Fresh style insights, tips and commentary by Michelle Tea, Michael Braithwaite, Leo Plass, Page McBee and Carrie Leilam Love.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Post-Postmodern Icelandic Shamanism (BoHo & New Age Need Not Apply)

So you want to be your own post-postmodern Icelandic Shaman (if you want to know more about REAL Icelandic Shamans, read this somewhat intimidating book). If I had a nickel for every time I heard that, I'd have, well, five cents from that one time I said it to myself. At any rate, start by using Garden of Enchantment--a fashion/art collaboration by fashion photographer, Saga Sigurðardóttir and fashion illustrator, Hildur Yeoman--as a jumping off point. Garden of Enchantment arose from a genius concoction of fashion forces, Icelandic wonderland, Greek Mythology and Russian fairy tales, creating a collaborative body of work the likes of which haven't been seen since the days of Aubrey Beardsley and Oscar Wilde. The independent work of each of these artists isn't quite as compelling (Yeoman's knit wearable poodles and swans don't quite get the job done, though I appreciate the tongue-in-cheek quality of wearing your fashion dog), but holy cow, Garden of Enchantment is fashion inspiration for miles. This is Neo Art Nouveau at its best.

Curious Person: "What are you up to this weekend?"

Whoever You Are: "Oh, nothing, just hanging out with some neo art nouveau bitches in the woods."

So, based on the above imaginary conversation, these outfits won't really work if you just want to go to your local watering hole. No biggies. Renata Mann has you covered. Mann is a jewelry designer, sculptor and installation artist based in New York. Her jewelry is incredibly tactile and incorporates glass beads encased in knitted pockets, feathers, tassels and various layering techniques. You should know, however, that you will be stopped in the street by people asking you where you got your neckwear. This can be annoying and you won't ACTUALLY have Icelandic Shaman magical forces to make strangers stop talking to you. This is fashion, not magic. If you're comfortable with that, then begin your less frightening Icelandic Shaman outfit here:

At this point, you're well on your way. NOW, get a killer bag (I'm assuming you have your clothing situation covered)! Look in Amish Country for Billykirk, purveyor of hand-crafted leather bags that will likely be around after you're long gone. If their No. 95 Shoulder Satchel doesn't make you drool, then you might be dead inside. Just saying. The design is based on a WWII Belgian map case, which is amazing in and of itself and maybe you [I] should just try to find a WWII Belgian map case.

Unfortunately, we don't all have a pristine Icelandic wonderland to frolic in, so stick something on your feet and please don't use Converse. Is it 1995? No, it's not 1995. Let it go. Instead, meet the challenges of being an adult in 2010 and check out LA-based shoe company Seychelles for your chic Icelandic Shaman footwear needs. For those in the parts of the country that actually get a Summer, they sell sandals as well, but that section just makes me bitter.

Art and life need not be mutually exclusive. Likewise, you don't need to look like a Halloween costume every time you leave your house. Some of the best inspiration can come from pilfering art history books, museum exhibitions and vintage book illustrations. The trick is identifying why something resonates with you and distilling it into key elements that compliment your personality, rather than applying the whole kit and kaboodle to your person. Nuance goes a long way and subtly creates an air of grace and mystery. So go ahead and unleash your inner post-postmodern Icelandic Shaman, but for everyone's sake, don't be a literalist about it.


  1. Oh wow who knew the Amish made PURSES!!!!
    Thank you thank you thank you for this.

  2. Yes I do want to be an Icelandic Shaman thank you! That ball-y yarny necklace thing is so beautiful I wish I could eat it for dinner.

  3. Jeezus, can I immediately have those boots? I'll need the satchel, too. When do we get an Ironing Board Collective budget?

  4. must have that bag. it's exactly what the partners at this bastion of corporate america would want me to have...

  5. nice nice...but are there any real shamans left in iceland?

  6. Awesome post.Thanks a lot for sharing.