Tuesday, 21 June 2011

I keep reading in magazines the frequently voiced opinion that the internet has stiffled creativity. Well, not creativity, so much as the desire to properly investigate, research and explore. Enthusiasm and passion have overtaken fact, knowledge and experience.

I don't wish this post to descend into a regurgitated debate of bloggers versus journalists. That conversation has been had too many times before, and by far greater and better qualified individuals for me to attempt to shed any light on the matter or say anything new.

The internet is both a blessing and a curse as a democratizing force. The widespread availability of information at all times and in all places is like a deluge of words, images and film that is both refreshing and overwhelming. The idea that anyone, anywhere in the world, can fabricate a web page of their own design leads me to question the validity and truthfulness of almost everything.

I shall never forget the words of my history of art professor at university who adamantly repeated: 'All images are fake. No image is real.' What he meant was that there can never be an objective recording of anything, ever; be it words or pictures. Everything that is said, verbally or in writing, every photo that is taken and film that is recorded is done so from an angle, a unique perspective, your perspective. No matter how detached you may try to be, you always only see things from your point of view. Everything is tainted by the personal touch. Even the footage you see on the news: someone recorded that and made a decision, conscious or otherwise, to shoot from that standpoint, to aim their lens in that direction, at that event.

The content of the internet is largely like this. A proliferation of points of view and opinions, especially on blogs. We all comment, critique, observe and respond. It is so easy now to read ten, a hundred, a thousand different perspectives of one thing- and due to the open access of the internet it is easier now than ever for one person's perspective to be subsequently adored or vilified. 

Due to the younger generations having grown up parallel to the evolution of the web, they more quickly updated to the online medium and subsequently are the ones most at risk of overexposure.

Whilst I think it is fantastic that online blogs have enabled the voices of younger, passionate, enthusiasts to have their voices heard, I do worry about their ability to withstand the constant presence of the online public. The current level of celebrity hysteria is shocking. 'Bieber fever', Gaga's 'little monsters'...it's overpowering. And as the crash and burn cases of young stars like Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears have shown- it is hard to withstand the pressure of constant observation and scrutiny.

Isn't it about time that we stepped back? Shouldn't we take a moment to 'switch off'?

Obviously I am aware of the hypocritical nature of this post as it is being published on an online blog. But, how else are you supposed to communicate in this day and age? No one reads letter anymore.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

In the deserted park, silent and vast,
Erewhile two shadowy glimmering figures passed.

Their lips were colorless, and dead their eyes;
Their words were scarce more audible than sighs.

In the deserted park, silent and vast,
Two spectres conjured up the buried past.

“Our ancient ecstasy, do you recall?”
“Why, pray, should I remember it at all?”

“Does still your heart at mention of me glow?
Do still you see my soul in slumber?” “No!”

“Ah, blessed, blissful days when our lips met!
You loved me so!” “Quite likely,—I forget.”

“How sweet was hope, the sky how blue and fair!”
“The sky grew black, the hope became despair.”

Thus walked they ’mid the frozen weeds, these dead,
And Night alone o’erheard the things they said.

Friday, 17 June 2011

I have spent the last few days in Suffolk doing an AW fashion story with beautiful lingerie by new designer Katharine Harrison and big cosy knits, riding boots, wellies and all the accoutrements of luxury country living.

Until the age of about fourteen I was a naughty little tomboy running riot through the fields of my grandparents' houses and causing havoc in our local forests with the BMX boys who lived down the road. I loved nothing better than kicking up the dust in my old weather-beaten boots, climbing trees and making dens. Pretending I was an adventurer. Exploring new worlds.

So, whenever I return to a country environment, no matter where it may be, I feel the pang of nostalgia and my mischievous side begin to peak through. When I'm in a large country house (or any house other than my own, really) I cannot resist the urge to sneak down corridors, peak into rooms, climb up dusty staircases and give in to all the whims of my curiosity. 

I like to see how other people live; how they organise their things, what their things are, how they visualize and create their personal environments. Blogs like The Selby are catnip.

So here is a sneak peak into my even sneakier peak at the house we were shooting in.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011


If you were to look at the myriad street style blogs across the web you would hear the invisible voices proclaiming aloud down the photographer's lens that they are the most stylish, they the coolest, their city the humble abode of thousands of equally well dressed and coiffed individuals.

At least that is what I hear.

Photos ABOUND of bloggers capturing their own daily style offerings, or presenting the most eye-catching looks of passers-by which they have 'discovered'.

I don't wish to be misunderstood- I neither feel any disdain for such sites, nor do I profess to avoid them disinterestedly. Quite the opposite. If you were to look at the bookmarks bar on my beloved macbook you would see countless links to blogs, worldwide, whose content matches the above description. I like to keep abreast of what people in different cities are wearing, what trends seem to be proliferating across the globe like a virus, and what minor tweaks of styling I can pick up from the creative mind of another.

But as the months have rolled on since I first became an avid observer of the online fashion community I have grown...tired, of the repetitive nature of posts: the same poses, same camera angles, same hairstyles.... but most of all, the same subjects. Despite the existence of some menswear blogs like stylesalvage or thestyleblogger, the stylings of girls and women dominate online content. Due to this lack, I devour the intermittent bites of well-dressed gentlemen on the Sartorialist. But, still, Scott Schuman, master as he is of the street-style genre, primarily captures the more traditional, suited and booted gent.

I am looking for something a bit different.

In London, the tailors of Saville Row are world renowned for their pristinely created masterpieces of suits. This is truly a craft, and one which supplies the demand of many a city businessman for the week's work and beyond. But London is also home to a wealth of other men's styling choices: from the customised creations of Camden punks, the preppy urbanites of Clapham, the wacky try-anything Shordites, the 'rude-boy' young guns of Brixton and everything in between.

For men, as well as women, vintage has made a major come-back in the noughties. You only have to walk through the door of the major Beyond Retro warehouse store on Cheshire Street to be confronted by a visual assault of 90s era colour pops or grunge gear. From neon string vests, thick sweatshirts emblazoned with everything from WWF to Americana style eagles, stars and stripes, oversized and over-bleached denim jackets, roughed up old black worker boots and many, many, many plaid shirts of every variety. Beyond Retro has it all. And if it all is too much of an attack on your senses and you feel overwhelmed by choice just look to the staff. The many guys there are sporting looks from grunge rock'n'roll, 80s colour craziness and all out Fresh Prince of Bel Air chav-glam.

The 90s are coming back around. The fashion world is returning full circuit through the 60s, 70s and 80s onto that beautiful era of our childhood (if, like me, you are a twenty-something with fond memories of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Care Bears). If you want proof, just begin to count the number of hi-tops you're seeing around, gracing the feet of men and women alike. Take a trip to the Nike flagship store at Oxford Circus where all the sales assistants are decked in their finest street-sports gear with a custom pair of Zooms or Air Jordans.

Embrace the colour. Embrace the hi-tops. Experiment. Enjoy.

We are lucky to live in a time of continual renewal, rejuvenation and creativity where you can wear what you want, dress how you like and change your style each day as the mood strikes. Ditch the standard and try something new.

(All photos by me on the trusty iphone)

Thursday, 9 June 2011

I distinctly recall sitting in my grimy student room during finals and thinking: 'God, I can't wait to get out of this shithole.'

The 'real world', a world beyond the dictates of lecture timetables, tutorials and coursework deadlines, was a land of freedom and adventure. A place of possibility. Imagine the luxury of being completely independent. Earning your own money, paying your own rent and making your way in the world.

University didn't really prepare us for the brutal truth of the situation.

Upon entering the 'real world' you come to realise that rent is far more expensive than you thought, council tax and bills add up to shockingly enormous monthly payments, finding work is near impossible and upon securing that elusive position of employment you find out that a seemingly unfair proportion of your paycheck gets taken away for National Insurance Contributions and tax- none of which you understand.

I recently had a lovely young girl of fifteen come for two days work experience. She was sweet, intelligent, enthusiastic and completely unaware of the wonderful hardships that lie ahead as part of adult life. It is only upon witnessing first hand the beauty of someone who still looks through rose-tinted glasses that you come to see just how smudged and bleary your own vision is- obscured by the dirt of financial woes and career confusion.

For someone so young, this girl had an amazing range of interests which extended far beyond the stereotype of my super sweet sixteen. She talked of her love of art house films, Wim Wenders documentaries and modern art, which we saw first hand at the Frith Street Gallery (an intriguing little wonder in Golden Square, W1). Yet when we briefly discussed her potential career trajectory she was blissfully unaware of the realities of interning.

There has been much debate in the news recently about the pay for interns and whether 'who you know, not what you know' is a valid step up the career ladder.

The truth is that, particularly within the creative industries, and fashion in particular, the whole machine fails to run without the handy assistance of the cost-free intern cogs. Interns do the menial work whilst gaining experience of how magazines/design houses etc run. You don't get paid firstly, because there is a mutual understanding that the experience (and contacts) you gain is worth more than gold dust and secondly, (and more importantly) there will ALWAYS be someone there to take your job should you choose to raise the issue of pay or working hours. Fashion has become such a lusted after employment sector that even gaining an internship is a battle in itself. The potential interns are fresh out of school and far more willing to do the work for free than us twenty-somethings with degrees who may feel over qualified and unable to work without pay with the constant burden of student debt looming on the horizon.

Thus, the debate begins again- to go to University or not to go?

I have been discussing this with many recent graduates and we all seem to be in a similar state of frustration and fatigue. Personally, I define my uni years as the best of my life. I partied, made friends and ran free for four years without a care until the exam period. The girls (and some boys) that I met are closer to me than some people I have known my whole life. I truly believe that we shall remain friends for life. This prosaic declaration aside, I also believe my University experience to be an almost total waste of time and money. I am about £17k in debt and four years behind many people in fashion who began working straight out of school. It is impossible to get a well-paid job at a magazine or retail head-office as I lack experience and I don't have the contacts, or the ability, to do an internship whilst balancing the costs of London living.

What to do, what to do?

Run away, or stick it out?