Friday, 26 November 2010

So Last-Year: Mad Men yourself

This is old news now (just my kind of news) but I recently revisited MadMenYourself. There's been some pretty intensive Mad Men watching going on in our flat recently and we're now half way through series three. I'd caught the odd episode before and was swooning over the frock and the sideboards. Now I actually care a bit too much about the characters and caught myself trying to tell someone Peggy's story as genuine fact. Oh dear.

Anyway, here I am Mad Men style.

I'm sadly more of a Peggy than a Betty (Cher from Clueless would agree) but I'm at least successful at multi-tasking: cigs, shopping and Joan's accordion in my hands.

And here is the lovely Mr S. Something of the Paul Kinsey about him don't you think? I think he actually has a very similar cardigan to this in real life too.

To continue the Mad Men obsession I quite fancy checking out this Betty and Joan paper doll set that I wrote about for Retro To Go.

Perfect to inspire you ahead of the inevitable Friday cocktail hour (I wish!).

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

New Kid on the block

I've been in desperate need of new shoes. Although I am always enticed by heels, I always end up wearing my flats which are much more suitable the hills of South East London. Because I walk a lot and in what isn't a very graceful manner, the heels of my shoes always get worn down ridiculously quickly. I've had to take stock this wet winter as I realised (converse excluded) that I only owned one pair of shoes without holes in them. The shame - not to mention the damp.

Now, you'll have realised by now that generally I'm not all about the new. However, good vintage shoes are hard to come by, generally have heels, and I'll probably wreck them quickly (see above). The shoes in the shops have equally been pretty uninspiring - wedge boots are a no-no, I'm never going to be seen in loafers and I've been put off by the ubiquity of brogues.

On a recent scurry around Harvey Nicks (see previous post), I saw that Poste Mistress was selling not one but two new brands of shoes that I liked. The post-scurry, internet flurry that followed resulted in two rather charming - and reduced in price - pairs from Kat Maconie. They're yet to be delivered so I'll report back. The shoes that stole my heart however are these babies from a company called New Kid. That tapestry, that T-bar, that buckle - my inner 70s librarian is calling out for them. At £115, they're shoes for a rainy day (Actually, I'm not sure how well they'd cope with a rainy day) but they're fuelling some folk fashion fantasies.

To console my inner 70s librarian, I ended up buying a cute flippy skirt on Sunday from Vien instead. Come the Christmas sales though and I'll definitely be trying to pick on the new kid.

Monday, 22 November 2010

So Last-Year: KENZO Fashion in Motion

I managed to actually stop thinking about the rodent horribleness for half an hour or so thanks to the KENZO Fashion in Motion at the V&A. The Fashion in Motion's are always great experiences, allowing you to experience designer clothes on the catwalk (rather than guiltily scurrying around Harvey Nicks as I tend to do). While often the event is used as a retrospective, this Fashion in Motion was used to present Creative Director Antonio Marras' vision for KENZO.

(photograph by Flutter Speed)

And what a vision! A delightful blend of Japanese heritage and European couture, the clothes blended delightful natural prints and gorgeous romantic cushions. I was transported into a civilised world of afternoon tea - hopefully complimented by some macaroons from Yauatcha.

I couldn't identify all of the music played but there was definitely some Bjork in there, adding to the other worldly feel.

(photograph by Flutter Speed)

Especially covetable were the shoes - wooden blocks decorated in bright pops of colour or pattern. I'd never be able to walk in them but then that surely reinforces what this fashion and catwalk lark is all about - an escapist fantasy. At this moment in time, that's exactly what I need.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

I think I smell a rat

How smug I was when I wrote about Last-month's move. Alas, my contended air was not to last long as this last week has brought us a new visitor. As you might have guessed from The White Stripes song above, our little home has been taken over by a rat!

I was in the house last week, waiting for the landlord to look at a nasty bit of damp we seem to have in the bedroom. I heard some serious banging coming from our kitchen - I walked in to see a huge black thing bolt up the side of our wall from the work surface to the boiler. Urgh. Needless to say my horror and resultant unpleasantness has been huge. We're now fully laden with bait and striped of any food but the creature seems to refuse to die. It's an especially devious beast too. The other Sunday we were enjoying a crumpet and coffee in the other room. On returning to the kitchen a mere 20 minutes later we found the packet ripped open and on the floor, with the other six crumpets completely vanished out of sight! Another casualty is the lid to my Hornsea Pottery biscuit jar. In his desire to get to the digestives, old ratty has managed to both lift it off and then hide it somewhere out of sight. I'm gutted that the jar has been spoilt.

So, when I wrote about this Love in a Cold Climate print for Domestic Sluttery, it was also partly a reflection of our circumstances. Despite living in a damp flat, under siege from an unwanted visitor, me and Mr S seem to be getting on quite nicely, thanks, and I'm glad we've got each other as we suffer through. If only the rat would pack his bags and the damp go away, all would be just dandy ... watch this space ...

Monday, 15 November 2010

Do you remember the last time?

One of my first gig going experiences was V 96, a present for my 16th birthday. Living in the middle of nowhere my sister had the job of accompanying me on the Solid Entertainment coach to Staffordshire for the day. It was a Brit Pop era special, headlined by the triumvirate of Cast, Supergrass and Pulp.

It was an eyeopening day in many respects. It was the day I stopped believing that everything Radio 1 told me was true when I realised Cast were truly rubbish. It was the day I began an ongoing relationship with Denim, Super Furry Animals and Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. And, of course, when I fell even more head over heels in love with Pulp.

Pulp, along with Kenickie, were my all time favourites of that era. I did like Blur but Damon's cocky Southern blokey attitude left me a bit cold. I liked glitter and dancing and the thoughts of nightclubs and pulling. Pulp were Northern and proud, and clearly looked like they spent far too long in second hand shops and reading books, yet somehow they still went to nightclubs and managed to pull. There was hope for me yet.

Like the rest of the planet, I paid to see last year's Blur reunion and their massive instant sell-out Hyde Park gigs. The let-down of that was huge. Partly because I had seen them at Glastonbury the week before - a tremendous, end-of-festival, tear jerking moment - but also because the Metro reading, band-waggon jumping, beer bottle throwing crowd did not make for a great time. All the bits I liked about Blur seemed to get lost in the crowd, reduced to drunkenness, singalongs and swagger.

So, with the news of Pulp reforming, I was itching to get out the pussy bow blouses and velvet jackets and see them again. But the disappointment that it was to be in Hyde Park! I don't want to sing along to Sorted for E's and Whizz in a crowd of thousands without irony. I want to see Pulp in a little gig venue, preferably one with a floor like in the video of Disco 2000. I wanted there to be space for just me and my teenage dreams/musical snobbery - or, at most, a few similar kindred spirits. It seems I'm not alone in this desire - unlike the Blur gigs which seemed to sell out almost instantly - the Pulp tickets are still on sale.

Perhaps I'm wrong - and no doubt by the time the gig comes around in the summer I'll have purchased a ticket, paranoid on missing out on something really special - like their legendary 1995 set at Glastonbury. Somehow I'm doubting whether a Barclaycard/Wireless gig can create that same magic.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Lampshades in rock

It's an unlikely trend but lampshades seem to be the latest accessory for bands. Not slim-lined modernist numbers either, but full-on granny style shades. Take a look at the evidence...

First spotted at Bestival, Lulu and the Lampshades were accompanied onstage by a couple of backing dancers, wearing a pair of lampshades. A power problem meant that one poor dancer was really executed but a good look nonetheless.

(image courtesy of Spoonography)

Fever Ray's atmospheric set at Bestival was full of dry ice, lasers and, yes, lamps.

That all could be put down to the madness inflicted by spending too long in a field on the Isle of Wight. That is until yesterday, when Neil Hannon stepped out onto the a stage at the Royal Festival Hall, bedecked with lampshades. Alas I can't find a picture so you'll have to believe me but they complimented his bowler hat, pipe, neat suit and witty asides perfectly. For the finale, National Express, they even flashed on and off in time to the tune. Brilliant. Here's the tune anyway, seeing it's now firmly embedded in my brain where it's likely to stay for the next couple of days. Meanwhile, I'm going to go and hunt down my own lampshades before they start getting thrown out of hotel rooms!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Last-Year Reads: Important Artifacts and...

Relationships have been the stock story matter of books surely since time began. While the stories are instantly identifiable, the difficulty is finding something which is inventive but still rings true. Important Artifacts by Leanne Shapton - or to give it its full title Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, including books, street fashion and jewellery - does exactly that and is, by turns, exciting, inspiring and utterly heart-breaking.

The reason for the cumbersome title is because the book is set out in the form of an auction house catalogue. Rather than works of art for sale, the items documented are the ephemera of a couple's relationship: letters, notes, clothes, books and other assorted oddities. The book starts with brief photographic entries on the couple, Lenore and Harold, and a snap of them at a Halloween party. Under the image is the description 'First known photograph of the couple together'. From there you slowly see Lenore and Harold falling in love - from dates, to notes of interest, to full blown declarations. This is all cleverly told, or implied, through postcards, book inscriptions and mix CDs. You note the couple passing milestones in their relationship through key items. A scrawled note indicates the first introduction to friends, ill-judged presents mark the meeting of the parents and duplicate novels indicate the combining of collections that comes with a move-in.

Shapton's skill is to create a real sense of the personalities of the couple through their belongings. The possessions also give a great sense of each of the characters. The possessions of Lenore, a food writer on the New York Times, include vintage tea towels and a scrapbook of recipes given to her by her mother. She also builds up a fully dimensional picture of the relationship. The couple's silly gifts and cards to each other are touching and inspiring - there's plenty of food for thoughts for romantics here - and it does make you want to document and cherish every small and ridiculous details of your relationship. Equally there are pointers throughout to the cracks in their relationship and the book accurately charts the painful highs and lows of being in an increasingly unhappy relationship, until it ends - and hence this sale of their belongings. The ending of their relationship is utterly believable, and also very sad. That said there's a certain suspension of disbelief required of the reader throughout - no couple I know would be so expressive in discussing their relationships, either in writing or in person - but maybe that's my Britishness speaking and I don't know enough American couples and, of course, real relationships never end with the finality of an auction. This is hinted at in the book as it is prefaced with a letter of regret from Hal, written a few years after the event. In real life, property is discarded or divided up, then appropriated into a new life and into new relationships. Our relationship with the objects and the feelings we attach to them also shifts over time.

Important Artifacts is an everyday story with everyday experiences and objects, that's beautifully told. Its message is sure to appeal to die hard accumulators and hoarders, as well as those in relationships - cherish the significance of the small stuff.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Last-Month's move

October skipped by in a blur ... of festivals, of holidays and of moving.

Yes, after six and a half years I've said toot toot to Tooting and decided to get pally with the Palace. Crystal Palace that is. And although my legs seem to be constantly aching from all those hills, I'm very happy with the move, especially on beautiful autumn days like today when everything, from the trees in the park to the skyline view from the end of my road, seems to combine into a perfect movie moment.

And of course a move allows me the opportunity to rearrange and this one has given me the space to spread out and unpack. Though the flat remains a little too flatpack for my liking, I thought I'd share some of my favourite Last-Year objects with you.

The Babycham glasses have been given a place in what I affectionately call my 'granny cabinet'.

As have some of my favourite teacups.

The slightly sinister bunny rabbit peaks out from between some of my many books, now time-consumingly arranged by colour.

The cushion on the right came from my grandmother's house while I made the cushion cover on the left, out of some fabric I got off ebay. It's since been used for the cover of the Style Me Vintage book but I've no idea about the designer or anything. Does anyone know? Let me know if so.

And finally a Buddha to add a bit of wisdom to the flat. It's a bit of a curious object - lift him up and there's a radio underneath. It no longer works but I'm quite fond of him.

I'm looking forward to spending lots more time in the flat and letting my little collection grow. Luckily Crystal Palace is packed with vintage shops to inspire/tempt me - I'm excited!
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