Posts Tagged ‘fashion’

Vintage at Goodwood Festival Diary, day one

Posted 16 Aug 2010 — by Jonathan
Category Observations

Preamble: I hadn’t expected to attend Vintage for this, its first year, but I won a pair of free weekend tickets late in the week, meaning that Victoria and myself were able to make it along for two of the three days.

The festival, in case you’re not familiar with the concept, is a ‘celebration of Britishness’ organised by Wayne Hemingway, and aims to bring together music, art and fashion from the 1940s through to the 80s. Hosted at the splendid Goodwood estate near Chichester, it’s much more than a straight music festival – apart from the main stage and a number of smaller tents, the site includes a fairground, a food market, a patchwork of allotments and a prefabricated ‘high street’ – a run of stores operated by the likes of John Lewis, The Body Shop and Oxfam, along with a smattering of cafes, pubs, cinemas and cocktail bars.

It sounds grossly commercial, but the emphasis is on vintage gear and the crafts, with fashion shows, cookery demonstrations, dressmaking lessons and talks throughout the days. There are a bunch of second hand stalls too, with a huge number of interesting clothes, generally priced at around the same kind of price you pay in Brighton. In short, despite the emphasis on shopping, it generally avoided gaudy sponsorship and genuinely felt homespun and local, rather than like a big money-making enterprise.

1.30: The first thing to notice is the extraordinary level of effort, both on the part of the organisers (whose ‘high street’ looks genuinely brilliant) and the attendees, who appear to have gone to extraordinary lengths to look good. All day we encounter brilliantly dressed people, from teenagers in Topshop tea-dresses to super-serious Mods, from middle-aged men in expensive tailored suits to young women in exquisite 50s dresses. Via the high street, we head straight for Peter Blake’s art bus, which contains some really amazing Clash memorabilia, then explore the vintage stalls, looking at antique homeware and bric-a-brac. The weather is cool and dry, but we spy some ominous looking clouds on the horizon.

2.00: Rather than heading deeper onto the site, we drift left and locate some deck chairs overlooking the forest, and enjoy a picnic consisting of cheese (cheddar, Comte and Parlick Fell), bread, saucisson, cornichons, olives, pork pies and artichoke hearts. It starts raining and, ominously, we decide to ignore it (prefiguring later things to come). The food demolished, we embark on a circuit of the site, taking in a short glimpse of Aswad, who are sounding pretty crap over on the main stage.

2.30: The vintage shops have some great stuff. We spend a good half hour dipping our head in and out of a sequence of colourful, crowded stalls until I eventually stumble upon a pair of lovely, round-toed brogues, which after a moment’s hesitation I snap up. I’m already wishing, in fact, that I had made more effort, for I’m dressed functionally where everyone else looks amazing.

3.00: Vic, who used to become an absolute terror if deprived of a cup of tea for more than an hour, is strictly a roobois girl these days, so there are no caffeine withdrawals to guard against. Nevertheless, there are a bunch of nice places to have a sit down and a drink, and we grab a cup of tea and have a sit down. I initiate a discussion about shoe laces.

3.30: Reasoning we’ve done enough exploring, we pitch up outside the pub at the apex of the high street. Titled ‘The Festival of Britain’, it’s a gorgeously designed building – a temporary illusion of permanence. We grab a pint of Goodwood ale and sit happily admiring people’s clothes and marveling at the variety of stuff to do. Then the rain drives us inside.

4pm; We arrive at the main stage to find the Buzzcocks rattling through their back catalogue with fizzy aplomb. The contrast, as ever, between Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle is hilarious – the former round, content, undemonstrative; the latter still fighting the punk wars, hoisting his guitar high, windmilling, pointing to the crowd. When Diggle blows a speaker he’s forced to sit a song or two out, and is clearly dejected.

But such is the winning simplicity of the Buzzcocks’ back catalogue that the band sound exactly the same as a three-piece as they do when all four are playing. They bring out the hits – What Do I Get, Orgasm Addict and the timeless Ever Fallen In Love With Someone (You Shouldn’t've Fallen In Love With)? – but by now it’s hard to notice much except the driving rain, which has absolutely drenched the thinning crowd. Stoically, we resist seeking shelter – and the consequence is that we have to walk around shivering for the rest of the day.

5pm; We’re really soaked. Worse, we’re really fucking cold. So we resolve the problem by ducking into the Kenwood store, where we sit through a faintly painful Fanny Craddock parody, enlivened by the lovely set, which includes a revolving kitchen, allowing demonstrations to take place in the 1950s or 60s, depending on the need. That done, we’re still not much drier, so we go shopping. Vic picks up a frankly alarming pink cardigan, which provides an essential layer of dryness (our coats and jumpers are so sopping wet they’re relegated to our bags) and I pick up a ‘Blues and Soul’ T-shirt of which, it later transpires, Vic is so jealous that she buys one too. Still not entirely dry, we decide that momentum is what we need to warm up, so head for the fair, where we are spun up into the clearing sky, our stomachs lagging ten feet below us.

6.15pm; We go and see The Beat, who, we discover, we really don’t remember all that well after all. They dedicate a song to Joe Strummer, and everyone exchanges broad smiles. We go back to the pub.

7pm; It turns out that Sandie Shaw is still terrifically cool – she looks amazing and her voice stands up too. As we arrive at the main stage, she is tackling ‘Jeane’ by The Smiths, and it’s the perfect fit – a clever, knowing, moving track delivered with poise. Unfortunately, however, Sandie is operating as a kind of compere tonight, and the guests she introduces are not of such a high standard, and nor are the songs they sing. So while Corrine Drewery (of Swing Out Sister) has a great voice, she’s landed with a Wham song, which just sounds terrible. Similarly, Mica Paris oozes charisma, but there’s only so much you can do if you’re singing something by Tom Jones. Sandi Thom takes to the stage, too, and she’s just awful – warbling in her mannered way through a couple of songs. It feels like it will never end.

We do, however, get the splendid presence of the amazing Kathryn Williams, whose voice is just startling. She sings up a storm, her strong, passionate vocal effortlessly dominating the field. She’s charming too – after a display of effortless brilliance, she grins and admits “it’s fucking scary up here”. Her voice is so good that she even makes John Lennon’s awful, tuneless ‘Jealous Guy’ sound good. I think I could even handle watching Kathryn sing ‘Imagine’, she’s that talented. By the time, however, that Natasha Marsh and Linda Lewis take their turns, the song-selection is so grim that we’re fast exchanging pained expressions. Lewis announces that she’s going to play a Bob Marley song.

“If it’s No Woman No Cry”, I declare, “we’re leaving”. It is. We do.

8.30; Far, far, far, far better fun is the ‘Wall of Death’, a classic carnival act carried out at deafening volume. It’s massively exciting. Essentially taking place inside a large wooden barrel, the audience is placed at the top, looking down, while motorcyclists whizz around the drum, gathering speed until they’re eventually looping horizontally to the floor, inches away from the audience. It’s ludicrously dangerous and brilliant fun. We whoop and cheer, hearts in mouths, then fling coins down to the floor in appreciation. Great.

9pm; Hearts still racing, we head to the Torch, an impeccably constructed 40s style night club with a real dance floor, a big stage and a restaurant. It’s incredibly convincing – moments after the roar of engines and the smell of oil, we’re all of a sudden lounging on sofas listening to live jazz and watching some super-sophisticated dancing unfold ahead of us. It’s such a jolt, and a perfect example of what Vintage does best – of all the small festivals I’ve been to it has the most to offer in terms of variety and surprise; there literally is always something different around the corner. In conventional terms it’s not a music festival at all – it’s a day out, a kind of fair. It’s a vivid piece of escapism. And as such, I loved it. I’m also conscious that, on day one, we covered perhaps 40% of the attractions. Much more still to do, then.

Sunday’s diary will follow shortly…

On Fred Perry

Posted 05 Apr 2010 — by Jonathan
Category General

I could never really get the Fred Perry to work for me, which is why I’ve always felt there’s something unresolved about it as a brand and as a garment. During the mid-1990s I enthusiastically embraced a whole host of clothing tips I learned from the likes of Damon Albarn, Jarvis Cocker and Brett Anderson, and the most significant were generally influenced by mod fashion – desert boots, three button jackets, skinny ties, etc. I probably looked daft, but I had the right frame for those clothes and enjoyed dressing up.

I know I write on here a lot about Blur, but I was never the sort of fan who obsessively collected everything by them, tried to imitate them in every way, etc. But there weren’t many kids with similar tastes to me at school and the need to assert myself as an identifiable member of a tribe was always important to me, meaning I spent as much time looking at the clothes people were wearing in The Melody Maker as reading the reviews. Stylistically Damon Albarn made the running for a long period of the 90s, which is probably why everyone – including me – dressed like him. But I make that distinction to (attempt to) demonstrate that I was more interested in looking like Blur’s audience, than Blur themselves.

Anway, Damon, particularly, seemed determined to pillage the early to mid-80s in the way he dressed, probably inspired by the likes of Terry Hall and Madness, and so his audience followed his lead and I too picked up old Adidas t-shirts from charity shops, retro trainers from Carnaby Street, horrible white Harrington jackets (see below) and even a few badly judged tracksuit tops. This more casual, laddish look – I should have realised at the time – was something I’d never really pull off. It only worked for Damon because he had a terribly fortunate combination of features; a good, strong jaw and feminine, sensitive-looking eyes. It made it possible for him to be simultaneously blokeish and effeminate. Those of us who followed in his tracks failed miserably – if you weren’t pretty, you looked indistinguishable from an Oasis fan, and if you were slight, like I was, the look was totally mismatched.

In particular, I had trouble with my Fred Perry polo. In the first instance, I wasn’t really sure what separated a Fred Perry from a Lacoste polo shirt in the first place (the distinction was important, of course) and secondly, I looked terrible when I wore it. It simply didn’t really fit. You need muscles to make a Fred Perry work, even if they’re only faintly discernible. Mine were non-existent. At the time, knowing I was a small teenager, I imagined that if I held on to my Fred Perry it would one day fit me perfectly, assuming I’d beef up eventually.

Well, I didn’t keep it forever and I certainly never beefed up. I just figured out it looked bad and persisting with it wasn’t getting me anywhere. Besides, by ‘97 fashions had changed anyway and the average British indie-kid was starting to wear baggier jeans and looking less retro generally. And by that point, I’m pleased to say, I was finally starting to think less about what other people wore and more about what looked best on me. This is lucky as I spent most of the last few years of the 1990s listening to the Wu Tang Clan, whose look I couldn’t possibly imitate.

When Blur reformed last year, Damon Albarn got his old Fred Perry out of the cupboard (he’s stopped wearing it again now that his focus is Gorillaz) and all of a sudden I remembered how much I wanted that look to work when I was a kid. Damon still looked good, but I was canny enough to know I wouldn’t. Nevertheless, I did linger, at one point, over a single-tipped knit-shirt from Fred Perry, which was a finer, softer material, and an exact replica of a 1964 design that was cut a bit slimmer than the usual. Because it was limited edition, and made in Italy, it was really expensive, which was probably for the best because, of course, I look bloody awful in that style of shirt, so should know better.

Anyway. I think the only reason I still think about Fred Perry shirts is because I failed with that look in the first place, and it’s always niggled. Once again, I find myself looking at them again now, as I learn that they’re producing a new set of shirts with Liberty prints; they’re really pretty awesome, I think, and a good step away from the macho associations of the brand.

Again, however, it’s not something I could wear. Anyway – have a look.


Oliver Spencer at Topman

Posted 23 Mar 2010 — by Jonathan
Category General

Friends and regular readers might remember that I went on a bit of an insane spending spree in January, and exploited (a) the Winter Sales and (b) a sudden willingness to try internet shopping, which I’d previously resisted, and in doing so spent a whole lot of money on new clothes – a decision which impacts upon my meagre finances to this very day. This month of madness done, however, I’ve been pretty good at calling a halt to proceedings, and have restricted further spending urges to bursts of window shopping. Needless to say, more web browsing has uncovered a ton of items I’d like to add to my wardrobe, but most have been out of my price range, and enough to give my bank manager a severely furrowed brow.

Oliver Spencer’s clothes aren’t all to my taste, but my god, he designs nice shoes, and I’ve been simpering at these desert boots for a while now; they may be priced at an eye-watering £239, but they are beautiful – think what I like most is the easy contrast between the sleek, light look of the shoe and the satisfying heft of the wedge sole. Put simply, I love them, but can’t afford them.

Terrific news then, from GQ magazine (which I don’t read, btw) – Oliver Spencer has signed up to produce a more affordable range of shoes for Topman, which will launch in May 2010. I’ve not seen confirmation of the desert boot design yet (there were some pictures in the Guardian at the weekend, but not sure where they’re from), but the nubuck lace ups look gorgeous.

stussy vs dr martens

Posted 09 Sep 2009 — by Jonathan
Category Uncategorized

When I was a teenager, having the right shoes was very important. At 16, I had four pairs, and couldn’t ever imagine needing anything else.

Chelsea boot. Dr Martens 8 eye (cherry red). Desert boot. Adidas Gazelle (dark blue).

Looking back, I’ve made some pretty horrific fashion choices over the years, but I think I was pretty much on the ball back in ‘93.

If I’d have seen these back then, I would have died. Stussy have teamed up with Dr Martens to design a new mid-cut boot which seems to take the best of the DM boot, combine it with the sleek beauty of a desert boot, and leaven the mix with the lightness of touch of the best trainer. Weirdly, I think the 16 year old me would have been happier spending £168 on a pair of shoes than I am now – but I know that he’d be scrabbling around for loose change if he was here now.

handmade dresses

Posted 20 Jul 2008 — by Jonathan
Category Uncategorized

Thought I’d post a photo of these nice dresses, which my mum made for my girlfriend this week; they’re simple but very lovely and there’s something really great about knowing that they are handmade and one-offs – no-one else in the world has them. Great.

etsy is brilliant

Posted 08 Jul 2008 — by Jonathan
Category Uncategorized

Am I alone in having never heard of this site before? Etsy is fantastic – tagged as “your place to buy and sell all things handmade”, it’s exactly that, a kind of brilliant, vivid mix of ebay, portobello market and ffffound; well designed things that you can buy. Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s American – they’ve calibrated it so that international purchases are not a problem.

Oh no, I’m clearly going to spend money there.

mary benson

Posted 07 Jul 2008 — by Jonathan
Category Uncategorized

Another ace episode of Mary Queen of Shops tonight, which you’ll doubtless be able to watch with your iPlayer whatsit in hours and days to come. This time Mary visited an amazing, fusty old boutique in York and utterly transformed into it without sacrificing it’s wayward sense of style. Best of all was the discovery of a wonderfully eccentric fashion designer – Mary Benson – whose dresses were absolutely fantastic and who casually described her clientele as “crazy cool girls” who “all have nice hair”. Oh, and she was only 17. If you’re ever in the distant North, she’s selling stuff in Blue Rinse in Leeds and Selkie in York, as well as via her own website. Here’s a brief BBC profile of her, and click the image below to access her myspace:

[Update: lots of hits on this page, so here's a bit more info I found. From Image Magazine].

She is only in her second year of her fashion course at Leeds College of Art and Design but her metallic dresses are already stocked in the boutique Blue Rinse and she will soon be seen on the TV programme Mary Queen of Shops.

Mary said: “I had to pitch my ideas to Mary Portas from Mary Queen of Shops. The competition was whittled down from 30 to three and I was one of them. She said that I was well established and that I was doing really well for my age.”

Mary creates womenswear and accessories inspired by the 1950s and 1960s, including pinafore dresses with a splash of eccentricity. She began designing in the summer after she finished high school when she made skirts and sold them at the Corn Exchange.

She then applied to Leeds College of Art and Design and has been unstoppable. Her collections are varied from monochrome to metallics and, most importantly, are wearable.

Mary said: “I’ve been asked to create a collection for Vidal Sassoon. I have also been working on costumes for a music video as well as attending vintage fashion fairs where I sell accessories.”

With meetings set with boutiques in Nottingham and a trip to London planned, Mary Benson is definitely one we will hear about in the future.”

defying expectations

Posted 14 May 2008 — by Jonathan
Category Uncategorized

There’s a good interview with John Galliano in this month’s Harper.

Galliano is fabled for his research trips, and his clothes tell the story of his muses and adventures. “For me, travel is the most powerful source of ideas.” He goes to all corners of the globe to mine the cultures for inspiration and then transforms his findings into designs that defy expectations. “I’m like a pirate. I love to travel; it’s what inspires me,” he says. “Creativity has no nationality, so I don’t want to leave any stone unturned. I love understanding and seeing different cultures. At Christmas, I hung out with a Maasai tribe, and I sang, danced, and drank with them. It was the most amazing experience. I wasn’t ‘John Galliano the fashion designer.’ I was just their new friend. There were lions, tigers, and giraffes. We held hands, we danced, and I didn’t know what the real world was anymore. It was very humbling, honest, and pure.”

Click here to read it.

fashion and race

Posted 05 Oct 2007 — by Jonathan
Category Uncategorized

This is Hadley Freeman in today’s Guardian:

“A disturbing problem has appeared on the catwalks this season. It is one that suggests the fashion industry has not just a warped but a fully offensive mentality when it comes to judging how women should look. It is a problem that has been simmering for some time, but because talking about it might offend the designers and scare off lucrative advertising accounts, hardly anyone has spoken out – and things have only got worse. We now have a situation that could lead to serious problems not only for some models, but for the public as a whole, making millions of women feel ugly, undesirable and simply wrong. And no, this is not about weight – it’s about race.”

Read more here.

links clearout continued

Posted 06 Jun 2007 — by Jonathan
Category Music

Just a few verrrry quick links:

Dave’s blog has had a nice re-design which is worth a look – it’s all in aid of Guy and Dyson. If you wanna know who they are, click on the link.

Everytime I see Anne-Sophie she shouts “you’ve got a new t-shirt!”, which is, shamefully, often true – but it’s got to the point where I really can’t justify buying any more. It’s lucky, then, that most of the t-shirts which really caught my eye over at Threadless are sold out in my size! Very lucky indeed. Still – you can go and buy some t-shirts; Al over at Gromblog has been.

There’s a sale on t-shirts at Kill Rock Stars, too.

I was a slow starter with the White Stripes – I didn’t see the big deal at all for years, and then saw them play a revelatory live set (on the TV, not in the flesh) which was just astonishing and which converted me completely. Except the next day I forgot about it and haven’t thought of them since. It’s funny that they don’t appeal to me, cause they’re the kind of band I like. But no, nothing. Anyway, their new album is out soon, and here’s a link to evidence of Jack White behaving like a dick.

Lastly, he’s not that fashionable I guess, but I like Ben Kweller. Elsewhere I note with only the slightest interest that the Smashing Pumpkins (who were very briefly brilliant around the time of Gish) are back together, touring and recording once more. No high hopes for their comeback, nor fond memories of their major label career. But I did listen to their ‘Today’ a lot many years ago, so the cover version of that song being streamed over at Ben Kweller’s myspace page is probably worth a listen. (via)

That’s it for now. My bookmarks folder is looking a bit more managable now, thank god.

unknown pleasures

Posted 05 Apr 2007 — by Jonathan
Category Music

Somehow I never saw Ian Curtis as a New Balance man, although I suppose that it’s more plausible to imagine Barney wearing them. Well, either way, now on sale in Manchester… Joy Division trainers. Blimey.

(hat tip)

karl lagerfeld is an idiot

Posted 30 Nov 2004 — by Jonathan
Category Uncategorized

Interesting to read that Karl Lagerfeld is outraged that H & M are selling his new range of clothes for ’slim and slender people’ in sizes 14 and 16! He is furious apparently. I was going to suggest that you boycott Hennes as a consequence, but it seems they’re not very happy about his comments either, so I’ll just have to suggest you boycott Hennes because all the clothes are nasty, cheap and shiny.