Beyond Gender

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]Agender – I am fascinated by the constructs of gender. What makes us think that we have to be defined by one or the other? Isn’t it terribly antiquated to make things so black and white and not consider gray? I am as straight-laced and white as they come, but I still believe in a spectrum for all things. There are extremes in all cases, but most of us live somewhere on the spectrum as far as gender, race, sexual preference, mental disorder, culture, religion and career are concerned.

The concept of neutrality is a beautiful one and I applaud Selfridges for taking on a challenge to illustrate a very physical and iconic element in gender; clothing. Cross dressing has always been a tremendously controversial act and can only be used if an opposite gender wears the opposites clothing. Make no mistake about this one – this is a new dress code focused on blending of form and expert trickery for all. Call it Unisex or call it neutral, but this is going to force a tremendous change in perception.

As a young girl, I had a transgender girlfriend Jen who played on my soccer team. While this ‘girl’ may have had a girl name and hung out with the girls and played on the girls team, she looked just like a boy and played soccer better than all the boys and she was fun and evolved. She didn’t hang onto stupid girl stuff and gossip, she wanted to actually have conversations. As a 6th grader I suppose transgender wasn’t a term I knew yet, but I knew then that Jen wasn’t just a girl… she was so much more. Throughout the remaining parts of schooling the memory of Jen never left my mind – although we had moved away and lost touch.

In College I focused extensively on transgender after having a wonderful literature class on the subject (leave it to art school to continue the expansion) and the learning didn’t stop in the classroom living in Baltimore. Much of the neighborhoods I would pass on my way home from school to Charles Village fell near the brink of North Ave; the historic avenue where non-gender specific or transgender prostitutes would stand on the corner and flag down the passerby. Johns Hopkins School of Medicine did the first transgender operations in 1965 and gave people a chance to voice their inner-selves in an outward change.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”20px”][vcex_feature_box style=”left-image-right-content” image=”4038″ img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″]Over the last year I have noticed an increasingly vivid narrative on transgender and gender neutrality. It has filled the airwaves, my inbox and newspapers with brilliantly colorful essays on everything from models to CEO’s to children. What I have learned is that most people really believe that beauty stems from the voice, not the vessel. That the way of the future is limitless opportunity and that labeling is a thing of the past.[/vcex_feature_box][vc_empty_space height=”20px”][vc_column_text]We have learned to evolve with race (well most of us educated folks have), why not evolve with gender? Doesn’t telling your daughter that she is a girl and shouldn’t play with trucks put a damper on her development and opportunity to strive to her best place? Doesn’t taking away a doll from a boy and telling him he shouldn’t paint his toe nails or dance ballet force him to leave behind a more evolved sense of knowledge? What seems to be stemming out of the media is not girl or boy, but this idea of an it. All things instead of one thing. We are no longer pinning down and defining either or, we are stating that he/she is actually a we.[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]This spring Selfridges in London is “sweeping aside the boundaries of gender” with their new campaign, Agender. This exploration leaves behind the traditional gender stereotyping and offers a chance to build on some of the more poignant headlines over the last year:

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image=”4040″ alignment=”none”][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]About Selfridges Agender Shop (taken from their site)

Launching in mid-March, a concept space created by designer Faye Toogood will span three floors of our Oxford Street store, offering customers a gender neutral shopping experience complete with non-gender specific collections of clothing and accessories.

Among the unisex lines on offer – many exclusive to Selfridges in the U.K. – will be a capsule collection by Bodymap, the U.K. launch of Nicola Formichetti’s collection Nicopanda, a collection from footwear label Underground and Rad Hourani’s made-to-order couture designs.

Designs by labels including Ann Demeulemeester, Comme des Garçons, Meadham Kirchoff and Gareth Pugh will also feature in the lineup.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vcex_image_grid columns=”3″ thumbnail_link=”none” img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″ image_ids=”4033,4034,4035,4036,4037,4039″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The Original Butcher

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]I have been missing NYC, a lot. As a foodie, there is just nothing like walking into any old place off the beaten path and seeing some new invention or trend hitting the streets. The best part about NYC is that it is the pinnacle. The concepts that are created are perfect for what they are designed for: THE NEW YORKER. Few have tried, and many have failed when trying to go International or even National. When they do leave, they become watered down or transformed into a concept that ‘all of America’ will like. The beauty in the purity vanishes.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][vcex_image_carousel style=”default” item_width=”230px” min_slides=”1″ max_slides=”3″ items_scroll=”page” auto_play=”true” infinite_loop=”true” timeout_duration=”5000″ arrows=”true” thumbnail_link=”custom_link” custom_links_target=”_blank” img_width=”350″ img_height=”200″ image_ids=”2310,2308,2309,2307,2397,2399,2400,2402,2403″ custom_links=”,,,,”][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][vc_column_text]New York is a unique environment unto itself because a high check average is an expectation. Good quality ingredients is just par for the course because of access to variety. Concepts are designed by emerging and seasoned designers who know their market and how to provide the best possible guest experience. Brooklyn gets the wrap of the “land of millennial food concepts” because the rents are cheap and talent is high. Restauranteurs are willing to take bigger risks in Williamsburg, Red Hook and Dumbo before taking on the bridge to Manhattan. There are rarely crossovers of success sadly, because just like NYC, these Brooklyn concepts are created for Brooklynites (quirky, theatrical, artisanal and a little folky).

When a concept leaves, the essence of is retained in typically 1 menu item and 1 design trait. It might be a conceptual idea like, “haute vintage” or a physical element like a meat hook on the wall. Whatever it is, imagine the essence of all a dining concepts being wrapped up into two easy-to-get traits. Seems easy… but to find a differentiator that will appeal to the whole of America, or the whole of the world, is nearly impossible. [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image image=”2395″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none” img_size=”full”][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]What made me really think about NYC was visiting Antigua. Here we were in a massive indoor/outdoor market, and it is filled with stands which have those quintessential, unequivocal or transformable traits which make up the basis for the trendy restaurants/markets in NYC. It seems as though everything in NYC has been modeled after the concepts in the Market (except with food safety standards in place). This got me thinking, so if NYC is my hub of all ideas, and from there it gets watered down to two easy-to-get traits, I am going to imagine that the ‘street market’ is the original and NYC is the watered down version of it. Incredible to think that NYC is not the hub of all ideas… and in actuality, I can get to the root of the idea from being here.

This comes at a time when I am feeling like my relationship to quality ideas is beginning to blend into average. By being here, my opportunity for good quality restaurants / food is next to none, which has made me start to question whether this move is going to work in the long term. I need to be in Dubai, Mumbai, Rio, and Hong Kong… emerging markets where the west is only beginning to influence, and ideas for newness run rampid. So it was very exciting to be in a place that showed me something new –

Welcome to the East Harlem / Brooklyn meat market. Seriously, everything from the style of the lighting to the guy behind the counter made this space feel like we were back in the streets of NYC (less food safety concerns).[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”The Original Butcher at the Antigua Market” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”six” element_type=”div”][vc_single_image image=”2406″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”][vcex_image_grid grid_style=”no-margins” columns=”2″ title_type=”title” thumbnail_link=”lightbox” lightbox_caption=”false” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”400″ img_height=”250″ image_ids=”2312,2311″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_video link=””][/vc_column][/vc_row]