Saturday, 30 April 2011

My Hair-oines (excuse the pun)

[Images taken from: Scalpture Blog; Grazia Daily; NY Mag].

Even though I am awful at remembering to brush it or actually dry it before I venture outside, hair has been a big thing for me since I began cutting my own mop in 2004. I've been choppy, angular, wavy, curled, asymmetric, irritatingly short and scarily long (which results in a close resemblance to Miss Piggy). Colour-wise, I've graced the bathtub with permanent reminders of shocking pink. purple tips, half blue (might I add, several years before Katie Shillingford did the same), near white, orange, pale blue with red tips, auburn, scarlet, mahogany, light brown, tan and various shades of blonde. I am yet to open a packet of dye labelled 'Tropical Green' because my quest for the perfect shade of turquoise was too exhausting. In honour of this little hair obsession, here are three big barnet looks that have got me gripped:

#1: The aforementioned Katie Shillingford, of Dazed and Confused magazine, loves hair transformations nearly as much as I do. Here she is in teal, with a great contrasting burgundy lip and a Miu Miu bag which I definitely cannot afford.

#2: Vivienne Westwood backstage at her SS/10 show, being given the same hair treatment as her catwalk models. The woman is almost a religion to me. She doesn't give a crap what you think of her, and she will quite happily take inspiration from a photograph of a man with his hair on fire for her shows (that's what Grazia said influenced this look). You just don't mess with a woman who can be so insanely creative. She is such an asset to British fashion.

#3: Yves Saint Laurent's bobbed wigs were one of my favourite fashion moments. Yes, it's a great little nod to the Louise Brooks style of the 1920s, but there's also a modernist attitude here - you can't see the model's eyes and you don't know what the hell she's going to do next, so it's not merely about superficial beauty.

As for my hair? I want to go back to the near-whiteness of last summer, but my current colour is fading nicely into a soft treacle colour so I'm letting the dye brush take a back seat for a while.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Retail Moment

One of my favourite shops in recent months has got to be Republic. It's fairly ubiquitous on the high street (except sadly missing a London flagship) and manages to provide quirky clothes and decent basics at a very competitive price. As a company it seems to have turned increasingly to fashion rather than sportswear, which impresses me as I have a deep-seated hatred of exercise and would much rather go for something cool than tracksuit friendly! Two of my favourite pieces from their recent style drops, which have included sheer shirts, chunky jumpers and bandeau tops, are the maxi dress and bralet seen above. The maxi is not only flattering but looks much more grungy with the union jack logo in grey tones. This is one I am keeping my eye on and attempting to save up for, particularly as I have a wedding to go to (not my own, obviously) in the summer and this would be perfect for appearing smart but steering cleer of the prim and proper events look that so many people end up trapped in. As for the bralet, it's not so wedding-appropriate but would be great teamed with a maxi skirt or layered over a long, floaty vest top. I definitely don't possess the abs to wear this with jeans, but if you are more blessed in the stomach muscle department then don't take it for granted. Get out in something cropped and show them off! Again, it's a monochromatic piece, but this makes it much more wearable and less likely to clash with other things in your wardrobe.

Get thee to Republic for more of the same!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

You Can't Ignore This... Clothes to get you noticed

Recently I've been having one of those situations where you realise that you're gradually drifting away from people you have been friends with, and it's unsettling to realise that either they haven't missed your presence or you've barely noticed how long they've been gone. As we grow up we inevitably develop new friends and shed old ones, but it doesn't get any easier, especially whilst adjusting to a period where you become invisible to people you used to know. With this in mind, I decided to cheer myself up with a list of Kerry Katona-esque 'look at me' items of clothing, rendering you anything but forgettable. Please note: these are not advisable unless you want a lot of attention and potentially a lifetime of regret.

  • One of those massive tote bags that could fit a few small children in, weighs a ton and may have remnants of old sandwiches from 1990. You will stick out like a sore thumb because it is approximately half your size and gives you a dodgy shoulder slump.
  • The Jodie Marsh approach, a.k.a. finding a few belts knocking around your wardrobe and slinging them across to make some bizarre cut-out bra thing. Do not expect anyone to call you anything other than a derogatory term, ever again.
  • The Yves Klein approach: cover yourself in blue paint and roll around. Who needs proper clothing anyway? It's all about the performance art and the body as a paintbrush.
  • An obscene amount of bling (or shiny jewellery, for those of you not in the know. It doesn't matter if it's real or from Poundland, as long as it's got enough sparkle to get its own spot on Strictly Come Dancing).
  • A 'Kiss Me Quick' hat, teamed with socks and sandals. You'll have everyone staring, but for the wrong reasons.
  • Anything Lady Gaga hasn't thought of yet, such as a hat made from old Pritt Stick, or a pair of ancient Chinese footbinding shoes.
  • A very attractive but essentially dim boyfriend as an accessory. Useful for photo ops, but not for actual conversations or for finding a spider in the bathroom at 2am.
It almost makes subtlety seem worthwhile.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Boston Street Style

In general, the style in Boston was not as striking as I'd hoped. Americans tend to rely on basics and classic rules of dressing - simple shift dresses, bags in 'safe' colours, plaid shirts, utilitarian sportswear for those outdoor adventures. This is the country that brought us denim (for which I am extremely grateful) but it also brought us Lady Gaga, though you'd scarcely believe it sometimes. I do like the fact that Bostonians are not as slavish with their trends, as New York dressers are, but I wish that more people would be adventurous with their choices. The coolest look I saw was the man sitting down on the grass in Boston Common (photo 3), wearing a bowler hat and a long stone trench coat, which is the typical uniform of the female Shoreditch dweller in London but it looked totally fresh on him.
Anyway, above are some examples of what I discovered.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Trends that I will never understand - Part II

In a continuation of my earlier delving into the world of undesirable items, here are some more that I could quite easily bear to be without.

5. ORANGE BLUSHER - This seems a little nonsensical. When you look flushed or excited, you never turn orange (unless you're simultaneously applying fake tan), but somehow the cosmetics industry has decided that you might want to. I'd love to know which occasions they deem most appropriate for getting the Tango look; at a wedding, maybe? Or on a night out, so you can match your cocktail?
6. PANDORA BRACELETS - There's nothing wrong with a good old charm bracelet. My mum has a really gorgeous vintage one that she's kept for years and all the charms mean something to her, but they are also classic and beautiful. Yet somehow in recent times, there has been a searing wave of popularity for the Pandora brand, which makes ugly little silver beads and charms with all the timelessness of a packet of crisps. Somehow these are highly desirable and I have seen otherwise sensible friends eagerly saving up for a new addition to their wrist which, though being incredibly expensive, manages to appear as though it's come from the Pound Shop. There is no sense of individuality here and I just get the distinct impression that these people have been ripped off.
7. CROCS - Just wrong, on every level. Step away from the Crocs at all costs, especially if you are going to co-ordinate your pair with your child's.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

How we live reflects who we are

[Images taken from the Barbara Krakow Gallery website].

If you're a hoarder (or know one), you'll understand the pressing need to hold onto keepsakes and trinkets, despite the fact that they may not be regularly touched or used. You might want to keep hundreds of books and papers that are no longer relevant but sit comfortably on a shelf, gathering dust but becoming impossible to move or replace. If this all sounds familiar, the world of Ralph Horne will be greatly familiar to you; a writer of racy novels, a painter, lawyer and activist, Horne's house in the South part of Boston was full to the brim with what can only be described as 'stuff' gathered from his many professions. When the photographer Shellburne Thurber heard about him, she felt compelled to visit, particularly as she has a fascination with capturing homes, rooms and unusual scenery. The ensuing exhibition of her images and her recreations of life chez Horne (also known as 9 Wellington Street) can be seen at the Barbara Krakow Gallery, 10 Newbury Street, Boston, Massachusetts, which I visited last week as part of a long weekend away from Britain.

As a bit of a hoarder myself (okay, that's a serious understatement), I was captivated by the ordered chaos of Horne's clutter, whilst my mum remarked that it was "just like seeing your desk in an art gallery, only neater" (thanks for that). It was bizarre to see this addictive collecting in a male's home, as I often associate my own mess with that well-known stereotype of the cat lady or the lonely old spinster who dies surrounded by detritus that is meaningless to anyone but herself. I think of men as being lovingly lazy but ultimately ordered, and Horne is a definite exception to this assumption. This was a house aching to be explored, and Thurber allows us to go part of the way towards being there, and to feel that we are between its walls and gazing into its mirrors. We become house guests in the areas replicated at the Barbara Krakow, where wallpaper has been sourced to mimic old designs and shelves positively groan with Horne's stash of goods. There must be a legacy of memories attached to each item, from the threadbare teddies and lumpy robots to the hardback books with threadbare spines and blackened edges. There is a childlike atmosphere of greed here, of needing to possess everything and line it up to show that you have a complete series of novels or toy models, just because you can. However, this does not feel sinister, and there is a sense of time standing still in these photographs which is incredibly precious. After the project ended, Horne moved into sheltered accomodation and his house was renovated before being divided into two apartments which were quickly snapped up by affluent Boston residents. Gone were the cracks in the ceiling and the piles of old furniture; gone was the ivy that had crept inside the windows and up the walls; but gone too was its charm and its character, and the identity that Horne had given it.

Yet all was not lost. A member of the gallery staff told me excitedly that one of the new tenants at 9 Wellington Street had visited the exhibition and bought a photograph of the hallway as it used to be (which can be seen above - it's the monochrome image at the top). They were fascinated by the changes that the house had undergone before becoming the apartments and were disappointed that so little of the original details had remained. The image now hangs in its rightful place, the hallway which it depicts, and stands as a reminder of what it used to be.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Madam, I Want Your Petalled Coat

I'm a big fan of the handkerchief hem, so it was unsurprising that I had to whip out my camera when I spotted this fantastic example of possibly the most feminine (without being stereotypically pink, fluffy or naff) and graceful silhouette in tailoring. Whilst the classic hourglass Mad Men-esque figure that's in fashion at the moment is not attainable for those of you with a slender, boyish, athletic or broad build, the handkerchief hem manages to create the illusion of a tiny waist and rounded hips, without the need for painful underwear or surgical procedures. What's more, the excess fabric falls in a flattering way, much like petals (cue the photo of my daffodils, in case you've forgotten what a good bunch looks like).

This woman was not only wearing an amazing coat, she was wearing the creme de la creme of amazing coats; a £250 Topshop Unique specimen which mixes different forms of classic outerwear. The shoulder section is a burnt orange/rust red coloured mac, which is then fastened to the heavier main body of the coat, in an olive plaid. Trust me, if there had been a way of magicking this thing away from the wearer and into my bag, I'd have done it. So shoot me.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Fashion Meets Art Meets Shopping

[Image credits: Supermarket Sarah].

The Girls artist duo (who I worked with last year on a Selfridges-based art installation, pop-up shop and magazine project) are collaborating with kitsch shopping sensation Supermarket Sarah, whose collection of unique products can be found online and in Selfridges Oxford Street itself. The Girls, fresh from a further installation project in Southampton and with two more issues of The Paper Eaters magazine under their belts, have released many of the props and clothing pieces that helped to shape their working environment. Choose from a fabulous newsprint jumper, Pop Art boots or a paper necklace that you can guarantee won't be found anywhere else. See the weblink for more highly individual and covetable items, and check out Supermarket Sarah's wide collection of trinkets, including some memorably tongue-in-cheek Royal Wedding memorabilia.

Issue 5 of The Paper Eaters magazine is scheduled for release in April/May, with a limited edition of 1000, and a boxed set of all five issues can be purchased as well.
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