’ll have the images up Friday morning. Just in time for you to run to the store, grab some ish, and get yourself to the nearest beach.

Teaser: I may or may not have included a pair of electric pink speedo boyshorts. If that’s not a reason to check back then I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

[from left: AJ Williams, Party Planner Extraordinaire; Joseph Gordon Cleveland, resident prig; Alex Hall, cooler than me and you and you and me. All dolled up for the MFA’s recent Summer Party.]

It was a long weekend, from which I am admittedly still recovering, so in the spirit of recreational holidays I’ll spare you my long-winded, hyperpretentious blathering, and get right to the point. ALEX HALL IS JOINING THE SB BLOG AS OUR FOOD WRITER. [And yes, for you nitwits who would inquire, I was screaming that last bit which, incidentally, shows both my commitment to my craft (HELLO ENTHUSIASM) and my stupidity, as I now have a migraine. ]

If you don’t know who Alex Hall is, I’d like to introduce you to this amazing 20th-century invention called GOOGLE. In lieu of trolling her CV: she went to Le Cordon Bleu, and she’s been published in more publications than my drunken noggin can recall. Oh yeah, and there’s that whole Executive Editor thing. She’s done that a few times, too.

In short, I HAVE NO IDEA WHY SHE WANTS TO WRITE WITH ME. (Again, with the screaming). But I’m happy she’ll be contributing. Happier than I will (sappily) admit.

Keep an eye out for her first post.  I can guarantee her column will bring the lolz.

Until next week –

Much love,
JGC

 

“Your body is not a word, it does not lie or speak truth either. It is only here or not here.”
From one of my favorite poems, Their Attitudes Differ, by Margaret Atwood.

It is an inescapable truth which very few know of me: I am terribly, terribly sentimental. Over the weekend, I found myself listening to Joanna Newsom’s Ys on repeat, and thumbing through more old letters and photographs than I can suffer to admit. Yes, some of this is a byproduct of my recent move. It would appear I managed to compartmentalize my chaos, pick it up, and drop it off at the next stop. This is not a metaphor for my life, though it perhaps could be. Beside the point.

Instead, I blame this nostalgia on the Summer, the season in which, year to year, I find myself lazing around the house in some midsummer malaise, reacquainting myself with my books, my records, the letters I have both written and received, the unaccompanied sonatas and partitas of Bach which were once so familiar they felt mine but now seem something foreign but beautiful. This is the season of the romantic reminiscence.

Which brings me to the photograph above, which I took in 2007. The beautiful woman in the portrait is a very close friend, Margaret Donahue, whom I have not seen in the flesh since my move to Boston in August 2008. I miss her terribly, and have spent much of this ‘Summer’ thinking about the last Summer she and I shared in California. The aimless driving along the coast, the off-the-beaten-path canyon drives chain smoking and listening to a single song for nearly three months, the concerts, the dinners, our impromptu photoshoots (of which the image above is a product). The unabashed exploration of ourselves, of the people we were and the people we wanted to be.  And I do not want that Summer back, necessarily, but I want it again, and again, and again.

Or, to quote another favorite writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, from This Side of Paradise, “I don’t want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again.” Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. Whenever.

Until next week –

Best,
JGC

This is bollocks.

Frankly, Zoe is a talented stylist, a successful reality-TV personality (whatever that even means), and has emerged from her maelstrom of personal issues (both publicized and not-so…) as a very, very strong ‘brand.’ So it’s only natural that she’d capitalize on that brand equity with an eponymous clothing collection, non? Not so much…

I was skeptical when I first heard ages ago, then I saw her debut collection and nearly choked.  Yes, ‘wearable’ and very Zoe-esque, but really? It begs the question: if she were not personally selling these garments, would she consider them special enough for any of her uberfamous clients? Doubtful, at best.

While the recently-released Resort collection is certainly an evolution (considering the debut collection was essentially an assemblage of low-rent interpretations of pieces Zoe has worn herself), it’s hardly worth looking at once, more the less twice. At one point, I sincerely believed I was looking at a pop-up ad from the ‘new Talbots.’ That Neiman Marcus is stocking the collection makes it clear the celebrity craze is both inexhaustible and commercially viable.

Dear celebrity folk: there are far too many slashes in your titles these days. Please quit it.

LE SIGH.

When Conor Doherty calls to tell me he wants to shoot, invariably I’m in. Add to that one of my favorite Boston models, Matt Atwater, and you have love affair on film. [Don’t worry, Conor, it’s purely platonic… you’re a good-looking guy and all but I’ve seen you wear chinos. You’re safe for life after that one.]

I was also alerted to an incredibly cool apparel, accessories, and shoe company out of Korea, VirginBlak, by our model, Matt Atwater, and have been perusing their site almost non-stop for the past three days…

An aside: If I recall correctly, our ersatz shoot took less than an hour in total. If only I could be as efficient in my writing…

Much love,
JGC

Model Matt Atwater, Photographer Conor Doherty, and I decided on a whim to tool around our beautiful town for an ersatz photoshoot that turned out to be anything but.  To illustrate the point: the image above is nearly straight from the camera, uncropped and unretouched. More to come Monday…

Until then, get out of the house and enjoy the weekend! AND the Bruins celebration and its concomitant day of sanctioned debauchery! Having never heard of the Bruins until Wednesday evening when the name was being screamed at an ear-exploding decibel throughout my South Boston neighborhood, I feel a little too late to the party to show up now. I also don’t care about sports and am lazy.

To borrow from Lyyke Li (one of my favorite things to do, clearly):
“Yeah, I’m workin’ a sweat but it’s all good. I’m breakin’ my back but it’s all good, ’cause I know I’ll get it back. Yeah, I know your hands will clap.”

Much love –
JGC

via Jonathan Saunders.

For this past weekend’s Fashion Forward, I decided it was about time we focus on menswear. With the help of an expert team, I endeavored to bring you looks that were both fresh and classic at the same time, with what is perhaps a more subtle form of subversion than you may be accustomed to expecting from me.

Boston’s conservative men can take their cues from the übertrim jackets, the narrow lapels, the extra inch of cuff showing at each sleeve (an homage to Thom Browne which you can accomplish more affordably by simply buying your jackets a size down…). There are other subtle references, of course, but I prefer you discover those for yourself, and knowing you to be quite saavy readers, have little doubt that you will.

Again, many thanks to those who helped bring this project together, including the ever-so-charming team at Miltons and a certain Annette Goubeaux at Neiman Marcus.

Much love –
JGC

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