Tag Archives: fashion

Everybody’s looking for something

At a recent re-union with my two close friends, I went through my archive to find photographs from our collective past, remember photographs? Actual hard copies, actual physical images? I had a suitcase-full from the University days in Aberystwyth: theatre projects, pantomime and holidays, all shared histories. At the time we looked so fresh, yet were stacked with insecurities. It was striking how visually we had changed, faces, bodies, the core of the physical.

One of the funniest – yet lamest at the same time – cracker jokes I had this year was about Santa having to discipline his staff, as productivity on toy production was down in his factories. This was due to the Elves taking Elfies. Indeed, if you think about it, 2014 was the year of the selfie.

Nowadays, everybody airbrushes, changes, edits, deletes! We all do it, we all modify our digital life experiences promoting the fun times and the happy memories. We are all self-aware to a degree, but only projecting what we want the world to see. We are all Public Relations agents. Some admittedly are better than others.

It made me extremely happy to see a musician I have admired, Ms. Annie Lennox in a portrait that did not iron out her life lines or laughter marks. An image that did not tone and gloss her face to resemble an alabaster porcelain doll. To be raw, to be unaltered, to be authentic.

annie lennox

It reminded me of an anecdote I heard about Audrey Hepburn, who was appearing on the front of Vogue. One assistant, when showing her copy from the shoot, told her not to worry about the wrinkles as they would airbrush them out of the picture. To which this dignified actress said,

Don’t you dare! Leave them all in. I have earned every single one of them.

The recent picture of the Eurythmic legend was accompanied by a telling quote about our society on the Purple Clover Facebook page,

There’s this youth culture that is really, really powerful and really, really strong, but what it does is it really discards other people once they reach a certain age.

I actually think that people are so powerful and interesting – women especially – when they reach my age. We’ve got so much to say, but popular culture is so reductive that we just talk about whether we’ve got wrinkles, or whether we’ve put weight on, or lost weight, or whether we’ve changed our hair style. I just find that so shallow.

Perhaps we all should be made to read Oscar Wilde’s, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Perhaps we all could do with a reminder of what happens when you try and remain youthful for eternity. Perhaps it’s time to delete that picture in the attic or re-examine the profile image of our digital selves?

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On trend


From the Pre-Spring 2013 edition of i-D magazine, courtesy of Givenchy comes word of the latest trend in high fashion: babies. Forget handbags, watches and bangles – the only thing to have hanging from your arm this Spring is a small person.

Luckily I put in my order for this highly sought-after item last year, so my son made his debut in time for me to be on trend. He has been as delightful, entertaining and – on occasion – as bewildering as everyone tells you children are. That said, a late night reading of some Sherlock Holmes stories from the Kindle app on my phone apart, we haven’t been doing much reading together yet.

I am mindful of Cyril Connelly’s often quoted words:

There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall.

But also of mothers who haven’t let the small person stop them writing when they can, perhaps J. K. Rowling and Monica Ali being the most notable recent examples.

I was in hospital when I found out that my last post ‘A desk of one’s own‘ was being selected for the Freshly Pressed site. Reading the many comments left there by readers, to which I am determined to reply before too long, made for a brief holiday back to life before motherhood. This new role means that updates to ten minutes hate might be infrequent, might not always be written by me, but will be forthcoming. Even if they are tapped out on a mobile during naptime, like this one.

Thanks for reading!

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Street Portraitist

Spent an afternoon in the park taking pictures with the Street Portraitist and this was the happy result.  It is always interesting to watch someone learn by doing it, figuring out what works and what they like as they go.  I was also lucky he is really patient as it was one of the first times I have been in front of a camera like this and so it could have been nerve-wracking!  Instead it was a really good day, at least until the chill winter air killed all enthusiasm for standing in a freezing park and we decided to go and occupy the nearest Thai restaurant.  Their bold yellow wall inspired this final shot, which is one of my favourites – after all, if you’re going to take something over, it is vital to make sure there is a good food supply handy:

Check out the Street Portraitist website here.

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T-Shirt Party

Now, being a girl and all, you could probably guess that your pal Julia is as much in love with all things fashion as any Fake Bake-ed WAG-wannabe.  And although you would be right, it is also true that having grown up as a total tomboy, forever climbing trees and skinning knees, means there are not many pretty dresses which will do quite as much as the perfect combination of skinny jeans + white shoes + a crisp white t-shirt.

I have written before about my love of all things Katherine Hamnett and her slogan shirts.  In a similar vein, here is one of my all-time favourites, a cracking little eBay number:

It never fails to raise a smile – even from notoriously hard-to-please New Yorkers.  Sadly, it is also true, I have never been to NY, but – hey! – I’m working on it…

Recently the NY t-shirt and I have been straying into ‘wearing that to death’ territory so it was time to start looking for a suitable addition to the ménage.  I was lucky enough to find, via Dazed Digital, the masterminds behind T-Shirt Party.

On a mission to design the ‘ultimate London t-shirt’, to compete with the ‘I love NY’ itself, they plan to release a new shirt each week, with accompanying video exploring the inspiration behind the design.  The shirts will only be available for a year and are sold at a very pocket-friendly price.  Founder Stan Still explained to Dazed:

T-Shirt Party reps London town, our hometown. No boutiques, no marketing campaigns, no hyped up nonsense, just T-shirts for the people. It’s simple: after all it’s only white tees – the people’s apparel

So, here I am wearing what seems to me, in light of this post, to be on course to become my new favourite thing:

This is a slightly better photo, from T-Shirt Party:

Looking good, as I am sure you will agree.  With 13 styles released so far and more to follow, there is something for everyone to fall in love with and you are also unlikely to see everyone you know rocking the same one, an added bonus.

If I was purchasing them for blogging friends, I would buy this one for Mark of The Mortal Bath, as he is soon to leave the Metropolis behind for northern climes:

While this one would be good for Phil of Truth, Reason & Liberty:

And I can see Bonesy rocking this one fresh:

I can confirm that the t-shirts themselves are high quality, wash well and make you feel like a million bucks quid.  Get them before they’re gone!  And make sure you tell me about any of your favourites tees below in the comments…
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Save the Silas!

And that is as much politics as I can handle this weekend.  Have a story instead…

Back in the day, when I was a yoot (that is eight or so years ago) I was an avid collector of Silas.  I think I was going all out to be able to dress head-to-toe in it, every day of the week.  I had jeans, a skirt, jumpers, hoodies, blouses, vests, jewellery and two handbags, a coat, a jacket and an anorak.  Had I ever left the house wearing it all and had I bumped into label founders Sophia Prantera and Russell Waterman that day, they would have laughed their asses off at me.  And they would have been right to, except it would have been a slight bit nasty, given that I must have been one of their best customers.

How I managed it on a student/first job budget only the bank manager knows, but it was definitely a fun game to play, trying to sneak a bit of Silas into an otherwise boring working wardrobe.  It was easier with some things than with others.

This used to go well with a suit and white shirt for work.  I was dead proud of the ensemble too, until a well-meaning but ultimately deluded co-worker asked me if I had bought the jumper in Gap and I nearly chinned her with a wail of ‘That’s prime grade premium skate wear!‘ before I reasoned that I had better let it go.  As P Diddy says, there are two types of people in the world: players and player haters.  She wasn’t to know the error of her ways.

Next up, we have some lovely camisole-style vests.  They look ever so cute and butter-wouldn’t-melt from a distance and are great with old cardies and jeans.  Close up the patterns are a little more devilish as Silas is all about the essential details (you can click on all thumbnails to enlarge).

They also never lose that, if I can just get all fashion writer-y on you for a moment, essential rock aesthetic, especially with the accessories.

These leather cuffs in dark brown and white are suitably chunky, embossed with studs and the Silas logos.  They have the feel of something you might have nicked off a now long-dead roadie in a back-room poker game, somewhere near a highway in Alabama, sometime in 1973.  See how just wearing them makes me clench my fist in a RAWK-like manner?  Grrrrrrrrr.

For all the different influences they have embraced over the years, the Silas designers never lost sight of their origins providing quality, hard-wearing skate clothing.  This jacket is one of the best things in the world ever, comfortable, light-weight and shower proof, even though the closest I ever got to really needing skate wear was playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater:

Best of the lot has to be this bag.  Nearly ten years old and it still looks amazing, garnering compliments wherever it goes:

Again, it is the details which make the bag a joy to use for transporting possessions about the town, from the plaited leather strap, to the wooden fastener (I’ve been asked more than once if it’s a pencil.  If only.  That would be the only thing that could make this bag better.  Built-in stationery) and the studs all over everything.  It is truly lovely.

Since 2006, Silas has been concentrating its efforts on Asia, which is frustrating but comes as no surprise as there were always items in every collection which, it was whispered, could only be bought in Japan. So, since the Silas won’t come to me, it is my best reasoning that I will have to go to it.  I can’t wait to get out to Tokyo this summer, check out all the exclusives that were never produced in the UK and start building up my collection again.  And I am sure I will be able to resist the temptation to wear it all at once.

Another thing that Silas is known for is its collaborations with designers in the creation of clever and inventive marketing campaigns.  Stay tuned for more on those tomorrow…

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All that scratchin’ is makin’ me itch

I get a continued kick out of the fact that one of the most popular posts on this here ten minutes hate of mine continues to be the one called ‘stop being a sap!’  which features Joe Strummer’s words about taking control of your life and creating something for yourself.

Malcolm McLaren, whose funeral took place today, was another of that ilk.  As one of the better obituaries, written by McLaren collaborator Sylvain Sylvain of the New York Dolls, tells it:

When I remember Malcolm, I think that he taught me the idea that if you don’t like something, you’re the only one that can change it. That’s the mentality people need to make things happen. It takes a spark to build a fire, and Malcolm was definitely that spark

I worry for us though, because we are losing them.  The towers of controlled rage and puncturers of excess and stupidity who saw the year of my birth as less of an excuse to pat the Queen on the back for a job well done but more of an opportunity to create merry hell and up the blood pressure of the clueless as they railed against England’s lack of promise.

And here we are again, up to our necks in it… except all we have to throw at the problem are Scouting for Girls and a million poor Kate Bush knock-offs.

So if you are tired of sitting in the pub wondering what it all means, it’s time to start making it happen.  Stop chasing the dreams they sell you and make your own, let them come to you, just as McLaren did.  In his own words:

I was taught that to create anything you had to believe in failure, simply because you had to be prepared to go through an idea without any fear. Failure, you learned, as I did in art school, to be a wonderful thing. It allowed you to get up in the morning and take the pillow off your head

He’s right of course.  Make some noise, piss people off, do it your own way.  Don’t follow anyone else’s idea of a well-defined career path.  Your life’s worth much more than eat, shit, work, consume, sleep.  Make it count.

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One for the girls

Happy International Women’s Day! And what better way to celebrate than with Kathryn Bigelow holding aloft the Best Picture and Best Director Oscars? Proving that the lasses can do more around Hollywood than just look pretty in a posh frock, although that is cool too, because this is how far we have come: we can wear nice dresses, look great and still make films in which lots of things blow up. I am aglow with pride.

Yes, there is still a way to go. And yes, although not all of us are fortunate enough to have, in Sarah Ditum’s excellent words:

a bank account, a ballot and a contraceptive implant. I reckon Mary Wollstonecraft would trade eras with me in a heartbeat

I also reckon Mary would love ‘Hurt Locker’, as well as its Director.  So enjoy her here, in all her gracious, intelligent, Oscar-winning, Marchesa-wearing glory:

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Sorry, fashionistas…

…but I couldn’t resist.  When I saw this juxtaposition:


… all I could think was how much the skinny MySpace boy needed the free pizza!  I confess, I sniggered.

I’m going to fashion hell!

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Something for the weekend

KHamnett_thinkMaybe it is because it is the season of fashion weeks (Fashion Month?) and maybe because I just submitted some scribblings to a fashion mag’s writing competition (in the hope of winning shoes!) but I have of late, found myself musing about the mad, bad and dangerous to know world of fashion.

Of course, ten minutes hate is mostly concerned with the iniquities of politicians and the tyrannies of other weak-willed men, and it could be argued that with all the scandals, thievery and corruption in the world, taking a month off to gawk at clothes we won’t even be wearing until next Spring is, well, a bit silly, isn’t it?

I would disagree, obviously, or this post ends here…

Once you concede that clothes are about more than protecting us from the elements or saving our modesty on a packed Tube train, everything else becomes a statement of intent.  Having a good day and toasting it with bright red lipstick, wishing to hide in a comfy tracksuit, going for the full uniform of whichever tribe you picked: from goth to emo to skater or a million others, even in the anti-capitalist garb of army surplus trousers and ironic t-shirt, you are saying something about yourself when you get dressed each day.  To be ‘anti-fashion’ is to be as much a part of the conversation as a member of the front row at any show.

True, there are things to hate about fashion.  I hate it when fashion is cruel to women by, for instance, offering shoes designed to cause injuries, or making a perfectly healthy girl feel fat, or engaging in excess and waste on a scale not seen since Marie Antoinette was playing at milk-maiding.  I also hate when the fashion default setting is ‘how amazing!’ when really it should be ‘are you sure?’, which is why it is so refreshing to read reviews like this one of House of Holland’s show (hat tip to Gem Fatale’s Style Blog for the link).

But credit where credit is due, not all fashion swims at the shallow end of the pool.  Witness Katherine Hamnett offending Margaret Thatcher two decades ago, Vivienne Westwood matching a natural sense of playfulness with a deeper concern for the world around her, not to mention all the Reds, People Trees and Eduns which seek to bring us clothing grown from renewable sources, made by workers adequately rewarded for their labour and sold with biodegradable packaging.  Sometimes fashion proves that it is for the grown ups too.

vw_manifestoWestwood’s manifesto contains more than a trace of her punk roots and shows that ‘recreating a punk aesthetic’ should be about more than wearing your skinny jeans with too much eyeliner and a safety pin brooch (god help us, I have yet to recover from that one, thanks ASOS.)  Do It Yourself and be proud to have your clothes show age as you wear them.  It could be simply a ‘make do and mend’ for the Noughties except for the margin notes added to the handwritten note: exhortations to save the rainforest and support for an Amnesty International campaign.

So now that I have proved that you can keep your political consciousness and still enjoy clothes, feast yourself on these images from New York and London Fashion week.  A little something for the weekend.

Hamnett image from Vogue, Westwood manifesto from Style on Track.

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Age is no concern

Not to worry about the little wrinkles around the eyes.  I think that’s glamorous.

This is a lovely short film including pictures from Guardian photographer Christian Sinibaldi alongside interviews with people he met at Age Concern in Camden.  Their take on what makes a person glamorous and beautiful should give hope to any late twenty-something worried about the imminent ending of their youth.

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