The Institution


As you’ve probably noticed from some of my recent posts, my sartorial and aesthetic focus has become inextricably linked to my academic studies and, as I’m about to attempt to explain, the environment in which I’ve found myself.

Almost all of my classes are held in this colossal building in the center of grounds called New Cabell Hall. It’s not new at all… in fact, it’s nearly sixty years old and would be considered by most people rather dilapidated with its mismatched linoleum, questionably working electrical outlets, and preponderance of eerily dark corners.

I, however, have found myself completely enamored with its unique aesthetic. The whole thing is a mixture of textures, colors, and materials that are both endearingly nostalgic and, when taken together, refreshingly current and, in my mind, easily applicable to the fashions I’m craving right now.

[It also helps that the whole thing is kind of reminiscent of a hospital or mental institution (see the claustrophobic but also kind of awesomely beautiful courtyard below…), which adds a healthy dose of subversion.]


I know this is coming off as completely abstract and confusing. To that end, I’ve put together some of my favorite Fall ’09 looks that embody how I’d like to apply this aesthetic sartorially:

bottega venetaBottega Veneta– both Hannah and I are really lustin’ after some Bottega Veneta right now… I related this collection to the building’s sublime color palate (rose! nude! white! greyish-pink! I.AM.IN.LOVE.) and am also realllllyyyyy feeling the fabulous understated vintage shapes and luscious silks. YUMMY.


pradaPrada. Again, super-elegant rounded shapes (that are also reminiscent of the beautiful – BEAUTIFUL – curvature of the handrails in the photo below), coupled with a fascinating wild glint in the models’ eyes that plays into the slightly creepy, institutional atmosphere of the building.


burberry prorsumBurberry Prorsum. I can never quite decide how I feel about Burberry in general, but sometimes they really just GET. IT. RIGHT. Here, I’m loving the academic tweed, fabulous swinging skirts (and coats, OH, the COATS!!), and overall luscious classicism that I think contrasts beautifully with the slightly disheveled appearance of the building. Especially those gorgeous dresses. GOSH.


The marble of these stairs is really pinker in person (a beautiful kind of grey-pink that my paltry point-and-shoot camera couldn’t begin to capture), and worn down beautifully and organically by sixty years of use. As you can tell, this stairwell is probably my favorite place on earth right now.

dries van notenAnd finally: Dries Van Noten. Once again, the colors the colors the COLORS. I cannot express enough my desire for peachy-pinks and nudes anchored by flashes of black and compounded by some dusty blues and eggplants. I’m really going to try to create an outfit that translates the visual elements (lines, textures, matte vs. shiny etc. etc.) of the photo below, coupled with some Dries-tastic proportions and silky, slinky movement. Stay tuned.


I hope that made even a modicum of sense; I’m definitely frustrated with my inability to convey an accurate representation of how uniquely gorgeous this building is. Suffice to say that I’m completely in love and will not rest until I can do a real photoshoot there in the near future.

[Hannah? Next time we’re together? You up for some awkward interactions with people who are just trying to use the stairs and feel no particular affection for sixty-year-old linoleum and the soft lighting provided by glass-block windows?? Who am I kidding- OF COURSE YOU ARE.]



9 responses to “The Institution

  1. LOVE IT. I just bought this kinda-deconstructed grey/pink/teal shirt that fits this aesthetic perfectly… good to know we’re on the same sartorial page!

  2. Salut, j’adore vos postes et les photos ^^
    Vous suivant maintenant 😉

    Link moi, suivez-moi

  3. Ava this is a beautiful post, beautifully articulated and illustrated! I’m spending the most of my days in school as well, to the point where I almost feel institutionalized. So I can definitely relate.

  4. I love your interpretation of the building into a more sartorial point of view… I can imagine most people walking through without a second thought. Last week I dressed up as my living room and it turned out to be a really fun exercise in proportion, texture, etc. Goodluck dressing up as your school building!

  5. oh man definitely looks like an institution, you’ve definitely injected your own sartorial take on it though, great blog!

  6. i love the colour palette at bottega veneta- great selection! xxx

  7. Excellent editorial! Your vivid articulation of fashion and architecture sheds new light on both. This is very inspiring.

  8. Pingback: It’s Such A Heartache « A & H

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