I love American Apparel. I shouldn’t because it clearly is not aimed at the over 30s. It’s for young lithe people with long glossy hair. Which reminds me: Where are all the UK fashion bloggers over 30? I’ve been doing some searching this week. Loads in the US, loads of great 40+, but UK 30+ fashion bloggers and especially late 30s fashion bloggers, not so much. What gives?
Back to American Apparel. In my defense I don’t own any of their disco leggins or spangly hot pants. If I were 20 I definitely would and I’d wear the satin hot pants daily, but I’m not and one’s gots to draw the line somewhere. Never the less, I am still a big fan of their unisex brightly coloured hoodies, socks, undies and long sleeved basics.
Garmets are well made, sweat shop free and wash well. Plus, I discovered this morning that they do a canine range. Not that I dress Cuba unless it’s super cold (small dogs do require an extra layer when it gets damp and frosty in the mornings), but if I did he would probably wear American Apparel.
American Apparel are an interesting brand I’ve been thinking quite a bit about in my academic writing lately.
De-fetishisation explores how contemporary brands make use of public attitudes towards consumption by making their labour practices explicit in what Littler and Moor (2008) argue in a case study about American Apparel is a fetish for de-fetishisation. By this they mean that if the fetishism of commodities involves obscuring labour practices, de-fetishisation is a contemporary re-working where labour practice are overtly communicated and built into the brand experience. One way this is achieved is by focusing on the biographies of employees or sharing information to consumers about where materials are sourced from and how products are made, to reassure consumers that products are produced ethically and responsibly. You can take a virtual tour of the factory and see exactly what is going on in each room by clicking on the window. Kinda cool.
 Since the publication of Moor’s and Littler’s article in 2008 negative press has been directed towards the American Apparel brand. A key aspect of the brand is that they often use employees rather than models in the advertising campaigns. These images have been criticized in the US and UK press for featuring mainly Caucasian female subjects and drawing upon a visual discourse of soft pornography. In 2010 the company received a large amount of critical publicity about internal documents that were rumored to ask female employees to wear tight clothing and maintain ‘natural looking’ long hair, and that the physical appearance of potential African-American retail employees be of a ‘classy’, rather than ‘trashy’ type.
I’ve mentioned some of these works in my previous American Apparel discussion on this blog before. If you’re inclined I recommend checking out Moor, Liz and Littler, Jo. 2008. Fourth Worlds and neo-Fordism: American Apparel and the cultural economy of consumer anxiety.Cultural Studies, 22(5), pp. 700-723. ISSN 0950-2386 [Article]
I’m beginning to feel as if I’ve eaten too much sugar. This must be the last of the pastel trend reports. O.C.D on pastels = vomit, non? Thinking is not the new mint green.
The cream jacket on the left is from Kate Moss’s original collection for TopShop (04? 05?). It’s still a wardrobe standard for me in the summer. The pinky tweed one is part of a Zara suit I bought for a friends wedding in 2003, ditto the mint green lace dress but from Coast; another day another wedding. That lace over top above the trousers in new from TopShop. I’ve worn it so much it smells. Along the bottom l-r T-shirt dress Top Shop, salmon slacks (I like to pronounce thalmon sthlacksth) Miss Selfridge & lilac wool skirt ASOS. In these times of fast-fashion I believe it is important to look after clothes and store them well. I have to say I rarely give to charity shops, because I don’t buy that many things. I always vacuum seal stuff that I haven’t worn for a while. It’s a lot of fun getting the bags out – like getting new things. It’s eco-friendly too.
This weekend was psuedo summer. Gorgeous weather and happy daze. Longs walks with dog along the river in pretty W.Sussex, sunny courtyard lunches with longstanding friends, Brighton beach on Sunday, Italian ice cream and ice cold white wine. Splendid.
I got to dig out a few of those much loved pastels clothes from my 20s I’d vacuum sealed.
Here’s a little close-up of the necklace which I bought from a lady called Rosey this time last year in Williamsburg US. At the time she was selling her stuff at Brooklyn Flea. I got a ring too. I love her designs. Her site is Roseybdesigns
Brooklyn Flea is awesometown. I’d a great time there and the vendors are so friendly and chatty.
Back to the U.K. Arundel on Saturday was most pleasant. I’m digging Sparks Yard lifestyle boutique as you can see from the shopping below. Also awe inspiring oversize garden antiquities in Tarrant Street. The shop is actually called Antiquites + full of lovely things + they let Cuba in. How very civil.
Following on from my last post I went away and re-watched Sophia Coppola’s 2006 version of Marie Antoinette and I’m obsessed with it at the moment. Pastel silks, rose petals, feathers, fans, small dogs, champagne, cakes, big hair. Worship.
I remember when I 1st saw the film on release it received mixed critical reviews and was knocked for de-politizing Antoinette; reducing her story down to a sad, lonely girl who eats cakes all day. The balletic music video mise en scene and contemporary soundtrack irked some people too. Personally, I think the ‘lack of politics’ criticism presents a narrow view of what can and cannot be perceived as political. Coppola does a great disenfranchised existential heroine I think. But, this isn’t a film review post, nor a discussion of the politics or discourse of female identity, it’s just that after watching the film again I’m totally seduced and inspired by the costumes and iconography and think it deserves a post. I’ve just put a 2nd hand chandelier up at home and the place is starting to look palatial. Plus, now I’ve a huge hankering to go to Paris too. J’adore Paris and I haven’t been for a long while. All the bon-bons and patisserie in the film have made me hanker for my fave cake-hot-spot Angelina Rue Rivoli near the Louvre and Tuileries that does the most amazers hot chocolate. FYI: Angelina is one of Coco Chanel’s old haunts don’tyaknow. Last time I went to Angelina with a couple of friends we got semi-high from L’Africain Chocolate Chaud. It’s intense goo, 70% cocoa at least from Cote D’Ivoire, which you get in a jug accompanied by another jug of thick cream to water it down. I found an old snap of me drinking some last time I was there. Check out my mixed expression of concentration and glee.
Also the other day, whilst doing a little brushing up on the life of Marie Antoinette I came across this awesome blog Madame Guillotine. The author is woman cut from the same cloth as me I feel After having a good read I’m now coveting some of this lovely looking “let them eat cake” perfume she recommends. So pretty, so pretty.
Back to Marie Antoinette: get the look .A few years ago I had to muster up a pirate wench costume for Bestival and I bought this peculiar blouse from a shop in the N.Laines.
The shop is long gone, but the blouse relegated to the dressing up box, (a preserve for 12yrs & under visiters to Maison Peacock!) I’ve dug it out , given it a wash and iron and have decided that it’s definitely wearable this season with skinny jeans and a small dog of course.
Got to love pastels
I loved Mulberry’s s/s show last September at fashion week above all others.
I’m mad for the lemon. So happy that spring this year brings lots of pastels with it as I’ve a wadrobe full of lilacs, pinks and lemons dating back to another decade …but I’ve to admit that I have had a little (& v cheap as I’m broke) shop on the interweb @ good ‘ole ASOS.
I bought a yummy ice cream coloured wide knit plus a pair of lilac high-tops a few days before the fashion press went ga-ga for the lilac high-tops. BOOM! “Dear editor of The Style section just ask me first & I’ll inform the team what’s hot and not and all that”
This s/s I’m seeking inspiration from french macaroons, banana splits and Marie Antoinette (lover of small dogs)
What I’d dearly love is a pair of Mulberry woven sandal lemon wedges. These are awesome sky scrapers. If there is anyone out there who wants to be Abel Magwitch to my Pip? Where is a mysterious benefactor when you need one hey? When I say I’m broke, I mean BRO-ke! So no £550 shoe-shoes for me alas. I do own a nice pair of Stuart Wietzman wedges from last year, so it’ll be toe-nails painted in Models Own lemon and ta-da! “Get the look”
Aside from thesis agony, for me it’s been a summer of impromptu travel to NYC & Marbella & the most wonderful vintage discoveries along the way. I also attended The Vintage festival last month at the London Southbank Center. Any road, let’s work backwards and start with Part I -Spain.
A very nice friend who’s family have a house near Puerta Banus (think BIG yachts, premier league footballers, little dogs, lots of gold everywhere) invited me as a means of escape from methodology hades. During an evening wandering the cobbled streets of the old town in near by Marbella we came across the most heavenly vintage and designer clothing shop Dèjà Vu on Calle Pedraza, 8, Old Town Marbella 29601.
This isn’t your average seller of secondhand, instead the store has a careful selection of pieces from classic to sartorial arranged in what feels like a chic salon full of curiosities and yummy nic-nack-ery. A visit will make any fashionista swoon I guarantee. Not only that, with such a good selection of important labels and key designers from the last century it’s a bite size lesson in the cultural history of ladies-wear as good as any V&A exhibit. Check out this Chanel suit in the first picture below!
The owner Richard is super-knowledgable about his stock and charming too.
Find the shop on facebook or www.dejavumarbella.com
When I heard about The Savage Beauty exhibition a while back, I thought to myself what a shame it’s being held in The States and not in The U.K. I would not get to see it – money, time, and work blah blah. But I made it happen. I simply made up my mind it was not to be missed and to go. So now I’m in NYC – for various other reasons nothing to do with the exhibition – but good reasons and the best part I got to see the McQueen. I might knock up some quick self-helpy manifest your life manual in a minute! Watch out Deepak.
Absolute highlights are: the black duck feather & lace dress from a/w 2009 , really has to be seen up close to be understood. A stunning corset of lilac and silk, appliquéd with black lace. Of course the famous Kate Moss holograph set to the theme from Schindlers List by John Williams which I watched about 5Xs. But for me the exquisite cream silk tulle lace gown with resin antlers from the a/w Widows of Culloden collection blew me away. The gown is such a work or art it actually made me tearful. It sounds trite, but Alexander McQueen wasn’t just a designer, he was an artist, an inspiration, and a good East-End boy. He was a genius.
The exhibition is beautifully curated. The pieces are set in dark, atmospheric rooms, dressed in baroque cases and gilt frames. There are film installations from the catwalk shows on the ceilings and Handel’s Sarabande makes up part of the heartrending classical soundtrack in the background as one moves around the rooms.
This is my current favourite top. It’s from the s/s Richard Nicoll /Fred Perry limited edition collection.
I’ve been a Fred Perry wearer ever since I can remember & I love the fact that the brand has evolved to incorporate capsule collections for the slightly more sophisticated customer working with a designer as elegant as Nicoll. If I could, I would buy/wear almost every piece of clothing in the range. I especially love the delicate twin sets and shift dress too.
One of the things I admire about Fred Perry as a brand is that it is so inherently cool. It does such a good and clever job with it’s social media strategy working with and promoting the notion of subculture. particularly around music. The tell us your story strategy is also very clever.
I suppose all this has got me thinking about the notion of cool and also prosumers and online co-creation, all of which I discuss in my thesis. If you’re interested in reading thought provoking text on cool, I recommend the work of Poutain and Robbins’ (2001), which claims that the origins of cool lay with the cultural evolution and assimilation of Afro-American culture into the American counterculture of the 1960s, which was absorbed by the advertising industry.
‘Cool’ does not simply mean something is good though; ‘… ‘cool’ always carries an extra, often barely perceived, connotation: describing something (a record, a movie, a soft drink) as ‘cool’ rather than ‘swell’ or ‘dandy’ makes the statement, in however small a way, that the person who utters it is cool and not a nerd or a conformist’ (Poutain and Robbins 2001 p31).
And as Heath and Potter say in explaining their rebel sell thesis, ‘Cool has become the central ideology for consumer Capitalism. Think back to the last time you bought something… Why did you buy it? Probably because it was really cool’ (Heath and Potter. 2005 p193).
Anyway, I dig my top.
The season we’ve all heard about colour blocking and the 1970s look, but for me this s/s truly it’s ‘all hail the maxi-skirt’. I do so love a full skirt, but have been pondering the signification of reams of excess fabric in these times of austerity.
This is me spinning around to Minnie Riperton in the garden of earthly delights after too much fizzy stuff during one of those glorious balmy evenings we’d a few weeks ago. The skirt is one I’ve owned for years and the fabric is from the Laura Ashley archives circa 1970. I believe it’s stitched for spinning..
The Chris Cunningham Gucci advert is another worship of mine. It’s Cunningham at his most haunting and other worldly. I could watch it over and over.
Flora for Gucci by Chris Cunningham (youtube version)v I know Cunningham has done commercial work for Orange before, but whoever came up with the Gucci collaboration is a genius. On first analysis the idea of placing Gucci a fashion house that shouts establishment, tradition, classic design with Cunningham’s jittery cyber punk status is more than juxtaposition, but it works wonderfully.
And if I was a person who could spend money on new clothes then I’d be going berserk on maxi skirts at Freepeople this season. I’ve said this before, but I love the photography used by this label.
A great fashion blog can be found here with a post all about maxi-skirts. Lots of nice photographs of women in their maxis. All hail.
The maxi-skirt silhouette constructs a romantic and traditional image of femininity, but an outmoded one. The covering up of the female form and the relationship of this with past eras that were much more repressive for women isn’t exactly appealing for a lot of people. But, this could be countered with an argument about the liberating possibilities of covering up the female form in an age where even female children are encourage to wear mini-skirts and invite a sexual gaze by wearing skimpy clothing.
Ultimately for me, the maxi-skirt is all about shallow aesthetics I’m afraid. It ends with the fact that the indulgence of so much fabric and dreamy shapes and outlines is well-lovely.
I had a confusing brand experience in Urban Outfitters. I was reminded of that ‘I saw you coming’ Harry Enfield sketch where he dupes an upper middle class lady into buying objects for astronomical prices , which he’s picked up at a car boot sale for peanuts.
Urban Outfitters opened in Brighton back in November taking over the old Borders bookshop (R.I.P) space in Churchill Square. I’ve managed to avoid thus far as that particular entry point to Churchill always makes me feel like a salmon swimming up stream, but with such a big retail space and hoards of people coming out clutching bags I couldn’t avoid having a peek and seeing a) what they’d done with the interior and b) what lines they’re carrying.
My UO days date back to the 90s visiting the stores in NYC, particularly the one in Seaport. I would describe it’s early incarnations as a sort of trendy Ikea with clothes. A place for college students to get discount candles, throws etc and inexpensive vintage looking T-Shirts and cool sugary pink Korean pop-culture nic-nacs. When the brand came to the UK and I lived in London, I found myself drifting into the one in Covent Garden and Oxford Street for a window shop. I understood the market for the stock, but didn’t want to be charged the inflated U.K prices for things I’d pick up myself in charity shops and on holiday. TBH I was staggered at the price hike and rebrand into a self consciously hip fully signed up member of the high street. #avoid.
The company also now own the more sophisticated Anthropologie of which we’ve only one in the UK on Regent Street. The home ware is gorgeous, although the clothes are a tad conservative for my taste, think Boden on acid, Laura Ashley on speed. They also own the clothing label FreePeople which produces divine L.A hippy /West Coast-chic stuff. I think ASOS stock a bit and I like a lot. I’m especially fond of the catalogue photography and aesthetic but have never bought anything as it’s a tad over priced.
But what’s going on with the designer lines in Brighton’s U.O? I saw A.P.C Madras (worship!), Chloe , Vanessa Bruno, t.b.a and Vivienne Westwood on the rails. These are v grown up brands and stocked else where in the city in smaller boutiques in the lanes. Paradoxically the OU Brighton store was totally chokka with under-25s. In fact, on the day I went in I’d say the average age of shopper was 19. Are people getting a lot more pocket money these days?
If want A.P.C I don’t want to buy it from a shop full of local teenagers and be served by yoot with a dreadful A-symmetrical haircut in treggins who know nada about grown-ups fashion. I want to go to the nice small boutique and feel I’m buying a piece that half the student population of Brighton isn’t wearing. What are A.P.C thinking? What are U.O thinking?
I’m sure the store overall will do well as it presents an accessible and neatly packaged version of the vintage second hand aesthetic that was so popular last year. The trend has truly filtered to the high-street and for the brand, I guess it’s a case of right time right place, but I for one, am very confused about who Urban Outfitters is.
You know the book The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón? I love it, no, I freakin adore it. It’s right up there in my top reads along with Lolita, Dracula, Our Man in Havana and something by Jilly Cooper ( under rated genius). Zafón, beautiful, words.
Central to the story is the ‘cemetery of lost books’, described as
a mysterious labyrinthine repository of books in the underground heart of old Barcelona – watched over by the gruff guardian Isaac
Read more at Suite101: The Cemetery of Forgotten Books of Carlos Ruiz Zafon
I can’t say much more than that with out doing a spoiler.
The other day my love of The Shadow of the Wind lead me to an online conversation in October with 2 friends who live abroad. One of my friends runs a beautiful book shop in Athens, so one thing lead to another and we were soon arranging to meet up in her city this Novemeber.
Think fashion capital, think Athens? Probably not, but let me tell you it’s phenomenal for designer bargains, flash sales and 2nd hand stuff.
And, and, and, I was so excited to be taken through the winding streets of Plaka, because, under the shadow of the Acropolis, hidden in a narrow cobbled street, there is a shop which I christened the cemetery of forgotten Italian shoes. A tiny door takes you through to a labyrinth of joining rooms filled with end of line, and from a few seasons ago – it’s magic. I have been. I have chosen.
I’m wondering if there is potential market for a gothic/chick lit hybrid novel?