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A woman walks past a newsstand with a sign stating "Charlie Hebdo sold out" at the Ville d'Avray train station, west of Paris Wednesday. Charlie Hebdo's defiant new issue sold out before dawn around Paris on Wednesday, with scuffles at kiosks over dwindling copies of the paper fronting the Prophet Muhammad. (AP Photo/Bertrand Combaldieu)

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

I came to Paris just like any other UT exchange student has before. Despite the ceaseless excitement, I was riddled with anxieties — the lack of a linguistic safety net, the speed of the city and its people, and just the vast distance between me and my whole life as I had known it. That would all soon come to vanish into insignificance.

I arrived in Paris the morning of Jan. 6. I bit the bullet and stayed awake the whole day to put my body on Paris time. The next morning I awoke to what even now I struggle to make sense of. 

Twelve people were murdered by gunmen at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The three gunmen were still at large in the city. They found the gunmen’s car in my arrondissement, or district, of Paris. Al-Qaeda in Yemen were claiming responsibility for the atrocity. This wasn’t a dream, however surreal it may have felt. It was actually happening.

The next morning a police officer was shot in south Paris, and as I made my way through the streets that day, I was surprised. People still held their heads high and went about their day. “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) was everywhere — on T-shirts, on newsstands, even scribbled across the walls inside the Metro. My French is not perfect, but passing through the different bubbles of conversation on the Metro or in the streets, I could hear the words “Charlie Hebdo” being passed around like a canteen among parched throats. People needed to talk about it; they needed to try and make sense of it, and in doing so it helped them pacify their anxieties.

Day three of the attacks was where things started in a darker direction.

I got off at Bastille, a Metro station in central-east Paris, and sat outside at a café to wait for my friends to arrive. Suddenly, the square and surrounding streets were flooded with police. Alarm sirens were piercing the air, unabated for 10 minutes at a time. At Porte de Vincennes, just two subway stations east of where I was, the same gunman who killed a cop the day before had taken people hostage inside a kosher market. The attacks weren’t over, and there was a nervous feeling that the constant threat of terrorist attacks might be a new reality for Paris.

Later that day, the situation was resolved. Five people, including the gunman, were killed at the Jewish market. The perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo shootings had been killed an hour’s drive from Paris in Dammartin-en-Goële. We all breathed a collective sigh of relief. The conversation now turned from the events to how to recover from them. 

Sunday, it was decided, would be the day of the demonstration. The Unity March, it was to be called. Forty of the world’s leaders were to be there, marching with the people of Paris, in a showing of solidarity for the victims and for freedom of speech and expression. I didn’t attend the first demonstration the day of the first shooting, but there was a certain gravity around this one. I had to go. 

I walked outside my apartment that day, 30 minutes before the demonstration, to a silent Paris. No children’s noises. No alarm sirens. Whatever people I did see were heading in one direction — the Metro, to get to the Place de la République. Underground was a different story. Thousands of people, shoulder to shoulder, were desperate to join the masses. The people of Paris had been deeply affected by the events, and it was evident by the sheer volume of people I saw that day.

An ocean of people donned their “Je Suis Charlie” gear. Hats, shirts, picket signs — seemingly every part of the square and its people were a tribute to those lost and the ideals they should have been able to enjoy free from violence.

Most encouraging were the signs that didn’t say “Je Suis Charlie.” The vast majority preached tolerance and a dissociation of the Charlie Hebdo shootings from the religion of Islam. It is no secret that Islamophobia in the West exists and flares up when events like these are carried out by extremists who are following a perverse, mutated version of their religion.

Some English-speaking Muslims told me on the Metro Sunday they definitely did not agree with the controversial cartoons that Charlie Hebdo published about the prophet Muhammad and the other tenets of Islam, but were going to march in the rally and say “Je Suis Charlie” because to them, the threat of losing their ability to freely speak their minds and express their beliefs was far greater than the threat of offensive cartoons.

That sentiment became what “Je Suis Charlie” would come to embody during the march. Many people I spoke with did not endorse every cartoon that Charlie Hebdo had published — many of them are overtly racist and xenophobic in nature. For the people I was around at the march, “Je Suis Charlie” came to mean a tribute to those murdered and an assertion of freedom of expression. The feelings expressed there were overwhelmingly positive. Waves of cheering and support would come washing over the crowd every five minutes or so. All demographics were out en masse, making up the largest public demonstration that France has ever seen — greater than the crowd that amassed when Paris was liberated from the Nazis during WWII. To a college student from Austin, Texas, it was overwhelming, these events and their aftermath, but the expressions of support and declarations of free speech carried an incredible weight that will not soon be forgotten.

Hays is an international relations and journalism junior from Dripping Springs.

L'Horloge d'Orsay

A woman calls to a friend at Musée d'Orsay in Paris, France.


SALT LAKE CITY — A plane carrying three Utah men crashed shortly after takeoff in Texas Saturday, killing all three aboard,
authorities said.

The Piper PA-46 had taken off from an airport near Paris, Texas, around 8 a.m. when it went down.

All three men worked for Utah-based Celtic Bank, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

There was no immediate word on the cause of the crash. The Department of Public Safety said it was reportedly foggy and the plane attempted to turn back toward the airport before descending rapidly and crashing.

The plane burst into flames upon impact, FAA spokesman Roland Herwig told the Tribune.

Stephane Charbonnier, publishing director of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, displays the front page as he poses for photographers in Paris on Wednesday. Police took positions outside the Paris offices of the satirical French weekly that published crude caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

PARIS — France stepped up security Wednesday at its embassies across the Muslim world after a French satirical weekly revived a formula that it has already used to capture attention: publishing crude, lewd caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

Wednesday’s issue of the provocative satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, whose offices were firebombed last year, raised concerns that France could face violent protests like the ones targeting the United States over an amateur video produced in California that have left at least 30 people dead.

The drawings, some of which depicted Muhammad naked and in demeaning or pornographic poses, were met with a swift rebuke by the French government, which warned the magazine could be inflaming tensions, even as it reiterated France’s free speech protections.

Anger over the film “Innocence of Muslims” has sparked violent protests from Asia to Africa, and in the Lebanese port city of Tyre, tens of thousands of people marched in the streets Wednesday, chanting “Oh America, you are God’s enemy!”

Worried France might be targeted, the government ordered its embassies, cultural centers, schools and other official sites to close on Friday — the Muslim holy day — in 20 countries. It also immediately shut down its embassy and the French school in Tunisia, the site of deadly protests at the U.S. Embassy last week.

The French Foreign Ministry issued a travel warning urging French citizens in the Muslim world to exercise “the greatest vigilance,” avoiding public gatherings and “sensitive buildings.”

The controversy could prove tricky for France, which has struggled to integrate its Muslim population, Western Europe’s largest. Many Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad should not be depicted at all — even in a flattering way — because it might encourage idolatry.

Violence provoked by the video, which portrays the prophet as a fraud, womanizer and child molester, has left at least 30 people dead in seven countries. It began with a Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, then quickly spread to Libya, where an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi left the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans dead.

A lawsuit was filed against Charlie Hebdo hours after the issue hit newsstands, the Paris prosecutor’s office said, though it would not say who filed it. The magazine also said its website had been hacked.

Chief editor Stephane Charbonnier, who publishes under the pen name “Charb” and has been under police protection for a year, defended the Muhammad cartoons.

“Muhammad isn’t sacred to me,” he told The Associated Press. “I don’t blame Muslims for not laughing at our drawings. I live under French law. I don’t live under Quranic law.”

He said he had no regrets and felt no responsibility for any violence.

“I’m not the one going into the streets with stones and Kalashnikovs,” he said. “We’ve had 1,000 issues and only three problems, all after front pages about radical Islam.”

A small-circulation weekly, Charlie Hebdo often draws attention for ridiculing sensitivity around the Prophet Muhammad. It was acquitted in 2008 by a Paris appeals court of “publicly abusing a group of people because of their religion” following a complaint by Muslim associations.

Printed on Thursday, Setember 20, 2012 as:  French cartoon offends Muslims

Apron Optional: Sandwiches in Paris

Hey everyone! Still in Paris!

Though I have been out on the streets all day frequenting museums and eating everything in sight, I have been very fortunate to be staying in an apartment with a working kitchen. Since my family is up and running pretty early, it’s great to be able to make something to pack up and take on the go.

For a while now, I’ve wanted to talk about the importance of ingredients. Sometimes, the simplest foods can be the most delicious and presentable. The difference between just another lunch and something memorable can be as simple as the quality of what you put into it.

Before getting to France, my family had anticipated cooking a few meals while we were here. The kitchen works, but it is definitely lacking in a lot of areas: there are only two dull cooking knives and the electric stove is temperamental to say the least.

Because of this, we have had to alter our plans a bit to compensate for the lack of baking capabilities. Honestly, I’ve never been a huge sandwich person (pizza, either — I know, I’m a freak). There is just something so mundane about the sandwich — it’s more of a means to an end than an experience.

However, of all the sandwiches I’ve had, the handful that stick out are all high quality but incredibly simple. For the past few days, we’ve gotten a morning baguette at the bakery down the street and I have made sandwiches to go with some pancetta from a local charcuterie (the fancy word for a meat shop) and some obscure soft cheese (the name peeled off, but it is very similar to a rich brie) from a fromagerie (cheese shop) in the neighborhood. I can’t stop eating currants (and making puns about them), so I usually have some on the side.

The great thing about Austin is that there are so many local shops that sell fresh and superior food products. The bevy of farmers markets, specialty shops and bakeries makes shopping for food fun and accessible.

In simpler foods, the quality of your ingredients makes all the difference — you know, like the difference between eating a ham and cheese and enjoying a pancetta and brie.

Next week, I will be back to my usual apron-enhanced cooking adventures, probably still reeling from French food withdrawals.

Art in Translation: Canvassing the streets of Paris for art

Adjacent from an old cathedral in Paris is well-known French street artist Jean-François Perroy’s composition of a bewildered man.
Adjacent from an old cathedral in Paris is well-known French street artist Jean-François Perroy’s composition of a bewildered man.

Bonjour from Paris!

I barely had time to write this post. I’ve been ducking in and out of art museums and eating and drinking to my heart’s content, but no need to worry about my health — I’ve walked so much I can’t feel my feet.

I had my hesitations about Paris. I have always dreamed of coming here and I was worried it wouldn’t live up to the hype. Wrong. Without sounding like every other girl on the planet — I am absolutely in love with everything about it.

While the amount of art here is making my heart swell (My favorite sculpture, Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, is literally two blocks away from my family’s apartment at the Centre Pompidou!), I am always captivated by the way such old cities embrace cultural innovation.

Until now, when I thought about the juxtaposition between classic and contemporary, my mind always went to New York City. However, after seeing such large-scale street art immersed throughout Paris, I may have to change my mind.

I have seen so much art, but as I have left my handy copyright guide in the states and my Internet connection is sparse, I will be sharing my thoughts on the very first piece of art I saw upon arrival. Brace yourselves; Today, we’re looking at street art.

This unnamed piece is actually by a well-known urban stencil artist named Jean-François Perroy, who tags his work ‘Jef Aerosol.’ Starting in the early ‘80s, he became an integral player in the first generation of street artists who elevated the style to a higher art. In other words, this isn’t just another neighborhood tag.

I love this piece first for its scale. I don’t have exact measurements but the thing must be at least 50 feet tall. It struck me most because it is adjacent to an old cathedral, giving the piece a fascinating contrast between this bold, contemporary statement and the traditional French architectural landscape.

A cropped black and white profile of man’s face, with a finger to his lips and his eyes bulging, forefronts a rainbow backdrop of splattering spots. His bulging eyes and their haunting expression are what draw you — equal parts cautionary and anxious. A red arrow pointing to the eye closest to the viewer suggests the viewer should focus on the emotion coming out of the eye.

Street art is meant to be seen while on the go. The artist does not often expect people to stop and ponder the piece for long periods of time.

Though this art style has been utilized internationally for several decades now, many people still don’t see it as art. That’s why it is so refreshing to see a city as old and historically rich as Paris protecting (and sometimes fencing off) such innovative creative works alongside their iconic classic treasures.

Has any street art caught your eye?

Until next time, au revoir! (I can barely pronounce that — did I mention I don’t speak any French at all?)

Apron Optional: Shortbread

The shape and firmness of shortbread make it an easy snack to wrap up and send to friends and family. This simple, five-ingredient recipe can have warm shortbread ready in a little over half an hour.
The shape and firmness of shortbread make it an easy snack to wrap up and send to friends and family. This simple, five-ingredient recipe can have warm shortbread ready in a little over half an hour.

Where to begin? This week has been chaotic.

I’ve been in the hectic process of moving out of my apartment. I am always equal parts amazed and disgusted by the sheer magnitude of stuff I am able to cram into my apartment. It’s insane, really.

What’s the plus side to all of this madness you may ask? I will be spending the next week in Paris with my family. I’m ecstatic just thinking about the art and food — I can’t decide which is more exciting. Since we are staying in an apartment next week, I will actually be cooking for you from France — in my French kitchen!

Because of all this hustle and bustle, I wanted to make something relatively simple that would also serve as a good travel snack (I think I build up the drive to Houston in my head as some grand excursion and prepare as such).

Although I make desserts a lot, I’m don’t really have a huge sweet tooth. With the exception of a few things, I never really ‘crave’ dessert (don’t think that stops me from eating them often).

One thing I can’t resist is a good piece of shortbread. The crunchy, crumbly texture is almost as addicting as the rich, buttery flavor. It’s one of those things that tastes so perfect in its simplicity. Really, the only flaw in shortbread is me — I could polish off a whole tin of it in one sitting if I’m not careful.

Shortbread is relatively easy to make, and it comes out consistently well. But I am convinced that the more carefully you follow the recipe, the better they come out. Sometimes the simpler something is, the more noticeable the quality can be.

You can make your cookies in a round pan and cut them into triangles, kind of like pizza slices. Or, you can do what I prefer and make rectangular bars. Really, they can be any shape you like (I almost considered longhorn-shaped cookies!). But the smaller they are, the better they pack without breaking.

Packablility is something to consider, primarily if you’re giving your shortbread to someone. The cookie itself travels well and could easily be sent to a friend far away or delivered to that lucky son of a gun nearby. I mean what a great gift, right? FYI: I’m always registered for shortbread gifts.

Now I know this isn’t exactly a revolutionary idea, but the other great thing about shortbread is its incredible dipping ability. My personal dunking (or spreading, if you’re fancy) favorites are Nutella and jam, such as strawberry or red/black current.

I used a recipe I found on because it was simple (it only has three ingredients!), but I added 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla and a pinch of kosher salt to enhance the flavor. In this case, the vanilla doesn’t so much alter the flavor as it enhances the buttery taste — and who doesn’t want that?

Until next week, au revoir! (I should really learn how to say something else in French before I get there...)

An unidentified man comforts schoolchildren as they leave their Jewish private school after a gunman opened fire killing several people in Toulouse, southwestern France, Monday, March 19, 2012. A father and his two sons were among four people who died Monday when a gunman opened fire in front of a Jewish school, the Toulouse prosecutor said Monday.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

TOULOUSE, France — A motorbike assailant opened fire with two handguns Monday in front of a Jewish school in the French city of Toulouse, killing a rabbi, his two young sons and a girl. One witness described him as a man chasing small children and “looking to kill.”

One of the guns he used also had been fired in two other deadly motorbike attacks in the area that targeted paratroopers of North African and French Caribbean origin, officials said. French President Nicolas Sarkozy suggested one person was responsible for all the killings.

A massive manhunt was under way and the terrorism alert level was raised to its highest level ever across a swath of southern France surrounding Toulouse. Hundreds of officers increased security at schools, synagogues and mosques around the country, and Sarkozy said 14 riot police units “will secure the region as long as this criminal” hasn’t been caught.

France has seen a low drumroll of anti-Semitic incidents but no attack so deadly targeting Jews since the early 1980s. This country is particularly sensitive toward its Jewish community because of its World War II past of abetting Nazi occupiers in deporting Jewish citizens.

French prosecutors were studying possible terrorist links but the motive for all three attacks was unclear. Still, issues about religious minorities and race have emerged prominently in France’s presidential campaign, in which the conservative Sarkozy has taken his traditional hard line against immigration.

News that the gun was used in attacks last week around Toulouse fueled suspicions that a serial killer was targeting not only Jews, but French minorities. A police official said the same .45-caliber handgun was used in two previous attacks that killed three paratroopers and seriously injured another. In all three cases, the attacker came on a motorcycle, apparently alone, and then sped away.

Monday’s attack was as quick as it was terrifying. A 30-year-old rabbi, Jonathan Sandler, and two of his sons were killed just before classes started at the Ozar Hatorah school, a junior high and high school in a quiet neighborhood, Toulouse Prosecutor Michel Valet said. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the sons were 4- and 5-years-old.

Another child, the 7-year-old daughter of the school principal, was also killed, school officials said. Valet said a 17-year-old boy was also seriously wounded.

“He shot at everything he had in front of him, children and adults,” Valet said. “The children were chased inside the school.”Nicole Yardeni, a local Jewish official who saw security video of the attack from the single camera near the school gate, described the shooter as “determined, athletic and well-toned.” She said he wore a helmet with the visor down.

“You see a man park his motorcycle, start to shoot, enter the school grounds and chase children to catch one and shoot a bullet into her head,” Yardeni said. “It’s unbearable to watch and you can’t watch anymore after that. He was looking to kill.”

The bodies were brought in hearses to the school Monday night for an evening vigil. All of the dead had joint Israeli-French citizenship and will be buried in Israel, the Israel Foreign Ministry said.In Monday’s attack, which took place about 8 a.m., the killer also used a .35-caliber gun, the police official said. At least 15 shots were fired at the school, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

A police union official in Paris said the shooter knew weapons well to handle a .45-caliber handgun plus a second gun.

“The shooter is someone used to holding arms,” Nicolas Comte of the SGP FO police union. “He knows what he’s doing, like an ex-military guy.”

Sarkozy rushed to Toulouse to visit the school with Richard Prasquier, the president of CRIF, the umbrella group representing Jewish organizations.

“This act was odious, it cannot remain unpunished,” Sarkozy said.

“We do not know the motivations of this criminal. Of course, by attacking children and a teacher who were Jewish, the anti-Semitic motivation appears obvious. Regarding our soldiers, we can imagine that racism and murderous madness are in this case linked,” he said Monday night after returning to Paris.

Sarkozy’s challengers for the presidential vote in April and May also hurried to the scene.

The slain rabbi taught at the school and reportedly arrived from Jerusalem last September with his wife and children.

France has the largest Jewish community in Western Europe, estimated at about 500,000, as well as its largest Muslim population, about 5 million.

Toulouse, a southwestern city north of the Pyrenees mountains, has about 10,000 to 15,000 Jews in its overall population of 440,000, said Jean-Paul Amoyelle, the president of the Ozar Hatorah school network in France. He said its Jewish community is well integrated into the city.

The school targeted Monday, behind a high white wall, was cordoned off by police, who then escorted other children out as forensics police combed the scene. Six bullet holes circled an aluminum fence that surrounds the school.

One officer held a distraught girl, her face in her hands. A mother and son wearing a yarmulke walked away from the site, their faces visibly pained.

“Everything leads one to believe that these were racist and anti-Semitic acts,” Toulouse Mayor Pierre Cohen said on BFM-TV.

“This is a Jewish school, well identified as such, and it is normal to think that anti-Semitism is at cause,” CRIF said in a statement.

Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told The Associated Press the suspect made his getaway on a dark-colored scooter — just as the assailant or assailants did in the two deadly shootings last week.

On March 10, a gunman on a motorbike shot and killed a paratrooper in Toulouse. Last Thursday, a gunman on a motorbike opened fire on three uniformed paratroopers at a bank machine in Montauban, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Toulouse, killing two and critically wounding the other.

The mother of one student, Corinne Tordjeman, had just finished dropping off her 14-year-old son Alexandre when the attacker came. Alexandre described hearing the shots and parents shouting and how he saw blood all over the ground. Her younger daughter was supposed to go to a birthday party this weekend with the girl who was killed.

The killer “knew that killing Jewish children would make a lot of noise, but tomorrow it could be a Christian, a Muslim, or anyone else,” she said.

One man who lives near the school had just spoken with the rabbi.

“I said “Bonjour” to him like normal,” said the 29-year-old, asking to be identified only by his first name, Baroukh.

“Then he went out into the school entrance. I heard the shots and I turned around and saw him on the ground. He looked dead. But I didn’t have much time to see who did it because I panicked and started running away.”

Paris police said Monday they are also investigating threats against two synagogues in Paris from last week. A police official said there was no apparent link between those threats and Monday’s shooting.

In Jerusalem, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said “whether it was a terror attack or a hate crime, the loss of life is unacceptable.”The U.S. government said it joined France in condemning this unprovoked and outrageous act of violence in the strongest possible terms.”

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the victims, and we stand with a community in grief,” U.S. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

Special prayers were offered Monday in Paris and a minute of silence in all French schools is to be held today.

Printed on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 as: Four slain in French Jewish school

Beth Zimmerman models an outfit from the Jason Wu Collection for Target projected onto a whiteboard. Wu’s collection, almost all of whose items are priced less than $60, sold out only hours after being debuted online.

Photo Credit: Batli Joselevitz | Daily Texan Staff

While football fans wore jerseys emblazoned with their team’s logo on Super Bowl Sunday, fashion fiends around the nation slipped into comfortable shoes and an outfit that would be easy to quickly peel on and off in the fitting rooms for the launch of designer Jason Wu’s line for Target.

Inspired by French films and an “American girl in Paris,” Wu created a 53-piece line including A-line dresses, structured handbags and a soon-to-be iconic black cat T-shirt. Although prices from Wu’s main line can easily reach thousands of dollars in high-end department stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, prices for his Target line range from $19.99 to $59.99. Target manager Kelsey Ubrich said that her store’s location at 5300 South MoPac Expressway had a line of 40 to 50 people outside its doors by around 7:30 a.m. on Sunday.

“Overall, we thought it went really well,” Ubrich said. “We weren’t sure of what the turnout would be because Jason Wu is a little lesser known than Missoni, but we thought it was a safe environment and that our customers seemed happy.”

Ubrich alluded to the infamous Missoni for Target launch this past September that not only had shoppers in a manic rush, but also crashed the Target website. Ubrich said that by Sunday afternoon, there was still about a quarter of Wu merchandise left in the store. With the nature of expected returns, a store may be sold out now but could have items in the next weeks.

Though Jason Wu may not be a household name yet, the fashion-hungry crowd has craved Wu’s signature whimsically feminine yet crisp, clean styles since he won the Fashion Group International’s Rising Star award in 2008. Wu, 29, also gained notoriety when he custom-designed first lady Michelle Obama’s inauguration gown. The one-shouldered white gown, in all its gauzy glory with dozens of delicate organza flowers, is now being preserved at the Smithsonian’s first ladies’ exhibit.

Elizabeth Allensworth, assistant public relations director for UT’s University Fashion Group, was excited about the collaboration.

“Jason Wu has an obvious soft, feminine quality with an air of sophistication as well,” Allensworth said. “The Jason Wu for Target line has a delightful nod to the ‘60s.”

The group’s public relations director Tyler Neal said the line incorporated American style refined with typical Parisian sophistication.

“Every girl dreams of going to Paris, and Jason Wu is bringing that to life in his new collection,” Neal said.

While Target has touted widely popular brand collaborations with Missoni and Zac Posen, many other retailers have undertaken similar lines. Chanel mastermind Karl Lagerfeld designed a line for Macy’s this past September, featuring pieces that ranged from $50 to $170.

Lagerfeld also designed a line for retailer H&M in 2004, and the store has since then been pumping out a steady stream of guest-designer collaborations, each one more hyped than the last. Most recently, fashion powerhouse Versace graced H&M racks with studded leather shift dresses and tropical-printed leggings.

Allensworth believes that the designer lines for lower-end retailers become crazes because of the accessibility it provides customers who may not have felt comfortable stepping into a high-end department store.

“High fashion is great, but as a consumer, consistently feeling left out or not good enough can be discouraging,” Allensworth said. “It’s one of the rare times where you can essentially have it all, the label and the affordable price.”

Textiles and apparel design sophomore Natalie Poche agreed.

“It’s like a taste of the good life,” Poche said. “Also, I love it because it makes me feel as if the designer wants everybody to be able to afford and wear their pieces.”

Most retail collaborations cleverly release a lookbook of the line’s items prior to its launch. Those images usually become viral on fashion blogs and are published in fashion magazines, creating enough buzz to predict customer turnout before the line even launches. Stores carry a limited supply of the line’s items and state that, in most cases, their stock of a guest-designed line won’t be replenished.

“The ‘craze’ part comes in when people realize how short of an amount of time they have to gather up their favorite pieces before someone else snatches it up,” Poche said.

If you couldn’t scoop up any of the Jason Wu styles from Target this past week, rest assured that there are plenty designer collaborations on the way, including Alberta Ferretti for Macy’s this April. The Italian fashion house is known for artfully twisted and tucked chiffon gowns. Also, Marni for H&M will be released this March, featuring its signature jewel tones and bohemian prints. While the fashion cult favorite retailer H&M has 2,300 stores in over 43 countries, Texas is only home to one of them in Dallas.

Designer-store collaborations have single-handedly transformed stores that most fashion worshippers had previously sworn off into cool-again meccas for discounted designer treasures that are “oh so recession-chic.”

Printed on, February 7, 2012 as:Retail, designer combines high class look with low price

This Year in Culture: 2011

Photo Credit: Betsy Cooper | Daily Texan Staff

Editor's Note: The Life & Arts senior staff combed through this year’s pop culture and selected the artists, albums, books and movements that they think, in one way or another, helped define 2011. This is the second in a two-day series.

2011 certainly wasn’t a banner year for America. After all, political gridlock, massive protest movements and a slowly collapsing economy have made for a fairly volatile climate, and it’s no surprise that many of this year’s filmmakers took it upon themselves to look back to better days.

Many films were, in one way or another, looking back into the past, and more importantly, reflecting upon the ways movies themselves are a major part of the past, present and future. Look at J.J. Abrams’s moving “Super 8,” constructed as an elaborate tribute to Spielberg adventure films of the 1980’s and working both as a nostalgic walk down memory lane and a big-budget exploration of the ways cinema and the shared joy of working on something you love can put a person back together.

Other films were interested in what exactly makes movies so compelling to us, and explored the subject by taking romanticized looks back at Hollywood’s history. Films like “The Artist” and “My Week with Marilyn” are both fairly detached examinations of stardom, and the ways that a star’s on-screen image can be simultaneously corrosive and fulfilling, the stars gladly bringing about their own emotional or financial ruin off-screen so that their fans can continue to admire them in theaters.

However, no two films capture nostalgia and the importance of film more effectively and succinctly than Martin Scorcese’s “Hugo” and Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris.” Both films are by verifiable masters of cinema, relocated from their trademark New York City locale to the wonders of Paris, France, and both make very different arguments concerning nostalgia.

“Midnight in Paris” is one of the year’s great success stories and easily one of its finest films. Allen surrogate Gil (played by Owen Wilson) is a writer wishing he could live in the Paris of the past, and finds himself magically transported back so he can rub elbows with some of history’s most remarkable artists, including Ernest Hemingway, brought to life by a splendid performance from Corey Stoll.

The film captures everything that makes a yearning for the past so special, from the swooning vocals of Cole Porter performing live in the corner to the sheer beauty of 1930’s Paris, but also functions as a condemnation of nostalgia, demonstrating how it can be just as creatively destructive as it is inspiring and as dangerous as it is seductive. Even though Allen stresses the importance of living in the present, one can’t help but notice the undeniable sense of romance and wonder that defines much of “Midnight’s” appeal.

Meanwhile, Martin Scorcese’s “Hugo” is a film with a very different agenda on its mind. Set entirely in the Golden Age that Allen’s film simultaneously idolizes and
dismisses, Scorcese portrays his setting as a beautiful, elegant time and place, but is far more concerned with making an impassioned stand for film preservation.

Scorcese’s film is less about nostalgia than it is the importance of film history, but still functions as an examination of the importance of the past in its own way.

After all, the films Scorcese wants to preserve are the ground floor of the skyscraper of cinema, and throughout the film, various characters are discussing how movies are a special place, one where dreams can come true and troubles can fall away.

Films this year have taken long looks at the medium, its history, and how important it is for audiences of all ages. While Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” cautions against too much focus on the past, films like “Hugo” or “Super 8” make an argument that’s just as convincing, painting movies as much more than a trifle or distraction, showing us how pictures of the past can be important, fulfilling, or even, every once in a while, magical.