Chunking Express

The story is inspired by the film Chungking Express directed by Kar Wai Wong. The original film is located in Hong Kong but it reminds me of my hometown, the neon city of Shinjuku.

Photos by Ayu Watanabe

Modeled by Virgin Shen

NYFW was more inclusive than ever, but only on the runway

Source: Chromat Spring 2019 at New York Fashion Week

As New York Fashion Week’s Spring 2019 run came to a close on September 14th, every fashion magazine waved a celebratory flag in the name of the season’s trailblazing inclusivity. 44.8% of runway castings consisted of models of colora 7.5% increase from Fall 2018, as reported by The Fashion Spotand previous numbers for plus-size and trans models were also topped. After watching a slew of this season’s shows (shoutout to live-streaming,) I was excited to write an article about how much progress the fashion industry has made in addressing its lack of inclusivity. After all, it was only a few years ago in Spring 2015 that the percentage of models of color was less than half of what it is now. But my enthusiasm to write such a piece faded as an ugly truth set in, one that most magazines have failed time and time again to recognize: the fashion industry is making strides to emphasize inclusivity amongst models that walk at NYFW, but not at the labels which show.

Fashion is dominated by men. It’s typical for established fashion houses to be helmed by male creative directors on the design side and run by male CEOs on the business side. To name a couple, Gucci, Chanel, and Burberry all abide by this, and they only represent a small group of the many luxury labels which do so. In the fashion industry, women are the silent minority, holding most of the lower-level positions and few management roles, even at womenswear companies. A 2015 Business of Fashion survey of fifty major fashion brands revealed that only 14% were run by women, putting years of speculation on the topic into perspective. The irony of this is that women make up the majority of consumers for the very labels that are disservicing them.

The fashion industry’s shortcomings aren’t confined to its ridiculous gender disparity. If you haven’t already guessed, the male CEOs and creative directors of the previously mentioned fashion houses are all white, as are most in their position. I’d like to point out black designer Virgil Abloh’s appointment as the artistic director of Louis Vuitton in March 2018 as something that defies fashion’s racist norm, while simultaneously acting as proof of its existence.

Abloh’s designation brought forth a heated discussion on whether or not his place at LV, one of black representation, was purposefully intended to be commercialized by the brand. Abloh’s talent speaks for itself, and his role at LV is well-earned. It should be noted that he didn’t deserve to have his success scrutinized simply because he represents a step towards inclusion. (It’s painfully likely a white designer in the same position would never be examined to this extent.) Aside from the ill-willed debate on Abloh’s merit, the conversation surrounding black creatives in fashion was valuable and served as a reminder that the industry still has a ways to go when it comes to inclusivity.

I’m grateful for the progression towards inclusivity that was represented through this season’s lineup of models at NYFW, but it’s just as important for that to exist off the runway. This need must be addressed, along with the many aspects of inclusivity besides gender and race, such as plus-size and LGBT bias and ageism, which are present even outside the realm of models. Unfortunately for those in the minority of the male-run fashion industry, the people behind the clothing are considered less representative of the label than the models wearing it; thus, opportunities to recognize the absence of inclusivity behind the scenes are few and far between.

By Sarah Kearns

Clairo in Portland

There is something wildly attractive about the presence of twenty-year-old singer Clairo. 

Being one of the only concertgoers matching her age, I had a blast dancing to tunes that were mostly made in her bedroom.  The demographic was dominated by young femmes, singing along to a girl they most likely looked up to.  Clairo hypnotized the crowd with her calm persona, mostly self-produced work, and comfy fashion style, giving an incredible show.

By Allison Barr

Dreaming of Something Bigger

Fun fact about me: I had to read Kate Chopin’s The Awakening in three different classes. Every time I read it, I discovered something new and fell in love with the book more and more. One of the more controversial scenes in the noveland there are manyis the ending scene when Edna, the novel’s protagonist, walks into the ocean without a plan to return. I always found this scene beautiful, ethereal somehow. I don’t think Chopin meant to romanticize suicide and I certainly don’t think that I am either.

This piece is a representation of that scene. I always imagined that Edna was dreaming of something bigger, even more than what the novel shows or implies. For her, she wasn’t simply giving in or even giving up: she was heading towards a destination, one open and free as she always wished her society to be. This depiction is my visualization of that paradise. The bird cage, a motif in the novel, is shattered as not only a bird flies free, but as the water from the ocean flow out, wild and untamed. The collage of the gradual sunset is glued from ripped rice paper, giving the illusion of blurred edges and soft texture. A silhouette stands, so tiny and small that everything around it seems big. Maybe that’s Edna, or maybe that’s someone else, or even you and me. Whoever that may be, in this microcosm of the drawing, we are all free.

By Anna Lee

Yoga, with a Side of Prozac, Please

I have anxiety, and when I forget my medicine, I don’t feel jumpy or nervous. I don’t get worked up talking to strangers, and I don’t feel like everyone is watching me. I don’t feel like I’m about to have a nervous breakdown or like I’m sitting on the edge of tears and no tears (although I do cry sometimes, especially when I forget my medicine.)

What I really feel is like the real me is asleep and someone else has taken up residency inside of me.

Some days, it is a very angry demon. I get easily frustrated. Traffic on the highway brings out every cuss word I know, and then some that I invented. Rain makes me scream and roll my eyes, as if the heavens have personally decided to thwart my day with their humidity. If my boyfriend doesn’t call when he says he will, I burst into tears and curse him out, vowing never to let another person take advantage of me like this ever again.

Other days, the demon is asleep, but only napping. On those days, I feel like a skittish child. The real me has to tiptoe around the sleeping demon. If I wake him–well, I don’t know what happens, but probably something terrible. On those days, I apologize for everything, even if I have done nothing wrong. Any time someone gets angry at me–a stranger on the road when I slowed down in front of a green light, or my boyfriend, for texting him too many times in a rowI sob, begging for forgiveness, even if it is completely unnecessary.

Sometimes, the real me wakes up while the demons are around. I’m not strong enough to force them out, not without my medicine. It’s an exhausting fight, the one between you and your brain.

I try to run to escape him, when I’m feeling up to it. My theory is this: if I can exhaust my body, the demon will have no place to stay. Or if he stays, maybe I will be too tired to hear him.

I drive sometimes, too; too fast with my music too loud, chainsmoking cigarettes until I can’t feel my legs. Nicotine calms me down, as it’s designed to, but it leaves a taste in my mouth that I can’t stand. Although, if I sing along to the music, screaming the words into the space of my car, I can’t really pay attention to the demons, so it works sometimes.

Other days, I get high. These are the worst days, the days when I am too tired to run or drive or go outside to smoke. These are the days where everything seems dark, the days when I can’t stop crying.

The pills are prescription and my prescription, but they work nonetheless. If I take two and wait for the sleepiness to pass, I feel mellow and calm. It’s almost like an out-of-body experience–if I can’t drown out the demon inside of me, at least I can leave the room.
It just sucks that the room is my body.
These days, I take my saving-grace pill and climb into bed, armed with my laptop and some pretzels, and I munch on pretzels with Nutella and watch Netflix until I finally, mercifully, fall asleep.

I am trying to just breathe as my world collapses around me. Sometimes, it works.

Later, I know I have to apologize, and I do. I shower, washing the terrible thoughts away, watch them swirl down the drain with the shampoo suds at my feet. I thank God for keeping me safe. I drag my feet over to the couch where my boyfriend is waiting for me, and I curl up under his arm, and whisper my apologies, feeling like I am broken.

There is always the feeling that I am broken.

I remember the horrible days when I was gone for days on end, even with my medicine. I remember the days when my boyfriend laid beside me and begged me to come back to him. I wept while my demons laughed. But the next day, I woke up in my own body, all by myself.

Oftentimes, anxiety isn’t just jittery, painful shyness. It is not holding onto an apple core the entire class period just because you are afraid people will stare at you when you stand to throw it away. A lot of the time, anxiety is angry and scared and despondent. It’s ugly. It’s the crippling feeling that you are not yourself, and you no longer have control over yourself anymore.

Time and time again, I have had people ask why I never tried the holistic methods of healing–essential oils and yoga and lots of water.

The truth is, I have tried them. I do yoga every morning and drink plenty of water throughout the day. But without my little pink pills, I am not myself.

I am not taking medicine to “cheat my way through life.” It does not turn me into someone else. Without the medicine, I am not the same person I was before I needed the medicine. I am not a happy, well-adjusted adult. I am a child, a devil, a ghost–I am anything but myself, nothing but a shell, being controlled by my demons.

Without my medicine, I close myself off. I yell at the people I love. I become codependent, unresponsive, accusatory. I feel worthless, reckless, and indestructible, and you don’t need me to tell you that it’s a toxic mix.

This barely begins to explain the wretched hopelessness, the total loss of control that comes with anxiety. Be patient with me. I have a lot going on in my head; sometimes, it gets crowded up there.

By Rachel Pfeffer
Visual by Lauren Gilleland

I'm Alive. So Now What?

I used to cry whenever I went to the doctor, an admittance that sounds dramatic until I think about all of the times that whether or not I would retain my ability to walk, go to school, and even live were called into question on the exam table. After each appointment, I would get back in the car, sobs making my speech sound like a muffled telephone call, and promise myself that if I ever got better from my mysterious, rare disease, my life would be cool enough to eventually make into a bad Lifetime movie.

It gave me as much of a shock as it gave my doctors when after some of the most unconventional treatments known to man, including high-dose Ketamine infusions and a rib removal, I achieved what could only be described as stability. My young self had many ambitions, and at eighteen, I wanted to achieve each one of them. I decided that what I wanted to do the most was to see the world. With a sense of childlike hopefulness that could only be obtained by watching one too many travel documentaries, I set out to begin my grand adventure by going to college in Scotland. I was convinced that the transition from full-time patient to independent adult would be seamless.

While settling into my new home, I tried hard to avoid things that reminded me of the hospital. I even went as far as to decorate the entirety of my new room with prints of famous paintings and pictures hand drawn by friends to avoid white walls. My bedside drawers had to hold the essentials: pill bottles and a list of signs and symptoms of an aneurysm, but I attempted to cover these objects with the safe-sex pamphlets the NHS gave me upon registering for health services. You’d think that a leaflet reading “so you think you have chlamydia?” would be worse than medical supplies, but to me, it felt like a step up in the world…or at least a convenient distraction from the thought of internally bleeding.

I did these things because I wanted desperately to stop thinking about what was. I suffered from an acute lack of ownership over myself and my story. Years of treatments that required my complete cooperation, including some interventions that left me incapacitated and unable to communicate, gave me the feeling that no matter how hard I tried to hold on to control, someone else would eventually dictate what happened to my body. Despite being told by a few less-than-convincing foreign boys to ‘try harder to forget about it,’ the gnawing, lack of autonomy felt stuck. I thought it was only a matter of time before I was back in America, inpatient at a specialty hospital.

I often felt as if I existed in two distinct universes: in one, I had survived the most terrifying unknown; in the other, I was simply a confused university student with a passion for cider and late-night walks. Far away from home, I could create the narrative that I wanted to. My new friends never had the misfortune of coming over to find filled sharps containers and bandages lining my countertops; they saw only what I wanted them to seepostcards of powerful women and half empty wine bottles. I created a reality in which I ignored the possibility of my mystery illness coming back to finish me off, yet I still felt vulnerable. At the end of the night, I would be afraid of what my body could do to me again.

It was while home for Christmas that I realized it was important to face things from my past. My hematologist decided that it would be a good idea to get two more iron infusions for anemia, and although minor, it felt like more of a blow than the time a metal bar fell on me after I tried surfing in the North Sea. While abroad, I learned to masterfully avoid the raw, gritty details of my situation. This sudden push back into reality felt like it was another sign from the universe that I should have been a better person, or started a charity, or done just about anything other than running away to a country full of flat parties and legal drinking. I felt betrayed by my body again, and because my undiagnosed illness didn’t have a name to direct my frustration at, I turned that hatred onto myself.

The night before my first infusion, I fell back into old habits, this time trying to ignore what was ahead by interviewing and photographing a singer with the charisma of David Bowie and the eyeshadow I would expect of Pat Benatar’s long lost son. Even there, caught up in the glamour of rising stars and soundchecks, I found my thoughts elsewhere. I would have given anything to appear as ethereal and untouchable as he did, but instead the entire show I was contemplating going to cry in an IHOP parking lot. That night I had achieved every goal I set out for myself, from world traveler to rock writer, and I still wanted to run back to Scotland. Across the ocean, there were no authority figures and doctors that could sit me back in the infusion center with one bad blood result. It was in that moment that I came to the realization that I had to radically change the way that I viewed my body.

The next day, tied to a intravenous drip the color of Merlot, I sorted through my epiphany.

In a moment of clarity, attributed equally to my personal awakening and an Injectafer-driven headrush, I found some acceptance in the fact that I had an IV in my arm and I likely would again. Many times. I vowed to be more honest, to tell people how I really feel and to stop forcing myself to be ‘over it’ already. I could learn to trust my body again, just as I relearned to fasten the buttons on my shirts or take walks without my cane. Rushing this trust, however, seemed to only lead to moments of pretend acceptance. I had to be real and love myself in an, unconditional, healthy-or-sick-it-doesn’t-matter, kind of way. 

My body has found ways to survive occurrences that cannot be explained. I can’t keep denying how spectacular that is.

By Emily Muller

Two Worlds

These photographs depict the collision of two binary opposing worlds. While the building is derelict and decaying, the woman is wearing elegant dresses and heels. The images of the heels against the scenery create a conflict of ideals between a world of class, glamour, and sophistication, and a world that invokes thoughts of poverty, neglect, and vandalism.

The friction between these two worlds is evident in today’s society, which I wanted to capture in the photographs. The woman’s poses suggest her frivolous and fancy-free approach to life, which clashes directly with the miserable, decaying walls. After recent findings that the nation’s poorest teenagers are 70% more likely to end up in A&E than those less deprived, I also chose to capture the photographs in an abandoned hospital, highlighting this division.

Similarly, I wanted to capture the friction between the hope and dreams held by the woman, staring out wistfully and wearing fluffy, princess-like heels, versus the hopelessness of the disheveled, abandoned building. The images also highlight the confidence of the young woman, rebelling against societal norms by skateboarding, walking along unsafe land and wandering, seemingly alone, through an empty building. This creates a resistance to the traditional ideals of a vulnerable, dependent woman by showing a strong, independent and nonconformist female, ready to create friction in society. 

By Sophie Allsop

Gen Z in the Phillipines

As the years progressed, the Philippine youth emerged as one to help debunk the conservative and traditional norms in the country when it comes to fashion stereotypes. Nail polish for men were the only manifestations of a non-binary lifestyle in the late 2000s, but some consider it taboo because of societal expectations. Women wear flannels and baggy pants, but are easily labeled as tomboys because people know that particular clothing is only and rightful for men.

The definition of fashion for both sexes is now being considered as non-binary, thanks to the powerful voice of today's generation. The youth today is one step closer to influencing the population to a non-binary mindset using the most powerful tool: our voice. As I belong to the Generation Z, my vision for the photo series is to influence not only the youth, but the whole audience. This needs to be shown to everyone, regardless of the viewer’s age. I bring to you a photo series that persuades breaking common stereotypes and, at the same time, a celebration of the Generation Z’s optimism towards a fashion revolution.

By Gayle Belvis

Providence Woods

On my street, in lieu of games, the kids often took to ritualistically walking the same sidewalk over and over until our knees hurt. I don’t remember how it started, but it soon became tradition to walk that path nearly every warm summer day.

This year, while home from college, I learned so much about my old friends while walking that same route. Recently, we retraced the same steps that we walked when we were in elementary school, telling stories and sharing secrets. It stirred something in mea unique mix of nostalgia and anticipation. While I missed the past, there was nothing left for us there. Only time will tell if our futures were as bright as they seemed in that moment, but I hold onto that feeling of hopefulness.

I created this photo series after I came to the realization that, although the setting had not changed, my childhood friends grew up. My models, Anna and Alyssa, both grew up on the same quaint street that I have. They share in these memories. We spent the shoot re-exploring places we used to play, and although things seemed different than they once were, this change was refreshing. I look forward to all the stories they’ll have to tell me when I return next year.

Modeled by Anna Metzger and Alyssa Costa
By Emily Muller


“Epitome“ explores the friction between reality and dreams, and the feeling of being dissociated from both. This series attempts to merge these seemingly incompatible worlds into a new universe, creating moments of tension and contrast. This is achieved through the dissimilarity of the abrasive appearances of the models in comparison to their surrounding environments.

A beach is often viewed as a place of serenity, yet I transformed it into a landscape of apprehension and doubt by drawing a sharp contrast between the blue of the sky and the warm tones of the beach. This contrast is also evident in one of the models, as the yellow-striped pants and cool gems reveal the inner conflict between where one hopes to be and the current situation, and the uncertainty of being estranged from either. This uncertainty is also portrayed through the use of sunglasses on both models, obscuring their eyes from the camera and thus creating a further disconnect. The work incorporates time as well as space, revealing an experiential world that only gradually emerges as the images progress.

By Kathryn Zix
Modeled by Ben Manis
Inspired by Miles Potter and Kennedy Shine