Friday, 18 March 2011

Baggin' It.

Jane and Boris Birkin taking my bag for a walk.

 I don't want to admit to this, I don't want to portray myself as a total moron but I seem to have a more than healthy curiosity in those over-priced things called 'designer bags'. I don't have one and I doubt I ever will but there is something incredibly seductive about the attention to detail, the quality of the leather and the ability they have to transform a messed up old somebody into a not so messed up mess, simply by dangling a bit of luxe from their arm. But I have a problem. Well, the financial thing obviously, I couldn't just chuck a grand at a bag without feeling the need to say five Hail Mary's and two Our Father' but it is the speed at which most of these bags lose their cool factor, being updated with a new bigger better version only a matter of months after. 
 I once started a 'bag fund'. I would put a relatively small sum of cash into a pot once a month until I reached my dream bags' target, then off I would skip to a shop with a big name and purchase my bit of candy. The fund lasted six months and although I hadn't slipped in my steady contributions I also wanted to get the floor sorted out in our kitchen, oh and there was the escalating costs of Caspar' nursery fees, the need to change the car to a truck and more stuff, more stuff, more stuff. When did I plan to actually use this bag? On the school run? I'm often cycling a tricycle, piled high with kids arms and legs. On a trip to the park? I wouldn't risk the leaky beakers let alone a leaky pair of trousers that need swapping. Maybe I thought I would use it on all those nights out I go on. But I like staying at home. What was I thinking? Maybe I've just always liked seeing others 'baggin' it' and as I reach for my seasonless yet reliable cotton shopper, home to more crap than a cupboard could hold, I'm free of my designers fear that someone out there is about to bring out the next 'It' bag just after I've parted with my pot of gold or more secretly that I harbour the deluded belief I could have done it better. So thankyou floor, thankyou inflation and thankyou kids. I love my canvas bag and it loves me. (However if anyone happens to have a spare Birkin bag they are looking to donate, I'd happily be its guardian, trike and all.)
Helena on my trike...
and not a Birkin in sight.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Silly, Silly Man.

A/W 2008 - beautiful, non ?

 The press is a funny beast. Our source of information on all things current and yet as I age, that increasingly familiar angle, 'scepticism', starts to creep in a little more regularly and the need to read between the lines becomes more essential. The Wire, probably one of the greatest television series to come out of America in the last decade, demonstrates the ripple effects of the power our newspapers can wield and so it is with some sadness that I read of the 'demise' of the great John Galliano.
 His is old news really, yesterdays fish and chip paper but for him and the fashion business it is a sad time. Accused of verbal abuse and anti-semitic remarks, Galliano has been stripped of his crown by the very people who put him there. He is a fool and a mess. His behaviour is one of a man teetering on the edge, attempting to jump but hoping someone might catch him and they have but in the hands of the press he didn't find an enveloping arm, instead he has been stripped and flogged and now he finds himself being held up as a public example to all. 
 I have no doubt that Galliano had been a handful for his team at Dior for sometime and most likely a headache for the bigwigs at LVMH. Substance abuse had become his daily caffeine and without the guidance of his loyal friend and designer, Stephen Robinson , who had, over the two decades of working together, become his right and left hand, dying in 2007 of a heart attack, Galliano' direction had become increasingly aimless. Add to that the death of two others close to him, Isabella Blow and Alexander McQueen and Galliano could be forgiven for some serious misfiring.   Maybe LVMH were looking for an opportunity like this so they could rid themselves of the very beast they had helped to create but more likely they have had a team of people mopping up his verbal detritus for a  long time, however on this occasion there was no time to hide the mess. Having been caught red handed on the camera of his accusers (who, if you have seen the clip, appear to be goading a drunken fool,) he sealed his own fate and LVMH, the powerhouse that owns Dior, could do nothing but shut the door on him. The press were on to him like dogs and no upstanding establishment, whose money is tied up in selling the beautiful life, would want to stand up and defend the accused. 
 What will become of him? How does an artist - because that is what he is, unquestionably - go on from here, once the court case has past sentence? His behaviour is the reflection of a man who has burnt out, producing over a dozen different collections a year, addressing ad campaigns, perfume launchs, increasingly theatrical shows and the continued pursuit for the 'new' in a world that celebrates nothing deeper than the exterior. How do you come back to the ring when the audience who once applauded also vilified and distanced themselves?
 For me John Galliano was never a barometer of what was current and fresh but instead continued to remind me of how a true artistic designer works. They are consumed by their art and penniless or loaded with gold, collections appeared, dripping in drama and it is because of that, I hope he will return, no doubt heralded by the same people that rushed to damn him. He was stupid, drunk and way out of line but for a moment I can spare him the time to try and understand. A perfect citizen he ain't but forgiveness we can.

Over indulged me thinks...

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

To Sell or Not to Sell...?

Tower of heels, fare ye well.

 There is a cupboard in our house that requires a ladder to access it. It houses a dusty pile of shoe boxes, bursting with vertigionously high heels in a rainbow of colours and styles; part of those glamorous twenty-something years where I needed little excuse to turn from a grimy trainer to a heel as the evening approached. Now it is from a trainer to a slipper (and not the silky heeled type, much loved by ageing movie stars). So, with some hesitation, I have just scaled the precarious shelves beneath the shoe shop cupboard (to get the ladder would mean fighting my way through the booby trapped dump that is our cellar) and unearthed some beautiful shoes that haven't seen the light of day - or a disco ball - for an awfully long time.
 There is something rather sad about boxed up shoes, at least when they have been tucked away for at least half a decade. Heels, whether you wear them or not symbolise a 'good time', practicalities are not of consequence, strap them to your feet and you become a party warrior, any pain being numbed by the swig of another alcoholic beverage. But that me is a distant past that I only occasionally revisit and with no daughters on whom I can dump my ton of shoes I have taken the long overdue decision to 'get rid'.
 Ebay was my first call, the computer land of buy and sell where anything is up for grabs. You want a cashew shaped like Jesus' face? Or a date with someones' gay Uncle Frank? Okey, surely there must be a few willing buyers for some very desirable, clicky heeled things that have fancy names on them and once robbed me of all my earnings? Let me just read the blurb. Yep. Yep. Yep. Got it. ERRRGGHHHHHHHHhhhhhh...... Something tells me I have been here before. I have attempted this whole charade with some other bits of nonsense I've thought fit to sell. What happened? Oh yes, I went "ERRRGGHHHHHHHHhhhhhh......" Why? Because it is so emotionless and well, professional. Most people selling have clearly made it their daily grind. They have ratings and reviews. They have a patter of writing and loads of products. They most likely have jiffy bags aplenty and industrial brown tape for sealing up goods. And even after all of that, their sales never really shift for much more than the cost of post and packaging. But my handicap is the emotional attachment I have over those shoes and although I should just shut-up and get on with it I have another option.
 Strut, a great shop, local to me in N16, is an Aladdins' cave of vintage clothes, that also buys up the kind of clobber that lives in my unreachable cupboard. Here, the shoes would be displayed, admired and maybe sold! to a young, life-loving thing, whose only responsibility is to scrape enough money out of the shopping left-overs to pay her rent. (I'm getting a bit rose-tinted nostalgic here.) So Asa and I are going to eat our boiled egg and soldiers now and then we're off to our first sales meeting. I'll do the talking and he can model the goods. He's got the legs for it.

Vivienne Westwood -
from her lunch/snackette 2011 collection.

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Who is this Lady?

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went to st.martins,graduated as a fashion designer, worked in italy, set up my own womenswear label, married a lovely man and then stopped everything (well, almost) to pop out four little boys. have plans. will do.