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Brand To Watch: BABYGHOST

Fashion

We chatted with the designers about the inspiration behind their latest collection

BABYGHOST, the brainchild of designers Joshua Hupper and Qiaoran Huang, is the up-and-coming brand to look out for. The label is a grungy mix of East meets West, with influences hailing from New York City’s downtown neighborhoods and Huang’s native China.

Their Lower East Side studio is housed in a well-known property on Chrystie Street, filled with some of New York’s most cutting-edge creatives—from fashion designers to stylists and artists. It’s only fitting that a brand like BABYGHOST would settle here as their label perfectly encapsulates the Lower East Side lifestyle.

So what exactly is behind the name BABYGHOST, you ask? It’s a moniker they came up with during a 30-minute brainstorm at a restaurant. Don't believe it? The proof is on the scribbled napkin, now living somewhere in their archives. “Babyghost” to them is a mix of old and new; unique and cute. “But at the same time, it’s totally creepy. It’s a dead baby,” says Hupper.  

The two met years ago, when they were both working for the (now defunct) label Nathan Jenden, and found BABYGHOST in 2010. The brand, now on their 12th collection, has gained tons of traction as of late—their past two shows have taken place at MADE Fashion Week, and they’ve tapped their friend and model Xiao Wen Ju to be their muse, model, and occasional stylist.

The two have quite a history of drawing inspiration from really unique and out-there places for each collection. Previous seasons include a Halston-meets-Gap-meets-Clarence E. Flynn’s poem “Death”-inspired collection and a line that pays homage to a multitude of things—from chopper culture to True Detective and interiors of The Shining’s Overlook Hotel. 

For their latest collection for Fall 2016, the duo based their designs around the idea of jin sha, a Chinese practice that involves repairing broken jade with gold. Huang told me, “We went to Beijing one time and saw this exhibit called 'Open Your Eyes.' All of the artwork focused a lot on repair. We found it really interesting, so we looked more into it and we discovered the Chinese tradition called jin sha. It’s basically like, a really expensive plate is broken and they use gold to glue it back together, and the plate becomes even prettier.” From digging deeper into this practice, they fell in love with the idea of deconstructing and reconstructing old designs from previous collections—which is apparent in the slew of oversized, pieced together coats, and patchwork dresses and skirts that sashayed down the runway, emulating their characteristic edgy feel. 

“It was a lot of taking garments apart, and then using a liner and turning that into a dress, or making the liner the outer piece by fitting it that way and making the outer piece the inner piece. We did some Frankenstein stuff where we would take garments and reconstruct them into something else,” said Hupper. Their now-signature marbled liner was inspired by a lesson in The Dangerous Book for Boys, a sort of “how-to” book for boys. Building more on the idea of construction and reconstruction, Hupper was influenced by the Morrissey song “Glamorous Glue,” in terms of meshing pieces of the collection together. One of their dresses features pieces of lace glued together with a rubbery type substance, using a special machine intended for sportswear.

They also drew inspiration from Cindy Crawford’s daughter Kaia Gerber’s editorial featured in CR Fashion Book, Hupper telling me “[When we saw it] we were like, ‘That’s our brand.’ Our brand is really about the innocence of children—the way that you look at clothing or styling is that you maybe don’t have as many of the rules."

To supplement the collection, they’ve just shot a video for it with Van Alpert. While there’s no release date just yet ("sometimes in August, perhaps"), they’re excited for the world to see it. It was shot in L.A., and the styling has a California aesthetic to it, showing the collection in a totally new light. With this, they hope to widen their reach in America, since, as Hupper says, “Most of our customers are based in Asia. But that’s starting to expand, and I feel like, with this collection especially, we’ll really break through to a broader audience outside of China.”

The cast boasts a number of Instagram influencers. This isn’t the first time the brand drew inspiration from Insta celebrities and bloggers, though—in fact, they’re heavily inspired by these kinds of girls daily. Some of their favorites include Princess Gollum, Creepyyeha, and Susie Lau, or, according to Hupper, “Anybody that has an Instagram that’s consistent. Some of them are wildly consistent, and they’re younger than me. I’m jealous of them. How could you be this good at marketing yourself at 22, you know?” 

Check out the sneak peek below:

 

 Video by Van Alpert/Milk LA.

Instagram is something the brand holds very important. Their account is beautifully curated, drawing in followers. However, just by taking a quick glance, you wouldn’t necessarily assume them a clothing label—the account features a hodgepodge of backstage shots, skateboarding clips (Hupper is quite the fan of skateboard culture), and snaps of cats and dogs.

While they may value Instagram, it can be a bit of a challenge for them too. They may have 37.5k followers, but a huge portion of their customer base is Chinese, and Instagram is blocked in China—along with a ton of other platforms, like Google and SoundCloud, that seem like an everyday part of American life. There are ways to get around it, accessing websites through servers that allow you to get past the block, but the process slow and frustrating. To reach their Asian audience, they’ve had to take advantage of Chinese social media platforms as well, such as WeChat.  Huang said of this, “For us, because we live in both places, we have to kind of know both sides. When we go [to China], we’re ultimately changing everything we do. That’s something I never realized. We have to completely change our social media usage.”

While the two post and draw inspiration from the Internet and social media, when they can’t use Internet sources while in China, they still very much turn to magazines—collecting scraps and tears from print publications such as Streets, Fruits, and CR Fashion Book. Hupper said, “Usually we’ll go on magazine binges at the Japanese bookstore and downtown. I’ll just tear out a gazillion things.”

The design duo has always been bicontinental, splitting their time between their Lower East Side studio and China, but soon Hupper will be permanently moving to China to handle operations over there. The two will still spend half of the year together designing, but they hope this move will help them build the brand in both markets.

Click through the gallery for a closer look at the collection.

Photo courtesy of BABYGHOST.

BABYGHOST Fall Winter 2016

Photo by Rachel Dennis

Finally

"What do girls even do together?" This question, or some iteration of it, is frequently posed to me once someone finds out I'm bisexual or hears me mention my girlfriend, or if I make any reference to being interested in girls. I would be annoyed by it, but I have empathy because I know how hard this kind of information can be to find. In fact, the details of how two people with vaginas have sex isn't very widespread information. And, I know that I didn't really have all that much information about girl-on-girl sex before, well, actually having it myself. It's precisely this kind of situation that queer sex educator Stevie Boebi is trying to fix.

Boebi has gained a big following for her informational YouTube videos about how to use a strap-on, how to scissor, how to fist someone, how to choose a vibrator for yourself; any question you could have, she will get you an answer. She doesn't shy away from topics that people wouldn't be quick to ask someone about IRL, either, like BDSM. And she covers the kind of things that are definitely not what we're taught in sex education classes—likely not even in the most progressive curriculums. A study from GLSEN notes that only 4 percent of teens reported learning anything positive about queer sex in their sex ed classes, and points out that in some states, it's actually prohibited to mention queerness at all.

Particularly when it comes to sex with two vaginas, the lack of available public education leads to a general lack of understanding of how we have sex, which then leads to a lack of understanding in the queer community, too. "I just think that lesbian sex is so oversexualized, and we're the least educated," said Boebi when I asked her recently why it's so important for her to spread knowledge about queer sex in particular.

Boebi said that she started out on YouTube making videos about technology, but after she came out as a lesbian, her audience flipped from mostly male to mostly female, though she would prefer a less rudimentary gender breakdown ("the algorithm only deals in binaries, sorry," she quipped).

Ultimately, her sexuality led her to change her content entirely, because she wanted to educate people who couldn't find answers to their questions anywhere else—even on the internet.

"I started getting a lot of what I called 'stupid questions' from very confused teenage girls saying, like, 'How do I do it? Can I get AIDs from fingering someone?'" Boebi told me. They were questions that probably should have had easily Google-able answers, but, when Boebi looked for lesbian sex education content to send to fans who were asking her, she came up empty-handed. "I couldn't find anything. I think I found, like, two articles on Autostraddle, and that was it," she said. "And then I was like, Well, shit! If no one else is going to do it, then I guess I will."

Boebi's audience is mainly comprised of 13- to 24-year-olds, so she keeps in mind that she's helping people who may not be experienced, or even out yet. She uses her own experiences to inform her work sometimes, but also researches extensively and talks to people she knows who "have fancy Ph.Ds in sexology and shit," who can answer her questions or point her to resources she should be referencing.

Boebi's charm is in her relatability; even if she's talking about things we've been conditioned to feel shame around, she does it in such an open and honest way that all that shame disappears—as it should. She does this by perfectly meshing professional talk with jokes and sarcasm, and even uses characters based on star signs. She knows the importance of taking on taboo topics, because there are so many people who won't otherwise find answers to their questions. "I don't actually struggle in my everyday life asking people if they've ever been anally fisted before," Boebi joked with me. "I'll take that burden."

And keeping her tone light and humorous is of the utmost importance to her. "When people are laughing, they're comfortable, and I want people to feel comfortable," Boebi said. "And I want people to know that I'm comfortable talking about sex, and they can be, too." It helps also, Boebi told me, that her audience is separated by a screen, and she's not "in a room with a 12-year-old talking about my labia."

Beyond instructional sex videos, Boebi also deals with other rarely discussed facets of sexuality and physicality. Boebi is polyamorous, and talks openly about it, confronting the stereotypes and the misinformation about the identity head-on. And, she was also recently diagnosed with Ehler's Danlos Syndrome after going years without a diagnosis, and she aims to start working more with disabled queer sex educators to make her work more inclusive of people with disabilities. Though she pointed out to me that her work was already encompassing of disabilities, she "hasn't been a part of the disability activist community for very long," and so she has a lot to learn.

And, though Boebi's happy that she has the platform she does, she wants a more inclusive array of sex educators to join the scene. "My voice is my voice, and it's unique to me, but I think there should be way more," she noted. "Especially people [with intersectional identities]. That would make me so happy if we could diversify sex educators."

And, though Boebi says there's no "ideal way" to educate people about sex, she's definitely on a better track than the public education system, and she makes clear that there's nothing shameful about sexuality—in fact, it's just a part of being human, and a really fun one, at that.

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FROM THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Photo by Nicholas Hunt / Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images.

This photo makes me so happy

It can't be understated how big of a phenomenon the Spice Girls were during the late '90s. Their impact was felt from the bustling streets of London to the dry desert land of Scottsdale, Arizona. The latter place is where a young Emily Jean Stone was so immersed in fandom that she asked her second-grade teacher to call her Emma, after Emma "Baby Spice" Bunton. Fast-forward a couple of decades, and Emily is the Academy Award-winning actress Emma Stone. What's even better, she's still a huge Spice Girls fan.

Stone went to the Spice Girls reunion tour at the Wembley Stadium in London and finally met the woman who inspired the name the actress is now known by. Bunton shared a photo of the two of them outside of the venue on her Instagram. She captioned the photo: "When Emma met Emma."And even added the hashtag #2become1. I can't figure out if I want to cry from sentimentality or serious envy.

As for Stone, she once cried when Mel "Scary Spice" B. sent her a video message so I can only imagine what this moment felt like for her. Let this be a reminder that even Oscar winners can be stans.

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Screenshot via YouTube

The band shared details about their new St. Vincent-produced album that will drop "you into the world of catastrophe"

Sleater-Kinney just shared more information about their St. Vincent-produced album and dropped a new single.

Per Billboard, Sleater-Kinney revealed that their new album, which they've been teasing since early this year and will be their first since No Cities To Love from 2015, will be called The Center Won't Hold. It's due out on August 16 via Mom + Pop Records. "We're always mixing the personal and the political but on this record, despite obviously thinking so much about politics, we were really thinking about the person—ourselves or versions of ourselves or iterations of depression or loneliness—in the middle of the chaos," Carrie Brownstein said in a statement. Corin Tucker further noted that the new album will "[drop] you into the world of catastrophe that touches on the election."

Janet Weiss noted that the band will "explore a different sound palette" with this album, and pointed to St. Vincent as the reason behind it. She said that St. Vincent "has a lot of experience building her own music with keyboards and synthesizers so she could be our guide to help us make sense of this new landscape and still sound like us."

To satiate us until then, the band released a lyric video for new single, "The Future Is Here," which is very grungy. Bump it, below.

Sleater-Kinney - The Future Is Here (Official Lyric Video) www.youtube.com

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This is so satisfying!

Even Jon Snow knows just how unsatisfying the final season of Game of Thrones was, and he's ready to apologize. Well, a deepfake of him is at least. A heavily-edited version of Snow's speech from the fourth episode—just before the bodies of those lost in the Battle of Winterfell get burned—now features Snow apologizing for the conclusion of the show and lighting the script on fire.

"It's time for some apologies. I'm sorry we wasted your time," Snow begins. "And I know nothing made sense at the end. When the Starbucks cup is the smallest mistake, you know you fucked up! We take the blame. I'm sorry we wrote this in like six days or something," he adds, before signaling to his peers to light the script with torches and "just forget it forever." "Fuck Season 8," he says before the pages begin to crackle and burn.

If there were more lines left to alter, we would have loved to see Snow also tackle how messy Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister's story line ended up, as well as Bran's kingship, Cersei's boring demise, and the water bottle appearance.

Watch the entire deepfake and try to heal the wounds left by HBO below.

BREAKING: JON SNOW FINALLY APOLOGIZED FOR SEASON 8 youtu.be

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Photo by Darren Craig

It premieres today, exclusively via NYLON

In LP's song "Shaken," the most recent single from her 2018 record Heart To Mouth, she tells the story of seeing her lover out with someone else—ouch. Today, exclusively on NYLON, she releases a cheeky animated music video that pokes fun at the song's heightened drama and perfectly demonstrates all the angst that comes with falling hard for someone.

"She looks at you like I used to/ And I'm just sitting in the corner sh-sh-shaken," LP sings, as the visual—with art by Maayan Priva—depicts the singer hanging out in a bar, watching the girl she likes meet up with another girl. Despite the situation's inherent drama, "Shaken" is less of a ballad and more of an upbeat bop. LP told us she loves the way "this little video captures some of the fun of the song, and its inherent comical anxiety." Sure, heartbreak isn't that funny, but our (sometimes) overly dramatic reaction to it kind of is.

"'Shaken' feels like a bit of a wild card on this record," LP says. "It's the closest I've come to writing a musical, which I hope to do one day." We heartily endorse this idea: Please, LP, give us the queer jukebox musical we crave.

Until that day comes, though, you can watch the music video for "Shaken," below.

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