Sunday, 14 November 2010

Following In The Footsteps Of Two Very Unlikely Style Icons

I could quite possibly be the least rebellious daughter ever. Never once have I rejected my vegetarian upbringing, have never strayed too far from the non-committal socialistic ideals I was raised with; and last September I smacked the final nail in the coffin of the rebellious, pedantic, persona that never was: I followed my parents to university in Manchester. In fact, the only significant aspect of my life which is diametrically opposed to my beloved ma and pa is my constant preoccupation and borderline obsession with clothes, fashion and pretty much everything associated with the aesthetic.

From their student stories (including their second year spent squatting in Hulme, starting up a DIY cat sanctuary and ending their degree with a baby daughter) the descriptions never sounded particularly stylish, innovative or even 'cool'. It wasn't until I realised about 30% of my wardrobe is comprised of my father's weather-worn, aran cardigans, old shirts and jackets that I began to appreciate that they once ever had any sense of style.

More at home these days in a battered welly boots, what remains of his looted jumper collection; with an untamed mane and generally covered in soil: my father bears for resemblance to an Organic Farming Irish Jesus than an alternative fashion renegade. In lieu of this, it was with genuine surprise and appreciation that I looked, with fresh eyes at old photographs of him at University. Sat in front of a Bob Marley poster, with a can of Special Brew on the floor of a familiarly grimy Fallowfield back-to-back, he looks nothing short of a Withnail/Morrissey hybrid: in the most uncontrived, genuinely original way that is possible to be pulled off. Indeed, the image of the man he was then, forever preserved in the faded, well thumbed photograph, bears uncanny resemblance to the appearance which countless hordes (generally congregated around the Samuel Alexander building by day or Trof of an evening) try so desperately to emulate.

The same is true of my mother. Though completely beautiful throughout all eras of her life so far, she looked so innately stylish in her days spent roaming around this dirty old town, twenty years ago. The undercut hair, layered tops, baggy knits, silk ballet pumps and countless trinkets dangling from around her wrists and neck render her student look eerily current and - though teamed with a full head of marginally cleaner, blonde hair and a decidedly more conscious styling effort – bears serious resemblance to my own.

I guess what makes my parents (or rather them at aged twenty) true 'unlikely' style icons in my mind was the fact that their “effortless” ensembles were quite literally just that. Their efforts were concentrated instead on relishing their student experience (albeit a very unorthodox one) as opposed to to obsessing over what they should wear to make it clear to others that they were doing so. The innately stylish image they had was neither an obsession or a preoccupation, just cheap, thrown together and bohemian, in its truest essence. I guess therein lies my rebellion: I was at my most impressionable at a time when the word “bohemian” was most commonly attributed to Sienna Miller. It's not my fault, I'm a child of consumer capitalism, not the revolution and for the most part, I'm okay with that.

In short, my very unusual, charmingly eccentric and mildly insane parents are truly unlikely, style icons, because, even since Laura Ashley, the nineties and an organic farm occurred respectively between them: there was a time, in this place, when they were infinitely and effortlessly cooler than I.

Sunday, 24 October 2010


Blake Lively's shoot in October's Marie Claire UK.

I am now consumed with irrepressible hair/breast/face/jewel/lace/canine envy right now.

Fresh Meat


The Italian beauty has been popping up on The Satorialist's blog, among others and for good reason! The stunning cream and rust ensemble exquisitely echoes her striking complexion and that cream, linen(?), maxi shirt is most definitely on my lust-have list. Also, note the perfect execution of the DickHat.


Uncharacteristically sunny and Californ-I-A-clean for my usual taste but a gorgeous girl providing me with some interesting ensmebles nonetheless. She was described as fusing Erin Wasson's off-duty model cool with Sienna Miller's luxe-boho prime.


Why, Chloe? I know I'm supposed to think her chop (which has admittedly been present for a good few months now) is so fabulously directional and make me instantly want to lop off my lengthy locks, but in truth, I just didn't get it initially and it hasn't grown on me in the slightest since.

Chloe's appeal: which for me has been unsurpassable since the tender age of fourteen, rests strongly on the fact that she never, ever looks contrived. One never gets the impression that she's worn something to fulfil her 'different' or 'quriky' label; evident in her choice of stunning evening wear, clothes that showcase her superb physique and, until her recent follicle folly, her long, thick and immaculately highlighted mane.

Her putting together of unique ensembles never seemed to be at a detriment to her femininity and it was this innate and elegant way of dressing herself that I think truly makes her such a crucial fashion renegade and a long-standing source of personal inspiration. Anyone can cut their hair in an unflattering style, pile layers of second hand clothing, wear some old boots and claim that this equates to their being 'unique' dressers; but does not a true, innate style icon make.

So, what of the hair? If Chloe's sense of style is soooo fantastic and original and unique and amazing then why is losing a few inches of her ends such a huge deal? If you've seen her in Kids you'll understand. For one blessed with so much, Ms. Sevigny does not have the most classically pretty of faces and hers is one that benefits hugely from great hair.

Issue of face-flattery aside, the long-line bob on the grounds that it, in my opinion makes Chloe look like she's trying, and therein lies my primary gripe. I haven't seen her look anywhere near as good since and I'm definitely not ready to kiss goodbye to one of my long-standing fashion heroes.

Please Chloe, get regrowing those ends and help me piece together the beautiful illusion I've always held of you, which is now shattering before my very eyes.

Melodramatic? Moi?

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Wishing and Listing

One pair of black suede, wooden platform, chunky-heeled boots from Urban Outfitters.

My perfect DickHat

A few inexpensive, delicate maxi-separates.

Mulberry Bayswater in Oak
Thankfully, the month of November is completely overtaken by four crucial deadlines, preventing much expensive social activity so some of these may be a reality. I need to bite the bullet at purchase my Bayswater before I hemorrhage the £595 away on over-indulgent, non-studenty eats and intoxicants.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Feeling Sentimental

Probably due to this, Ben Toms's shots of 'London Couples' in issue seven of Vogue Hommes Japan are looking even more exquisite.

 Prime examples of the cliché: 'a picture tells a thousand words', Tom's shots encapsulated the strength, love and protection entwined within each relationship so effortlessly they made me stop and stare in my metaphorical online tracks. I'm fast becoming a huge fan of his work and these are some of the most intense and emotive captures of the power of partnership I've ever seen.

Here are a few that stood out to me, enjoy!

Vanya and Poli.

This one, my personal favourite of 'Jack and Janina' reminds me of a Victorian family painting. Her expression is so serene and incredibly beautiful. Probably doesn't hurt that the embellishment on that jumper is also divine.

Maeve and Jack

Danny and Letty: like a dysfunctional couple desperately trying to act composed for a posed portrait.
Little else to add.

"It's Not Vintage, Stupid, It's Second Hand"

I guess this is somewhat of an Ode.

After a year of being in Manchester I eventually sourced the most fantastic second hand shop. Boasting rails and rails of unwashed, un-organized and unpretentious cast offs, none of which are more than £3, it provides a refreshing oasis amidst the generally over-priced and over-hyped 'vintage' outlets in the Northern Quarter. A proper thrift shop, ran by a delightfully Mancunian ladette, pervaded by a musty odorous fug of damp, stale perspiration and the eighties. Heaven.

Tying and Dyeing Of An Evening

In aid of a DIY fashion 'How-To' I was doing for The Mancunian fashion section, and in lieu of two previous raucous nights of dancing and bad behaviour, Saturday evening was spent with my nearest and dearest, homemade Thai red curry and a packet of 'Smoke Grey' Dylon dye.

I realise its level of student cliché is only akin to that of baked beans, neon paint and Jeremy Kyle; but try not to immediately scoff at the power of the humble tie dye. A delightfully simple and inexpensive way of rejuvenating tired, forgotten and unloved garments that doesn't have to leave you looking like a crude, Halloween hippy. Subtle shades and more subdued patterns render the look decidedly more wearable, and it's not just one for the girls: flashes of the tied and dyed have been seen recently on the high street (as always, horrendously overpriced) at American Apparel and notably on the runway at the JW Anderson Menswear S/S show at London Fashion Week.

JW Anderson Menswear S/S 11

American Apparel
I simply used a plain, cotton, long-sleeved t-shirt (a steal for a pound from a huge second hand shop in the Northern Quarter), a sachet of Dylon hand dye in 'Smoke Grey', a ball of string, some salt and a pair of thoroughly unsuitable rubber gloves. A word to the wise, invest in some hardy Marigolds; I used a disposable latex pair from Wilkinson and my palms still resemble those of Violet Beauregarde, post blueberry gum binge.

Once Upon A Time there was a plain white t-shirt

One ball of string and about fifty knots later, 'Manil' the cloth man is born..

...providing endless hours of entertainment

Simply tie knots in the fabric in accordance to what pattern you wish to achieve, add the salt and dye to a bucket of hot water and submerge the fabric for half an hour, stirring, and ensuring that every inch is covered. Then simply remove, rinse thoroughly, untie the knots, leave to dry and marvel at your creation.

The proposal that full submersion or 'drowning' Manil was met with outrage and uproar from all assembled

It was a tearful goodbye..

Worlds most ineffective gloves.

The full submersion of Manil and the subsequent transformation
 of my hands from a pinky-white to a faded, inky grey

Post-dye, pre-rinse, a shadow of a Manil
Et Voila! One thoroughly inexpensive, undeniably unique, easy to do and ready to wear DIY fashion fix:

Now to submerge my hands in bleach for the next half hour..