Fashion, Film, Inspiration, The Reading List

2010 Roundup – favourites, highlights and everything in between

>It’s that time again.  Sluggish bloggers, slowed down into a cosy Christmas chrysalis are sloughing off the excess of too many mince pies and slices of blue cheese and evaluating the year in order to burst into 2011 a beautiful blog butterfly.  Like the alliteration?  I wrote it just for you.  Here’s my 2010 ‘best of’ blog mixtape.

Blog Highlights:  I started this blog in March with the aim of sharing what I liked and meeting a few like-minded people.  In the space of a few short months, I’ve racked up readers from around the world, landed a fashion column, learned a hell of a lot about the fashion industry, joined the Vice Blogging Network, went to London Fashion Week, networked like a mad thing, was mentioned as one of Ireland’s most influential bloggers and made some truly exceptional, hilarous and supportive friends.  All of this due to blogging aspersions.  So, to my readers, I’d like to say a massive THANK YOU!  You guys are the best.  Seeing all your comments really brightens up my day.

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Click ‘Read More’ to, ehm, read more, look at nice pictures and watch some fashion films…


Personal Highlights:  Moving in with my boyfriend.  Getting to write a published fashion column every week.  My father chose 2010 as the year to stop bursting into my childhood bedroom at 7am to ask me why I wasn’t sending speeches to Obama and CVs to Anna Wintour and started to buy me copies of Granta instead.  And I finally decided which Masters degrees to apply for.

Personal Lowlights:  Moving in with my boyfriend.  Getting food poisoning four times this year; while on holidays in both Italy and Egypt, on my birthday and on Christmas Eve.  And my little brother moved into my childhood bedroom, which leaves me to sleep in a box room filled (appropriately) with a million boxes every time I come home.

I’m in no way qualified to say what the ‘best’ of 2010 has been, but I will share some favourites…

Favourite Magazine Editorial

I’m a huge sucker for cartoons.  If it’s animated, I’ll watch it.  Then I’ll watch it again.  I loved the 2007 Simpsons editorial in Harper’s Bazaar, but I think that the Disney spread, illustrated by Ulrich Schroeder, in this year’s April issue of Elle Spain just about trumps it in terms of technicolor delight. (scans via Miss At La Playa)



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Favourite fashion item



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Photo from Miu Miu website

Those shoes.

Favourite trend

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Anna Dello Russo snapped by Wayne Tippets

Leopard print.  Leopard print accessories, leopard print Gaga-esque dresses, vintage leopard print swing coats, I love them all.  Not surprising for a girl who has dressed up as both Bet Lynch and Peg Bundy for Hallowe’en (and maybe the odd Saturday night).  Honourable mention goes to the return of the boob as seen at Louis Vuitton.  Mad Men be blessed, I can stop hiding my 34DDs in buttoned up shirts and let them roam free, or at the very least peeping cautiously over corset tops.  Combine the cleavage with the animal print and 2011 is sure to become a year to remember, in social terms at least if not in sartorial ones.

Favourite runway show
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Photos from style.com

I was totally blown away by Erdem’s S/S ’11 offerings.  This was a twisted take on floralia that I could really get on board with.  Do you have a designer that you don’t really like because it’s just not your style?  Then one day you look at what they’ve designed and BAM!  Everything they’ve ever done is instantly genius.  You click your fingers and think ‘Ah, I get it now’.  That was me and Erdem.

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Photos from style.com
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I also loved the A/W ’10 looks designed by Christopher Kane, by then in his sophomore season for Versus.  Sharp pleated cupcake skirts, tees imprinted with iconic Bruce Weber photographs, deep jewel tones and colour absorbing black – an easy marriage between Kane’s bandage dress graduate collection and Gianni Versace’s original knowingly wink-and-smile flirty Versus vision.
Favourite fashion films
2010 was the year that fashion film exploded.  If I could, I would pick twenty films, but these are my five whittled-down favorites.

Favourite Blogs

 – The Selvedge Yard.  This is a menswear blog, but really you should look at it because the pictures are so well-sourced.  It’s so comprehensively researched that each and every post is like reading a fascinating encyclopedia entry.  Devote at least twenty minutes per entry and left all the images sink in.
 – Fashematics.  This one is hard to explain.  Imagine ‘300’ – knives = Marc Jacobs on the beach.  Think that doesn’t make much sense?  Click here.
 – Beckerman Bite Plate.  The three Beckerman sisters (and sometimes their parents) put together the craziest, candy coloured, multi-influenced, bonkers outfits and pose (or hop) in front of the camera.  It’s a blog world filled entirely with happy faces and derring-do ‘tude.  It is genius.
 – Threadbared.  The product of two academics, Threadbared is relevatory, insightful and often thought provoking.  This blog proves that fashion is not all vacant stares and mindless consumerism.  Both authors examine the machinations and implications of fashion with a balanced mindset, but never lose their heartfelt love for clothes.

Hopes for 2011
 – To move away to another country and start a masters degree.
 – To keep adding and improving this blog.
 – To start clashing my patterns (very important, I know).
 – To always be writing something.
 – To make my mommy proud.
That’s my 2010 round up of the great and the good (the bad and the ugly got lost on their way to the blog post).  What was your fashion highlight?  And what are your goals for 2011?
P.S  I’m going on holidays on January 1st (Egypt by way of London) and this blog will be taken over by some of my favourite Irish Bloggers, who will be entertaining you with their personal style New Years Resolutions.  I hope that you like their posts – I was editing some today and was blown away by the breadth and variety of the responses. 
Next week’s Licentiate column will be published on Thursday as usual and I might manage to fit in a post or two while I’m away. Normal service will resume after the 12th of January, when I’ll talk about my own personal style resolution.  If I manage to pull this out of the bag, it’ll mean a nice change of pace for The Licentiate.  Change is afoot, and revolution is in the air…
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
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Fashion, Subculture, The Reading List

>Get yo’ swag on

>Was Santa good to you this year?  I must have been a good girl, because I got a mighty sack of Christmas swag, mostly in the form of some excellent fashion books.  To be honest, I could have done with a sack of coal too because It. Is. Freezing.

Here’s what I got book-wise, in no particular order.

Blow by Blow: The Story of Isabella Blow by Detmar Blow.  This biography of the famed and much mourned super-stylist purports to be her definitive biography.  But really, it’s not.  It’s not particularly well-written and her husband goes into too much detail in some places (he paints Alexander McQueen as an egocentric, cruel megalomaniac) and not enough in others (Blow’s heroin use and both his and her extramarital affairs are casually touched on or barely acknowledged).  It’s distinctly unbalanced, but I feel as if I know Blow a bit better after reading it.

The Look: Adventures in Rock and Pop Fashion by Paul Gorman.  From Elvis to Gwen Stefani, this book charts the intermingling of fashion and music.  Where the musos bought their clothes, what the trends meant and what people thought of them at the time – it’s a supremely interesting read.  And there’s introductions and forewards by Paul Smith AND Malcolm MacLaren.  AND a free CD.

Style Wars by Peter York.  Published in 1980, this book is now sadly out of print.  If you’re a fan of subculture, then buy it second hand on Amazon.  I got a nice clean ex-library copy.  Reading about the different style tribes in the 80’s and thinking about how radically different the world is now after only thirty years is a bit of a mind-melt.  A good mind-melt.  Chapter on Sloane Rangers = Hilarious.

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A photo from Take Ivy.  Gotta love those preppy boys.

Take Ivy by Teruyoshi Hayashida.  Loads and loads and LOADS of iconic pictures of preppy men (and a few women) at Ivy League universities.  All of the photos were taken in the early sixties, so it’s collegiate cool at it’s most distilled, before Woodstock and Women’s Lib changed the face of the common college uniform.

Face Hunter by Yvan Rodic.  Enough said.

The Beautiful Fall: Fashion, Genius and Glorious Excess in 1970’s Paris by Alicia Drake.  I cannot wait to get my teeth into this book, which tells the story of the friendship and rivalry between Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld before they achieved their godlike statuses.  It’s reassuringly thick, which is always a good thing when it comes to non fiction.  More pages equal more juicy details.

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Knitting Masterpieces via etsy – buy it!

Knitting Masterpieces by Ruth Herring.  This (also out of print) knitting book shows you have to make jumpers with some of art’s greatest works emblazoned across the front.  I will not rest until I figure out how to knit a Mona Lisa sweater.  It will be mine, oh yes, it will be mine.

Style and the Man: How and Where to Buy the Best Men’s Clothing by Alan Flusser.  Everything a person could possibly want to know about how to buy a suit, how to wear a suit, the best proportions to suit a man’s figure, how to tie a cravat – basically every GQ fashion article ever written that never actually appeared in GQ.  I’ll be passing it on to the boyfriend according.

Great Fashion Designs of the Sixties: Paper Dolls in Full Colour: 32 Haute Couture Costumes by Courreges, Balmain, Saint-Laurent, and Others by Tom Tierney.  Sixties.  Paper.  Dolls.  Marrying my love of sixties fashion and cutting shapes out of paper.  The words ‘childish glee’ were made for this book

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A plate from Portrait in a Velvet Dress – a beautifully composed and considered shot

Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress: Frida’s Wardrobe by Carlos Phillips Olmed and Magdalena Rozenzweig.  Many people love the art of Frida Kahlo, but equally fascinating was her attitude to clothing.  This book is full of pictures of her flamboyant outfits (found in a trunk in a disused bathroom in her house, still smelling of her cigarettes) and essays about the artist’s relationship and attitudes towards her wardrobe.

Coco Chanel:  The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie.  Coco Chanel was so protective of her own life story that it seems that there will never be a totally truthful and authoritative biography written on her.  Justine Picardie grapples admirably with what she has to work with and the book is printed on gorgeous glossy paper with some seriously great, insightful images.

It’s going to take me a while to get though these.  Wish me luck.  Did you get anything nice for Christmas?  Got any fashion-type reads that you fancy sharing?

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Fashion

And the winner is…

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Hello all. I hope that you had an excellent Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/ Festivus/Whatever and that all your wild gift dreams came true. I got a mighty haul of fashion-type books. More on that later.

Here is what happened at the Licentiate household this festive season.

1. The water was cut off.
2. Then the pipes in the bathroom burst. So, on the upside, we had water. It was just leaking through the light fixtures and onto the kitchen floor.
3. Then I got food poisoning. On Christmas Eve.
4.  So Christmas was spent in bed and in dire need of a shower.

Anyway, enough about me.  How was your Christmas?  Not too stressful, I hope.

It’s a less then smooth segue from food poisoning to the giveaway I held last month, which ended on Christmas Eve.  The winner, chosen my my sister from a lot of tiny pieces of paper in a bowl is Zoe of Vagabond Language.  Check out her blog – it’s very interesting indeed!

Major congrats to Zoe and all who entered!

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Fashion, Licentiate Columns

Licentiate Column 23/12/10

>OK, deep breaths. We’ve nearly got through it.  The festive season is upon us.  It’s almost over.  All the legwork has been done, the presents have been bought and distributed, champagne has been put in the icebox (and in my house, for some reason, the vegetable crisper) in anticipation of the stroke of twelve on New Years Eve.  You can do it.  We’re on the home stretch now.
The last column covered the problem of clothing as Christmas presents, the one before that, the problem of dressing for the wintry weather, the one before that, the problem of dressing for Christmas parties.  Sometimes I wish that Christmas was three months long just so I could write about how problematic a combination Christmas and my clothing is, not least how hard it is to fit into my impulse-buy leather pants after yet another mince pie too many.

Yep, I’m a Scrooge.  At the very least, I am an amped-up modern Scrooge, like Bill Murray in 80’s tacktastic remake, ‘Scrooged’, where he plays a bepermed television executive who eventually learns the error of his ways… or at least I think he does.  I was definitely not paying attention.

I don’t hate Christmas – I love it.  I love seeing my family and reuniting with homeward bound friends, I love giving (and receiving) presents, I love that it’s an excuse to eat as much breaded, deep fried brie as you can physically handle while glued to a Judy Garland marathon.  All of these activities are best undertaken wearing a ratty, too-big t-shirt of your dads and a pair or droopy treggings (bonus points for fashioning a little red Snuggie into a cape, extra bonus points for going to the pub in such an ensemble).

Christmas and New Years are times to be comfortable.  That’s my problem.  I know that, once the 6th of January has come and gone and a million Christmas trees are slowly turning brown after being shunted in a million back yards, I will have to put on the skinny jeans again.  And when I realise that the skinny jeans won’t go past my kneecaps, the party really will be over.  It’s not for nothing that the average weight gain over the Christmas period is seven pounds.

And then, the New Years resolutions.  The juice fasts.  The pilates.  The expensive gym memberships.  The rice cakes, an endless stream of them, all masticated methodically in order to fit back into those impossible jeans again.  First the binge, then the purge.  It’s a cliche to call it a vicious cycle, but it really is vicious; it’s a snarling beast that wakes you up every day at 6am to go for a jog before work and forces you at gunpoint to put down that Galaxy Caramel – now.

All the same, humans have a short memory and are remarkably resilient creatures (or incredible masochists).  We put ourselves through this torture because we know we’ll get to do it all again in a matter of months; and we love it.   If that seven pounds doesn’t slide off so easily and the jeans remain a bit tight, so what?  That’s what the January sales are for.

LICENTIATE FESTIVE NOTICE!   There will be no column next week.  The next Licentiate column goes up on the 7th of January, so stay tuned.  From the second of January, there will be some very special posts from very special Irish bloggers – more on that in the New Years.  
As you may know, this humble blog has been listed as one of Ireland’s most influential fashion blogs!  You can vote for me by clicking on the link, finding my blog (I’m number 42) and clicking the vote button.  Thanks so much to everyone who has supported my blog so far, all you comments and emails are much appreciated.  HUG!
P.S And if you’re not going to vote for me, please vote for one of the other superb Irish blogs out there, who are all super nice, very talented and equally deserving of your vote.

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Fashion, Film, Inspiration, Photography

;Bonnie and Clyde ’10

>Thankfully, I’m not referring to Jay-Z rehashing ‘Bonnie and Clyde ’05’.  Oh no.

If 2010 was a series of ‘moments’, the story of Bonnie and Clyde (or more specifically the 1967 film; the real Bonnie had a limp and severe scars from burns towards the end of her crime career) has definitely had it’s moment within the past twelve months.

The real Bonnie and Clyde – Phographer unknown

This year has sprouted not one but two editorials that pay obvious homage to the public’s favourite outlaw couple (Mickey and Mallory Knox from Natural Born Killers coming a close second).  The first to appear was shot by Peter Lindbergh for the March issue of Harpers Bazaar, the second shot by Aram Bedrossian (no idea which magazine though, let me know if you know please) this month.  Inevitably, people are writing that Bedrossian’s shoot is ‘following in the footsteps of Lindbergh’, which is fashion code for ‘might be blatantly copying Lindbergh’. Though, with such iconic source material, how could they not be equally derivative?

Spot the difference 1 – Lindbergh
Spot the difference 1 – Bedrossian
Spot the difference 2 – a still from Bonnie & Clyde (1967)

Spot the difference 2 – Bedrossian
Spot the difference 2 – Lindbergh

I’m not trying to be a party pooper or the girl who cried plaigarism.  As I said before, it’s hard not to come to the same aesthetic conclusions when you’re drawing inspiration from a film with such a strong image.  Both editorials have some amazing, totally original images.  They also have different moods.  The Lindbergh shoot is full of movement, while Bedrossian’s work is more contemplative and static.

A super cool action shot from Lindbergh



A beautifully composed shot by Bedrossian


It’s a very close call, but I prefer Lindbergh’s shoot. Which one do you like best?

All photos via Fashion Gone Rogue

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Fashion, Photography, The Reading List

Style Icon – Wallis Simpson

>Today started well.  I found out that I was a nominee for Ireland’s Top Fashion Blogger.  This is a total surprise, because I didn’t solicit a nomination, but now that I’ve got one, I’m going to cling onto it until my fingernails fall off and pimp myself out for votes like an underage Jodie Foster.  Can you tell that I was the kid who never won any prizes on sports day?

I don’t for a second think that I’ll come out on top with so many excellent blogs nominated, but if you like this blog and don’t want me to be Sad Sack Sarah at the bottom of the pile (fingers crossed!) please do vote for me by clicking here.  Go to my pic (I’m number 41), then press vote.  Easy as pie!

Then I popped down to The Fair Alternative to find a super-cute prize for my QUESTION! post and bumped in the lovely Lorna of Loladee (check out her etsy here) who gifted me an amazingly cute zipper brooch that I want to keep ALL TO MYSELF.

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The winner, with an exhaustive list of blogs is Anne-Marie.  Congrats!  I’ll tweet you with details. 

Now onto the blog post at hand…
My mother very thoughtfully bought me a copy of Any Human Heart by William Boyd a few days ago. I’m a bit of a pedanto at times, so I decided to watch the entire Channel 4 series in one go before reading the book. Sometimes I read the book before watching the TV series/film, but my reasoning was that it wasn’t so much the story that I was looking forward to as much as Boyd’s writing itself.  I’m so glad that I watched it now, because the series is so immaculate and well made and the characters so finely tuned and nuanced that I can’t wait to read the book just so I can replay every episode in my head, complete with the fleshed-out details that the book provides. 

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Gillian Anderson and Tom Hollander as Wallis Simpson and Prince Edward

One character who definitely didn’t get enough screentime was Wallis Simpson, played by Gillian Anderson.  She plays Wallis as an abrasive, self entitled social climber with a dress sense as sharp as her cheekbones and one liners.  Paris Hilton – start taking notes.

Historical accounts of the real Simpson’s personality run the gamut of bad to just plain evil.  She was characterised as a control freak with OCD (definitely) gold-digger (possible), a Nazi sympathiser (probable) and a pseudo-prostitute trained in the sexual arts in a brothel in China (eh, I’ll get back to you on that one).  I remember reading that people thought that she was a hermaphrodite (or intersex, if I’m being very PC) in a bid to explain her childlessness.  Not very likely.

Whatever you want to say about her, the woman had charisma.  People are still boggled by her life, her personality and her political motivations.  I’m boggled by her wardrobe.  Wallis was exceptionally long and lean.  Her wedding dress was copied into the hundreds of thousands and she was (and still is) lauded for her personal style and attention to detail.

In an article for The Telegraph, the author Rose Tremain says:

“She, who is said to have coined the statement that “You can’t be too rich or too thin”, was stigmatised as being too ambitious, too ruthless, too greedy, too mannish, too sexual, too cruel, too divorced, too pro-German and too American. In the brilliant Irving Penn photo-portrait of her, which hangs in my study, she is backed into what appears to be a narrow cell, from which the only escape is towards the camera, into the glare of the flash and the click of the shutter.”
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Portrait by Irving Penn



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Portrait by Cecil Beaton

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Portrait by Cecil Beaton

What Tremain sees in the Penn portrait is a look of abject fear.  I, and many others, might disagree.  That’s the allure of Wallis Simpson, who didn’t just dress well, but was totally unknowable, and always will be.

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Licentiate Columns

Licentiate Column 16/12/10

>Christmas shopping is hard. I don’t just mean the physical act of shopping, which is a test of endurance dreamed up by a wrathful god who makes a daily habit of getting up on the wrong side of the bed each morning. I’m talking about the preamble. The wracking of brains to come up with the perfect gift and the sifting through endless websites and gift guides. The pressure to be thought of as the most thoughtful (and cunningly frugal) gift-giver on the planet.

Sometimes the brain get so wracked it starts to resemble a plate of grated cheddar cheese. Combine that with the over-sifted gift ideas and your plan is now starting to resemble the ingredients for a nice savoury scone as opposed to the perfect shopping trip.

The worst Christmas gifts are invariably the clothes. The very nature of buying clothes for another person is illogical and deeply flawed,so it comes to pass that only the very smartest or foolhardy will buy such things.

This goes for all items of clothing, no matter how large or small. Want to buy your significant other a tie? Think you know him that well, do you? Don’t say I didn’t warn you. There is no accounting for taste, so you may find that your choice of an ironic burgundy kipper tie will find you out in the cold this festive season. Think that you’re dodging a bullet by buying a plain tie? Then think again; the plain tie marks you out as a thoughtless gift giver. The tao of ties dictates that the busier the pattern, the more thought you evidently put into buying it.

On the gender flip side, we have the glutinous minefield that is lingerie. Like Father Ted, many men will get lost somewhere in Debenhams on Christmas Eve and be spat back out into homewares sometime before Valentines Day. The lingerie section is the Bermuda triangle for confused and indecisive men everywhere.

Bra and knicker sets are a perfect example of the ‘smart or foolhardy’ customer dichotomy. A person will either know their significant others cup size and preference for lace over leather, resulting in a very merry (triple) Xmas or they don’t. They make an ill-advised stab in the dark, which is exactly what will happen once the significant other unwraps a red rubber and latex creation that Lady Gaga would find just a tad too risque.

Maybe the worst thing about Christmas shopping isn’t the preamble. Maybe, just maybe, the worst thing about Christmas shopping is the fact that we have to do it at all. We’re all adults here. We know that Christmas is ostensibly about Jesus and not about rampant, Godzilla-like consumerism. We buy presents to show the people in our lives that we care about them. Why do we insist on expressing that love with ill-fitting, badly chosen garments that are going to be on sale anyway in a matter if weeks? Is that truly the measure of care that we take for other people?

This year, my mother offered to knit me a jumper of my choosing. While this gesture doesn’t cost the earth, it’s still infinitely better than an expensive shop bought, machine-made offering in colours I don’t like with too-long sleeves. When it comes to Christmas and clothes, it’s the thought that counts. And if you get stuck, a book token will do nicely.

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