Andy Warhol at The Mac

Family trips are a rare thing. With two siblings not living in the same area as the rest of the family, it can be tricky to get together. When we do meet up, it’s usually six hours in the car, followed by food, followed by food coma. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Last weekend the family went to Belfast. Highlights included food in Made in Belfast and Alley Cat, the cheapy cheap euro to sterling rate in Topshop and the Andy Warhol retrospective in The Mac, to which I dragged my mother and little brother – in his case a little literal dragging was needed.

The Mac is a lovely arts venue, but to call this a retrospective is a bit of a misnomer – there just aren’t enough major works in too small a space to make it a real reflection of the prolific Warhol. It’s really more of a sampling. However, the exhibition is totally free, so if you’re in the area before the 28th of April, when the exhibition ends, it’s more than worth a look. They’ve got great merchandise too (she said, sipping tea from her new Warhol cow print mug).

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Londonstagram

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I’ve been in London for the past few days, catching up with friends, going to exhibitions (The verdict on the Hollywood Costume exhibition in the V&A? Just go now, I’ll wait here for you to come back), eating my weight in curries, tacos, dim sum and pancakes and drinking an equivalent amount of toasty mulled liquids. There’s nothing you can’t mull to make it that little bit tastier (bar Bovril, I suppose).

And sherry. I do not like sherry.

Here are some Instagrammed pictures – can we take pictures any other way now? Pathetically, I’m very proud that I only took one picture of my food and that was because I wanted to remember the day my skirt became so tight that I had to buy a new pair of trousers.

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1.  Skating at Somerset House –  2.  A fashion newsagent on Wardour Street  - 3. A very creepy print from a Brick Lane curry house – 4.  Carnaby Street gets festive with The Rolling Stones – 5 – 7.  Tim Walker on show at Somerset House – 8.  The sad occupants of plastic bags at a manga shop near Leicester Square – 9.  Eyes bigger than my belly at Wahaca (the waiter said that he was proud of me for trying anyway).

Sarah SMASH! A Christmas Wishlist

I am having one of those days where everything irritates me, so much so that I want to do a Dr Bruce Banner and ‘Hulk SMASH’ every minor obstacle.

I can’t believe that I burned ANOTHER batch of peanut butter blondies! AAAAAAAGH SMASH!

PRs not getting back to me? SMASH!

Finding out a horrible thing about an ex on Twitter, of all places? Oversharing SMASH!

Wireless keyboard breaking down mid-post and having to use the mother’s dinky laptop instead? DOUBLE SMASH!

Chris Brown’s latest tirade of misogynistic abuse against a woman he’s never met, again on Twitter? SMASH! SMASH ALL OF THE THINGS!

I knew I was getting a bit too worked up when I read about F. Scott Fitzgerald lifting parts from his wife’s diary (in the excellent ‘Zelda’ by Nancy Milford) and spent a good fifteen minutes wishing to SMASH! Sarah SMASH! Fitzgerald’s plagiarism and flagrant disrespect of his wife’s privacy! SMASH! To be honest though, I think Scott and Zelda probably put each other through enough without me ripping off my stretchy vest Hulk Hogan-style and demanding to be tag teamed into one of their brawls.

When I get worked up like this, I am at least thankful that I’m not passive aggressive. Not like SOME people I could mention…*

When I’m done congratulating myself on that, I like to look at pictures of nice, usually unattainable things. This is my calming, life-saving fantasy Christmas wishlist.

Mape Petite Black jacket from Acne

But I’ll settle for… A copy of Acne Paper

The ‘Edie’ gift set from Nars’ Andy Warhol Collection.  It comes in a film canister!

But I’ll settle for… Kate Moss for Rimmel Matte Lipstick in 113 (an Edie-ish nude shade)

A trip to Thailand to hang out with my friend Nicola

But I’ll settle for… A Thai green curry and a well-timed Facebook chat.

*joke.

Licentiate Column 11/10/12: Do as the Natives Do

Last week, I went to Malta. It was hot. Ridiculously hot. I got on the plane in Dublin in six degree weather wearing a metallic biker jacket and grey marl sweatshirt flecked with silver thread. I got off to twenty eight degree heat and enough accumulated sweat to power a desalination plant.

My make-up immediately slid off my face on to a puddle on the floor and started mocking me for not knowing that metal is a conductor of heat and polyvinyl fabric is not breathable. I was either extremely dehydrated or in possession of a subconscious that is so self-loathing that even my slap talks back to me. It could be both, but if that’s true, it turns out that my subconscious is easily soothed with a glass of water and a change into a fresh cotton t-shirt.

The native Maltese women are different creatures altogether. The next day, while taking a coffee break in the island’s capital of Valetta, I noticed that it was very easy to distinguish the natives from their tourist counterparts just by clothing alone – although it would have been just as easy to identify the tourists by their (and my) wheezy, sweaty honey-glazed ham exteriors.

The Maltese women I saw out and about had impossibly shiny hair and were wearing some great tailoring – breezy white shirts, and pencil skirts the ended a few inches above the knee. Colours were light, silhouettes were flattering and any perspiration, presumably, was absorbed into nothingness like total magic.

Dressing for a holiday is difficult, especially if you come from a temperate (read: my toes have frostbite) country into a slightly sweltering one. Tourists dress like, well, tourists. To call the way we tourists dress ‘predictable’ would be far too predictable, but why call a spade a gardening implement when ‘spade’ will do just as well? We ARE predictable.

I blame the media. I blame fashion journalists and, to a lesser extent, I blame myself. We think we’re so smart, writing and reading articles on how to dress for certain occasions without ever thinking if the context is really correct. The pictures in the magazines tell us to buy floaty maxi dresses, thong sandals and khaki shorts – which is only really just as well if these are the kind of things that you’d wear anyway.

We shouldn’t be reading articles about what tourists are wearing on holidays, we should be reading articles about what the women who live in our holiday destinations are wearing (especially if what you pack will be weather-dependent). Going to Paris? Make it black and expensive. New York? Have impeccable hair and nails and the rest will follow.
Next time I go to Malta, I will be thinking about dressing like a Maltese woman. Not in a weird, cultural-appropriation, ‘I’m going to wear your traditional embroidered costumes’ way, just in a normal, everyday way.

How many times have you seen a tourist in Ireland struggling to deal with the constant oscillation between rain and sun? Irish people know to always have an umbrella and sunglasses on their person if they’re going to be on the street for more than a few minutes. It a reflex that is the product of years of conditioning. For once, we’re out on top.

The Reading List: City of Style…

… Exploring Los Angeles Fashion from Bohemian to Rock by Melissa Magsaysay.

LA is known for a lot of things; In-N-Out Burger, the star system, the smog and the abundance of posers, hustlers, artists and beautiful people who proliferate the streets with studied cool.

Those of us who haven’t been to LA will automatically assume that it’s not a particularly stylish city, especially in comparison with fashion capitals like London and Milan or districts with their own distinct fashion identity, like Stockholm or Brooklyn.  My sister is in LA at the moment.  She texted my mother to say that a millionaire pro poker player bought her lobster (alright for some, I say, tucking into a bowl of rice pudding with jam).  In terms of life as well as fashion, LA is not un-stylish; it just plays by its own rules.

City of Style is the attempt to unravel the various subcultures and style tribes of LA. Sociological study this isn’t; each chapter consists of a short history of the trend, along with who wears it, coupled with the various address of useful shops and style profiles of suitably sun-kissed Angelenos.  There are seven key trends explored; however, the only problem with the laidback, melting pot LA style is that trends eventually blend into and leech from each other – The Romantic Bohemians have elements of the Indie Eclectics, the Casual Chic look owes much to both the Rockers and the Skaters and Surfers.  Some of the people whose style is profiled could fit easily into two or even three different chapters quite easily – the lines are not clearly defined.

The book is well researched (the chapter on Chola style is particularly interesting and deftly handled from a cultural appropriation point of view – odd picture of Miley Cryus dressing up as a chola notwithstanding) with a varied assortment of people contributing interviews.  Where else but in LA could you have Tony Hawk, Slash and Monique Lhuillier contributing to the same book?

Like LA itself, City of Style is a mishmash of different types; picking and choosing the best bits to make one sprawling whole.  It’s one part cultural history, one part travelogue, part shopping guide, part endorsement, part style manual, part street style book.  The endpages hold a bibliography for further reading – a must if some of the chapters pique your interest and you’d like to learn more about Skaters, Cholas or Glamour Gals.  So far, it’s the most comprehensive survey of LA style that has yet to be undertaken – it’s a crime that something like this hasn’t been thought of before.

If you adore the So Cal street style or just want to learn more about LA fashion, this is a great place to start.  If however, you want to delve more into a particular subculture, you may be better off searching elsewhere – this book is an excellent foundation and cover-all, but not an encyclopedia.

City of Style: Exploring Los Angeles Fashion from Bohemian to Rock is published by Itbooks and is out now.

Dublin – The Instagram Edition

I just got back from a weekend in Dublin, which was fun. However, it was punctuated with a bout of food poisoning, which was not fun. Nor fun at all. The aim was to go to Forbidden Fruit in Sunday, catch Grimes’ set, meet some friends and eat some nice food. I managed all of those (kinda) so, in conclusion, a good weekend.

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The weather forecast was not on my side from the outset.

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This is what distracted me on the train ride down. The woman sitting next to me put on a pair of medical gloves to read her newspaper and handle food, which was pretty interesting if you consider that a packed train carriage might not be the best place for a germophobe.

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I accidentally-on-purpose ordered a massive pork burrito at Cafe Azteca.

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I ate it ALL. And that was my downfall. I woke up the next day feeling incredibly rough but I had to get to Grimes. HAD. TO. I dragged myself on the Luas and got to see the final half of her set. She was amazing. Totally worth it.

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Photo by Sean Smyth – you you check out his Flickr for some great Forbidden Fruit photos that have not been processed with crappy instagram filters.

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I managed a chat with Sinead and her lovely friend Laura before I slowly deflated like a sad balloon animal and had to leave. They are both really well-dressed.

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This is what I wore, which had to be slightly modified because of the cold. And by that I mean I put my spare pair of socks on my hands to warm them up and I don’t care who knows it.

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After a sixteen hour power nap I was feeling a bit better and ready for brunch and black tea with a friend in Sixty6.

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I had a rummage through the second hand book section in Chapters. It’s the best place for affordable books in the city, even if they do put the fashion books next to those on the occult and witchcraft…

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This is what kept me sane on the train ride home. And so a weekend away has chewed me up and spat me out again.

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.

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 aruell.com, vintage Madonna Inn postcards via It’s Better Than Bad on flickr

beach

Related #7: Holiday Dressing

Yesterday’s post was all about dressing for a sun holiday – which for a lot of us means leaving the normal clothes at home and running into the nearest high street chain for disposable slouchy basics. Free People has taken it up a notch this season with their lookbook, which was photographed on, yes, a beach.

I’m so suggestible, me.

Does anyone else notice that most people get their holiday basics in the ONE shop?  You’re just so desperate to get it done in one go that you have to get everything in H&M, even though there’s a Penney’s next door.

I quite like the easy breezy flow of these pieces, especially the first dress. Now I just need to get someone to bring me on a sun holiday…

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All photos via Fashion Gone Rogue