Friday, 27 September 2013

Last-Week Links: 27 September 2013

This week's collection of links includes some of my favourite things: fashion, neon, Northern Soul, museums and a 50s girl gang. So, a pretty standard week then.

Let's start with some fashion and a gorgeous frock. I wrote about Coco Fennell for Domestic Sluttery this week, and have spent a lot of time since trying to work out which is favourite. Currently it's this one.

Onto the neon. Last weekend, I went to God's Own Junkyard for its closing weekend. Time Out shot this short film with Chris Bracey where he talks about the yard, and some of his past clientele, including 'King of Soho', Paul Raymond.

I missed The Look of Love - the film about Paul Raymond's life - when it was out at the cinema but I want to watch it both because I'm fascinated by the history of Soho and because I bet it's got some great 60s costumes. Much like this special edition Barbie, my favourite product of the week. I've never been a huge Barbie fan (I was never allowed to play with Barbie, only Sindy dolls - the homegrown version) but I have to admit she does look pretty wonderful in her Catwoman ensemble. The wider influence of costume, especially TV costume, is explored in this New York Times article, while the recent Gatsby reworking of the 1920s is questioned here (via The Vintage Traveler).

The Prada Gatsby designs appeared in one of my collection of links from May, alongside a mention of Elaine Constantine's Northern Soul film. That forthcoming film is also referenced in this Northern Soul article by Paul Mason, an unusually thoughtful piece in comparison to Vice's usual offerings, about the journalist's passion for the movement: "What we were doing, back then, was rewriting the rules of being white and working class. We knew exactly what it meant to dance to black music in the era of the National Front and the racist standup comedian. Ours was a rebellion against pub culture, shit music and leery sexist nightclubs. Our weapon was obscure vinyl, made by black kids nobody had ever heard of."

The piece is based on a documentary available on BBC iPlayer (I've still to watch it, that'll happen this weekend). And well done to the woman mentioning poor overlooked Cleethorpes in the comments - the town doesn't even merit an index entry in Paul Morley's huge new book The North (And Almost Everything In It). More interesting than me starting a full-on rant on that topic is another programme, Fabulous Fashionistas. It's been given a horrible title but a great documentary about ageing through the life of six brilliant older women.

Apparently Fashion Museums are popular - who knew? I'm all for fashion being explored and presented in fresh and exciting ways, all long as exhibitions treat the subject matter with the intelligence it deserves, rather than using them as puff pieces for designers or donors.

I think I've almost ticked everything off my list now, with the exception of the 50s girl gang. This girl gang is entirely fictional. High School Hellcats was a 1958 exploitation film shared by Mallory on Gems, and which features some pretty nifty clothes.

Bad girls have the best clothes, as well as the most fun, it seems.

I certainly won't be emulating their behaviour this weekend however - it's my sister's wedding party (how I wish I had that Coco Fennell dress to wear!). And then I'm heading up to the depths of Scotland to spend a week with a dear friend. Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

So Last-Year: PY-Zine

For people like me, with something of an obsession with youth culture, this week has bought a couple of bits of exciting news. The Teenage film (which I feel like I've been anticipating forever, but actually only since last year) is finally being released in the UK - my ticket is already booked.

Teenage Mods standing around a scooter, 1966. David McEnery/PYMCA

And then there's the discovery of PY-Zine, a new webzine from the people behind the PYMCA photo library. PYMCA is a picture agency built around the theme of youth culture - I wrote about some of the very earliest examples in their collection back here. Mods, rockers, rebels and ravers - they're all in there and you might think the imagery could just sell itself. PYMCA, however, have always seemed very good at exploring their archive in ways other than a traditional picture library model, working with author Ted Polhemus on a reissue of his Streetstyle book for example.

So while this new zine uses lots of their brilliant imagery, it also uses playlists and it's going to feature digitized versions of Jockey Slut and Sleaze Nation magazines.

There's also lots of articles to read, whether it's Ted Polhemus on Glam Rock, an extract from the Once Upon a Tribe book or a link to the work of film-maker Matt Lambert. And readers are even invited to submit their own material to the site (though I am slightly alarmed by the thought they are open to poetry - angst ridden teen navel gazing surely awaits). 

This so much potential for PY-Zine to become a brilliant hub for this kind of content. Even in these early days it's still a great place to spend some time, and marvel at the wonder of youth. 

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Monday, 23 September 2013

God's Own Junkyard

I love neon with all its slightly suspect glamour. I grew up seeing illuminations as part of the landscape of everyday life, but neon is something else. It conjures up endless pictures from films and TV, stories of seedy motels and pulsating discos.

Chris Bracey is the man behind God's Own Junkyard in London's Walthamstow. He creates neon work that's been used in films and for art - he made a huge flash for the Bowie exhibition at the V&A for example (you can read more about his work in this article). God's Own Junkyard is part display for Bracey's work, a shed crammed full of neon artworks that promise everything from thrills to love to joy.

It's also in a large part a salvage yard - old bits of lighting and curios rescued so that they can be reworked into new pieces.

In this yard, Jesus sits alongside Agent Provocateur champagne bottle props, mock alligators and signs for chicken shops. It's a mind-boggling collection of stuff - a much smaller, very British version of the Neon Graveyard in Las Vegas. Some of the material collected reminded me of the fairground art shown as part of the 2011 incarnation of the Museum of Everything (I discovered afterwards that Bracey's father was a fairground sign maker).

Property development means Bracey is being forced to leave these premises. In fact, yesterday saw the last opening of the yard (though the inside display area is open to visitors until November), and it was crammed full of visitors either marvelling for the first time - as we were - or paying their last respects.

Apparently the yard has been offered new premises elsewhere in Walthamstow. Sometimes I find it surprising when delightful oddities like this can still found in little pockets of London - it's as if I've already expected them to have been beaten out of the way by the big bad boys. I'm glad that in this case that although this immediate battle may have been lost, the fight appears to be far from over.

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Friday, 20 September 2013

Last-Week Links: 20 September 2013

I'm feeling a little light on the link inspiration this week - all the hype of the fashion and design week makes me less interested somehow. However, I've enjoyed plenty of off-line reading matter: the new issue of The Gentlewoman, which is always exiting, I've also bought Cosmo's big and glossy fashion spin-off, while I'm awaiting 'The Fashion' from the Guardian this weekend. No wonder my recycling bin is always full!

A few bits I did manage to pick up around London Fashion Week though, include Suzy M's round-up of the best of the shows and - of all the hundreds and thousands of street style shots circulating on the internet - I think the one above, shot by The Sartorialist is possibly my favourite. Mainly because all the things she's wearing didn't obviously cost mega money. Partly because I have all the things she owns, plus a good fringe and red lipstick and I am indulging in a fantasy that this could have been me.

Meanwhile, Tom Ford knows how to give good quote, as ever, and the Mademoiselle C documentary sounds brilliantly, bonkersly 'fashion'. As an alternative to the mainstream merry-go-round, Charlie Porter's interview with Fiona Cartledge of Sign of The Times is great.

Sweet Jane shared some wonderful Antonio Lopez illustrations this week, taken from Intro magazine September 1967. I love how words of fashion editorial are used within the illustration - perfect autumn style inspiration. In this month's vintage column for Domestic Sluttery I also celebrated the joys of coats and belts with looks inspired by perennial fashion reference Love Story.

Honey Kennedy shared a new skirt pattern, the Zinnia, which has just reminded me I need to finish my last Colette skirt pattern ...

... while Miss Moss shared these images of Princess Margaret on a tour of the Commonwealth in 1956 wearing a fabulous Horrockses dress. I'd seen a similar picture in black and white in the Horrockses Fashions book but never in gorgeous colour. Her accessories look pretty snazzy too.

Onto the weekend. It looks like I've going to be doing some weekend reading but I also hope to do some exploring as part of Open House weekend. Fingers crossed for some brighter weather. Have a lovely weekend too.

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Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Last-Year Travels: Berlin's Best Vintage

This time last week I was having a very lovely time in Berlin. I'd been once before, almost exactly ten years ago so it was really interesting to see how much had changed over that time. It also meant I felt less of a pressure to see 'the sights' and was happy exploring some of the different neighbourhoods. I went with a friend who loves second-hand shopping as much as me, so it's no surprise we visited quite a few vintage shops. Here are some of the places we discovered along the way,  and do let me know if you have any favourites I've missed - I'd very much like an excuse for a return visit.


MANKii Vintage
Gormannstrasse 16

This was one of my favourite shops we visited. In comparison to lots of the places we visited - you'll get this whine below - it included 40s and 50s clothes alongside later decades. It was beautifully laid out, with lots of very wearable things at reasonable prices. I liked it even more because I found something I wanted to by - a pale pink and silver fitted top with cute bows (there's a detail above) from the late 1950s/early 60s. Now I'm going to be working from home a lot more, I'm determined to create myself a glamorous hostess wardrobe (it's that or pjs), and I declare this top the start. I got so carried away in the women's section I forgot to peek downstairs at the mens and kids section - I'm sure they are equally interesting.

Rosa Luxemburg Strasse 17

This vast shop isn't really about the clothes - there's one not-great rail of original stuff, and quite a lot of repro - but it's wonderful for furniture. That's if your taste for furniture is for the 60s space age look. There was a lot of plastic, and a lot of orange which is actually really refreshing given the Scandi mid-century overkill of recent years. Nothing bought because I suspected Easyjet wouldn't let me take a telephone bench back with me (though I imagine they would have appreciated the on-brand orange). In retrospect, that was probably for the best.

Ah, Kreuzberg. We keep trying to stop ourselves making comparisons to London neighbourhoods but with its hipster population and high proportion of Turkish eateries, Dalston did keep popping back into our references. The vintage here reminded me of some of the stores in East London too - lots of 80s and 90s stuff that I'm probably far too close to the first time around to appreciate again.

Checkpoint & Cinema
Mehringdamm 41

An encouragingly large room, completely full of rails of clothes, sorted into various types. But, despite extensive efforts, we came away empty handed, and didn't even try anything on. We might have just been unlucky, as a couple of girls slightly ahead of us were walking around with piles of clothing. Or perhaps it's just because we're less unadventurous in our old(er) age.

Bergmannstrasse 102

Another huge space, this time inside some kind of old factory. Again, well sorted into types but labelled simply with a price rather than any more info - you needed to know what you were looking for, especially when it came to the pay per weight section. I did see a couple of nice 70s dresses and a couple of classy wool skirts but that was after looking at, what felt like, absolutely everything. I can imagine it being a place you could strike it lucky though. And, if you're in the market for 90s denim or some fancy dress, well, you're laughing.

Prenzlauer Berg
This was the lovely neighbourhood in which we stayed: leafy wide streets and charming bars and cafes. It wasn't really a surprise that its vintage stores were quite nice too.

Hufelandstrasse 12

This is the first store we visited and actually one of the nicest. Mainly clothes, with a smattering of homewares, it was a very cute little shop with lots of interesting things - vintage, and some nice bits of second-hand too. There was a 70s does 40s blouse I saw which I'm remembering now with a slight sting of regret. If this hadn't been the very first place, and I hadn't been very full of a hearty German breakfast, that might well have been mine. Oh well.

Marienburger Strasse 24

Not vintage, but such a nice nearly-new shop it's definitely worth a visit. It's full of very smart clothes, by the likes of Isabel Marant, APC, Vanessa Bruno and all those other lust-worthy French brands, with some high street such as Cos thrown in there. Not stuck up in the slightest, it's also worthy of any itinerary because of the staircase - as wide as the shop itself - with row upon row of neatly displayed designer shoes. Gorgeous.

Eberwalder Strasse 21 & 22

Stiefelkominat will always have a special place in my heart because of these shoes. I'd developed one of my weird fixations. I was desperate for a pair of wedge sport shoes after seeing them on the feet of a glamorous lady on the cover of a 1940s Italian magazine (as you do). Then, when I walked into Stiefelkominat, there they were. Not 40s obviously but the style and the colours I wanted. They obviously had to come over to the UK with me.

This shop was wonderful for shoes - it had hundreds of pairs in a whole range of prices. My friend bought a very pretty pair of grey flats too. It also had lots of everything else, from 60s towels to heavy winter coats to a vintage pet carrier. Though not the cheapest, the range of stock meant it was definitely worthy of some serious time. Happily, the fun doesn't need to stay in Berlin as the assistants were keen to inform us, the shop is very active on eBay. Perhaps that will be the first place I check from now on when I'm on a serious shoe whim.

Mauerpark Flea Market

On Sunday we threw ourselves into this famous Berlin flea market. It very much felt like a place to come and be seen, no matter how hungover or weary you were from the night before. A scrubby piece of parkland and with the kind of stock which would make a Parisian flea market shudder, there was still plenty to look at, even if it was more about the people than the wares. You can see the crowd gathering for the famous Bearpit karaoke Sunday afternoon session above. Karaoke plus vintage - it's hard not to love Berlin!

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Friday, 13 September 2013

Last-Week Links: 13 September 2013

Hello little space, it's good to see you again. I haven't meant to neglect this blog, I've just been working REALLY hard. I disappeared for a break in Berlin too. Still, in my head it's the start of a new term and I've vowed to pull my socks up a bit on the blogging front.

I actually don't really have a clue what's going on at the moment. Fashion weeks and design weeks and September are all whizzing by at the moment - explanation for the fact that some of my links are really old. And not very cohesive either. Forewarned enough? Okay, let's begin.

Far, far, far more interesting than the fact I've remembered to post is the news that Nadinoo are back, and have released a typically gorgeous collection that includes the dress above. I still get nice comments every time I wear my Tweety dress, so I'm sure these will all be well-while investments, especially on the all-important compliments per wear ratio.

While I'm being a bit oblivious to all the fashion weeks (it's far more fun to wait for the latest edition of Elle Collections), I did swoon a little over this Michael Kors dress, dubbed by Vogue as "the single most desired dress of New York Fashion Week". But, as the text points out, it's basically a reworked vintage dress, something I already have far too many of already. Never mind, it's still jolly lovely.

After last season's Advanced Style shoot, Karen Walker is - literally - taking it to the kids for her new campaign. It's utterly adorable, though some of the children look far too cool for school.

There are a couple of things which might stir me into leaving my sofa over the coming weeks. The first is God's Own Junkyard - Chris Bracey's collection of neon wonders - which is being forced to move from its Walthamstow premises. It's open to the public until the 22 September. Then there's the new Saint Etienne project, a wonderful-sounds film about London from 1950 to 1980 that will be shown at the BFI in October. The last corner of this cultural triangle is the ICA's A Journey Through London Subcultures show, taking place at the Old Selfridges Hotel. Charlie Porter gave an intriguing preview on his blog.

Club cultures of another era were published as an intriguing set of photographs called simply 'jazz clubs and musicians, c.1948' on Retronaut. Anyone know any more details about these images?

Finally another of my favourite vintage photographs for this week is this one of 'Washington Tidal Basin Beauty' 1922, Eva Fridell, featured as part of Teenage's round-up of beauty queens it has previously featured on the blog.

With that selection of links, I can feel the excitement about the books, clothes and cultural fun to be had over Autumn creeping back into my bones - that definitely feels better! And I'm also pleased to reveal the previously announced binge watch of season two of Girls will be taking place this coming Sunday. Good things all round.

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Monday, 2 September 2013

August on Last-Year Girl and Last-Week Links: 30 August 2013

It's the end of another week, and another month, and apparently the summer too. It's that weird time of the year when I don't quite want summer to be over, but I'm already getting excited about the new school year promise of coats and tights and jumpers starting to fill up the shops. While I'm still able to get my bare legs out, I've still got one eye on the vintage tips for summer city style. I'm not quite ready to cavort in a cafe in my bathing suit. The wonderful photograph above is taken from an exhibition that sounds like it would be right up my (well-dressed) street, Parisienne en Été: photographs of women in Paris from 1880 up to 1960.

While the weather still might be saying swimsuit, my mind is definitely saying sweater. This marvellous cardigan is from the autumn/winter collection from Vivetta which is filled with Schiaparelli-esque motifs such as bows, hands and lips used on contemporary silhouettes. It's surreally stylish (via Calivintage).

I think the influence of Schiaparelli can also be seen in the brilliant print designs of Holly Fulton - just take a look at this lipstick print, as included in Refinery 29's interview and tour of her studio.

I had a bit of a Peckham rant a few weeks ago. Proof that the area is now at least cooler than me is Kit Neale's spring/summer 2014 collection (via Below The River). There's even a sweatshirt honouring Rye Lane's Perfect Fried Chicken.

And I'm sure you're all sick to death of me going on about turbans by now. Listen instead to Never Underdressed and have a flick through their image gallery, including Kate Moss shown in Marc Jacobs back in 2009.

What's my next fashion obsession after turbans? I'm sure it's out in the ether already, waiting for me to click onto it and claim it as my own discovery when hundreds/thousands are doing the same things. This NY Times article on the science versus the instinct of fashion forecasting is interesting stuff.

Looking into my own future, what would be something useful I can learn right now in 10 minutes that would be useful for the rest of my life? There's some brilliantly answers to this very question shared on Quora (via Bridges and Balloons). Lena Durham's letter to Time Out's sex advice columnist is another question honoured with a great answer.

It's slightly unwieldy in length and could have done with some editing but there are some good quotes in this Fashion in Literature gallery (I'm clearly just jealous of whoever got the fun task of putting it together). The extended version of this Stella Gibbons quote is up there with my favourites. And, to finish, there's some more excellent quotes from literature with some twenty-first century applications in The Toast's The Quotable Jane Austen for Evil People.

And it's the end of the month! Well, it's actually now 2 September but I've been trying to run with the pretence I actually posted this on Friday. So, while I'd normally wish you a happy Friday, I actually mean a happy Monday. I hope your week is every bit as fun as your weekend.


* It was my birthday! I celebrated with a trip to the seaside and some stomping new shoes.

* I shared advice given to aspiring models in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and today.

* I was once again charmed by Lilly Daché, thanks to her lively 1940s biography, Talking Through My Hats.

* I ventured to Bourne in Lincolnshire, to the birthplace of Charles Frederick Worth. Closer to home, explorations in East Dulwich, rewarded me with a floral 40s skirt from ChiChiRaRa, and a brilliant book about the legendary magazine, Nova.

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