Woman Crush Wednesday

1. She’s crazy smart.

After getting her Ph.D. in political science, Miuccia Prada got involved in her family’s business (making luxury leather bags) and convinced them to make a nylon backpack that became a must-have among the fashion set back in 1989. Fast-forward 25 years: She’s personally worth $12.4 billion (according to Forbes) and was ranked as the #67 most powerful woman in the world in 2012.

I want to make clothes that are beautiful, of course, but also clothes that are interesting and considered and intelligent and not out of place.

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Portrait by Mikael Jansson for Interview magazine.

2. She’s a revolutionary.

She constantly pushes our idea of what’s possible, but instead of languishing in a rarefied, avant-garde ghetto, her boundary-pushing designs actually sell. A lot.

Fashion fosters cliches of beauty, but I want to tear them apart.

Prada and James Jean collaboration

Promotional image from Prada’s 2008 collaboration with James Jean.

 

3. She’s a feminist who believes “strong” and “beautiful” are not mutually exclusive concepts.

I always loved aesthetics. Not particularly fashion, but an idea of beauty.

Prada Resort Collection 2013

4. She’s inspiring.

The Devil wears her clothes, visual artists create full-scale art installations in the Texas desert as tribute to her, recording artists sing about her.

Everybody knows that I don’t have a muse. I’m not interested in that.

The Prada Store in Marfa, TX

 

5. She designed the costumes for The Great Gatsby.

‘Nuff said. (Check out Brittany’s excellent post to see costume sketches, thoughts on the movie and ways to rock your own Gatsby style.)

The Great Gatsby

Hungry for more? Explore Prada and Miu Miu.

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Don’t be fooled by the doe eyes and adorable pink hair. Limor (la-MORE) Fried is a force of nature. This enchanting sprite is the founder and CEO of a multimillion-dollar company called Adafruit Industries, one of the most innovative new tech companies around. Adafruit Industries (named for the world’s first computer programmer, a woman named Lady Ada Lovelace) makes DIY electronics kits that let you build cool things like MP3 players in Altoids tins,  credit-card readers or skirts with tiny lights that twinkle when you dance.

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In fact, one of our favorite things about Limor Fried is that she is so into cool, wearable tech that her company has a YouTube channel featuring more than 400 short, simple how-to videos that walk you through every project we just mentioned. (Plus hundreds more—lockpicking! GPS jackets! Glowing hair bows!)

Limor Fried for Make Magazine

Limor graduated from MIT in 2003 with an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering, then went on to get a master’s degree in the same field. When she graduated, she decided to start her own company working on what she loved: cool electronics that people can use to make their lives more fun. She told MIT news, “When I saw how many of my friends were starting companies out of college it made me think, ‘Hey, if they can do it, I can do it too. Let’s do this thing!'” And it totally worked. She’s grown her company from a one-woman show to having 45 employees, and she was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Entrepreneur magazine in 2012.

In 2011, she became the first female engineer to make the cover of Wired magazine. (About time, too.)

Wassup, my nrrrds?

So if you love DIY projects and have a flair for the unexpected when it comes to fashion, you could do worse than to follow in Limor Fried’s footsteps. You can actually talk to Limor (and other Adafruit engineers) if you want. She hosts a weekly Saturday night online videochat, “Ask an Engineer,” and is really nice and cool.

Check out this “Wearable Wednesday” video to learn how to light up the star on your Converse All-Stars:

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We’re unashamedly crushed out on Sky Ferreira. This up-and-comer started making music at age 14, got noticed by a couple of Swedish producers (the duo behind Britney Spears’s hit single “Toxic”) and was quickly signed to a record label—all from her bedroom after school. She told Vogue, “My intention was to get signed. I’d had the worst time at school, so I figured if I worked, my mom would let me be homeschooled.”

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Fast-forward a few years and Miss Ferreira has gone from MySpace phenomenon to bona fide celebrity. Terry Richardson shot one of her videos, Hedi Slimane (head designer at YSL) picked her to be the face of his pre-fall 2013 collection and her music is finding its way into the hearts of starstruck fans everywhere.

Listen to her talk about everything from her favorite designers to her personal style:

Right?! Total swoonsville.

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The hero of today’s Woman-Crush Wednesday is photographer Cindy Sherman, who’s made a career of taking selfies since the 1970s. She was even awarded a MacArthur Fellowship (a.k.a. “the Genius Award) in 1995, which paid her $500,000 doled out over the course of five years. Not bad for playing dress-up with your camera, right?

She started out dressing up like characters in fictitious movies, then staging scenes and photographing herself in them.

Untitled Film Still

 

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Untitled Film Still

 

She then went on to  re-create historical portraits based on European oil paintings from the 15th century through the 19th century. DOZENS of them. Then she dressed herself up as the scariest clowns ever and did a series of clown portraits. Some of her most provocative photos came most recently, when she dressed up as the aging, super-rich society women who often buy her photographs for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Untitled #193

In addition to making thought-provoking works of art, Sherman’s a darling of the fashion world, as well. In 2011, she was the face(s) of cosmetics giant M.A.C., and she’s done campaigns for Balenciaga, Marc Jacobs and Rei Kawakubo (among others).

This is one of her three faces for M.A.C. One of the things that’s most remarkable about Cindy Sherman is the way she challenges her viewers by portraying uncomfortable characters. (Have you learned about the concept of the “male gaze” in your media classes yet?)

Cindy Sherman for MAC

 

So if you love playing dress-up and taking selfies—stick with it! If you play your cards right, you could end up with exhibits in every major museum in the world, plus a no-strings-attached, half-million-dollar fellowship.

Wanna know more about Cindy Sherman, like why she won a genius award for taking pictures of nothing but herself for 40 years? Check out this interview.

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The first time we encountered Miranda July was at SXSW in Austin, Texas, back in 1997 or 1998. A friend talked us into going to see this performance artist (which phrase made us roll our eyes and lower our expectations significantly) who was supposed to “so amazing.” We were skeptical. But we went because the weather was nice and the friend was good company and we didn’t have anything else to do.

Two extremely weird hours later, we were total, passionate fans of Miranda July. And she hadn’t even made a movie yet.

There are so many cool things about Miranda July. She’s a writer. And a performance artist (the good kind). And an actress. And a movie director. And she’s really pretty and has sparkly fashion sense. How can one person do so many things so well? (Maybe she’s a robot? Or an alien. Or both…)

 And she’s friends with Carrie Brownstein. (She is DEFINITELY an alien robot.)

If you want to wallow unashamedly in more Miranda July magic, check out her movies, “Me and You and Everyone We Know” and “The Future.” You won’t regret it.

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Ballerina Misty Copeland is the star of this Woman-Crush Wednesday for a few reasons:

  1. 1. She’s the first female African-American soloist at the prestigious American Ballet Theater in more than 20 years.
  2. 2. She didn’t start dancing until she was thirteen years old, which is practically unheard-of for a professional ballerina. (Some call her a prodigy!)
  3. 3. She’s an incredible dancer.
  4. 4. Prince has added her to his roster of muses, and she’s been dancing onstage with him lately. Which is pretty freaking cool.

But talking about a dancer makes about as much sense as trying to describe a flavor or a smell. Check her out:

For a longer, more in-depth interview with Misty—and more dancing—check out her clips on the “Makers” profile series from PBS.

 

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If you have never heard of Lynda Barry, well, we’re almost jealous of you today. Because today you get to experience the magic of discovering her! Lynda Barry is a comic artist and a writer who creates these incredibly smart, poignant and funny stories about growing up, not growing up, making art, thinking thoughts, dancing, family, friends and just generally the messy, sprawling wonder of  life.

Dancing

Most of her stories are about the dysfunctional Mullen family as told by the Mullen kids, Marlys (11), Maybonne (14) and Freddie (the baby), as they struggle to grow up in the unsettled world of the late 1960s. These stories do not hesitate to take on the heavy stuff, like insecurity, bullying, mental illness and sexuality. But somehow Lynda Barry avoids beating her readers up with the drama of it all, and instead you end up falling in love with her funny, uplifting, “OMG that’s ME” characters.

Especially Marlys, who is doing math in the following image:

Ms. Billet's Math Problems

 

She’s written three illustrated novels, Cruddy, The Good Times Are Killing Me (made into a hit off-Broadway play) and One! Hundred! Demons! She also wrote the best book about how to draw and write EVER, called What It Is (which makes a terrific graduation present, btw). And she’s been drawing comic strips for so long that many of them are now collected into volumes with such intriguing titles as, Blabber Blabber Blabber: Volume 1 of Everything, It’s So Magic, Big Ideas and The Freddie Stories: With the Great Marlys! And Sister Maybonne.

How to Catch a Man (Not Really)

Lynda Barry is a Seattle native (holla!) and her first comic strips were published in the University of Washington newspaper by her friend Matt Groening (creator of a little show you might have heard of called The Simpsons). She was only 19 years old when she started out.

Young Lynda Barry

So if you love to draw or write or draw AND write, look to Lynda Barry. Heck, look to Lynda Barry even if you just like to READ. She’s amazing.

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If you want to read more about Lynda Barry, The New York Times published a good article about her here.

And if you have an hour to kill, listen to her writing class here (it’s called “Writing the Unthinkable” and it’s worth your time).

And don’t forget her Tumblr! It’s good, too!

 

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Today’s #wcw star is funny lady Aubrey Plaza. We have loved Aubrey Plaza without hesitation or reserve from the moment we first laid eyes on her in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Aubrey Plaza

(How are you doing that with your mouth?!)

Aubrey Plaza

With her deadpan delivery and shamelessly awkward antics, she brings the best kind of weird to every situation. And while we love her as evil genius April on Parks and Recreation, we’re stoked that she’s finally graduating to leading lady status. She transformed the indie film Safety Not Guaranteed from a painful, low-budget near-miss to an awesome, low-budget success in a blink of her uncomfortably intense eyes.

Aubrey Plaza

So it makes us extra-excited to hear that she’s starring in a boundary-pushing romantic comedy, The To-Do List, due out this August. (Perhaps you caught her Kanye moment with Will Ferrell at last week’s MTV movie awards.)

Aubrey Plaza

[Photo courtesy of Bullett Magazine]

To wrap up this #wcw, here’s some Aubrey Plaza video candy for true fans and curious newbies alike, courtesy of Interview magazine:

http://youtu.be/7XOyuEky9tY

Bonus: Check out this highlights reel of all of Aubrey’s best television interviews. It is totally worth ten minutes of your life.

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Today’s crush-worthy woman is (IMHO) one of the world’s best photographers. Like, ever. Her name is Mary Ellen Mark and she’s been setting the world on fire with her photographs since the 1960s when she started shooting pictures of Vietnam War protests, women’s liberation demonstrations and other outbreaks of social unrest. Since then she’s worked for Rolling Stone, won a National Endowment for the Arts grant, been awarded four honorary doctorate degrees and generally just kicked butt all over the place. Her subjects range from street kids in Seattle to performers in an Indian circus to celebrities like Johnny Depp.

But it’s one of her most recent projects that’s got us all worked up. She and her equally amazing husband spent several years traveling around and photographing PROMS. Yep, you read it right: Proms Across America! (That’s not the name of the project. But it would be funny if it was.) They also made a documentary! We grabbed a couple of our favorite images to show you exactly how awesome she is, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. (You can see more amazing prom portraits  and read about the project here.)

So if you’re always chasing your friends with your camera, if you can’t stop Instagramming—you’re in good company. Keep it up and maybe one day you’ll end up with an honorary doctorate and a world-class portfolio that makes people swoon.

Mary Ellen Mark Prom Portraits
Mary Ellen Mark Prom Portraits

Mary Ellen Mark Prom Portraits

Here’s the trailer for the documentary:

Shameless plug: Still looking for prom dresses, shoes and accessories? Swing by the prom shop and get yourself sorted!

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We love Beth Ditto for so many reasons: she’s got a voice like a sassy angel, she has mad style, she’s an unapologetic feminist and she makes her home here in the Pacific Northwest (Portland, to be precise). She’s also a champion for plus-size people who love fashion. (Did we mention that Nordstrom carries plus-size styles for teens?)

We dug around on ye olde int0rwebs a little bit and found this awesome interview with Beth and her band, Gossip, from a U.K. television show in 2009. We dare you not to fall in love with her:

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