WIN! Tickets to the Irish Premiere of ‘The Eye Has to Travel’

Yep, I’ve got a lovely prize to give away to a lucky reader. The Dublin Fashion Festival  in conjunction with Moet & Chandon and Studio Canal are giving me two tickets to the Irish premiere of Diana Vreeland documentary ‘The Eye Has to Travel’, taking place at the Lighthouse Cinema in Smithfield, Dublin on September 9th – that’s almost two weeks before it comes out in the cinema, fact fans.

For those not in the know, Diana Vreeland was the fashion editor who brought the Swinging Sixties to America proper.  As editor of American Vogue for the decade, she became known for her ostentation, flamboyance and neverending stream of improvised bon mots while also remaining a champion of youth movements and subculture.  She wrote several books and made the Costume Institute at The Met Museum in New York a serious draw for tourists and fashion lovers alike.  Her all-red drawing room in her apartment was styled after ‘a garden in hell’, which says a lot about her personality.

Her’s was a unique eye – her professional and personal flair has yet to be repeated by any other figure in the fashion publishing industry.  Her distinctive voice is only one of three that I can impersonate successfully (the others are Katherine Hepburn and Little Edie Beale by the way, which are pretty much all variations on the same theme).

I’m a big Vreeland nerd, having blogged about her multiple times (here and here) so I’m absolutely delighted to be giving these tickets away. The most fabulous fashion editor ever and free champagne?  You’d be foolish not to enter.

Moët & Chandon, the world’s leading champagne house, has teamed up with Dublin Fashion Festival to give style lovers a first look at the captivating fashion documentary,Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel. The film is an intimate portrait and a vibrant celebration of Diana Vreeland, who was one of the most influential women of the 20th century. The influence of this enduring icon forever changed the face of fashion, beauty, art, publishing and culture.

For more than 260 years, Moët & Chandon has been the reference for fabulous celebrations, turning the ordinary into the extraordinary with the pop of a cork. Since the early days of Hollywood, Moët & Chandon has played a glamorous role in the history of film, both on and off screen. With this exclusive screening of Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, Moët & Chandon will reinforce its love affair with film by hosting a sumptuous champagne reception for all guests before the screening.

Directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, the documentary follows the life and career of Diana Vreeland by the people who knew her.

Sound good? There are two caveats. You and your plus one must be able to attend the event on Sunday, September 9th at 4pm (of course). You must also be over 18 to enter.

How to enter?  Just leave a comment below with your email address.

Want an extra entry?  Follow @The_Licentiate on Twitter and tweet ‘I want to win premiere tickets to ‘The Eye Has to Travel’ with @The_Licentiate and @DublinFashion!’

Want ANOTHER entry?  Like The Licentiate and Dublin Festival of Fashion on Facebook and tag us in a post on your own wall with a link to the competition – posts without a link to this competition page will not be counted.

PHEW!  A winner will be picked at random on Thursday evening.

Good luck!


It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

A little bit Wildwood N.J, a little bit bit street style, this candid project taken on the streets on Philadelphia by the enigmatically named Roy W, is all about endless summer, sitting on stoops and trading wisecracks between surreptitious cigarette drags.

As an aside, I always wanted to sit on a stoop and drink one of those 40oz bottles of beer in a brown paper bag (I know it’s weird, I know).  So, when I got to New York in the summer of 2008, I did just that – I sat on a stoop with my friend Sam and a 40, all bagged up.  I had a 40 of Smirnoff Ice, not beer, because I’m not that committed to the illusion.  it was a good evening – until the cop car pulled up…

Photos from Hear It Snap on Flickr, via Teenager

The Reading List: The Vintage Fashion Journal

Illustrated by Niki Pilkington, this journal is designed to be the perfect accompaniment to the whimsical vintage girl, who spends time in flea markets, art galleries and old-fashioned tearooms.  There are a lot of these Manic Pixie Dream Girls floating around the place; some more dedicated than others, some only being Manic Pixies on a part-time basis (old-fashioned tearooms are the only places I can get my sugar high on, I swear). I can easily imagine Zooey Deschanel using this notebook to dream up more perplexing questions for Siri, then sighing over her Darjeeling and looking through her fringe into the middle distance.

The first impression you get holding this notebook is that it is pretty – very, very pretty. It is designed to shoot a laser beam right at the weak spot in every person who goes slightly squishy over cute things. The cloth-bound (!) hardback (!!) is illustrated with overtly whimsical vintage accessories(!?!!**!?! *faints*). A 35mm camera here, a quilted purse there. A perfume bottle spritzes dangerously close to a lace collar. It is all tied up with a pretty red ribbon.

There’s a little bit of everything for a stationary lover; pages are ruled, crossed, left blank or covered with Pilkington’s dreamy dreamy dream girls. If there’s one aspect of the notebook that hits a bum note, it’s the inclusion of ‘inspirational’ quotes from the likes of Chanel and Schiaparelli, which are a tad contrived (but also quite sparse in number).

The illustrations, however, are gorgeous. If Pilkington’s romantic but bright designs look familiar, it might be because you’ve seen them in the likes of Topshop, Ted Baker, Elle and Nylon.  According to her blog, she’s also working on a collaboration with DIY Nails guru Tammy – now that I can’t wait to get my hands on.

If you’re a vintage lover looking for a notebook that elevates list making from mundanity to, um, FUNdanity, then this is a good ‘un.  It would also make a lovely Christmas gift (am I allowed to start thinking about Christmas now?).

The Vintage Fashion Journal is published by Laurence King and will be available in September.

Licentiate Column 23/08/12: Pregnancy Dressing

This is what friendship will look like in sixty years. Except with more cigars.

Everyone should think that their best friend is remarkable. If you don’t, you may need a new one. If your best friendship hasn’t grown out of that adolescent stage of sniping, backstabbing and general resentment that happens in the course of every symbiotic female friendship, then you definitely need a new one – but you can’t have mine.

My oldest friend really is a remarkable person. She’s smart, she’s sharp, she’s shameless. She’s creative, she’s brazen and, unsurprisingly, very popular. She genuinely has no idea what a great person she is or just how much she has shaped the way I look at the world. We grew up together – first as socially incontinent, bespectacled girls, to (very) late-blooming teens, to healthily maladjusted, outgoing adults.

In college, we would go out five times a week, with nothing in our pockets and a foolish sense of adventure. This often got us into trouble. We shared late-night toasted bacon and cheese sandwiches, going-out tops and boys equally. Even after we were done growing up and went in different directions (literally; I stayed in Cork and she went to live back in our hometown) we still shared as much as we could.

At this juncture in our lives, she is more of a grown up than I ever planned to be, because this week she gave birth to a son, a murmuring bundle of chubby pink wrapped up in a tiny yellow babygro.

Looking at him sleeping, the staccato rise and fall of his tiny chest beating a rhythm in his hospital cot, breaks my heart. To know that my friend has joined the swelling ranks of remarkable women who put little people out in our indistinct speck of the universe, to know that one day this person will make a difference, no matter how small, and to know that she will take on the responsibility of looking after her boy for the good part of two decades; that just makes me admire her even more.

Even more remarkable is the message I got from her today, just five days after giving birth. It read like this: ‘MY PRE-PREGNANCY JEANS FIT ME AGAIN SARAH!’. Ugh. The smug bitch. I’m jealous and I have no plans to procreate – ever. What is the point? My friend has already won at pregnancy.

It is hard to get dressed when you’re pregnant – literally and figuratively. Every so often I will get an email or tweet from a reader asking for pregnancy and post-baby wardrobe tips, which I would usually answer with a pathetic protestation and mild promise to cover it at some point in the future.

The real reason that I have never covered pregnancy (except for a column about how to conceal your pregnancy – again inspired by my friend) is one that no journalist wants to admit. When it comes to pregnancy, I don’t have the foggiest notion.

Not anymore. For the next few weeks, I’ll be covering all things wardrobe and pregnancy/baby related. Oh, and Collette – congratulations. You’re already a great mother. A remarkable one.

Licentiate Column 16/08/12: Clothes Maketh Not The Slut

You can’t go out looking like that. Why not? Well, someone might get the wrong idea. Your dress is too short. Your breasts are heaved out on display. That’s far too tight. Someone might think you’re a slut.

Slut. It’s such a short word, but it’s loaded with centuries of baseless shame, guilt and contravention against pure, virtuous, womanhood (not something we ever asked for, by the way). I personally don’t hate the word, but I do hate the way that women use it against each other. We should be taking it back, using it as a term of endearment and introducing new friends to our parents with, “Mom, Dad, this is my slut Eadaoin”. Not an eyelid should be batted.

A few weeks ago, a man mistook me for a prostitute. I ended up writing a column about it. The Cliffs notes version is this: I was outside my local post office on a Wednesday afternoon, wearing my black jeans with the dried in salsa stains, when a man a man with the beefiest forearms I have ever seen pulled up in a white van and suggested that we go to a b’n’b for a bit of hardcore action. I declined, just in case you were curious.

I’m still perplexed as to why he thought I was a hooker. Was it the grotty trainers? The scraped back bun? The Specsavers granddad-style frames? One of my co-workers theorised that I must have looked like a I really needed the money (thanks a bunch for that vote of confidence, by the way). And here I was worrying if the stain on my trousers made me look a bit slatternly, which is the poor cousin to the slut.

For all my potential punter knew, I could have been a slut. I really could. Maybe he’s ahead of the White Van Man curve. Maybe this man knew what, in our hearts, everyone should really know – what you wear no longer has anything to do with your sex life.

Last week, while out at a themed club night in Cork City with a friend, I spotted a group of girls dressed in tiny tops, hot pants and all the trademarks of a Zoo Magazine Roadshow. One girl was wearing a micro-mini, strapless black dress, stockings and suspenders, a detachable shirt collar and a pair of Playboy bunny ears. She had matching tattoos on the backs of her thighs. All I could think about that outfit was, “Well, THAT’S not the most historically accurate costume for a 1960’s night. Good effort though”.

She was having good, clean fun with her friends. She wasn’t behaving like a slut – no screaming about how much she loves multiple, unsheathed penises, no soliciting men for money, no fervent hope expressed that a sex tape (or some bodily fluids) would soon be leaked. None of the group behaved like that.

She didn’t look like a nun – but why should we care? It’s none of our business. It’s hers and hers alone. Clothes will always be signifiers of self-expression. However, the word ‘slut’ will not always be a bad thing – so maybe we should stop using a person’s wardrobe choices to evaluate who is and isn’t one, ok?


The Reading List: Barbie, Her Life and Times

Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from word-heavy posts. No intellectualising here, just ‘LOOK AT DEM PICTCHURS’!

These cheese-laden photos are taken from Barbie: Her Life and Times by Billyboy. It is sadly out of print but you can find cheap copies on Amazon or ABE Books if you need a fix of kitsch.

The book is split into two sections. The first charts the history of Barbie, the second is chock-full of pictures of Barbie wearing then-contemporary fashion from internationally renowned designers. This book was published in the Eighties, so the style has aged a bit. Regardless, it’s still a big fat guilty pleasure – the book equivalent of staying at home, eating several tubs of Chunky Monkey and watching your favourite nineties TV box sets until way past your bedtime.

in slightly blurry Agnes b

in Valentino

in Hermes

in Yves Saint Laurent

in Yves Saint Laurent

in Pucci

in Kenzo

Licentiate Column 09/08/12: The King of All Colours

I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries lately.  I’ve also been watching a lot of 30 Rock, but that’s probably not relevant to this week’s column.  I’ll stop right there and not talk about Liz Lemon’s lack of sartorial nous.

One of these documentaries has been the History of Art in Three Colours series on BBC4.  Presented by the easy-on-the-eyes Dr James Fox (who somehow manages to wear the same black suit jacket/white shirt combo while scrambling though ancient tombs as well as strolling through the Tate), it’s an exploration of the world through the colours gold, blue and white.

James Fox chills out in Egypt and tells us about gold, yo.

Although the series has just ended, I highly recommend that you watch it online if you have any interest in art, history or indeed, fashion. It is a very stylish program.  If the majority of television is chewing gum for the eyes, A History of Art in Three Colours is a plate of petit fours; beautiful, light, easy to digest and not substantial enough to be totally satisfying.

The history of fashion can also be told through colour.  However, which colour jostles for precedence in the pecking order?  Colours come and go, as the wearers are led by trends that are both ephemeral and temporal.  Taste, circumstance and the dictates of higher-ups make the importance of colours fluctuate like an Olympic league table.

For my money, I think that the most important colour (or at least, the most important colour for the past few thousand years anyway) is purple.  Not just any purple.  A kind of blue-tinged burgundy most recently seen on devotees of MAC’s Cyber lipstick, a baroque punk shade that is redolent of both privilege and rebellion.  It is called Tyrian purple.

Also known as imperial purple, Tyrian purple was worth its weight in silver and was highly prized.  Unlike other dyes, weathering and sunlight only makes it stronger.  It’s either an irony or a sublime coincidence that the dye came from predatory mid-sized sea snails and ended up being worn by royalty and politicians – although that might just be a mix of cynicism and historic revisionism shining through.

Tyrian purple – not just for Jesus.

Tyrian purple was so important that it was subsidised by the Byzantine court.  Once a man became a Roman senator, this robes were run through with one stripe of pure Tyrian purple.  The ancient method of processing this dye has long been lost, along with all the principled Roman senators, but we do know from writings that it was, apparently, incredibly smelly.

It is such a unique hue that it cannot be represented on a computer screen.  Indeed, the most accurate versions of the colour, a colour so special and unique that it cannot be fully replicated ever again, can be seen on the walls of millennia-old basilicas – not on the catwalk.

It’s like the old order of gods, kings and the idealistic politician – it’s gone, all gone.  What is left of it and of Tyrian purple is nothing but a bland pastiche, weak imitation and blatant bastardisation. That’s worth a documentary.

R.I.P Anna Piaggi

Anna Piaggi with Karl Lagerfeld

I’ve mentioned Anna Piaggi several times within my small corner of the internet.  I just want to say how sad I am that such a talented, unique woman has died.

If you don’t know much about Piaggi’s work or the DP’s (double page spreads) that she worked on for Italian Vogue right up to her death, here is a review of her book, Fashion Algebra, that I posted two years ago (with some nice pictures).  Her output was trendless and utterly fascinating.  Click to read.

Licentiate Column 02/08/12: I Swear I’m Not a Prostitute

Furtive, shameful hand shandy in the back of a van, not pictured

A funny thing happened to me on the way from the post office today.

Maybe that’s not the best way to start a story, but the rest of said story is sufficiently entertaining that the mediocre introduction can be forgiven.

It was a drizzly day, the former part of which I had spent in my pajamas. I had to go run a few errands, so I threw on a pair of black jeans with salsa stains on the left thigh, a ratty t-shirt, scraped my hair back in a bun and popped on my twenty nine euro Specsavers glasses. The post office was only a few hundred yards away, so I figured that it wasn’t a big deal.

I was standing outside the post office, sipping from a can of pop and waiting for the drizzle to make up its mind about whether it wanted to be a downpour or not when a man in a white van pulled up and nodded at me. I ignored him the first time, then the second, then on the third go I gave a tentative, confused nod back, because in my hometown any middle-aged man who nods at me is more than likely to be my second cousin.

Gentle reader, I married him. No, that’s not true.

I decided to stop the nodding and crossed the road behind his van, heading in the opposite direction. Terrifyingly, he did a U-turn, parked right in front of me and tried to initiate a conversation.

To cut a very long, very creepy story short, he mistook me for a prostitute. An actual prostitute. The women who have sex for money. And not the ‘high-class’ kind of prostitute; the ‘furtive hand shandy in the back of a van with a man who looks like Onslow from Keeping Up Apprearances’ kind of prostitute. I ended up doing an increasingly panicky speedwalk home, terrified that I was going to be abducted.

There are outfits that teenage daughters wear that can worry their parents. And then there are outfits that are more dried tomato and herb than actual fabric. My ensemble was firmly entrenched in the second camp. Encrusted, even.

I have gone out in more than my fair share of provocative outfits and never received a backwards glance. I have gone out as the sartorial equivalent of a bin near a Mexican restuarant and been mistaken for a hooker.

The proof is in the pudding. It’s not what you wear that makes you a slut (for pay or otherwise) – you’re clearly a slut when another man decides, often baselessly, that you are one. It’s total and utter tripe. Whoreishness is in the eyes of the beholder, and the beholder who judges you as a slut based on your appearance clearly leaves something to be desired in themselves.

It’s a liberating but ultimately depressing thought. It doesn’t really matter what you wear, because people are probably going to get the wrong impression anyway.

I Would Like to Dress Like This

It would make a grey day marginally more interesting.

My chest might get a bit chilly though.

P.S – This is what an Irish August is like – I had a serious ‘Hmm, should I?’ moment when I came across one of my winter scarves today.  I’m going to put both the scarf and this look on the maybe pile and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Pic of Sybil Buck from ‘Acid Wit’, Vogue UK April 1994.  Shot by Albert Watson, styled by Kate Phelan.