Sunday, November 27

HELMUT NEWTON'S POLAROIDS

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Helmut Newton is possibly my biggest inspiration in fashion photography. As a result, I have pretty much all of his books (well, apart from this one, mostly because it is the most expensive book ever produced in the 20th century). So I was thrilled to add another to my collection, Helmut Newton's Polaroids. Test polaroids have now become an obsolete form of shooting preparation in the face of digital photography, and now a rare and iconic collectors item. Used to test the light or to document credits by fashion editors, they satisfied that impatient urge that we now take entirely for granted - to see how our vision translates in a photograph instantly. The book contains a wealth of test Polaroids from some of Newton's greatest shoots, and the quality and intensity of the colours is staggering. Sadly, the quality of the 'fake' Polaroid film available today as a result of the efforts of the Impossible Project falls far below the standard. However, give them time, they really are attempting 'the Impossible'. Having spent the weekend shooting with my Dad around Paris on medium format 6x6 (each film only contains 8 photos) and has to be developed using  a special oversized projector, I can understand the desire for that confirmation of a shot, the spontaneity of a Polaroid print. Here are some of my Polaroid picks from the book.
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Test Polaroids of Lily Cole & Gemma Ward from the April 2004 Vogue cover shoot. Read how I came about them courtesy of Vogue here
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My two favourite shots 
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Thursday, November 24

SUPERIOR INTERIOR : MY SHOOT WITH GARCON JON

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A few weeks ago on a sensational sunny Sunday, I invited photographer Jonathan Pryce into my humble abode for a shoot and video interview. Jon and I encountered each other on twitter, and when we realised we were both Scots who had recently moved to Paris, it seemed like fate had thrown us together for the sole purpose of creating jazzy videos and listening to 70s disco music. Dressing up and telling stories - two of my favourite things to do, anytime, but especially on a Sunday morning with a new friend in Paris. You can see all the photos and the interview on Jon's blog ANOTHER GARCON , including how I beat Agyness Deyn to my favourite leather jacket, but not including my rant about Rihanna's new video, nor cultural moral fibre, nor the jobmarket in London - aren't you relieved? And my unmeasurable appreciation to Jon for the incredible photos and editing of the video - my first!


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Wednesday, November 23

KARL LAGERFELD'S STUDIO

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Yesterday I found myself in none other than Karl Lagerfeld's studio/library on the Left Bank. You can see for yourself what an incredible space it is. Four walls of books from floor to ceiling - it's a bit like looking into his brain. I was so overwhelmed with the magnitude of it all. There was topsecret stuff going on in the second room so you'll have to wait to see what he's done next!
"Books are a hardbound drug with no danger of an overdose. I am a happy addict of books" - Karl Lagerfeld
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photos of Karl by Piotr Stoklosa for VIVA magazine
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Tuesday, November 22

ON IMPASSE DELAUNEY


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Photographed in Impasse Delauney one Sunday morning just round the corner from my apartment in Paris by Jonathan for Les Garcons de Glasgow. I'm wearing the colours of Le Bon Marché (see!) ; vintage purple wool coat and orange mohair dress from secondhand stores in Edinburgh, Jeffrey Campbell Litas, H&M necklace, YSL arty ring given to me on a night out by my incredibly generous colleague at work, 'because it belonged better to me', and carrying Aspinalls of London purse. 
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Sunday, November 20

A SUNDAY COCKTAIL 20.11.11

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Photography by Ari Marcopoulos & Jeremy Kost, as seen at the Unfound Photo Fair 


I once spent a year in Paris, I think it was on a Sunday.
So said W.C. Fields, except it was Philadelphia, rather than Paris, but I share his sentiment.  As a notoriously irritating morning person, I have dedicated my Sundays in Paris to engaging with the world, whatever that might be. Here, for this week's Sunday Cocktail, are some of my recommendations for a Sunday in Paris, or a Sunday spent anywhere.
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Photography by Audrey Rodgers, Kate Woods, Zora Beer & Hugh Ferguson
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...Explore one of Paris' many temporary and permanent exhibitions. Seen above, the Unfound Photo Fair 
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The Upstairs Library at Shakespeare & Company has a vast selection of diverse reading material to be explored in the reading room. The library seen here during the launch of literary arts journal A Tale of Three Cities, which can be bought from the bookstore.
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... Watch the winter sun disappear behind one of the city's glorious architectural wonders. Above, the Petit Palais as seen from the courtyard café.
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Photographed in Café de commerce, 75018 and Les Parigots, 75010
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Chance upon a Kate Moss print. Photography series : The New Gypsies by Iain McKell
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Photographed at Le Petit Palais / Sarah Bernhardt by Clairin
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...Admire the beauty erected to honour the dead of the past century. Pick your hero, bring a picnic. Photo from Père Lachaise, Paris 75020.

Tuesday, November 15

N O R T H E R N L I G H T

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Last weekend I returned home to Scotland for graduation. My Mum's graduation! After several years of a fair bit of strife, by Mum can now be called a Master of Science Master of the Universe - no small deal. The ceremony at Edinburgh's Usher Hall was followed by a reception at the top of one of the city's seven hills, at Craighouse, where a spectacular old academic hall was the backdrop for the reception. I was completely mesmerised by the interior, in fact I was rather mesmerised by everything: the nostalgia of returning home to arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the world, the perfect 'Northern Light' - that hung purple-blue and ethereal over us and the fast-russetting leaves. And the city itself- it too hanging, as if suspended between its seven hills, with gothic spires of varying reaches marking out memoried haunts of mine across town.
Now that my Mum is officially a Master of Science Master of the Universe, I feel it's high time she was given a platform on this old blog. Not just because she is responsible for a few of the photos,  and the correction of (*cough* very few) spelling and grammatical errors, when I occasionally get an email including the phrase 'by the way, its hebdomadaire with an a' or 'THEY're, remember? If you want to be a journalist...' Then there are logistical favours, seeing as I gave up learning to drive at 18 after I failed my test the first time, and yes, as it turns out, you can't go everywhere on the bus, especially not with 3 suitcases of furs and hats, a sewing machine and a papier maché elephant sculpture. And she won't want to forget the 70kg hardwood hippo sculptures that had to carried out of my Uni halls either. Then there's the huge acts of self-sacrifice, the smallest perhaps being the sacrifice of said Master of the Universe degree work to devote a ridiculous amount of time to organising my outrageously ostentatious, D-I-Y bollywood themed 21st birthday party this summer. There was a fair bit of time spent driving (thank you!), but also quite a bit spent covered in scratches, nettles, and later mud, as you single handedly complied with my plans to remodel the whole garden in the name of a party. And then there are the things that no amount of expensive education, work experience placements in different industries, or documentaries can teach me. Only my Mum can diagnose my illness from a different country, or tell me where to find the gas meter, or always have change for the bus when I never do, or remind me to wear my retainer when she's seen a facebook photo where my teeth are getting a bit squiffy, or teach me a few simple recipes which will always impress boys, and will actually get out of bed and come running to the kitchen in the middle of the night when I scream "Oh god! My pavlova mix! It's all sloppy, quick! HELP ME, HELP ME!'
So to my Mum, who I know will be reading this (and checking for grammatical errors), congratulations on your degree, lord knows I'm proud. You really are Master of the Universe. And to everyone else, think about how amazing your Mum is, and then tell her. And then you can join Audrey and I's 'Amazing Babe Mom Club'.

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My Mum, looking disgracefully young, working a classic Eight London blogger pose.

Friday, November 11

A ROOM OF ONE'S OWN

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A teaser for an 'At Home With' project I did with Jonathan Pryce, a fellow Scot just moved to Paris, and a multi-talented photographer and style commentator at that. Jon founded Les Garcons de Glasgow and documented UK streetstyle for three years, and is curenttly exhibiting at the Jim Haynes gallery in Paris. We shot and filmed for two hours in my small apartment, so I cant wait to see the full shoot. Coming soon!

C O N T R A M U N D U M



"As I grew older and went out into the world, I realised it was a very unfriendly place to be. And I thought, 'We need Art.'"
A moving glimpse into the privately intriguing world of Daphne Guinness, beautifully captured by Brennan Stasiewicz for Nowness. I admire Daphne hugely - both for her loyalty to art, her own and that of her friends, and her ability to channel both a wealth of life experience and her staggering imagination into creating beauty. She's right. Sometimes when the world is falling in around your ears you need an armour that can protect, but also to act as your visual voice for what cannot be said. Daphne is famous in fashion circles mostly for her sense of personal style, because it can be seen as 'different', 'ostentatious', 'extreme'. I find it interesting what Daphne says about using her style as a 'voice'. Starting 100 years ago, and then back as far as cultural time can remember, women used elaborate costumes and hairstyles as a form of self-expression, the results not being so much different to how Daphne dresses now: veils, platform shoes, staggeringly-high hairstyles, incredible precious gems mined by Europe's Imperial fist. Every outfit was a work of art and beauty. Then the rise of the Feminist movement gave women a voice, and they threw off their armour. And ever since, the world has seemed a little more grey, or as she describes it in The Telegraph - 'flatlining': "What started off as a camouflage became something that made you stick out like a sore thumb. But that wasn't so much me - it was what happened to the rest of the world. Because everybody else sort of flatlined."
On the subject of beauty, I urge you to take 15 minutes to watch Denis Dutton's TED talk on his Darwinian Theory of Beauty. He explores the idea that the human desire to both observe and create art and beauty is deep rooted in our evolutionary origins, long before we even came to be fully 'humans'. You can watch the talk accompanied by excellent cartoons HERE.

Wednesday, November 9

F A S H I O N | W E E K | P A R T I E S

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Opening a packet of unseen film just printed - there's no thrill quite like it. I got my disposable camera films from Paris fashion week developed during my quick trip back to the UK last weekend, which brought hilarious memories flooding back. Everyone's on their worst best behaviour at the fashion parties - it's a high-adrenalin school reunion for the international fash pack, and those free cocktails bars can be terribly, dangerously generous. Some old classmates ... Audrey, Nadia, Kimberley...
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