Wednesday, August 31

Quote of the Week - On Blogging



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I'm glad I came across this interview with New York Times fashion critic and esteemed voice-in-fashion Cathy Horyn today because it's reminded me why I started this blog and it makes me realise that I've become a little distracted. Essentially this blog is my portfolio to show the industry how much I want to be a part of it. I know that at some point I want to be a fashion writer. It may not be my career in fashion from the beginning, nor may it be what I do forever. (I fancy myself as a bit of a slasher, i.e. a writer/stylist/consultant/designer – aren't I typical of my greedy generation? We really want it all.) I am disappointed that I'm not able to go to London Fashion Week and attend shows and practice my reporting skills next month, but this season I'll be based in Paris working for a brand presenting a show, and it will be fascinating to be 'the other side of the catwalk' so to speak. 

There is also the issue which I have debated recently, and indeed which Cathy brings up in her interview, of originality. I'm constantly concerned with the question of "what can I do to try and keep ahead of the game?" And I've made my own conclusion that perhaps going to LFW like I've always done, and standing outside the big shows and taking pictures of strangers' clothes along with the other bloggers –whose numbers grow season upon season– probably isn't being very original. It's become a bit of a circus, and as the 'obnoxious blogger' grows as a public character, its an association I want to distance myself from as far as possible. It's become cringeworthy, queuing for a show and realising that some of the biggest -and seemingly undeserving - egos in the industry belong to 'bloggers'. 

Not being at LFW, those 10 days a year upon which an unabashed 6 months of my blog content hangs, will definitely be a challenge to my reporting skills. But I think I'm in need of a challenge. I've had it too easy. When I think of all those hundreds of thousands of girls and boys, writing beautiful fashion prose from their bedrooms in the depths of a continent that fashion forgot, scarcely having access to a Vogue magazine and only imagining they could ever be invited to a real life fashion show, I owe it to them. 

And here's more food-for-fashion-thought from Cathy. At least I've learnt french - it's a start!

“Be original and start your own blog and do real reporting and learn French. Be a reporter. Don’t be a re-blogger.”

Sunday, August 28

A SUNDAY COCKTAIL [28.8.11]


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The weekend comes around and I look forward to indulging in one of my favourite pastimes - sauntering round a gallery. Here are some of my picks from the Contemporary art floor at the Pompidou Centre.
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[Akram Zaatari, 1966]
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[Sasa by El Anatsoui]
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[Text by Laura Carpenter]
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Appreciating art can be about so many different things. I know that I look at art with eye influenced by fashion and appreciative of skill. I'm drawn to favour art in colour schemes to my tastes for instance, and to pieces that I could picture being in my home. Neither of these criteria would qualify me to comment on art, according to an 'art critic'. But who is an art critic anyway? A visitor to a gallery stands before a work, itself a reflection of the world we live in. We then judge that work, and use it as a mirror to reflect our emotions, either out loud to a friend or to ourselves.  We are all art critics. I also appreciate a high level of craftsmanship, whether an oil painting which captures the light perfectly, or an intricately woven tapestry or a sculpture held together by 17,000 individually placed tiny pins. 'Modern Art' has lost its shock value. I just don't think minimalist canvases and 5cm lengths steel wire stuck to a wall with scotch tape have any relevance this side of the millenium. The movement has moved on. The Pompidou Centre's Modern Art floor is excellently curated, with a vast range of mediums and forms. There is a real sense of originality too, and a definite focus on sheer skill. A favourite gallery comment is "My kid could make that", but I'll tell you there are a lot of modern pieces in this collection that your kid couldn't make. El Anatsoui's 8m high tapestry of metal litter, echoes Klimt, and holds you dumbfounded at the entrance.   I think a lot of the time appreciating art is down to it being accessible. A blank canvas on a wall is not accessible. A portrait of a stranger with a worried look can definitely be accessible. 

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Is art more accessible when you can walk under it?
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Or see yourself in it?
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...Or run around it?
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Thursday, August 25

LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE

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This photo by Patricia Nicolas just oozes Ibizan summer perfection. If you, like me, have missed out on a summer holiday this year, live vocariously through jewellry designer Patricia and her beautiful friends on her blog. PATRICIA NICOLAS.
Flight Facilities - Crave You ft. Giselle (Radio Edit) by flightfacilities

Monday, August 22

TRUE COLOURS


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Shortly after I commented here on how my penchant for bright colours, extravagantly-placed furs and hats will always prevent me from from successfully becoming une fille chic parisienne, I came across this editorial from Vogue Russia's August issue.  Katie Shillingford proudly flies the flag for British eccentricity, and I took it as providence that I should never forsake my true style for the sake of fitting in. Isabel Marant, The Kooples, Agnès B ... you're all very chic and very lovely, but give me an electric purple fur and orange mohair over a black silk vest anyday. 
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Sunday, August 21

BEFORE THE RAIN


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Photos taken by Kate Woods earlier this spring round the back of my old student house in Leeds. I miss her terribly. I also really miss my pink dip-dye, but not quite as much.
Last night in the early hours there was the most perfect thunderstorm over Paris. It was a night for lovers, and the lightning lit up the whole sky just before the rain came - thick, heavy, anticipated rain. As late drinkers ran inside from the café fronts, I watched an old couple shuffling a slow-dance in the middle of my street, soaked to the skin with cool rain. I watched from my balcony alone, until my silk robe stuck to my skin and I felt I could sleep easy, knowing everything was right in the world again.
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 Red balloon over Paris, view from the Pompidou centre.

Saturday, August 20

A PEEK INSIDE MY PARISIAN APARTMENT


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I moved in just over a week ago to my 5th floor (no lift!) apartment in the 11th arrodissement of Paris. It's definitely a work in progress, but I thought it would be a good idea to show it as it is now, before every square inch of space gets filled up with clothes and rogue shoes behind the sofa. It's an amazing, proud feeling to have my own space, and I'm one of those people who gets decorating straight away so that I instantly feel at home. 
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Favourite mini-Chanel // Disco light above my bed, Edie pop-art dress by Lisa Perry, Topshop kimono and vintage collared dress (It looks like Miu Miu but it only cost €1). // Handmade ashtrays I bought from a street artisan for 50 cents
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With my luggage restricted to two suitcases, I had to improvise home furnishings with Indian sarees. This Matthew Williamson pillow managed to squeeze in though! Two words : VACUUM BAGS.
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I couldn't have come to Paris without my favourite felt hat and a bit of Helmut Newton.
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I love the beautiful marble-topped mantle piece.
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Vintage platters and empty champagne bottles serve as perfect props for stacking jewellry.
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Postcards are a chic and inexpensive way of decorating, with or without frames. I'm plastering the walls of my cabinet de toilette with Lomography prints of my friends back home and postcards like these.

Friday, August 19

ONE NIGHT IN PARIS


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Yesterday I had my first -unexpected- visitor at my Parisian apartment: a budgie. He came hurtling through my 5th floor french windows without warning and proceeded to watch me from his perch on top of one of my framed 'Frisco '66' psychadelic posters, and then he came to sit on my laptop, staring quizzically in his birdish manner as I finished typing an article. Fortunately, Parisian grocery stores are pretty thorough in their stock taking, and it was surprisingly easy to procure tropical bird seed at 8pm on a thursday night. I was at rather a loss as to what to do with my guest. Hectic googling taught me both that budgies can cover vast distances in a short space of time and also that stray tropical birds become more common in Paris in August as cruel owners simply release them when they go on their 3 week congés d'été. I can't bear that sort of negligence. I've never been keen on caged birds, but to then free a caged bird into the wild where it will either starve or be eaten by a native bird is even more wicked. I put some 'found' signs around the neighbourhood, while Perrouche stayed the night in my shower, and was very well-behaved and quiet. Despite a horribly crooked beak, he is an exceedingly handsome fellow, and charmingly friendly. He perched on my hand to eat seed and was very contented hopping about in my wardrobe this morning. It was a comic delight to have a house pet, even for such a short time.

Yes, sadly, Perrouche took off this morning after breakfast, just as the sun was beginning to melt away the cover of grey clouds. I still imagine I hear his enthusiastic chirping from my balcony, but he has truly gone. 

I hope he is a happy wanderer, living la vie bohème of Paris, dropping in on girls all over the city's rooftops every evening and then brazenly taking off after breakfast without so much as a 'bisous'. I've left some seed out on the balcony in case he ever passes this way again. Farewell, Perrouche!

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Wednesday, August 17

PONT DES ARTS



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Wearing vintage hat, belt and shirtdress and Tory Burch platforms
photographed by Audrey

It's been exactly a week (to the hour) since I arrived in Paris. Just another moth of the fashion/literary species to that ever burning flame of this rose-yellow city. It's a surreal time to try and get my bearings - August congé takes no prisoners, and most of the locals have escaped to the beaches or beyond until the end of the month. Until then, I get to enjoy blasting my music as loud as I like with the balcony doors open and walking about my apartment in various states of undress until my neighbours return. It was hard for a die-hard maximalist such as myself, having to set off for the world's most glamourous city with a capsule wardrobe of miniskirts, silk blouses and plates* for work and no room for fur stoles, over-the-knee leather boots or huge floppy hats which make up a core part of my wardrobe. However, tant pis, I already stand out like a sore thumb here with my penchant for bright colours and my lack of interest in jeans so perhaps I will leave the bold and the beautiful for London's eye's only.
Wardrobe issues aside, how could I not be better suited to a city in which it is cheaper to wash your hair in champagne than in shampoo, where there's a magazine stand at the corner of almost every street and it's appropriate at all hours of the day to sit with your colleague, smoke, have a beer and watch the world go by...


*flats à la Alexa Chung

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Tuesday, August 16

JAZZ

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Bedouin Soundclash play Cockpit in Leeds May 2011 // Kate Woods on the other side of the lens // Ready // Cityscapes, Edinburgh // Me at Christchurch College, Oxford in July // Edinburgh's Royal Mile

Saturday, August 13

REFRACTIONS OF MEMORY

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Photographed by my brother, I'm wearing my favourite leather jacket from my favourite vintage shop on Brick Lane, vintage halterneck from Armstrong's Vintage Emporium and €1 skirt from Paris.
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I didn't dress constructively that morning. The weather was unusually (for an Edinburgh summer) balmy and my brother and I were going to walk into town to see a Fringe show. It was to be my last day in the UK before I left for Paris the next morning. Looking at those snaps now, there is something more poignant in my choice of garments that morning than the weather. From my subconsicous I had selected the jacket I bought the summer I lived and worked in London (where I am coming from), the top I picked up at my favourite shop in Edinburgh (where I call home) and the sunshine skirt I bought this March over Paris fashion week (where I am going). As it turned out, my friend's comedy show wasn't on that day so we took a turn around the newly renovated National Museum of Scotland, half-looking at the exhibits but mainly being distracted by our running debate on the fast-approaching economic and cultural death of the United States. We spontaneously met Kate Woods for 'my last pint' at a pop-up bar venue in the crude, gaping hole of a building which had burned down in the centre of town a few years ago. Wild buddleia plants have softened the scars on the exposed brick, and draped with fairy lights and cheerful Kopparberg umbrellas there was something charming and innovative about the place. Suddenly I felt an overwhelming déja vu: I was not in Edinburgh but back in Brooklyn, where I have spent occasions over two summers in the last four years, drinking cider in the sun in abandoned basketball lots or primary schools.  Then yesterday evening in Paris, as Audrey and I were crossing the Seine from the left bank to the right, I noticed for the first time the padlocks on  le Pont des Arts (just like the heart-shaped tiles which adorn the chain-link fence on 7th Ave and 11th St in NYC), forever clinging to that bridge of love, as a lasting tribute to a summer or perhaps, more romantically - a lifetime of memory. As I walked past I thought of those who return here, many years later and see their padlock still clinging, and the memories come rushing back. 
Such are the machinations of what Proust called the refraction of memory. Not a chronological stream  but a looping, fluid vision of memories linked by essence rather than substance, whether involuntarily triggered by an outfit, a padlock or some exposed brick on a sunny day.

Friday, August 12

THE LAST OF THE ENGLISH ROSES

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Hamish Bowles paints the beautiful, personal picture of the wedding of the year in the September issue of US Vogue, accompanied by the as-yet-unseen photographs by Mario Testino. 'The Other Kate' this year was married in the public eye surrounded by dignitaries and dames, not friends. However our Mossy - the last of the English roses- was the star of an elaborate festival of love, in the company of high-spirited characters on her wedding day, and didn't we all wish we could have been there to see it.
Read Hamish Bowles' full account here. 


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"A week before the nuptials, Mario Testino is photographing Kate’s wedding portfolio (she has shifted her date from Saturday to Friday to accommodate his schedule, reasoning, with a model’s canny logic, that the ceremony will last minutes but the photographs will be forever)."Photobucket
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"The dress is spangled with tiny golden paillettes (Jude Law will ask him how on earth they are sewn on); in Galliano’s narrative it is as though the scullery maid had picked up milady’s fallen sequins to spangle her own dress. The skirts are symbolically licked with the beaded plumes of a mythical phoenix, “delicate and defiant, like Kate."
“She dared me to be John Galliano again,” the designer tells me. “I couldn’t pick up a pencil. It’s been my creative rehab.” PhotobucketI wanted it to be kind of dreamy and 1920s, when everything is soft-focus,” says Kate. “The Great Gatsby. The code name was GG for a while. That light and that kind of fun decadence. It’s rock-’n’-roll Great Gatsby!” Photobucket"When Kate appears in her Galliano finery, with her flotilla of bridesmaids and flower girls in their Bonpoint dresses, there are wolf whistles and applause in the church. “It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” says Bella Freud, “like she just walked through some fairy garden and came out clad in that. It’s exquisite.”Photobucket"Just before she sets off, Kate requests “a few words, a story to inspire her—she loves a bit of direction!” says Galliano. “I told her, ‘You have a secret—you are the last of the English roses—and when he lifts your veil he’s going to see your wanton past!’ "Photobucket"At a quarter to five Kate reappears, looking like a Pre-Raphaelite wood sprite in the diaphanous silk-tulle 1930s wedding dress that Katy England found for her bachelorette party, and proceeds to execute an exuberant tango. Everyone’s mother is still on the dance floor. (At her bachelorette weekend, “my mum was the last to leave,” says Kate, laughing. “The last man standing, my mum was!”)
At six in the morning a china-blue dawn rises over the fields that seem to be littered with exhausted revelers, like the aftermath of a medieval battle."Photobucket
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