Cara, Cara, Cara. She’s DEFINITELY the model of the moment. 90% (rough approximation) of my Twitter feed has posted her looks from the Fashion Weeks and every magazine I’ve picked up this month features her, or has her on the cover. There’s no doubting she’s the model du jour and quirky/amazing/cool/ (insert any number of other positive forward slashes here.) For me, the equally ubiquitous model, yet less well publicised, is Juliana Schurig. She’s fronting campaigns for Topshop, Zara TRF, Sandro, Moschino among others and is inescapably striking. In what feels like a description from a Tyra make-over moment, her change to platinum blonde seems to have propelled her into the upper echelons of the modelling world. She is faultless in all her recent campaigns and editorials and I particularly love her appearance in the Marant-esque Zara look book for February. Be in awe and wonder, “Cara who?”
My daily clothing need can unfortunately be very formulaic and mundane. For work, my inevitable go to piece is the COS shift dress. For play, it’s a Topshop Leigh super soft skinny jean, accompanied by something jersey on the top. However, as soon as I walk through the door, I feel the need to put on what’s affectionately come to be known as “my uniform.” I’d love to lie and say it takes the form of matching cashmere loungewear. The truth however, is it’s something far more disparate and tattered. As a grown adult and parent, I’ve been forced to time ration this need for comfort; a little like the drinking of wine, it’s now only acceptable after 5.30 p.m. (weekend restrictions do not apply.)
The only timed I consciously curbed this inclination to be comfortable around the house, was while I was pregnant and the few months after I gave birth. Style wise, this is a very tough time for women. You fear any slovenly behaviour will be judged and perceived as a sign of weak parenting or an inability to cope. You’re desperate to feel you haven’t lost “it,” whatever “it” actually is. The irony is, this is the time in your life when you deserve to feel the most comfortable, as your body can be utterly torturous and unforgiving. I remember buying a beautiful Topshop maternity dress with awesome asymmetric elastic straps. I proceeded to squeeze my new form into it, one strap above the bump and the other below. I went to work feeling mightily cool and stylish, the desired effect, only to discover I had worn the dress back to front as I removed my bump from the elastic harness that night.
So today, I felt enraged on seeing the Daily Mail’s unique perspective on fashion in pregnancy. The only time I usually click through to the DM’s website is to read Lorraine Candy’s column, as I respect her journalistic integrity. But this morning a small Twitter furore led me to look. The beautiful and always stylish Edith Bowman was on the receiving end of the DM’s sharp-tongued debased “journalism;” they described her outfit as “made for radio,” amongst other unnecessary jibes. I refuse to link to the article and drive ever more traffic to their ridiculous website that’s frankly on a par with the content of Take A Break magazine. Edith is pregnant and pregnancy dressing, as I’ve just discussed, is filled with emotion; you want to be proud of your pregnancy, comfortable and cool. I feel that Edith fulfilled all of those criteria in her outfit choice and for her to wake up today to such a pointless article with unnecessary, unfounded criticism, must have been tough. The fact that the article was written under the anonymous, generic guise of a “Daily Mail Reporter,” makes it doubly infuriating.
DM, I implore you, improve the quality of your work. No person, be they pregnant or otherwise, attends a formal public function without putting a significant amount of effort into their attire. If I were in any way “famous,” I dread to think what you’d make of my uniform.
*Disclaimer – This article was written in pyjamas*
Nostalgia is a very strange beast. Its intoxicating smell draws you in and awakens memories you’d forgotten existed. Some definitions cite its meaning as a “yearning for something lost.” My own experience is of a warmth of happiness, as my mind is taken back to a time I thought I’d lost.
Reality Bites engulfs me in nostalgia every time I watch it. For me, it represents my latter teenage years. Fully ensconced in the dorkdom of my youth, Reality Bites allowed me to indulge the image of the uber cool young adult I hoped to become. The characters were not aspirational in the sense of being deemed financially successful. They were all however effortlessly cool; the disillusioned youth of the Nirvana grunge generation. I was in love. I wanted to be Winona Ryder. I wanted to have her floppy, undone hair and suddenly felt the need to try better all the hopeless, disaffected bums I encountered at university. If you were a teen in the 90’s and haven’t seen this film, shame on you. I implore you to watch it. You’ll be humming My Sharona within minutes of it ending.
For Chrimbombobulo, the husband bought me a Bella Freud candle. One of these iconic, “Ginsberg is God” ones. I’ll be honest, I was completely in awe of its aesthetic beauty and requested it for how it could aid in styling our home. Again, being honest, I had no idea what scent this thing of beauty would emit. I was intrigued on opening it to see its chosen fragrance was fig leaf and tomato. Within seconds of opening the box, let alone lighting it, I was transported back to my grandfather’s green house. My father’s father could be quite an emotionally detached man but he came alive in the refuge of his greenhouse. He loved to show me how to care for the plants and take cuttings but my favourite time was the end of summer and the picking of the tomatoes. I’d spend hours lovingly removing all the different varieties of tomato from their stalks, while my grandfather told me stories from his youth. I’m now transported there every time I light this beautiful candle – merci Bella Freud.
Please excuse the at times, saccharinely sweet tone of my post, this is the effect nostalgia has. I hope some witty cynicism will return to my writing soon.
This is a list. It is one of things of greatness in 2012.
1. Connan Mockasin’s album Forever Dolphin Love – a listen-to-all-the-way-through affair that offers something new every time.
2. Moonrise Kingdom – A beautiful piece of Wes Anderson magic.
3. COS – high quality simplicity.
4. Peanut butter and banana sandwiches – I am slowly becoming Elvis.
5. GIRLS – Lena Dunham finally offers some refreshingly awkward television.
6. Paul Rudd – He’s still trumped by Gosling but his level of funny is subtle, yet brilliant. I think I like him because he’s my husband’s man crush. Actually, scrap that…it’s still all about the Gosling.
7. Ryan Gosling.
8. Children’s books – The joy that reading has brought my son is immeasurable. Current faves – Stuck by Oliver Jeffers, The Good Little Wolf by Nadia Shireen and The Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems.
9. Café de Flore – A beautiful piece of film making that made me fall in love with Vanessa Paradis a little more and be in awe of Evelyne Brochu and this dress.
*Sponsored video link*
The fashion industry has been forced to change indelibly in the last few years. The demise of the well-established Aquascutum and the quirky cool that was Luella, have redefined the notion of longevity in what has always been a fickle market. The High Street and the Internet have reclassified what represents stability in fashion. Topshop, ASOS and the like, continue to thrive, even in a difficult economic climate; their familiarity with their customer and ubiquity have paid dividends. Big named designers want to affiliate themselves with these brands of the masses; thus is born the High Street collaboration.
However much I may dislike it, becoming a household name is a key to success in the modern age. Becoming accessible, especially in terms of social media, opens the door to a huge audience. I despise reality television and the pseudo-celebrities it spawns but these people are highly featured across all media outlets and what they wear drives sales.
The Temperley business model is one that has always interested me. Firstly, Alice Temperley diversified her ranges to make them more accessible. The younger and cheaper, Alice by Temperley offered a harder edge to the usual whimsy of her look. The expensive, flowing gowns were gone and a more cool wearable collection was created. Temperley Bridal keyed into the shift away from the traditional meringue. Some Temperley London gowns were already bride-appropriate and the exclusive bridal range just extended this line.
Temperley London, as the name suggests, is synonymous with all that is British. The “right” people wear her dresses, perpetuating this patriotic brand affiliation. The Middleton sisters and their royal connection have propelled Temperley onto the global stage. In the brand’s bid to becoming a household name, Temperley revealed its first collaboration, Somerset, with the stalwart of the High Street, John Lewis. At first, I was uncertain of this partnership. I did ask myself if this is what Alice Temperley envisaged for her brand back at its conception in 2000? But then I began to see where they were coming from. John Lewis is intrinsically British. They stock brands that hold a place in the heart of the British aristocracy and middle classes; those with a disposable income. Temperley will join Barbour, Hunter and other inherently British brands to become more accessible and renowned for the brand elements it wishes to promote. Despite the fact that the overall look of the collection does not appeal to my design aesthetic, logistically and in terms of brand longevity, I can see exactly why Temperley made this collaborative choice.
Below is a sponsored video link to the Somerset by Temperley campaign and you can shop the collection in John Lewis from the 4th of September. I would love to hear your thoughts on this campaign in the comments section below.
I haven’t been a huge fan of Madonna for many years. The whole transformative wonderment of her career has pretty much passed me by. I’m not interested in her secret of eternal youth, her boy-toy conquests, world tours or well-toned arms. Well, I rescind that last comment, the arms are pretty cool. The Madonna I loved was the 80′s incarnation. I liked the seemingly fresh faced, yet wickedly enigmatic Madonna. She was covered in black lace, doused in jewellery and in my mind, effortlessly cool. I won’t lie, it saddened me to find out that this look wasn’t organic and was partly the creation of French stylist Maripol.
The lovely Disney Roller Girl reminded me the other week of Maripol’s work with Madonna and specifically of an article I’d saved from a few years ago. From the seemingly uncool archives of The Madonna Tribe website comes this hugely insightful interview with Maripol. I urge you to read it, especially if like me, you were a fan of 80′s Madonna. I discovered that Debi Mazar (Entourage*) was Madonna’s make-up artist, Steven Meisel shot her famous Like A Virgin cover at The St. Regis Hotel and my favourite fact, Maripol and Andy Warhol judged a Madonna look-a-like competition at Macy’s!
Maripol’s time with Madonna is synonymous with the time that I was completely enamoured with this rising star. I was on a waiting list for all her albums on cassette when they were released in Woolworths, even the Who’s That Girl soundtrack! I watched the Desperately Seeking Susan video WAY too much for a girl of 10 and loved when “that” Madonna was referenced in Pulp Fiction:
Street style photography blogs still fill my daily feed and provide essential inspiration for all my looks. Whenever I see that Vanessa Jackman has posted photographs, there is a genuine little internal jump of joy. As a photographer, Vanessa has a knack of capturing a beautiful moment of fun. When you have the pleasure of meeting Miss. Jackman, you understand how she manages to do it. Gregarious, happy and always enthusiastic, Vanessa always manages to elicit a smile. Her infectious personality translates in her photographs and I can always imagine what she’s saying to her subject to get that perfect shot. Take a look at her beautiful blog here.
When I see people quoted as saying, “My wardrobe is a mix of designer and high street,” my inner self does a weird nod and thinks, “Hmm, mine too.” My inner self clearly has reality issues, as when I peruse my wardrobe, there may be one or two t-shirts that could be deemed as high end but the rest reside on hangers hailing from the likes of Topshop and Zara. My inner self also believes that we have many charity-shop finds, vintage pieces and cool hand-me-downs from my eclectic family…as well as all the many other things that the cool people say in interviews.
Zara launched their August lookbook yesterday, clearly less mid-summer and more of a nod towards the winter months to come. Zara seems to me to utterly dominate their well-established corner of the high street. The key is that their clothes don’t feel like they’re mass-produced, despite obviously being so. The last time I visited Paris I went to Zara’s branch on Rue St. Honoré. Hidden deep within the upper echelons of Paris’ chicest boutiques, like a chameleon, it blends in perfectly. It stocks Zara’s more rare pieces and only has one of each size on the rack. Everything somehow felt more expensive primarily because of the location and décor but mainly due to this clever marketing tool of limiting the amount of stock on the shop floor.
Here’s a small list of the other fields in which I feel Zara have excelled.
Online delivery and returns – If your express delivery fails to join you from Madrid(!) within the stated period, your delivery charge is refunded that same day. A free courier service collects from your home within 24 hours of your pick-up request and takes it to a local store, where they refund you as soon as they receive the parcel.
Campaigns – They bag THE best models – Freja Beha Erichsen and Cara Delevingne lead their campaigns this year, with beautifully shot online videos. Stella Tennant made me want to buy EVERYTHING a few season’s ago.
Zara People! – An invite to Zara customers to send in photos of themselves wearing the current season’s clothes; a selection of which are then published on Zara’s website, with easy links to buy the looks. It is also a great platform for bloggers as it links directly to their blog. People! will begin accepting new submissions next month.
If it weren’t for restraints like mortgages, bills, small child upkeep etc, all of my wages could easily disappear there. Instead, I’ve included the key pieces I currently covet (click link to go to item.) Coat with quilted leather sleeves, blazer with satin lapels, oversized knit in white. I recently purchased this white coat. SO impractical for a toddler’s parent but I think that’s why I love it. Now Zara, all that’s left for you to do is embrace Twitter, then I think you may be perfect.
Continuing along with my theme of posting about things I truly love, here’s one about David Bowie. When the small child was still inside (womb, not prison,) we made a conscious effort to expand our vinyl record collection. Things of Random Coolness came up with the idea of starting a musical education young, which included making playlists for the pregnant me to listen to on the train and buying up the LPs that had shaped both our love of music. It was only on viewing daily the striking visual onslaught that is the cover of Aladdin Sane that I really began to appreciate Bowie’s stylistic merit. This may sound ridiculous but I was born at the end of the 70’s and the overriding image of 80′s Bowie that was etched on my brain, was that of him duetting with Mick Jagger to Dancing In The Street. To me, he was frankly just a normal popstar appearing on Top Of The Pops. As a child, I was also unable to muster up a love for Labyrinth; I apologise profusely. I have since tried, I promise…but I think it boils down to the fact that it’s a musical; I don’t do musicals*
Looking at his back catalogue of looks and make up over the decades, I was in awe. Jumpsuits, sharp tailoring, perfectly coiffed quiffs…everything screamed style; so far removed from the trench coat wearing “icon” that I noted in my youth (embarrassingly, I’ve only just come to realise that lurking underneath that trench was a phenomenal jumpsuit.)
So the small child gets to listen to LOTS of vinyl but he is yet to distinguish between what is a Frisbee and what is an LP or discern the vast difference between the musical offerings of Bob Marley and those of The Tombliboos (see In The Night Garden.) To remind him always of the godly status of Mr. Bowie and my late discovery of his greatness, I have just purchased this Major B doll by My Name is Simone from French Blossom. Purchasing items for him that I secretly covet myself, has now become an integral part of parenting!
*Grease being the exception to the rule.