Style & Then Some contributor Hector MacKenzie has been a Bowie fan since he was ten. Living in Tunisia, he first heard his dad’s Station to Station CD playing in the lounge, cocaine funk on a half decent Sony Hi-Fi.
Here he takes us through the V&A’s ‘David Bowie is’ exhibition which opened this weekend and runs until 11th August 2013.
“I once read that the album cover for ‘Heroes’ can be read as International Sign Language for “this album is a fucking masterpiece”. It’s one of my favourite album covers ever and one of my favourite albums. It’s like he knows it’s a groundbreaking album and he’s not afraid to admit it.
A fair amount of the ‘David Bowie is’ exhibition is pretty factual – you could read it online – but that’s no bad thing. Newbies to Bowie get a good snapshot of the defining points of his career and Bowie fans can zone in on photos, footage or stories they want to know more about or something new they haven’t heard of before.
For me that was seeing the images from the Heroes photoshoot, instruments like Brian Eno’s EMS Synthi AMS synthesizer and the cocaine spoon Bowie used in the mid seventies when he was recording Station to Station – an album he can’t remember making because of his time spent with that spoon.
Seeing the costumes in the flesh was another of my favourite parts. That might be a cliche but it makes you realise how out there they must have been in the 70s. Bowie broke down a lot of walls for accepting what seemed like strange ideas in fashion at the time. The handwritten lyrics and ideas for songs are displayed well as are the 3D scenes and set ideas for ‘Diamond Dogs’, alongside storyboards which show his thought process and influences.
Footage of Bowie playing live is great for both hardcore fans and casual visitors to the V&A and the sound element of the exhibition is very interactive. If you walk around the whole thing with your headset on, you can learn everything there is to know about Bowie but you can still choose when to just look at one of the Bowie artifacts by yourself. Don’t be worried when you find you’re still inside three hours later, just grab a postcard with film stills from The Man Who Fell to Earth on, buy the book and leave smiling.”
*Note: the headline refers to some of the top searches relating to ‘David Bowie is’ on Google – lazy we know but not as bad as some.
Self Portrait © The David Bowie Archive 2012. Image © V&A Images
Cut-up lyrics for ‘Blackout’ © The David Bowie Archive 2012. Image © V&A Images
Striped bodysuit Aladdin Sane tour © Sukita / The David Bowie Archive 2012
Installation shots (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Think Roy Lichtenstein is just about dotty cartoon pictures? A new retrospective at London’s Tate Modern will make you think again.
“I don’t care! I’d rather sink than call Brad for help!”
That’s the line from a speech bubble in Drowning Girl, one of Roy Lichtenstein’s most famous paintings, showing a crying girl struggling in a stormy sea as waves crash around her. It was painted in 1963, during the period when the American artist was preoccupied with two main themes, romance and war, depicted in vivid studies of comic book images. These melodramatic pop paintings would make Lichtenstein famous, and they’re still his most well known works today. But a new retrospective at Tate Modern, running until 27th May 2013, reveals there’s far more to Lichtenstein than just cartoons and caricatures.
Born in 1923 in New York city, Lichtenstein worked right up until his sudden death in 1997. The exhibition spans the five decades of his career, starting with the earliest explorations of his signature style. Look Mickey, considered a breakthrough piece, is a painting of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck fishing that Lichtenstein based on a picture he found in his sons’ comic book. This imperfect rendition, comprised of patches of primary coloured spots, set the artist on a path that led to his most famous pop paintings, of which there are also plenty on show at the Tate.
It’s thrilling to see these much-parodied paintings in the flesh, to experience the full visual impact of the rocket collision in the huge Whaam! (1963) and see that all those dots (they were created using something called a Benday screen) aren’t quite so uniform up close.
But what’s even more fascinating are the many rooms of lesser known, but equally visceral, works. Did you know Lichtenstein painted a great many landscapes and seascapes in his time? Or that he took the works of celebrated artists like Monet and Picasso and recast them in his own style? Or that in the 1990′s he painted a series of idealised cartoon-like nudes? Neither did I. It’s not all paintings either, there are ceramics too and a series of art deco brass sculptures.
Unless you’re already a Lichtenstein know-it-all, this exhibition is full of surprises and easily dispels the myth that he was a one trick pony. Plus, at the moment queues aren’t insane like they often are for Tate blockbuster exhibits – you’d do well to head down soon before word gets out.
The Roy Lichtenstein Retrospective at Tate Modern is open until 27th May 2013. For ticket details visit the Tate Modern website.
Who are Sass & Bide?
Well, Sass & Bide is the conjoined efforts of two ridiculously blonde and beautiful Aussie ladies, Sarah-Jane Clarke (sass) & Heidi Middleton (bide).
What was their show like?
First and foremost, Katie and I were having a very jaded day on Friday. Having done the LFW hoopla many times over, you do start to forget why you are doing this. It can become extremely stressful, exhausting as well as emotionally and physically draining. Queuing, running from space to space, fighting for laptops in press lounges and basically having to listen to other people’s utter self indulgent drivel whilst waiting in the freezing cold for up to an hour, with no guarantee of entry (Felder Felder, here’s an idea – stop giving out so many tickets) can touch on the laborious side of things. FYI if you have any golden nuggets from overheard fashion shat (shit chat) use the hashtag #overheardatlfw – thank you Telegraph for peddling this! So I would just like to say personally to the ladies of Sass & bide, thank you for reminding us why we put ourselves through it.
So it was worth it then?
Definitely. The collection, entitled ‘Wintergate’, was an elegant and sophisticated affair, which above all managed to push the brand forward whilst remaining vastly wearable.
A wearable collection at Fashion Week? Is that a joke?
Fortunately it isn’t. Despite the majority of collections at fashion shows retaining very little that could ever hit the shop floor, Sass & Bide provided key looks which not only I wanted to wear, but ones I could actually see translating successfully from a 8ft tall, 7-stone model/avatar on to a variety of diverse body shapes. For instance, fitted chevron blazers, relaxed peplum tops (FYI, insider knowledge here, but the peplum is still going to be hanging around until SS14 so get embracing), and drop-waisted dresses all work wonders, and if not even look better, on ‘non-models’.
Did you see any celebs?
At first glance it appeared the ‘shlebs’ had crashed out from Fashion Week for an early night, much to my excitement. Don’t get me wrong, I do get relatively star struck depending on the person in question, but once you go through the notions of LFW a few times, the novelty of seeing Kate Nash, that one from the Noisettes and Diana Vickers FROW every season becomes rather boresome. So I was rather surprised I couldn’t spot my old pals anywhere in the crowd until outside on the steps of St. John’s Church we spotted the likes of Olivia Palermo, Caroline Flack and Pixie Lott milling around for the photographers.
Despite my desperate cries for a David Guetta shaped Christmas present under the tree last year not materialising – apparently its still illegal to kidnap famous DJs or something – 2012 turned out quite nicely thank you very much. So here, in the spirit of our anti-Christmas wish lists, here are the things I am thankful for in 2012…
1. The big move. After bleating on about how awful the commuter life is, how much I wanted to stay out all night in London rather than getting the poncy 22:30 last train back to sticksville and generally sitting around grumbling about my life, I packed up, shipped out to East London and finally became a fully fledged independent adult. I still haven’t registered to vote or anything, but maybe that will be next year’s adult life aim. Baby steps guys, baby steps…
2. Getting published. My one resolution this year was to try to have an article published and I not only managed to recently have a piece go up on Hellion Magazine, but will be getting my very own by line in the forthcoming third edition of the incredible Moda De La Mode magazine in 2013 (which I will be shamelessly plugging, so here is your pre-warning).
3. The Vagenda. The first time I read The Vagenda, I finally felt something click. Here was a blog, and online magazine, where real women weren’t being paid to push some PR’s tat and actually had opinions (like us I like to think!). And who are FUNNY. And thanks to them I’ve kicked my waste-of-money magazine buying habit, and in actual fact haven’t purchased the likes of Cosmo, Grazia, Company etc in months now. And I feel hella good for it too.
4. P’Trique saved us from our Fashion Sins. I basically found my all time favourite idol this year. Sorry Vicky B, Cher, Beyonce & co, but there’s a new star at the top of my Christmas tree and its shaped like P’Trique (c’est Chic!) and here is why:
5. I learned what feminism means. Turns out you don’t actually burn your bra, not shave your arm pits and want to cut every man’s penis off. It is just simply the ‘radical’ notion that men are equal to women. And in today’s society, it is still mind blowing how far we still have to come to achieve equality. I am grateful especially to Caitlin Moran, Vagenda, @EverydaySexism and the lovely Style & Then Some girls for opening my eyes and mind up to bigger, more important issues women face rather than the fluff that was flling my brain before…
As if Dalston hair salon Stunt Dolly – with its art deco interiors and penchant for all things vintage – could get any cooler, it’s now got London’s awesomest nail artist on hand every week to cater to all your manicureal needs. Sophie Harris-Greenslade, she of The Illustrated Nail tumblr fame, will be in the house every Friday and Saturday, working her magic on the fingertips of the local hipsters.
On Thursday night Stunt Dolly held a launch event to celebrate Sophie’s arrival, and as Helen and I are mildly obsessed with nail art at the minute (check out our lovingly curated Pinterest board) we sure didn’t want to miss this. On the ground floor, the hair half of the salon, stylists were administering up-dos and blowouts and other things that supremely preened people get all the time (if I had the cash I’d get one every week), while downstairs, Sophie and another nail technician had set up shop.
We grabbed a glass of Zeo, a new drink that is non-alcoholic but claims to give alcoholic effects (it’s tasty, but we weren’t really convinced) and headed downstairs to watch enviously as some lucky party guests’ nails were adorned with all kinds of zingy colours, jazzy patterns and some extra sparkly bits. The attention to detail was astonishing, with Sophie expertly applying base colour, then using finepoint pens and gluing on tiny sequins – check out my photos in the gallery below. Such intricate work takes time though, and sadly we had to leave before it was our turn at the nail bar. The range of nails on the menu, displayed on framed sets of fake nails, is huge, from multi-coloured tribal patterns to cutesy cartoons and even London Underground-themed motifs. If you want to treat yourself to some seriously talk-worthy talons, whether it’s a la carte or something totally bespoke, then Sophie’s your girl.
The Illustrated Nail manicure prices start from £20 with additional nail art from £3 per nail. Visit http://www.stuntdolly.com or call 0207 018 2191.
As the only Scotland based member of the Style and Then Some team, I often find myself green with envy at some of the fun events my blogging counterparts get to attend regularly here in the Big Smoke (anything Kardashian related aside). However, for the entire month of November I am lucky enough to also be a resident of this multifaceted city and take full advantage of all the exciting goings on.
During a recent scan of Vogue’s website I began to realise just how good you Londoners have it sometimes. Due to severely insufficient funds of late, I had to make the devastating decision to discontinue my Vogue prescription, but always make sure to get my much needed fashion news fix from the magazine’s website to avoid feeling out the loop. It was there I came across some very interesting stories, one informing me of the Valentino exhibition taking place in Somerset House at the end of the month which pays homage to the Italian designer’s talent and an upcoming book signing with Grace Coddington, star of The September Issue film and American Vogue icon at Browns on the 22nd of November to celebrate the release of her memoir.
I don’t just have Vogue.com to thank for my recent realisations, I have also added to my London list of things to do that I must visit the Victoria and Albert museum for their Hollywood Costumes display, featuring outfits belonging to Judy Garland and even Darth Vader (gasp). I’m also yet to pop into Tate Britain to no doubt have a slightly immature chuckle to myself over the usually pretentious Turner Prize exhibition.
In conclusion, I have quite a lot to cram in before I depart but if you are based in London you of course don’t face quite the same limitations as me so don’t forget to take full advantage of what our capital has to offer right on your doorstep. Maybe I’ll see you around.
Click on the event you wish to visit to find all the information you need.
Where will you be watching President Obama get relected next week? I’ll be going to US Electiongiggle 2012 in Bethnal Green.
I’m not gonna lie to you, there’s absolutely no editorial impartiality on this blog when it comes to the US Election. I am whole-heartedly supported Barack Obama, even though I’m not American and therefore can’t vote. But I am very interested in the election, because the decisions that the Leader of the Free World makes do have some bearing on a global scale. Also, Mitt Romney is a monumental moron, so there’s that (here are a few reasons why).
Next Tuesday night I’ll be heading to Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club for a special all night long event hosted by politically-minded comedy types Lampoon Apathy, to (fingers crossed) watch Obama get voted back into office for four more years of Democrat delights – but it’s still a very close race at the moment, so if it all goes wrong in the swing states the States could be in for a term or two of right-wing clusterfuckage of the highest order.
So what’s in store for the Electiongiggle? Funnymen Thom Tuck and John Luke Roberts will be hosting the night, accompanied by political pundits and comedians including Scott Caurro, Grainna Maguire and Tiernan Douieb, all set against a backdrop of live results coverage. Doors open at 8pm and won’t close again until a winner is announced, which is expected to be any time between 3am and 5am. So think of it like the most political night out you’re ever likely to have.
‘I’ve been excited about this ever since our all-night election gig for the UK two years ago,’ says Neil Hughes from Lampoon Apathy. ‘It’s amazing how well comedy, pizza, live election results and an all-night bar actually blend together. The comedy line-up is excellent, and if you want to celebrate Obama’s return – or even Mitt Romney’s ascent to global overlordship – while being entertained by the finest comics in the UK scene then this is the only place to get your electoral laughter fix.’ I couldn’t agree more, which is why I’m equally as excited, and have booked Wednesday off work. I suggest you do the same.
Then head to the London Film Museum this week for the Lingerie Francaise exhibition.
Running until 7th October, Lingerie Francaise: the Exhibition sees eleven leading lingerie makers from across the Channel airing their undies in public, all in the name of fashion history. Chronicling the history of female undergarments over the last 100 years, the exhibition opens with kind of sturdy whalebone corsets that were constricting women at the end of the nineteenth century and ends with the teensy, Swarovski crystal-encrusted knickers that pretty much demand their wearer gets a Brazilian wax.
Covering – or should that be uncovering? – everything in between is that cheeky digital stripper, stopping off once a decade to shimmy in that era’s archetypal underwear. Check out a little preview in the video below. But don’t worry, it’s only mildly NSFW – she’s more sassy than sexually arousing.
Helen, Jo and I went to the opening on Tuesday night, where we spent almost as much time ogling the adorable miniature pastries as we did the bras and pants. It’s a fascinating exhibition and something that I think fashion students in particular will love. Hurry, you’ve only got til the end of the week to catch it.
Lingerie Francaise: the Exhibition is open from 2 – 7 October 2012 at the London Film Museum, Covent Garden Piazza, London WC2E 7BB (next to the London Transport Museum). For more info, visit the Lingerie Francaise website.
A growing favourite for many on the London Fashion Week schedule is the delectable Bora Aksu who this season proved his worth with a collection so beautiful and enchanting, the only thing that could distract from the sumptuousness of it all was Kelly Brook’s boobs front row.
While the show was set to a hauntingly dramatic soundtrack which I am pleased to say included my new favorite band ‘Daughter’, the collection itself was by all accounts inspired by Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Marie. After a quick Wikipedia scan, Marie – who became the Queen of Romania, was known for her modernity and love of the arts, culture, and her precious botanical gardens. This would explain nicely why I felt I wanted to wrap myself up in Bora Aksu’s SS13 offerings and frolic around the meadows of Eastern Europe in the Summer time, pretending I am some sort of Russian runaway bride. With a crown on. You always need a crown on.
While the colour palette remained mostly ‘pastelised’, the flashes of purple throughout the collection reminded us of the regal status of Marie, while the abundance of silk organzas, lace shift dresses and hints of ruffled hems contrasted in such a brilliant way, it was as if the ‘Modern Queen’ had commissioned the collection herself. The stunning prints running throughout the collection also escalated in size to highlight Marie’s growing popularity, as well as her fondness of Romania. With no detail left to chance in Bora Aksu’s SS13 collection, it is a true marvel and testament to how far he will go in future seasons. A definite five stars all round (including Kelly’s cleavage).
If you loved the ‘Horrible Histories’ books as a child (or adult, I guess?) and you have an afternoon to spare, I suggest you check out the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons. Not only is John Hunter’s archive of the weird and wonderful absolutely free of charge, it also boasts over 4 centuries worth of artifacts from the world of anatomy.
While this may not be the best environment if you are exceptionally squeamish or easily freaked out, I promise there is something of interest for everyone. And if you are a fan of the Channel 4 Bodyshock series, well, you might just find this your own little slice of peculiar Heaven. Jars and jars of ‘pickled’ remains of everything from baby armadillos right through to cross sections of elephantiasis stricken feet line the glass cabinets over two floors. This museum, dedicated to the collection initially founded by the surgeon John Hunter, has been added to over the years since the Victorian era, and boasts some fascinating sights such as the cranium of a young Bengali boy with a parasitic twin conjoined to him (see below). By all accounts the boy died young due to a Cobra bite and his body was taken away against the parents wishes…
While the Hunterian Museum may put you off pickled onions for life, I did find myself wondering if John Hunter’s life works were the inspiration behind Damien Hirst’s pickling fetish. Just make sure you visit Tuesday to Saturday between 10am-5pm, as they don’t open Sundays, Mondays, or public holidays.
Despite having worked in London’s Soho for the past few years, the sheer volume of amazing eateries, cafes and bars that litter this area of the West End still means I seem to have only scratched the surface when it comes to my search for the best Soho has to offer. However, I do feel that I can finally start to legitimately offer sound restaurant advice after discovering a couple of gems, and one of these has fast become my favourite restaurant of all time (for now anyway).
I was introduced to Bi Bim Bap, a cosy Korean joint rooted at 11 Dean Street by a friend a few months back, and after a follow up visit this weekend, I can honestly say it is amaaaaaziiinnnggggg. Not only is their Chilli Chicken Ramen to die for, the staff are incredibly friendly and efficient, and the walls are covered in mini Polaroids of all their customers having a great time. Seriously, you won’t see anyone crying in them, and as far as restaurant recommendations go, I think this is a good sign. This quaint Korean eatery also benefits from lying just outside of the hustle and bustle of the main street and G.A.Y et al, so you can almost always get a table straight away, plus it remains one of those diamonds that haven’t been discovered by the hoards of tourists spilling out after seeing Jersey Boys. And there isn’t a sex shop next door which, in Soho, is a minor miracle. So, unless you actually hate Korean food, I would hop foot it down to Bi Bim Bap as I don’t believe my ravings even do it justice.
All images courtesy of Bi Bim Bap Facebook page which you can find here.
I think this sounds pretty awesome. And kind of epic.
On Thursday 20th September at 7.30pm, 1000 people will descend upon a secret London location, all dressed in white and armed with the ingredients for a rather posh picnic. Given just one hours notice of the destination, they will take their hampers, plates, cutlery, food and fizzy wine (there’s no beer allowed) and congregate for a magical, communal, al fresco dining experience.
Why? Just for fun really. It’s called Dîner en Blanc and it’s a concept that was invented by (you guessed it) a Frenchman, François Pasquier, in 1988. On returning to Paris after several years abroad, Pasquier wanted to gather his friends for a dinner party. Rather than host it in his own maison, he told all his pals to meet at a park and wear white so they could find each other. Now the ‘epicurean flash feast’ takes place in 20 cities across five continents every year and it’s coming to London for the first time in September.
Despite the 1,000-strong guest list and outdoor location, it’s actually a pretty exclusive affair. To gain a place (and a plus one) you have to register on a waiting list, with preference going to previous attendees first. Last year, more than 30,000 people applied to attend the first US Dîner en Blanc, in New York’s Battery Park.
If you are lucky enough to grab an elusive invitation for the London event you’ll have some pretty strict guidelines to follow. As well as adhering to the compulsory ‘any colour as long as it’s white’ dress code you’ll be required to bring a picnic hamper with ‘high quality menu items’, wine or champagne (beer and spirits are prohibited), a white table cloth, white cloth napkins, a table (of a specified size), white foldable chairs, and flatware, stemware and crockery in fuchsia (just kidding, of course they’ve got to be white too). I think the idea with the is to weed out anyone who can’t be bothered to make an effort. And judging by the video below, the diners in white sure do make an effort.
At the end of the night everyone packs away their things and it’s like they were never there. Oh, and for the cynics among you, this isn’t some thinly-veiled PR stunt. There’s no big corporate sponsor and it’s run by a not-for-profit organisation – ‘there is no goal except to spending an extraordinary night‘ they say. So Parisien, non?
But what if it rains? I wouldn’t worry, I’m sure it’ll be all white on the night. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)
Dîner en Blanc London takes place on Thursday 20th September 2012 at 7.30pm. The location will be revealed to invitation holders an hour before the event. Visit www.london.dinerenblanc.info/waiting to register or visit the Facebook or Twitter pages.
The US retailer will open its first store in Manchester’s Trafford Centre this weekend.
When Forever 21 opened its Oxford Street store last year, shoppers in London got pretty darn excited. I know that for certain because the amount of hits Helen’s blog post about the opening got – the traffic stats don’t lie people! A year later and business is still booming, with three London stores now trading and the sixth jewel in Forever 21′s UK crown (in addition to Birmingham and Dublin locations) due to open in Manchester this week. The 20,000 square foot retail behemoth will open it’s doors on Saturday 21st July at 10am, but listen up Mancunians, I’d get there earlier if I were you – the first 300 customers in line will receive free gift cards to spend in store or online.
To celebrate the new store up north, the lovely folks at Forever 21 took a group of five Manchester-based fashion bloggers and I to visit the Oxford Street flagship last Saturday for a taste of what’s in store for the Trafford Centre. Having not ventured into Forever 21 since I did my Christmas shopping last year I was pleasantly surprised by how calm and collected an experience I had in comparison. But then Oxford Street in December is basically like the apocalypse isn’t it?
Anyway, I picked up some great items: a cream fitted blazer (I’ve wanted one for aaages); a very authentic looking distressed denim shirt (‘Are you going to the rodeo?’ asked my bitchiest gay friend when I wore it the next day); and an adorable white jumper with a moustache on it (I’m hoping that by wearing it I can attract a man with a moustache. I’m all about the facial hair you see.) But probably the very favourite thing I took home was a little gold whistle pendant necklace. The great thing is, it actually works when you blow it. Do you know how much fun you can have on a night out with a whistle? After Saturday night I can tell you the answer is: a lot.
I’m sure I’ll be showing you some of my Forever 21 finds in subsequent #TodayImWearing blog posts. Stay tuned as well for a style post featuring my fellow bloggers Penny, Katie, Sarah and Emma and their outfits – as you can imagine, they were a super stylish lot.
File them under ‘inventions you never knew you couldn’t live without.’ These are not just wellies, they’re Shuella.
When I first heard about Shuella, the self-proclaimed antidote to rain-ruined shoes, I scoffed. I might even have LOLed. Who on earth would bother with such a ridiculous contraption?
But then the summer arrived in London.
The summer that brought us officially the wettest June on record, the reversed hosepipe ban and the most rain since that scene in Forrest Gump with all the different kinds of rain. But it’s also really schizophrenic weather. Just yesterday, I set off on my bike for work, bare of leg and free of care, in the little black canvas Mary Janes I wear to death every summer, with the sun beaming down (it lasted all of about 40 minutes). By the time I got home at the end of the day, my MJs and I were thoroughly rain-drenched as the day’s five-hour allocation of torrential rain had just set in.
Now I’m thinking whoever’s behind Shuella should be awarded the Nobel Prize for Fashion (I can’t believe this category doesn’t exist either) and I want a pair in every colour to slip on whenever the heavens open. Then I wouldn’t have to keep lugging round spare shoes all the time, swapping from heels to flats just to walk to the tube and risking trench foot every time I walk out the door. ‘SHUELLA’S are easy to put on and strong enough to walk in with a slip free sole. I’ve also included a cloth to wipe off any excess water before you fold them up and put them back in their convenient pouch,’ explains designer Rebecca Miller. She’s thought of everything! (Except grammar, because I’m really not sure there should be an apostrophe in Shuellas.)
Anyway, want some Shuellas of your own? You can order them from the US Shuella website for $47.45 (about £31) including P&P or you can get them on this UK website for a bargainous £8 but they’re currently out of stock.
Being relatively new to London, I learnt pretty quick – as does everyone. At times commuting can be likened to the Hunger Games and a determined assertiveness is essential to ensure you complete the pre-9am gauntlet.
With the Olympics looming I thought it timely to write down some unwritten codes of underground travel in the Capitol…I mean Capital:
- Establish a habit of allowing the absolute minimum time necessary to make your journey. Pray the stars have aligned and none of the frequent daily delays have affected your tube line…
- …if the gods are not on your side, sprint like an Olympic er….sprinter through the station and take stairs three at a time.
- Remember we’re British so ideally carriages should be completely silent and eye contact or conversation avoided at all times. Aid this with a reading material or music (preferably both to appear doubly unapproachable).
- Adhere to the obvious: let people off the train first, don’t obstruct the doors, stand to the right on escalators and give up your seat to pregnant and elderly people (being careful not to offend).
- However…. it is deemed entirely acceptable to tut anyone who has boarded a packed train with a bike or excessive luggage/anyone talking loudly on their phone/passengers who have used a seat for their bag.
- Arm yourself with a passive-aggressive attitude. Appear seemingly courteous but stay strong in a pre-boarding crowd and don’t be intimidated into losing your fairly-won handrail space.
- Respond to delay announcements with numerous but barely-audible, blasphemous profanities.
In fact if ‘queuing’ or ‘quietly-seething-whilst-maintaining-an-outwardly-unfazed-demeanour’ were Olympic sports, the rest of the world need not turn up. We’re champions.
I went along to the launch of HOWE’s Bolt from the Blue EP launch at the Hoxton Underbelly this week and found a band who can’t sit still musically and are wonderful for it. Every track in the set, including the three excellent offerings posted on SoundCloud and some new tunes, mixed things up no end. HOWE kept their audience hanging on every sudden change in tempo or wondering where that bluesy outro came from.
With Niall Lavelle (of Gentleman’s Dub Club fame) on drums, Ben Hayes on bass and Eric Brünjes on guitar it’s frontman Ralph Brünjes – who prances around on stage like a mad alternative-rock fairy – who will catch your eye in HOWE’s live shows. He’s easy on the ears too, as are the accessible but witty lyrics and jangly guitars.
Hand over your email address at HOWE’s sign-up page to get news from this quietly confident quartet or make plans to bob your head at one of their upcoming gigs at Motherbar in Old Street (11th July) and The Troubadour (2nd August). And before the first track is out, your left foot will no doubt join the fray to show some appreciation for HOWE’s lithe and lively melodies.
Image from wearehowe.com
French Connection and Sure Women have teamed up to offer you a free wardrobe refresh (see what they’ve done there?) on your way to work this Thursday.
For one day only, Thursday 5th July 2012, a giant pop-up wardrobe will be in place in Victoria Station stocked with French Connection clothing and accessories for commuters to pick up first thing, at lunch time or after work. It’s one piece per person and the fashion freebies will be divvied out on a first come, first served basis so you might do well to set off on your commute a tad earlier than usual so that you’ve a better chance of bagging a handbag or pocketing a pencil skirt. Got an important client meeting coming up? Need a certain something to complete your holiday wardrobe? The FC closet might have just what you’re after. Since my office is just round the corner I’ll be heading over to the station to have a peek myself.
If you can’t make it down to Victoria there’s still a chance to win a brand new outfit from French Connection’s latest collection every day until 30th September 2012. All you need to do is pick up a limited edition can of Sure Women antiperspirant, go to www.surewomen.co.uk and enter your code next to your favourite fashion look to be in with a chance of winning.
The fashion for free pop-up wardrobe from Sure Women and French Connection will be at Victoria Station, London from 7.30-8.30am, 12.30-1.30pm and 6-7pm on Thursday 5th July 2012. For full competition terms and conditions visit the Sure Women website.
Please don’t think this is a defence of landlords in London; it isn’t. They want to squeeze every last penny out of renters in the capital and that will never change.
The reasons landlords are the villains right now is that the cost of renting has gone up again (2.4% UK average, 4.5% in London) and the figures comparing London to the rest of the country make anyone paying to live here (like me) look plain stupid. For instance, London households apparently spend 71% of their salaries on rent, according to a FindaProperty.com Index published this week – the average net wage in London is £36k and £24k of that goes on rent.
When I first moved to London in 2006 I thought a wise ratio to stick to would be to spend 2/5ths of my income on putting a roof over my head. But that was back when I thought rents would stay about £100 a week per person and before I discovered council tax, paying full price at the cinema and Zone 1-6 travelcards.
So renting in London seems like a mad thing to do. But it isn’t. Firstly, think about why people come to London (or stay here) in the first place – a place at a prestigious university, a once-in-a-lifetime graduate scheme or – in my case – the whole damn industry. Yes, you could live in some random part of the UK for a fraction of the price, save up and buy a house there but for education, inspiration and careers London has a lot going for it.
Then there’s the culture, the history and the people. Even if rent saps all your money in the capital, that’s not going to stop you visiting some of the world’s greatest museums and galleries for free, nipping over to Buckingham Palace or finding cheap bars and markets. In a week where I was supposed to saving money, I still accidentally ended up in a Caribbean restaurant in Brixton, at a reading at the ICA and in a basement bar not far from Oxford Street.
So what if I’ve spent over £25,000 on renting in London since my first year at university here? I’m a city girl and as a journalist I need to be in the thick of it or else I’m not much use to anyone. I’d spend the same amount in New York or Tokyo and I honestly believe my interests and awareness would be much narrower had I not moved here. Renting also means you are independent from a) your parents and b) a man who’s richer/ older/ more successful than you and wants you to move into his house. That’s pretty valuable.
The Place des Vosges is my favourite place in Paris, perhaps even one of my favourite places in the world. When my boyfriend proposed to me there, we decided to commission a watercolour sketch of it by the lovely Frances Ives for the wedding invitations. I’m going to frame the original – my first piece of commissioned art, how grown up!
After researching various different invitation options I realised if you have a beautiful, unique image, you can print some simple postcards very cheaply. I have some friends who are freaks for paper thickness and weight, but I personally think it’s worth investing in the perfect, personal illustration and cutting costs on the actual printing.
Frances’ style is quite flexible and she’s a genius for putting your ideas onto paper. I love her loose, pretty watercolour sketches (she even adapted the colours to the tones in my bouquet!), but another friend of mine commissioned a more detailed painting of a Spanish building (above) which was also beautiful.
Frances did a degree in Illustration at Kingston University in London, and takes commissions starting at £50. Her website is currently under construction, but you can see some more examples of her work on her blog. Contact her on email@example.com for more information.