Friday, 30 December 2011

Last-Year Reads: The Fashionable Mind

Kennedy Fraser's The Fashionable Mind is a collection of columns that appeared in the The New Yorker between 1970 and 1982 under the now quaint-sounding title 'Feminine Fashions'. In fact her introduction states that she took over the column, "at the very moment feminine fashions ceased to count." Though the columns cover a myriad of topics - with names such as "Hail, covered knee!", "Denim and the New Conservatives" and "A Woman's Age"-  organised chronologically, the pieces  seem to chart a movement away from the dictates of fashion houses to a more democratic way of dressing (though perhaps designer fashions are given a brief reprieve in some of the final essays about "The Executive Woman" and "Architectural Fashion"). Neither is the book's tone as timid and simpering as the name of her column might suggest. Fraser writes smartly and succinctly and with an authority that's impressive given that she was only 22 when she took over the column.

Each essay turns a critical eye to fashion, and the wider scope of what it means to be stylish. There are reports on collections, reviews of exhibitions and thoughts on more mass market fashions, such as in an essay covering the opening of Big Biba in 1974 ("the only department store in the world daring enough to offer us life, spoof, and romance, too"). I like her writing best when she explores the details of what people are wearing - to shows, to walk, or in the case of one of her columns "On the Avenue" what people are wearing as they walk past her on the street. Of her time wandering down Fifth Avenue, she notes she "was struck by a mere handful of costumes that had any semblance of dignity, simplicity or taste." The piece showcases the secretary, militantly asserting her right to wear shorts to the office, girls grappling with the challenges of summer shoes (Fraser is "curiously encouraged" by the fashion of wedgies) or summer dressing in general. For me, as someone who spends the summer ranting about the seeming inability of woman to dress properly in the heat, it was interesting to see that she observed, 40 years ago, that "the appearance of bare backs and midriffs this summer marks the death of the principle that clothes appropriate to city life are quite distinct for those for the beach".

The Fashionable Mind is fascinating reading and a great glimpse into the minutiae of fashion in the 1970s and early 80s, especially now it can be read through the glasses of retrospect. However, the things that I remember the most from the book are descriptions or ideas that transcend periods, such as in her discussion of what it means to be truly stylish. She writes, "there is a cult of luxurious simplicity which is often mistaken for style, but this is only a sophisticated level of good taste. The woman who extols perfectly plain white silk shirts and perfectly plain black cashmere pants and who expresses utter loathing for frills and ruffles almost never has real style. Her kind of simplicity is costly, and it is usually timid."

I'm not sure if the way I dress could withstand Fraser's critical eye, or cutting descriptions. The book is saved from fashion snootiness by her encouragement of exploration and experimentation in the way women chose to dress themselves. In her words (and for the word "style", you could sub in "this book"), "style must never allow itself to be a bore, and reserves its most virulent contempt for anyone who is."

(I found the middle image over Christmas in my suitcase, I'd obviously torn it from a past issue of Lula. I thought it fitted rather well with some of the writing in The Fashionable Mind - and that Kennedy Fraser might approve, judging from the author shot that sits neatly below the book blurb). 

Buy this from Last-Year Girl Books on Etsy

Saturday, 24 December 2011

So Last-Year: YSL poppy print

Not the most seasonal of posts but my pre-travel up north routine at Kings Cross was interrupted by spotting this fantastic piece of poppy pattern. It was on the cover of Glamour, being worn by Tulisa, and I had to force my way through the crowds to surreptitiously flick through a copy (not buy it, oh no). Having found it was the YSL Resort collection and then found my seat on the train, I saw the same playsuit again in my Vogue: this time being worn by Agyness Dean as part of a photo shoot that's full of fantastic patterns and colours accessorised with some wonderful sunglasses. 

The playsuit's print, combined with the cheeky update on the 1940s silhouette sums up all sorts of clothes I've been dreaming about since reading The Beautiful Fall. Yes, that book again, and I will keep mentioning it until everyone tells me that they've also read it. 

Net-a-Porter are selling the blouse, in a red and yellow, version (I think I prefer the blue). If only I had £730 to spare. 

All the poppies remain me of my parent's beloved J&G Meakin coffee set. The design dates to the early 1970s, and their set was a wedding gift (aww). They clearly hid it from my grasping fingers - this image comes from China Search as I couldn't find it in their cupboards to photograph myself. Nothing says Christmas like rifling through your elderly parents cupboards to look for something you want to take from them, eh? 

Have a very lovely Christmas everyone. 

Friday, 23 December 2011

Industry of One

I found Industry of One via a post on the always reliable Miss Moss. Their claim for the site is to "explore the style trappings of various industries + professions and document the relationship between one's line of work + walk of life". In reality this translates to pictures of enviable New Yorkers with ... gasp ... real jobs. There's a nanny, a librarian, a managing editor, and you know what? They've all got incredible style. What really makes the site though is how they have been photographed. The images are absolutely beautiful.

(They're looking for more subjects with "purpose, style, and enterprise". Know someone who fits the bill? Find out more, or just enjoy the photographs here)

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Last-Year Reads: Betty and Lionheart Magazines

I mentioned my fondness for Frankie magazine in my last post. That gives only the slightest hint at what is a pretty serious magazine addiction. Bliss, Sugar, Mizz and Just Seventeen all advised me - wrongly or rightly - through my teenage years. Four years of jumpers and woolly socks wearing while at university in Edinburgh were punctuated by escaping into the glamorous world of Vogue. I moved to London and acquired a Time Out subscription. I hung around in fancy newsagents and fell in love with Lula. I turned 30, developed a new interest in homewares and the Living Etc and Elle Deco subscriptions duly followed. The list keeps on growing: I'm currently aspiring to live in the pages of The Gentlewomen and, of course, I have the pleasure of helping the very talented team at Oh Comely. I'm not exactly sure why I like magazines so much. I like the excitement of turning the page and the possibility of new places, people and trends to be discovered. And, I guess, I like surrounding myself with 'stuff', be that books or clothes or magazine. That was all a very long winded way of saying that I'm a sucker for any fresh print publications that may come my way, and hence this post about two new print magazines: Betty and Lionheart.

I'd read issues one and two of Betty online, admired their style, and wanted to see how it worked physically. It's every bit as pretty in the flesh.

Their real strength is in the fashion pages: if you like the look of blogs like Wish Wish Wish and Wayward Daughter, Betty's sweet style is sure to appeal. There's also interviews with people like Emma Block, Elizabeth Lau and Donna Wilson, leading to a slight (66 pages) but focused magazine - you can perfectly picture a Betty kind of girl (and not just in the Clueless definition of a 'Betty').

If I was a few years longer, I'd probably want the Betty girls to be my best friends.

I heard about Lionheart magazine from no other than Pat Albeck when I interviewed her for issue 7 of Oh Comely, and had been curiously following its progress via its blog ever since. The magazine is the work/passion of one writer, Helen Martin, and I'm full of admiration for all the love she has poured into its pages, and the sheer amount of work it must have taken to produce this publication. It's a slightly older and more word heavy magazine than Betty which features interviews with people like Pat, Bleubird's Miss James Kicinski and Emma Block (again) alongside beautiful illustrations. The first issue has the theme of Bravery - if you start your own magazine that's a pretty apt theme - but is packed full of different ideas. I'll be really interested in seeing how these all settle down and how the magazine finds its voice (or should that be roar?) in future issues.

Both magazines share an interest in fashion and design, illustration, cooking and crafting. I really like the way the varied nature of blogs seems to be influencing the subject matter of these magazines and result in things made by women for women to read that don't involve diets, sex and celebrities. And endpapers. I'm not sure if endpapers is the correct terminology for magazines, but the printed inside covers of both these magazines are beautiful. You don't get that with Cosmopolitan. 

Monday, 19 December 2011

So Last-Year: Colenimo

One of my many magazine subscriptions is to Frankie. The tag line for this Australian magazine reads 'Design/Art/Photography/Fashion/Travel/Music/Craft/Home/Life', so it's safe to say it covers pretty much everything I enjoy reading about. I've just finished their November/December issue which seemed extra inspiring, even in relation to their usual high standards. There's an embroidery craft piece from Donna at Spinster's Emporium I can't wait to try (and I've been trying to pick my favourite vintage fabric from their store), and also a glimpse at new-to-me label, Colenimo.

The collection is the work of Ava Nakagawa who studied in Tokyo but is now based in London. Her website states her aim is "timeless garments with an assured sense of personal style" - all very commendable. The Autumn/Winter 'Aviatrix' collection looks to a very assured group of women: female pilots of aviation's golden age.

Neat 1930s blouses and high waisted trousers sit alongside chunky knits and, of course, flying jackets. What I like the best is while some of the clothes look very period and can be styled up as such (as in the image above), other images re-use the items and make them look totally contemporary: the wearer can push the retro element as much or as little as they want to.

And, though with undeniably feminine aspects, this isn't a girlie collection, the clothes have got gumption. They didn't get to fly those planes simply by sitting around and looking pretty. The jumper below, for example, could have easily been taken straight off the back of a male pilot.

Prices seem to start at around £120 for jumpers, going up to £630 for the sheepskin flight jacket.

Inspiration for previous collections include an Edward Steichen photograph, the 1930s tap star Ruby Keeler and the English seaside holiday. Colenimo succeed in conjuring up images of wonderful people and places, as well as making beautiful clothes.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Last-Year Buys: A Haynes Lane Market special

I moved flats again this week, this time to Camberwell where I'll hopefully stay until my own flat purchase goes through (everything crossed). With most of my prettiest stuff in storage, I went out hunting today for cheap thrills that would brighten up my room, and life. My first stop was Brixton Village, but alas their shops weren't going it for me today so I travelled on to Crystal Palace and Haynes Lane Market. Haynes Lane Market is a smaller version of one of my favourite places in the UK, Hemswell Antiques: both offer lots of different antique, vintage and general bric-a-brac under one roof and are excellent for a Sunday afternoon rummage. Here's what I bought:

A cheap retro mirror, so I can actually see what I look like before I leave the house (and experiment with the heated rollers I bought on Friday). The little wicker case in front is one of my all time favourite second-hand buys: it's been holding my make-up since my Edinburgh days. A dotty scarf that was my Grandma's is also helping brighten up the chest of drawers.

These glasses might be given as a Christmas present to one of my friends from the Shire (Lincolnshire, obviously), or they might stay with me - you know I love a bit of seaside holiday tat.

And finally, I can't wait to get going on this huge Zelda Fitzgerald biography by Nancy Milford. Unlikely to 'brighten' my life, I'm sure I'll find it fascinating.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Hey DJ

Saturday night marked my superstar DJ debut. When I say 'DJ', I essentially mean playing half an hour of songs from my iPod but it was still terrifying, and exhilarating, to have a room of people dancing to your control.

Here's what I played:

Where Did Our Love Go? - The Supremes
(hand claps)

My Lovin (You're Never Gonna Get It)- En Vogue
(time for a breakdown)


Dub Be Good To Me - Beats International feat. Lindy Layton
(you're listening to the boy from the big bad city)


Neneh Cherry - Buffalo Stance
(What is he like?) ... followed, somewhat predictably - if you read this blog regularly - by:


Friends - I'm His Girl
(I'm not just another chick)

The Shangri-Las - Give Him a Great Big Kiss

Beastie Boys - Girls 
 (all I really want - a video in lego) 

SL2 - On a Ragga Tip


New Order - Bizarre Love Triangle
(you say the words that I can't say)

Friday, 25 November 2011

Last-Year Reads: Shoemaker of Dreams, the autobiography of Salvatore Ferragamo

"I love feet, they talk to me." So says Salvatore Ferragamo in his autobiography Shoemaker of Dreams, first published in British in 1957. It tells the story of his rise from a poor Italian family to becoming shoemaker to the stars. It travels from Italy to America back to Italy again, all set against the turbulent history of the 1920s through to the 1940s. But most of all it talks about feet. Ferragamo is passionately obsessive about feet. He begs his parents to let him learn shoemaking, despite it being a profession looked down on at the time. He takes anatomy classes to work out how better to shoe the feet. Truly here is a man who loves feet.

The book is quite a bizarre mixture of three main things. There's the story of his business, then there's mention of the many celebrities who he has made shoes for and, finally, there are lots of ruminations about feet. You can almost picture the deal struck with his publisher: Ferragamo would be allowed to expound his foot theories in exchange for dishing some celebrity stories. I think Ferragamo ended up with the better side of that bargain. 

Before reading the book, I hadn't quite realised what a shoe maverick Ferragamo was and quite how much the modern shoe wardrobe is influenced by his designs. He worked for many of the big studios in the 1920s and the above still is taken from one of his first film commissions, Cecil B. deMille's The Ten Commandments, an Egyptian epic. Take a look at their feet, what are they wearing? Yes, Ferragamo's designs for this film was one of the things that helped popularize sandals as fashion footwear. He even notes in the book how people were gradually asking for more and more of the foot to be exposed in the sandal design - a trend that has continued through to today and the thong style of flipflops. 

Another thing to thank Ferragamo for: platforms. Previously not seen since the Renaissance, these were apparently created for performers who wanted to look taller. This particular pair dates to 1938 but it is striking how modern it still looks.

While working in Italy in the 1940s storages in material forced Ferragamo to innovate with materials such as wood, transparent paper and cork, creating 'wedgies', again a shoe that is still with us. A continual experimenter, He writes that there is "no end to the materials a shoemaker may use to decorate his creations so that every woman may be shod like a princess and a princess may be shod like a fairy queen", before going on to list the wide range of materials he has worked with to create his shoes which includes fish, snail shells and kangaroo. He goes on to say "the material I work with today is my favourite today. Its possibilities fascinate and intrigue".

via Stylehive

And so onto the names. Ferragamo seemed to make shoes for anyone with any power, influence and money in the period, including Mussolini's mistress and Eva Braun. Meanwhile, he continued his exports to America and Britain without the help of the Italian government until the war made this impossible. His political stance - or lack of it - was something he was criticised for in the aftermath of the Second World War. He merely states: "I was an innocent shoemaker who knew nothing of politics except that the actions of politicians has caused terrible harm to me and the world." Jonathan Walford's excellent Forties Fashion book mentions how Ferragamo had been inspired by Italian Futurism to use bright colours - the reds, greens and whites of the Italian flag. However, perhaps because of that movement's links to Fascism, that isn't something Ferragamo states in the book. 

Ferragamo is understandably much more comfortable talking about Hollywood stars. However, don't go expecting lots of celebrity gossip. What you do get is a long list of shoe sizes of the stars, which is strangely fascinating: Bette Davis and Carmen Miranda were a 4.5B (US size), Vivien Leigh a 5.5A, Rita Hayworth a 6A while Greta Garbo and Katharine Hepburn reached a seemingly massive 7AA. Not so big when you consider that's a UK size 5. There are a few insights into the shoe buying style of the stars: Marlene Dietrich "wears the shoes once or twice, enjoys their beauty to the full - and then casts them aside. She too looks for the beauty and the perfection of the future", whereas the divine Audrey, pictured above, "is always natural and completely unaffected, whether she is acting or buying shoes or handbags."

Ferragamo's passion and zeal for shoemaking shines through his book, and what he achieved for his profession is really remarkable, not least in some of the stunning designs he left with us. He died in 1960s but, if he was still around, I'm sure he'd have some very stern words to say about the quality of high street shoes, and the damage it was doing to all of our feet, but I can't help but think he'd rejoice in the array of colour and huge amount of styles we get to pick from today. 

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Last-Year Buy: Dansk top and vintage skater dress

So I mentioned in my last post that I'd got a bit addicted to WIWT. It's that site I can thank for actually having pictures of my new purchases to show you (albeit all very similar pictures of me pointing my camera in the mirror with a messy bed in the background). It's also made me realise that I'm going through a complete red phase at the moment - it's my favourite colour so sometimes I have to consciously reign myself back from it to avoid looking too much like a crazy red lady/snow white. At the moment I think the balance is there, just about.

Here's what I wore to Summer Camp: a new top courtesy of Dansk, via ASOS on one of their lethal savvy sunday offers. I love the twist on animal print given by the dalmatian pattern, and the fact that it's all primed up with the collar and cuffs. The skirt is the one from Sessun that I featured back in my September issues post: its purchase got lost in the general horror that was that month.

And here's what I wore yesterday, a great new vintage dress that I bought while on my book club weekend away in Stroud. It's made from wool and covered with a flecked black and grey pattern that seems impossible to photograph properly. The bodice is pretty tight but the skirt is perfect for swirling and festive ice-skating, if that wasn't something I hadn't forbidden myself from doing due to general ineptitude. The weekend itself proved a pretty perfect escape: we stayed in a beautiful converted chapel in Slad (with a few Damien Hirsts just for, you know, decoration). Combine that with lots of tasty food, walks, book chat and a brief vintage pit stop and it made me a pretty happy lady.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Made a book, we made a book, look at us - we made a book!

This month saw the official release of the Domestic Sluttery book. I had foolishly thought this was something I'd take in my stride - after all, I've seen through hundreds of books as part of my day job. That wasn't the case at all: I was completely terrified about releasing the book we'd slaved away on for so many hours into the outside world (and I've subsequently vowed to be much more understanding to all my own poor angsty authors). Now I've got over that, I'm so proud of the book and all the work Sian and the rest of the team put into it, and have madly gone the other way, compulsively checking our sales ranking on Amazon. We seem to be doing really rather well which is lovely to see.

We had an amazing launch party last week at the Anova offices, fuelled by all the gin and cake as you'd expect from the Domestic Sluts. We were asked to post our outfits to WIWT, so for once I have a  record of what I actually wore for an occasion.

Ta da! It's my Olivia Rubin dress that I bought for my 30th. Out of sight are some amazing gold shoes, c/o Asos (I was trying to summon my inner superhero). The photo credit belongs to my mum who came down for the event and had the joy of me faffing around trying to get this photo for at least half an hour. Since mastering the technology, WIWT has become a bit of an addiction and I'm posting away on there like a teenager, if only the internet had existed in such a form when I was a teenager.

The title of this post is a thinly veiled reference to We Formed a Band, as I had the joy of seeing Art Brut for approximately my 20 billionth time earlier this month. It's been a bit of a gig going few weeks: as well as the Brut, this November I've seen St Vincent, Tom Vek, Summer Camp and Lykke Li (I sadly had to miss out on Cults as it clashed with the book launch) who were all brilliant in their own ways and deserving of a much more fulsome review than that. This week promises Wye Oak, Wild Beasts and Friendly Fires. I'm enjoying all the music hugely but it doesn't halt the feeling that I actually am regressing to teenagehood again any. One serious fact that makes me realise that, my god, I'm really not a teenager any more is that I've just had an offer accepted on a flat. I don't think you can get much more grown-up than that really - terrifying.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Adam Curtis and Pauline Boty

One of my very first posts on this site and my first Last-Year Girl was Pauline Boty. Pauline Boty surfaces again this week on Adam Curtis's blog. It's part of a fascination piece he's written on the Occupy movement, using Boty and her husband Clive Goodwin as examples of the failed dreams of the 1960s left-wing. The piece gives some great details given about Boty, whether you ultimately agree with his argument or not. But his interpretations of their lives took me back to Boty's quote: "Our fears, hopes, frustrations, and dreams. We can pin them on a star who shows them to millions." Beautiful, talented, dead ... Pauline Boty is the perfect pin-up girl for a million interpretations, frustrations and dreams.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Last-Year Girl: Loulou de la Falaise

One of my favourite books I've read recently has got to be Alicia Drake's The Beautiful Fall which charts the alternate paths of Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld in 1970s Paris. It was with great sadness that I learnt Loulou de la Falaise has recently died. As Saint Laurent's muse, Loulou is one of the major, and one of the most likeable, figures in this book.

With Saint Laurent, and his other muse, the fabulous Betty Catroux (who Saint Laurent apparently saw as the female version of himself) at the opening of the Rive Gauche boutique in London.

The daughter of an Anglo-Irish fashion model and a French marquis (of course!) the book credits her with bringing some of the freedom of swinging London to Paris. She comes across well in the book, a bundle of energy, and far from the passivity you might associate with the term 'muse'. In fact she says of that term - in an interview with the Metro of all unlikely places - "I used to get very irritated by that term. For me, a muse is someone who looks glamorous but is quite passive, whereas I was very hard-working. I worked from 9am to sometimes 9pm, or even 2am ... Now that it’s all over, I like to think there’s a bit of my soul in the clothes that were designed when I was there because I was supposed to be a source of inspiration."

Her style seems effortless: piled on jewellery, turbans, men's suits - apparently she was the inspiration behind Le Smoking.

At her wedding party. The woman with her back to the camera is Bianca Jagger.
via Anna Lee

One of my favourite descriptions of her in the book is of her wedding to Thadee Klosswoski in 1977. For day, she wears a white Yves Saint Laurent suit with turban, for night she changes into the dazzling number shown above. The moon headdress is something she made in hours before the actual wedding, in typical de la Falaise spirit. Again in the Metro, she says her style is based on "whim, fantasy. Finding a feather in the park and putting it in a headband and thinking: ‘I’ll go for something Robin Hood-ish.’ Sometimes one element pushes things over the top and you invent something." As well as producing accessories for  Saint Laurent, Loulou applied her style to her own jewellery line. 

"To find inspiration in everything can become automatic if you allow that little machine in your head to work" she said in a Daily Mail feature about her apartment (to find inspiration from another unlikely place).

Strong, sexy, and oh so stylish, Loulou we'll miss you.

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Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Last-Year Music: Friends

When you see me walking around ... chances are that this is the song that's playing in my head

I've got the honour of doing a DJ session at a party at the end of the month. My playlist has been veering between '60s girl groups and late 80s/early 90s dance. The pop and sass of the Friends track combined with the music selection in the V&A's Postmodernism exhibition (which I finally saw this week) is definitely pushing me in the latter direction. And to this song in particular...

What is he like?

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Last-Year Reads: It Isn't All Mink

I've been temporarily transported back to student status, living in a small room and carting round all my stuff in a rucksack. It's strangely liberating. I am, however, missing all my books which have all been put into storage while I sort myself out. I've been crazily buying up old titles on Abebooks to fill this book shaped void in my life. There's been a definite lean towards the escapism of fashion titles which is how I came to read It Isn't All Mink by Ginette Spanier.

Spanier was the Directrice at the Pierre Balmain couture house in Paris. This book came out in 1959 and was a bestseller (and led to the sequel And Now It's Sables - also sitting on my shelf). What's surprising for a book that I've seen so often written about in fashion books is how little is is about fashion. The bulk of the book is about her and her husband's experience in Occupied France where she captures the terrible atmosphere of that period simply and well. The other chapters feature a few celeb anecdotes on the like of Noel Coward and Marlene Dietrich (who, according to the internet, was her lover - there's no mention of this in the book).

The fashion geek-out bit comes in the last section of the book, where she talks about the day-to-day working of the couture house: the copistes, the "bird-brained, idiotic, charming and completely sincere" mannequins and the inter-vendeuse feuds. I enjoyed (or should that be 'loved'?) her description of Balmain's delicacies:

"He loves long evening dresses and little woollen numbers, high at the neck. He loves dancing. He loves Italy. He loves publicity. He loves very luxurious clothes, with embroidery over them; he loves furs, he loves impossible combinations of material ... lynx fur squirting out of tulle. Once he made an ermine blouse. He loves navy and black, brown and black. He won't have an even number of anything, particularly buttons. It is a terrible crime to consider four buttons instead of three. He likes narrow feet, pointed shoes, tall girls, rich women."

The seriousness with which Couture was regarded, and the madness ("Terrible quarrels, mad warfare, all apparently from nowhere") of its world of Couture is blatantly stated. "In the hysteria of the Couture" she writes, "all standards are topsy-turvey. If a seam is not quite right, that is a matter of life and death."

Spanier talks about Paris as the centre of fashion. She states, "There is no other city in the world dedicated, as Paris is dedicated, to the world of chic" and I think that's what makes this book so interesting. Paris is recovering after the Second World War, and if Spanier is to be believed, throws itself back into fashion, and the soon-to-be outdated world of Haute Couture. And, as the popularity of this book would suggest, the rest of the world eagerly bought into the idea of Parisienne style.

Thankfully, Spanier retains a sense of humour about it all and it's her honesty that's the charm of the book. If you are wondering what to wear to work tomorrow, just consider your manager doing this to you:

"I remember appearing once with Pierre Balmain when I thought I looked really marvellous. Hair, shoes, dress, all were perfection.

Pierre Balmain screamed.

'Ah-h-h,' he screeched, 'your bag. It's terrible.'"

Saturday, 15 October 2011

So Last-Year: Broadwalk Empire event

I'm back in the UK after my yoga holiday, which delivered on everything I thought it would and more. It's quite disappointing not to be sleeping in a yurt anymore. You can read all about the fabulous place I stayed in over on Domestic Sluttery. The week before going was ever so slightly mental, packing up all my stuff and moving into a friend's room. One break from the boxes though was a evening out to celebrate the launch of the new series of Broadwalk Empire. I was invited on behalf of Retro To Go and all the bloggers were really given the star treatment, being dressed and styled in classic 1930s style. Here's what they put me in:

Full length, strapless and sleeveless - not my usual style at all, but I really enjoyed wearing it (and bonus points for reading on this blog that I didn't like my arms and therefore giving me the shawl). Playing with this style so removed from my 1950s norm, I spent a lot of time trying to perfect my silent movie star look.

... though the silence could never last for too long before I would collapse into peels of laughter.

I was joined for the event by my friends Vicki and Tia who both made an impressive job of styling themselves for the occasion.

Alas, come midnight like a prohibition cinderella, the gown and the glitter had to come off and I had to return to the boxes. We agreed the combination of glitter, cocktails and jazz was the way ahead ... or should that be the way back ... ?

While I was away I read the engrossing The Beautiful Fall, all about Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld in Paris in the 1970s. The book discussed that era's own obsession with Art Deco style and so, in 2011, it's interesting to see jazz era style, filtered through the looks of the seventies coming back into fashion again.

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