N E T   S U R F    Issue 2.03 - March 1996
Edited by Tom Loosemore and Kristin Spence

Getting Fashionably Wired

By Howard Wen and Tom Loosemore

Put the magazine down for a moment and take a good, honest look at yourself in the mirror. Go on. Chances are, what you're wearing right now is pretty scary. At best, it's passably dull.

At worst? Hmmm, oh dear.... For some reason, the Net harbours rather more than its fair share of the fashionably-challenged.

Take Charlie's Sneaker Pages ( http://www.neosoft.com/~sneakers/). I fear that our Charlie knows more about the nuances of athletic footwear than an extraterrestrial from Planet Reebok (that's not a compliment, btw...). With shameless links to a heap of resources, Charlie's page touches on such enthralling topics as "The most popular sneaker of all time?," "What side of the sneaker gets the logo?," and the ever-helpful "Sneakers for Macintosh users." Only in America....

Fear not, for help is close at hand in the form of a veritable coterie of chic sites catering exclusively for the hauteily wired. First up on the catwalk is the provocatively entitled f.uk ( http://www.widemedia.com/fashionuk/). Pitched as a sort of CyberCosmo, f.uk somehow manages to keep its head a reasonable distance away from its own posterior. Irreverent features abound, including a hysterical account of one woman's quest for her correct cup size. Pop into the Fashion Clinic for online fashion advice from one Ashley-Claire Rossiter, a "top" fashion stylist. Although if I were she I might choose to omit the bit about having styled "the likes of Rod Steward."

Billing itself as the "international online fashion magazine," Lumiere ( http://www.lumiere.com/) takes a more visual approach to Net fashion. With its white-on-black layouts filled with yards of photos, Lumiere is the online version of your full-on fashion glossy. It also covers the US catwalk scene and has a bunch of interviews with famous designers. One for those lucky souls with T1 or ISDN connections.

Another must-bookmark site is N-touch magazine ( http://www.dircon.co.uk/lcf/ntouch.html), which showcases the projects of students from the London College of Fashion. What's here may not be of much personal use to you, but it's fun seeing what the up-and-coming purveyors of good taste (aka the fashion fascists) have up their sleeves. And those body-painted suits are simply delightful, sweetie!

Those taking the first tentative steps towards thread-cred may wish to seek refuge at Lynda Stretton's The Fashion Page ( http://www.charm.net/~jakec/). Renowned as the Web's first fashion resource, it remains essential. Lynda has sound advice for fellas still fumbling with their ties. Through in-line images, she out-lines the correct method to tie a "Pratt knot." And do you know the right way to read your outfits' care labels? Or how to "mix 'n' match" your clothes most appealingly? I sure as hell didn't until Lynda led me to fashion enlightenment.

But, as you travel further down the road to fashion recovery, it's best not to let it all go to your head. Couture maven Sooty has compiled select thoughts and quotations from top supermodels at http://http2.sils.umich.edu/~sooty/fashion.html. It's sobering proof that being a slave to style can have its negative side effects. Cue Veronica Webb: "When my Azzedine jacket from 1987 died, I wrapped it up in a box, attached a note saying where it came from and took it to the Salvation Army. It was a big loss." Tragic, Veronica, absolutely tragic.

Howard Wen (102766.1042@compuserve.com) and Tom Loosemore (tom@wired.co.uk)

  Fetching Reserve

Simple and elegant, the Sotheby's site ( http://www.sothebys.com) sits well with the company's desired image as a bastion of traditional good taste. Sotheby's keep it strictly classic, with nicely under-stated design and plenty of glossy gifs.

In terms of content, the auctioning FAQ features a well thought-out introduction to the vagaries of bidding, while auction previews include the forthcoming sale of the estate of Jacquie Onassis. Statistics on sales of items such as Prince Charles's Aston Martin are quoted, although top billing must go to the three interactive auction adventures.

Scorn ye not, heathens - someone intelligent has sat down and thought long and hard about the design and layout of these educational Weblets - and it shows. And the server push had Wired's resident Webmeister (thass me) positively dribbling with admiration.

Yet not everything on this site is in mint condition. Some of the links are decidedly dodgy and putting up an incorrect telephone number for Sotheby's London office is really rather pitiful considering the quality of the site as a whole. It's certainly not one for your 14.4 modem either, although given the kind of clientele Sotheby's covet, that might be deliberate.

Easily outstripping its reserve price, this site is a genuine class act.

  Straight Outta Brum...

I can't imagine Pat Chapman meets many Lager monsters, though both merit a mention in the admirable Balti Web page ( http://www.ibmpcug.co.uk/~owls/balti.html).

While our Pat offers forth nuggets of wisdom in his role as the country's best-known Balti expert (recipes included), the site quite correctly attributes much of the recent Balti boom to the dish's enthusiastic adoption by the BYO brigade. This site provides a mouth -watering taster for those unfortunates as yet unacquainted with the joys of curry in a bucket.

  Keyboard Envy, and So Much More

It won't ask you about your mother, your childhood, or your recurring nightmares involving homicidal sheep, but http://sunsite.unc.edu/jembin/mb.pl will deliver you a Jungian personality analysis via CGI-script. So get supine and plot your propensity for introspection and spontaneity. Couch sold separately.

These five snippets from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design's Student Homepage are only a smattering of the beautifully rendered sites you'll find via http://www.mcad.edu/compass/students.html. Video loops, photographic portfolios and excellent taste abound.

Among the delectable morsels offered by Doctor Fellowbug's Laboratory of Fun and Horror, The Daily Noise page ranks among the best. Surf to http://www.dtd.com/noise/ to catch the sample of the day!

  One Hand Skipping

As wrist-actions go, Jerdone McGhee's must take a lot of beating. World-stone-skipping-record holder from 1988-1995, McGhee is the driving force behind the North American Stone Skipping Association Web site ( http://www.ccsi.com/yeeha/nassa/a1.html). Promoting stone skipping as one of the most ancient of sports, the site also recommends the pastime as a "natural non-competitive recreation." Snigger, snigger.... Posted up are revealing snippets from the world's only stone skipping book, The Secrets of Stone Skipping, plus video stills from various competitions - including McGhee's 1994 record of 38 skips. Not a man to challenge to a game of soggy biscuit.

  Deeply Dire

Ergh dear. Why won't Deep Purple just give up and die? It's bad enough them embarking on yet another reunion/cash infusion tour, but now they've gotta have their very own Web site ( http://www.fsl.com/purple).

And my, quite a page it is, too! For a band with such a chromatically-suggestive name, you'd expect a funkily-coloured background, wouldn't you? Perchance the odd graphic larger than a postage stamp? That the largest gif on the homepage is a Webvert for a CD mail order company says it all, really. Shameful.

As an indicator of hipness a Web page is already well past its sell-by date. It's now the perfect fadwagon for newly-reinvented second-rate cultural icons seeking to trundle back into the limelight. This site was originally a fan's unofficial tribute, and yeah, that's cool - fans enjoy making shrines to their fallen idols. But Deep Purple are not getting away with making a very mediocre site "official" and then hammering away at the hype button.

"Rock legends or dinosaurs?" The horrible truth is that they're both.

  Phat Phunky pHreaksters

From its roots in the Activist/Rave scene, pHreak ( http://www.phreak.co.uk) has evolved into an ISP/BBS/Web site with a real edge. Hosting all manner of out-there e-zines, exuberant newsgroups and feisty chat channels, pHreak seeks to foster an "on-line community for the digital underground." Sounds alright by us!

Even better, it's all unmistakably British - here's the pHreakypeeps on their very own Drop Zone links section: "Most people call it a list of links. We are so sad and insecure that we have to make up a 'way cool' sounding name for it. But it's a list of links. Right?" Wrong. It's one smooth-jivin', sweet-talkin' mofo of a list of links. Gorgeous.

  Death to the Radio Times!

In our house, the TV listings magazines live on the windowsill next to the loo. That way, should boredom ever beckon during an extended seat-warming sesh, the Radio Times is always close at hand to take up the strain. As it were.

Enter the Yearling Online TV Guide ( http://www.yearling.com) to threaten this cosy arrangement. With schedules available for all the major terrestrial, satellite and cable channels, a few clicks let TV addicts plan their viewing up to a week in advance. The interface is a bit fussy, and you have to register (groan), but there's a nifty search tool (great for hunting down the footy) and the features section wipes the floor compared to the dismal drivel found in your average squished- pulp listings mag. The self-consciously wacky links page could do with a prune - linking to a page detailing "great New Zealand disasters" really is dreadfully passé, my dears.

But never mind - when combined TV/Monitors become the de-facto standard clobber on all new PCs, this site will really come into its own. Hmmm ... how long before it's socially acceptable to install a phone socket in the bathroom?

  Domain Name Games

Student Steve Jenkins recently pulled off something of a coup when he managed to get in ahead of Bill Gates and register Windows95.com as a domain name. With Bill's misfortune in mind, Net Benefit ( http://wwW.netbenefit.co.uk/netbenefit/domain/register.html#search) should prove highly popular with neglectful marketing execs.

This cunning little site enables corporate surfers to check whether anyone else has already snapped up their company's desired domain name. If it's still available, Net Benefit will graciously offer to register it - for a small consideration, bien sûr. As a marketing ploy it's pretty darn cute, especially since anyone can play around and find out which names have already been registered. Regrettably, pimple.com, dandruff .com and anorak.co.uk have already been nab- bed, although nerd.co.uk still seems to be up for grabs. And maybe someone ought to get tarmac.co.uk registered before some kind pixie climbs down from a tree and does it for them....


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