My friends know me pretty well, and for my birthday this year they decided to treat me to my perfect man…in the shape of a lip gloss! I kid you not, if you are as picky as me when it comes to the opposite sex The ‘Pocket Rocket’ from Urban Decay has a man/shade to suit EVERY type. With 10 different shades to choose from, each one comes with a photo inside the lid of a dreamy man, who at the flick of your wrist, strips to his underwear! Urban Decay haven’t left it to chance, so whether you’re type is puppy loving fireman Colin, else suited and booted Eric, or even emo looking James, you could have your perfect (albeit 2D) man (he wont even talk back, promise!). Made specifically for fun-loving ladies (and probably won’t be your Gran’s cup of tea), this will make the perfect present for yourself, or your single girlfriends! Oh, and I got James by the way…and we are very happy.
I kid you not, that’s what this shoe is called – ‘Hello!’
I’ve been after a pair of black ankle strap platforms for a while now. I think it’s partly because they’re used so often on the catwalks and in look books – the platform and high heel add the requisite extra 5 inches to those already tall enough models, but the simple ankle strap design means they don’t detract from the clothes on show. I found a pair of ridiculously beautiful black suede Alaia heels, but with a equally ridiculous price of more than £700 they were way out of my league. The Miss KG ‘Hello!’, on the other hand, is well within reach at just £39 (reduced from £85). Get it in the Kurt Geiger online shop.
Here are a few cheeky snapshots from a trip I took to Broadway Market not long ago. Having never been here before I fell in love with the sense of community spirit and the feeling I may bump into Frank Butcher or any other East Lannndannites while dodging in and out of the old school stalls. Selling everything from clothing (absolute gem if you are after vintage Levis or Hawaiian print shirts!), old vinyls, flowers and chocolate brownies as big as your face, it was refreshing to see a market still thriving instead of being destroyed by city supermarkets. And if any movie makers are reading this, this could possibly serve as the best location for a mdoern day Oliver!
One of the things I love most about living in London is turning a corner in an industrial estate in say, Bermondsey SE1, and finding say, a pop up charity art exhibition in a studio and homelessness centre that has apparently been there for the past five years.
On until Sunday, the artists who rent studio space (around £200 a month) at SE1 Studios are opening their doors and showing off their wares to the public. There’s an exhibition on the ground floor, run jointly by arts education charity Bow Arts and homelessness charity Crisis, which costs £4 and is well worth a look.
Then on floors 3 and 4 are the artists’ studios – everything from furniture design to millinery to huge canvases and Andrea Francke’s temporary bookshop – including work by my very talented sister Helene Charara. All the artists are up and coming local London artists. You can have a nosey around for free, grab some postcards and business cars and chat to the artists and writers – at last night’s opening it was bring your own alcohol but no promises for this afternoon.
You can find SE1 Studios at 46 Willow Walk, SE1 5SF. Find out more here.
Death, decay, incest and cross-dressing children – The Cement Garden is as dark as it is gripping, and I highly recommend it.
Before he won the Booker Prize for Amsterdam, before Atonement was turned into a big screen adaptation (I still haven’t been able to bring myself to read the book since the ending was thoroughly spoiled – thanks for that, Keira Knightley), Ian McEwan wrote his debut novel, The Cement Garden. Almost a novella at not much more than 100 pages long, it tells the story of teenager Jack and his three siblings, as they struggle through a long, hot summer following the death of their father. I don’t want to give anything more away, because the plot is pretty gripping, but if you like your books filled with very dark humour, keenly observed family relationships and a fair few scenes that will make you gasp in shock, you’ll love The Cement Garden as much as I did. It easily cemented (sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun) McEwan’s place – not far below Bret Easton Ellis and a few places ahead of Donna Tart – in the list of my top ten favourite authors.
Also, here’s a bit of literary trivia for you: Do you remember Madonna’s ‘What it feels like for a girl’, which featured a snippet of spoken word at the beginning and made everyone say ‘doesn’t Madge do a good English accent?’ Those words are actually spoken by Charlotte Gainsbourg and were sampled from the film adaptation of The Cement Garden. Check it out in the video below.
Open your wardrobe and take a look inside – how many of those items have you taken care of or even worn? Do you know any of the stories behind how they were made, where and who by? How many could be turned into a whole new piece of clothing? If your answers are none, none and all of them then you need this book.
The fashion industry – designers, magazines, blogs – has been telling us for years to shun cheap, throwaway clothes in favour of investment pieces. And we have sighed and moaned that not all of us can afford a designer price range. What Lucy Siegle does in her new book is to make the case that you get what you pay for and we, as fashion consumers, have the chance to put our money where our soul (or wardrobe) is.
Siegle, who writes about ethical and sustainable fashion, zips through 300 pages throwing in shocking statistics, a bit of history, global comparisons and a lot of fabrics. I loved the finale too – she doesn’t just provide us with a ‘how not to buy’ but also how to achieve style self-sufficiency. Making your own clothes, renting clothes from “libraries”, clothes swapping, knitting with natural yarns and recycling garments a la East London’s Junky Styling.
With Esthetica growing from strength to strength at every LFW, the day can’t be far off when, as Siegle suggests, we’ll be scanning items with our smartphones and getting up to date information on the factory conditions, workers’ wages and Corporate Social Responsibility agreements of each big fashion brand, right there on the shop floor.
I am a Class A example of grabbing cheap throwaway basics and wearing my favourite pieces too much – thus ruining them. Look at your wardrobe and think how much time and energy it would take you to make all of those items. I’m exhausted just going through my cardigan collection.
Boots have answered my prayers with a new moisturiser that features essential SPF15 sun protection but is a total bargain at just £2.79 a bottle – Boots Simply Sensitive Day Moisturiser SPF15.
A doctor friend of mine once told me that if you wear sun screen that’s anything lower than SPF15 then it’s basically useless. Ever since then I couldn’t help but feel a slight sense of resentment every time I put on my regular moisturiser which offered a paltry SPF12. And yet I carried on using it. The problem was that while I knew sun protection is the essential ingredient in face cream for preventing signs of ageing, I wasn’t willing to upgrade to the likes of Olay Total Effects which, at £14 for 50ml, is just too much for a self-confessed frugal girl like me.
So imagine my delight when I discovered a new product at Boots this week which solved my conundrum. Boots Simply Sensitive Protecting Day Moisturiser SPF15 contains the requisite sun screen but is a total bargain at just £2.79 for 125ml. Having tried it I’m a definite convert. It’s got a reassuringly thick consistency (that’ll be the sun screen) and it spreads well so you don’t need too much for each application. Even better, it’s on 3 for 2 offer right now. I might go back soon so I can stockpile some more.
I just want to take a moment and celebrate three of the funniest blogs I have come across this week, and hopefully spread some smiles this monday morning!
1: Tubecrush.net. This has had some pretty good press recently and despite the whole is it/isnt it morally ethical to take photos of hot, unsuspecting boys on the tube and upload them for every girl and that way inclined guy to perve over, it is all done in the spirit of fun! It’s not like guys have been rating girls on their appearances for ever any way…oh, and its also VERY addictive.
2: And following in tube crush’s wake is the equally pro-girl cuteboyswithcats.net. If you’re a fan of felines that is. And it does exactly what it says on the tin…literally boys. with. cats.
3: And finally, a blog that pays homage to that biggest of male fashion faux pas; the socks and sandals debate. The best image by far has to be of William Shatner holding an actual boulder in the desert in is socks and sandals. Rock on, Bill.
I have just reread this and noticed I seem to have developed a complete anti-male attitude this week! Maybe I should start looking at psychology blogs instead and find out why. Nah, less fun! Back to trying to slightly photograph hot lads on the central line.
Ok, so I’m no Alan Sugar, and I’m not even going to pretend like I know what those mythical ‘city folk’ do day in day out, but for some reason this week I have been absolutely craving to know all about the business of fashion. And by this I mean the down right nitty-gritty. Not the models, not the clothes so to speak. But how these companies handle their cold, hard cash.
I think this fascination has stemmed from finally picking up a copy of Drapers Record that is usually tossed around my office still in its packaging. And this appears to have led to me not being frightened to look a the ‘grown-ups’ section in the back of the evening standard a.k.a the finance pages…shudder. But lo and behold, it looks like there is a valid reason why they put those extra pages in.
This week has seen Mulberry, for one, hit a 358% profit rise. 358%!!! And it’s apparently all down to two names; ‘Alexa’ and ‘Bayswater’, and the fact that even though we are still technically in a recession, it looks like we still want to spend, but just on established and well crafted goods. And apparently Chung’s name isn’t putting anyone off…who’d have thought it. Not only this, but Prada are tipped to float on the Hong Kong market (ok here is where my knowledge of technical terms gets hazy…but hey its only my third day swotting up) as well as expanding in Asia with up to 80 new outlets!!! And if that isn’t enough, Ted Baker apparently scored points worldwide, with a 15% increase in sales in the past few months.
So, turns out I may yet get the knack for this biz, and maybe I will become the Alanah Sugar of the fashion world. ..maybe.
Having ventured East of London the other weekend, I had set out to finally go and visit Ryantown (my absolute fave artist’s lil old shop). Rob Ryan’s eclectic mix of anything from cards and prints, to limited edition children’s height charts and kitchen tiles can be found nestled down the rainbow coloured shop fronts in Columbia Road.
With the last few years seeing Rob Ryan become an industry standard when it comes to every fashion lover’s favourite artist (remember THAT cover for Elle, the Stylist etc, or THAT collaboration with Lulu Guinness for the cut-out dress?) his work has become more readily available for the masses. For example, he now counts Selfridges and Urban outfitters among his stockists, as well as selling his prints at the V&A. However, what I love about him is that despite all this success, the Rob Ryan brand still maintains the same attitude it started out with and hasn’t fallen prey to the glitz and glam of the fashion world. That’s to say, everything from the website to his blog, and even the location of the shop has a very lo-fi attitude, which is probably why so many people can associate with it. I mean, the guy still sells on Etsy like a true struggling artist.
And with Columbia road being slightly off the beaten track, its definitely worth going one saturday afternoon and pop into the other boutiques and craft shops and also to check out the awesome tiled mural which spreads along most of the road!
One of my favourite collections at Graduate Fashion Week last Sunday was from the University of Salford. It was Anh Hoang’s bright, fun and frothy tasselled dresses and sequin-covered sequins. You can read my pick of ones to watch over here, but I thought I’d share a few other pictures I snapped with my iPhone at the Salford show.
I thought that models wearing gorilla masks was a bit gimmcky, but one of the lecturers told me after the show that James Pilcher is one of the best students in the year, and has been accepted onto the Royal College of Art’s MA menswear course. Who am I to argue?
I’d never seen children on the catwalk at Graduate Fashion Week until Leanne Haggerty sent out these little sweeties.
Q: Can you guess which Lord of the Ring’s character Kerri McGill’s all white collection was inspired by? Scroll down for the answer.
A: It’s Gandalf the White Wizard.
If it’s wrong to get as excited at GFW as it is at LFW, then I don’t want to be right. This year has so far seen unprecedented raw talent from fashions future creatives and there seem no signs of this slowing down as the week progresses. On Sunday I was treated to some visual delights from the University of Central Lancashire, and am glad to say I still cannot get some of the collections out of my head. Top marks have to be awarded for some of the daring and dramatic collections that swept down the runway. Kirsty Jane Lamb stole the show with her stunning silk print dresses, pimped out with stripper platform shoes for added kick, while Jenna Horan’s tiered and oversized creations reminded me of a vampish sugarplum fairy.
Rachel Cliffe on the other hand, has to be mentioned as having one of the most thought-provoking and dynamic menswear collections so far seen at GFW2011. The way in which she applied traditional tailoring to men’s work wear was executed perfectly, with us being presented with ‘tuxedeoesque’ boilersuits and so on. Absolutely loving the drama that came with some of the collections from Lancashire this year, and let’s hope they retain this next June.
It was a true WTF moment when Top Gear presenter James May hijacked the end of the University of Northumbria’s show at Graduate Fashion Week on Sunday to present his new menswear collection.
When I went down to Earl’s Court yesterday for day one of Graduate Fashion Week (more blogs on that coming soon) to watch three catwalk shows I thought there may be a few dodgy student garments on show, but I did not expect to witness the unveiling of a truly awful celebrity-designed collection. At the start of the Northumbria show an announcer requested that we stay in our seats at the end because something else was going to happen afterwards. When the lights came up it was announced that we were going to be shown the James May’s debut menswear collection. “What, that bloke from Top Gear?” I said incredulously to the guy sat next to me, and sure enough the one who’s not Jeremy Clarkson or the little one who was in a car crash came strutting out on to the catwalk wearing what appeared to be a navy blue boiler suit.
There followed about ten ‘models’ – they were clearly not professionals; one nodded and smiled at another as they crossed paths on the catwalk – in similarly utilitarian outfits. Workwear appeared to be the theme as every look was some kind of hybrid involving suits, overalls, tool belts, and, on one occasion, a pair of antlers. I managed to grab these two admittedly awful snaps on my phone but there are more photos over here. And you’ll be able to see the whole lot in an episode of the BBC2 series called Man Lab. I might actually watch it – I genuinely don’t know if it was intentional, but these clothes were hilarious.
If you happen to find yourself in Melbourne between now and the end of October this year, well, first of all I’m extremely envious, but secondly you should definitely go to the ManStyle exhibition at the NGV International gallery.
ManStyle looks at menswear from the eighteenth century to the present day, and it’s a great introductory tour if, like me, you take a passing interest in men’s fashion, but don’t have real in-depth knowledge. As well as historical pieces like an English brocade coat and a French embroidered three piece silk suit there’s plenty on show by modern names you’ll know. A ridiculously flowery Sanderson suit stands next to a ludicrously bright velvet Commes des Garcons suit, demonstrating that menswear isn’t all about conformity. In fact, my favourite look from the exhibit is by a designer who is often credited for reviving androgyny for the Noughties, Hedi Slimane. I don’t know many men who could get away with wearing a long grey Dior Homme cape and purple silk pussybow blouse, in fact I think more women could, and I guess therein lies a large part of the appeal of this exhibition: deciding which pieces I’d like to steal for myself.
ManStyle is on at NGV International until 30 October 2011. Entry is free. All the details are right here.
The Mary Quant, the Mia Farrow, the Five Point Cut. Anyone who has ever chopped off their locks should be familiar with star hairdresser Vidal Sassoon’s graphic, asymmetric and striking cuts that started it all off back in the sixties.
This documentary, subtitled How One Man Changed The World With A Pair Of Scissors, traces the life of this eccentric hairdressing mogul – Sassoon talks about his upbringing in a Jewish orphanage in London, his working relationships with models like Grace Coddington of US Vogue, and his inspirations for his pixie crops and super-short perms – including geometric New York architecture.
With our very own BlondeKatie flying the flag for a well judged visible neck, it’s almost enough to make you attack your “messy hair curtains” – a Sassoonism for badly cut long hair.
Catch the film at Odeon Panton Street, London; Picture House Edinburgh and Picture House Norwich – a matinee showing is the perfect way to delve into style history for an hour or so. Find out more about the film here.
Now I am aware the last thing anyone wants to do right now is think of the Winter, but if you’re going to be on top of your fashion game, you need to a little forward thinking to stay one step ahead. That’s just common sense. What isnt common knowledge, however, is new start-up label Falbala, who will see your legs safely, and fashionably, through next season.
This London-based design house currently produces studded tights completely by HAND, and in a variety of imaginative patterns (my absolutely fave is the birdie). All the colours and patterns can be swapped as well, meaning you can customise your purchase. This label is literally just starting up so I thought I would give you a heads up before they all get gobbled up.
So maybe when the cold weather does arrive and you are forced to ditch the flip-flops (FYI, I tend not to until mid October) you might not mind shoving your pins into these tights, rather than your normal drab nylons.
Check out the Falbala website here.