Friday, 25 July 2008

A history lesson in trends

History has taught me so many things about fashion. Black is a constant, nautical and safari are always ‘key’ in spring summer, and hems rise and fall with the economy (this last revelation is particularly apt this autumn as austere calf-length garments that chime with the current talk of recession dominated the season’s catwalks).

One of the most annoying things I have learnt about 'fashion' though, only occurred to me recently. It was while I was in Faith last weekend trying to spend a £50 gift voucher. What I realised is that I am not only a terrible judge of people, but I am also an appalling judge of trends.

Let me break it down for you. Many a time I have met someone that I thought was absolutely fabulous. I spent every moment I could with them. They made me laugh, I made them laugh - I was a funnier, more intelligent, more attractive person when I was around them. However, it too quickly dawned on me that these people were actually crazy, high maintenance, exhausting and self obsessed. My infatuation quickly diminished.

On the opposite end of the scale, I have often met people who seem nice, kind, and genuine but kinda meh. They seem pleasant enough but my sheer laziness and rude nature meant I made little or no effort to develop a relationship. Embarrassingly these people have turned out to be amazing, interesting, beautiful and over time they eventually become some of my best friends (who now mock me endlessly for my initial cold and bitchy demeanour).

These examples quite accurately describe my relationship with fashion trends.

For instance, I find myself acknowledging what turns out to be the 'winner' of the trend bunch. It looks terribly nice and sturdy and classy I think. But I will dismiss it for reasons that are beyond fathoming right now and then proceed to back the donkey of the herd. The best example of this is skinny jeans.

When skinny jeans first arrived on the scene in 2002 I thought to myself "Oh my, aren't they pretty? Wouldn't they look great with this? Oh, and that! And those! They will fit right into my existing wardrobe. I must purrr-chase immediately!".

I was grabbing my coat and purse and running out the door when an evil fashion monkey appeared from no-where and whispered into my ear "No! Wait! Hang fire! Edith - don't spend your money on those! It will be a waste, a one-season 'flash in the pan' fad. Skinny jeans will never go the distance. This is not the 80s. You'll HATE yourself next season if you buy them. Step away. Skinny jeans are DEAD to you!"

And so with sadness I did step away. And now it is 2008 and the fucking skinny jean refuses to die. Kate Moss is STILL wearing them. And of course I had to concede eventually and start wearing them because for a while they were the only style of jean that was available to buy ANYWHERE. And now I am bitter because I could have invested in a pair from the outset and been a 'style leader' or 'early adopter' at the very least. But instead I ended up as a damn sheep! Baaaaaaaaa!

Erm, aaaaanyway. So. I'm in Faith with this £50 gift voucher; I've tried on 8 pairs of shoes and dismissed every pair for being too big, too small, too cold, too hot, blah blah blah. Finally I settle on these:

And yes, you guessed it. That is when I had my 'epiphany'. *Boof*

Way back in 2005 when the gladiator sandal made its first appearance on the spring catwalks, I was worryingly obsessed with having a pair. I scoured the globe (read London) trying to find some, but alas it was not to be. When they eventually dripped down to the high street in 2006 they were being described as 'ugly' by the meedja. Clearly this meant that they were never going to be a must-have! I should NOT invest. I bid them a fond goodbye and wished them well on their journey to fashion oblivion.


Oh, that was me mashing my head into the keyboard by the way. Because once again I completely mis-judged a trend, and lost out on years of good fashion time as a consequence.

I am determined that this will NOT happen again.

And so I got to thinking about Autumn 2008. I thought I'd make a list of potential trends that I don't think will capture the public imagination. That will just not take off! Nuh-huh. Then I will take this list and I will BUY EVERY DAMN THING ON IT. Here is the typed up version of the list...

Trends to ignor
e (errrr, I mean run out and buy into immediately):

Lace: My immediate reaction is that this is going to be sooooo huge in this one season that is can't possibly go the distance. It's the 'new' ballet pump (which as we know did NOT take off). Clearly a 100-meter sprinter rather than a marathon runner. In a few months time it will look dated.

Peek-a-boo: In winter? People will be cold! Transparent fabrics and revealing garments just won't cut the mustard in the wind and rain. Practicality is a paramount concern to any fashionista so this is doomed to fail.

Heritage and Military: Two words. Over exposed. There is a limit to how many brass buttons I can stand the sight of. And over the knee boots - I don't even need to make a snide comment about pantomimes for you to see why they are destined for the sale rack.

So, race you to the shops?


Friday, 18 July 2008

The Modern Eyebrow

Before I get onto the subject of eyebrows, I'd like to start by saying I am really stupid. You see the London College of Fashion Magazine launch I posted about a few weeks ago was nothing of the sort. It was a complete con! A fabulous con complete with canapés and cocktails but a con non-the-less. It turns out that 'magazine' was actually code for 'prospectus' and I was the only person at the party that didn't psychically interpret that from the invite. Hurumpf. Anyway, the reason I'm embarrassing myself by telling you this, is that while at this event I had a defining moment in my search for the perfect eyebrow.

For some time now I have been in pursuit of the perfect 'modern' eyebrow. An eyebrow that is straight and thick and full. The journey originally begun last summer when I accepted a new job, I still had the harsh words of a make-up artist I was on a shoot with echoing round my head 'you have very old fashioned eyebrows'. Gawd dammit! I don't have old fashioned anything if I can help it! So, I let my eyebrows grow for 3 weeks whilst on holiday and had them threaded two days before I started the position. "New job, new shape" was my rationale. The look satisfied me for some time, they were a marked improvement on the dramatic brows that predated them (for which I blame Cosmo and my mam by the way. Both encouraged me to pluck far too young. I lacked experience, style and enough sense to know what I was doing was going to affect my looks for years to come. What resulted was a very Gothic architectural inspired shape that made me look permanently surprised). Eventually though the novelty of my reshaped eyebrows wore off, they were nice enough but they were still no Natalia.

Fast forward a little to the 'magazine' launch. I'm having fun, guzzling the free cocktails and sneering at the hoxtonites. No one would guess that I was in the middle of my very own browgate. I was over 6 weeks in. I was growing out my 'old-fashioned' shape to make way for the 'modern' eyebrow. If you were to sweep my fringe aside you would see the full horror of my situation. I looked (and still look) like I fell asleep in a play-school and was attacked by several million children armed with marker pens and an unusual affinity with Frida Kahlo.

Anyway, it was here while stroking the very in elusive and very long hair on my chin that I had a series of awful thoughts that went something like this - why won't my eyebrows grow as strong and as quickly as the hair that insists on inhabiting my face? What if they never grow in properly? My eyebrows STILL have baldy patches 6 weeks in! It's so unfair! I have alopecia of the eyebrow! As I get older I have less hair in the places I want and much, much more everywhere else. Does it simply serve to amuse Jebus that I have now have hairs in random places like my big toes? (Did I just grim you out there? I grimed myself out a little).

The panic settled in. I tried to disguise it by eating mini toad in the holes but that didn't work because some fucking genius decided to put horseradish on them. HORSERADISH ON PORK? Heathens. Panic was swiftly replaced by nausea and I was forced to put my thinking cap on just to distract myself. What should I do? What should I do to remedy this pickle I had found myself in?

And so I came up with a plan of action complete with contingencies if the unspeakable should happen and my eyebrows *gulp* remain sparse. Firstly, I set a deadline. I would give my eyebrows until just before my birthday to right themselves and if nothing had changed then I would have them threaded to as thick a shape as possible and move onto plan B. Eyebrow thickening products. If they won't grow, I'll just buy the hairy beasts!

My birthday is now less than three weeks away. And in case I need to resort to emergency action I've been trying as many products as possible i.e. as many as my job will allow me to call in without being fired. They range from the very cheap to the inordinately expensive. And being a kind, generous, helpful person I am sharing the best 3 with you:

Lancôme high precision eyebrow pencil: The colour lasts all day and is surprisingly natural. Many eyebrow pencils (Chantecaille's included!) can give your eyebrow an orange tinge and Lancôme manage to avoid that landmine.

Shavata heart shaped tweezers: Tweezing your eyebrows into a strong shape can make them look thicker. These tweezers are part of a mini kit that includes a mirror with 5 x magnification. Perfect for plucking! What I really love is the compact size and the kitsch design. The squeals my friends make when I pull this out of my handbag are unreal. My only gripe is that trying to get the tweezers out of the compact can be a bit fiddly.

Talika eyebrow extender: This is my favourite product by far. You sweep the head along your brow, it leaves fibres that mimic your eyebrow and create the illusion of thickness. Aye carumba! It's quite addictive, that's the only problem. Like pringles. Once you pop you can't stop. And if you apply too much your eyebrows become hard and glossy. A great product if you can show restraint!

So there you go. I have shared my knowledge. If I can save just one person from going through what I have experienced, my pain will all be worth it. *Wipes tear from eye*


Friday, 4 July 2008

Cult style

Two of my very good friends are getting married this year. I am excited about this for two reasons. Firstly, the idea of wearing an Isabella Blow worthy hat. And secondly, the thought of experiencing the joyous moment of seeing people I care about declare their love and commitment to one another in front of family and friends (wow that was a long sentence). But it's mainly the hat thing.

When my friends announced their engagement I always knew I would be donning a hat on the big day. The 21st century really doesn't afford me with enough occasions to wear anything other than a beret on my napper you see. So the plan was to get a massive fuck off hat and sob uncontrollably at the front of the registry office. For many months I have been scouring the globe (OK London) searching for the perfect head adornment. There will certainly be none of this token John Lewis feather fascinator malarkey going on my head! (I would quite like to channel some sort of bird or animal a la Carrie Bradshaw FYI).

However, over the past few weeks I found that this need to wear a huuuuugGGGEeee hat (although still there) has become secondary to sporting a rather fabulous and awe-inspiring hairstyle. A vintage homage to Katherine Hepburn if you will. Picture a thick glossy mane coiled into a croissant shape that boggles the mind with its sheer defiance of the laws of physics! The hat while still important, would not fight for attention with the bouffant, but would compliment it by perching on top perfectly. Of course a trip to the hairdressers will be necessary, but that's OK because it signifies that I truly am a grown up. (I remember when I was a child and attended weddings with my mother, that on the morning of such an occasion the 'ladies' went to the hairdressers had their hair pinned up while I busied myself smoking candy cigarettes)

And then this morning I read this. And it suddenly occurred to me where this hairstyle that I envision so vividly, that has slowly come to fruition in my mind over the past few months, had unconsciously been sparked from. The Polygamic cult in America! GAH!

Is this how it starts? First I like the hair? Then I start buying the clothes they sell on-line? And before you know it I've moved to Texas bought me a bible and become a fully blown member of a cult?!

Unsurprisingly, this is not how I see my life going (who wants to dress in polyester and have only one tenth of a husband?). So it has come to pass that the hat will after all be victorious over the hair (which will be left au naturelle). This however, brings up a very different problem that has nothing to do with God. Where does one find a beautiful hat that every high-street department store hasn't done a knocked off version of? Ebay is the obvious choice, but frustrated after hours of trawling their site and being outbid at the last minute *shakes fist* has lead me to decide that I want to splash out and treat myself.

So, after spending far to many work hours on the internet clicking endlessly on links and looking at some horrendous eyesores, I finally hit gold. Rachel Trevor Morgan has an amazing selection of hats, fascinators and hairpieces that suit all ages and styles. Young, old, conservative, exhibitionist... We are all catered for! And while this is not what I envisioned wearing to my friends wedding, I am particularly fond of this black number that is reminiscent of Dior's New Look. Because if I can't have the hair of that era without looking like a bible-bashing cult member at least I can have the hat.


Both hats shown are from Rachel Trevor Morgan.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Shop it to me!

Have you ever done that thing? You know that thing! Where you are wandering aimlessly around a shop just killing time until you have to either return to work or meet a friend, and then suddenly you see it. The dress/skirt/trousers/top/jacket/shoes/bag (delete as appropriate) of your dreams! That item that you know you were meant to be with!

You become breathless, your palms are clammy and your heart is racing. Your forehead starts to bead with sweat as you grasp for it. In the deep, dark depths of the piece of coal that is your fashion heart you know that you are meant to be together as one. United you will fight crimes against style!

Already deep into day-dream mode, you are picturing your long and happy future together, how you will introduce it to your fashion friends and family, and by golly how your daughter will squeal with delight when you can pass it down to her (not that you have a daughter yet mind you). Oh, you are so sure of this love that you feel ready for serious life long commitment.

Then while reaching for your purse and running towards the till you happen to glance at the ticket. And that is when the most awful thing happens. It stops you dead in your tracks. Chills your blood. You are screaming on the inside “WHY JEBUS WHY? I AM GOOD PEOPLE! WHY MUST YOU TAUNT ME SO? WHY PRICE THE REALLY GOOD STUFF OUT OF MY HUMBLE REACH?”

A quick mental run through leaves you with the following options:

  1. Nick it (you aren’t a very good runner though, especially in today’s shoes and you simply CAN’T GO BACK INSIDE AGAIN)
  2. Sell a non vital organ like one of your kidneys (but you suspect that by the time you’d organised this the store will have sold out)
  3. Sell a member of your family (however your klan are a sensitive bunch and so you anticipate that they may be a bit mad at you).
Deflated and defeated, feeling isolated and alone, you meander from the store in a haze. You have a lump in your throat and your insides are knotted. You were sure that dress/skirt/trousers/top/jacket/shoes/bag (again delete as appropriate) was the one. All the magazines say that when you meet your soul mate you just know because you feeeeeeeel it inside. You finally understood what that meant. It wasn't supposed to end that way. *Sniff*

Oh, it’s a real pisser when that happens, isn’t it?

Well, this shall be no more! No, no no no no no no NO! And it’s all because of the very clever people from Shop it to me.

Shop It To Me is a free service that tells you when the stuff you love goes on sale. All you have to do is register (which only takes a few moments) and involves you picking your favorite brands (there are more than 500 to chose from including Prada, Banana Republic, Tory Burch, Marc Jacobs…), and inputting your size preferences. Finally you select the frequency that you want to be alerted (daily, weekly or monthly). Shop It To Me then emails you when a label you like goes on sale in your size. And fret not non USA citizens! There's even the option to only select retailers that ship to your country. HUZZAH!

So now there is nothing more for be to do, but sit and wait and check my email obsessively. Because I know that I shall be rewarded for my patience. My soul mate is coming. Good people, start making way for the glorious Alexander McQueen blazer! Halle fricken lujah!


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