LFW Craft 1/3 – Claire Barrow

London Fashion Week’s international reputation is that of risk-taking and unclipped creativity, but I think the real theme, especially with younger designers, is that of craft. Not crappy felt-and-PVA craft or horrible faux-naif stuff, but real craft. The kind of stuff that gets your hands dirty with paint, or slightly sticky, or smelling of interesting chemicals.

London has a slightly subversive edge due to the underground-ness of many of its presentations. For Claire Barrow, it was a soon-to-be demolished basement, once the home of the BBC Orchestra. A black void, painted empty space and loose wires. Also, free Jack Daniels.

Barrow’s hand painted visions of nightmarish, anthropomorphic characters are standing at the edge at the end of the world. Stupidly, I was reminded of kid’s TV show Adventure Time, where the world as we know it has blown up and the passing of a thousand years allows magic to grow back again. But much, much more nihilistic. No Bubblegum Princesses this time. Only darkness, with a sheer sliver of hope.

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Photos by Kim Rehnstedt and edited by yours truly.

This Pink Flamingos inspired editorial is a bit of fun.

Things to Read #17

Hello hello hello.

Here is a (very) little something I wrote for the Irish Times on Summer trends that’ll carry through to Winter. Ugh, Winter. When did that happen?

This Pink Flamingos inspired editorial is a bit of fun.

Ann DeWitt on Annie Leibovitz on Susan Sontag.

I disagree with an awful lot of this, but it still raises a few pertinent questions, like, when exactly are we going to get rid of all the clichés in fashion writing?

And on the flip side, why isn’t there more fashion writing like this? Side note – the book mentioned in this article, Women in Clothes, is a real treat for anyone interested in personal style over fashion. There’ll be a piece in the Irish Times (and a review up on this here blog) closer to the European release date.

WWD gathers ten high school girls to talk about their back-to-school outfits. I’m aware this is probably filler for a lot of people, but coming from a country where uniforms are pretty much compulsory, this is weirdly compelling.

Rick Owens, his huge sculpture and his non-existent sample sales.

Part 1 of things that annoyed me this week – people who wear Native American headdresses to festival, blissfully ignorant of the fact that they’re being racist. Who cares though when you look this fab, amirite? Nice one, you guys. Get a clue. I’m begging you.

Part 2 – I really love Susie Bubble’s work, but this article for the Independent, exploring whether you can wear designer looks can be worn in deprived parts of London strikes a really odd note for me. I guess it helps that Susie lives in Haringey (as do I, shout out to all my pals on the 242 bus) but it has a bit of a whiff of poverty porn. It’s a little off – though, as ever, the looks are on point.

Part 3 – Some very unfortunate truths about fast fashion that will probably make you rethink ever buying something with sequins on it again. There’s a reason that Ashish stuff is so expensive – because it’s not made with slave labour. (yay?)

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Things to Read #16

Any excuse to lob up this Harper’s Bazaar editorial. ANY EXCUSE.

Yipes. I forgot to post last week, but the Rose of Tralee festival was on and I was there and so nothing was done. But I did write this thing on the festival for the Irish Times so, you know, silver linings and all that.

For those with nothing better to do on a Sunday, here’s Rolling Stone’s list of the 150 best Simpsons‘ episodes. A must for anyone who still knows all the lyrics to See My Vest.

“So, why write about Slimane now? Here’s why: If you accept that fashion reflects the times — and I do — then you have to concede that in this respect Slimane has been impressive, even prescient. His Saint Laurent collections perfectly capture the mood and values of the present. The need for simple messages. The triumph of branding. The shortening of horizons due to economic factors. The lack of prejudice toward old ideas, especially among young consumers.” Kathy Horyn resurfaces at the Times to tell us how, and why, high fashion is changing.

Dirty, dangerous ravers. The history of the DiY collective.

The man who found Lauren Bacall, mentored Calvin Klein and went sockless before everybody else, Baron Niki de Gunzburg is the subject of a lengthy piece for Vanity Fair.

“I think of the warmth and generosity of evenings in Azzedine Alaïa’s kitchen in Paris, which often ended after midnight with the first glimpse of a new design. How much I learned about Azzedine—and from him too. And I remember a drive I made in Belgium in 2005 with a nearly unknown Raf Simons, the door panels of his Volvo stuffed with empty cigarette boxes. So much for glitz, I thought.” Another piece by Kathy Horyn, this time about friendships in the fashion industry. On a personal note – though I’ve got many good and trusted friends in the industry, my GOD it’s still a murky body of water to swim in.

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The Reading List: The Vogue Factor…

… by Kirstie Clements.

Clements, the Vogue Australia editor who was unceremoniously sacked in 2012, says something in her book that will really hit home with fashion journalists; a newspaper mentality is one that criticises negatively by printing negative reviews, but a magazine mentality is one that criticises negatively by omission. Kirstie Clements has a definite magazine mentality.

For from being the hatchet job that most people were expecting, The Vogue Factor is not a vicious exposé (though the less said about Australia’s Next Top Model, the better), but an informative read through the procedures and practises of a lesser-known Vogue. It’s also a timely reminder that, no matter how high you rise in the editorial ranks, there will always be some kind of invisible pecking order. The Australian fashion industry is beset with problems that are particular to a country that is relatively hard to get to, that relatively few people get to visit, with a relatively small fashion industry (According to Clements Australia has a fair amount of ‘surfies’ and ‘bogans’ – according to a judicious Wikipedia sweep, my new favourite word is ‘usually pejorative or self-deprecating, for a person with an unsophisticated background, or whose speech, clothing, attitude and behaviour exemplify a lack of manners and education). Unique problems means that there has to be a set of unique solutions, and Clements has obviously become, throughout her tenure at Vogue, an incredibly astute problem solver.

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So; not a tell-all. It’s a tell-a-little. There are no juicy anecdotes, no backwards swipes. no secrets spilled like so much Chanel nail varnish. The only sharks here are in the ocean.

Clements is at her writerly best when she’s talking about how hard it is to get tickets for Paris RTW shows, the worrying expectations put on models or the tricky art of negotiating honest content between the PR and the page. It’s very solid, and Clements comes across as a thoroughly likeable person who has no time for slug-a-beds and the unmannerly. A disproportionate amount of the book is dedicated to describing lavish press days and parties in France and New York, which can be a bit discomfiting. Is she promoting the PRs’ products all over again?

Those who want a job in the fashion industry should pick up a copy of this book. If you put down this book feeling disillusioned after finishing, that’s fine. The Vogue Factor, apart from the press day chapters, is free of the filtered, rearranged, idealised bullshit that most magazines are at pains to project to their audiences. It’s an honest look at an industry that deals quite often with fantasy and artifice. Just don’t bank on any tidbits about Anna Wintour.

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New Fashion, Classic Films

The Autumn fashion issue of New York magazine (that’d be the one with Tavi on the cover then) has pulled off a Photoshop coup, pairing the stars of classic films with key A/W catwalk pieces. It’s gimmicky, I know, but photographer Bobby Doherty has, in some cases, pulled off a fairly seamless transition; a fashion between guilty pleasure and pure unabashed, unironic fun.Marlene in Balenciaga! Meryl in Burberry! Marilyn in Moschino! In a week of many deeply shitty happenings, this made me smile.

Much, much more over at The Cut.

Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz and Saint Laurent boots

Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz and Saint Laurent boots

Catherine Deneuve in Belle De Jour and Dries Van Noten coat.

Catherine Deneuve in Belle De Jour and Dries Van Noten coat.

Brigitte Bardot in Contempt and Chanel scarf and top

Brigitte Bardot in Contempt and Chanel scarf and top

Tippi Hedren in The Birds and Moschino jumper and jacket

Tippi Hedren in The Birds and Moschino jumper and jacket

Liza Minnelli in Cabaret and Marc Jacobs dress

Liza Minnelli in Cabaret and Marc Jacobs dress

Gwyneth Paltrow in The Royal Tenenbaums. Coat by Valentino, bag by Hermès.

Gwyneth Paltrow in The Royal Tenenbaums. Coat by Valentino, bag by Hermès.

Andre the Giant – some man for one man (via)

Things to Read #15

“No other human has ever matched Andre as a drinker. He is the zenith. He is the Mount Everest of inebriation.” Andre the Giant, the greatest drunk on Earth. Modern Drunkard Magazine, a site dedicated to getting soused, raises all kinds of weird conflicted feelings deep in my gin-soaked brain. But mostly, those feelings are good feelings.

Warren G. Harding (The corrupt, weirdly charismatic Prohibition-era U.S president) and his saucy letters to his mistress. Hardly topical, I know, but who can resist gems like this?

I hurt with the insatiate longing, until I feel that there will never be any relief untilI take a long, deep, wild draught on your lips and then bury my face on your pillowing breasts. Oh, Carrie! I want the solace you only can give. It is awful to hunger so and be so wholly denied. . . .

Oh Mr. Harding, you do go on…

Direct provision laws in Ireland mean that many asylum seekers in Ireland are stuck in hostels and caravan parks for years instead of months, denied basic needs and entitlements, and given an allowance of €19.10 a week. The UN is not amused. Lives in Limbo chronicles the lives of some of these asylum seekers.

Jefferson Hack cagily talks Dazed and has a very hipster-y lunch with the FT.

Woman asks a question about tampons on Twitter and all hell breaks loose.

The perils of being a man and writing about feminism. STEP FORWARD, ROBERT WEBB. “To persist with our chainsaw-juggling metaphor, someone like Rod Liddle sits at his desk and saws his head off before doing anything else. You don’t read our Rod and wait for un-PC accidents. The accident has already happened. No, for a proper feminist high-wire act, you need a real liberal. Or a real idiot.”

Books, books and more books. A reading list that steps out of the usual book club comfort zone. The list includes Women in Clothes, the collaborative effort of more than 600 women including Molly Ringwald (!) and Miranda July (!!).

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Things to Read #14

The 28th of July marked the centenary of the start of WWI. Much of the past few weeks has been eaten up with research into my great-great grandfather,  a career soldier who served at Gallipolli and died at the Battle of Verdun. A lot of Irish people don’t talk about family members who served in the British army during that time period. I suspect that, until now, it’s been a source of shame for a nation whose identity is so ingrained in rebelling against the British and the colonial system. Seeing the minutiae of a soldier’s life humanises the conflict. These men were not traitors. My great-great grandfather was my age when he died. He had four kids.

“His eyes, the one part of his original face still intact, dart like anyone’s eyes, and I find myself chasing them, the only reliable clue as to what might really be going on in there.” An excellent (and very long) look at Richard Norris and his exceptional face.

Fashion advertising – where has the controversy gone?

The curious, sexist world of the Irish model.

‘Beauty as Duty: Patriotism, Patriarchy and Personal Style during WWII’ – excerpted from the rather good Worn Archive book.

The Believer talks to Joan Didion.

Advertising without Photoshop. It’s art.

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Things to Read #13 – The behind the paywall edition

Lists. Lists on lists on lists.

Now that the New Yorker has lifted its paywall before instating a different kind of paywall in the autumn, people are curating (ugh horrible buzzword, I love it) their favourites. Here are 20 classic New Yorker stories written by women, a Buzzfeed collation of music longsreads, a selection of the best baseball writing (don’t knock it ’til you try it) by Roger Angell and a selection from Ana Kinsella – who, again, I am blatantly copying with this Sunday lists thing. And, if we’re going to get really meta, here is a longread roundup of the New Yorker longread roundups.

Eleven downloadable issues and a documentary. The late, great Blitz magazine.

Eros magazine, a magazine exploring sexuality, released only four issues in the 1960’s and was promptly shut down. Here are the scans.

The Baffler, home to journalism that doesn’t shy from controversy – but doesn’t necessarily court it either – has made all their back issues available to read online.

Five documentaries on teen subcultures!

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Things to Read #12

This week has been a bonanza of utterly terrible, heart-wrenching, soul-doubting stuff. A plane shot out of the sky, soldiers on several continents killing children and calling it justice, and all the rest of us screaming our outrage and helplessness into the ether.

An obsessive nature and insane fear of flying has led to days of pure MH17 research, tallying nationalities, cataloguing coincidences and fears. There are many links to share, but I think my heart would explode if I shared everything here. Sabrina Tavernese of the New York Times was one of the first journalists on the scene of the crash in the Ukraine. This is what she saw.

Marie Antoinette’s wardrobe, bottle blondes and why there’s no good writing on fashion. A collection of articles by the late, great fashion writer Anne Hollander.

The New Inquiry did a supplement on Lana del Rey and FINALLY I get it now.

“I have chosen to focus on girls, not (that) the boys (where present) were any less stylish, but because girls in “subcultures” have been largely ignored or when referred to, only as male appendages.” Anita Corbin’s Visible Girls: Pictures of Women from British Subcultures.

They blame the lack of political education in schools. Whether they like or dislike Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair, they distrust both the political industry and the related media. ‘Intellectual people chatting in bathrooms,’ comments Mel B.’We are society,’ exclaims Geri, ‘so really …’ ‘We should be running it,’ Mel B finishes the statement. From the Vogue Archives – Kathy Acker interviews the Spice Girls.

I would like everything from this Bonham’s jewellery auction please and thank you.

An encounter with the late Elaine Stritch in Central Park. Note – Jack Donaghy’s mother is the elderly lady I aspire to be.

The real Larry from Orange is the New Black tells his side of the story.

Alyssa Mastromonaco was deputy White House chief of staff for operations from 2011 to 2014. And then, she took a job at Marie ClaireHere, she argues that being stylish and being smart are not mutually exclusive things for women.

Documentary series This is Modern Art is up on Youtube in its entirety.

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