Fashion

Hiatus

Picasso, Woman Writing, 1934

Due to some incredibly unforeseen circumstances, I have had to hit the pause button on this blog for a few weeks.

The reason why will have to remain cloudy, but I will return – get me, I’m sooooo mysterious.

There are lots of great books winging their way to me in February for review, a big pile of films to see, a week’s worth of couture to look through and a few outfit posts still in the planning stages, so it’ll be full steam ahead in no time at all.

If, for some reason you’re now stuck for something to read, here are a few of my favourite blogs.

Miss Moss

Honestly WTF

She’s In Vogue

How to be a Retronaut

Daiquiris and Denial 

Love Aesthetics

See you sometime after Valentine’s Day.

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Fashion, Film, Licentiate Columns

Licentiate Column 27/01/12: Fashion and Film

The parallel worlds of fashion and film have much in common, not least the threads of glamour, escapism, artifice and unreality. It’s a place that we aspire to be despite no chance of ever getting there.

Why then, when these fantastic twin universes overlap, do we react so badly to it?

Fashion designers have often had bad luck in Hollywood. In the 1930s, Coco Chanel signed a lucrative contract with Samuel Goldwyn to design costumes and everyday outfits for his biggest female stars. Her costumes were met with indifference and stars would refuse to don her outfits – being told what to wear in a film is one thing and being told what to wear on your days off is completely another.

Films about the fashion industry tend to be poorly received. Robert Altman’s Pret a Porter was filmed on location at various fashion weeks and lest we forget, The Devil wears Prada starred a formidable Meryl Streep. Neither films set the world alight in terms of accuracy or sympathy.

In every film about fashion there will be a kindly (gay, so therefore not sexually threatening) man who consoles the female protagonist with a pair of Louboutins pilfered from a fashion cupboard. This is not so in real life. Fashion may not be the most cerebral of industries, but these tired tropes just insult everyone’s intelligence.

So, with the exception of a few brief shining moments, fashion designers left the arena of film altogether. Designers may contribute outfits, but the last word always went to the costume designer, the curator of the film’s image.
It’s often very easy to link fashion with film, but the link may be tenuous at best. For example, Gucci previewed their Spring/Summer collection last September with an array of dazzling, elaborate beaded flapper dresses in Art Deco shades of black and gold. The press at large has christened these dresses as part of a Great Gatsby ‘trend’ – not in relation to the book but rather the film. Don’t be worried if you haven’t heard of it – it hasn’t even been finished yet.

It could just have easily been called the ‘The Artist trend’, another modern film, this time set in 1920’s Hollywood. The film has an amazing wardrobe and cast, but the real star is a small dog called Uggie. Perhaps that should tell us something.

Film is a convenient smokescreen for fashion journalists when they’re short a new fashion craze of two to write about. It’s not really a trend. No-one will wear these dresses on the high street. They are terminally unflattering and prohibitively expensive to produce.

The themed cocktail parties, cocaine binges and defensive pursuit of youth have mutated from the twenties flapper to something else much more modern and sinister. Something that, if captured on camera, has nothing to do with fashion, and even less to do with Deco-esque beaded flapper dresses, however beautiful they are.

It’s just hiding behind the glamour.

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Art, The Reading List

What I did in London, told by the books I bought.


Saturday – a stroll down Portobello Road, a rummage in the market stalls, dinner at El Camion and a root through Oxfam Books for some bedside reading.

Sunday – to Leicester Square Theatre for Stewart Lee’s Carpet Remnant World (Couldn’t wait for him to come to Ireland in May).

Monday – A trip to the National Portrait Gallery, then to Chinatown for Dim Sum…

…then some shopping in Covent Garden. Go to Magma Books. Just do it.

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Fashion, Licentiate Columns

Licentiate Column 19/01/12: Pajama Girls

Fashion is a reflection of the times we live in. Hemlines go up and down with the stock market, colours go from bright to sombre depending on the national mood. And nothing, nothing could be more proof that the world will end in 2012 than the newest trend to hit the streets running.

Pajamas.

Not lounge pajamas. Not bedtime pajamas. Not even, ‘teenage girls and exhausted young mothers go to Tesco in their pajamas’ pajamas. We’re talking about pub pajamas. Business meeting pajamas. Perhaps in the not too distant future, wedding pajamas.

In the earlier part of the twentieth century, owning a pair of swanky pajamas denoted a leisure class. Too rich to don business suits to work, a moneyed woman would often entertain in a pair of wide-legged silk slip-on trousers and matching jacket, often with heels and copious amounts of jewellery.

Pajamas became the casual clothes of the Hollywood elite, with stars such as Ida Lupino pictured in publicity photographs, resplendent in pajamas, gold slippers, turban and intimidatingly long cigarette holder. Pajamas became a frippery to covet for the adoring fans, like a domesticated pet leopard or a mink-lined silver Bentley. It was just so ostentatious, the idea of day pajamas, that a simple item became a total luxury.

A trend will be resurrected every few years by designers, but this is the first time in several decades that it has trickled down to the high street. Not since the dreaded 70’s leisure suit has the high street seen such an influx of patterned trousers and shirts in slouchy cuts and super-comfortable jersey and airy silks.

River Island, Topshop and even Penneys will be introducing pajama-style suits in the coming months. To cement the pajama as a definite craze for spring, e-tailing giant ASOS are marketing them as a top trend, with cut-out collages and flashy graphics of willowy models in clothes that are more sleepy than sexy.

I love it. As the kind of person who routinely pops to the shops in, um, shall we say off-centre outfits, it would be extremely hypocritical of me not to.

I’m not for a second suggesting that anyone needs to dust off their brushed cotton Rainbow Brite PJs for a night on the tiles (although if you tried it, I wouldn’t stop you).

Wearing pajamas in public is generally taken to be a sign of laziness, of an unwillingness to take care of oneself and definite rebelliousness. A person who proudly wears pajamas will not care one jot about what other people think of them. The pajama trend is not as complicated.

Think of a normal women’s trouser suit. Tailored, possibly even a little bit boring. Now, loosen it up a smidge (only a smidge, mind), get rid of all zips. Make it in a comfortable fabric and add a pretty pattern. Spots, stripes, florals – anything goes. That’s the pajama trend. It’s a suit, but not as we know it.

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Fashion, Inspiration, Photography

Float my Boat

Women’s mug shots via How to be a Retronaut.

Nail wraps by NCLA.

Custom stamped men’s leather cuff by The Bead Girl.

Neon clutch at Love Aesthetics

This photo and the amazing family story that goes with it at The Sartorialist.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

SOPA must be stopped.  I’m no pirate.

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Fashion, Photography, Subculture

I am a Camera

One of the first lines in Alone in Berlin, Christopher Isherwood’s Weimar-era novella, reads;

I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking

With that slightly depressing line in mind, let’s look at British Vogue’s ‘I am a Camera’ shoot for it’s February issue.

This editorial takes the idea of the front row fashion blogger and turn it on its head.  It’s interesting, considering how much inspiration that bloggers get from magazines, that a magazine should draw inspiration from bloggers so late in the game.

Still, bloggers are outsiders in the fashion world.  ‘I am a Camera’ seems to suggest that bloggers are passive observers of fashion – they never mould or guide what fashion is to become.  Maybe I’m reading into it wrong, but that’s what it looks like to me.

It’s utter bollocks, of course.  Bloggers do help to accelerate and even kick-start trends (um, Susie Bubble anyone? Tavi?) I’ve met quite a few front row bloggers and they spend more of their time editing photos and doing 40+ hours of work in other jobs and less time than you’d think prancing around gritty urban settings/stately homes in the new Prada flame heels and taking pictures of themselves picking their teeth in fabulous hotel suites.

This shoot is still pretty great.  A really original concept, great styling and lovely pictures.  I especially love the photos where the clothes are lovingly organised on the suitcase and the bed – accessorised with a half-devoured room service breakfast.  But of course.

I am a Camera, British Vogue Fab 2012.  Tati Cotliar by Raymond Meier.  Styled by Charlotte Pilcher.  Images via Hey Crazy (http://heycrazy.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/i-am-a-camera/)

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Fashion, Inspiration, Licentiate Columns

Licentiate Column 12/01/12: On Inspiration

Last week, I was asked one of those questions that people struggle to answer truthfully. The answer is not always a by-product of wishing to conceal the correct answer, but because the answer will almost always raise another set of perplexing question. That question is, ‘where do you get your ideas?’

Easy answer; my brain. More in-depth, less flippant (and rude) answer: from everywhere. From the people I talk to and the things I see. People’s ideas are often borne of the world around them.

More books are published now than ever before. More art is being produced. There are now more than seven billion people to potentially talk to on this planet and no two of them will hold identical values and opinions about the world around them.

Information gets passed down an ever-growing chain of people and ideas grow and evolve a little more as it passes through the chain – like a cerebral version of Chinese Whispers.

As George Bernard Shaw said, “If you have an idea and I have an idea, and we exchange those ideas, then each of us shall have two ideas”. I got that quote from Kanye West’s twitter feed (see what I mean about a chain?).

It makes sense that the most popular question to ask creative or stylish people revolves what inspires their personal style. Fashion feeds on ideas. It takes from all aspects of life and interprets it into clothing. Sometimes parasitic, sometimes reactionary, sometime ridiculous; almost always entertaining.

How do people create their own distinct image? How does Alexa Chung look so damn pretty in clunky brogues? Where did Lady Gaga’s meat dress come from? Why did Katharine Hepburn insist on wearing masculine suits in an era of Hollywood glamour? And how do you get dressed in the morning?

Where do you get your inspiration from? Take a second and think it over.

When you enter a shop and pick something up, thinking ‘that’s nice’, why do you do so? It it the colour? The pattern? The shape? And if so, why that colour, that pattern, that shape?

Some people have a particular image and use that as a template for their wardrobe. Rihanna’s is clown/dominatrix. Grace Kelly’s was an aura of refinement. Diana Vreeland had red to accent everything. My mother looks like a 60’s beatnik who discovered the joys of baking. My friend Dawn is eternally girly and groomed.

Most of us don’t have the safety net of a clearly defined sense of style. We bounce around collecting weird and wonderful things without ever thinking too much about it.

My most recent acquisition? A pair of silver patent-robo boots. Where it’ll fit in with my neon green schoolboy satchel and the seventies Foxy-Brown style faux fur trench coat, I may never know. I just like different things. Sometimes it’s a disaster. Most of the time though, it isn’t (I hope).

A sense of style, for some people, will come from everywhere. Just like some of the best ideas.

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