Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rag&Bow

On Saturday I spent a delightful few hours at the Rag and Bow pop up vintage store at Paradise by Way of Kensal Green. I met up with the lovely Lucy at Gail's, in Queens Park for granola. Oh Gail's. How you make me happy, you and your artisan breads, and your amazing coffee.
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We then wandered down the road to Kensal Rise, with the aid of one street sign, and totally unjustified sense of direction. Needless to say, we got lost, and I'm sorry to report, but the Blackberry trumped the iphone this time round, in summoning up some Google mappage. But hey, you get lost, and you get the first sign of daisies and daffodils in random parks and commons, rows of terraces curving gently around the street, and amazing florist shops that are exploding with the promise of spring and the French countryside.
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We did make it there eventually, and my oh my, I think I've found my new favourite pub. Paradise by Way of Kensal Green. Every light fitting was some gorgeous vintage setting. There were stuffed birds in glass cages, and speckled mirrors, and creaking stairs, and old paintings, and leather bound books.
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There were atriums, and and hanging bouquets, and shifting sunlight shafting through windows, sending dust motes spiralling around amongst tables waiting with candles, and shining bars with urns full of blooms.
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And then, of course, there was the vintage.
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The absolutely stunning Hazel of Rag&Bow was super friendly, and the whole concept of a pop up vintage store is just awesome (and I clearly love superlatives). Definitely check out their blog to find out how the concept came about. They even do vintage parties, where they come to you, and you can have a whole evening of playing in vintage clothes... amaze. 
As much as I love clothes, I can't actually say I like shopping that much. I'm what I would call an accidental shopper - capable of knowing in an instant what I like, but only able to execute this judgement when I'm not actually planning to shop. Places like Topshop and Zara, though amazing, scare me. So! Many! Girls! All! Trying! To! Buy! The! Same! Thing! And the changerooms are hot, and people are waiting, and the price tags are non-negotiable... blergh. Don't really like it. Vintage shops, op shops, and markets, on the other hand? Perfect for the accidental shopper. Everything is basically a one-off. There's the adrenaline of grabbing what might be cool, or might not, and diving for the nearest bathroom/corner/curtain to try it on. Racks of clothes that are full of potential and personality, demanding attention and a sense of fun.
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I'll showcase the wares in another post. Yes, this post is a gratuitous photo post. Suck it up. Before I sign off, however:
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While I haven't done in an outfit post in like a million years, I did snap these in that old trusty self-mirror-shot style while trying on some amazing old dresses.
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Shirt: Levi, thrifted from Paris
Jeans: Wrangler
Leopard print scarf: thrifted from Portobello markets

Enough from me, sleep well kittens.

xx

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

Janz and Cooper

Not only do Janz and Cooper have one of the best websites out there (Amelie-esque music, dreamy models moving, everything that is so much more than overly edited, brightly coloured editorial style), they make some wicked sunglasses. 

I'll take these:

You should also check out their blog here, which not only has press clippings that highlight Janz and Cooper's quiet but sure move into style must-haves (installation space in Harvey Nichols, anyone?), and a few sightings of the glasses on some tres stylish peeps, nut an insight into both their creative process and manufacturing ethos.
Want. Want. Want.

Animal-ipstick

For Traceybee.






The incredible Paige Thomspn's Animal-ipstick series. Her work can be found here

Macaroons, Not Gym

Sometimes in London I get so caught up with thinking what I should be doing - going out to clubs, galleries, drinking with friends, that I never really just relax into living here. On Friday night, I was half resolved to go into Trafalgar Square for World Book Night, but decided to stick with my original plan of heading to the gym. At the point of exiting the tube and  walking in the direction of the gym, my footsteps found themselves heading straight on home. A glass of wine, slippers, and some Ellie Goulding later, I was not sorry. And decided to make macaroons instead. My lovely cousin took the title of chief assistant, and those are her pretty circles made all over the tracing paper.
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They weren't perfect, but they were fun to make! And surprisingly easy. Besides, tastebuds are blind. We made one lot of chocolate filling, and one raspberry. Mmmmm, tasty! 
So many thanks to the lovely Jaymie, of By Jaymie, for emailing me the macaroons recipe. The fact that she scanned the recipe and emailed it over after one little comment about how I'd love to make macaroons is probably the reason I love blogging and the blogosphere as much as I love sticky sweet things. Thanks Jaymie! 

Six Of One

My favourite piece of the Orozco exhibition was the Obit Series 2008. 
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A banner like series of prints depicted phrases from obituary notices. Just five or six words, summing up an entire life. Some were eccentric, noble, humbling, funny, odd, sad. I scribbled a few down on my map, though I wish I could reproduce them properly, because the font type and size added meaning to each fragmentary phrase:

'Eccentric, Even for England'

'Introduced Top Sherpa to Everest Climbers'
'Lived in Two Worlds, White and Black, Both Bitter'
                  
                    'Versatile and Volatile Star'

'Spelunkher Who Kept a Secret'
              
     'Gave Dictionaries to Children'

'Movie Idol Noted for His Physique in Loincloths and Togas'

'Ballerina With a Comic Touch'
    'A Percussionist for Victory'
'Whose Bottles Mapped the Ocean's Currents'

'General's Widow'

'A Poet of Depth and Haunting Vision'

'Villainous Pro Wrestler'

'Spy and Tennis Star'
'A Dreamer'

There were so many more. So many poignant, odd flashes of lives lived and lost. Who was the spelunker, and what was his secret? How villainous was the wrestler? What is eccentric, even for all the oddities of England? Which philanthropist gave the gift of words to children? All these questions, the answers to which are only going to be found in our own imaginations.

It reminded me of one of my favourite sites, which I forget about, and rediscover every couple of months: the Six-Word Memoir over at Smith Mag. They encourage people to write, in six words, about love, life, happiness, being a teen, being a mum, etc.

My favourite is reading the love memoirs. It's amazing how poignant some can be, how much heartbreak, joy, wisdom, sadness, despair can be expressed in just six little words.

'Note to Self: ignore head cases'
'The cure? Wear red lipstick tomorrow'
'Yes it's the truth, I lied'

'Quit obsessively rereading your letters. Progress'

'Get out of my dreams please'
'I still compare everyone to you'
'And then I married him anyway'

'Met, loved, married 46 years. Alzheimer's'
                                         'Dog approves. Maybe this guy's good?'

                    'Hearts clubbed by diamonds in spades'

What would your six word memoir about love be?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gabriel Orozco

On Sunday I meandered past St Paul's down to the Tate. In the lovely rain, without an umbrella - which seems to be the story of my life. I don't know whether it's optimism, forgetfulness, laziness, or a refusal to be inconvenienced, but I just have never seemed to get the knack of carrying an umbrella.

 Anyway, coffee makes even damp feet ok...
Going to art galleries is one of those things that, in theory, I love. That I want to do. That I spend my time doing. The disturbing truth (sorry, hipster cred), is that as much as I talk about it, wish it, and make definite plans to do it, I can count on one finger the amount of times I had been to an art gallery before moving to London. Luckily, I now need both hands, and can name drop galleries in Paris, Prague, and London. And I am surprised at how much I really do love going. It's amazing to see how much effort goes into appreciating the art, especially when the art world can seem so far away from the real life work-coffee-wine grind that sweeps my weeks into months.

Making the effort to see Gabriel Orozco's exhibition at the Tate was one of the best things I've done since being in London. A lovely work friend had mentioned she'd been meaning to see it, so we made a Sunday afternoon of it. 

"For me it is not so much what people see in the show, it's what you see after ... how your perception of reality is changed ..." Gabriel Orozco

Orozco's works are many and varied, and range from playful, to morbid, with a teeny bit of artistic pretentiousness along the way. One of his works is an empty shoebox on the ground. When I do that, it's called mess. Plonk it in the Tate, and it's art. Go figure. 
Another ... strange one was First Was the Spitting 1993, which were his doodles surrounding a spit of toothpaste on graph paper. Another, Ventilator 1997, involved toilet paper tied to a circular ceiling fan. Which admittedly did make pretty circles.

He really does pull your perceptions of space and function and force you to think about what is art. Just because an empty shoebox is in the middle of the Tate Modern, it is suddenly art? I guess it questions the assumption that there is inherent value in both art and normal objects, and what kind of value we attribute to each. 

Some of the best - 
Lintels 2001. 
This was made using the lint formed of skin, hair and fabric that accumulates in the filters of drying machines. Ozorco collected it from laundromats in New York, and hung them like clothes on a washing line. Our first reaction was a bit of a snigger at those laundromats handing over the greyish blue lint balls. But hung up in this white space, the pieces of lint looked like torn, moth eaten clothes, and brought the desperation of concentration camps and poverty, and empty lonely detritus. Scraps of cloth barely enough to cover the absence of a body. This connection between the forgotten fluff and skin that accumulates in our machines of industry, and this feeling of forlorn death was thought provoking to say the least.

My Hands Are My Heart 1991
There was something striking about these images. You could also see the lump of clay in a glass box. His hands shape this clay, and he offers it to the viewer, and it does, somehow, resemble both a heart and the lungs that surround it. 

Yielding Stone 1992
We all walk these streets, and step on drains, and crunch leaves, and impress ourselves upon our surroundings, but imagine if we were impressed upon? I don't think I could handle it. I don't think humans have the resilience of clay.
 Breath on a Piano 1993
Just beautiful, and transient. A moment disappearing after the breath has already been and gone.

And my very favourite, the Obit Series 2008 I am saving for another post later.

Sorry for the ignorant arty diatribe. Go and get some culture into you...

xx

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Jason Wu + Tommy Ton

It's been a while since I had a good stalk through the loveliness of Tommy Ton, where I found these images from the Jason Wu Fall/Winter 2011/12 collection. Jason Wu shot to prominence in dressing Michelle Obama.

These look amazing, all workmanship and craft, dreaming and history, dusky pink lips like a half-faded rose, netting and lace, feathers, intricate details, and spiky gold heels like solid stalagmites. 
The lace work looks so light and airy, yet it's dense enough to cast shadows, covering the models faces yet making those same faces more part of the workmanship than usual. Against such flawless skin, the lace looks like tattoos - wildly beautiful face tattoos that are not remotely primal.
It covers and reveals at the same time, all patience and modesty and daring, and just loveliness.