Style crush


Having parted with the last of my savings on a flight to San Francisco I am faced with the realisation that I don’t have any money to spend while I’m there.  Not being the kind of person who can budget on holiday, I prefer (or can’t help) to throw caution, sense and overdraft to the wind of cocktails and indulgence, while putting to the back of my mind the horrible depression and sizable debt that will be waiting for me at home. This abusive cycle of save – spend – save – spend has come to an end. This time I have a plan! Although it does involve a little garmentry binge and purge.

As a beacon of efficiency, I am supplementing my sensible saving by freeing myself of my worldly goods and offloading anything of value on ebay. My history with ebay is not quite that of an old friend, its my barometer of desperation. I have cycles of systematic ebay bingeing; winning items that look ok online but along with their arrival comes the cold realisation that I most likely paid over the odds and can’t remember why I was so frantically bidding on said shoes/wallet/boots that are always inevitably underwhelming in reality.

However, I keep coming back to ebay for two reasons: I like playing the game, the adrenaline kicking in when I feel close to a grift. I never stick to my pre-agreed limit and I am never sure of how it’s going to end. Afterwards I do realise any small sense of achievement is outweighed by a gnawing feeling of  stupidity for allowing myself to become stressed in a bid for something I didn’t even realise I wanted or needed 24 hours earlier.  I often emerge on the other side cold and clammy, that little glimmer in my eye – that Mulberry purse or Prada boots just out of reach; and the dream of owning some stranger’s unwanted goods fades.

Is the me I imagine – relaxed, affable, more interesting and 3 dimensional than the clothes on my back, with a magpie eye for unusual things  more realistically –  just a compulsive shopper?  All that controlled excitement, that sparkle, is actually the dripping of mascara in my eye when I break out into a cold sweat because I let my emotions get the better of me in a fit of obsessive online shopping?

Who cares? I don’t. The second reason why I like ebay: I can just re-sell things, that’s what ebay is there for, isn’t it? With its bright logo and enticing photographs, luring me in with the false promises of big wins at low prices. And shopping online isn’t even like spending real money! Except I do spend the money, receive my win, realise it’s rubbish, pay my ebay fees and decide to relive the whole nightmare again by re-listing the win, hoping to sell it to a similar idiot to myself – at a loss. This probably makes me sound as though I don’t have a job, a life, or any friends.

For every shopping binge I have an innate ability to forget the bad times and move on, telling myself it won’t happen again. Then comes the purge, the wardrobe cleanse.  The bad memories fade to a little dark place in the back of my mind, with the rest of the ebay defeats, as well as a little dark space at the back of my wardrobe.

I apply the thought tidy house equals tidy mind to my dwindling finances. Culled wardrobe equals a fat(ter) wallet. It is a selfless sacrifice to share my past-season offerings with the world and help my holiday cause. And this time I’m avoiding the trap of browsing ebay for ‘research’ purposes and buying even more junk before I’ve had the chance to offload mine. This might be a sign of the beginning of a gambling addiction but I’ll worry about that after my holiday.

Out with the old…

In with the new…And swap the playsuit…For the scenery…

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The inexorable rise of social media has quietly permeated into our everyday lives over the past two years. It serves as a space to re-unite with friends, promote events, and an immediate news source. It is through the vector of social media that the world initially learned the fate that met Lee Alexander McQueen. Within minutes of the statement being announced, a Google search overflowed with news coverage from around the world, sources increasing by the second.

McQueen’s work has long provided a visual commentary on excessive elegance, a glimpse at the darkness simmering underneath the steady composure of everyday life. McQueen’s designs speak to our vanity as much as our core; the marriage of theatre and function acting as the thread that binds its recipient in a powerful and protective layer.

From humble East End beginnings to Saville row, the front row and beyond; McQueen transcended his mentors, rivals and admirers, and now – the pressures and rewards his talent has afforded him. McQueen was as adept at grabbing headlines as he was a finely tuned craftsman, his early shows so excessive and engaging that you could not ignore them – or him.

From the shock-inducing early shows that confirmed his inauguration into the fashion elite, a raw but formidable style and persona emerged.  McQueen’s collections have garnered many awards, winning Designer of the Year on four occasions and awarded a CBE in 2003. Such accolades also mark his ascent from his Saville Row apprenticeship, working for Gieves and Hawkes; to his position as Head Designer at Givenchy in October 1996. It is here a friendship with Tom Ford arguably provided the necessary intervention that saw Ford as nurturer and patron. McQueen’s subsequent tenure at Gucci allowed him the time and space to concentrate on his eponymous label. The man whose work is often referred to as body armour seemed protected himself for a time by Ford’s unwavering support.

While McQueen displayed infrequently in the UK, he is strongly identified with British fashion. The highlights of his career are undoubtedly his live shows; they are his triumphs in communicating emotional and often pertinent social messages through design.

McQueen’s legacy has long been cemented as an iconoclast for British fashion.  The narrow silhouette cultivated at McQueen’s shows , once deemed too severe off the catwalk has long since pervaded throughout the high street, and on virtually every street McQueen’s influence as vanguard for pioneering British fashion is apparent via the popularity of skinny jeans, studs; and iconic McQueen imagery such as the skull and cross-bones motif. There is a prevailing sense of beauty in McQueen’s designs, even if on first encounter stronger emotions are evoked. The complexity of McQueen’s oeuvre is best exemplified when he sewed ‘I am a cunt’ into the lining of a coat designed for Prince Charles, or feelings that emerged after he commented of David Beckham: ‘That man is vainer than the veins running through my dick’. Even when one is faced with a powerfully aggressive style, it is that of a staunchly northern directness draped and balanced in carefully constructed beauty.

McQueen’s imagination and boundless creativity are epitomised at a show that took place in a disused Parisian school when the show opened to an empty catwalk and the chilling and unmistakable noise from a woman’s heels, a reference from Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’.  The sound increasingly grows louder as the figure in the shadows draws closer.  The effect results in a cinematic moment of McQueen’s embodiment of the quiet and sometimes horrifying emptiness from which beauty can still grow.

Even when Kate Moss fell out of favour with most of the fashion world and commercial partners due to her cocaine scandal, a “We love you Kate” shirt featured proudly on the chest of the designer. Perhaps McQueen was drawn to the rougher side of every day life, not in some morbid fascination with darkness but because it shines a light on the normality, the stresses and problems that everyone encounters; that makes us human. The theme of darkness and ambiguity of emotion in McQueen’s work can also be viewed on a superficial level as the flaws he saw in life and within his own surroundings.  It is this ideology, coming from someone so inherently compelling, creative and intelligent that makes the loss of this icon of British design so tragic.

My first post!

It’s hard to know where to start, what I find interesting is not necessarily going to translate well in a public blog but one thing is certain; I’ve become really bogged down in my routine of: work-gym-event-home-work-gym-home-pub-work-event-bed.  My job is pretty good but not very challenging, my friends are pretty great but are all over the place, Manchester is pretty fun but I’ve lived here a bit too long and ready for a change.

My desire to move, be distracted,  has prompted me to start writing a blog. Not least because I can document my ideas, discoveries and inspirations in one place as I go but I’m hoping to channel my restlessness into something positive, something that will make me laugh and question why I like some of the things I like, and maybe  somewhere in here I will figure out what I want to do next. Working within educational publishing has finally given me a focus, a direction of where I want to go (thank god-I was starting to think I would never know what to do with my life!), which has brought me to fashion, art and writing.  Which hasn’t really narrowed things down for me at all, so apologies in advance if this blog becomes viciously circular as I struggle to get out of the happywithlife-restlesswanttomove-changedmymind-happywithmylife-restlesswanttotravel-happywithlife.

My desire to write a blog has come from a need to show commitment to wanting to work in fashion or arts publishing. I know there are more important things to life than fashion but I can’t separate my interests in fashion, arts and culture as they all heavily encourage, influence and direct one another. So I’ve chosen to write about all three.

I like to go out. A lot. Whether it’s to see a really good film, to an exhibition or a drink with a friend, I really enjoy being surrounded by inspiring things. Peoples stories. Good music. Clicking fingers and funny dancing when my friends are having a good time and the lunges start appearing. There are lots of decent events taking place in the run up to Christmas; so ample opportunity to have a gluhwein to hand at all times, make the obligatory visits to Christmas markets, bust out some new moves and break out some party staples.

Some friends and I have just arranged a trip to Berlin to celebrate the New Year, which I am really excited about; especially as everyone has simultaneously decided we want big sheepskin coats and fuzzy russian hats (not that we collectively think all Berliners dress this way.) Maybe we’ll find some good bargains while we’re there with the help of this treat- fashion blog Still in Berlin- who have recently published a book, complete with a comprehensive vintage shopping guide.

Before then there are events closer to home that are worth a look-in this month:

Islington Mill, Christmas at the Mill

Thurs 26th Nov, Manchester

Islington Mill is one of my favourite venues in Manchester, a rarefied space used for events, home to myriad artists on the outskirts of the city centre and this evening they are opening their studios to the public for their annual Christmas at the Mill. The space is filled with festive music from local musicians and guests can wander from studio to studio with mulled wine in one hand, mince-pie in the other in search of original works for Christmas.

Apollo, Rodrigo Y Gabriella

Sat 28 Nov, Manchester

I love this Mexican duo, their performances are like witnessing an optical illusion, the belting sound implies there are far more performers to their group. The acoustic instrumental performers are incredible, echoing their Mexican culture with their own musical influences to create an intense but inspirational experience.

The Book Club, A Little Bazaar

Sun 29 Nov, London

A relatively new venue in East London, I will be heading to The Book Club, which is the perfect mix of cocktail bar-exhibition-club space.  On Sunday they are hosting an afternoon of vintage and craft delights.

Anish Kapoor at the Royal Academy

Until 11 Dec, London

Kapoor is one of my favourite sculptors, I love the sheer scale of his works, the material he works with and how his art can make you think anything is possible. Highlights are the canon, which shoots molten wax onto the surrounding walls;  and the spectacular moving wall made of a 40 ton solid block of vivid red vaseline, only just fitting through each room as at moves slowly from one side of the gallery to the other.

Below are also some desirable items that would see me nicely through the festive season.  I say would if the Proenza Schuler boots  weren’t a bit ridiculous, most-likely uncomfortable and most-definitely out of my price range. Ah the clutch – a little too small to be practical, a little too expensive to be affordable and a little too show-stopping to use often but the McQueen clutch, I am besotted with you.

Proenza Schouler Boot

Barbour International Wax Jacket

MA+ buckle wedge

Topshop velvet studded playsuit

Urban Outfitters Oversized Scarf

Eley Kishimoto tights

Alexander McQueen knuckle duster clutch