Inspiration, Subculture

Who invented the Typical Girl? A celebration of Ari Up


The Slits in 1977. Ari up is third from left.  Photo – Ian Dickson

“The Slits were a feral girl gang. Aged just 15 in 1977, singer Ari Up recalls being ‘wild and crazy, like an animal let loose – but an innocent little girl with it, too’. From her striking image (tangled dreadlocks, knickers worn on the outside of her clothes) to her seemingly pre-social antics, Ari inspired fear and fascination in equal measure”.

- Simon Reynolds in Rip it up and Start Again

Note the knickers-over-trousers.  Photo – Caroline Coon.  

Stupidly, one of the posts that I’ve left on the back burner was a remembrance of Ari Up, a punk singer and forming member of The Slits. Their songs were a formative influence on me when I first went to college and was experiencing first-hand what it meant to grow up and be a woman and not someone who treated Sex and the City like a lifestyle Bible. Cut has to be one of my favourite albums. If you ever have a bad day wondering why that hot guy only likes the other hot girls, or if WAGS make you despair of your life, or bad that you don’t have the same waistspan as Cheryl Cole, then listen to Typical Girls and feel much better for having the courage to just be yourself.


No prizes for guessing which one is Ari.  Photo – Ray Stevenson

Photo – Caroline Coon

From a style point of view though, Ari Up was an inspiration not in what she wore (there’s NO way I could pull off the Superman look) but in her attitude towards clothing.  She wore what she wanted, when she wanted.  She had dreads piled up on top of her head like a modern day Rococo wig.  She wore facepaint twenty years before a legion of Oxegen and Glasto goers. She was variously Punk, proto-Goth and Rasta.  She applied the same freedom of thought to her wardrobe that she did to her lyrics.  She didn’t really care about the judgement of others.  It suited her just fine.  And that is definitely something to admire.

Art, Film, Inspiration

Licentiate Loves: Sarah Doyle

>It’s been a busy ol’ week for this blogger – I’m officially pooped!  It seems that the Christmas season has started early and a bit too much overexertion on Friday means that my toes are still a bit sore and swollen on Monday.

PhotobucketThis week, while being busy on the social front is very quiet in the blog front, which means that I can delve into the long list of ‘stuff-I-meant-to-blog-about-but-never-quite-got-to’.  At the forefront is artist Sarah Doyle, whose art I saw (and instantly fell in love with) at the Mixtapes Exhibition in the Glucksman Gallery.  Click here to see what she had on view at the exhibition.

Sarah Doyle’s work is mostly concerned with pop culture icons and how the world looks at them.  Her art and animations are reminiscent of fan art.  Pictures of Prince are drawn with felt tips over children’s colouring books and all her work is full of whimsy with a sense of humour, a touch of longing and a general sprinkling of all-round loveliness

These animations are very short so if you get the time, do watch them – the first video is a series of sketches of the wives and girlfriends of The Beatles, the second is inspired by Aaliyah’s last music video, iconic sequences both.

Beatgirls from Sarah Doyle on Vimeo.

Opheliyah from Sarah Doyle on Vimeo.

It’s only a matter of time before her work pops up in Vogue.  Mark my words.  If you’re like me and a shameful art history nerd, then pop along to her Art in Movies  blog and spend a happy hour or two going through the archives (my personal fave is Teddy Lloyd from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie).

P.S  Click here for my super-duper giveaway of Mulberry LFW tote and… eh, just click the link .  You can now ‘like’ The Licentiate on facebook , so if you do like this blog, don’t be afraid to show your support and clickity click!


Question Time

>I’ve been tagged by Think What You Like to complete an “I love your blog” interview, which means that I get to answer ten questions and pass the burden on to some more lucky bloggers.  So, if you’re curious about who I really am and what burns deep within my tortured soul… don’t look here.  They’re not THAT kind of questions.

Why did you create your blog?

Handily, I already wrote a post on this very subject, so click to read!  The short answer, however, is a mix of April O’Neal from the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles and a burning desire to NOT be an architect like my dad.

What kind of blogs do you follow?

I’m a blog dilettante.  I dabble in street style and beauty blogs and wordy, text heavy offerings.  Mostly, I suppose I like blogs where the writer has their own distinct voice, or shows me something new that I’ve never seen before.  Fashematics, Advanced Style and Threadbared would rank up there in my all-time faves.

Favourite make-up brand?


Mac for colourful eyeshadows, liners and lipsticks.  Bobbi Brown for everything else.  Bobbi Brown concealers and foundations are the best.  Even at the depths of my poorness I’ll find a way to buy an under-eye concealer.  I’m also participating in a humanitarian act by doing do, for the world is infinitely better off without seeing my dark circles.

Favorite clothing brand?

This is a toughie, because so much of the stuff I buy is second-hand (err, I mean vintage).  I haven’t bought a pair of high street jeans in at least two years.  Count ‘em – two years.  I quite like Topshop, but River Island is also upping it’s game (the sizes aren’t so prohibitively small as Topshop’s either).  For designer brands I love Alexander McQueen.  He was probably my favourite designer.  Vivienne Westwood is great for larger-chested women like me and I love Miu Miu for the cute factor.

Your indispensible make-up product?

The Bobbi Brown concealer, as noted above.  That and a good pair of tweezers.  While not technically make-up, they do make my face look a hell of a lot better.

Your favourite colour? 


Purple.  I remember telling some old biddy that when I was a child and left the room to the echo’s of “Purple!  That’s the devil’s colour!” ringing in my ears.  The joys of growing up in rural Kerry.  As a teen I wanted purple converse so badly but the (one) shoe shop in town stocked red and blue only .  One of my friends revealed that she dyed her red pair blue, the end result being purple.  I though that she was the smartest girl ever.

Your perfume?

Victor and Rolf’s Flowerbomb, which smells exactly how a bomb of flowers should smell.  For less aggressive floralia, I like Paul Smith Rose.  Men go absolutely bananas for it because it smells so innocent – hey, who am I to argue?

Your favourite film?

Nope.  Don’t have one.  I am a film commitment phobe.  Off the top of my head, some films I really enjoy and would put in some sort of league table are Up!, Welcome to the Dollhouse, The Virgin Suicides, Malcolm X, The Last Picture Show, Sabrina, Some Like it Hot, All About Eve, the list goes on and on.

What country would you like to visit and why?


Japan, or specifically Tokyo.  Who wouldn’t want to be subsumed into that landscape?

Write the last question and answer it yourself.

Erm, sorry.  I’m not good at these things.

When I ask myself questions, it’s usually alone the lines of what I’m going to have for lunch.

Come to think of it, I’m going to have some smoked salmon with capers and cottage cheese on some home-made bran bread.  Mmm.  Sorted.
I’m going to pass the baton on to:

P.S  Scroll down for a great giveaway .  You can now ‘like’ The Licentiate on facebook , so if you do like this blog, don’t be afraid to show your support and click here!

Licentiate Columns

Licentiate Column 25/11/10

>I have a terrible secret to reveal. So terrible, I’m not quite sure that I should tell you what it is. But then again, if I didn’t, this column would end right here, at the end of this sentence. And we don’t want that now, do we? Perhaps you shouldn’t answer that question.

My disappointingly non-secret secret is this; I have never been a guest at a Christmas party.
This isn’t due to unpopularity (or so everyone keeps telling me as they slink off into the distance with the whisper of mistletoe and transgression ever-hanging in the air). This is due to my choice of work. For years I was a bartender, which means that I doled out the drinks at corporate do’s, mixed Long Island Iced Teas on St Stephens Night and popped champagne corks at ten to midnight on New Year’s Eve. There’s no time for Christmas parties for people working in the hospitality sector – we got our party in February. The Christmas crackers had gone remarkably stale by that point.

Writing from home poses it’s own party problem. There is no office, so there’s no people. There’s no people, so there is no party to go to. There’s no party to go to, so I sit at home in my pajamas happily guzzling that bottle of Advocaat I found under the sink and watching the wizard of Oz.

This year marks the difference. This year will be my first as a CPG (Christmas Party Goer). The CPG is a different creature from your average party goer. Casual is out, the trousers are off and anything vaguely resembling tinsel is more in than Hugh Grant at a sorority gathering.

Here are a few pointers for the average CPG searching for the outfit of her dreams.

1) Go sparkly – but not too sparkly. Sequins are great. High shine, foil-backed fabric dresses are also great. Rhinestones are totally fabulous and criminally underused. Just don’t wear them all at the same time, lest you become known as your local magpie fancier.

2) Your hemline is directly proportionate to how bright your frock is. Wearing an LBD? Then feel free to have your bum cleft exposed. Tis the season for more than just eggnog, you know. If your chosen party dress is a cerise-pink abomination with a smattering of precious gems and a not-so-subtle hint of 18th century parquetry, then by all means cover up the shoulders and thighs. The same goes for hair. The more ostentatious the dress, the more subdued the hairstyle. You want to look like you’re having a Merry Christmas, not like you’re auditioning for the inaugural cover of ‘Playboy: The Toyland Edition’.

3) Always carry a tube of bright or dark lipstick for awkward mistletoe situations. Slick about half an inch on, then give that horrible, twig-dangling sleaze from HR the snog of his life. That’ll teach ‘im.

4) If you just KNOW that you’re going to get mercilessly drunk, then wear an atrocious outfit to soften the blow with office gossips the next day.

Example: “Did you hear about Sinead eating twelve mince pies and vomiting on the karaeoke machine?”

“Who cares about that?  Did. You. See. What. She. Was. Wearing?”

P.S  Scroll down to the next post for a great giveaway.  You can now ‘like’ The Licentiate on facebook , so if you do like this blog, don’t be afraid to show your support and click here!


The Licentiate’s Big Fat Goodies GIVEAWAY!!!

>Wilkommen.  Bienvenue.  Welcome.

I’ve been blogging for a while now and have been lucky enough to get some fantastic readers whose comments make me think, laugh or just generally feel warm and fuzzy inside.  Dear readers, I would like to thank all of you by holding a brand spanking new giveaway filled (mostly) with things that you just can’t get in the shops.  Astound your friends and make your enemies seethe with envy at… The Licentiate goody bag! 


Nice, isn’t it?  Unfortunately, I have yet to learn how to edit photos.  Drumroll please…


Item One:  A London Fashion Week tote bag, made by Mulberry.  This was given out to all the press/buyers/etc who attended Fashion Week this past September.  It’s 100% exclusive and not sold in the shops, which didn’t stop some people from selling theirs at exorbitant prices on eBay.  It has a picture of a cute bunny peeping out of an Alexa bag.  It is also a little bit wrinkly, but I’ll get rid of the wrinkles, I promise.


Item Two:  A bottle of Barry M Instant Nail Effects, the cult crackle nail varnish that is sold out EVERYWHERE and flies out of Boots pretty much the minute it’s put on the shelves.  Paint it on over your varnish and watch it crack before your very eyes.


Item Three:  A pristine, never read copy of Face Forward by Kevyn Aucoin.  Possibly the best make-up book ever written.  This book is for every skin colour, doesn’t tell you to buy expensive brand products and shows you haw to create exceptional looks and (my favourite part) transforms celebrities into other famous women with only the power of makeup.  See pic above – that’s Liza Minnelli as Marylin Monroe.  You can also see Christina Ricci as Edith Piaf, Gena Rowlands as Ava Gardner, Karen Elson as Elizabeth I… the list goes on and on and on.  It’s such a great book to have and to share.


Item Four:  Some postcards and a guide for The Enchanted Palace Exhibition in Kensington Palace.  If you live in London and haven’t gone, please go now.  Walk, don’t run.  I’ll wait here.  You can’t buy the guide in the shops as it’s only given to those who attend the exhibition, but here’s one that is unblemished by my fair hand and ready for you to scribble all over (or stick to your fridge, whatever works).

Now don’t say I’m not good to you.


Here comes the tricky part.

There’s one day left, so I’m going to make it so much easier to enter.  Become a follower on Google Friend connect in the bar on the left, then leave a comment in the comment box.  You can follow on twitter or facebook for extra entries, just let me know in the comments! – easy peasy!  Merry Christmas all!

1.  You must be a follower to enter (that’s how I know you read this blog).  Become a follower by clicking the Google Friends Connect bar on the right hand of this page.  You can become a follower if you have a gmail address, a twitter account, a yahoo account or an AIM so there’s no excuse not to really!

2.  Mention this giveaway in your next blog post (just tack it on to a post if you’d like – but if you want to devote a whole post to it, that’s no harm)!  Then leave a link in the comments section of this post.

3.  For an extra entry, follow me on twitter and tweet about this giveaway, then leave a separate comment on this post!

4.  If you don’t have a blog or a twitter, then become a follower (see step 1) just click ‘like’ on the brand spanking new Licentiate page on Facebook, recommend it to your friends and post a link to the giveaway (this will also work as a third entry if you so wish).  Then leave a comment at the end of this post.

There.  Easy peasy.

NOTE:  This competition is open worldwide (even if postage will cripple me financially).  You must be a follower to enter.  The closing date for entry is midnight on Christmas Eve GMT (ooh, festive).  I will never, ever share contact information or email my followers with spam or third party junk or annoying offers (but feel free to email me with any questions you might have). The winner will be determined by a random draw, to be chosen by an independent adjudicator.


Licentiate Columns

Licentiate Column 18/11/10

>Fur is a tricky subject. It’s hard to be objective about animal fur, because so many emotions are involved. One one end of the spectrum there are vegans who would let only the best Stella MacCartney faux-leather boots touch their feet and shudder with extravagant horror at the though of Mittens the mink becoming Mittens the, er, mittens.

Then on the other end, there are animal fanciers, who love nothing more than buttery soft steaks and even buttery-er Loewe leathers. Fox-fur collars? Yes, please! Ermine-trimmed mukluks? Don’t mind if I do!

One of the more oddly beautiful things about free speech and conscious thought is that it gives us the right to wear the skins of dead animals that you wouldn’t pet at the zoo around our necks and somehow transform the act into a status symbol. Somewhere out there, a higher power is looking down at us and laughing his head off.

If you want my opinion (and you’re reading this, so you’re going to get it anyway), I don’t think that either of these people are inherently right or wrong. It’s a stony theoretical terrain, strewn with more emotional landmines than the average Celine Dion song. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and not one is better than the other.

What I cannot stand is the proselytising of some animal rights activists. If you pair the stance of ‘fur is wrong’ with an act of peaceful protest, then you have a coupling as perfect as strawberries and ice cream (perhaps not as harmonious and definitely not as tasty, but ultimately effective). Throwing paint on people – that’s just not on. Technically, it’s an assault and anyone who hurts a human being to defend a dead animal needs a fine tuning of the button in their brain marked ‘priorities’.

This week, I watched a slightly disturbing cartoon on Channel Four. Entitled The Tannery, it showed the death of two woodland creatures, a rabbit and a fox. The fox is killed by a hunter for it’s fur and so the spirit of the doomed fox is condemned to hang around with it’s own pelt for eternity, while the rabbit gets eaten by a wolf and ascends to Fuzzy Bunny Heaven.

This makes about as much sense as the worldwide success and dubious acclaim of Jersey Shore. The circumstances of death, which are completely arbitrary, somehow determine what happens to an animal’s spirit after it dies. This might be an obvious question, but who exactly is the maker of this film to make such an odd assertion? Did he have a one-on-one chat with the Maker Of The Animals? Did Doctor Doolittle stand in as a UN approved interpreter? Because this makes zero sense whatsoever.

Whatever your stance on animals and fur, it’s important not to get swayed too much by the opinions of other people. It’s a standpoint as individual to you as your fingerprint and it’s important not to feel guilty or inadequate over such a loaded topic. And always remember; if in doubt, go faux.

Fashion, Inspiration

Royal Wedding Bonanza!

>I have a secret shame.  I love royal weddings.

My gran used to collect magazines devoted to Royal couples and when I was a young ‘un and staying over at her house I would pore over them and look at all the pretty dresses.  It’s an incredibly girly impulse that has never gone away, even though I am now the kind of person who asks for boob t-shirts for Christmas.

My mother was born in England, so even though I’m Irish I was brough up with the idea of celebrating royal weddings (or at least watching them on the TV).  So, in honour of Kate Middleton and Prince William’s nuptials, here are a few of my favourite royal weddings dresses.

Queen Victoria


Fact fans: Wedding dresses were traditionally pale blue in England up to that point. Victoria was evidently not amused at this because she wore a white wedding dress, which ruined any chance of future brides being able to eat chocolate cake or drink red wine at their weddings without having a nervous breakdown.  Queen Victoria’s gown was of satin and lace trimmed with orange blossoms and the lace manufacturer was so keen to make sure that it wasn’t copied that she ended up destroying the designs.  EDIT:  This is actually a court dress. Many thanks go to the anonymous commenter who pointed my mistake out.

Mystery Royals


I know nothing about this photo, other than the year (1927) and that the bride and groom were both royals (French and Italian). The train is amazing.  It must have been very heavy.  Presumably, it doubled as a marquee if the weather suddenly got very bad.

Princess Margaret


I was lucky enough to see her wedding dress at the Enchanted Palace Exhibition at Kensington Palace .  It was a beautiful and sad experience, especially when you consider how unlucky she was in love (she was not allowed to marry the man she was in love with, married Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1960 and got divorced in 1978).  Her dress was designed by Norman Hartnell and is simple but seriously high-impact.

Princess Grace of Monaco

Photo by Howard Conant

Grace Kelly’s dress was designed by Helen Rose, the head of wardrobe at MGM.  In order to release her from her contract, the wedding was filmed and distributed by MGM.  Another fun fact – it’s illegal to show Grace Kelly films in Monaco.  Don’t they know what they’re missing out on?

Priscilla Presley


Well, she DID marry The King.  And is that a snakeskin tux on Mr Presley?  A huh-huh.