American System Integration: Initiating...

I'm back in the U.S. and am already buried in make-believe stress. There's nothing I have to do with deadlines attached, no schoolwork. I really don't even need to write this blog, something that does occasionally add to my stress.

However, here I am. How sad is that? How American is that? I want to blog because it makes me feel accomplished and I love reading my own words. It's true. But at the same time, it would be far less stressful in my life if I didn't.

Enough philosophizing. I've a ton of meat to grind, so let's get cooking.

Spain is a beautiful country. The people are so sincere, and the Spanish live at a pace that all human beings should aspire to live by. No joke, the average work day (9 to 6) has over four hours of breaks. So the eight or nine hour workday becomes a four or five hour workday. The Spanish don't need to be babysat by their careers, and their productivity is still high. There is a mix of cultures, too, but the ties between race and income is scary. The darker your skin in Spain, the less money you make. I know that sounds bad coming from a white guy, but it was an honest observation. The poorer districts had more racial diversity, while the El'xample (where we lived) was wealthy and white.

Let it be, I suppose.

As far as style is concerned, I was only partly impressed. The people of Spain are a practical people. They love their food and their wine and their time off, but they are not superficial in any way whatsoever. Collectively, they are a confident and proud bunch of people. Usually this converts into great style. I've said it before: Self-confidence comes before good taste and good style. But the Spanish just don't care. I mean, they certainly dress better than most people in the U.S.--lots of skinny jeans, leather jackets, and loose-fitting frocks--but not with the carefully-articulated color combinations and texture mixes that pervade American dressing. Here's a good way to illustrate my point: Ralph Lauren is the American brand. The colors are primary colors, sweetly combined pinks and greens and cloth belts making up a look that appears relaxed but rigidly composed. Spanish designers (the huge chain Mango, for instance. Summer dress from 2007 at right) has shirts with actual feathers and advertises color combinations that are so off the style radar they shock the senses. Banana yellow and mango orange with a baggy pink sweater is a simply example.
However, the clothing in Spain has close ties to nature and the art of Antoni Gaudi, arguably the most influential artist of the twentieth century aside from Picasso. That's why black is simply not a wardrobe choice in Barcelona. When is the last time you saw black in nature and called it beautiful? French design is all about a rebellion against nature. Blacks and harsh blues with touches of polygonal prints are motifs found throughout all of modern clothing design, but not in Spain.

Zara, however, offers a really refreshing look at men's clothing. Besides being ridiculously affordable, the clothes push men to dress well without knowing it. You can buy a polo, or you can buy a polo at Zara. The Zara piece, though, will have a soft-cotton collar and a v-neck design, bringing both timelessness and a bit of immediacy to the entire look. But how would anyone notice that unless they are obsessive compulsive and control freaks like me?

I have picture of their Summer 2007 collection for women to the left. I'll post more from their men's collection later, or at least what I bought myself.

So here I am. I'm happy to be home, but only because I get to see my dogs and take a bath lying down. I am proud to be an American, but I'm not proud of how the states look from the top of Monjuic in Barcelona.

Still to come:
-My RI-DI-CU-LOUS ring
-H&M...it exists
-A few new artists

To close, I'd like to say I'm very proud of Katy Perry. She's frickin' stuck to her guns and now's got a top-ten single on pop radio. Way to go. Not since The Killers "Sombeody Told Me" has an artist written about sexuality so honestly and gotten a hit out of it. I have that weird half-happy feeling though, like I did when other favorite bands went big. Keane, Sara Bareilles, Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse, Lupe Fiasco...but you know what, it's cool. As long as she's happy and keeps making music.

No comments: