Monday, 13 May 2013

Exploring Reykjavik's Kolaportid Flea Market

I returned from a trip to Reykjavik a week ago, but I'm still in a bit of an Icelandic bubble, to be honest. The city blew me away with its colourful buildings, quirky bars and super-friendly people - these guys would probably give you a kidney if you asked nicely enough. There were also some fantastic shops, but the one thing that stopped me splurging too much was the price.

Sunday morning flea market view in Reykjavik
 A peek into the bustling hub of Kolaportid.

Male mannequin pointing to menswear display in market
This way to menswear, sir.

Without any sort of Topshop/Primark/New Look equivalents dotted along the main streets of Laugavegur and Hverfisgata, I was instead faced with some difficult decisions. Should I spend £120 on an Icelandic woolen jumper or £150 on a butterfly-print scarf from the posh department store, Atmo? Somehow I couldn't quite do it. I knew there would be a cheaper alternative somewhere, and lo and behold I found it at the Kolaportid flea market, which is held every weekend in a warehouse between the Old Harbour and the Harpa Concert Hall. It's free to wander around, but make sure you bring some money, as you're likely to be parting with some cash along the way.

Trolls, Victorian dolls and plastic toys for sale
Trolls and Victorian dolls vie for attention.

Neon signs and phone covers in an indoor market
Want a cover for your mobile or a copy of a Tintin DVD? Sorted.

The stalls in the main market area contained everything from toys and books to clothing. As with most UK flea markets, there was an army surplus area, where you could pick up cheap bags, badges and jackets that were ripe for being customised.

Cheap polyester leggings with skulls, sweets and stripes
 Raise your leg if you like a bargain.

Second-hand books in a flea market
Take your pick from the books on offer.

Meanwhile, the rest of the warehouse was dedicated to food, though much of it wasn't very vegetarian-friendly. Luckily my friend and I don't get too squeamish and don't mind meat, but if you're not partial to it then I'd skip this bit. We saw a pig's head just casually plonked on top of someone's stall, whilst some squirm-inducing entrails sat below it. We then headed round to the fish area, hoping to see some hakarl (putrefied shark meat, supposedly an Icelandic delicacy), but they were fresh out of it, so we skipped to the confectionery department, where there was some kind of treat called an Olsen-Olsen - perhaps the candy equivalent of the Olsen twins?

Hakarl and other fish in a market in Iceland
 Wake up and smell the fish.

Icelandic liquorice-based sweets
Spot the Olsen twins in the centre.

My best bargain was a book on palmistry, which cost me about £1 and is probably going to involve some painstaking translation work with the help of Google, but I reckon it'll be worth it.

Second-hand palmistry book on Icelandic rocks
This translates, quite sweetly, as 'Promise Readings'.

If you want to visit the market then you'll find it at Tryggvagotu 19 in 101 Reykjavik, open from 11am-5pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Why I'm unruffled by the Spring/Summer 2013 ruffle trend

Normally on this blog I do tend to focus on the things I love about fashion; the things that make me want to go out and shop, or at least try and customise something in tribute to what I've seen and can't get out of my head. Well, this time I definitely won't be jumping on the bandwagon, because Spring/Summer 2013's ruffles won't be making their way into my wardrobe any time soon. Here's why I object to the thrill of frills.

What Works On The Catwalk Doesn't Always Translate To Real Life

I think this is a firm case of something looking expressive and dramatic on the catwalk, but then seeming more like a retro prom queen disaster when you see it on the woman next to you on the street. 

Obviously if you're a bit of an exhibitionist then you will quite happily get in a right flap about ruffles and you'll love the extra attention that they bring, but there's an element of overblown excitement and fuss about the whole ensemble which just doesn't work for everyday life, even if you filter it down to the high street and imagine spending £30 on a cheap version of the dress below.

Monochromatic ruffles on a v-neck dress with asymmetric hem, by Balenciaga
[Image via]. Balenciaga's dramatic movement failed to move me. Sorry, Nicholas Ghesquiere.

I think the question is: in what situation would this Balenciaga ruffled dress be appropriate and attractive to other people? At a cocktail party, you'd seem very high maintenance and you'd probably have got through multiple lonely marriages with only small yappy dogs for company and the occasional use of a yacht in St. Tropez. 

In a club, you'd be the one wearing too much make-up, talking too loudly and trying to look girly; you'd then spend most of the night trying to fend off jokes from men asking if you're dressed for flamenco dancing or why you're so bloody keen to bring back the 80s.  

Maybe if you're Carrie Bradshaw or Miroslava Duma then you could work this look, but us mere mortals don't always want to be that theatrical.

I Don't Want To Resemble A Valance

Valances on beds and curtains are one of those unnecessary details that just create too much fuss and make you look a bit like a cat lady in waiting. Sadly, some of these poor embarrassing homeware trimmings have made their way into Zac Posen's S/S13 offering, suggesting that us mere mortals may soon be asked to resemble our posh relatives' spare bedrooms. If, like me, you're not keen on channeling this look, say no to the ruffles and stay minimalist.

Zac Posen ruffled and frilled blouse with pencil skirt for S/S13
[Image via]. Zac Posen gets ruffled up.

Peplum, Maybe. Ruffles, No. My Curves Can't Cope

I'm proud of having curves, yes, but when trends like this come along then it can seem like overkill for someone like me - whose ribs are quite hard to find and whose hips are definitely anything but boyish - to join in and let those curves be amplified to excess. I don't need to emphasise those areas with extra fabric, but what I'd rather do is try and find my waist, to add a little balance, or try and play down my chest, rather than break out a frilly cleavage. 

Whilst the ever-popular peplum skims over the stomach and kicks out slightly at the hips in a fluid line, the ruffled blouse explodes like a five-year-old after too many party snacks and fizzy drinks. It's unsubtle and messy. Of course, if you are curvier and you want to wear frills, then I'm not saying you can't pull them off and look great, but I just find that they're counter-productive for me, and they leave me feeling like a meringue, when I'd rather eat one. 

If you're one of the brave (and probably slim) minority of women looking to rock a ruffle this season, good luck to you. I'll be watching, bemused, from the sidelines, and sitting this one out.
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