Tuesday, 31 December 2013

What's In My bag? NYE

This New Year's Eve, I'll be with a small group of friends, all of whom I've missed immensely while at university. I imagine it will be a night of champagne, dancing, and people hijacking the playlist for their own purposes. It will also be a great opportunity to dress up. Even though we won't be going out anywhere, there's no reason not to pile on the glitter! After all, much like that rule about Halloween from Mean Girls, New Year's Eve is the one night of the year where a girl (or boy) can wear as much sparkly stuff as they want and nobody can say anything about it.

So I'll be dressing to the nines and fortunately I've already taken a photo of my outfit for the OxStu's NYE Lookbook. If you're interested in what the rest of the editorial team is wearing, do check it out! I picked up this long black dress from a nearby vintage shop, along with my old faithful gold faux-snake heels which are second-hand Miss Selfridge. But the pride and joy of this outfit has to be the gorgeous bag, and of course its contents.

Accessorize Clutch Bag - So I've been eyeing this up for a good month or so now, and I've fallen in love with similar bags in Accessorize before and always regretted not buying them. This one was extra special because, well, just look at it, it's so Dolce and Gabbana don't you think? So as soon as Boxing Day hit, I went into town armed with a giftcard I've been harbouring since last year and bought it for just £17 of my own money (it was originally £37, went down to £27 in the sale, and I had £10 on my giftcard). I think it's beautiful, and might even try to do my hair in a suitably D&G style to match.

from Style.com

Moleskine notebook - I haven't decided on my new year's resolutions yet, but I think I ought to have somewhere to write them down if I think of any. That makes them feel more real.

Phone - Not sure if I'll even be coming home or just crashing on the floor after staying up into the early hours of the morning, but it's always good to be able to call home if need be. Plus, more importantly, I can use this phone to tweet throughout the evening! Ah, the twenty-first century.

Hair clip - I'll have an array of hair accessories, some of which may start the evening in my hair, but I'm fairly certain that they won't remain there because I don't have much patience with them. At some point though I'll definitely want to tie my hair back up if I feel like it's getting in the way, so best to be prepared with a range of bands and clips.

Necklace - It was my birthday the other day, and at my party I was given various lovely things by all my friends, including several gorgeous pieces of jewellery. This is the one I've chosen for tonight, because its length should match the neckline of the dress. It's from my friend Cachelle, and when I opened it I seem to remember exclaiming that it looked like the kind of family heirloom which has magic powers in fantasy novels. I had had a bit to drink by that point.

Make-up - I was really in the mood for some dark lipstick the other week, so i spent a good half an hour in Boots and Superdrug selecting the perfect shade. I ended up with this one by Kate Moss for Rimmel London which is called 'Wine', a perfect description, because it leaves your lips looking like they've been very elegantly stained a drink of merlot. It was also very reasonably priced, which is always a bonus. The gold eyeliner is from Miss Sporty, and always a good bet when wearing gold accessories. basically I'm just obsessed with gold.

Scarf - A birthday present from last year, this ought to keep me warm on the relatively short walk there. It's quite thin, but also very long so you can wrap it around yourself several times or use it as a shawl

Camera - I'll attempt to capture a few moments of the evening. I doubt any of them will make it to this blog, but you never know when a great fashion moment will occur.

Happy New Year to all my readers! I hope you have a great evening, whatever you're doing. And all the best for 2014.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Recurring Images: Snow


It's fast-approaching that time of year when we start to look hopefully out of the window each morning, searching eagerly for a white-topped rooftop. If you're in the Northern hemisphere, then snow has an undeniable association with Christmas and the holiday season, along with memories from childhood: building snowmen, stories of magic and mysterious lands (The Snow Queen and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe spring to mind), staying home from school and having breathless, over-competitive snowball fights with friends.

(Just before we get going, a quick warning that this post will contain spoilers for Dead Poets Society and The Secret History!)


It is this through using this imagery of snow in the Chanel A/W 2010 ready-to-wear collection that Karl Lagerfeld evokes a playfulness in the clothes. The whole collection is festooned with faux fur, to the extent that some of the models appeared to emerge from the icy wonderland setting as yetis. He also plays with this association with childhood by creating outfits of an almost schoolgirl-esque nature, with pretty dresses and woollen tights. There is also, however, a certain sophistication to the collection, in keeping with the brand's aesthetic. The hair and make-up puts me more in mind of a scheming snow queen than an innocent schoolgirl.


And that brings us onto the darker connotations of snow. When it blankets the entire landscape, snow can be extremely beautiful, but it also renders everything remarkably bleak. Track the use of snow in film and often you'll find it reflecting the inner despondency of the protagonist. Consider in Dead Poets Society when the boys find out about Neil's death; is there anything more heartbreaking than grief-stricken Todd stumbling off into the completely white landscape? It can also be associated with covering things up. In Donna Tartt's The Secret History, unseasonal snow hides the body of a murdered man: "The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation." The concealment of Bunny's body by the snow seems to reflect the way Richard and the others try to appear innocent despite their guilt, while the fact that the snow appears out of season, in April, showing their innocence to be false.

Because snow is, of course, also visual shorthand for innocence and purity. Alfred Hitchcock called the blonde leading ladies of his films to "virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints", which demonstrates one sadness of snow: it can't remain perfect forever. If nothing spills onto it and nobody walks on it, it will still eventually melt away. But perhaps this adds to its beauty; it can only be enjoyed for a limited amount of time.

So snow can mean all sort of things in fashion, literature, and film. From innocence to unhappiness, childhood to magic, it is truly unique in the effect it has on us. On an aesthetic level, it makes the perfect backdrop for a fashion show or shoot, since it is both plain and pretty. On a practical level, it is cold and can be somewhat uninviting. In fact, it has a long-standing association with exile, spanning right from the Anglo-Saxon poem The Wanderer, in which the speaker has to make his way through a land where "Frost and snow fall/ Mixed with hail", all the way up to Monsters Inc, when Mike and Sully are banished to snowy Nepal.

Despite its negative connotations, I hope you all stay safe and warm this Winter, whilst enjoying any snowfall which comes your way. And with that I will sign off and wish you a merry Christmas!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Fashion Role Model: Hannah Hooper

For too long, I believe, we have worshipped at the feet of 'the style icon'. The very word 'icon' tells us that they are not quite real, that they are images rather than people. Of course, sometimes this is because they represent a movement or aesthetic, but I still think that by having style 'icons' we're idolising an individual who makes mistakes just as much as the rest of us. In this new series, I'd like to put forward a series of 'fashion role models': people who aren't always perfect of consistent in their style, but who have taught me something about fashion. Maybe that's in the attitude they wear clothes with, or ideas they have. It will be more about the thought behind their outfits than flawless execution of styling.

And so on to my first subject. Hannah Hooper is one of the two lead singers of the band Grouplove, and the only woman in the band. Their music first came to my attention when the song 'Tongue Tied' was used in an iPod commercial, so initially I had no idea what they looked like, but when I researched further, I was struck by the free mix of styles which they all adopted. There are elements of hippy, punk, surfer and vintage in how they all dress, but there's no set aesthetic. If anything, their style can be called eclectic. I'm focusing on Hannah because I just think she has some of the most incredible outfits, but the rest of the band are pretty cool too.

What I love about her is her versatility. She can go from West Village tomboy to Victorian ma'am to rock goddess and not once will it seem awkward. And that's what I've learned from Hannah: if you like what you're wearing, and you want to wear it, you can damn well pull it off. Want to wear a skintight leopard print bodysuit? Do it! Feel like slouching around in a men's shirt? Fine! If it feels like who you are today then who has the right to stop you?

OK, now here's where it gets personal, prepare for the gushing. I've never felt very able to take risks with what I wear. IN part, this is because, when I go shopping, I tend to be very practical: how many wears will I get out of this? what else in my wardrobe will it go with? And even though I do own a few reckless impulse buys (a sequinned slouchy top, a tasseled cowboy jacket, a tie-dye cropped sweater) I'll put them on and look at them in the mirror for a long time before wimping out and reverting to a dress with a jumper. I blame being indoctrinated by Trinny & Susannah: I know exactly what looks 'flattering' on my body and therefore I am wary of stepping outside of that zone for fear of looking ridiculous.

But when I went to see Grouplove live at the Boston Arms last week, I had a sort of revelation during the show. Hannah was wearing her famous skeleton bodysuit and currently has bright blonde hair. She was an inexorable force on stage (so much so that all my photos of her look like the one below). And it just made me think, what's stopping me from dressing like that?

OK, much of what she wears is part of a stage persona, but that doesn't mean it isn't part of her personality. Equally, her offstage outfits have that same carefree aura about them. That's why she's one of my role models: she takes risks, she's confident about them, and she looks amazing.