Saturday, December 28, 2013

Debrief from Dallas

I covered the Dallas NAC solo--Allison sat this one out. But for future reference, know what you-all are totally welcome to say to either of us at a competition?

"OMG Fashionistas! You have to take a picture of my SHOOOOES!"

Besides the fact that, yes, these are very cool shoes, we love being invited to take pictures. Please--let us help you strut your stuff.

That said, many of the pictures from Dallas were surreptitious, mostly because I don't like to interrupt people when they are actually, you know, fencing. 

Even when they have massively fabulous hair

Or, by way of contrast, a full hood and steampunk goggles under their mask. (Whaaa?)

Hey, sometimes we ask permission, as with the winner of this NAC's "Best Dressed Ref" award 

Timothy Buckwalter
Pairing a black shirt with the requisite navy blazer made this outfit a contender, but the seasonally appropriate tie pushed it over the top. Good job, Mr. Buckwalter.

Award for best club jacket goes to Moe Wen Fencing Club in Somerville, Mass.

Admittedly I was swayed by the club name itself. (Think of all the great slogans! "Moe betta fencing." "The Three Other Musketeers: Larry, Curly and Moe.") But I also loved the way their logo echoes that of The Saint.

Best major fashion sighting: Miles Chamley-Watson in Absolute Fencing's uniform with American flag piping. On MCW, thats a lot of piping. 

But it looks cute on little uniforms, too.

Best practical fashion item: this tricolor body cord from Alliance Fencing. If you've ever repaired a body wire, and forgotten which was the B wire and which the C, you will recognize how useful it is to color-code the lines (as well as being aesthetically pleasing. Pair it with the piped uniform above as well as the USA flag mask for an Über-patriotic look.) 

I don't see either the piped uniform or the tricolor cord on the websites of their respective vendors, so maybe you just have to come to the next NAC if you want to get them, eh?

Backing up a tad, I should note that all of my fashion observations in Dallas were colored by the fact that the NAC was sharing the convention center with a few hundred teens competing in a cheerleading competition.

This was more than slightly surreal--like being surrounded by tiny, muscular crosses between Mary Lou Retton and Tammy Faye Bakker. It was even funnier when clumps of cheerleaders wandered into the venue to watch the fencing. Suffice to say they weren't looking at the vets. In fact, I think at least one was sniggering at my stretching routine before the round of four. (Hey, kid, try doing this when you are over fifty, then you can laugh at me.)

Finally, a note on the bling. You may remember I have blogged my ambiguous feelings about medals. This NAC offered the perfect solution: loaner medals that were passed out for the podium ceremony, then repossessed. And to make it truly perfect, everybody used the same set: Wheelchair Women's Saber, thus making me a two time medalist for an event in which I've never competed. Love it.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Race to the Top

Seems like only yesterday that Race Imboden was a kid.

This video is a great review of his early years (complete with parents' perspective on raising a fencing prodigy). 

It reminds me, when fencing the skinny kids dorking about at our club, that any of them might be whupping my butt in a few years.

My how fast they grow up. I just got back from Dallas where I got to see Imboden take gold in Div 1, beating Alexander Massialis 15-12. 

Besides being a kick-ass fencer, Race has joined the ranks of fencers in professional fashion, along with fellow Olympians Miles Chamley Watson and Tim Morehouse. Frankly, it's hard to sex up a fencing uniform, but here he manages quite well, thank you.

Image by David Needleman on Visual Tales
(Um, Race? Yellow card for no plastron.) 

Here is an interview he did on fencing, and DJing (yet a third vocation) with

Photo by Greg Vaughan for

It's been particularly interesting to watch the evolution of his hair, from a relatively straightforward comb-back

Photo from Wikipedia

To sexy tousled mop

By Greg Vaughan for Daily Male Models

To a truly imposing pompadour. 

Photo by Larry Schwarz
Notice how restrained I have been in not describing these shots as "racy."  Whoops, slipped. My bad.

Here is perhaps the only "voyeuristic" art film ever made about fencing (but do please tell me if I'm wrong. And send links.)

Race Imboden: Balancing Act on

In this interview for The Journal Race flaunts his fashion chops in an interesting mix of fencing and street wear. 

(He's just making up for not wearing a plastron in that first shot, right? Right.)

Now Race has started his own blog, Have Foil will Travel, where you can keep up with his thoughts on fencing, fashion and music.  

I've added it to my bookmarks, and look forward to following Race's careers as a fencer, model and disc jockey.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Gifts for the Fashionable Fencer

It's time to start stocking up on gifts for the fencers in your life! (Or assembling your own wish list, for that matter.) 

The Fashionistas have a few suggestions to offer to inspire your shopping and your own wardrobe planning for the '14 season.

Starting from the bottom up, we predict the stylish fencer may be wearing Shwings this year.

These are an inexpensive riff on Jeremy Scott's iconic Adidas Wings. (But feel free to ask for a pair of those, too.)

Jeremy Scott Wings: Special Eason Chan edition for
 the Chinese New Year

Socks are a great way to stuff a stocking (with a stocking), for a fencer looking to jazz up his or her competition attire

Sock Dreams is a great source of fencing sock-wear. See, for example, these "Checkered Neon Chaos" over-the-knees. We are all for a bit of chaos on the strip. 

Badger is a fan of fingerless gloves, because a) they keep her paws warm in the frequently freezing venues, and b) they provide a bit of protection when you straighten your blade (or your opponent goes passé). Also, they offer a simple way to bling out the off-hand. You can find a wide variety of styles on Etsy, including:

By JungleTribe



Really, really silly

(Don't feel snakish? WarmnCozyHands makes these gloves in owls and bunnies, too.)

And last but not least, flat out intimidating

Lady Gaga Spiked Gloves by Chrisst

Refs probably wouldn't allow these, would they? Too bad. 

Moving to the realm of Podium Possibilities, consider Epaulettes, to jazz up the warm up jacket. 

From Epaulette Fashion

And Badger can never resist recommending a good pair of shoes, on or off the strip. How about some comfy sneakers for hanging out after the fencing is over? Jeremy Scott offers a range of fun and affordable options that are:

Instinct Hi by Jeremy Scott for Adidas

Bear Trainers, Jeremy Scott
                                                                                          or Classy
Jeremy Scott Wings Wedge Hi
Well, that's enough gift ideas for now. Have at it! And if you have any suggestions for stocking stuffers or larger prezzies to share with fellow fencers, share descriptions and links in the comments section below. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Tag, You're It

Last Saturday, both the Fashionistas had a grand time fencing the Veterans' Day Tournament and Reception at Dark Horse Fencing Club in Fredericksberg, Virginia. We did think it rather apropos that the club, displaced from its usual location by a craft show, held the competition at the Encounter Church of God. 

As a perfect ending to a lovely day of bladework, we spotted these tags in the parking lot on the way out:  

We already had our eyes open for good fencing tags, inspired by the cars of Badger's fellow assistant coaches at Rockville Fencing Academy

But it leaves us thinking--this has got to be the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There are so many other good fencing tags that MUST have been realized across the country. Please, send pics, and we will add them to the blog. Failing that, suggest your favorite theoretical tag in the comment section, below, in the hope that someone will take up the idea. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Review: FIE 100 Fencing Fashion for the Future

To celebrate its centennial, the Federation International d'Escrime (International Fencing Federation) invited fencing equipment manufacturers from around the world to design "original and modern" outfits that might shape the future "look" of fencing. They have our total love and support for doing this!

All the entries are featured in an album on the FIE Facebook page and through November 26, you are invited to cast your vote by "liking" one or more of the outfits featured in the pics. (As an added incentive, every day FIE is selecting three winners from among the voters to receive an FIE fencing pin.)

Heck with the pin, these Fashionistas think the opportunity to review this fencing fashion show is reward enough in itself. Here, without further ado, are Badger and Allison's takes on the entries. (Large images from the FIE page follow.)


B: This looks like it is meant to be a functional uniform--because the model is en guard (more or less) and carrying a weapon.

A: My first impulse is "cool!" Then I start thinking about the practicalities. How do I wash this thing? Does it have a self contained power source? 

B: We both agree it would be cool if the spot that gets hit is the part that lights up. On the other hand, with the whole uniform illuminated, you could fence in the dark. :) 

A: Overall, I'd give it a 4 stars, just for the crazy. One star off because of the whole sanitation issue.

B: I'm gonna give it 3 stars. The overall look is very "disco nights," and I wasn't that big on the 70's.


Allison: from a fashion AND a fencing perspective, my question is "why?" Why the fluted cuffs and bellbottoms? Could be personal preference, but I'm not feeling it.

B: And why would you have a floofy cuff on the weapon hand? This is another one that looks like it is trying to be functional. Since I already said I'm not big on the '70's, you can predict how I am going to react to the bellbottoms. 

A: I gotta say I like the piping on the men's jacket--I do love good tailoring! 

B: I love the fact that she is posing in high heels. If she actually fences in them, I'll give it 5 stars. Pending that, I will give it a 2.

A: But not epee--those toes are exposed! I agree with you on the 2.


B: These are awesome Podium Possibilities! I interpret them as warm-up and post-competition additions to a uniform. The ruff is very dressy.

A: And Edna Mode may hate capes, but I like the cape. It has a certain amount of flash. And the one on the left, other than the epaulets, looks like it would provide a good deal of protection. 

B: Maybe the epaulets are removable: you can put them back on after DEs. As for the cape--much easier to get on and off quickly than a warm up jacket. I'm all for capes becoming the norm in the venue

A: I'm gonna give it 5 stars for sheer flash.

B: I guess I'm a tough grader. I give it a 4 1/2. I like it a lot, but in terms of fashion, it is a too historically derivative to get the whole 5 stars in a "future fashion" competition. 

Nathalie D’Anvers & Vassiliki for Cartel

A: Hmmm. It's an interesting fancy. It doesn't actually cover what, um, needs to be covered. Also, last I checked, short sword wasn't an option in international competition. Arguably, however, the shiniest helmet here.

B: First, Xena would be thrilled. But second, I'm not sure this adheres to the challenge. Is this the fencing look of the future, or the Roman past? Definitely non-functional for the strip, and I have a feeling that USFA won't count this as appropriate warm-up gear on the podium. 

A: I'll give it 3 stars because it is kinda cool, I'm just not sure it fits the challenge.

B: I want to give it a 5 because they were so unconstrained in their thinking, but I'm going to agree with your "3" for all the reasons above.

 Shanghai Jianli

A: Looks pretty functional, and I do love minimalism. But the straight cut to the bottom of the jacket makes me wonder if this isn't more for coaches.

B: I wish the scarf didn't obscure the details on the left. I interpret that as fashion wear, not functional. But love the subtle nod to a uniform in the cut of the jacket, and way it is tarted up with brocade at the cuffs. The right looks like a comfy coaching jacket.

A: I'm going to give it 5 stars, because it is so elegant. Pracalities of wearing a lame over it aside.

B: mmm. 4 stars. Not quite wearable enough for a uniform, not dramatically fencing enough to earn the final touch if it is meant to be worn off the strip.
Leon Paul

A: It lights up! And points for a bandolier to hold the weapon!

B: I am in loooooove. The look is totally "Tron," which is appropriate for a future fashion challenge. (If that reference doesn't ring a bell, watch this YouTube clip.) I'm not sure exactly how, but the lighting looks like it could synch to the scoring mechanism. And the skirt looks removable! Off to fence with, on again for the podium. Very elegant. I'm giving this a 5 star rating.

A: 5 stars too!

Hélène Chassaing & Idriss Moujan for Negrini

A: I like the shaping on the left, however padding out your forward arm--it's easy to go overboard from protection to impeding movement.

B: I interpreted that as the forward arm, too--looks like the jacket closure is on the other side. Which is too bad, because gussying up the off arm seems like a great idea (one of the few areas we have scope for non-functional embellishment!) 

A: 3 with reservations because we don't see the completed garment.

B: Agree, or abstain pending more details. The FIE Facebook page said they might feature updates with more details as the week goes on.


A: At first I thought "meh," but then when I looked closer I saw the corded trim. I like it! Very clear it is still a fencing uniform. Possible to update in pieces, instead of all at once like most of the others.

B: Love the trim--immediate, practical idea. (Watch me run out for some cording.) The back shoulder "wing" on the guy is interesting. I suspect an epeeist or sabreur would not appreciate the extra target area, but for foil it is a nice visual touch. Likewise the quarter skirt on the back hip of the woman's uniform. 

A: 5 as a transitional uniform, from this to something even more modern.

B: 4 for immediate practicality. Would love to see what they come up with if pushed to be a little more "out there."


A: Another concept drawing, and I want to see the execution. How many women are going to want to wear something that tight? (I know, French women don't get fat.) Or men, for that matter?

B: Clearly it is designed for Seven of Nine. I have to abstain--it is too hard for me to translate this into the finished piece.

A: Me too. I'm still trying to figure out what is specifically fencing about it, aside from the masks. 


OK! Your turn to comment (below) and vote (on the FIE Facebook page). 

And FIE? Next time you hold a fencing fashion show, send us some VIP passes and we would be happy to cover it in person :). 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

More(house) Fencing Fashion

Look what I found! A video interview with Olympian Tim Morehouse by The Sartorialist.

Says Morehouse: "I was a kid that didn't have a lot of confidence. Once I started putting the mask on, I sort of took on this whole different persona. That started to also reflect in my life. As you start to put on the uniform, you start to get into this mode...I think as I put it on, I start to stand up a little bit straighter, I start to get ready, maybe I am a little bit more commanding, once I start putting on the stuff." 

Do you feel the same way when you don the mask and zip up your lamé?

And look what happens when you stand up straight! Morehouse founded the nonprofit Fencing in the Schools two years ago to “Empower youth to achieve excellence through the sport of fencing” and fight childhood obesity. 

I like this video of the first Fencing in the Schools program in Rigby and Pocatello Idaho (the first outside of NYC).

(Check out the student bouting in a long pink skirt toward the end of the footage. We should all have such a sense of fencing style.) 

During the 2013-2014 school year, Fencing in the Schools expects to provide an introductory fencing program to over 10,000 students across 7 states. You can support their good work by making a donation, sponsoring a school's participation via Crowdrise, or leading a fundraiser yourself for a school in your area. You can also learn more about Project Hope, which brings Fencing in the Schools Athlete Ambassadors to hospitals to give demos for children and let them try out foam sabers. 

Now, can Tim persuade his student Dita Von Teese to give fashion clinics at the schools at the same time? That would be awesome. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Testing, Testing

It seems appropriate, on Labor Day, to say thank you to those who work brutally long hours to support our romping on the strip.

For once, I don't mean the referees. I mean the armorers.

Who, may I point out, have far more sartorial freedom than either the fencers or the refs.

Which they sometimes take advantage of, whether with the kind of "sleeve" a competitor never gets to show:

Or smart-ass t-shirts.

I respect them for blinging out their gear, too, whether it is the testing machine

Or the little bits of lamé they tape to the table. 

So here's to the the armorers, who have to show up early and leave late, face long lines of competitors with a minimum of gruffness and be ready run to the rescue anywhere in the venue when gremlins invade the strip, the machine, the floor cord and all the other fiddly bits of our electronic support that can go out of whack. 

And a special shout-out to an armorer by the name of...

Al "Badger" Merritt. (Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.)