Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Little Glass Clementine

 
 
 
 
 
 

Some of you may recall that at last September's London Fashion Week I posted about the work of jewellery designer Little Glass Clementine. I caught up with her at February's London Fashion Week and got a preview of her Autumn/Winter collection.  This time the designer Clementine James was there herself to answer my questions about the detail that goes into her intricate creations.

Each necklace is a wearable work of art painstakingly created from recycled objects.  The wearer is guaranteed individuality as each piece is a one off which is literally jam packed with vintage charm.  This is couture level upcycling.  Her work recognises the aesthetic qualities of objects as being something to herald, making no distinction between the raw beauty of those from the natural world such as shells, wood and gems, to that of the artificial sheen of the smelted, wrought, engraved, painted and polished trinkets made by man.  In each piece both worlds are allowed to collide in a harmonious chaos that celebrates their visual delights on an equal footing creating a poignant, poetic reminder that one set is not possible without the existence of the other.

Amongst semi-precious stones lurk discarded treasures like old timepieces, daintily painted ceramic, buttons and pieces of vintage costume jewellery.  You can spend ages spotting and identifying the individual objects making up the whole.  There are buttons from an old Chanel jacket interspersed between curtain ties, a silver Sardinian button charm, miniature Venetian masks, parts of brooches and earrings, pieces of daintily painted ceramic, even metal eyelets for curtain rails.

In a world dominated by the voracity of mass produced goods it is heartening that someone has the vision and creativity to see the shrapnel at the other end of the process of consumerism as being objects worth retrieving to be given a new lease of life.  So much of the Earth's precious and increasingly rarer resources go into the creation of material things for our often too brief pleasure and when they cease to please us it is somewhat tragic that they are given over to waste.  In producing beautiful works that restore unloved adornments to their former glory as valued and treasurable objects, designers like Clementine James make a statement of the beauty we can be blind to in the things we choose to throw away.

For more information and pictures of Clementine's work visit the Little Glass Clementine website.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Links à la Mode

I'm very chuffed that my post on creating order out of chaos in my wardrobe made Links à la Mode this week. Check out the other selection of great posts on the links below too.


Knock, knock, Who's there? It's me September! The month you learn to love and hate... But love more.

That's right everyone September is right around the corner waiting to knock on your door. As fashion bloggers this gets to be a rather insane month. You run around like crazy from place to place and your schedule may seem never ending. I don't know about you, but I tend to ask myself... How can I top last September? It's a month for makeovers! Now before you go grab your friends and have a scene straight out of Clueless, let me clarify what I mean by makeover. I don't expect you to be only concerned about what you're wearing but EVERYTHING! I believe September is a great month for change. Refresh your wardrobe, change your writing style up a bit, find different angles to cover shows, go back and look at last September and figure out how to spice things up this year, perhaps it's time to refresh your gadgets?, change your make-up palette, read new content, simply explore! Change is usually a good thing.

The IFB Weekly Roundup: LINKS À LA MODE: AUG 25TH

SPONSOR:

Fashion's Night Out at Shopbop: Hakaan, Raoul, Dsquared2, Clutches, Parker, Sonia Rykiel, Aiko, Rag & Bone, Ash, Siwy, Bags, MM6, & Rachel Zoe Clothing.

PLEASE READ IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PARTICIPATE

If you would like to submit your link for next week’s Links à la Mode, please register first, then post your links HERE. The HTML code for this week will be found in the Links a  la Mode group will be published later today. ~Jennine

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Friend Friday: These Are A Few of My Favourite Things

This week we are having a Visual Friend Friday which is being hosted by Ashley Getting Dressed.  The assignment went like this:  "We're doing an upclose and personal look at a favorite clothing item. Instead of just photographing it as part of an OOTD post, show us the little details, the things you can't see from a far-away shot." 

Well ladies you've come to the right place for being shown all the little details of what someone wears as this blog has a fair chunk dedicated to the photographing of just that.   I have made taking an up close and personal look at the things I have in my wardrobe at close range through a camera lens a bit of a speciality. It is how The Taxonomy of My Wardrobe started out - me photographing my clothes and waxing lyrical about the devil in the details.  It has branched out since then but capturing the details in photos is still what gives me the most satisfaction.

I don't really have a single favourite clothing item.  But I am certainly attracted to clothing and accessories that have beautiful or unusual details to the point where it is obsessive.  So here is a selection of photos lifted from previous blog posts.  Warning - picture heavy post!


What I find interesting is how inanimate objects can be elevated to objects of desire through photography. This possibility is the premise of what most advertising relies on in order to sell us luxury goods. There is the approach where you drape it over a beautiful model and the viewer is tricked into imbuing the object with the desirability of the model. Or there is the approach of drawing out the beauty of the object itself.  There are photographers making good livings out of photographing the sparkle of diamonds, the curve and sheen of cars, the polished machinery of timepieces, the glossiness of paint, the contents of a bottle of expensive alcohol in order to lend them a crystalline clarity.


Part of this blog's purpose was to see if I could work similar magic taking photos of my own clothing and accessories to make them seem more desirable to me.  To advertise them to myself I suppose in order to quell the urge to shop!  It hasn't worked - once a sucker for beautiful things, always a sucker for beautiful things.

I also try to see in my own photos if I can be as egalitarian as I can and make an inexpensive item like a necklace from H&M...


...look as desirable as a designer necklace.


I like to celebrate what attracted me to a piece in my wardrobe in the first place, for instance I like taking interesting prints on fabric up close up as if they were a print on canvas or silk ready for framing, treating them as a work of art in themselves.  Prints are a big favourite to a detail lover like me whether they be prints in monochrome...


...or vibrant colour...


...or with three dimensional elements like draping thrown into the mix.


There is so much beauty to explore visually in the texture of luxurious fabrics and finishes.   The fine workmanship of lace...


...the slippery softness and sheen of silk...


...the intricacy of embroidery, the shimmer of sequins...


...daintily punched patterns in buttery suede, like a secret braille I can run my fingertips over when I put my hands in my pockets...


...then there is all the textural interest of fur, feathers and skins like leather, suede and all the faux imitations and alternative fabrications that, by miracle of weave, surface finish and dye, trick the eye into seeing the spots of a leopard, trick the fingertips into feeling the short brushed hair of ponyskin.


I like the idea that you could build up a picture of a woman by looking at the pieces she has chosen for herself in her wardrobe and seeing what attention she pays to the details. What do the embellishments we look for and are attracted to on the garments we love tell people about us, our tastes, our aesthetic preferences?  Are you someone who literally wears their preferences on their sleeve?


I clearly am someone who enjoys feeling decorated, like a present tied up with bows and string!


But I also like the stealthier approach of wearing items with hidden details that only I know about until they are revealed.  As a result I hanker after interesting linings in jackets, coats...


...and even bags.


I also enjoy taking pictures of clothes outside the context of me wearing them, just as objects in their own rights having a visual impact wherever I might happen to find them.  I like to allow myself see them as alternative things to just clothes.  A vintage top hat as a house ornament....


...a jaunty jacket as a car accessory and travel companion...


...and beautiful shoes as something to admire over morning coffee at the kitchen table.


Then again maybe I just think about it too much!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Talented Merle O' Grady

 

Can you believe that London Fashion Week is next month already?!  It seems I barely got through posting about the last one before I got waylaid.  Whilst digging out pictures of Mary Katrantzou for my post riot reflections I realised how many amazing designers I hadn't managed to get around to post about the first time.  I'd like to revisit the work of some of the younger women who amazed me with not just their talent, but their entrepreneurial spirit in setting up their own businesses as designers.  With tougher times being as they are over here and abroad, more showcasing needs to be done of inspiring examples of how young people can make a living by being creative and having the courage to strike out on their own.

Now with all the Autumn Winter stock hitting the stores one of those designers that has been on my mind a lot lately is the talented jewellery designer Merle O'Grady.  At the last London Fashion Week I got a preview of her Autumn/Winter collection. It seems that the shot of colour that fashion received this Spring/Summer is sticking around for at least another season, permeating all the way to accessories.

Continuing on from the pale pinks, bright purples and turquoise of her Spring/Summer collection, Merle O'Grady has deepened her winter palette into vibrant blues and amethysts, deep purples and rainbow hued crystals.  Magpies will love the use of colourful semi precious stones throughout the collection.  Blue agate, amethyst and lapiz lazuli are fashioned into orbs and arrowheads adorning statement necklaces and earrings.

Fans of her spiked orb "bombshell" designs will be delighted with colourful new versions, one combining blue agate, white crystals and navy Swarovski pearls and another using amethyst with deep blue crystals and grey pearls.  Urban glamazons will no doubt be hankering after her neckplates, gladiator cuffs, gold and silver torques all encrusted with Swarovski gems, as well as magnificent feathery bib necklaces, wrought in gold and silver chainmail.

Quoting sources of inspiration as varied as cinema, architecture and even infrastructure, Merle produces highly original work by her inventive use of chunky chains and links, interesting and contrasting shapes and colour to put a modern and individual spin on costume jewellery.  I've never really understood the appeal of chunky knuckle duster rings but Merle's clean rectangular designs sporting gems in a choice of rainbow hues or a girly pink tint have won me over.

I have two of Merle O'Grady's necklaces and although they are very strong statement pieces, I find them very wearable, not to mention beautifully made.  This season I'll be saving up for another bombshell necklace - though I'm having trouble choosing which!  The collection is available now at her own website as well as My-Wardrobe.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Links à la Mode

I'm very honoured to be part of the Links à la Mode selection this week. Be sure to check out the other posts that made this week's roundup.


The seasons are changing and as fashion and or style bloggers, you know what that means? Time to switch stuff up! Whether it be your content or your wardrobe, I always look at the seasons as a time for change-- a time to gather inspiration from the streets or from your heart and just run with it. This week's roundup talks about issues such as "The issue fashion blogs may be facing" to "Finding the perfect fall color palette."  All important topics, right?  Needless to say they're interesting reads and certainly make the mind wander. Enjoy!

The IFB Weekly Roundup: LINKS À LA MODE: AUG 18TH

SPONSOR:

Fashion's Night Out at Shopbop: Antipodium, Holy Tee, Obakki, DKNY Intimates, Daftbird, C&C California, Pamela Love, Thakoon dresses, & Rachel Zoe collection.

PLEASE READ IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PARTICIPATE

If you would like to submit your link for next week’s Links à la Mode, please register first, then post your links HERE. The HTML code for this week will be found in the Links a  la Mode group will be published later today. ~Jennine

Friday, 19 August 2011

Friend Friday: Don't Give Up The Day Job

This week Friend Friday explores quitting the day job to follow your heart and do what you really want to do.  Katy of Modly Chic who runs Friend Friday writes "this month I have been overwhelmingly inspired by two separate blog posts I read in which the blogger quit their day job and has started on the path to self-employment doing what she loves to do.  We all have dreams, goals, aspirations. Putting them down on paper is often the first step to realizing those dreams."

1. Fess up - if you could do anything professionally what would it be? 

Dance flamenco.  I actually did the quit the day job thing once already to pursue this, but over the years I've settled on having a day job to make a decent living and dancing professionally on the side, more for the love of it than the money.  Obviously it is a compromise but as much as I love flamenco, it has limited appeal and a small market compared to other art forms and ultimately, I found that I had to be practical about how I approached doing it professionally.


2. When did you first start dreaming about this ideal?

This wasn't something I dreamt of growing up to be as a kid.  It started as a hobby twenty years ago now and in terms of my relationship with it, it was more like a slow burn that turned into an all consuming passion.  About eight years ago I had been dreaming of going to Spain to study flamenco full time so I could make the leap from an advanced student to perform professionally when the perfect opportunity to do so fell into my lap, so I took it.   I declined a new job opportunity and instead went to live in Andalusia for two years and trained intensively - we're talking dancing six, seven hours a day, five, sometimes six days a week, sometimes more.

Despite all this Herculean effort, as a dancer I still really don't profess to be any Carmen Amaya, in fact it is extremely rare for foreigners to reach the levels of professionalism of those who are embedded in it from a young age in Spain.  I am however, more than good enough to dance professionally on the UK circuit and continue to have the encouragement and vote of confidence of the flamenco teachers I studied with in Spain, both as a performer and now as a teacher.


3. What's holding you back from going all in? 

Fear of starvation.  Seriously, only those who have tried making a living from the arts will know what I am talking about.  I have already tried on two previous occasions to make this work.  I didn't even make the taxable income threshold.  Living in London, possibly the most expensive city in the world, this is a very grave situation to face.  Both times I had to take up a day job just to remain solvent and getting back into the workforce in a profession was a real challenge after the glaringly long break on my CV.  As a result, I don't have the house, 2.1 kids, dog, car in garage and position up the career ladder that Mr and Mrs Average in my age group do.  Although I can attest to have led a very interesting life, I do sometimes wonder about how much greener the grass is in those back yards of the financially stable, those bricks and mortar crew who've never been tempted to bankrupt themselves by upping sticks to live in a foreign country and train to be a performing artist in a culturally remote art form.  I feel really behind.   It doesn't help that I am also a die hard fashionista who loves shopping!

The other thing is that you have to be tough to be a flamenco dancer, really tough.  Flamenco is far from a bed of red roses.  You can love it as unconditionally as you want but, like an abusive lover, flamenco can refuse to love you back.  Its ugly side is that it really can be the most cut throat, back stabbing, unpleasant and frustrating business to be in at times and too often you find yourself swallowing that bitter pill of realisation that talent and hard work often doesn't get you where it should.  The right contacts or the right look does.  Being Spanish is more important to some promoters and audiences than an actual ability to dance flamenco.  You will watch complete charlatans walk away with British Arts Council funding you could sorely use just because some public servant can't be bothered to find out what distinguishes good flamenco from bad when dishing out the grants.

Although expensive to live, London is where the most interesting opportunities to perform are.  Whilst most dancers teach to subsidise performing, studio space in London is so expensive that rehearsing or setting up your own classes is financially very difficult.  Many very good teachers have lost money for years running classes before they get enough students to comfortably cover their studio costs.  Without a source of independent income I've found that costs of doing flamenco here to a high standard are too prohibitive - the rehearsing, the costumes, the continued study required.  For better or worse I decided some time ago to concentrate on performing and work in something else to provide me with stable income.

4. Sometimes the first step is the hardest... what's one step you can take now on the way to realizing your dream? 

As you have probably realised by now I am not writing a blog post to sugar coat the process of realizing your dreams.  Making a dream come true is hard graft and you might find you don't ever get there after putting in the blood, sweat and tears.  I actually am already self employed as a flamenco dancer and I've been doing performing on the side of a day job for a few years but I have to say that the cost of costumes, shoes, studio hire for rehearsal, promotion costs, and taking classes and courses to upkeep my dancing skills more than outstrips what I make from performing.

Most full time flamenco dancers teach in order to survive.  This year I actually started up teaching again as the recession has seen a big drop in demand for performing acts.  I'm doing both freelancing and running my own fledgling class which I am hoping to grow.  However the freelancing and the day job is currently subsidising the losses of running my own classes!

Really I'm doing a lot already and most people would say that all that's left is to quit the job and focus on the flamenco (and that would probably mean stopping that time consuming and pesky habit of blogging too!).  However, even when I've had the time to really push the promotion the lack of cash quickly restricts what you can do on that side.   Believe me I've been there and done the hypnotherapy.  No amount of positive thinking will feed you and pay the bills.  Right now I'm just trying to build up some savings for some future projects and formulate some plans.  I'd love to organise a show where I bring some Spanish artists over or spend another year in Spain studying or even open a dance studio - in an ideal world all three!

5. What draws you to this?

I've purposely left this to last because I find it the hardest to explain.   All sorts of people become drawn to flamenco with stereotypical ideas of a fiery art form that is all about unrestrained passion.  While this is certainly part of it, it really is just one ingredient in the mix.  Flamenco is so much more, an entire world of it's own, a rich language by which you can communicate all the emotional states of the soul, a heartfelt expression of everything it means to be human.

Forget the image of the flamenco dancer in her red dress dancing up a storm atop a table for her Latin lover with a rose clenched between her teeth.  The real flamenco is a far more earthbound and grittier character.  When real flamenco works as it should being a part of it is a thrilling experience and the most incredible feeling that stays with you, possibly forever.

My personal experience is that you only get that feeling at its most intense dancing in Spain and then spend the rest of your performing life outside of Spain trying to recapture it, as nothing else really ever lives up to it afterwards.  The rhythmic drive of the guitars and palmas behind you, the sound of your own footwork pounding in your ears, the adrenaline and the speed of the compas, shouts of warm encouragement from your fellow artists and a boisterous Andalusian audience, and a gypsy singing for you like their heart is about to burst.

And for those who have asked before - a video.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Lingerie Drawer


As part of my post apocalyptic wardrobe rail failure and mammoth re-organisation effort I have been reading Elika Gibbs book Practical Princess, Perfect Wardrobe.  A full review is pending but I wanted to share one of the ideas I've taken on board from the book and that is of creating a lingerie drawer. I've always wanted a lingerie drawer but it kind of seemed like the sort of thing that other more organised women with glamorous lives do.  The ones with boudoirs and marabou trimmed bedroom slippers, who use proper powder puffs arranged with other exquisite items on their luxurious dressing tables.  Dita Von Teese has a lingerie drawer, not me.

However I've always complained that I don't wear my matching bras and knickers enough after going to all the effort and expense of buying matching sets.  I had somehow convinced myself that I didn't have too much in the sweet little nothings department to warrant making the fuss of putting them in some sort of order in their own special drawer.  It was just a tangled mess of bra strap spaghetti with everything thrown into those drawer dividing baskets from Ikea. Some mornings I would end up throwing everything onto the floor just trying to find what I wanted or give up and wear whatever combination came out first.  (Oh wait, that's what I do with the rest of my wardrobe too...hmmm.)

So I decided to try my hand at making my very own lingerie drawer.  Well after the disposal of much unused and laddered hosiery that was clogging up the drawers I made space in the top two thinnest drawers in the chest of drawers by my bed for my lingerie: pretty frivolous stuff on the right, functional stuff like basic nudes, flesh coloured tights and strapless, convertible and sports bras on the left.  I have to say I'm rather pleased with the effect!  It now takes a lot less time to find things and once it was all visible and on display in an aesthetically pleasing manner, it made me realise that I do have some lovely things that I should wear more often.

The technique is to fold each bra in half pushing the cup of one side into the other, then roll the straps up and push them into the cup.   Then fold the matching knickers and push them into the cup too and start stacking up your sets in the drawer according to colour.  It's a simple but brilliant idea to help keep them together and stop the tangling of the straps.  I also now find I will be more inclined to wear the set as when taking the bra out, you are instantly reminded that there are matching knickers and you don't need to go hunting for them because they're right there nestled in the cup.


As there were not many matching sets in the nudes I stacked the knickers separately from the bras and used my Ikea baskets to better effect to separate out those pesky bits and pieces that you need to find in a hurry but never can - the bra fillers, the straps from the convertible strapless bra and fresh pairs of flesh coloured tights. I almost sigh with relief when I open this drawer now and see everything within easy reach.

The beauty is that once you've arranged it all, when it comes to laundry day it is not too hard to keep the system up by conforming to the folding rules. I haven't quite got round to getting the rest of the wardrobe to this level of organised simplicity and not everything in the book will apply to me, but this was certainly useful. Ms Gibbs you have a convert!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

The Creation Of Order


In the beginning there was nothing but chaos, the wardrobe hath existed waste and void, and nought but darkness on the face of the deep pile of clothes on the floor, and the Spirit of Fashion had fled the wardrobe in despair.

And Veshoevius said, Let there be light: and there was light.  And then she quickly switched the lights off again in denial of the task ahead and to procrastinate.

On the second day Veshoevius said, Let the wardrobe bring forth every item of clothing after her kind that does not fit or suit me any longer or is beyond repair so I may divide the light from the darkness. (But she held on to all the black things anyway).  And Veshoevius called the discarded clothing "To be Given Away"; and the gathering together of the remainder she called the "New Wardrobe": and Veshoevius saw that it was good.

On the third day Veshoevius said, Let the wardrobe be henceforth free of every living creature and creeping thing that dare chew on my clothing and bought moth spray and repellent.  And Veshoevius fumigated and laid bait for them and their future offspring, saying, Be not fruitful, and do not dare go forth and multiply in my wardrobe.

On the fourth day Veshoevius said, Let there be an additional hanging rail in the midst of the wardrobe, and let it divide the off take from what can reasonably hang on the old rail without inducing metal fatigue.  And Veshoevius bought the additional hanging rail (from Argos), and created room for the new rail by moving the storage chest out of the darkness and into the light; and Veshoevius divided the clothes which were to hang on the new rail from the clothes which were to hang above the new rail: and it was so.

On the fifth day Veshoevius said, Let there be clothes arranged on the wardrobe rails to divide the colourful from the black; and let them be ordered for garment type, and for seasons, and for work days, and for leisure, and not forgetting a small section for Mr V's shirts on pain of death: and it was so.

And on the sixth day Veshoevius said, Let the belts piled randomly under the hanging rails be gathered together unto one place, and let the Ikea sorting basket appear with the belts ordered within: and it was so.

And Veshoevius saw everything that she had re-ordered in the wardrobe, and behold, it was very good.

And on the seventh day, she rested...

Thursday, 11 August 2011

What is Precious?


Somewhere between the distant memory of last week and the post apocalyptic daze we've landed in this week I was getting excited about the arrival of the new Autumn Winter collections in all their glory, first in full glossy features in the magazines and then in the shops.  Then all hell broke loose.  Although relative calm has been restored to the capital with the arrival of ten thousand more police, London feels like it is still dangling on tenterhooks.  I still hear the night chorus of sirens, I still hear the police helicopter nearby.

Walking down my high street this morning it was a little depressing to see the shops on the high street with their boarded up windows.  Some still had their windows smashed in with wooden boards slapped haphazardly over them, like a hastily applied band aid to a gaping wound.  For a moment I wanted to take a photo and post about it as I thought it may be some time before I'm in the mood to chatter lightheartedly about something so frivolous as frocks, wondering if it was going to be appropriate anyway given all that's happened.

But after sitting through a day off work sick yesterday, most of which was spent watching horrific scenes and images on the internet, I arrived home from work today thinking that another photo of the damage posted to the already burgeoning and growing archive is now just bordering on glorifying what these people have done to London, to England, to the idea of a civilized society.  I'm sure many are getting a kick out of seeing their handiwork plastered all over the media.  I on the other hand, would just like to see something beautiful and positive again even if I lack my usual enthusiasm to be prosaic about it.


I've chosen some photos of the Autumn Winter collection by London based designer, Mary Katrantzou which I took back in London Fashion Week in February and are only now starting to go on sale at retailers.  In a way I chose this collection because it shines a torch through the current darkness here on one of the many things we normally celebrate about London.  The innovation, the creation of beauty, the bringing of joy and pleasure to people through the art of fashion and the entrepreneurial success of a talented designer and self made business woman.

Katrantzou's focus for this collection was precious objects of desire.  Also quite a pertinent theme.  Objects of such rarity, beauty, great craftsmanship and also great frivolity that humans are incited to desire them, covet them.  Humans are acquisitive by nature.  Though I'd love to have a collection of Katrantzou dresses, I don't really understand the desire to collect any of the objects which were quoted as inspiring this collection: "Faberge eggs, Corommandel screens, court costumes of the Qianlong Dynasty in ancient China, and Meissen porcelain" according to the Telegraph.  But then again I am categorically excluded from ever being able to start either collection by just not being wealthy enough.

But neither am I in a position to understand why an object of desire worth wreaking havoc for or endangering other peoples lives for, would be a pair of trainers or a flat screen television, or anything for that matter.  Four people have died in riots which have been mostly about robbing and looting.  It seems like what is precious has become so skewed in our society.


And I wonder if I actually help matters by sitting here prattling on about dresses I could never afford, somehow stoking in some small way, with my small addition of fashion kindling, this national aspirational consumerist fire that's literally burnt London.  I feel like maybe I should just shut the hell up.  After hearing all the stories of people who had lost everything and of others who fought to save their properties, shops and places of religious worship, I wondered what I would do if looters broke into my flat and it really made me question whether anything material thing I own really matters.  I'd rather lose my all my material possessions, beautiful as many of them are, than risk my life trying to fight for anything I own.

I struggle with the double sided coin of what fashion represents, on one side an appreciation and celebration of beauty and self expression, on the other some kind of wanton, consumerist, materialistic shallowness that promotes exclusivity rather than inclusion - that old chestnut of the haves and the have-nots.  Where does this bestowing of such great value to material objects come from?  Why does society use ownership of them to draw divisive lines across itself?

Whilst photographing these dresses we were harassed by the people looking after the display not to photograph them too closely, one of the ladies getting especially agitated about the prints being copied.  I internally rolled my eyes at this as these dresses cost thousands of pounds by virtue of the detail put into production.  Cheap copies would never appeal to that small group who can afford to buy a real Katrantzou which will be less than one percent of the population of London, or perhaps even the globe.  The haves versus the have-nots again.  With such a stark stratification of wealth in the UK it is hard to have sympathy for the notion that Katrantzou's fortunes are somehow at risk from the sales of copycat versions at price points that have no hope of overlapping.  And believe me the stratification of wealth in the UK is noticeably severe.


One of the most disturbing things I heard in the riot coverage was an interview with young teenage girls bragging about their involvement with the looting and blaming the Government and "rich people", "people with businesses" for their woes, laying the responsibility of the riots at their feet with barely coherent arguments. The rich had it coming.  Salt doused with a good dose of ignorance to be rubbed into the wound of the hardworking owners of the small businesses, already battered by the recession and who have suffered huge losses or even totally lost their livelihoods over the past few days.

A lot of the media's analysis of the riots has been about the deprived and the have-nots. It's hard to feel any sympathy for individuals, however young, poor and disenfranchised, who simultaneously believe they have a right to tear down what other people have worked hard to build up and that somehow the world owes them something. In the bitter end the world doesn't owe anyone anything. The world is very much what you make of it. After I stopped being angry listening to the sheer stupidity of these girls, I then felt equally extremely bleak and saddened that here were young girls who couldn't imagine that they could ever grow up to one of those "rich people" owning their own business.  I wanted to ask them - which is worse?  To have aspirations to be wealthy, to be successful, and desire by your own hand to achieve this? Or to have no aspirations at all?


Clothes: Mary Katrantzou

Monday, 8 August 2011

London's Burning


London's on fire. Set ablaze by its own angry and disenchanted youth and undoubtedly with it's own dark underbelly of criminal networks playing an influential hand. What started as peaceful protests over a police shooting has ignited into three days of the ugliest riots this city has seen for decades.  The flashpoint that has caused this explosion seems now lost and insignificant after the widespread and senseless violence that has and continues to spread not just throughout London but now to other UK cities.  The pictures on the news are unbelievable and frightening. I'm actually scared. Staying in tonight with blinds shut, glued to the news and wishing really badly that Mr V was here.

Last night I heard the stirrings of the disruption starting with the sounds shouting and fighting on my street and the police helicopter flying overhead for hours. It's not unheard of for this area which is notorious for problems with youth gangs but by the morning it was clear that the riots of North London has set a rather disturbing and sinister ball rolling.

This morning I arrived on my local high street to find the entire length of it cordoned off by police - I had read that a few shops had been attacked but naively thought that it wouldn't affect my tube journey. The tube was shut, the street was off limits to traffic and pedestrians and this was why...


Then throughout the day news reports of breakouts of new rioting across the metropolitan area prompted colleagues at work to pack up early and hurry home to avoid being on the street at dusk, expecting things to get ugly as night fell.  I didn't even attempt the tube or the high street on my journey home. But the amount of violence and damage still going on is shocking and there are horrific fires burning in several boroughs, some neighbouring ones, putting the homes and lives of residents at risk.

I remember as a young teenager, living in a sleepy suburb in Australia, reading about the poll tax riots in London with incredulity and wondering with fearful awe how anyone could live in a city like that.  Roll on twenty years and I'm living down the road from it all.  I thought I loved London.  Tonight I'm not so sure.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Red Vintage Dress


As I write I am ill in bed with a stinking head cold.  Mr V passed it to me and then promptly abandoned me to fly to New York today for a week in the big Apple WITHOUT ME.  Outrageous behaviour!  Although he is going to be working, I am so jealous! I've never been to New York, neither for work nor pleasure and am dying to go.

To cheer myself up I'm going to cyber-preen over my new purchase.  This is the vintage dress I bought last weekend at the Vintage at Southbank festival.  I have no idea what age it is but I doubt it's very old or even qualifies as vintage.  It was the colour, style and unusual print that had me sold.  I thought it was very Carrie in SATC and could totally imagine walking through the streets of New York wearing this and hailing one of those yellow cabs, with an armful of shopping bags filled with all the wonderful things New York shopping has to offer.  Sigh!  Instead I am bedridden in London and burning a fever!

I especially love the concertina folds of the accordion pleat skirt.  Can I just say that I absolutely adore accordion pleat skirts.  The flippiness!  The flirtiness!  How can you not feel like like a woman wearing one?  I have loved them for years but never owned one until recently as they have not been readily available for a very long time.  So if there is one trend I have absolutely delighted in this summer it is the return of this elegant and feminine piece.  

I've already bought three high street versions from the summer sales - a midi in white and navy polka dot print, a midi in pink lace and a blush pink maxi and I have my eye on a cute little colour block number from Topshop.  And don't get me started on the pleat maxis in all the colours of the rainbow on ASOS and their cute pleat shift dress in teal.  Somebody stop me!
Dress: Vintage; Espadrilles: bought in Spain; Earrings: Swarvoski; Bracelets: Banana Republic, Topshop; Belt: Accessorise

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