Sunday, 27 September 2009

Christopher Kane, need I explain?

Philip Green's latest venture is a winner.
Christopher Kane for Topshop is a super collection of shocking crocodiles, brilliant black and tight tight tight gorgeousness that is seriously making me consider taking up shoplifting. Ok, the price is a lot less compared to the sashaying creations he sends down the Catwalks, but prices are still a little too high for the girl about town who loves fashion but is limited to spending money on carefully picked accessories and bargains. For the record I did pick up a great tasseled leather bag for £3.00 on Friday from a second hand shop.

One purchase, however I can justify. And I'm having a serious case of envy (envious of the pretty Topshop girls who walk past this garment every day at work of course) over the sherbet yellow bright bandage dress which looks like a pop of Indian Summer amongst a sea of the new gothic trend. It will look striking at winter parties with lace tights and shoe boots. I think I may even dream about it tonight. Kane's clothes cause crazy dreams I imagine, they should come with a warning.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

What if maybe?

A Life Less Ordinary

That pivotal moment in life where you take one path and someone else takes another is often a make or break situation. Without any contact details, you may never cross paths again. Nowadays it is much easier to find the lost ones on Facebook or Myspace if you didn’t secure a phone number or address, though even addresses are temporary. Believe it or not there are still people out there who don’t have a “page” with boring information about themselves on it. There are people who have no contact with social networking sites. There are people who don’t have a blog. I know it’s hard to consider that some people know their lives are not worth documenting on the internet. The rest of us either know this and don’t care or worse; actually think we are worth reading about!

Twenty Years, Two People, One Day

The book One Day documents twenty years of a boy and a girl's life who met and shared a few kisses, and maybe more, on the night of their Graduation from an Edinburgh University. Only to be flung out of each others lives and on to the road of their own lives the very next day. The book is written by David Nicholls who also wrote the novel ‘Starter for 10’ which was recently visualised into a film starring James McAvoy. In the novel One Day, the lead characters, wealthy womaniser Dexter and social conscious and opinionated Emma manage to keep in contact by various letters where Emma’s thoughts on life/politics/books spill out and fill pages and Dexter manages a few lines in reply here and there as he fumbles through his gap year(s). This is of course the 1980s before the communication revolution, no texting or emailing, can you remember that far back?

Each chapter begins on the same date of every year following their quick meeting and then subsequent departure on the 15th July 1988 and as their lives unfold through the pages, the reader can relate to almost everything that happens in some way or another. No thoughts to the future in their twenties, like most, Dexter becomes completely hedonistic and does whatever he wants, even at the expense of losing his family and friends’ respect. This results in various bad habits and a career in TV that nosedives as quickly as it happened. Emma becomes lost, with no idea of what she wants to do with her life and only dreams of being a writer. She gets stuck in an unhappy state of mind relentlessly doing a job she hates until she has the courage to make some life changing decisions.

Sometimes it is almost too true to real life so that it makes you cringe but the book is a refreshing look at two people who grow up with each other in mind and what can happen to these people through time. Many parts of the book are set in London and it is great picturing where they’re living and what they’re seeing in their two different worlds. By the end of the book, you end up feeling great empathy and sympathy for the characters; they represent people in our lives we know or have known. This book has an unexpected ending and you feel as if you've lived through their twenty years. In fact you might need a nap at the end, I was exhausted, life is complicated!

Monday, 14 September 2009

My Generation!

Quadrophenia, the stage production is touring the UK. The film is a cult favourite written by The Who and focuses on Jimmy, a London boy who is at the centre of the mod scene gripping the 1960s. It is a masterpiece of a film with brilliant music and shows off the highs and lows of a generation. Phil Daniels, who recently had a role in Eastenders and was featured in Blur’s Parklife, is a stand out as Jimmy. Sting plays the Top Mod, also the infamous Bellboy, and Leslie Ash plays the love interest. A few other young British actors are in the film, nowadays they are middle aged and feature in programmes like ‘The Bill’. We were all youths once!

The stage version of Quadrophenia delves into the concept of schizophrenia Jimmy who has 4 personalities each played by a different actor. Each Jimmy wears the same tight blue jeans, Fred Perry T-shirt and obligatory Parka so as not to cause confusion but the actors that play him are very good and there is no doubt that each of them is a part of Jimmy. Act one sets the scene and shows young Jimmy with his family, his overbearing father bullying him and his mother. The conflict leads to Jimmy’s personality to split into four; anger, lunatic, contradict and romantic. All personalities compete for the main spot. As Jimmy grapples with his overbearing personalities, he becomes wrapped up in The Scene happening around him, and secures his identity as a Mod. The Who classics like ‘One’ and the magnificent ‘Love reign o’er me’ are sung out with heart and soul by the actors who as well as great movers are great singers too. ‘My Generation’ is a highlight emulating the scene in the film where the boys jump around like they have the world at their feet singing along to The Who classic.

The best thing about the stage production is the music. Where as the film has a gripping story line along with a stunning soundtrack, the theatre production focuses on concepts and so you are left to enjoy the scenes and music for what they are. There’s a few scenes which focus a bit too heavily on Jimmy’s family, although it is clear that the story line aims to show how Jimmy’s troubled relationship with his dad has lead to his personality disorder. The production could have looked at the muddy relationship between the Mods and Rockers a bit more but apart from that, the show sparkled with talent, show stopping songs and personalities – quite literally in Jimmy’s case.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Oui Coco, Oui Coco

Coco Avant Chanel portrays the story of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel before she conquered the world of fashion and revolutionised the way women wear clothes.  Encapsulated by Audrey Tautou in Anne Fontaine's new film 'Coco Avant Chanel', Chanel was born in Saumur, France on August 19 1883 and died on 10 January 1971.  During her lifetime she popularised casual and comfortable clothing for women without them losing an inch of style or elegance.  The film focuses on Coco before Chanel though.  It begins with images of her childhood where Coco and her sister were orphaned to a Convent in France.  Every Sunday, Gabrielle – before she was known as Coco waits in vain for her Father to visit.  She notices the simplicity and monochrome on the nuns’ uniforms, this shapes her whole take on Fashion. 

Coco worked as a dressmaker and after a brief career as a singer in French Cafes with her sister where she acquired the nickname Coco, Chanel finds herself as a Mistress of Etienne Balsan, a wealthy Military Officer.  The relationship she has with Balsan is odd and endearing at the same time.  Balsan is intrigued by Chanel but also embarrassed by her leeching onto him and her “dowdy” dress sense.  Undeterred, Chanel cuts up his clothes and her brain processes the designs she wants to make.  The wealthy world she has found herself in enables her to change it.  She refuses to wear corsets or “ridiculous” hats instead she customises male tailored clothes and rides a horse the male way!  A revelation for the over styled and pulled in to within an inch of their lives women around her.  By designing hats first of all, Chanel wins over the audience around her and falls in love with an English industrialist called Arthur “Boy” Capel.  As Chanel’s popularity rises within her social group, Balsan proposes to her.  Coco is the unique diamond in the rough for these men and the social group around her, or perhaps pearl is a better description, as pearls become the finishing touches to her beautiful designs later in her life.

Coco’s relationship with Boy flourishes and a beautiful seaside trip scene occurs in the film where Coco falls in love with stripes as she watches the fishermen in their stripey shirts reel in their catch.  Coco also wears a groundbreaking simple Little Black Dress at a Dance with Boy amongst the busy Edwardian uncomfortable designs of the time. 

Boy breaks Chanel’s heart as she had always feared by marrying an English aristocratic woman.  This is not the end of their affair though and with the financial help from Boy, she opens her first Milliner shop in Paris which is an instant success.  A tragic ending ensues though and this is where our story finishes.

This bio of Coco Chanel is an endearing and lovely watch but one can’t help hungering for more – perhaps the future films focusing on Chanel will show in film more of the life she led.  Audrey Tautou is scrumptious in the picture, Fontaine claimed she picked Tautou for her “little black bull side” and this is a phrase that rings in my ear whenever I see Tautou, this was the part she was born to play and charms us in it completely.  

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Rock and Roll Will Never Die

Glastonbury saw the magnificent Neil Young, the great Bruce Springsteen and the comeback of 90s Brit Pop band Blur as the headliners for the June weekend . The BBC, although the licence fee payer’s institution, still insist on giving their audience a large group of presenters who seem to know nothing about music and insist on shoving down your throat what they want you to watch rather than what you want to watch. This was emphasised by the fact Neil Young, a music legend headlining and playing Glastonbury for the first time ever at the age of 62 got barely any screen time, where as Lilly Allen, Lady GaGa and Dizzee Rascal were seen on a loop the whole weekend.

The presenters seemed to all be bad radio DJs who relied on dry humour that wasn’t funny and had no passion for the great event that they were lucky to be at. With fake mud on Hunter boots that were probably paid for by their employer along with their ticket they really should have made more of an effort to up their music knowledge but instead they looked out of place and arrogant.

Neil Young was a highlight, I can only say this as I had seen him wow Aberdeen 2 nights before where wonderful favourites such as ‘Cinnamon Girl’, ‘Down By The River’ and ‘Harvest Moon’ were played out to a sweaty crowd. Opening with a belter, ‘Hey Hey My My’, the AECC is an awful place for a venue but Young disguised this with his brilliant sound. An open field in the English Countryside must have been a brilliant place to watch Young and his enthusiastic band. His cover of The Beatles ‘A Day In The Life’ was intriguing but the real treats were his classics, apart from the above, the timeless ‘Rockin In The Free World’ and the haunting ‘Needle And The Damage Done’ sent shivers down spines.

Blur also created waves with their set jam packed full of hits. ‘Beetlebum’ and ‘Tender’ were the best. Hot property at the moment Florence And The Machine executed a beautiful set and proved she could win over Glastonbury. The Specials had their moment again too and were great fun. ‘Too Much Too Young’ seemed even more poignant with the band at a markedly older age than the first time round.

Rock and Roll will never die for the music lovers out there but it seems to be long gone for the BBC Team and their awful coverage of musical festivals.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Jamie T on Tour

Pending the release of a new Ep ‘Sticks N Stones’ and with an album to follow, Jamie T is travelling up to the North East again to showcase his latest efforts.  Anyone who has seen Jamie T before is certain to agree he is a treat.  His critically acclaimed first album ‘Panic Prevention’ included the wonderful tale of ‘Sheila’ and the mellow ‘If You Got The Money’.  Mixing cheeky lyrics with his trademark bassy sound, he paints his perception of modern life in a far more original way than his peers.  He sounds even better live than on record.  In Aberdeen, Moshulu isn’t the greatest place for a gig, it’s too spacious (and a bit smelly) especially for the smaller gigs but if there’s a big enough turn out the atmosphere is much warmer.  

Even though Jamie T is a relatively new artist, there’s a feeling of nostalgia at his gigs which may be down to his Dylan-esque story telling.   Let’s hope his new offerings are as fun and innovative as his first.

Home Advantage

I love Tennis, I love watching Wimbledon and I have never seen Andy Murray look so lovely as he does at the moment.  This was further progressed by a sneaky look through Heat Magazine this week, only to find Andy as ‘Torso of The Week’.  Please look at it, even if it’s just a flick through at the Supermarket.

And looking as great with clothes on…it’s great that Andy wears Fred Perry, it takes us back to the glory days of Tennis and suits him so well.  Unveiling his choice of attire for Wimbledon next week (above), his retro look gets a big thumbs up.  The cable knit jumper is very old school cricket and great for the June weather in Britain.  A classic look that emphasises the great Fred Perry himself who won Wimbledon 3 times in the 1930s.  Let’s hope the pressure isn’t too much for Mr Murray but least he always has Torso of The Week to fall back on.

Tis the Season...for Live Music

Festival season is officially upon us.  The deal was sealed last weekend during which The Prodigy rocked Rockness, Neil Young covered The Beatles ‘A Day In The Life’ at Isle of Wight and Download began.  God knows who played there, heavy metal is not the music du jour nowadays and I’ve barely heard a peep about it (and I listen to BBC Radio 6 Music for 8 hours a day – see below blog for details).  Festivals are great fun, nowadays not reserved for the music mad or hippies but for anyone who wants to wear heart shaped sunglasses and a pink cowboy hat, and that’s just the boys. 

Apparently we as consumers spend a great deal on festivals – apart from the extortionate ticket prices, one can not set foot in a stinking third world campsite without Top Class camping gear, £120 Ray Ban shades, Topshop’s finest and the cherry on the cake, £60+ Hunter Wellie boots.  Believe me looking good is one of my favourite things but really, at this expense?  Hunters should be reserved for Farmers who get the use out of them, not for a weekend in the countryside trudging through hangover shit.  Literally.  Try hard comes to mind – for the best looks, try to be simple.  The best looks I’ve seen from the famous world at festivals comes from Daisy Lowe at Coachella (above); with big black boots, a crop top and handcut denim shorts, it’s completely thrown on, ideal for hot weather and not an open toe in sight.  Ideal for crowds, ouch for those gladiator clad babes.  Agyness Dean at Coachella rocked an American Scarf draped round her with a cute ponytail and trusty converse.  Not a Kate Moss ‘I’m with the band’ vibe in the slightest. The cue is dress for yourself and the environment.

Take this tip and make it your own: Keep it simple, keep it you.  British weather being unpredictable calls for some cute leggings, you can always slip them off if the sun is blazing and on again for the cold night. Old boots or wellies from your local army or camping shop, a long Tshirt, tunic or denim dress, a leather jacket, parka or hoody that you can drape around your bag if it’s hot.  Don’t forget a waterproof, there are some great pac-a-macs around. These are easily stuffed inside a bag and can be whipped on at the slightest precipitation. If you choose to wear a hat, a 70s floppy sun hat is the only one that will do. Don’t go out and spend a fortune, work with what you have.

Take some dry shampoo, baby wipes, toilet roll, hand sanitiser and bronzer.  This ensures you look and feel great and can worry about what bands you want to see instead of if you look cool enough, after all music is the only reason for the festival in the first place, would you believe it?

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Love Love Love

Five months into 2009 and where are we?  In the middle of a ghastly MPs expenses war/economic breakdown/swine flu panademic that's where.  We clamber around our lives trying to make sense of everything around us which seems to be unfolding with complete bizarre goings on at every corner possible.  Or is that just me?  

At the end of the day amongst the madness, gems can be found however superficial they appear, everything else can sink along with the titanic.

Balmain Shoulders: LOVE LOVE LOVE.  How great are these 70s/80s shoulders reinvented?  They so shouldn't work but by golly gosh they are so wearable.  
Compared to other 80s revivals like the crop top you don't have to be 5 stone to wear a strong shoulder, in fact it's in your favour to have a few curves to balance out your jaunty shoulder.  Attitude is something you must have mind you, this is a look that gets people talking, take a tip and don't do a Rhianna at the Met Costume Ball though (above), for such a pretty girl she looks pretty rough!  More Barbara Hulancki (right) less pointing eyes out with your fake shoulders!

Sunshine Underground: On a sunny/rainy day in Dundee, a group of friends meet and bounce along to the fun and loud SUNSHINE UNDERGROUND.  This is great because 1: this group of friends had lost a bit of hope in everything and 2: Sunshine Underground are on top form.  Losing all inhibitions at a gig is highly recommended and should be done by everyone who loves music at least twice a year.  

Stephen Fretwell: Accoustic, hauntingly lovely voice, perfect melodies - sounds utterly cliched, it's not.  Listen to him.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

It's Blitz!

Karen O is the stylish singer of the American band Yeah Yeah Yeahs.  Onto their third album, It's Blitz! which infuses their individual style mixed with a 90s dance vibe, strong guitars and Karen O's sweet then slicing voice and lyrics.  It's a hit.  Their new single from this album, Zero is brilliant, it is at it's best turned up loud and on the radio.  This band are fresh air.  Watching them on Jools Holland live show was satisfying and with their female singer owning the stage and enjoying every moment of it, it's hard not to want to be in the band.  

An interview with Karen O in The Sunday Times Magazine reveals that she's half South Korean and half Polish, her mother was a fashion consultant and has always been baffled by her daughters unconventional style and she loves like there's no tomorrow.  Unconventional style it may be but wonderful style it definitely is!   Pictured above in the middle of her two bandmates and below, she oozes charisma, her great blunt pudding bowl haircut sets it all off.    

Leather, coloured tights, clashing prints, unusual tshirts, customising finds and red lipstick is a must for the Karen O look.  The best thing about real style icons in the public eye is you can take the inspiration you want from them then throw in a good dollop of yourself to come into your own style.

The eyes have it

So fake eyelashes are officially in again?  This doesn't surprise me, batting your eyelashes is still the best way to lure a man in it seems.  Since Cheryl Cole leaped on to our screens in The X Factor last year and became a National Phenomenon, Saint and all round Princess her groomed look including perfectly placed fake eyelashes captivated a nation delving deeper into economic depression.  As sales shot through the roof for fake eyelashes, Girls Aloud (or the puppeteers behind them most likely) have developed their own range. How you "design" eyelashes I'm not sure, they don't seem to be outlandish, kitch or colourful fake eyelashes - they are merely for batting and looking impossibly beautiful.  Or they are for Cheryl.  Girls Aloud got through 145 sets of fake eyelashes on their Tangled Up Tour, so these ones will no doubt come in handy for their heavy eyes.

Groomed to within an inch of their lives, is the order of the day for Girls Aloud, high maintenance and without a hair out of place.  This is also true of another star of the moment.  Step forward Lady Gaga.  It may be hard to tell what she really looks like under her stage props, make up and eyelashes.  But isn't that what pop stars should be about?  Stylish and fun and over done, there's something fearless that I love about her.

Swingin 60s or bad taste?

The Boat That Rocked is the newest film from the British Director Richard Curtis.  Curtis has a good CV, he makes films for middle class folk and he makes them well.  His newest offering has a lot of good music in it - loosely based on Radio Caroline, the 1960s pirate radio phenomenon that went on to become the god awful Radio 1 we know today, it follows the story of Radio Rock and a band of DJs who are at odds with a strict Government who will not allow a liberal radio station on Britannia airwaves.

Afloat in the North sea in 1966, Radio Rock is set on a boat with very few rules, lots of sex and lots of laughs.  Rhys Ifans is a highlight as the egotistic Gavin.  With stars like Philip Seymour Hoffman and Bill Nighy (and his stylish black rimmed glasses he wears so well) it was a must for me to check out.  This film deserves a watch but there is a poor storyline where a great one should be, it's far too long and I felt myself cringe more than once whilst watching it.  However there are great laugh out loud moments too, if you go leave your serious head at home and take it for what it is - light, fluffy and daft, a great Easter watch.




Friday, 10 April 2009

If it's cool I'll play it

Your life is not complete without a digital radio.  If you haven't got one get one.  I love the look of this Roberts RDGO one in Pastel Cream.  The sound is clear without any of those crackles or fighting with the frequency.  BBC Radio 6 Music is the best radio channel around. Playing a mixture of old and new, weird and wonderful, it will broaden your music horizons and there is NO other way to start the day.  

As Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it must be important to have a great environment as you eat your coco pops.  Shaun Keaveny's Breakfast show is a great listen, he seems to play a lot of The Jesus and Mary Chain, Libertines and Manic Street Preachers.  This is a show not to be snubbed at.  George Lamb takes the reign for the transition morning past noon show.  Although a year ago he was fresh sounding and fun listening, he is a bit boring now.  I think presenting Big Brother spin offs has damaged him.

My favourite listen is on Sunday with The Huey Show.  Huey from the Fun Lovin Criminals steps in  with the motto "if it's cool, I'll play it" and with his laid back summer tunes you really feel transported to South America.  No British cynicism here, leave your economic worries behind.  From Nancy Sinatra to Otis Redding to Prince then AC/DC there are no rules from 2pm until 3.30pm so get rid of your hangover with this gem of a show, a large glass of pineapple juice and imagine you are on a beach in Rio de Janeiro.