Monday, 28 January 2013

Why I've Been Buying Less... And It's Not Because I'm Sensible.

The last major shopping trip I had was on 30th December. For me, this is incredibly unusual - normally the cravings to buy are kicking in all the time, nearly as much as the cravings that tell me to eat that next chocolate bar... but enough about my issues. The thing is, aside from buying some comedy bunting and a massive skull moneybox, I've been pretty - gulp - restrained. But why?

Vintage suitcases and luggage - black and white
 [Image via Getty Images].

I'm not one for making New Year's Resolutions; in fact, New Year's Eve normally makes me feel pretty dejected, after realising all of the things I didn't achieve in the last 12 months, but this time it was different. As someone who works in travel and is currently focusing on several different projects, I'm finding that more and more of my time is spent checking out travel bloggers, lusting over photo spreads in Lonely Planet Traveller and getting envious. Things came to a head when I spent the early hours of New Year's Day chatting to several people who were much more travelled than I am - you know, the ones who have actually been to all of those places you see in the pages of Elle; the place behind the US Vogue shoot that made my heart skip a beat (it was a piece called El Dorado, in the September 2012 issue). It was then that I decided that 2013 would be the year I'd travel a hell of a lot more. 

What really sealed the deal was when I began to measure the cost of all the clothing I never get round to wearing, then I put that against the price of travel (after taking the stuff down to the charity shop, obvs). I dread to think how much I waste in a year, but already I've managed to cut down and actually think, then double think, about whether I seriously need what I'm buying or if I just think it's bloody hilarious and might be worth a laugh if I wear it for one night, which probably equates to 2/3 of the contents of my wardrobe. You could say I'm employing the kind of values championed by Mary Portas, to buy less and buy better, but I don't know whether I'll necessarily always make investment buys; the main goal is to just minimise the crap and put it towards experiences. 

I've also recently started a travel blog, so I don't keep bombarding you all with irrelevant content. You're welcome. 

Vintage women's case - Polaroid
Ready to travel.
[Image my own].

One of the things I did invest in recently was a JW Anderson paisley quilted t-shirt, in the Topshop sale. I'd had my eye on it for a while, but suddenly I had a real reason for buying it: I'm going to Iceland in early May, with one of my best friends, for a girly city break in Reykjavik. Perhaps JW Anderson didn't have whale watching and island hopping in mind when he designed the piece, but I'm sure it will come in handy as a practical layer for Iceland's early summer temperatures. In Reykjavik itself I doubt I'll be doing much shopping at all, as it's pretty expensive, but I'm hoping to treat myself to some more affordable bits and bobs from the city's flea market - as long as they're useful and not just impulse buys. Ditto my forthcoming trip to Rome - I have my eye on a few vintage stores, but fully expect to return empty-handed due to the not-so-pocket-friendly prices, but I've also done my flea market research too. 

I don't honestly know if I can keep up frugal shopping all year round, especially as we're only just ending the first month of the experiment, but hopefully in 12 months' time I'll be telling you about the fashionable destinations I've visited and not the bulging bin bags I've taken to the charity shop. Fingers crossed...

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Selfridges' No Noise Initiative: Silence and Shopping

Here's one January detox without the need for green juices and extreme gym attendance: the No Noise initiative from Selfridges takes things back to basics with no strained conversation, social media updates or constant texting and emailing: just pure silence at its Oxford Street base. The Silence Room, lined in white felt with dark corridors and sparse lighting, is the star of the show and is a real oasis. Find it in the Ultralounge on the Lower Ground floor.

Selfridges No Noise: Silence Room - photo by Andrew Meredith
The Silent Room, designed by Alex Cochrane Architects. Image by Andrew Meredith, via Dezeen.

As well as providing that amazing Silence Room, which was actually part of the original Selfridges concept in 1909, the department store has teamed up with Headspace, a meditation organisation, to create tips for different situations and bring a little calm into your life (which should also combat the January blues, and help you stay sane until payday). Additionally there are self-improvement workshops from the Idler Academy, teaching you how to de-clutter your life through cloud-spotting or looking at the moon. It might sound like hippy rubbish, but wouldn't most of us honestly like a little more peace and quiet now and again?

Some of the upcoming talks by the Idler Academy.
Image via the Selfridges website.

Of course, you are in a retail environment, so there is a retail concept to try: the Quiet Shop. This is where you can pick up recognisable items without their brand names, though obviously you'll know major labels at fifty paces due to their familiar shapes and the market niche they occupy. One of my favourites is the No Noise Marmite.  

Selfridges No Noise: The Quiet Shop with Creme de la Mer and Marmite
 Creme de la Mer and Marmite are two of the products on offer at the Quiet Shop.
Image via the Selfridges website.

I'm really glad that this initiative has been launched; it's something really refreshing and a bit daring in terms of retail - suggesting that branding should be removed and that social media should be ignored for more than two seconds. It's clear that all of us could benefit from a little more idling and silence.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Burberry Prorsum S/S13: Henry VIII Redux, with music by Tom Odell

When it comes to debating the S/S13 catwalk shows in real-time, it's hard to pick favourites and decide what to write about, so quite often I just end up leaving the rest in a mental 'To Do' pile and never quite getting round to discussing them. This year, one of my blogging resolutions (don't worry, there aren't that many) was to rediscover some of the weird and wonderful shows later on. So, let's begin...

Burberry Prorsum SS13 Cape
 [Image via]
Tudor elegance and exaggeration made for a strong range from Christopher Bailey.

My first choice was Burberry, completely by accident, as I've recently been spending a lot of time listening to music by Tom Odell. When YouTube started auto-filling 'Tom Odell Burberry', I knew where I'd heard his song 'Another Love' before - as the opening tune for the Quality Street-esque womenswear Prorsum collection back in September 2012 at London Fashion Week. I'm going to see Tom in March when he'll be gigging in Brighton and I can't wait to hear more of his stuff. For the record (inadvertent music-related joke there), his song worked brilliantly with the collection and it hinted at some of the drama in the clothing; capes, playing with proportions, flashes of colour and unexpectedly brilliant metallics.

Here's the video, along with other music by Birdy and Ren Harvieu.

Regal Inspiration for the Collection

The most obvious thematic reference I could find from the show, which I severely doubt even appeared on the mood boards at Burberry HQ, was Henry VIII. Here's why.

Burberry Prorsum SS13 Shoulders
 [All images via]
Exaggerated Shoulders and Arms

In portraits you'll notice that Henry was shown as being incredibly large, with huge arms and shoulders worthy of an American football player. Although he wasn't the thinnest bloke around, he actually used a lot of padding in his clothing to make himself appear bigger, therefore coming across as more powerful and domineering to his public and to any potential enemies. It's basically the equivalent of an animal puffing itself up to look more threatening.

For Burberry Prorsum the puffed up aesthetic was also used to look powerful, but it also came across as fashion-forward thanks to the beautiful metallic material and the minimalist outfits. No heavy embroidery and detail needed here, unlike the Tudors, who had a penchant for embellishment.

Burberry Prorsum SS13 Capelets

Ok, so Burberry went for a mixture of capelets (seen above) and full capes, but either way they looked great. Whereas the models look chic, Henry would have worn a cape for things like hunting, not hanging around at cocktail parties, but I'm sure he'd approve of these tailored numbers.

Burberry Prorsum SS13 Green Sleeves
Green Sleeves

It was said that the song Greensleeves was written about Anne Boleyn during her pregnancy. Those Tudors certainly knew how to make morning sickness fun. In light of this, it would be fairly apt if Kate Middleton (the most famous 21st century royal sufferer) started wearing some olive green pieces from the collection.

Burberry Prorsum SS13 Holbein Blue
 Holbein Blue

Hans Holbein the Younger was a really popular artist at the time of Henry VIII and painted royalty - including the man himself - on many occasions. One of his signature colours was this beautiful teal blue which he often used in the background of his paintings. Holbein's portrait of Henry VIII was called 'the best piece of propaganda ever' by the BBC (he portrayed the king as a strong and impressive man, rather than the ailing 45-year-old that he actually was). Anyway, Henry might not have ever been painted with this colour, but it's still something that I closely associate with him. It's also really striking on the catwalk, especially amongst all those jewel tones.

Burberry Prorsum SS13 Gold

It was either fresh and impossibly shiny or burnished to perfection, but there was more than a hint of gold for S/S13. The Tudors couldn't get enough of the stuff in their castles, palaces and ceremonies, so it's hardly surprising that we should find some here. Christopher Bailey's designs were tempting thanks to clever tailoring and flattering ruched fabric. The gold jacket in the centre is particularly eye-catching, though it might not be as easy to carry off in the British suburbs than in a piece of fashion editorial.

Burberry Prorsum SS13 Battle
 Ready for Battle

That nipped-in waist and those power-dressing jackets made me think of Tudors in combat, whilst the fluted material looked a bit like gauntlet gloves or Elizabethan ruffs (from the era of Henry's daughter). Again, it's about exaggerated forms and creating a silhouette that makes the wearer seem more impressive. I also loved the tailored cups on the trench coat (centre), which looked like something to be worn in a fashion battle.

And here are three Henry VIII directions that the collection thankfully didn't take:
  • Gout
  • Multiple wives
  • Beheading
But hey, let's leave something for A/W 2013, guys.

In all seriousness, there was so much inspiration to take away from Burberry Prorsum this season that it was hard to narrow down the selection. Though the creative team might not have been thinking of fearsome monarchs at the time, there's something decadent and definitely Tudor about the collection that I absolutely love.
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