31 December 2011

2011 - THE YEAR IN CLOTHES

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2011 - the year of parties, photography, Paris and a press office job. The year of my 21st birthday. The year of some amazing creative friendships, including Kate Woods, Jonathan Pryce and Audrey Rogers who took many of these photos. Here's to 2012. All the faces we'll meet, the books we'll read, the songs we'll grow to love, the heartstrings we'll have pulled, the things we'll buy, the things we'll lose, the new foods we'll taste, the endless coffee cups, and measuring spoons...But let's not be Alfred J. Prufrocks. Bear witness to those moments and record them - in a notebook, on film, in your memory if you happen to be in possession of a good one

To all my readers, I thank you heartily. For your comments and emails and kind words, and for devoting time to this vanity project which is my blog. May 2012 be your best yet.

30 December 2011

THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

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A mélange of Christmas activities in Paris and in Scotland, where I have been for the last few days with my family. I bought my first ever tree for my own flat in Paris this year, and that sensational smell really kickstarted the Christmas spirit, along with the permanent lingering scent of mulled wine from the litres and litres that were consumed at my Christmas party in mid-December. Back in Scotland at last on Christmas Eve, having navigated the grèves at Charles de Gaulle and witnessed a punch-up at the check-in, I drove into the city and experienced that familiar thrill of the gothic city of Edinburgh in the thralls of the Christmas spirit. My Christmas present this year? My nearest and dearest are doubtless bored stiff with my devoted praise for - yes, a new camera. I am now the proud owner of a Canon 5D Mark II, and the most beautiful part, a 85mm f/1.2 portrait lens. Here are some of my first snaps.
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21 December 2011

AT HOME WITH DESIGNER JEAN CLAUDE JITROIS

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Fashion designer Jean Claude Jitrois and myself playing the role of égerie (having been squeezed into a sample from the Jitrois SS 2012 collection), in his apartment overlooking the Tuileries gardens for Italian fashion magazine Collezione . If the last four months in my job as PA /PR for Jitrois have taught me anything, it has been to look model-ready at all times! 
Funnily enough, 26 years ago,  another 21 year old brunette was helping Jean Claude go through his sketches at home, none other than Princess Stephanie of Monaco. Below, her shoot with Jean Claude for l'Officiel magazine in 1985. I think I have some pretty big shoes glass slippers to fill.
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Portrait of Jean Claude by Yves Bady for his latest book, 101, a compilation of the leading figures in French culture in their environments. Jean Claude Jitrois' apartment, where his incredible collection of contemporary art meets antique furnishings, medieval tapestries and the occasional Modigliani, has been heavily documented in the French interiors and fashion worlds.
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I wore look 1 from the SS 2012, the DS dress in emerald.
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Photo for JEWEL magazine. Models wearing the SS 2012 collection with Jean Claude in his apartment during Paris Fashion Week in October. The green full suede skirt is the Imogen skirt.

19 December 2011

SUSIE BUBBLE & SAGA SIG ON FUELLING CREATIVITY IN THE 'NEW WORLD'



I absolutely adore this short video of two of my favourite London fashion figures talking about their place in this enormous industry. Saga Sig is an Icelandic photographer who brings mystical folklore inspirations to her shoots with the most avantgarde London collections. Susie, of course is the fashion blogger who's voice has become one of the most influential. Her infallible professionalism and independent thinking have allowed her to become one of the most respected young style commentators in the world. 
I would describe the direction of this film as tentative - and I think it says a lot about how young people are feeling right now about entering the fashion world. There is a whole lot of nostalgia going on, especially amongst romantics like Susie Lau and Saga Sig, or myself - for whom the increasingly commercial-driven aspect of fashion is seeking to eclipse the fun, frivolity and even the cultural place fashion has in our world. Yet photographers like Saga seek to fight back. Her work is entirely unique, and from the heart. She proves that a commercial-creative balance can be achieved, by pursuing your own aesthetic rather than following a selling trend that someone else came up with. Carine Roitfeld spoke some very wise words in her book Irreverent, about the importance of pure naievty in maintaining the artistic spirit of fashion.
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14 December 2011

EIGHT PICKS : THE BEST OF COCHINECHINE FOR CHRISTMAS

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CoChineChine is an independent fashion boutique based in Hampstead, London on Heath Street- a stone's throw away from where I was born. Christmas is as an excellent time as any to support independent stores and businesses, whose exceptional tastes can alert you to exclusive gems you might not find in enormous multi-chain stores. I also suffer from OBC (overwhelmed by choice) syndrome, so a carefully edited selection of beautiful, well-made products is right up my street for choosing presents, and CoChineChine does just that. Here are my 8 best festive picks from the online boutique - Christmas presents at a variety of budgets for friends and family, and probably yourself!
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12 December 2011

STYLE NOTES : JANE BIRKIN


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"I'd rather live on my own than live with a face that looks at me with the wrong eyes." - Jane Birkin
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All photos from the Jane Birkin tumblr

11 December 2011

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

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With this Helmut Newton polaroid (below) in mind, I took Zora along for a night-time walk between the city's shadow-ridden structures. Paris really is the city of light - everything is illuminated. Walking from la Place de la Concorde, up the lower Champs-Elysées past the Grand and Petit Palais to the Pont Alexandre forces you to confront, with multiple stomach-flips, the gargantuan and almost frightening beauty of French Victorian (rather Belle Epoque) power. The last giants. They loom over us, eternal in their solidness. From the golden gate, rising like heaven's own door from the steps of the Petit Palais, to the winged beasts standing sentry over passing cars on the Pont, we scurry like tiny ants beneath their vast shadows. We are like the inheritants of Egypt - surrounded by relics of a vanished empire.
Helmut's girl climbed up onto the bridge in high heels. An uncharacteristic meekness suddenly came over me, so I perched instead.
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9 December 2011

LES SAPINS DE NOEL DES CREATEURS

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For the past 16 years, the brightest names in the worlds of Parisian fashion, art and architecture have come together in December to each create a Christmas tree in their own aesthetic for Les Sapins Noël des Createurs. The brainchild of Marie-Christiane Marek, esteemed journalist and producer of fashion and design programs for television networks France2 and TV5 Monde, Les Sapins de Noël are exhibited to the public for the first week in December, with the exhibition closing with a private charity benefit dinner at which the one-of-a-kind trees are auctioned.
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Dries van Noten (left) and Jean Paul Gaultier's Christmas trees.
Every year a different charity is chosen to benefit from the sale of the unique trees. For 2011, children's cancer charity A.V.E.C - Association pour la vie, espoir contre le cancer (Association for Life and Hope against Cancer) will receive the proceeds from the auction. In the grand surroundings of the Hotel Salomon de Rothschild, 37 designers offered an immense variety of interpretations and materials in creating their Christmas trees. Men's fashion house Smalto chose a minimalist brushed-steel effect design formed of three two-dimensional shapes bolted together, while Sonia Rykiel's tree more resembled an apple tree than a pine.
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Predictably, famed patisserie house Pierre Hermé's vision (right) was a tower of macarons, while Jean Claude Jitrois cast his sapin in leather, in an artistic collaboration with painter JonOne. 
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Parisian lingerie designer Chantal Thomass applies her signature cheekiness to her design, while Stella McCartney's knitted tree is reassuringly traditional.
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 Antlers by Les Garcons, and Sonia Rykiel's lighted tree (right)
The prospect of owning a one-of-a-kind designer artwork by Jean-Paul Gaultier, Chanel, Jean Claude Jitrois or Dior has enormous appeal, and several 'trees' sold for as much as €5000. The Pierre Hermé macarons may not be a long-lasting choice, but Stella McCartney's knitted tree or Louis Vuitton's 'jack-in-the-box' style are sure to be future classics for their proud owners. Furthermore, in an ever-increasingly environmentally conscious climate, the idea behind the investment in a designer sapin, to be celebrated year after year in lieu of a real cut tree, is a welcomed one. 

A version of this article appeared in the Huffington Post on 10th December 2011 

5 December 2011

SHOPPING FOR BLOOD

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Shopping for blood oranges, and documenting it as part of the Fru-Gal challenge for Eco-Age. Today is the last day in my week-long style diary of second-hand stories. The clothes are second-hand, not the stories. That would be cheating. My Dad took both these photographs last weekend when he visited me in Paris, but the one below was taken on his enormous 80s Fujifilm second-hand medium format camera, and then developed himself at home. He's getting pretty good at it. It makes digital photography look so second-rate.
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4 December 2011

POSTCARDS TO DECEMBER RAIN, FROM TIM WALKER

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Outside there's a hurricane beating against the premature cheerfulness of one-thousand strings of fairy lights. They line the city's silhouette, glowing at their strongest over Paris's fattest department stores, and less so in the corner of a backstreet bar, where cheap violet boules on a plastic tree unashamedly flash their cracks from yesteryears' cheap parties. Et, qui suis-je? Just another kid in a big city, seeking solace in Tim Walker's monumental fantasies for Vogue, under candlelight on a dark Sunday night.
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Tim's work has universal appeal. His photographs can both provoke joy and nostalgia, or a sadness for a paradise lost. For Walker uses his adult imagination to bring to life the childish naivety of our favourite children's stories of gypsies and thieves and ruined palaces for us 'grown-ups' to re-live. But Walker's photographs aren't like the real fairytales. Bad things don't happen in the world according to Tim Walker, and that's just why we like it. Because the real fairytales - filled with dark princes at the foot of your bed and stepmothers and pills that made you larger and smaller, travels to far-off lands in dark-wooden pirate boats to seek the Caterpillar, and girls running down endless corridors in poisoned dresses - the real fairytales, they quickly engulfed us until it was too late, and they were our own real lives, spilling uncontrollably out of the book and into your lap as you read.
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Walker is far from being the only one who seeks to build a fantasy world around him. Anyone who has ever been to a music festival like Glastonbury (see here or here) or Secret Garden Party (see here) knows of the incredible structures, gardens and theatricals sets we humans will build in the name of escapism. There is a communal joyfulness that surrounds festival goers at the festivals I have just mentioned that you will scarcely come across in any other place in such buoyant intensity. One thing we learnt in adulthood from the fairytales was thus : it was better to be a gypsy than a princess, rather a pirate than a king. 
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On the topic of real life fairytales, my consciousness is drawn back to hover upon a beautiful film I watched last spring, The Fall. The mise en scene is staggering, with a voracious Tim Walker appetite for colour and beauty. And It moved me to tears, like many things do.
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