Saturday, 23 January 2010

The wisdom of Roberto Cavalli

"Anyone is capable of doing minimalism. I won't, because it's horrible."

Friday, 15 January 2010

Shopping With Staff

I hate shopping. Anyone who knows my love of clothes, has seen the amount of "junk" (clothes, books, music, pictures) in my house or the amount of bags I return from a shopping trip with will be astonished by this. But I really do truly hate the experiance.

Fighting through crowds of other girls on the high street looking for an item of clothing is my idea of hell. Hate it. I either know there's something there I want (spying it in the window on the way past or knowing about it from a magazine or friend) and can dash in at great speed and grab one in my size or it's not going to happen. It inspires a stress headache within minutes and you only have to mention the word "Primark" to me and I get an overwhelming feeling of nausea at the idea of the chaos in that kind of a building.

This is why I tend to return from a shopping trip with zillions of bags. I have spent weeks building up plans of what I need and where they are and can cover all of the high street shops in Leeds in about an hour to grab my entire wish list.

Now to supermarkets. I have an actual phobia of them. Apparently this is very common and was the original meaning of agoraphobia (Greek for "fear of the market place"). I have lately been learning to tackle this and can now browse occasionally when the place is quiet. I now emerge the majority of the time without running at a breakneck speed out of the doors with tears stinging my eyes and my heart pounding at ninety miles an hour. If you take me there when it's busy and I actually get through the doors it's likely I'll abandon the trolly and run for the exit part way through. Most days I nauseously build myself up towards the idea of going, put on a brave face, and hope to emerge with ingredients that can actually be constructed into a meal or two. Tesco Online is a total Godsend for actually stocking my cupboards with sensible items once in a while.

A member of staff bothering me in a shop will be greeted with a look of panic. Someone at the checkout suggesting I go back to the kitkats and buy two smaller packs because it's cheaper that way is enough to cause me to feel faint. It's lovely that they're trying to help but my aim is to get out of the building as quickly as possible. Just what I don't need is someone demanding I walk past the queue of people waiting behind me to swap things round and then looking at me crazy and getting cross when I say I'm fine with my more expensive larger packet.

"Shopping with staff" is however a whole different board game.

What I like is going to a nice quiet boutique with enough space around me that I can breathe, and staff on hand to assist me in finding what I desire. That I love. I could sit in Vivienne Westwood for hours on the comfortable furniture while staff run around finding me shoes in an array of colours. I sigh with pleasure as they suggest alternative items and teach me how to fasten a belt in a way that means I will forever discard the normal way of fastening a belt because it's not as beautiful as the way that "Vivienne likes it".

Liverpool's Hervia Westwood Store

This is a pleasure that my father taught me on rare trips to city department stores in the search for a new party dress. It could be his fault why I have wardrobes full of evening wear but lack any knowledge of how to do "casual". I was about seven before I even tried on a pair of jeans and I remember learning to climb walls in a white smocked dress and black patent shoes.

This "shopping with staff" pleasure is one that must be enjoyed with a friend otherwise it looses the full joy. Having dragged dearest Charley off on a few of these trips, I fear that we are now fully fledged addicts. Our last trip to Leeds involved us being accosted in Lush by envious staff wanting to know what we had in our multiple giant pink Westwood bags, then having trouble fitting everything into the boot of my teeny tiny little Ford Fiesta.

Goodies found in Leeds by Charley and myself

Talking of Lush, this is another shopping pleasure. Again as much because of the products as the staff. Yes I love cosmetics, yes I trained as a beautician and hairdresser so I understand them, and yes I do find Lush products to be one of my great indulgences. But the experiance of going into somewhere with such happy, enthusiastic, quirky and knowledgable staff is an absoloute pleasure. If I want a specific type of product but don't know what to get I just ask their advice and they always come up with the perfect item. If I'm in a rush I can tell them what I need and they'll help me grab everything. If I'm not in a rush I tend to ask if there's anything new in stock and they'll do more than just tell me, they'll try the products out in front of me as they explain about them. Thus I emerge excitedly with new Lush goodies to use, cradled in hands that have just been pampered using half the products now stored in my goodie bag. I've also never had a moment in any Lush shop where the member of staff couldn't answer my questions about the products. Right down to where the ingredients are sourced and why they are in the product in the first place.

Another place I love for it's exquisitely fabulous staff is Harrods Urban retreat. I was lucky enough to win a day of pampering there and I emerged well and truly pampered. I would recommend to anyone the utter bliss of a visit to the Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie there for a fragrance consultaion. It was one of the most decadent, sense inspiring experiances of my life, and I'm a the kind of person who hunts down decadence and sensual pleasures with an unending passion for more.

Roja Dove

Just imagine lounging against embroidered silk and velvet pillows, surrounded by exotic perfumes incased in exquisite cut glass and gold bottles, being lulled by gentle music and having your mind and senses led poetically through a beautiful path of perfumes until you reach your own perfect scent.

How I ever emerged from there alive and didn't just die of absoloute bliss I have no idea. Anyway, I was originally a devoted Jicky by Guerlain girl and have now realised that my soul should be bathed in Amazone by Hermes.


If all shopping were like that, I'd truly be it's biggest fan.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

All PVC and no Bacofoil

Following the previous post, I now have a quest to source a vintage "bacofoil" style outfit. I am hoping that the lovely Miss peelpants will find me one, or that we can somehow get the incredible Vivienne Westwood to create me something.

I seem to be all PVC and no Bacofoil. I love my vintage and 60s styled PVC coats. The purely black super shiny one I always used to wear down the Cavern Club that Gill borrowed in the picture below:
The matt black one I wore until it disintegrated:
The super fab black and white one with the see-through coloured polka dots (it's a bad picture but it just about shows how cool my aubergine and silver Barbara Hulanicki wallpaper is in the background):
And my much worn long red PVC coat that you can just about see in this picture of me in the presance of the wondrous and sparkly Groupie Queen Miss Pamela:
I did have a short red vintage PVC coat just like the one Maureen Starkey had (she lent it to her first husband Ringo Starr to wear during the famed Beatles roof top gig) but I left it on a bus in London. :( It had taken me years to find one, and then I stupidly lost it on the way back from seeing Ringo perform a song at Wood Lane for the National Lottery. I blame Beatlemania for my stupidity. It's all Ringo's fault. Bad Beatle! :(

I also managed to rip a pair of red PVC trousers somewhere on a tour with some band on an evening so hazy I can't even remember it straight. ...but thankfully replaced them with a new pair in Chicago when taken to the quirkier shops by one of my best friends there whom I miss very much. The only pic I have of them is me with my lovely BBA soul sister Penny in my crazy 60s lounge:

The long purple velvet coat I wore in that picture is also long since dead from being worn to death. Thankfully the cute Dollyrockers coat Penny borrowed in that photo is still going strong.

So, lots of PVC, but no bacofoil. Just a pair of silver covered 60s "space age" sandals that I no longer dare wear in case the silver covering comes off. :(

PVC and Bacofoil

This is a response to a recent entry in the fabulous blog written by the divine Miss Peelpants. Anyone into fashion needs to check out her blog - Get some Vintage-a-Peel - and anyone into vintage fashion will become addicted.

I am lucky enough to have her as a friend and occasional fashion stylist on our trips out together (my extremely bizarre hair and make-up is entirely my own OTT work, but I have allowed her to put rollers in my hair and paint on my face with eyeliner before because I trust her completely). She also supplies my vintage fashion addiction as she runs the most amazing vintage business which overflows with exquisite pieces at such great value that you can fast turn into a vintage junkie in her capable hands.

sitting on art in Cardiff with the divine Miss Peelpants at a New Rom club (she's wearing her divine purple Sarah Whitworth)

Now to the subject of her post and the mention of everyone running around everywhere in PVC mini dresses with bacofoil trimmings. She is against the idea of it. Unusually I'm opposing in opinion to her and am totally for it.

I want everyone to really try hard at expressing themselves with their appearance and having fun with fashion. Mainly so that I can get away with wearing the clothes I love and not stand out so much, but also because it would make life more interesting and exciting with so much wonderful fashion expression at every turn. In Yorkshire I'm starved of it as everyone has a copycat, drab, blend in mentality. They're afraid to step out of line and draw attention to themselves. If it weren't for the quirky yet stylish fashion haven of Leeds and the hippie mentality of Hebden Bridge I'd go crazy in this wonderfully beautiful and kind hearted county. Without those two places I am made uncomfortable to exist in my own clothes and starved of both colour and inspiration.

I am the sort of person who will stop someone on the street (okay, so I pause in wonderment and then end up chasing after them most of the time) to ask what make their outfit/bag/etc is. But there are so few opportunities to discover fashion in this way for me. I think that's why I crave another style of life even though I know the glamourous parties would bore me rigid. The outfits around me would delight me and I'd have an excuse for all the outrageous clothes I want to wear.

I won't fight to become a part of it though. I spent my childhood being treated to trips to beautiful places by my father who wanted to teach me the nicer things in life. He was encouraged by my mother who had lived the high life as a child and saw in me the appreciation of beautiful things and graceful company. Despite my love of decadence and need to be around people who are cultured and well brought up I then spent my teens trying to claw my way out of boarding school. It was infested by people whose only love was money and who delighted in trampling upon anyone who didn't reach their expectations or wear what Vogue told them was the thing to have. I'm softed hearted so I fought for everyone they trampled upon and insisted on doing my own thing despite the trouble it caused for me. My mother insisted that I try to fit in and bought me the clothes I needed for that but I felt alien and just couldn't do it. So I quickly aquired an attitude of "this is me, deal with it!"

I finally settled in my late teens and early twenties into the music world. I'm not a musician but I love and breathe music and seem to be good company for those who create it. The backstage doors opened up for me easily and I was finally in an environment where I gained respect for being myself and respected the musicians right back for being such amazingly creative beings and treating me well. I was adored for my quirky appearance and extensive knowledge, encouraged to push my style further and was finally completely at ease.

People think that the backstage, touring lifestyle is glamorous. It's not. There's a lot of travel but you don't get to seeing anything. The grotty backstage areas of venues are rarely as plush as the public areas. Hotels are for crash landing in and the only time you get to explore somewhere is in the early hours of the morning in an impossible quest for post-gig food. The music makes it worth it though.

Now I've done all that to excess. I still love it, but I'm craving for the nicer life. I want comfy sofas, beautiful art and staff who speak to you in a nice manner. I don't want to spend my entire life squashed in a crowd one minute and sat for hours waiting on the band to pack up, do their press interviews and sign autographs the next. I'd tired of only seeing backstage venues and cities that are asleep and dark in the night time. When I'm not at work, I want to spend my time with people who aren't working either and spend it in nice places.

I'm not giving up the groupie lifestyle entirely because I love music too much and am too drawn to the men that make it. ...but I want the nice life my parents taught me. Like I said though, I'm not fighting to jon the fashion and art scene. If I had it full time I'd only crave a bit of room trashing, some racous rock'n'roll and a bag of chips. And I'm not leaving my lovely home in Yorkshire for tha chaos of London. I just want to be able to dip into it now and then, graced with the company of people who love art, fashion and music as much as I do.

So, it's either that or everyone starts wearing PVC and bacofoil. ;)

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

There is no bread

News reached my little home that the main road nearby was clear so I decided to make an epic treck out into the frozen north to see how far I could get.

Defrosting the vehicle is epic enough when covered in six inches of snow (yeah, snow that even my high heels can't lift me out of) but due to utter boredom from being stuck in the house I attacked it with enthusiasm and even gave a Westwood scarf it's first outing. I knew I was too enthused when I found myself sculpting the snow on the roof of the car into "a cute white hairstyle". Then I started to get a bit cold.

The snow was so thick on the sides of the car that when it came to doing the side nearest the fence I had to clear the snow in front of me in order to get to the rest of the car. During defrosting of wing mirrors my brave and worthy efforts were briefly interrupted by a typical blonde moment. I sprayed the de-icer in the wrong direction, and the shock of having my face de-iced caused me to fall backwards into the snow screaming, and consequently loose both the de-icer spray and the de-icing scraper thingumy object into the snow. ...I didn't discover that I'd lost them until I'd returned from de-de-icing myself inside the house. And getting into the house was difficult, covered in snow, freaking out, one eye shut against de-icer and charging at the door full force until to go splat against the window in discovery that I'd locked the door.

*sigh* Anyway, the car was de-iced and I set out enjoying the weird way my dear little ford fiesta moved trying to fight it's way through the thick snow. We found our way to a "clean" road with cheers and wonderment and set off at a dangerous 25mph in over excited enthusiasm. The ice at the first crossing slowed us down considerably. Reached the supermarket fine and parked wrecklessly in what I assumed was the disabled area (though I couldn't see through the snow, and that was my excuse for finally rebelling against half the car park being taken up with spaces that no-one uses). There were two other cars in the car park, thoroughly frozen and obviously belonging to staff.

There was no bread, (woohoo! justification of the bread maker I bought before xmas just in order to make the cinnamon roll recipe from Julie Anne's blog ), no fruit except for a teeny bunch of child size bananas, and no frozen chips that weren't in "microwavable boxes". In fact there was little or none of all the sensible items. Therefore I was totally excused for stocking up on double chocolate cheesecake, potato wedges, walkers crisps, Fry's Turkish Delight and the "expensive" italian food in the fridge department.

Tried to commiserate with a bloke in the bread department who was having a rather audible nervous breakdown because there was no bread to make his kids' breakfast with... wasn't successful. I had cleverly substituted bakewell tarts for breakfast food and was feeling smug about it.

Mother was stuck at her house with cupboards and freezers fit to bursting with food (she's a supermarket addict instead of a supermarket phobic like her daughter) but terribly distressed that her cats couldn't have wafer thin ham... so I was brave and bought a packet of dead animal for her cats.

The road wasn't clear to hers in any way. Abandonned the car before it got stuck and trekked up the hill past teenagers who were still enjoying knocking each other over into the snow, a man trying to clear his driveway with the aid of a shovel and a wheelbarrow, and various women opening the door just to take a picture of the frozen wasteland so that they could prove it had happened.

The flash bulbs were a bit of a shock in the snowy, lamplit darkness. You really don't expect paparazzi in Elland of an evening when everyone's snowed in. But I was prepared anyway in my Westwood "frozen weather ensemble" teamed with a coat which probably came from Matalan. ...if this weather continues, I shall consider investing in Pucci snowboots.

...and one of those Anglomania coats that looks like a douvet and will match the pattern on "The Precious" (see earlier post). If you're going to fall flat on your face in the snow, at least look cute while doing it and then any boys nearby will come to pick you up and dust you off. If you're lucky they'll help you carry your shopping home too. I learnt this while living in Liverpool where there was an excess of helpful young gentlemen tripping over themselves to aid a damsel in any form of distress so long as she looked stylish or was wearing a short skirt.

Anyway, got to mums with the provisions (handing over the last bunch of bananas in Elland cos she's addicted to the things) and managed to get my car going on a road where only wreckless fools would be stupid enough to change up into second gear. After a lot of revving and skating about I even got my car back up the drive withut bashing into either the fence, the house or the dustbin. Hurrah!

Now I must be going as I have double chocolate cheesecake and micro chips to eat.

Beatles a side note, how adorable was Ringo in the 60s before his head became the size of the Goodyear Blimp?!

Here's another Beatle gem. 1966 Munich show. In colour! With sound synched in really rather well.

For the uninitiated into Beatle geekdom, it's usually in black and white and from a different angle:

Lush, coloured in, 1966 Beatles. Mmmmmmm.

The weather outside is frightful

I've been snowed in now since before Christmas. The only thing stopping me from going completely insane is that I can just about trek to my mother's once in a while with the aid of my snazzy new Viv Westwood wellies, a faux fur coat and the beautiful scarf, hat and gloves set I was given as a leaving present from a previous job.

I'm fed up of only being able to eat food I can grab at the near by "corner shop", my freezer will soon only yield ice lollies (I'm strangely off them at the moment) and I'm going stir crazy!!!!

The joy of wrapping up in a fluffy blanket, snuggled in front of the fire with the kitty cats and gazing out at the beautiful snow covered garden is long since gone. I can't bear to read another book as all the interesting ones are depressing as hell thanks to my belief that only angst makes a decent book truly worth reading. All the fun has gone out of my DVD collection now that I've watched the entire Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy, both Bridget Jones films and laughed through Elf several times.

I can't even be bothered to do fabulous things with hair and make-up or play dress-up as the cats just don't appreciate how fabulous I look.

My collection of VHS and DVD is usually inexhaustable, but then I usually get to break it up with a bit of TV and some trips out of the house. Trips out of the house are pointless cos I can't really get anywhere, and the Christmas TV has been *abysmal*. The smattering of decent things they've shown have been repeated daily ad nauseum. But now that some of us are thoroughly stuck in the house I think a state of national emergency should be declared and daytime telly should be thrown aside for some nice decadent cheer-up telly.

I'd like some of those warm, beautiful, light-hearted comedies that only Italy of the 50s and 60s could yield. I think I would start with either Buona Sera Mrs.Campbell or Come September (which you can watch in it's entirity on youtube if you get there quick )

Then something informative. I think some of David Starkey's programmes on the Tudors. During which, as per ritual, I will turn over briefly while Anne Boleyn is being murdered, sob audibly when Elizabeth looses Robert Dudley and yell excessively whenever anyone defies Elizabeth. Especially if they're Philip of Spain or Mary Queen of Scots. For Royalists like me, that channel will also show the film Mary Queen of Scots and Young Bess over the next days. Mary Queen of Scots only being shown because I thorougly enjoy every time Elizabeth outwits her and delight in Robert Dudley being injured by Elizabeth for daring to fancy her cousin.

From that very film, simpering childish ornament Mary compared with fiery ruler Elizabeth... where Mary's story is a tragedy of overpowering men and Elizabeth's story is a voctory of feminism. Hurrah! ...sorry, I get over enthused about Elizabeth. Never watch this film with me. I yell, jibe and cheer all the way through it.

Now a bit of comedy. Something a bit quirky I think. Eddie Izzard or Bill Bailey. We've been lacking in music thus far so let's go with Bill Bailey and his love song which is fabulous even though it mentions snow flakes and frozen ponds:

Or we could have his informative guide to the orchestra.. which includes this gem for Doctor Who fans:

And finally, some music. I think I'd go with The Beatles on Blackpool Night Out in 1965, starring John's fringe. It really is the highlight of this footage. Best Beatle of any Beatles footage I've ever seen. And I've seen a *lot* of Beatles films.

...I wonder what the chances are of getting the local olde worlde cinema down the road to show vintage movies? I could walk there. ...Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Help!, La Dolce Vita?