Saturday, 29 August 2009

Who Says Grunge is DEAD?

New Grunge Icons: 1. Mary-Kate Olsen 2. Justin Bobby 3. Taylor Momsen 4. Erin Wasson

You know you're getting 'old' when at 22, you see the styles that were prominent during your childhood cropping up in the shops and people's wardrobes. Being born as I was in 1987, like it or not, my formative fashion years were 90s through and through. Now we are on the edge of a 90s revival, following the huge 80s comeback. We've been absorbed in structured dressing, long line blazers, sharp shoulders, big embellishment and the eternal skinny jean. Get out last years biker boots and hooded parker because 90s grunge is back big time, stick to the gothic lace of the past few years but mix in a bit of crushed velvet for good measure. Last year we saw a big resurgence in Dr Martens but also lace-up Victorian high-heeled boots, and flat army versions. Long skirts are going to be reintroduced as a winter piece, paired with a long sleeved lace leotard underneath, Dr Martens and a crochet beanie. Fashion is predictably making a u-turn from glitzy power dressing to holey, oversized, baggy and ripped. We saw a hint of the grunge renaissance with the mega success of the lumberjack shirt. Ironically the younger you were during a fashion decade, the more I think you can enjoy and appreciate it the second time around; so 90s kids I think it is our time to shine!

Aptly this new look seems more in keeping with the current economic climate. Finance always has an inevitable affect on the social connotations of current style, and this 90s look reflects social change as a continuation of the demise of the 'it' bag and status dressing. It is no longer seen as socially responsible to go head head to toe in labels and dripping in jewels, not too mention more gauche and outdated looking than ever.

Original 90s Grungees: 1. Kurt Cobain 2. Shakespeare's Sister 3. Kate & Johnny

Friday, 28 August 2009

Glorious Bitches

I adored Inglourious Basterds, in typical surreal and quirky Tarantino style I thought it was a masterpiece. Accompanied by an insprired soundtrack, the unusual plot surrounds some infamous hisorical characters and others wildly fictional. This demonstrated Quentin Tarantino as the creative genius we all know him to be. As a very hands on director who has his favourties in terms of the actors and actresses he casts over and over again I though Brad Pitt was an unusual choice. The big names like Brad and style crush Diane Kruger succeeded in getting bums on seats, but lacked in acting prowess compared to their European counterparts. There were stellar performances from Chrisoph Waltz and sweet French actress Melanie Laurent. For the most part I found the costumes a little charicature-like. But Julie Dreyfus who played Francesca Mondino, the exotic Italian translator and mistress of Goebbles was a style icon to behold. I thought the real female talent lay in their premiere ensembles!

Bored of London, Bored of Life!

magazines in bed :)

fave brunch spot: Raoul's, Talbot Road

For me there are only 2 things that can console me from post holiday blues and a fading tan. These are 1. the September issue of Vogue and 2. the Notting Hill Carnival. However, I found this September's Vogue was a huge disappointment, with a less than fresh looking Miss Moss on the cover and a whole host of below par advertising campaigns and lacking in editorial content. As something I so look forward to, I was hoping that this year's Carnival would not follow Vogue's lead and crush my expectations.

I have gone to Carnival every year religiously since the age of 16 and shamelessly book my holidays around it. I think it is such a unique event, the atmosphere is unbeatable with great music, food and friends - and its all free! This is the thing that means so much to a London girl, good old-fashioned free fun sadly not being something I am overly accustomed to. My mum was living in the heart of Notting Hill, at 16, in 1966 during the first Notting Hill Carnival. She said she heard some music and went outside where there were a couple of floats and no more than 50 people. This year I was one of 7500 revellers, and Notting Hill Carnival represents the biggest street party in Europe. For me the last Sunday and Monday of August are London at its most alive and absolute best. Some of my closest friends, despite being based in London are as elusive as Banksy, and Carnival is often the only time of the year on which they will crawl out of the woodwork/South London. I was so pleased that this weekend did not disappoint. Here are some pictures I took to mark the end of Summer/ start of Autumn.

trendy kids

wheelbarrow serves as rubbish bin

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Coco Mademoiselle

So...Coco Avant Chanel could just be the best type of girlie film; an in depth character analysis of a style icon, set against the backdrop of glorious rural France and full of immaculate clothes. It really doesn't get much better. Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel was depicted by Audrey Tautou as a kind of tragic heroine, so outrageously innovative and ahead of her time that she was inevitably misunderstood and undervalued. A woman so preoccupied by the concept of happiness that she never found it herself, the eternal cynic who spent so much time trying to be practical detriment of her own contentment.

As an orphan who grew up materially and emotionally deprived she made it her focus not to go without in her adult life. Putting her stubborn mind to it she invariably found commercial success but unfortunately her one true love died and she never married. Coco was portrayed as the ultimate lipstick feminist, masculine in her pursuits not to be taken for granted by men, as well as in her dress sense. The sadness I felt for her misfortune in love was made up for by the happiness I felt for the fashion legacy she left behind her. She defined the idea we still have of timeless elegance. Long may Mademoiselle Coco reign!

An evolution of Pop Style

1. Then: Bowie
2. Now: La Roux
3. Then: Adam Ant
4. Now: Empire of the Sun
5. Then: Dexter's Midnight Runners
6. Now: MGMT

Fashion goes Pop!

It is no secret that fashion imitates music, and making a nod to our favourite rock bands through vintage Led Zeppelin t-shirts is no new thing. An instant way of toughening up one's look is sticking on a t-shirt emblazoned with the image of a hardcore punk band you've never heard of; a thing of which I'm sure many are guilty.

I would go so far as to say the item of clothing that defines 2009 is the sequinned blazer. I cannot help but detect a tragic irony in the fact that this new wardrobe staple conincided with the untimely demise of Michael Jackson; King of Pop. Spookily, last season we also saw an influx of ankle grazers worn with brogues and penny loafers a la Jacko. In the week following MJ's death it was hardly surprising to see various women's fashion magazines scrambling to put together last minute shoots of female models dressed in tribute to all things Jackson. And boy did it work. Rihanna has been chanelling MJ for some time with her fingerless leather gloves, aviators and military jackets. While Beyonce emulates stage Jacko through her alter ego Sasha Fierce in gold plated armour. For a man with disctinctive style traits, never has their been a time they've looked more relevant. If you ever had an urge to don a single sparkling while glove, now would be the time to do it. Regardless of an homage to Michael Jackson, in terms of our current trends no one would bat an eyelid!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Preppy vs Quirky

There are increasing dramas set against the imposing New York skyline. We are introduced more and more to glamorous Manhattanites on the tv since the Sex and the City days and more recently Gossip Girl. Not to mention fly on the wall type programmes like Running in Heels and The City. If like me you worship at the altar of The Hills and The City then you too desperately want to believe that every cat-fight and perfectly poised tear on an immaculately airbrushed cheek is the real deal. These glossy adaptations of the phenomenon that is reality tv, lead fashion fantasists to believe that because we are afforded a peek into their wardrobes we have a genuine insight into their psyche. If these programmes are anything to go by they also suggest that girls fall into two main categories; the Blairs and Serenas of this world. There are more extreme cases such as super-sexy Samanthas and more recently biker chicks like Audrina Patridge and little Jenny in Gossip Girl.

However no-one seems to divide a female following like Serena Van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf. Are you a Whitney Port devotee or an Olivia Palermo lover?There is no doubt in my mind as to where my loyalties lie. I sometimes think I must be biased or swayed by the fact that Whitney is such a sweet person and Olivia is a judgmental socialite who looks down her nose at everyone outside the Upper East Side. And while Olivia may be petite and pretty and polished to perfection she rarely cracks a smile and takes herself too seriously. This undoubtedly comes across in her style, and it is boring. Whitney in fairness sometimes gets it very wrong, but she looks like a 23 year old girl who has fun with getting dressed and therefore I forgive her mistakes in the heartbeat. She demonstrates bravery and imagination, always playing with vintage and high street pieces, for this Whitney Port I applaud you. Whereas Olivia is a feast of designer garments, always follows the rules and wears YSL tributes and too much make-up to work. Urgh..bored now! Ok I am a little bit in love with Whitney because her legs are reminiscent of Bambi and her almond eyes seep pure kindness, but it irritates me how much Grazia and the like endorse Olivia Palermo as some kind of new style goddess, without acknowledging Whitney's finer fashion moments. As if the world needs another socialite.

Similarly when it comes to Gossip Girl I am always shocked by the amount of die-hard Blair fans out there. To me, while she wears some fabulous clothes, her preppy uniform and alice bands look twee and childish next to statuesque Serena in her sexier and more laid-back ensembles. The way I see it if you cannot have fun with clothes at 23 you will never be able to truly enjoy fashion, and thats just plain sad.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Shooting Stars

Following my blog about Guy Bourdin, it got me thinking about fabulous fashion photographers, which lead me to ponder the comic camp style of David Lachapelle. His kitsch humor and irony is unparalleled and his work is quite unique in its tacky surrealist aesthetic. I love his references to Christianity and idolatry. The great thing is that while drawing one's attention to the celebrity worshipping culture we live in, he does not allow his subjects to take themselves seriously in his shots. With his lens he pokes fun at egotistical stars by comparing them to religious icons as well as taking an artistic swipe at their drug-fuelled hedonistic lifestyle and the grimey galmour of Hollywood. Probably explaining Lachapelle's work best is the man himself in saying

My work is about making candy for the eyes. It’s about grabbing your attention. Even though my work is appearing in magazines I am trying to make a large picture. I want my photographs to read like a poster

("American Photo", July/August 1995)

His work certainly has shock factor. If the world of fashion photography was explained in terms of chart music Mario Testino would be everyone's favourite pop star, where Lachapelle brings brazen hardcore hip-hop to the scene. Once omni-present and very fashionable in the 90s, David Lachapelle seems to be keeping a lower profile these days. Perhaps his ostentacious blingy photography style is too un-recession friendly to bear. I wouldn't take him off my coffee table.

Friday, 14 August 2009

The Bourdin Effect

A few months ago I accompanied my dad to the launch night of an exhibition of unseen photographs taken by the legendary Guy Bourdin. Being unfamiliar with his work I was hooked in by the fact the party was being hosted by French Vogue and Cent magazine. The exhibition took place at Wapping Power Station, which is incidentally an incredible events space. Canapes and cocktails were plentiful the model-esque female DJ wore a spangly military jacket and played The Rolling Stones, the Pet Shop Boys and French rockers from the 60s. Needless to say the people watching was amazing! Beyond my excitement of Henry Holland squeezing past me and seeing Jemima Khan in all her bouncy-haired glory I have been left with a real love and appreciation for Bourdin's work. The thing that struck me is how ahead of his time he was, and how influential his images have been in the fashion world. The overall impression of faintly pornographic glamour reminded me of so many things; from David Lynch's movies, to countless editorial spreads I've seen to pop videos by Madonna and Kylie.

The vulnerable asymmetry of Bourdin's often visually dismembered female subjects, disturbed me the same way David Lynch's scarlett-lipped heroines did. The first time I saw 'Blue Velvet' I was haunted by Lynch's warped depiction of women; as victimised images of sex. Bourdin's stills had the same affect on me, whatever it says about his attitude towards women, in an era before photoshop and digital touch ups his images were flawless, not to mention avant-garde. Bourdin had a way of taking a woman's classic vampy look and inverting it. Beyond the associations made in Bourdin's photos between high fashion and horror and death, we must not discount his distinctive use of lighting and colour which has left an indelible mark on contemporary culture. It could not be more relevant or poignant at this time where our appreciation for all things 80s is at its peak. It is the bright lighting and vivid blues and reds that remind me of Kylie's highly sexualised video for 'Slow' Madonna's video for 'Hollywood' as well as so many fashion shoots of a siren brighter than bright blue swimming pool. His works have the surreal element of Salvador Dali combined with the fashion credibility of Mario Testino. All hail King Bourdin for the influence he has had on female beauty and sex appeal as we know it today!

1. Photograph by Guy Bourdin
2. Video by Kylie Minogue 'Slow'
3. Photograph by Guy Bourdin
4. Video by Madonna 'Hollywood'
5. Photograph by Guy Bourdin
6. Editorial from Pop Magazine, Winter 02-03
7. Editorial from Pop Magazine, Winter 02-03

Thursday, 13 August 2009

The Attack of the S.A.D.s

In recent years the thirst for celebrity gossip has spiralled out of control. It seems the fascination with our famous friends is trans-generational. Media induced competitivity for cuteness between Suri Cruise and Shiloh Jolie-Pitt has become the norm. It is little wonder then when these children grow into teenagers and young adults that our interest intensifies.

Celebrity sons and daughters or S.A.Ds are a new obsession in society. We automatically expect them to have a talent or worse still, follow in their parent's footsteps as rock god, Hollywood starlet or supermodel. Over exposed S.A.Ds like Peaches and Pixie, Jamie Winstone and Kimberley Stewart are plastered all over magazines. Their every Nobu dinner and Bungalow 8 night is rammed down our throats before anyone can say "Do we care?" So it comes as no shock to suddenly see Amber LeBon cropping up in various campaigns. Quite frankly she pales in comparison to her eternally youthful mother, but sadly it is assumed, that genetics equate to certain careers. Quel Surprise! Coco Sumner is launching a music career, and Katy Grand and her cronies were debating putting her on the front cover of Love's hotly awaited second issue. Now Sam and Holly Branson; heirs to the Virgin empire are perpetually photographed, badly dressed at various festivals and international events.

Interestingly boys seem much less guilty of flaunting their connections and courting the press, but they have been getting in on the model act too. Hotting up at the moment are Max Irons (son of actor Jeremy) Jethro Cave, son of Australian singer Nick as well as Otis, Isaac and Tara Ferry (sons of Bryan.) These boys and girls are all armed with appropriately quirky, supercilious names, lashings of self-confidence and easy access to nepotism! What upsets me is when I hear from industry insiders that Vogue is considering putting Pixie Geldof on the cover of their December issue. Party girl she may be but cover girl she aint. When I see her picture I think of grubby fingernails and bad tatoos not 'ooh what is she wearing? I must buy this magazine.' And I represent the voice of a 22 year old magazine addict, not the larger demographic of Vogue buyers. So who are they aiming to appeal to?

The tragedy is that while these Daddy's girls prancing around, milking their family ties, beautiful models with feline bone structure and coat hanger shoulders are being put out of work. Whilst flicking through the latest Harper's Bazaar I saw an editorial ad for Gerard Darel, and the model struck me as an unusual choice. Then I realised it was Mamie Gummer, Meryl Streep's daughter and rising star on the silver screen. Why did the luxurious French brand choose this plain American girl to sell their handbags? Is it linked to the idea of normality and political correctness gone mad? Are Gok's 'get 'em girlfriend' attitudes and Coleen's real women leaking over into the world of high fashion? God forbid! Bring back Lily Donaldson and Jourdan Dunn.

1. 3 naked rock star daughters: Kimberly Stewart, Leah Wood, Peaches Geldof

2. Amber LeBon for River Island

3. Max Irons (son of Jeremy)

4. Jethro Cave (son of Nick)

5. Pixie models for Tatler

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Forgotten Beauties

Kate for I-D magazine June/July 2002

Helena for 10 magazine Summer 2003

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Eau de Moi

I am a sucker for divine perfume bottles that make the dresser look deliciously girlie, but other than that, fragrance is not something I get over-excited about...until now! Following the success of the Daisy scent range launched a few years ago, Marc Jacobs has now launched the bolder big sister named Lola. This is better suited to night time wear and has top-notes of pink peppercorn, ruby red grapefruit and pear with fuchsia peony and rose with vanilla and creamy musk mixed in as the bottom notes. Marc Jacobs says "Where Daisy is more innocent and sweet, Lola is more sensual — the name conjures up a flirtatious, warm spirit." Featuring larger than life peonies in the ad campaign (my favourite flower) and as my namesake I can't help but feel like this fragrance was made for me!

Welcome to Emerald City

Jewel tones have been featuring heavily in our winter wardrobes for the past few years. This season sees bottle green embellishment as a repeated theme. To my mind nothing quite says glamour like a shade of kryptonite. The A/W 09-10 Valentino campaign features maribou feathers in a deep sea green with bare legs, pale skin and killer heels. The scraped back hair and burgundy lips scream Hollywood glamour. Following the Bal-mania that took the fashion world by storm ealier this year, I still have not recovered from the incredible green mini dress worn by the Jennifer Connelly at the 'He's Just not that Into You' premiere. Sienna Miller then exhibited a Twenty8Twelve backless version from her own collection.

See below how emerald embellishment have hit the high street.
Sequin shoulder pad dress £150 Oasis
Green sequin bow detail court shoe 'Dolly' £100 KG by Kurt Geiger

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