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LFW Craft 2/3 – Meadham Kirchhoff

Meadham Kirchhoff are notoriously difficult to interview. This is more by rule than by rumour; their distaste for mass media is a sign, I think, that they hate how their message is interpreted.

So, what better way to counter the (usually) well-meaning spin that the media puts on their creativity than to release their own zine? It’s surprising how no-one has drawn on this irony; Meadham Kirchhoff dislikes the output of many journalists, so they craft their own media project.

Their Spring/Summer ’15 cut-and-stick-and-copy ‘zine/show notes are an obvious tribute to riot grrrls, feminism, musician Viv Albertine and pure bloody-mindedness. Full of loves (‘Quentin Crisp’, ‘Jayne County’) and hates (‘cultural appropriation’, ‘Terry Richardson’  – we’re with you there, guys), the Xerox-alike zines have been making the rounds online.

Fashion likes statement, but this zine isn’t a statement. It’s a frustrated, frenzied yowl into a chasm. Meadham Kirchhoff don’t just reject the circumstances of modern living with fashion – they also reject it with words. And tampons.
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(Featured image via)

LFW Craft 1/3 – Claire Barrow

London Fashion Week’s international reputation is that of risk-taking and unclipped creativity, but I think the real theme, especially with younger designers, is that of craft. Not crappy felt-and-PVA craft or horrible faux-naif stuff, but real craft. The kind of stuff that gets your hands dirty with paint, or slightly sticky, or smelling of interesting chemicals.

London has a slightly subversive edge due to the underground-ness of many of its presentations. For Claire Barrow, it was a soon-to-be demolished basement, once the home of the BBC Orchestra. A black void, painted empty space and loose wires. Also, free Jack Daniels.

Barrow’s hand painted visions of nightmarish, anthropomorphic characters are standing at the edge at the end of the world. Stupidly, I was reminded of kid’s TV show Adventure Time, where the world as we know it has blown up and the passing of a thousand years allows magic to grow back again. But much, much more nihilistic. No Bubblegum Princesses this time. Only darkness, with a sheer sliver of hope.

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Photos by Kim Rehnstedt and edited by yours truly.

This Pink Flamingos inspired editorial is a bit of fun.

Things to Read #17

Hello hello hello.

Here is a (very) little something I wrote for the Irish Times on Summer trends that’ll carry through to Winter. Ugh, Winter. When did that happen?

This Pink Flamingos inspired editorial is a bit of fun.

Ann DeWitt on Annie Leibovitz on Susan Sontag.

I disagree with an awful lot of this, but it still raises a few pertinent questions, like, when exactly are we going to get rid of all the clichés in fashion writing?

And on the flip side, why isn’t there more fashion writing like this? Side note – the book mentioned in this article, Women in Clothes, is a real treat for anyone interested in personal style over fashion. There’ll be a piece in the Irish Times (and a review up on this here blog) closer to the European release date.

WWD gathers ten high school girls to talk about their back-to-school outfits. I’m aware this is probably filler for a lot of people, but coming from a country where uniforms are pretty much compulsory, this is weirdly compelling.

Rick Owens, his huge sculpture and his non-existent sample sales.

Part 1 of things that annoyed me this week – people who wear Native American headdresses to festival, blissfully ignorant of the fact that they’re being racist. Who cares though when you look this fab, amirite? Nice one, you guys. Get a clue. I’m begging you.

Part 2 – I really love Susie Bubble’s work, but this article for the Independent, exploring whether you can wear designer looks can be worn in deprived parts of London strikes a really odd note for me. I guess it helps that Susie lives in Haringey (as do I, shout out to all my pals on the 242 bus) but it has a bit of a whiff of poverty porn. It’s a little off – though, as ever, the looks are on point.

Part 3 – Some very unfortunate truths about fast fashion that will probably make you rethink ever buying something with sequins on it again. There’s a reason that Ashish stuff is so expensive – because it’s not made with slave labour. (yay?)

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Things to Read #14

The 28th of July marked the centenary of the start of WWI. Much of the past few weeks has been eaten up with research into my great-great grandfather,  a career soldier who served at Gallipolli and died at the Battle of Verdun. A lot of Irish people don’t talk about family members who served in the British army during that time period. I suspect that, until now, it’s been a source of shame for a nation whose identity is so ingrained in rebelling against the British and the colonial system. Seeing the minutiae of a soldier’s life humanises the conflict. These men were not traitors. My great-great grandfather was my age when he died. He had four kids.

“His eyes, the one part of his original face still intact, dart like anyone’s eyes, and I find myself chasing them, the only reliable clue as to what might really be going on in there.” An excellent (and very long) look at Richard Norris and his exceptional face.

Fashion advertising – where has the controversy gone?

The curious, sexist world of the Irish model.

‘Beauty as Duty: Patriotism, Patriarchy and Personal Style during WWII’ – excerpted from the rather good Worn Archive book.

The Believer talks to Joan Didion.

Advertising without Photoshop. It’s art.

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Things to Read #9

Yesterday, I had to go see a man about a Springer Spaniel and, to edit a very boring story into a mildly entertaining footnote, I thought that it was Monday. Term only ended last week and already freelance work is messing with my brain. I’m going to have to start walking around with my name and address pinned to my sleeve. So, no Sunday post.

It’s doubtful that many people noticed – after all, Sunday is now the day for relaxed reading and there are a lot of websites posting up Sunday links (this particular series being a blatant rip-off loving homage to Ana Kinsella’s Week’s Clicks.

This Richardson shoot for Vogue Paris in 2010 was that first that made me think that something was not quite right. I also might have suppressed a vomit. *burrrp*

This Richardson shoot for Vogue Paris in 2010 was that first that made me think that something was not quite right. I also might have suppressed a vomit. *burrrp*

One of my all-time favourite magazine editors recently  justified (no names, unfortunately; ‘off the record’ is still very much a thing) using creepy-as-hell photographer Terry Richardson  by saying that his work should be separated from his wrongdoings. Which is bullshit, really, as his work is what makes his behaviour acceptable. New York Magazine have released their much-anticipated  feature ofnRichardson, asking if he’s an artist or a predator, perhaps conveniently forgetting that you can be both. The piece itself is … weird. Read it for yourselves and make up your mind.

Speaking of creepy sexual predators, this story of an online romance gone horribly wrong will make most sentient women never use their phones for anything other than Angry/Flappy/Zombie Birds ever again.

This is by no means new, but for people who are curious about what cultural appropriation is (note: eating sushi is NOT cultural appropriation and not just because I ate my weight in mackerel sashimi this weekend) please read this.

Drunk texts from famous authors. Much better than getting the following phone call from Barcelona. “I’m at a beach bar! Do you want to hear my Spanish accent? Ola! Olé… *ridiculously deep voice* OLÉEEEEE (trails off).”

James Franco wrote a weird short story about how he definitely absolutely no way didn’t but maybe he did  kinda sorta have sex with Lindsay Lohan.

Long long loooooooong read about Donna Tartt and why critics are pooh-poohing her latest literary blockbuster, The Goldfinch.

Britney Spears went to Vegas and this is what happened.

The anatomy of school dress codes.

Them Victorian fashions will kill ya.

This Style Bubble post on fashion houses and rebranding is interesting. Typeface love.

 

Things to Read #6

Yum.

Yum.

Avocado toast seven ways. Avocado toast is SO GOOD. Seriously.

Literary Mothers is a new Tumblr favourite, but instead of cat GIFs, it’s essays about female literary influence (though if anyone makes a Flannery O’Connor GIF, I might cry with joy).

This woman is the reason we’re all checking our privilege these days.

10+ new essays re-examining seminal feminist texts, and why women need to look backward to go forward.

Street style at Frieze.

Looking for cracks in the fashion publishing machine.

And finally, Sarah Mower remembers Louise Wilson, the late head of the MA Fashion course at Central Saint Martins. One of the most remarkable and terrifying women I’ve ever met.

 

The Reading List: Seven Sisters Style

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Well, I read Rebecca Tuite’s new book on the female variant of prep, Seven Sisters Style, and it is just delightful. Really and truly delightful.

I’ve written more on the subject for today’s Irish Times. If you can’t pick up a copy, you can read it right here.

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Things to read #5

This week was Met Ball week. Hooray? I wrote a dress down for the Irish Times here.

Brandon Stanton’s pictures and profiles of the attendees (Bryan Cranston and his wife Robin Dearden, that’s forever love).

Martin Filler and Colin McDowell ruminate on the life and work of Charles James, the man this year’s Met Ball was all about.

A. Boogert and the underrated art of mixing watercolours. So many pretty colours

A. Boogert and the underrated art of mixing watercolours. So many pretty colours

 

I was never a huge fan of Elizabeth Bennet anyway. Lucy Snowe, on the other hand…

“But fuck Photoshop. Photos are already lies.” Molly Crabapple’s searing piece on Photoshop and feminism.

How the celebrity profile got to be great, and how it got to be so boring.

The Reading List: Man Repeller – Seeking Love, Finding Overalls

Who hasn't gone out to find love and come home with a pair of overalls?

Who hasn’t gone out to find love and come home with a pair of overalls?

Leandra Medine, a.k.a the Man Repeller, has gained a large and rabid online following the success of her blog, which promotes self-love through layering, harem pants and the wearing of generally unsexy things.

On paper (or onscreen, I suppose) it sounds a bit odd. In practise though, it’s unsurprising that Man Repeller became as successful as it did in such a short time. What sane women would turn down a free pass to experiment with her own sense of style, free from the Cosmo-lite rhetoric of fashion magazines that encourage us to dress so our boyfriends won’t leave us for other, much better-dressed, pert-bottomed women. I’ve given my opinions on the MP before (link to the Irish Times article here*) so here’s the tl;dr version (sorry, I’ve been spending a lot of time on Reddit recently) – Man Repeller is genius. Guilt-free love of self and love of fashion; style dictated for ourselves, by ourselves. If Medine didn’t come up with it, someone else would have had to.

Business in the front, party in the back.

Business in the front, party in the back.

Man Repeller: Seeking Love, Finding Overalls is Medine’s first book of essays, and it trades heavily on her existing internet fame. She’s brutally honest, self-effacing, funny and that special type of brave that is reserved for people who write about their lives and the lives of their friends and families with no regard for any personal fallout that might occur. While many bloggers present an idealised version of themselves, with only best best bits on show, it seems that Medine was self-aware enough to realise that growing up in a wealthy, loving family in Manhattan with an enviable wardrobe was already enough life-envy for most people to process without pretending that her personal life was something out of a Disney film. She gains weight, she loses weight, she loses her virginity to a guy who isn’t that into her and she has an unfortunate vomit-y mishap with a precious family heirloom. She’s insecure, she doubts herself, she makes bad decisions and she discovers the joys of reading Joan Didion.

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That being said, Medine is no Joan Didion. She has a strong, strident, easy to read style, but ultimately it’s honesty that makes Man Repeller a page-turner, not writing.

In terms of fashion, clothes are woven into the fabric of Medine’s life. She constructs outfits for different social situations, worries what people will think of her outfits and devises her harem pants as a dating filter, weeding out the posers from the pure at heart. It’s a slim, small book that starts at infancy and ends with marriage, but it’s a style evolution that’s secondary to her own life. It’s a quick, easy and enjoyable biography of the original Man Repeller, not an analysis or step-by-step guide to man repelling.

 

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*To answer Irish Times commenter Tommy, who asked, “Who reads this shit?” I’m not sure if you’re referring to the article or to Man Repeller, but the answer to both, conveniently, is lots. Lots and lots.