Kelly Reemtsen – Pretty Dresses, Power Tools

Do you listen to podcasts?

I definitely do. I don’t listen to fashion podcasts. If such a thing existed, I would, but fashion is so visually powerful that podcasting seldom does it justice*. I listen to history podcasts instead. Judge me if you like. Go on, go full pelt with the slings and arrows.

Since I started writing for a woman’s website and exploring what it really means to be a woman with all those funny chest lumps and diminished human rights in Ireland today (“Yeah, it’s funny how you become more feminist when you break up with a boyfriend”, says my sister to me – either totally missing the point or cutting dangerously close to the truth), I’ve started listening to the great Stuff Mom Never Told You podcast.

Are you interested in women’s thingies? You should listen to that, so.

They also have a Tumblr. I found these paintings by Kelly Reemtsen there. They’re a deft but sinister juxtaposition of masculine vs. feminine. I quite like the flat block colours and the simple lines of the dresses. It must make braining an unsuspecting person with a huge spanner so much easier – that might just be me though.







*That being said, there’s definitely a market for a great fashion podcast.

I’m in Stereo and You’re So Monotone

I am loving the monochrome trend, I really am.  As a journo, you tend to look at things with an analytical eye, but I really do just want to run off with a pile of black-and-white patterned clothes and play dress up until my little heart bursts.

monochrome 2 - nine leen monochrome 3 - lisa larsen monochrome 4 - david bailey monochrome 5 - the-seeberger-brothers4 monochrome 5 - vulok vulovak monochrome 7 - bridget riley monochrome 8 - unknown monochrome 9 - Friedemann hausse monochrome1

1. Nina Leen 2. Lisa Larsen 3. The Shrimp and Ossie Clark by David Bailey 4. Seeberger Freres 5. Vulok Vulovak 6. Bridget Riley 8. Unknown 9. Jodie Kidd by Fridemann Hauss 9. Unknown

We’ll Take Manhattan

BBC4 is great.  They screen documentary series’ on Regency Style, the history of horror films and women Spitfire pilots.  It’s excellent brain fodder for not-so-closet nerdlingers like myself.

The channel has also made some amazing biopics (Enid starring Helena Bonham Carter as a thoroughly dislikable Enid Blyton and Margot with Anne-Marie Duff as prima ballerina Margot Fonteyn are just two that spring to mind).

I can’t wait for We’ll Take Manhattan, the story of photographer David Bailey, model Jean Shrimpton, a small teddy bear (maybe) and a setting of London and New York in the early sixties.

The press release reads:

Set predominantly in 1962, but also exploring the story of how Bailey and Shrimpton first met, this one-off drama reveals how a young, visionary photographer refused to conform. He insisted on using the unconventional model Jean Shrimpton on an important photo shoot for British Vogue and, over the course of a freezing week in Manhattan, threw out the rule book and made startling, original photographs.

We’ll Take Manhattan is the story of that wild week, of Bailey and Jean’s love affair, and of how two young people accidentally changed the world forever.

Bailey shot Karen Gillan (Shrimpton) and Aneurin Barnard (Bailey) for Vogue this summer, in a feat of almost acrobatic self-reflexiveness. They do look very good together.

No release date has been finalised yet, but to keep me going, I’ll just look at photos from their iconic photoshoot, titled Young Ideas Go West, published in British Vogue in 1962. If you want a bit more background info, here is a great place to start.

Images by David Bailey (obviously), scans via EIGHT.

The Reading List – Patrick Lichfield: Perceptions

Glossy, glossy, glossy.  Say it enough times and the word starts to lose it’s meaning.

If you’re not familiar with the work of Patrick Lichfield, then glossy is a good word to remember.  As a titled man, he had unprecedented access to the Royal Family and the aristocratic elite as well as many of the fashion stalwarts of the past forty years.  Following his death in 2005, this recently released book attempts to encapsulate the essence of Lichfield’s huge body of work, most of which belies its impossibly glossy (in both the grooming and ‘Hello’ magazine sense) aspect to reveal a much more subtle, complicated side to his many subjects.

Already an accomplished photographer, in 1967 Lichfield was commissioned by Diana Vreeland to shoot the Duke and Duchess of Windsor at their home in Paris for American Vogue.  Some of the photos are included here.  They are remarkable candid shots, very unlike the stern portraits of the couple that we’ve all seen before.  Lichfield had a great knack for getting to the core of his subjects – even if they didn’t really want him to.

Mick Jagger, 1971

Lichfield won’t be remembered primarily for his fashion photography, but the selection in this book is notable for the parade of stylish characters that swan through the pages.  Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, Cecil Beaton, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Charlie Chaplin, Marlon Brando, Audrey Hepburn, Oliver Reed… he knew and shot everyone.  Actresses, monarchs, political protesters – everyone.

Grace Coddington, 1964

The late, great Loulou de la Falaise, 1969

The real strength in Lichfield’s repetoire (and in this book) was his photographs of immediate, unplanned moments.  His posed photographs fall down a little when compared with the unplanned emotion that he could somehow wring from a subject’s face.

Clarissa Merton, 1959

There is a flip side to all this candidness and rawness – the many, many pages of photographs of the current royal family at work, at play and at Prince Charles and Diana’s wedding.  All immaculately posed, all immaculately glossy.  I was slightly jarred by the contrast between the two styles, although many people with find that dichotomy very interesting.

This book is beautifully presented and cleanly laid out – one large picture per page to pore over, exactly the way a retrospective should be.

Patrick Lichfield: Perceptions is publihed by Quadrille.

Inspiration: Pauline Boty

Do you ever read something interesting that sticks in your mind and suddenly pops up everywhere you look?

Photo by Lewis Morley

Long story short, I first read about Pauline Boty in this book.  A few days later I was sent the new Celia Birtwell book (more on that this week) and who should pop up in the first few pages?

Photo by Michael Ward

Pauline Boty was one of the founding members of the British Pop Art movement in the early 1960’s and died trgaically young from lukaemia at 28.  For many she’s a proto-feminist icon, an unusually sexually liberated woman who was struggling to be understood and have her work objectively evaluated in the days before the womens liberation movement.

My Colouring Book by Pauline Boty, 1963

Celia and some of her Heroes by Pauline Boty, 1963

Boty played with the notion of femininity and icons in her work.  She was Celia Birtwell’s neighbour on Addison Road in Notting Hill and painted a portrait of her surrounded by her artistic heroes. Her most famous painting is of Marilyn Monroe, titled ‘The Only Blonde in the World’. Most of her work was deeply personal – almost a precursor to Tracey Emin.

Detail from The Only Blonde in the World by Pauline Boty

Photo by Michael Ward

As well as an artist she was an actress, with a small part in Alfie as well as several parts in television.  She was also a dancer on Ready, Steady, Go.

Photo by Lewis Morley

Her death was untimely; Boty was pregnant when she was diagnosed with cancer and refused to have treatment until after her child was born.  She died five months after her daughter was born. Who knows what could have been?

Aaron Ruell and The Madonna Inn: How great is this?

This isn’t an interiors blog, but the kitscharama of the Madonna Inn in Luis San Obispo, California, which has preserved it’s very Flintstones/Jetsons vibe since the sixties, needs to be shared.  The hotel was used by photographer Aaron Ruell (who, oddly, also played older brother Kip in Napoleon Dynamite) in the Spring 2010 issue of Paper (so behind the times, I am).

Here are some pictures of the hotel in it’s heyday.  Today they look almost exactly the same (the televisions are better, for one).

Room 137 - The Cave Man Room

Room 149 - Old Fashioned Honeymoon

Room 160 - The Austrian Suite

Room 193 - The Safari Room

Room 151 - Sugar and Spice

Room 184 - Just Heaven

Room 204 - American Home

Paper mag photos via, vintage Madonna Inn postcards via It’s Better Than Bad on flickr

Licentiate Column 06/10/11: We Are The Mods

It’s all about the sixties this season. Sharp lines, unisex tailoring, retro-futuristic metallics and insouciant glares. Summer of love this isn’t. A discordant chant of ‘We are the Mods’ subliminally floats over the rails of every high-street shop, which is manifested in the slim suit trousers, car coats, peter pan collars and penny loafers within.

Fashion hasn’t always been so self-referential. We look to the past for inspiration, reworking old looks for new. Nostalgia has become a byword in fashion that has only really come to the fore in the past decade. Miu Miu goes forties, Gucci is seventies and Christopher Kane has revamped nineties clubwear tack. When did it all get so bloody postmodern?

Old Mod (via Modculture)

It’s something we can trace back to the original Mod movement which, in 2011, must be going through it’s fourth fashion revival. The slim fitting suits worn by the token rebellious youth were reminiscent of the original trouser-toting style setter: Beau Brummell.

Beau Brummell, the original dandy, set the Regency fashion world on fire by wearing tight-fitting trousers which were considered an indecent departure from the knee breeches that were the norm in the time of George IV. Soon though, everyone was wearing trousers.

Eventually, Brummel’s uniform mutated into what we now know as the suit. Brummel, however, had run up massive bills on pants (amongst other things) and died penniless in 1840 after a severe mental breakdown, probably unaware of just how big an impact he had on the fashion world.

The Mods harken back to that – well-groomed at all costs, tight tailoring to make grannies faint in the street, flying in the face on convention only to be absorbed into the mainstream.

It’s not just the rebellion we co-opt when we draw inspiration from the Mods, it’s also how damn cool they looked.

That’s why the Mod look has been recycled for this autumn/winter, but with an invincibly modern twist. The suits are still slim, but this time the girls that are wearing them too. French brand The Kooples, which recently found an Irish home in Brown Thomas, has enlisted Saville Row tailors to give their clothes a look of Quadrophenia on the Canal Saint-Martin – slim, leather accented and very cool.

New Mod (via Topshop)

Chelsea boots, brogues and loafers, designer and high street, have been updated with high-tech materials and loud finishes; platform soles, neon trim, leopard print, metallic leather.

Topshop have debuted their New Mod look – an orgiastic mish-mash of sixties Mod with a measure of fifties Teddy Boy and seventies punk – think Mod tailoring and foundation with animal prints, cat’s eye glasses, Elvis coifs, grandad knits, black lipstick, Dalmatian print and brothel creepers. It’s a trend that, admittedly, looks much better in real life than it does on paper. It’s also great fun to wear.

All decades have their own individual, recognisable stamp. When we look back on 2011-2020, what will be its symbol? It’s looking ever more likely that this is the revival generation, who reworks history for our own sartorial satisfaction. It sounds slightly sinister, but it’s clothing, not revisionism.

So, don those skinny grey flannel trousers happily. Oh, and hold on to them. I predict another revival in about ten years.

Related #2: What’s Your Time Period?

If I had to pick a time period, I’d pick the 60’s and be a mod.  Typical of people who always want that they can’t have, I don’t have the legs for micro minis and am deathly afraid of scooters (or any two-wheeled transport).  I would be a terrible mod.

In yesterday’s post, I talked about my dad and the punk movement in Dublin.  Any street style phenomenon that predates digital cameras in Ireland is usually woefully underdocumented.  Maybe it’s because Ireland is such a small country, maybe it’s because we’re all really lazy – who knows?

On top of that, Mod culture is also woefully underdocumented (at least in comparison with other subcultures like punk) so there’s not a lot to go on.  But here are a few Mod Links…

Mods go wild in Margate after a clash with rockers (source)

For all things Mod, Modculture is the go-to place.

Polka dot mod mini from Nod to Mod Vintage (could there be a more appropriate name for this shop?)

Do you want to organise your very own Mod Club Night?  Click here.

Richard Nicoll’s collection for Fred Perry has more than a whiff of Mod to it.

Listen to the Modcast – more music oriented, but worth a listen.  Guests have included Matt Berry.  Oh Matt.  I love your dulcet tones.

Minidress from Hellhound Vintage
From Dave’s Mod Photos

Recollections of a Mod life (lots more pics here)

Jumper Dress from Novella Bleu

Kinda Sorta Love…

>…The Eurovision, which for one night only turns everything the most amazing shade of camp.  This is the Serbian entry Nina, who sang… er, I have no idea.  In my mind, it sounds a bit like this.


Need more pictures of this act. Source

  Coloured tights, bright colours, patterns, sharp bobs, heavy eye make-up, micro minis.  Remind you of anyone?

Sandie Shaw, Eurovision winner 1967.  Source

Wild for Kicks: The Beat Girl (Part II)

Beat Girl title card, image via Imageshack

Some of you readers may remember a post I wrote back in November about ‘Beat Girl’, a 60’s teensploitation film.  It has everything: Christopher Lee as a strip club operator, rebellious teens, rowdy beatnik tunes and an bouffanted ingenue who later became a successful ye-ye (nothing to do with yo-yos) singer in France – you know, all the things a modern girl wants in a good film.

Teenage exploitation flicks are highly underrated as a genre. Granted, the scripts are usually terrible, dialogue is delivered in the manner of Bela Lugosi at the dentist and I could burst several car tyres in the many plotholes that spring up all over the place. Then again, the appeal of these films is in the general apathetic yet highly self-involved natures of the characters, which makes them embark on many a high-spirited, poorly thought out, self-destructive adventure. They’re just SO stylish, with their casually thrown on, yet meticulously put together outfits (it doesn’t hurt that the films were made in an era that is now looked on nostalgically in terms of style). It’s for the same reasons that so many people love watching Skins today.

Now, thanks to the Movies section on Youtube, you can watch Beat Girl in it’s unadulterated, sleazy, slightly crackly form! Don’t say I’m not good to you. Watch this film while doing the frug and smoking gauloises (or just with a cup of tea – make sure that you do the frug at some stage though).

P.S: Now THIS is how you do the frug.  Snazzy plaid-jacketed dancing partner optional.

Frug instructions via Flickr