Wednesday, 27 August 2014

CANOODLING WITH MY CABOODLE







Meet my Caboodle,  AKA possibly the best thing to ever happen to my life. Think of the touring possibilities!  The snacks and strepsils I can put in this baby!  The space for my earplugs and hair products!  I read up about Caboodles a lot when I was researching my piece on Almost Famous for Noisey as in the film Penny Lane has a tackle box she takes on the road which is a very early version of the Caboodle boxes that sprung up in the late '80s.  (Cher Horowitz also has a silver one FYI).  Caboodle's creations were actually based on a very similar tackle box to the one Penny has, which the designers saw Vanna White using in 1986 in People Magazine backstage at Wheel Of Fortune.  

You can still buy brand new Caboodles today, but my intense attraction for anything '90s led me to look for a vintage one on Etsy.  I've packed it full of scrunchies, crappy eyeshadow, friendship bracelets and glittery nail varnish - exactly what I would have used in the '90s (and, err, still use now).  This is what true love looks like. (This is me trying to be Penny Lane with my Caboodle). 

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

'SAVED BY THE BELL' LIFETIME MOVIE


The Lifetime Saved By The Bell movie is coming on September the 1st, and I am giddy with excitement.  The fabulous Anne Donahue has just written about it on The Guardian, so far we know that Dustin Diamond is involved, but it's not based on his extremely dubious book.  Thank goodness.  The trailer looks sort of wonderful and sort of awful, which is surely how all the best TV reveal-all recreations should be?

Saturday, 23 August 2014

THE SCORE: 'ALMOST FAMOUS'


This is a piece I wrote for Noisey about the music and style in the Cameron Crowe classic Almost Famous

The best time to be in a band? Definitely the 70s. Sure, bands were mostly touring in a bus rather than on a plane, and there wasn't as much money for artists as there would be in the dreamy days of the 80s and 90s. But there was hard liquor, big flares, and the sweet beginnings of rock ‘n’ roll excess.
Almost Famous is set in 1973, when Bowie was still wearing glitter, Led Zeppelin were the biggest band in the world, and 15-year-old Cameron Crowe (the film's writer and director) was calling upRolling Stone, putting on a deep voice, and landing his first writing job. The film is based on Crowe's experiences in the music industry as a sweet-faced teen, sitting side by side on tour buses with Bebe Buell, model, singer and girlfriend to a myriad of superstars including Elvis Costello, Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop, Todd Rundgren, and, most famously, Steven Tyler. Without her we wouldn't have his daughter Liv, or THAT Aerosmith video, so thank god those two got together. It makes sense that when Crowe was penning his autobiographical script he would base the part of Penny Lane (played perfectly by Kate Hudson) at least in part on Buell.
Crowe's version of 1973 seems somewhat more tame than other reports of the time—perhaps because we're seeing it through the eyes of an innocent virgin. Sure, we still get glimpses of the “Riot” Hyatt Hotel in LA, topless girls draped in furs, and hallucinogenic drugs, but it's all pretty vanilla. For example, said drugs are ingested at a suburban teenage party by the fictional band's lead guitarist after he has a crisis of confidence. While wearing these swimming shorts.
This isn't shark meat and orgies. But that's OK, watch Gimmie Shelter or Sid and Nancy for a more gritty take on this glorious but extremely politically incorrect world. Instead Crowe delivers a sweeter version—a young boy falling in love twice, first with music, then with a girl—and a dissection of what it is to be in a rock band who are never happy with their ranking, because their ranking isn't good enough to get them on the cover of Rolling Stone
But the film isn't just about the music (though that earned Almost Famous a Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack). It was just as much about the clothes and all of the decade's astonishing fashion trends:  muted colours, platform shoes, suede. And in LA it was all about tassles, fur, peasant blouses, and worshipping long, big, natural hair. 
Since the 70s are sartorially back in full swing, with festival fashion reaching a saturation point and runway designers like Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Marni putting a modern spin on the decade's styles for fall 2014, what better time to talk about Almost Famous' iconic wardrobe? 

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

INSPIRED BY: 'ALMOST FAMOUS'








This week I wrote about the music and style in Almost Famous - my personal favourite of Cameron Crowe's oeuvre - for Noisey.  That West Coast music scene in the '70s was all about big hair, boho, fur, leather and suede,  so I tried to incorporate all that into my outfit.  And then added an ankle chain.  Penny Lane, Crowe's top "band aid" (based loosely on real-life model, musician and lover of rock stars Bebe Buell) ended up being treated pretty badly by the man she loved.  But before that happened she spent a summer on the tour bus with Stillwater, seeing America and swearing at school girls, doling out rock 'n' roll wisdom to the innocent William Miller.  I would argue that it's impossible to watch the film and not fall a little bit in love with Ms. Lane.




I'm carrying my trusty pale purple Caboodle, which is the closest thing I have to Penny's tackle box that she uses to store essential tour supplies.  (I'm going to do a separate post about this box as it deserves it).  Needless to say, it's awesome.  The clothes: the shoes are my Swedish Hasbeens I've had for years, the skirt is from Y.A.S. (you can get something similar from Forever 21 for £7.99 - how does that work?!) the top and jacket are from ASOS.  The necklace and anklet (yes, ANKLET) are both items I've had in my possession for a looooong time.

Guys, it's all happening.

Monday, 18 August 2014

RODOLFO LOAIZA + DISNEY







I'm so behind on this! Mexican artist Rodolfo Loaiza first exhibited his Disney re-imaginings this time last year at the La Luz De Jesus gallery in LA, well, Hollywood in fact.  I only discovered him a couple of weeks ago after someone posted a picture of one of his pieces on Instagram.  I've been obsessed ever since.  I'm obviously a huge Disney fan, and I love the way he puts a twist on the fairytale endings and messes around with context.  Cinderella cooing over a McQueen shoe, a bodaciously Botticellian Sleeping Beauty relaxing next to a Bambi-type deer with two heads, the sweet marriage of the two Prince Philips, Belle and Princess Jasmine snogging (god I can't wait for the first gay Disney film), and how could I not fall for an Aurora/Edward Scissorhands mash up?

I also love these portraits below of some of the most famous characters as tattooed fans of pop culture. Belle in particular looks like a Daria-esque dream girl. Check out Rodolfo's instagram for more.




Friday, 15 August 2014

THE BEST BEAUTY MOMENTS IN FILM


This is a piece I wrote for i-D Magazine. It's always a thrill when I get to write for them, as I grew up reading those glossy pages.  It now seems like a serious error in judgement not to have Lauren Bacall or even Marilyn or Audrey in this list, but I can dedicate a whole other piece to those sirens of the screen another time.  

In films the way a character looks informs, supports or sometimes even challenges the way we perceive them. Make-up becomes a signifier for the character's inner life - that shade of lipstick, those earrings, all reveal an extra layer of personality, and it's very rewarding to analyse and dissect the idea behind them. We can learn a lot from them – I often look to films for style and beauty inspiration. Here are my top five favourite female beauty looks from film.


 UMA THURMAN IN PULP FICTION
Mia Wallace knows what works. Her pale skin is dusted with powder; her sleek black bob is striking and shiny. Her eyeliner, blood red lipstick and matching nail lacquer – Chanel's Vamp - are in wonderful contrast to her bright white shirt. This look is crisp, razor sharp, controlled. Which just makes her OD later on even more dramatic.

 
FAYE DUNAWAY IN BONNIE AND CLYDE
Dunaway is a 30s beauty reimagined by a 60s make-up artist. Soft peach lips, strong brows, pale eyeshadow finished with a flick of black eyeliner and rows of fake lashes. Her hair is worn loose or clipped on one side with a 30s style curl coaxed onto her cheek. Her skin is golden, glowing from days on the run in the heat of summer. A beautiful badass.


ALICIA SILVERSTONE IN CLUELESS
Is there a teenage girl more loved than Cher Horowitz? She's an American icon; beautiful and smart, superficial and spoilt. The classic LA babe, she flicks her blonde blow-dry as she walks through the quad, sports fuchsia lipstick and sparkly eye-shadow on a date, and has the confidence to wear yellow tartan.


JULIA ROBERTS IN MYSTIC PIZZA
Before Pretty Woman and Notting Hill, heck, even before Hook, Roberts played a small town girl who fell for a rich guy. She's boisterous, sassy and sweetly vulnerable. Sure, her hair is in huge 1980s curls that threaten to swallow her face, and her eyebrows are brushed up and filled in. But she's undone and natural and it's perfect.


SHARON STONE IN CASINO
This wife of a mob boss doesn't use makeup, she uses war paint. Ginger is a natural beauty but she accentuates and exploits every feature on her face, and then back combs her hair. Bronzer, smoky eye-shadow, glossy pink lips and chunky jewellery are all locked and loaded in her arsenal, and the result is breath-taking polished gorgeousness.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

INSPIRED BY: 'SEINFELD'










Yep.  So this week I roped Jeremy into dressing up as Jerry Seinfeld, while I tried to emulate the style of the excellent Elaine Benes.  We also strongly considered dressing up as George and Kramer (bagsy I get to be Costanza) but maybe we'll do that another time.  I definitely want Jeremy to only wear this outfit from now on AND NOTHING ELSE.  I might hide the rest of his clothes.  I don't think he's ever had anything that tight on his waist before, but damn those jeans look good!  They're vintage Levis 501s AKA the dad jean of the '90s.  The suede bomber (hubba hubba) and burgundy shirt are both from ASOS, and the box fresh Air Max 90s are of course from Nike.  I feel like that sneakerhead Jerry would approve.  

I'm wearing a vintage floral maxi dress I've had for about a hundred million years, ditto the white T-shirt, ankle socks and black waistcoat (Elaine likes to layer).  The denim jacket is from Missguided, the shoes are from Dune (similar here), and the bag is one I got a while ago from Pull&Bear.  

Below is my interpretation of Elaine's "STELLA" that she does when she has taken too many painkillers. 


Sunday, 10 August 2014

STYLE DISSECTION: SEINFELD


One of the best decisions I think Jeremy and I have ever made is to watch Seinfeld, in its entirety, this summer.  I first watched it when I was at drama school, so I have a lot of memories of being exhausted, wearing grubby black leggings and eating humus while watching Jerry and his pals get into mischief.  It was perfect TV, so comforting and hilarious.  It's perhaps the best sitcom of all time, inspiring, and imitated by, so many shows.  Including Friends, something I didn't realise the first time I watched it (I was knackered, sorry) but this time round I'm frequently shouting, "Friends did that!" as we rip our way through the episodes.  

As always the style of the characters is as interesting to me as any other element of the show, and these guys look great.  In 1989 when Seinfeld first aired there wasn't really as much focus on costumes for characters in TV as there is now.  So a lot of what they're wearing is inspired by the wardrobes of the actors - Julia Louis-Dreyfus reportedly dressed pretty similarly to Elaine, and I can't imagine Jerry Seinfeld would have ever thought that hard about what he was putting on.  Apparently they would always dress Michael Richards in clothes one size too big so he looked loose and casual, and Jason Alexander in clothes one size too small to add to his awkardness.  Clever.  Anyway, without further ado lets rifle through their wardrobes.  

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

HOOKWORMS ARE AWESOME


A while ago I reviewed Hookworms debut album Pearl Mystic for Talkhouse, I obviously loved it, because they're a fantastic band.  That review is below.  MJ from Hookworms is a Good Guy, he seems funny and smart - he and Alanna from Joanna Gruesome - another excellent band - gave me great DM-breaking-in advice

In July he called out some sexism when top music gear mag Sound On Sound ran an advert by sE Electronics where a woman's naked body was used to sell a, err, microphone.  This is part of what he posted on the band's Facebook account:

"This is really important - companies need to be challenged on their sexism. The image in this advert of a woman without a head propagates the position of the female as an object in a man's world to be written on and used to sell a product. (a microphone?!)

I (MJ) am lucky enough to make my living from recording and I want women and girls to also feel comfortable in what is currently a highly male dominated industry. Images like this advert show we still have a long way to go".


You know when you already like someone, and then they do something awesome and you're all, "I KNEW I HAD GOOD GUTS".  

Joanna Gruesome meanwhile have also spoken out about sexism in the industry after they received horrible comments on a Drowned in Sound piece.  You can read what they had to say about that here.  I love these guys.

Here's a great Hookworms track, 'Away / Towards'.




Anyway, here is that review:

Hookworms are a band who aren’t afraid to get angry. Self-professed admirers of the punk/DIY spirit, a recent NME interview saw lead singer MJ (aka Matt Johnson) discussing how upset he was that more people in the UK aren’t politically engaged: “It’s so disillusioning that even in 2013, 175 MPs would vote against gay marriage, but our generation’s non-reaction to it is embarrassing.” In fact, he can’t believe his peers aren’t writing socially aware songs, a mantle he and his four bandmates have shrugged on themselves. (While they’re at it, they’re not interested in so-called posh bands either — “I can’t connect with bands who own a fucking rideable lawnmower while people play cricket in the background,” MJ railed in the same interview. Personally, I’d love to hear music inspired by the Jeeves-and-Wooster garden party picture that description paints, but Hookworms aren’t as keen.)

So why are there so few political bands these days? Maybe it’s that injecting social commentary into lyrics can be very tricky: Be too specific and you forever connect your songs to a specific time. For example, mentioning Obamacare or the anger over Margaret Thatcher’s funeral may seem relevant and sharp now, but in five years’ time you could have the political equivalent of the 4 the Cause jam “Email,” released in 2000. (Sample lyric: “Can I download some of your pics to my Minidisc?”) But if you get it right, you’re looking at Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” or Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit.”

Hookworms are a great band. Incredibly proficient musicians, they write discordant hooks that repeat and lace over each other beautifully before exploding and crashing around the room. They insist on being known only by their initials as they have “no interest in being celebrities.” Their lyrics inspire uncomfortable squirming with their heartbreaking honesty — well, when it’s possible to hear them. The fact that the vocals are so heavily distorted, enough to make them indecipherable, suggests their lyrical approach to politics seems to be more subtle, ideas delicately handled from a first-person perspective. For example, on “What We Talk About,” MJ seems to be singing about his own depression, rather than taking on more global issues: “Death did not matter at all.”

Maybe that implied reluctance is because audiences find outspoken bands harder to digest these days. Thanks to social media, there is an openness and accessibility with many artists that has never existed before: on Twitter we can get involved in the conversation between Lily Cooper and Azealia Banks about whether or not Mr. Cooper looks like a thumb. The days of poring over Rolling Stone, idolizing the artists featured in iconic black-and-white shots, are long gone — we’ve peeked behind the curtain and realized it’s really not that glamorous. They’re just people like us, so why should their opinions matter more than anyone else’s? When Amanda Palmer posted her poem to the Boston bomber, it sparked a huge internet backlash. Gawker called it “the worst poem of all time” while the A.V. Club said, “Amanda Palmer has somehow found a way to make the city’s marathon bombing about her.” While it’s not a new thing for musicians to make comments that offend, it is a new thing for them to be able to respond directly, instantly, and globally.

Maybe we can only take posturing and big statements from artists when their music is critically acclaimed, something associate music editor Michael Hann noted in his piece in the Guardian of April last year. “It’s a commonplace in consideration of art: separate the work from the person. Larkin’s poetry is not diminished by the racist, sexist content of his personal letters; Jerry Lee Lewis might have married a 13-year-old, but he’s still one of the founding fathers of rock’n’roll; Lou Reed’s entire public persona might be an insult to those who believe in politeness and common decency, but he still made those Velvet Underground records. What, though, if consensus holds your work is rubbish? Should that reflect back on you as a person?”

But then, it comes back to Kanye West, who recently sampled Nina Simone’s version of “Strange Fruit” for “Blood on the Leaves.” His recent New York Times interview was ridiculed by many bloggers and journalists, with several pieces listing the six (or sometimes seven, depending on the article) most obnoxious things he said: “Like, I want the world to be better! All I want is positive! All I want is dopeness! Why would you want to control that?” Yeah. What a douchebag, right? How dare he! Thank God that David Bowie never said anything insensitive about the Nazis. I am so relieved Morrissey has never said something as stupid as blaming BeyoncĂ©’s handbags for the near-extinction of the rhinoceros. Praise the Lord that John Lennon never said the Beatles were bigger than Jesus.


So I am glad that on their debut Pearl Mystic, Hookworms have striven to be politically and socially aware with their lyrics. It seems a shame that few bands are willing to make strong statements with their songs, particularly at the moment when there are so many issues to be addressed. But then what rhymes with Prism?

Sunday, 3 August 2014

TIME MACHINE: JANE MAGAZINE FEB 2006







I loved Jane magazine. I had a subscription and my back issues are among my most prized possesions.  I was looking through one the other day and was once again struck by how funny, irreverent and great looking they were.  Edited by Jane Pratt (who of course founded Sassy and xoJane, and helped Tavi Gevinson with Rookie), they feature articles on Jenny Lewis' snow globe collection, how the Jane team tried to prank the Oscars gift bags by selling the company who puts them together bologna shaped like the famous statuettes.  They also encouraged celebrities to write their own captions for paparazzi shots of themselves, and have a "Beauty Dare".  This months' was trying out tourist braids, the hairstyle Monica Gellar had in the Bahamas in Friends, with hilarious consequences.

Sure, they still cover similar topics as other womens' mags - clothes, hairstyles, makeup, but with a twist.  For example suggesting products you should use when you're about to ride the crimson wave (so very Cher Horowitz), or how to make yourself look better when you're suffering from a super bad cold.  And they play with the idea of the magazine fashion spread - this time it's a story based around the internal monologue of a young starlet: "I should not have been at Bungalow 8 until 4am".  I will also love them forever for including a Boss delay guitar pedal in their list of things they're excited about that month.

I'm also a big fan of their "Ask Jane's Mom" letter section, where you, well, ask Jane's mom something.  And who wouldn't love that little anecdote about James "Ted" Franco on their back page.  I really want to put that photo of him from his High School yearbook on instagram and tag him.  Oh, and did anyone watch Rollergirls??