Monday, 15 February 2010

Boys, boys, boys...

It's hardly breaking news that girls think, talk and analyse near-constantly what they should wear to big-deal events. (Oh ok then, to any event). But I quite like the fact fashion paranoia is clearly something that crosses gender barriers. Take this text message received from a male friend I haven't spoken to for three months: 'I have a fashion question and you are my oracle. I am going to the Brits afterparty and the dress code is "glamorous". Bearing in mind that I am a) male, b) heterosexual and c) incapable of wearing skinny jeans what does this mean?' Bless!

Sunday, 31 January 2010

A beauty tutorial

Occasionally in my line of work you're called upon to be photographed. It's usually to illustrate a feature you're writing or inspire readers by showing that mere mortals can wear the new season fashion trends. (I'm still not convinced they'd much rather see models). But however much I've accepted it's one of the down-sides of my job - oh come on, you wouldn't like thinking your ex-boyfriend's new bird is one of 500,000+ people laughing at your crooked teeth- I'm always paralysed by fear. And so I found myself last week on a 'Get out of your beauty rut' shoot at Kentish Town's Spring Studios. (Only consolation it does the best sandwiches). To ease my fears, and distract myself from watching a make-up artist apply six layers of different types of red lipstick to my face in the mirror, I plied the team with my beauty questions. Here are a few of the gems of knowledge I picked up along the way:

  • To open up tired eyes line the inside of the upper lid with black powder eyeliner, using an angled brush. Note this makes your eyes water like hell at first but is totally worth it. I'm never applying eyeliner any other way.
  • If you smudge a nail before it's 100% dry just drip a drop of nail varnish remover onto the smudge, leave for 60 seconds and add another layer of polish. Full-proof!
  • Never use Elizabeth Arden's 8 Hour Cream on your lips as the oil in it dries them out. Instead try REN's organic lipgloss or Australian (and v cheap) balm Lucas's PawPaw.
Unfortunately I didn't learn how to 'work it' in front of the camera. Still, there's always next time.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Beauty notes

My role at work has diversified somewhat so I'm currently working on a big beauty project. It's brilliant fun - once you get over the weirdness of spending 45 minutes talking about dry hair treatments. Beauty folk seem a little less intense than their fashion siblings and it's amazing realising just how much effort goes into the tiniest detail - like the 2,000 plus fake talons a nail specialist made for the McQueen show only to see them ripped off as the girls came in from 2 minutes on the catwalk. Plus, come on, what girl wouldn't love to be sent home with a bag of creams, glosses and gels to try out? But it's also surprising what challenges it has thrown up for me. I spent a good two minutes today figuring out what was the right verb to use to formally describe static on hair. (I went for 'attracting' in the end?!).

Friday, 2 October 2009

The technological revolution

Dolly Jones makes no secret of the fact that when she launched ten years ago, the fashion industry looked down their noses at all things digital. Oh, how that's changed - never more so than this season where it seems like the common denominator between designers isn't a 1980's reference but an obsession with all things technological.

Burberry did it best in London, streaming their show live from fash-cams in the venue and allowing users to post comments direct onto the footage. (It probably helped that their fans are the type to write things like, 'So beautiful I want to cry'). At the after-show party, too, they tried to encourage people to monopolise cyber space with Burberry messages by having a blogging room set up with Apple laptops and twitter screens around Horseferry House that people could tweet into.

The trend continued in Milan, where Dolce & Gabbana not only instantly upped Bryan Boy's kudos by seating him three seats down from Anna Wintour but opened up their show to 16 million users watching from home via YouTube. Alexander McQueen did the same in Paris - and his live stream was so popular ShowStudio's website crashed because of the demand. Add to that the competitive tweeting that's been going on from the front rows - 'First season with full on Twitter - it's like Gossip Girl on crack' as Henry Holland so eloquently put it - and it's clear this is a trend that ain't going anyway.

Given the fashion industry's endless layers of dictatorial behaviour and political machinations at Fashion Week - you're allowed to move a row forward if your superior's stuck in the office and take her seat unless it's on the front row, let's say - I'm all for this new sense of fashion democracy. And it totally makes sense commercially, in my opinion. If luxury brands want consumers to spend four-figure sums on a new season coat, they're going to have to let those people in - make them feel a sense of heritage, of personality behind that piece of fabric.

But at the same time it opens up a conundrum for fashion houses - and the authority of fashion reporting. As International Herald Tribune legend Suzy Menkes noted, within an hour of their respective shows Balenciaga had been tweeted about 41 times and Balmain 75, despite the fact the former was a much more 'original and inventive' show. Part of me is tempted to say it shouldn't matter - that Balmain's managed to infiltrate into the mainstream better so deserve their techno success - but the other side of me sees challenges ahead if a fashion house is going to have to focus on conquering cyberspace as well as producing cutting edge designs going forward.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The Anna Wintour effect

I reckon the world needs a 'fashion baddy' - someone on whom they can pin the snobbery, obsession with skininess and anti-ageing, as well as all the other things they don't quite get about the fashion industry. Because otherwise I can't really explain the falsehoods that have been printed about Anna Wintour's exploits at London Fashion Week, none more ridiculous than this story that she 'shunned' Alexa Chung and Pixie Geldof for behaving like teenagers in a sixth-form common room than true front-rowers. Now, let's be honest, who'd blame Anna if she did behave like that when confronted with London's annoying-young-things, but I was there sitting directly across from the trio and it didn't pan out like that photo suggests. In reality Anna took her seat on time - she's been punctual throughout the shows - and waited patiently, albeit utterly alone, for the show to begin. When Alexa was ushered to her adjacent seat she smiled and shook her hand - let's not forget by the way that the TV presenter is a new editorial consultant for UK Vogue - and even shared a rolling of eye moment when the show sponsors Samsung tried to shove new phones into both their laps for a quick photo opportunity. Then she concentrated on her job - watching the clothes come down the catwalk. So if you can read anything into her distaste it should be the fact she was the only editor-in-chief at the Twenty8Twelve show (no doubt due to the fact her current cover star is co-designer Sienna Miller) and the collection included Alice Dellal in a denim on denim jumpsuit.

Of course I've read Front Row and lapped up every moment of The September Issue but the one time I met Anna Wintour last time she was in London for Fashion Week she was nothing but professional and courteous, shaking my hand before delivering a well-thought-through and humble speech to the British Society of Magazine Editors audience. In fact, it wasn't her who behaved inappropriately at all, but rather those people who'd come to fawn over her who stepped away from the lift they'd been queuing for because she got in it and circled taking sneaky pictures on their BlackBerry of her half-eaten plate at lunch. If anything, it makes me feel a bit sorry for a woman who, sure, cultivated a myth around herself, but now has to live with it every day.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

It's all about VB

I've often wondered why magazines and newspapers still insist on putting Victoria Beckham on their covers/front pages. Surely after almost a decade milking publicity, the general public has grown tired of the Beckham antics? It seems not. The question I've been asked most by my friends outside the industry about London Fashion Week is... 'So what was Victoria like?' This, despite the fact she flew in for a day, took in two shows and stayed, oh at least, eight minutes at the Burberry Prorsum after-party.

The answer, in case you're wondering by the way, is that she was actually surprisingly sweet. Bumping into her in the bum-fight that was backstage after the Burberry show, she seemed as overwhelmed as the rest of us by the bodyguards surrounding her. Ok, she had caked on the fake tan/make-up because her skin wasn't looking that hot, but she didn't look as skinny as those screaming headlines suggest. I was also impressed she brushed off her 'protectors' to make sure she answered the questions we were throwing at her about the show - even if her answers weren't exactly inspirational. 'It was fabulous. I loved seeing colour. And the accessories were brilliant,' she told me, looking directly in my eyes and smiling. Which, I've got to admit, left me somewhat starstruck. She's got it.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

You know it's Fashion Week when....

- You can't remember what day it is, only what show's next
- There are 36 taxi receipts in your bag
- You start the day with a punnet of Blackberries and a sugar free Red Bull
- Your entire call history on your BlackBerry is filled with work contacts
- You can't feel your little toe any more
- You can pinpoint the colour palette everyone will be wearing in six months time (frosted pastels btw) but you haven't got a clue what happened at the Global Warming convention... Or even the Oscars
- 'Dinner' means a bowl of nuts and olives at a hotel bar

Friday, 18 September 2009

Fashion's 'homework'

When will I learn? Every season it's the same. I tell myself I don't need an entire new wardrobe for London Fashion Week. Remind myself that I have a fully stocked cupboard heaving with lovely clothes most of which I never wear. But then, with alarming regularity, the pre-FW fear hits five days before. First the frantic scramble to book with your hairdresser, then the obligatory pedi (for you will wear open toe shoes even if it is freezing outside) and finally a bulimia-style trawl through the shops buying up anything that 'could work' even when knowing fully well it'll go straight back unworn next week. It's not done to show panic to your peer group. When asked if they're going shopping the weekend before fashion week, the answer's usually a nonchalant, 'Oh, I might pick up a few vintage bits from Portabello.' But come that first - no second, when it all gets serious - day it's always clear that's fashion's famous fakery because no one can look that good on three hours sleep, stiletto burn and a champagne hangover without careful pre-wardrobe planning. And Bobbi Brown's under-eye illuminator. So here I am trying to do my best preparation. A shoulder-pad dress from Zara, a few cheap jewellery steals from the fashion cupboard, some vintage jackets stolen from my mum's still pristine 1970's closet, sister's borrowed Gucci sunglasses, a new Smythson notebook - and my Wang of course. I'm ready. Well at least I look the part. Inside, I still feel a bit like the girl who stayed up until 2am the night before a new year at school to get her summer homework done in time....

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Toting the Wang

After months of well-versed agonising, I finally bought The New Bag. Behold! Alexander Wang's Coco Duffel!

It actually happened unbelieveable quickly. An email from Net-a-Porter telling me the item I'd put myself on the wait list for was in and I had 24 hours to purchase. A conversation across the desk with my colleague which included the phrase 'You can always send it back' at least four times. And a click of a button. Next thing I knew it was on my desk.

Now whilst I love internet shopping, there's always something a little weird about it isn't there? That rush of excitement you get when it arrives - child-like, almost Christmas Day esque - followed by a surge of disapointment when it doesn't quite feel the way you expected it to. Isn't as large/small/heavy/light and doesn't hang off your arm in quite the same way. It's almost like you have to spend the first day learning to fall in love with the item you've already paid for, convincing yourself it's right, much like you would before actually buying it in a shop.

You'll be pleased (well unless your my bank manager) to read I've convinced myself I love it - and there ain't no chance of it going back. The only strange thing now is that it's changing the way I dress: my until now adored white 1960's style swing coat for example looks totally wrong with the Wang. I'm entering a whole winter of biker boots, black and winged eyeliner, I can just tell...

Monday, 10 August 2009

Slight hiatus

After months of really committing, I've suffered a blog hiatus. There's been a fair bit of work-related turmoil going on. A ridiculously lengthy job application process, a day spent making what I knew was a 'big career decision' (God, I never thought I'd be saying that) and a lot of hours spent anguishing about the whole thing ever since. Helped by seemingly endless bottles of wine. Add to that moving house, swine flu and weekends packed with weddings/festivals/or whatever and there's my justification for letting the blog lapse. But I'm back. New job, new house, new bag - new me. 

Friday, 12 June 2009

My week in numbers

Remember those chain mail emails that used to go around back when logging onto the internet, required you switching on a modem and watching those twinkly lights flick back and forth for five minutes? The ones that had questions like: crutons or bacon bits? Well this is my modern day version of that indulgence...

Press Gifts: 3. Tiffany necklace, French Sole ballet pumps, Calvin Klein underwear (wrong size - gone to charity shop), 
Eateries visited: 3. Bob Bob Ricard (tea with Arcadia), 11 Cadogan Hotel (tea with D&G), Cafe Boehme (breakfast with Freuds), Starbucks Westfield
Alcoholic drinks consumed: Don't-even-want-to-think-about-number of units. Half a bottle of wine post work drinks, half a bottle of wine tapas with old journalism school flatmates, glass of champagne PR tea, glass of wine screening of September Issue. 
Exercise sessions: 0. Big fat one. Been ill. Seriously. 
Number of items of clothing bought: 4. Vintage Marc Jacobs jacket £50. Vintage Philip Lim dress £70. Zara black trousers £25. Zara basic white over sized tee £14. Zara stuff might go back though! Shopping bulimia...
Ready meals eaten: 1. M&S Chicken Thai Red Curry.
Real meals eaten: 1. Pasta and sauce. That kinda counts...
Things crossed off to do list: 19
Things left on: 5

OK, maybe that exercise was not quite as fun as I had first thought. Slightly chaotic but hey, this weekend to sort it all out...! 

Internet eyeballs

Reading New York Magazine in the bath tonight, came across one of Emily Nussbaum's as-usual genius article, Class of '09. Essentially a survey of a generation of young Americans - the equivalent of which here in the UK have, in the past, been branded binge drinkers, laddettes, graduate divas, Generation Y  (as if they're like some scientific experimentation), internet narcassists and disillusionhed. The results make interesting reading. They are optimistic about the future, engaged in politics, concerned about riding out the credit crunch but ultimately think it's going to make the world a better place, they earn on average £25,000-£30,000 and 72% want to get married. But the most telling part to me was the 'Keeping Contact' section. 44% of them check their email instantly on their phones. 89% have a facebook page. 39% of them watch TV on the computer - only 35% watch it live. And half of them read a newspaper daily - though, it doesn't specify whether that's online or in print. That means our eyes are basically pretty permanently focussed on our computers. But perhaps I should have known that by the fact that the first thing I do when I come home from work - where I've been pretty much staring at a computer screen on and off in between meetings all day. That I check my BlackBerry after I've cleaned my teeth and before I go to bed. And that I'm writing this at 22.26 on a Friday night! If I'm in the house alone, I can't resist logging on. Exciting for the future online. But a worrying development for everything else in modern media? Certainly, I would say. 

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Tea at The Wolsely

There are a few things you have to know about tea, or, come to think of it, coffee, breakfast, lunch or dinner at The Wolsely.

It's perfectly acceptable to be open about star spotting: when Lily Allen strides through in her Russian white fur hat and chats to Damien Hirst over scrambled egg then moves on to Giles's table for orange juice, it's open season. 

If you want to get scones without currants you have to call 24 hours before your reservation to have them especially made. 

One nervous waitress always seems to drop something, usually a glass of orange juice, on the floor. The marble makes it resound all around. 

There are two tiers for tables: the ones on the gallery, reserved for special clients. It's like the sky - where you can oversee the minions and be seen by them in return; and the ones on the main body of the floor, where it's perfectly legitimate but also strategic where you sit. Central you want to be seen, to the side for a more discreet dinner, and at the semi-circular table by the door - not cool. 

It's the most fun ever...

The best part of my job...

...absolutely, seriously. These shoes - that I have lusted after since seeing them in the Philip Lim show and even considered buying the Topshop Boutique imitations - I finally own. And for £180. I love Louboutin. That's all! 

Ok, not strictly fashion related…

…but everyone needs a night off once in a while. Tonight was said night. Went for a run after work (how virtuous!), ran past ex-boyfriend (less virtuous thoughts spent wondering what I’d actually have said if I’d talk to him), made warm summer salad – asparagus, rocket, blue cheese, avocado, crispy bacon and toasted sunflower seeds – and settled down to night with the girls. Cava, cigarettes and an hour of Hot Chip. I’ve been semi-fighting/feeling weirdness (the way you do) with usually most-reliably-fun-flatmate for a while and it’s felt a bit like fighting internally with a boyfriend. ‘We don’t spend enough time together,’ type. But how much easier is that to solve with girls? Planning next big night out (Late of the Pier gig at Corsica studios), pre-beauty treatments (false eyelashes at Illamasque at Selfridges), wondering if we should be feeling guilty for not voting in the European Parliamentary Elections on Thursday, reminiscing over (even more) irresponsible days gone past, swapping ‘I’ve just bought…’ tips (Dorothy Perkins it seems is on fire at the moment) and talking race relations because we’re in the middle of Barack Obama’s first autobiography. Fun times. Now back to planning what to wear tomorrow – press appointment and interview in town tomorrow evening – require an outfit. Stressful! Pondering whether to risk blisters for new Louboutins whilst hearing tramps outside screaming the night away. That’s SE1.  

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Photoshop scandals

Never mind not believing a word you read, never believe the picture in front of you is real. Or at least undoctored. Pretty much every picture in a magazine will have been photoshopped. Sometimes just to readjust the contrast, or alter the levels of light - most often to smooth skin, take out an unsightly logo/cab/person standing in the background and sometimes flipped around entirely to fit the necessary space. Which is why I'm confused by this s0-claimed anti-photoshop crusade at the moment. Whilst I totally agree with the statement from photographer Peter Lindbergh - who has just made his own statement by photographing supermodels without make-up for French Elle - that 'heartless retouching should not be the chosen tool to represent women in the beginning of this century', a few bare-faced pictures do not a campaign make. A token three pages of People magazine's Top 100 Most Beautiful People in the World issue dedicated to Z-listers willing to be photographed wearing 'just moisturiser' cannot count as a revolution. Buy my personal favourite irony of fashion's whole fashionable anti-retouching movement? Conde Nast's new magazine, LOVE. Katie Grand might have picked Beth Ditto - yes, all 20 stone of her - as her coverstar and she might have written her entire editor's letter about not airbrushing one of her bulging curves out in the images. But she failed to remove the 'Retouching Studio's' credit from the masthead. Oopsie. 

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Status symbols

I received this little gift from Louis Vuitton for supporting them editorially on a story recently. It was totally unnecessary - the story was already done, dusted and published - but nice nonetheless to have waiting for you on your desk on a rainy Wednesday morning. Then someone told me how much it retails for. As in how much people will actually spend to get their hands on this wooden bracelet, carved with leopard print and the LV symbol. £250. Oh, and can I point out, too, that you can't wear this bracelet alone. It's made for 'stacking' with a series of other chunky bracelets that if you don't already have hanging around your house, you'd better head to COS to pick up before even thinking about debuting it. Now, this LV bracelet is divine. It's heavy and shiny enough to weigh just reassuringly enough on your wrist and spin around when you're bored in meetings. It's an amazing gift to be given. But the fact that people are prepared to pay the equivalent of a flight to New York on a status symbol that'll sit around their wrist for a season, I find frankly ridiculous. Because make no mistake that it's a status symbol. Something keen fashionistas - or should I say those that want you to know they're one and can afford to be - will buy and get a buzz of self satisfaction every time they wear it, beaten only when someone else recognises it for what it is. The tragic thing is that now I've got it, I'm sure as hell gonna wear it. Forget eBay, when in my world that half-glance-have-to-look-again type of accessory is too important (and ok, delicious) to pass up. Does that make me a fashion victim? Maybe. 

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

I've just seen the (first) Chanel movie...

... and even though reviews are strictly embargoed until 27th June, I will say this. I hadn't realised what a feminist that Coco Chanel was! She rocks. (Though her excessive smoking throughout the movie will leave you gagging for a fag - so maybe the French were right to ban the official poster?). The unbelievably gorgeous Audrey Tautou plays the fiercely ambitious young designer who founded Chanel at a time when men ruled the world and proved fashion rebels can be seriously chic. Because the costumes. Oh my god, the costumes. Overseen by Karl Lagerfeld, with some original pieces from the Chanel archive, they're deliciously and revolutionary austere. I'm in love with the white waistcoat, starched cuffs, strings of pearls and tweed suit.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Bag Ladies

I've been trying to buy a new bag for months now but I can't seem to decide on which one. It's an serious undertaking after all. You're spending the equivalent of a city break on a piece of leather, which, though justifyable considering you'll carry it pretty much every day, means it needs to be right. The problem is that in this day and age of 'It' bags/'Anti-It' bags (yeah, whatever...) every bag you buy comes with an association. Let's dissect...

Mulberry: I was at Bicester Village/the Somerset factory/another unnamed outlet store and it was either this Bayswater or Tommy Hilfiger
Smythson: Bond Street dwelling, Tory voting yummy mummy. Funny that!
Anya Hindmarch: Ditto above. Unless you're a fashion editor. Then it's a freebie. 
Prada: You don't exactly love it but it's Prada. And that's a serious label. 
Miu Miu: You can't afford Prada. But you'll pretend this is the cooler, younger, hipper version. 
YSL: Congratulations. You got yourself on the 4-yearly fashion editor freebie cycle. But as it's a black Downtown (aka. 2005) aren't you due an upgrade? 
Chanel: I spent my redundancy cheque on this 2.55 so even though it holds barely more than my BlackBerry I'm sure as hell going to make sure it dangles from my shoulder. 
Marc by Marc Jacobs: I went to New York two years ago when the exchange rate was still good and bought the shop. 
Marc Jacobs: Ditto above. Only I'm richer. 

I've come to the conclusion I only have two options. High street or Alexander Wang's just-launched and therefore not-yet-high-profile-enough-to-become-hackneyed slouchy tote. Now where can I find £650? 

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Are you wearing trainers?

It's oft said folk in fashion stay skinny with bucket loads of cocaine and very little food. And though there are plenty for whom I know that's true, there are some who seem to believe in exercise too. Exercise, I hear you say? Like in trainers? Yep, really. Recently it seems more and more fashionistas are swapping their Alaia heels for Adidas trainers. editor Dolly Jones did the London marathon this year, raising £15,982.48 for charidee with donations from designers Roksanda Illncic and Antonio Berardi as well as the British Fashion Council's Hilary Riva. Grazia's Editor-in-Chief Jane Bruton just wrote about her experiences, which saw Anya Hindmarch and Paul Smith digging deep into their pockets to help her raise £6,551. And I've just discovered the amazingly groomed and gorgeous PR for Louis Vuitton, Marsha, completed two out of the seriously hardcore Three Peaks challenge - where you climb Snowdon, Ben Nevis and Scafell Pike in 24 hours. Who knew sweaty wristbands and lycra were so fashionable?