Saturday, April 30, 2011

just married

I didn't really think I'd write a Royal Wedding post (not that I didn't love getting up bright and early, flicking on the coffee machine and settling onto the sofa with some pastries and a novel sense of anticipation) but there was one unexpected moment that trumped all. Timid balcony kisses and aisle-side utterances of 'you look stunning, babe' aside Kate and William's 'just married' getaway moment in Prince Charles's 1969 Aston Martin, souped up with learner plates, 'C' and 'W' balloons and a personalised registration plate was the height of cool and brilliantly un-royal. It was one of those moments when you catch yourself thinking 'hey they're just like us!' before realising that you're sitting in a terraced house next to a cat and their Granny is the Queen. Truthfully I don't think William and Kate are the most interesting pair, I'd much rather witness the marriage of a Prince to somebody with a naughty look in their eye, but like all great lovers -Disney's Robin Hood and Maid Marian, I'm looking at you- a getaway car riding into the sunset (or to the roundabout and back up to Buckingham Palace) is a pretty cool way to kickstart matrimony.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Margaret Howell's East Anglia seaside house/ varsity top worn by Mel from Two Breads, Please?/ simple lunches and weather warm enough to take bare feet outside/ I have newly found adoration for Frede and her blog / Richard Diebenkorn Ocean Park #14/ cool little bracelets made by Frede in the style of Proenza Schouler.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

models and tomboys

Two sweet videos of British models Hannah Noble and Molly Smith. The videos give a sense of the safety of the suburban home lives of these girls where they can kick footballs in the street or lie around talking about dreams and be true teenage girls, away from the demands of fashion weeks and intense photoshoots. Also worth noting, Hannah Noble is also a footballer and plays for Stratford Town Girls F.C. Girls will always gain extra cool points in my eyes if they play football or skateboard. Probably because my fear of scabby knees would always trump any ambitions I may have had of becoming a fully-fledged tomboy!

I remember piling onto a bus as a tiny 5 year old to go to after-school Football Club in the midst of all things Girl Power in the 1990s when Sporty Spice was urging us to join in with the boys. Sadly I was much too shy and as with just about every club my Mum tried to get me to go along to, it didn't last long. I remember my flashing Barbie trainers and that wary feeling of being so small amongst everybody else and lots of brilliantly wet mud which me and my friend jumped around in instead of kicking the ball.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

In praise of Paul Smith

When Ella shared a few little anecdotes from the morning she spent hanging out in Paul Smith's workshop with a bunch of fellow bloggers last month, my admiration for the Mr Smith swelled into a fully fledged love. In interviews Paul Smith has always come off as truly sincere and more often than not I'm more interested in the man himself than the clothes he designs.

For somebody who has seen and done so much his childlike enthusiasm and unerring excitement for the things he loves is reassuring and a testament that time needn't replace passion with nonchalance. Ella's descriptions of him rushing around his studio, pulling rubber ducks, train sets and other notable knick-knacks from cupboards to share with them instead of dedicating his time to spieling about his new fragrance (the real reason for the meeting) really stayed with me. Ever since I've been pondering the feasibility of asking him to be my dad/confidante/uncle/mentor just so that I can be on the receiving end of such a jolly stream of wisdom and damn right coolness. 

When I punched the words 'paul smith cycling' into youtube after strict instructions from my friend Josh and I watched the above video, it sealed the deal. I sat smiling as I watched the screen (maybe in the same way my Mum used to watch the screen back in the days when George Clooney was on ER) but less out of inappropriately lusty affection and more in line with my simplistic utterings of 'he's just so nice..' Smith talks about his teenage love of racing bikes and the dreams he had of cycling professionally before a careless run-in with a car left him in hospital for three months. He ended up falling in with a local group of art, design and fashion students and after deciding that realistically he would never be good enough to race professionally found himself attracted to the world of design. His love of bikes has remained though and it shows in the video (from a couple of years ago when he collaborated with Derby-based Mercian Cycles) as he smooths the leather of the Brooks saddle and talks about how using larger nails to hammer the fabric onto the seat was "I suppose like saying you were part of a certain club or something." An already existing love for something seems to be the only catalyst when it comes to collaborations which is plainly why Paul Smith as a brand has always maintained such a strong and interesting identity. 

To me Paul Smith has exactly the same sort of allure of Margaret Howell; both two designers who have such firm and consistent ideas about their personal tastes and create products that have a connection to 'real life' as the majority of us would recognise it. I like that Margaret Howell swims in the freezing cold East Anglian sea and that Paul Smith gets excited about what he loves and very importantly that he treats his employees so well (something I learnt from an ex-Paul Smith sales assistant I worked with back at Topshop). It's little nuggets of information like this that push along my interest in their brands and in all honesty might have just as much influence over me deciding that I'd like to buy something from their shops as any other factor. Of course their clothes aren't cheap but they come not just as an individual item but also with a clear idea in each case of Smith and Howell's likes and loves, sewn into the cloth just as plainly as the seams.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

the allure of the bunny

When I read recently that Playboy is opening a bar in London, my mind was filled with fond images of retro Bunny Girls in the golden days and I found myself entertaining the idea of dragging some friends along for a tipple or two next time I'm in town. I can't quite explain this double standard when the concept of under dressed waitresses as a form of male entertainment makes me wrinkle my nose. But despite such qualms and my feminist morals I can't help being won over by the old Playboy image; the glamour of Bunnies back in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, of Debbie Harry before she was Blondie and of those infamous little satin leotards. There is nothing like some rose-tinted retrospect but taken with a pinch of salt I think these photographs go some way to explaining the irresistible allure of the old school Bunny..

Monday, April 18, 2011

unique aw11


Some of my photographs from the Topshop Unique show back in February. The playful-ness of the collection; models with cute drawn on puppy noses and the accompaniment of kanine themed tunes (think Puppy Love and Cruella De Vil) made the whole show so much fun. When last season's Unique show ended I kind of sat there thinking 'what..?', baffled by the odd Footballers Wives meets Las Vegas escort aesthetic but this time I was grinning and wondering why dalmatian prints hadn't been embraced earlier as 'the best idea ever'. The old Billingsgate Fishmarket building with it's tall arches and columns felt a very era-appropriate backdrop for the 1920s fur wraparounds and silky pyjamas, and I felt like I should continue my day in I Capture The Castle fashion, smelling of lilac and buying Tangee lipstick. Well, I Capture The Castle did feature as I zipped up my mac and set off in the drizzle to meet Hannah from the blog of the same name to share a sandwich and some tea in the Tate cafe and hide from the misty London gloom.

personal style wobblies

Lately I've been suffering from a slight loss of mojo regarding my wardrobe. It happens to all of us and during dry spells, I usually take a 'keep calm and carry on' approach and settle down for a flick through The Cheap Date Guide To Style which usually serves to re-inspire. This time though the spell has expressed a stubborness stronger than usual and I've found my go-to formula of New Balance, skinny cords and a rotation of faithful light knitwear and a sleeveless blouse a little lacking, as if we've passed the honeymoon period. In addition to this my head has become muddled by ultra-analytical questions about the definitions of style as a way or conveying identity. What follows are my extremely muddled and uncollated questions which by sharing has me teetering on that slightly unattractive first-person Carrie Bradshaw 'narration' style.

The little catalyst of a thought regards the references we have in our heads- our favoured aesthetics, the interests that define and inspire us and how these are shown through the way we dress-or whether they even need to be. I think it came from me feeling that my go-to formula had become too casual; lazy even and that it wasn't a suitable representation of the things that excite and inspire me. A sense that somehow because there are gaps in my wardrobe, a pair of shoes or a dress that I've desired but haven't bought, I'm not fufilling 'my own potential'. I say this all with a pinch of salt, firstly because although style is one of my great interests it's never something I like to dedicate all of my energy into and also because the thought of needing to achieve your own 'style potential' is quite frankly silly-besides, what does it mean? Still I thought it was an interesting concept, maybe even a thought that is embarrassing to admit to. 

Should the way we dress be an aesthetic representation of ourselves to the extend that when it doesn't exactly reflect our current sartorial preferences we're somehow 'letting ourselves down'? I don't think so, but it is something that crosses my mind on numerous occasions.I have friends who will put together a fantastic outfit, compiled of current objects of affection. A buttery leather clutch or some suede trousers-newly bought after watching a film whose heroine kickstarted a love of brown trousers. But deep down I know that I can't afford to be supplementing my wardrobe with every little thing that inspires me. More significant is the fact that a year from now I may not hold the same teenage-style pangs over my 'current favourites'. And so I tell myself that I'll hold off, that I can still love a pair or strappy sandals from afar and I can still love the old magazine clipping that initiated my love of said sandal without having to wear them. 

But then I come back around full circle, my mind clouded and starting to wobble under the weight of these questions that seem to be heading towards the dangerously elusive 'so then, what is the point of personal style if not to showcase what excites us?' or 'showcasing? does 'showcasing' suggest I am dressing for others rather than for myself?' to which I can offer myself a 'don't be so naive' retort something along the lines of 'but if dressing as a way of telling others a little about ourselves truly doesn't enter into the process, then why doesn't everybody find themselves in an eternal state of pyjama-dom?'

I think theres a bit of a stigma attached to having short love affairs with different trends or looks. I myself always admire people who have to a consistent style. I regard my own style to be pretty linear but maybe consistency is something that increases with age and experience. Still, being seduced by a little trend bubble is a perfectly natural event when you're interested in fashion and shouldn't be something to be afraid of. Trends can be like the lessons we learn at school, and in the same way that a history lesson at the age of 14 may establish a life-long interest in the French Revolution, a commercial peak in all things 'Nude' may encode a love of off-beige knitwear which will serve as a personal go-to for the rest of your days (aw). I'm not someone who flits between different looks a lot but I have found myself almost afraid of inconsistency as if it is a flaw.

I suppose there isn't a conclusive end point to these rambing questions. What started out as an innocent pondering over the temporary loss of style mojo has developed into a set of thoughts that have stumbled down into a neverending rabbit hole. This is more of a 'these are my unorganised and uncemeted thoughts-what do you think?' call for help. I don't think there are definitive answers about the extent to which our style should reflect ourselves; this is what makes individual style so fascinating and ambiguous and personal.. and ever so occasionally, so mindboggling.

Friday, April 15, 2011

repton boxing club

Alisdair McLellan's short film for Sunspel is a sweet six minute insight into the Repton Boxing Club and the boys that box there. Deep down they're all a bunch of softies! Watch them debate the superiority of Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson over heaving platters of bangers and mash at local cafe E. Pelicci and softly softly dance on tippy-toes through swooping skipping ropes. The crisp calf length Sunspel undies and cotton vests mirror the classic boxer uniform that has been worn for generations and the photographs and clippings of the club's champions papering the walls are testament to the heritage of the place which has been going since 1884.

As a medium for promoting brands, I really love this sort of approach. Videos that use real life stories and give glimpses into the lives of others. I know this isn't anything new but it's a formula that I can't tire of-it's the same kind of ingrained nosiness that makes me interested in what strangers eat for breakfast! Sometimes it's nice to have a little substance over a lookbook video with shot after shot of product. Not that I'd mind a chance to gawp at Sunspel products as I'm personally very excited about the new Womens range after they assigned JW Anderson as head honcho (the line is now online if you wish to nose for yourself) Overall a really great example of a heritage brand aligning itself to a fresh image without compromising it's core values. Hooray for cotton underwear!


Phew! Back home in Bristol and appreciating the chance to recharge batteries and spend deliciously un-rock 'n' roll evenings indoors with full reign over the cooking or curling up on the sofa with a cat. These are a couple of pictures snapped on my phone this week.
1. the white carnations that my Mum had left waiting for me in my room when I got back.
2. ashton court in the drizzle. me and jo zipped ourselves into anoraks, packed homemade pizzas, scones and a couple of apples into our bags and enjoyed a three hour walk around the city having our first proper catch up for months.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

be right back

I'm in the midst of backed-up deadlines with books to read and essays to complete by the end of the week before I can return home to enjoy my Easter holidays with my family. So until things chill out, here are some pictures I took last summer to stimulate thirst for heat and sandals and sunshine.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

mothers day

Being in a different city means no blinkily making my way downstairs and flicking on the coffee machine for a Mothers Day breakfast but I was at least organised about getting a little parcel in the post for my Mum. I was going to go down the Jamie Oliver magazine/something sweet and decadent tasting route but fell like a bit of a 'feeder' giving people chocolatey things when I know spring is often a time of detox and attempted self restraint before the summer so I went down the white tea and slightly naff but ultimately pleasurable route of a Meryl Streep boxset for inducing (delete of appropriate) blubbing, stomach rumbling (Julie and Julia), guffawing, cringing and general sighs of 'oh meryl' from under a thickly blanketed spot on the sofa.

I like Mothers Day for remembering how cool/interesting/strong headed/ inspiring/kind/clever my Mum is plus this is the last year I can tell people with a twinkle in my eye that she's still not 40 yet. Hope you've all had a nice day with/remembering the important women in your life. This song always makes me think of my Mum..

Saturday, April 02, 2011

fat sams

I've had renewed enthusiasm for Bugsy Malone this week after going to Itchy Feet (a touring clubnight that plays soul, funk, rock n roll, swing, blues) where they ended the night with 'You Give A Little Love'. Cue ridiculously enthusiastic jiving on my part as soon as I recognised those first plinky piano chords from all of those Bugsy marathons when I was little and since then the soundtrack has been on repeat. So here's the last scene from the film-probably one of the most feelgood scenes in a film, like, ever. A bold statement but if this doesn't make you feel all smiley and happy on this fine Saturday, I don't know what will. Plus Bugsy Malone and weekends go together like cheese and pickle.

On a side note I highly recommend Itchy Feet to anyone who enjoys dancing to Twist and Shout, Preacher Man, Brown Sugar, Lola.. Everybody there was so into the music and track after track was perfection so that staying inside and sweatily dancing instead of going outside for air seemed a justifed trade-off.

Friday, April 01, 2011


minji kim on closet visit/ lovely cats eye sunglasses and portfolio clutch, both from topshop/ alisa on trendy crew/ a particularly satisfying bagel I made myself the other week/ emi kameoka's glittery nails/ absolute foot perfection! (via urban outfitters blog)- my mum has a pair of sandals like this, and I'm after some for summer too. maybe in an ideal world lots of different coloured pairs for coordinating with painted toenails..?

I don't think 'Happy April Fools' is really the right expression, but April 1st feels like a special day, one step closer to 'real' Spring so have a lovely day and weekend!

EDIT: I meant to recommend this little DIY nail video which is very sweet and makes ventures into all things glittery nail related look very easy.