Monday, 30 June 2014

STYLE DISSECTION: CAN'T BUY ME LOVE








Can't Buy Me Love is a teen film from 1987, starring the McDreamy Patrick Dempsey and Amanda Peterson, an actress who disappeared off the Hollywood radar in 1995 (but if you want see what she looks like now here she is posing with a snake and riding a motorcycle).  This is classic 80's angst - it features a "nerdy" boy - nerdy the way Rachel Leigh Cook is nerdy in She's All That - who loves a popular cheerleader from afar.  There is also a top-class makeover, and characters ultimately realising there is more to life than high school cliques.  And of course it's packed with eye-popping outfits of awesomeness.  The film is set in Tucson, Arizona (there are a lot of cactus establishing shots) and the wardrobe designer obviously wanted to capitalise on that, so get ready for oodles of cowboy hats, aztec prints, bolo ties and pointy boots.  Oh and suede frill.  

As with a lot of teen films the storyline is entertaining but also makes you do the, "Err really?!" head tilt on occasion.  But today we're mainly here to look at them clothes.  I was prompted to dissect this film by the lovely Treasure Burrell who wisely noted that there were some threads in this movie that needed to be discussed.

So without further ado...(warning, this post contains a lot of spoilers).

Saturday, 28 June 2014

WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT STYLE FROM WHITNEY HOUSTON'S "I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY (WHO LOVES ME)"


A lot of us still miss Whitney. I know I do. She had arguably the most beautiful voice of her generation, she had no problems churning out hit records, and she was a strong, smart, sassy babe—what a dream. There are so many videos of hers I could watch on an endless loop, but today we're going to look at early Whitney, those halcyon days in the 80s. She was a bona fide pop princess: flawless and peppy, just wanting to get down with someone who cared about her.

This video is for the first single from Whitney's second album, Whitney. The track title has the most significant use of parentheses I've ever seen: “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me).” I always hear that title in my head as a (possibly drunk) girl in a club exclaiming playfully, “Ahh man I just want to dance with somebody! That's all I want! I'm so low maintenance!” But then she looks to the camera (I'm seeing this on film FYI, one in which the characters talk to camera) with a really serious face and whispers menacingly “But only if they love me.” It's classic Kelly Kapoor.
Another Kelly this video reminds me of is the iconic Kapowski. There's a lot in the way of colored backgrounds, big hair, and embellished denim. Also those weird background things they used to use on shoots a lot in the 80s, the big rectangular fence stands that are completely pointless yet popular for photographing women in front of. Normally there's some sort of geometric neon sign, like this:



Wednesday, 25 June 2014

INSPIRED BY: ROMEO + JULIET










MONTAGUES IN THE HOUSE!  

Sorry, this outfit really got under my skin.  I tried to channel some male-teenage-angst for the photos, I wanted my face to clearly portray thoughts like, "Oh man I love a girl but she's from my enemy's family and now I have to die", but actually I just realised that it's really fun to dress like a boy.  At first I was going to try and recreate some of Juliet's outfits from Baz Luhrmann's 1996 film - navy dress, knee socks, gloves and beret, but then I saw this hawaiian shirt hanging up in Jeremy's side of the wardrobe and got really excited about being a Montague.  Especially when all it takes to be one is said shirt, a white vest, these Mango trousers, white socks, dog tags, and my new Dr Martens originals.  I love these shoes.  So much.  They're so comfortable and BIG.  They are a SIZEABLE shoe, they also come with yellow laces to swap in, I will definitely be doing that at some point.  They're just perfect to wear when you're being torn apart by hatred for some other family in the neighbourhood.  

I've mixed in some photos that I took on our trip to Venice Beach earlier this year, as there are no palm trees in London - weird, right?  Although most of Romeo + Juliet was shot in Mexico City and Veracruz I feel like Venice could be it's spiritual home...maybe...whatever, I wanted some blue sky.  YOU CAN AT LEAST GIVE THIS POOR TORTURED TEEN THAT. 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

PLACES I WISH I'D GROWN UP


We don’t have much choice as to where we're born.  Some people live out their teenage days beneath sunshine and blue skies, while others bide their time between holidays, surrounded by grey clouds and tube strikes. For the latter escapism becomes an attractive prospective and we often choose to live vicariously through the lives of the characters in our favourite films, placing ourselves in their geographical locations and imagining a better life for ourselves. 
I grew up adoring the America I saw in films and TV shows.  Not really "real" America, as I've never actually lived there so I don't know what it would be like, but on the whole fictional America seemed like a pretty awesome place to be.  Here is my pick of the best neighbourhoods.

Wilmington, North Carolina
I don’t know much about Wilmington North Carolina – it always makes me think of that song ‘Oh Carolina’ by Shaggy. Then I get sidetracked and start wondering about how he makes his voice go so low, and whether it’s like that in real life, etc etc etc. Yeah, so that pretty much concludes my knowledge of Carolina. However for this piece I obviously had to do ‘research’ so it ‘made sense’ and wasn’t all about Shaggy, so I can tell you now that North Carolina is situated, ironically, in the south of the USA.
Wilmington is a pretty big city which sits on the Cape Fear River, which has to be one of the best rivers in the world, even though its name reminds me of those lame No Fear T-shirts people used to wear in the 90’s. The ones with slogans like ‘If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space’. 
The most important fact about Wilmington is that it’s where numerous incredible films were produced. So if I’d grown up here I probably would have disappeared into the sewers to find some mutant turtles and returned some weird rat/human hybrid, worked at a record store with Renee Zellweger and shaved my head, seen Brandon Lee get shot dead by accident and made friends with Bruce Lee at the funeral, found a human ear on my way home and dated Isabella Rosselini, and totally become best friends with a melodramatic Joshua Jackson and Katy Holmes only to realise James VanDerBeek was pretty cool too.
Now that would have been a childhood.
Shermer, Illinois
It doesn’t matter that this place is fictional, because if we’ve learnt anything from A-Ha videos, it’s that it is possible to be dragged into the TV and live your life in a story. So that’s fine. I can live in Shermer if I want. I can have red hair and still pull off wearing pink, I can have a best friend called Ducky with a huge quiff, tube socks and penchant for lip-synching to Otis Redding, I can create a dream woman using an Amstrad, I can stick it to the man even while confined in detention, I can even put a brick on the accelerator of my father’s Porsche and watch it crash through his floor to ceiling glass window. Or I could just be that girl on the bus with the neck brace and wild hair. Yeah, I’d probably be her.
The only probably with living somewhere fictional is that you’d be stuck having to relive different scenes over and over again, with no ability to change anything or make the story progress, and no chance to say anything other than what’s in the script. But I guess in many ways life is completely out of our control and we ARE nothing more than actors in our own films. So at least this way you’d know there was going to be a happy ending.

Sherman Oaks, California
Sherman Oaks is also home to Van Nuys High School. Kids who attend Van Nuys High are pretty amazing themselves – its real life alumni include Marilyn Monroe, Robert Redford and that woman who fell in love with a cartoon cat, Paula Abdul.
However, it’s also the type of high school where students have evil cars that can completely alter the way their driver behaves, crushing multiple students to death, running down some bully called Buddy, and ultimately *SPOILER ALERT* fatally impaling its owner on a shard of glass (the film Christine. It’s amazing. You have to see it. It totally puts Herbie to shame).
You may also find yourself fighting vampires, since your school just happens to be located above the Hellmouth, or hanging out with Kid ‘n Play as they desperately try to teach each other how to impersonate a hip-hop mogul and a posh boy respectively. Or you might find yourself side by side with The Ramones as they’re made honorary students for no logical reason whatsoever. More importantly though, you'd get to make friends with Sean Penn's teenage pizza-obsessed surfing burnout self.
‘Grease’ was also filmed here. You remember ‘Grease’ right? Cool.
Grosse Pointe, Michigan
Living in Grosse Pointe in the 1980’s you would have spent most days listening to the Clash in your quiet suburban house, taking your girlfriend (in the shape of Minnie Driver) to the diner, then disappearing mysteriously on the night of Senior prom never to be seen again for ten years. I mean, that’s pretty exciting in itself. So if you returned home ten years later, a moody and mysterious trained killer with a quick wit and long black trenchcoat, you’d probably have a pretty exciting life already.  But then imagine going back, you'd be the coolest graduate (and have the most emotional problems) that place had ever seen!
Or maybe I would have been a blonde like my other four sisters, trapped in our house by our controlling mother (Kathleen Turner) who never let us go to prom, and always dressed us in her version of the Von Trapp ‘I make clothes for my children from floral curtains’ look.  And sadly we all know what happened to those sisters.  
FACT: It’s not easy to grow up in Grosse Pointe. 

Saturday, 21 June 2014

THE NEW ARCHIE BOOKS ARE REALLY, REALLY GREAT






It has been a week of comics.  On Wednesday we went to the launch of The Wicked + The Divine, the new outstanding series by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie.  It's packed full of their usual wit, insane creativity and gorgeous art.  And it's such a good concept for a comic, I don't want to spoil it, but it's big fat juicy burger good.

Then on Thursday we checked out the Comics Unmasked exhibition at the British Library, which is well worth a visit.  It's incredible to see a copy of The Illustrated Police News from 1888 depicting the horrors of Jack The Ripper sat in the same room as a strip of Beryl The Peril.  There are some truly awe-inspiring pieces of art on display, and some chilling artifacts such as Bulldog, the National Front's illustrated magazine for young people (I just tried to Google the date that it stopped being published, and instead spent a lovely ten minutes reading about bulldogs on the website for Modern Dog magazine).

All this made me want to go home and read my new Archie books,  I'm a huge Archie fan and I love what they've done with the new additions to the iconic series.  I don't think it's too much of a spoiler, considering the cover images, to mention that the books feature gay marriage, alternate universes, and Archie yet again trying to be a musician.  Although his experiences in this storyline seem far more realistic than the dreamlike surreal adventures of 'The Archies'.  Betty and Veronica forever <3

Thursday, 19 June 2014

WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT STYLE FROM TLC'S "CREEP"


TLC absolutely 100% changed my life. In addition to being gorgeous, incredible break dancers and unbelievably competent songwriters, they taught me the importance of not chasing waterfalls. They also kept me away from "scrubs," which was the pre-Y2K term we used for creepsters, d-bags, and skeezes.
I thought I had a pretty comprehensive view of their whole project back then, but hindsight is 20/20, and looking back now I see the most important thing T-Boz, Left Eye, and Chilli taught us all was how to dress. Here are five examples to illustrate what I'm talking about: 
1. If you're having a bad hair day, put a tea cozy on your head.  
2. Recognize the importance of showing your stomach as much as possible. You've worked hard to get those abs—own it!
3. When it comes to hair accessories, always co-ordinate with your eye shadow.
4. Wear your Sony Walkman everywhere. Your life is awesome and it deserves a constant soundtrack, even if you're risking death while blasting Shai on your bike. 
5. If TLC had just one takeaway, it would be this: spray paint isn't just for walls, friend. 
To uncover more fashion and life lessons from this terrific trio, I've put together a handy guide to style, as sourced from the video to TLC's "Creep."

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

SHEFFIELD DOC/FEST: BEYOND CLUELESS LIVE SCORE


Last week we went to Sheffield with the rest of  the Beyond Clueless team for the UK premiere of the film, and our first performance of the live score at The Crucible.  Here we are in our official jackets in front of a yellow American school bus, accessorising with red cups. 


The Crucible is a beautiful venue, one of the finest we've ever played in.  It also has orange seats. 


Charlie Lyne, the director of the documentary, came to soundcheck to check everything was working properly, and that we weren't going to be TERRIBLE.  He was wearing white trainers, black jeans and this authentic F.R.I.E.N.D.S T-Shirt.  He calls this look Nervous Stage Hand Who Is Worried He'll Accidentally Call Jennifer Anniston "Rachel" The First Time He Meets Her. 


It's important to fuel up before a gig, especially when it's an important one, as adrenaline burns those calories right up.  We went to Tamper for a hearty brunch and a hot milo (malted chocolate drink) which they serve with "textured" milk.  


Jeremy got some foam on his nose and it took all my willpower to tell him as I was sort of desperate for him to still have foam nose while on stage. 


The brunch was very strong. 


Although I ate it so quickly I was a bit worried I would be burping through every song. Although what could be more Frat than that?  Which is what I must have been pondering in this photo below. 


Charlie was really excited about the premiere and the live score. 


We had our good friends, and excellent musicians, Matt and Nathan on stage with us.  Here's the band backstage in our jackets, seconds before the show began.  I dressed up my outfit using two hands as shoulderpads, I think it works.


The score went really well, thanks for asking.  If you came to watch, thank you so much, we really appreciate it, as without an audience our job sort of doesn't make sense.  We'll also be doing the live score at Latitude Festival on the Sunday night, and at the BFI in London on the 8th of August.  We're also releasing the soundtrack to the film on vinyl and digital download on August 4th.  You can hear the title track from the album RIGHT NOW by clicking on the play button below.  Yay!  Technology!

Monday, 16 June 2014

INSPIRED BY: KELLY KAPOWSKI










I accepted a long time ago that I could never be Kelly Kapowski, and that I will definitely never look like her.  Played by Tiffani (Amber) Thiessen, Kelly was Saved By The Bell's ultimate 90s teen queen (here is my Style Dissection of the show if you have no idea what I'm talking about).  This lady was sporty, ambitious, sweet, kind, and beautiful in a wholesome, all-American, "perfect" way.  When I was a teenager I felt like I was never good enough, had low-self esteem, and was bad at every single sport I was forced to play.  But the older I get the more romantic those teen years seem.  In fact I have a theory that our identity is mostly formed at one age - for me it was aged 18, the summer after I left school - and we don't really grow out of being that defining age, it's more that we grow into it.  We're caught in a cycle of repetition, except it's a comforting one where we have more chances to get better at the things we weren't confident about, and can recreate those intense emotions we enjoyed experiencing for the first time.

So it's a delight to try to dress like one of my pre-teen heroes, a woman I watched week after week and admired and longed to emulate.  And although I still don't know if I'd be confident to wear it in day-to-day life, it was fun to put this outfit together.  Kelly wears a lot of pink, Aztec prints, and floral, so I tried to do a triple hitter and tick all three boxes in one outfit.  My hair should really have been oozing hairspray, backcombed to within an inch of its follicle, but, well, I just don't know how to do that.  The crop top and shoes are from ASOS, the earrings are from Gogo Philip, the bag is from WEGO in Japan, and the shorts are from Native Rose.

Kelly Kapowski, teen dream, I will never forget you.  Now can someone help me convince Jeremy to dress like Zach Morris?


Friday, 13 June 2014

LESSONS WE'VE LEARNT FROM POP CULTURE

Buffy7

Jeremy and I wrote this for The Guardian Guide a while ago, it’s all about the films and TV that have made us who we are today.
1. BEWARE THE BAD GIRL 
(REFERENCE POINT: NANCY IN THE CRAFT)
There’s one in every school. She snaps her gum, finds everything unutterably dull, and spends 95% of her time in the toilet, drawing rings round her eyes with kohl, a lit cigarette drooping from her red lips. To the quiet girl no one seems to notice, the bad girl is irresistible. You’d do anything to be in her clique: repress your high IQ, skip school so you can stand in the rain for eight hours pretending it’s fun, even have a candlelit seance where you pledge your allegiance to the devil. It’s not worth it. As Sarah discovers in The Craft, you risk entering a hell of magical trickery. Your ex-boyfriend will die after your best friend impersonates you and flies at him so fast he falls out the window, and you’ll believe your father is dead as the carpet in your house turns into a mass of writhing snakes. However, you will have the last laugh. While the bad girl is frogmarched off to a mental institution, you’ll retain your magical gifts. Everyone knows it’s the quiet ones you’ve got to watch out for.

2. STICK IT TO THE MAN WITH DANCE 

(REFERENCE POINT: FOOTLOOSE)

Like many of us, I used to think that the act of engaging in any sort of movement related to rock music was evil. I thought that it should be banned for all those under the age of 18, and that anyone who did partake should be heavily supervised. However, recently a young man called Ren – odd name I know, but that’s a whole different issue – spoke up in favour of “the rock music”. I didn’t listen then, not for a second, but oh boy, when I saw that kid dance! Suddenly all those resolutely unshakeable ideas I’d had for my entire adult life just flew out the window as I watched him gyrate rhythmically in a cropped grey sweatshirt. I’m not embarrassed to say I even looked down to see my own foot tapping. Forget love, music changes everything! See also: Grease, Dirty Dancing and The Breakfast Club.

3. BEING POPULAR CAN BE DEADLY 

(REFERENCE POINT: HEATHERS)

When you’re a teenager, you want to be part of something, you want to belong, to feel like people know you and respect you. Sometimes this can mean your friends don’t really feel like your friends, more like people you have to keep up with. It’s as if you work together and your job is being popular and stuff. So when one of those friends drags you to a college fraternity party and leaves you alone in a room with a mindless chump who has no idea what your name is, and then you accidentally throw up all over your friend’s shoes while arguing with her, you can feel like your life has ended. You may even feel like you want to go on a murder spree with your new emotionally unbalanced, trench-coated boyfriend, poisoning your besties with bleach, and shooting two jocks in the head in the middle of the woods. Don’t. Just lick it up baby, lick it up.

4. YOUR PARENTS ARE PROBABLY OK 

(REFERENCE POINT: MY SO-CALLED LIFE)

OK, so your parents suck. Your mother is a control freak who wants to be the master of every aspect of your life, from your grades to your party dress. You hate them! But when you sneak out of the big family gathering unseen to go to bad girl Rayanne’s birthday party, only to find her OD-ing, and her lame hippy new age mom awol, you’ll be glad your parents have it together. And sure, your dad might be unemployed, but he’s an amazing cook. And OK, maybe you think he might be cheating on your mother, but at least he doesn’t beat you up for being gay like Rickie Vasquez’s uncle does. All in all, your parents are pretty awesome. And when your crush Jordan Catalano sleeps with your best friend in a car outside a bar, you’ll be glad you’ve got them.

5. ANYONE CAN BE FRIENDS 

(REFERENCE POINT: FREAKS AND GEEKS)

Ah, Freaks And Geeks. That brilliant portrayal of the complicated, often spiky relationship between the two underclasses of the high school clique system: the hippy-leaning, music-loving, drug-taking Freaks, and the high-test-scoring, sunshine-eschewing Geeks. When ex-Geek Jean Weir buddies up to the Freaks (including James Franco, Seth Rogen and Jason Segel), it takes them a while to warm to her. But by the end of the season, Franco is playing Dungeons & Dragons with the AV Club in a dingy basement (his character is called Carlos the Dwarf). When Jean rejoins the Mathletes for one last contest and all the Freaks turn up to cheer her on, it proves one thing: truly, friendship can cross any boundary.

6. PEOPLE MAY CHANGE AFTER YOU ‘DO IT’ 

(REFERENCE POINT: BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER)

Speaking of crossing boundaries, you might have thought it was pretty obvious that an affair between a schoolgirl of 17 with an occult mandate to destroy evil (Buffy) and a centuries-old vampire Gypsy cursed with a conscience (Angel) was never going to turn out perfectly. But, for a while there, it was good. They hunted evil vampires together, they made out in cemeteries, she gradually came to terms with the fact that before being cursed with goodness Buffy’s boyfriend killed hundreds of innocents. (Everyone’s got flaws!) But it all changed when they were swept up in their passion and went All The Way. Having finally experienced a moment of pure happiness, Angel’s curse is lifted and he goes back to being evil and killing people, before Buffy runs him through with a giant sword. We’ve all been there.

7. HIGH SCHOOL REUNIONS ARE A GEEK’S MOMENT OF GLORY 

(REFERENCE POINT: ROMY AND MICHELE’S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION)

It’s really not worth attempting to be cool, or pretty, or sporty at school, because if teen pop culture has taught us anything, it’s that kids who make it in their youth inevitably bomb after graduation. Their adult lives become an endless, depressing struggle to relive those glory days when they were taut, tanned and all their goals were achievable. Meanwhile the dorks who wore Doc Martens and black lace gloves had to look outside the school gates to find something they loved, and that loved them back. They got into bands, they wrote short stories, they disappeared into themselves, only to reappear 10 years later to discover that their wealth of geek knowledge has landed them a millionaire salary manufacturing rubber soles, or that their tendency to make their own clothes, embarrassing in high school, has resulted in their own fashion line. It’s far better to be a Romy, or a Daria, or even a Duckie (from Pretty In Pink) and wait it out so you can show all the haters at the reunion, than to bag a jock in freshman year and realise aged 18 that you’ve already experienced the best years of your life. And yes, this is a purely American tradition, but we think it can also apply to the UK. You just have to replace “high school reunion” with “Facebook photos where they look bad”.

8. TRUST YOUR MENTOR, NO MATTER WHAT 

(REFERENCE POINT: THE KARATE KID)

New to town and sick of getting beaten up by the local martial-arts jocks? (Every small town has karate jocks, right?) The Karate Kid – the tale of a young man seeking a mentor with a mysterious past to guide him through some sort of struggle, a story probably as old as Mr Miyagi himself – will look after you. Daniel-san enlists his building’s handyman to help him get really good at hitting people. Seems like an odd choice, but it works out, even though Mr Miyagi tricks his teenage charge into washing his fleet of classic cars and painting his fence. Daniel gets good at hitting people and wins the karate contest, to general jubilation. Oh, and of course he gets the girl. Learn from him.