Sunday, 31 October 2010

This is for you

If you've had a bad day, or are just feeling a bit down... This is for you.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Home is where the food (sorry, HEART) is

My stomach is the happiest place in the world right now. I shall never be a die-hard fashionista; I am just not dedicated enough to salad. When Kate Moss said no food tastes as good as skinny feels, she had obviously never eaten one of my mum's roast dinners. Or pumpkin soup and crunchy bread. Or homemade chocolate orange cake. Or chocolate buttons.

Tomorrow evening it will be back to a diet of porridge, vegetables and pesto pasta, so I have decided to stock up on yummy food this weekend.

Last night was the meaning of happiness: my family, lovely friend Harriet, steak and chat. I arrived back in the afternoon and regressed happily to childhood by baking cakes with my mum. In the afternoon we greeted my godmother with a plate of warm cupcakes, and a surprise visitor (ME!). It was so lovely to see her. Then it was back to Evelyn House where my step-dad had cooked my favourite meal. Harriet joined us; I hadn't seen her since I left nearly 2 months ago so when she knocked on my front door I hugged her for at least 5 minutes. She laughed at me but realises that if you're friends with me, you have to get used to hugs. It's part of the package. We then ate and chatted away into the evening, blissfully unaware of the hours passing.

This morning it was so nice to wake up in my old bed. It has been a lovely day. My mum and I went for lunch at Pitt House walled gardens, a cosy restaurant with a log burner and pretty china, where they cook with vegetables from the garden. To get there we drove through the Wilsthire countryside, down winding lanes that twisted along rows of flame coloured trees. The hedgerows were mottled orange, green and tainted brown and the skyline a ribbon of grey sky meeting ochre leaves. At times it was desperately frustrating to live somewhere with minimal public transport and no cinema, and I was definitely ready to move on, but today's drive made me realise how lucky I was to grow up in such a beautiful part of the country. The countryside around here really does take your breath away - the patchwork fields and quaint village shops and churches are the things you expect to see on biscuit tins but not in real life. But in this quiet pocket of the South West it really does exist.

After pumpkin soup and chocolate orange cake we headed home.

This evening the house is full again. My sister is back from Cambridge for the weekend too, so for the first time in months and months we had the complete set around the kitchen table. To celebrate the occasion my mum made a triumphant roast dinner; the kind of meal to make a grown man cry with happiness at the sheer brilliance of the roast potatoes. And the leeks in cheese sauce. And the clouds of mashed potato. And the bread sauce. And the PIGS IN BLANKETS. Food isn't just food. There are some foods that mean so much more. Jelly and ice cream means childhood birthday parties. Heinz tomato soup means down in the dumps. And Mum's roast dinner means family, comfort and home.

This weekend has done me so much good already. It is as though someone has plugged me in to a socket and given me a bolt of electricity to charge my batteries and keep me going. In a way it is a little sad too. Looking around my room, filled with photographs and memories, part of me longs to go back a year.

But then I look at my piles of Vogues, the shelves and shelves of the fashion books I couldn't fit in my suitcases, and my walls plastered with adored pages of magazines. And I think about the girl sat at her desk, sick of A-levels, feeling trapped by her small town and dreaming of Vogue. I am still that girl and still want the same things, but there is one difference. Now I am free and a step closer to all the things I have dreamt about. It may be difficult at times and I may find myself momentarily disheartened with it all, but I just have to remember what I am doing this for, and work my hardest to get myself there. One step at a time.


Friday, 29 October 2010

Back to Den

I am writing this from comfy double bed in Dorset. The marshmallow-like duvet is curled around me and the sheets are soft and clean and smell like washing powder.

It was only when I walked through the door that I realised how much I had needed to come home, even if just for a few days. As soon as I stepped inside I was greeted by the warmth of the aga, a cosy glow, and the arms of my mum and step-dad.

Even if it is just for a few days, it feels good to be back, to the comfort of 'den' as my step-dad calls it. However big and brave we all try to be, and however much I love London, we all need to come back to den sometimes.


Thursday, 28 October 2010

Cheer up Chuck

Who could fail to be cheered up by this rucksack (£37.95, Pedlars). It might make me look like a jam sandwich eating school child (or perhaps just a particularly enthusiastic tourist) but I can't help but feel this Crayola coloured bag is something I need in my life.

Right now I could do with a bit of cheering up. It has been a difficult, tiring week in the big city and I have come out the other end of it feeling more than a little battered by London life. Cue a weekend home with my family to recharge my batteries and (if I'm nice to mum!) lots of homecooked food. I think a few days to get away from the stress of work and the buzz of the city will do me good.

Come Sunday I hope to be returning to Hackney raring to go and all set on conquering the (fashion) world once more.


Tuesday, 26 October 2010

I. LOVE. You.

Despite the rain, I was feeling Selfridge yellow. Stood in the magazine department of said glorious store I felt deliciously content. For one thing, I love Selfridge's. Pushing through those revolving doors I always want to be wearing heels so I can make an important and sophisticated sound on the marble floor. Next comes the weaving through Chanel No 5 scented rooms, being sprayed from every direction by over-zealous sales assistants and emerging smelling like you've just rolled in potpourri. Here is a guilty confession: my favourite floor in Selfridge's isn't fashion. Instead, you'll find me on the bottom floor, pining after Union Jack cushions and colourful trinkets in the Pedlars outlet, or losing myself in the stationery department. Confronted with a wall of colourful envelopes, paper and pink notebooks I was overwhelmed by an overpowering desire to spend an extortionate amount of money on office supplies. I nearly splashed out on an Orla Keily folder before I realised that spending my money on Orla Keily probably isn't exactly essential in the same way that food is.

Being in Selfridge's is bittersweet. Surrounded by so many beautiful things makes me smile, yet with the pleasure comes the pinch. That niggly feeling when you pass perfectly coiffed women clutching bulging yellow bags or spot someone trying something on in the jewellery department (and I mean trying to buy, not 'God I just want to see what it feels like to wear real diamonds' kind of trying). All those sickeningly beautiful and sickeningly expensive things (not to mention the piles and piles of chocolate I had to walk past to get to the magazine section).

Nontheless, I got my bright yellow bag so I was happy. I may have only bought magazines (although, may I add, if I bought all of these magazines every month I would have to start selling off parts of my body for advertising space, or at least have a fairly substantial car boot sale of all my worldly goods) but that bag said I had just bought a slice of the Selfridge dream. Crazy I know. But that's crazily good branding for you.

Anyway, back to the magazine department.

I love everything about magazines. The weight, the smell of the paper, the sound of pages being flicked through, the perfect images frozen on covers. We are living in the dawn of the i-pad age with everything going digital. So call me old-fashioned, but I still think those things (the paper, the feel of having something physical in your hands to stroke and pore over) are important, and I think people still want them. (How encouraging to this week see the launch of 'i' an offshoot of The Independent and the first new printed paper to emerge on the market in years. It success will be an interesting indicator of the direction the industry is headed.) Maybe the function of magazines will shift - when the average women's fashion magazine is produced 6 months in advance it is ridiculous to think they could keep up with the speed of the internet in terms of getting across fashion news or being current - but I don't think that means they won't have a function at all. If I can now get all my fashion news in an instant via the internet, I want a magazine to offer something that the internet and a computer screen can't. Which brings me back to Selfridge's, and why I was standing in front of rows and rows of magazines. I was on the search for something special.

I love you.

In the history of language no one has constructed a better three-word sentence. Therefore, when I had to choose a magazine to study from a list of titles I'd never heard of, there were no questions about which one I would choose.
'I love you' is the printed blog of Christiane Bordner, and a quirky, feel-good feast for the eyes. Only in its fifth issue, I managed to get my hands on 'The Princess Issue', a totally pink edition filled with fairytale quotes as well as a recipe for the ultimate fairytale wedding cake. Ironically, Christiane herself is not a fan of pink. In fact I think that is a bit of an understatement. The issue was inspired by her young daughter's optimism and how the colour pink epitomises girlish dreams.

"Somewhere inside me, a little fascination for pink and glitter seems to have remained: back when I was her age and quite sure about my future as a princess. It looks like I didn't turn out a real princess, although I'm sure my life would have been more interesting, had I gotten my wish." The magazine is really a cynical and ironic look at the colour pink, therefore it might seem a little odd that I enjoyed it so much. But I think it's great. I may love all things pink, but it is also so refreshing to see a magazine with a difference and an opinion, even if that opinion is different to my own.

Also, it depends what way you look at it. Perhaps Christiane did mean it to be cynical, stemming from her own dislike of the colour and a general disappointment with the general unfairytalenes of life. But the photos are still beautiful and the quotes still desperately cute. So even if Christiane would hate the pinkness of my bedroom, I still love her magazine.
A quote from my favourite childhood film 'A Little Princess' which I used to force my sister to watch with me. She would have preferred to be up a tree. I, on the other hand, wouldn't take my eyes off the screen, waiting for that shouted 'SARAH' in the pouring rain. (If you've seen it you'll know what I mean.)
Karl Lagerfeld's motto perhaps explains why he has remained such a key player in the fashion industry, and has continued to push Chanel very much to the forefront of the fashion pack season after season.

I don't know if you can read the bottom quote, but it says:

Dear size 14 body, Please come back. I promise to appreciate you this time and not think you're too fat. I'll listen when people tell me you're curvy and pretty. Sincerely, size 16 body.

Ah the never ending circle.

An apt and highly amusing summary of one of life's most complex topics.
With leafy skirts and frilly tops
And ballerina swanlake hops

This sultry mix has long dark lashes
Her clothes have purple bluish splashes

A budding crown adorns her head
Implying she is royal-bred
In the magazine Ida Skovmand, another pink hater, undertook the challenge of wearing the colour for a week. I found it interesting to see how the colour can bring out such strong reactions in people, however by the end of the article I could tell we would have to agree to disagree. I think Ida looks great in all of the pink outfits, and when she mentions her gloomy black wardrobe I can't help but think a flash of colour, any colour, has got to be a good thing.

To me, the colour pink sums up what the issue was all about. Reading the quotes and poems that ran throughout gave me the same feeling as the colour pink. It's about optimism, cheerfullness, and simple, unashamed dreaming. Perhaps some people would argue that such optimism is unrealistic. But if that's the case, I would chose having my head in the clouds every time. Let's face it, it's much more fun up there.

There is no dream she hasn't dreamt
Romancing with princes earns her contempt

Still silly in times of Hegel and Kant
She makes everyone feel nauseant

Wickedly wildly living the dream
Of love that makes her burst at the seam
And finally, the ultimate quote of all time: "You can't wait for the storm to be over. You have to learn how to dance in the rain."

With the rain pelting down outside and the night drawing depressingly in, reading 'I love you' was like learning to dance.
Now a turn to a far more traditional publication, but one I love just as much. Vanity Fair's 'Funny Face' themed couture suppliment certainly put a smile on mine. I loved the cinematic photoshoot; to me it is everything a fantastic photo-shoot should be. It is beautiful, mouth-watering, magical and tells a wonderful story. And oh how it made me want to wander around Paris wearing couture.
The 'Think Pink' scene in 'Funny Face' is (unsurprisingly) one of my favourite few minutes of film.
If that red dress is what it means to be lovely, then I want nothing more than to be lovely.
And at the end of the magazine, these pages devoted to flowers and buttons were so lovely I could have eaten them. Literally.
The third and final title to make the cut and end up in my shopping bag was one of the new breed of 'bookazines' and cost me a hefty £12. However, 'Circus' is worth every penny. A tome of a magazine it is comprised of printed blogs on everything from the rise (and fall) of the supermodel, an insight into the role of the runway show within the fashion industry, the influence of the character of Jay Gatsby on fashion, to the disturbing phenomenon of the child beauty queen. Glossy advertising campaigns are part of what makes a high end fashion magazine what it is, but it is true that they can sometimes overwhelm a magazine. Am I the only one to have spent a good few minutes searching for the actual ARTICLES in American Vogue in particular?

Circus is the destination for reading about fashion. Every article I have read so far has been fascinating, and the joy of the 'bookazine' is that there is so much left to read. Circus has joined the ranks of my devoted legions of fashion books, and I will no doubt keep coming back to it.

That's what I meant about a change in the magazine industry - I don't think bookazines are necessarily the whole package (because, let's face it, who wants to dish out £12 for a magazine that often), but there certainly is an appeal to having something so substantial to read, something you can (and want to) go back to time and time again. The articles are so broad that they don't really 'go off' like many of the aspects of a monthly magazine. I think its just interesting to think about the role of a magazine, and how there is actually room for different publications in different mediums playing different roles. I might go online for my daily fashion news but read Vogue for the glossy photo-shoots and the stylish, in-depth articles. But there is also a space for a bookazine on my shelf too.
These photographs are so clever and so quirky. I love them.
Some interesting numbers:

Number of journalists present at the autumn/winter 2010 NY Fashion week: 35,000
The price Beyoncé charges for attending a fashion show: $127,000
The average cost of a magazine cover for a top fashion magazine: $100,000
The number of lipstics the M.A.C pro team goes through during NY Fashion Week: 340
So here's a message to the good magazine: however big, however small... I love you.