Authenticity, Faked

May 17, 2010

With narrow exception, the fashion web logs out there, especially those inclined to advise, are worthless. To be fair, some aren’t bad (and some of those which aren’t, or are less bad than the rest, are linked to herein). Few of them lurch across the line into “good” and none of them demonstrate anything beyond a passing familiarity with the English language. Than is usually then, or vice-versa; there are lots of words spent on “The Ivy League Look,” very few on the places where that look grew up: schools which would be ashamed to have turned out most of these bloggers.

The style bloggers are enamored of what they call sprezzatura, an idea of affected nonchalance. They love the concept in parts nearly equal to their disdain of grammar. Think of rumpled shirt-collars, ties tied so that the back-end (the “blade”) hangs down as far as, or more than, the front, and working buttonholes left unbuttoned on jackets. That’s the idea: “I’m too stylish to care about style, so these casual mistakes are actually indicative of my sophistication… I’m so fashionable that I’m above caring whether I’m fashionable or not, and that makes me even more hip.”

This is obviously stupid, but alerting the sartorial blogosphere won’t do any good. Those people have enough trouble on their hands already, sounding out words in their heads as they write.

So we’ll leave this between us, you and your editorial staff, and we’ll do our best to lay it out quickly. If you make an effort to outfit yourself in a way that looks like it didn’t require effort, and go so far as to prove your lack of effort by making the additional effort to introduce into that outfit some small foible like unbuttoned shirt cuffs, you’re not too fashionable to care about being fashionable: you’re a fraud.

What’s worse, you’re an obvious fraud because no man who cares enough to spend $500 on his necktie would not care enough to tie it properly. So the improperly tied tie must be done that way on purpose, we all know, and since we all know, you’re not fooling anybody but yourself. You’re the trust fund brat who eschews “Capitalist materialism” to travel the world and find his poetic soul in Amsterdam but doesn’t mind, or get, the irony of undertaking the soul-searching on his parents’ dime. Again… a fraud.

A few come by their artful slovenliness honestly: they’ve been wearing ties and blazers since prep school and reach for the repp so absentmindedly that the way it’s tied really is honestly absent-minded; those guys aren’t the type on the fashion blogs. And if you’ve spent $2,000 on a sport coat with functional buttonholes so you can leave one artfully unbuttoned, you’re not one of them. Don’t pretend you are.

Chuck Bass: too cool to care?

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Yale: “We Won’t Be Fooled Again.”

December 4, 2009

An Ivy League degree opens doors around the world, as South Korean art professor Shin Jeong-ah knows: her diploma from Yale University helped her land a job at Dongguk University, in South Korea, and a prestigous museum curatorship. The problem was, Professor Jeong-ah was never a student at Yale. Or, perhaps the problem was that Yale said she was.

In September 2005, Dongguk University forwarded materials from Professor Jeong-ah to Yale, asking the Ivy League university to verify that their potential new hire had, in fact, earned a Yale degree. The materials had been faked but Yale bought it, and sent a letter back confirming Jeong-ah’s degree.

Professor Shin Jeong-ah, center.

As news broke, Yale back-tracked: “I’ve seen the fax that supposedly confirms that Shin earned a degree from Yale, and it bears no resemblance to the letter that [the university] sends when actually confirming someone’s degree,” Yale’s Director of Public Affairs wrote in an e-mail to the Yale Daily News.

Yet, quickly thereafter, that paper reported “the University reviewed its documents and determined it had indeed sent the fax in question.”

An official statement explains: “Responding quickly to what appeared to be a routine request, Yale’s staff mistakenly relied on the letterhead and signature on the purported May 2005 letter.”

In addition to her faked Yale degree, Jeong-ah also provided Dongguk University with her Ph.D. dissertation, “Guillaume Apollinaire: Catalyst for Primativism, for Picabia and Duchamp.” That dissertation was later revealed to have been submitted to the University of Virginia in 1981 by Ekaterini Samaltanou-Tsiakma.

After landing a museum curatorship with her fraudulent credentials, Jeong-ah embezzled nearly $400,000 from the institution, posed for nude photographs, and commenced an affair with a top aide to the President of South Korea. She staunchly maintains her Yale diploma, which is missing the signature of the President of that school, is authentic.

Yale has vowed to tighten up operations.