Wednesday, 30 December 2009

MA Fashion & Film graduate showcase vid

It's a bit long but ...this is the output of 4 postgrads (nearly) from the first year of the MA in Fashion and Film at the London College of Fashion

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Top 3 Chick flicks for Christmas

1. High Society - Grace Kelly, Bing Crosbie & Frank Sinatra
2. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes - Marilyn Monroe & Jane Russell
3. Charade - Audrey Hepburn & Cary Grant


Friday, 4 December 2009

Kitchen Drama not Opera

It was the most delightful birthday present from my parents a night at the opera and my all time favourite – Turandot. I have a long love affair with opera and Puccini, Bizet, Verdi and Mozart are probably my favourite composers.

It is not often one has a conversation with someone who looks down upon your favourite opera and yet recently I enjoyed a discussion on opera with one of my film tutors. His view was very purist and he rated Baroque Opera over more modern offerings. My large glass of white wine an accessory to the discussion, rendered me in capable of constructing a decent argument in favour of my beloved Puccino over Handel, Gluck or Scarletti.

On my birthday treat to the ENO’s Turandot I was once more rendered incapable as the production unfolded before my eyes. A performance which rendered me speechless in its over ambitious and pointless detraction from the story of Puccini’s final opera.

In some respects I admire a modernist approach and taking risks. I liked the idea of setting it in a Chinese restaurant but thought the dolls in formaldehyde were trite, and equally I yawned at the beheaded bodies in the kitchen hanging like a nod to the Body Parts exhibition.

The trouble was director Rupert Goold did not set a theme and stick to it. He was not content with a Sirk like staircase for mise-en-scène dramatics alongside the narrative. Was the restaurant set in London or New York? Should have it been set in Beijing? The trouble with having a chorus made up of Elvis, an NYPD cop, nuns, drag artists and 80s throwbacks to name a few (don’t start me on the golfers and the clown!) is the fact you felt the ENO had rushed to fellow theatres and borrowed the costumes from Sister Act/Priscilla Queen of the Desert/Thriller/ Denis and I.

I was exhausted with the array of white petit bourgeoisie representations of modern culture. I always judge a good performance by my tears and I did cry at the end of Act 1 when I was moved to tears due to relief when Lui, Calaf and his father sang in unison reminding me I was at the opera. Suddenly I heard the music and Puccini rang triumphant even if it was in English (yes this was a shocker but the ENO always sing in English).

image: The Guardian

It got worse. I began to wonder if my glass of wine at Carluccios had been drugged particularly when the dancers proceeding Turandot’s entrance didn’t disappear after their initially interesting fan dance. And that is the trouble with the direction – no ability to rein it in. Goold has mixed his media to no effect. Even Turandot bore a resemblance to Kill Bill with her sword wielding antics resulting in the death of the additional characterisation of an onlooker or journalist written into the production for no earthly reason other than to be different.

I was reminded of Isabella Blow when Lui choose poison in the form of bleach as her death aid. Blow was extravagant with magazine budgets often to no great effect which ultimately resulted in her dismissal (no one ever mentions this since she died). The budget was truly blown on the production setting and the irritating composition of characters. This meant it was left to the orchestra and singers to attempt to bluster and muster their way through it. I can only commend their performance in the face of adversity and the flames of the kitchen cooker (Act 3) which made me think Calaf and the writer were about to engage in Ready Steady Cook. The skipping little girl reduced me to Louis Walsh as per X Factor and his comments on the kids’ choir. I could hear Simon pleading for her moment on stage; I was most ungenerous and hoped she would trip.

I had to shut my eyes to transport me to the music and singing - which is the point of opera - or admire the ceiling of the Coliseum, anything other than look at the stage. I have no issue with being visually stimulated but when every action looks like a poor cousin of film and TV, the majesty fo the stage is dimished. And when the ruddy clown stepped forward to mime blowing the fanfare I though Goold would have been better advised to have got Mr Tumble from Cbeeies.

The only bright spot was after the clapping and bowing, (opera goers are nothing other than polite, although the two people sat next to Mr MDS bowed out after Act 2) I managed to entertain all of those in row C, D, and E in the Upper Circle nearest to me when I delivered my Gordon Ramsey impression – basically I was saying to my dad that I had to stop myself from shouting out to Calaf in the kitchen scene after he sang Nessun Dorma (which he did very very well) ‘Now get yourself a drink and f**k off out of my kitchen.’

Friday, 30 October 2009

Short Film Update

My short film is done, well I have a final edit.
All I have to do now is arrange a screening - though now it is real I'm too scared to show!
Damn artistic torture...

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Despair is an international language

What do you do when it is the start of London Fashion Week -well go to Paris of course! Whilst the excursion wasn't a deliberate attempt to escape LFW, it was a much needed escape from London. Paris has space and an ease that London does not offer. London does offer so much but for a true wander with little to interrupt un bon repas, a stroll and browsing then Paris is the place.

A day trip on Eurostar makes for a pleasant day out and we choose to have a wander around and lunch in Montmartre, then get the metro to the Louvre for a walk along the Seine crossing over to the Left Bank, ending up in the 4th arrondissement at the Ile Saint -Louis. The city bikes are much used and the traffic seems to allow more for cycling in Paris than London. There is more impatience in Paris (horn blowing) but less speed on the streets. The Seine allows for a great backdrop for wedding photos - imagine that on the Thames! And somehow the champagne bubbles flow more...

The only cautionary tale is taxis. London cabs are fantatstic, they are never a moment away but in Paris taxis aren't so frequent or available. Remember Carrie in the final SATC programme stuck trying to get a taxi! In typical London or even New York fashion, we though a taxi would be the simplest thing to get us back to the Gard du Nord. No not a chance. It didn't help that there was a gay pride march taking place. We made a desperate lunge for the metro but the ticket queue was enough to defeat this option as we had half an hour to get the train. Finally rushing through the back streets, I managed to forget all my French and resort to a desperate face and appeal in English to a taxi driver to help us get there. Luckily for me the lady in the back was happy assist and allowed us into the taxi to for the driver to get us to the station after he's dropped her off. Once back in the land of the not desperate, I could converse with the nice old lady who informed me the march was for gay pride and it had made things worse for getting a taxi. She had seen the despair on my face (I couldn't bear the thought of missing the train) and of course allowing another person into ones taxi was just like Africa! Ah European colonialism...


Friday, 11 September 2009

Quote of the Day

'I love Colin Firth. I would pay to go and see Colin Firth read a telephone book.'
Mark Kermode on Radio 5 Live

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Where fashion meets film

This week sees the UK screening of The September Issue - in London this should be taking place at the BFI Southbank but no hint of it on their website?!

Don't worry the dvd release date is September the 21st - pre order your copy on Amazon.

Update -I phoned the BFI and they had a preview of it on Saturday 5th. This still leaves the mystery as where it is being screened on September 11th - its official UK release date!

Thursday, 27 August 2009


Whilst I should have been studying hard this afternoon for my MA, I by chance had a quick peek at the telly and came across one of my favourite films The Quiet Man (1952)

Starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara and directed by John Ford it is a modern day take on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew set in county Galway, Ireland.

The Quiet Man is a beautifully shot romantic drama but it is an idealised version of Irish life and is hardly a ringing endorsement for women's rights but I still laugh every time at the point where one of the local women hands John Wayne a stick as he drags Maureen O'Hara across the countryside on route to challenge her brother about her withheld wedding dowry and says 'here's a good stick for you if you need to beat your wife.'

Before you judge me, watch the film without any notions of today and you'll enjoy every minute of it!

Friday, 7 August 2009

Weekly Round Up

A day of pure culture on Wednesday August 5th kicked off (yes I know hardly art speak) at the Tate Britain, which I shamefully have never been to before in London. I've been to the Tate Modern and the Tate in St Ives but not the Tate Britain at Millbank. It is slightly out of the way, as if this is any excuse. It's just Pimlico is not on my daily radar! I was venturing to this distant part to look at a John Singer Sargent painting - Ena and Betty, Daughters of Asher and Mrs Wertheimer to be exact. The portraiture in the Tate is wonderful and I happily lost a couple of hours there. Then I needed to meet Mr MDS to go to Somerset House for the Film4 Summer Screen.
I decided to make like a tourist and go on the boat that links Tate Britain to the Tate Modern. I realised as I gazed out at the Thames waiting for the Tate to Tate boat I'd never been on the Thames. Not even at Henley or Kingston and I have no idea why not. I've walked along it, crossed over it, run by it and dipped my toes in but never on it.
The boat was in serious need of air con. It was sweltering on board and I would never catch this boat again as I felt like I couldn't breath. However it was fun to see some landmarks from a different angle.
Big Ben and Houses of Parliament(above)

London Eye (below)
Once I'd recovered form my interesting but sweltering boat ride I pushed my way through tourists over the Millennium Bridge to St Paul's to get picnic food and drink for our evening at Somerset House. Our viewing choice, or rather my viewing choice was Nicholas Roeg's Don't Look Now (1973) one of my top ten films if not in my top three.
We plonked ourselves down on the bl**dy blanket I'd been hauling around and were glad we got there at the start 6:30pm as we could choose our space, get to know our neighbours (picnic hints a plenty - resourceful people decanted champagne and wine into plastic water bottles as glass bottles aren't allowed. We read no bottles of wine as no alcohol) and nip to the bar for drinks to go with our M&S picnic.
The event was sold out, which meant 2000 people came to enjoy open air cinema. It was a lovely evening though we were besieged by flying ants. One knowledgeable person said it was because a storm was coming, which it did but in the middle of the night not that evening thank goodness. A few people got badly bitten and were in need of antihistamine which I always carry as I'm allergic to prawns. My dispensing of drugs got rewarded by wine from canny decanted alcohol and boxes of wine people!
When it got dark at 9:10pm the film started! I have to say lying down on a blanket with a shawl as a pillow for your head watching a film is the perfect way to spend an evening.
We were instructed not to take photos during the film which I duly respected but here are some images of the beautiful Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland. Although I'd seen the film many times on telly or dvd I was too young to see the film on screen in 1973! It was a rare treat to see it on the big screen and I realised how influential my love of it has been in my own style. I hate to be a style know it all but whilst the fashion journalists are crediting Balmain wide shoulder jackets with Michael Jackson - they'd do better to view Don't Look Now and see the suit worn by Christie as she departs Venice for England.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Weekly review or that was the week that was

I've struggled to find a level with this blog. I wanted to discuss fashion, not just garments but general cultural trends, fashion in general including art, architecture, design but with a specific emphasis on film.

Somehow the flow, the mojo, the very essence of this blog has never got going.

So, this is another attempt to get it going and to make it easier and more to the point I will only post at the end of the week.

And today I went to see Coco Avant Chanel (2009) and I refer you to my first post on this in March for images and other info.

I'll keep the review brief and not spoil it for you!

Basically (dreadful to start with I know but...) it is a delight. I think one could feel either ambivalent or impressed with Audrey Tatou as Gabrielle Chanel. The film is neither too long or too short and cleverly adapts only part of Edmonde Charles Roux's book and to great effect. The
adaptation focuses on the how and a bit of the why. It drops in bits of information to suggest Coco schemed and was adept at being circumspect with the truth for her own end. The ending is glorious and for me Benoit Poelvoorde as Etienne de Balsan gave a sublime performance.

Just one note of cinematographic appreciation the scene at Deauville was pure Renoir (the artist).


Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Over twitter

I've just removed myself from twitter - I thought it was fun at first but then it just got ridiculous. I was receiving text updates and am unsure if I actually choose to get them and much as I like the individuals concerned I was bored by it all in a nano second.

I have visions of a character in a film soon going ballistic due to one tweet too many!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Photographer required

Any budding photographers in London or South East who would like to photograph a film shoot??
Please leave details in comment box.

Monday, 22 June 2009

You what!

Gosh, producing, writing and directing your own film is hard work.
My biggest pain at the moment is cameraman/person/whatever! Seriously trying to make someone stick is like the worst unsticking envelope flap bit ever. I have two options on the go and seriously need a plan c if I'm going to shoot my little baby. Crew and actors are in place but the logistical organisation of shooting isn't progress because I can't pin a camera person down to commit even with wads of cash in their face - AGH!

Sunday, 7 June 2009


Okay from now on I'm going to use this post on my short film preparation for my MA dissertation project.
I hope there will be nice photos to accompany the work and you'll enjoy following the trials and tribulation of filming - pre production, production, post production.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

New Fashion book alert!

A must have book for any student of all things French and a brilliant historical insight to the creative city that is Paris. A serious study of the cultural and historical aspects of the city beloved and immortalised by the Nouvelle Vague filmmakers!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

FILM CREW needed!

The dreaded beg, borrow minus the steal post is upon me. I'm trying to pull together a small film crew for a weeks filming in London in August!

All I can currently offer is travel expenses and subsistence (food and drink). If I strike lucky with funding then more will be available.
Leave me a comment with phone number to contact if you want to assist in any way
PS Thanks for the many emails from around the globe! This is a UK location and a short film with a 4 -5 day film shoot period. Hence removing my email address as not sure if being contacted by spammers or cretins given the vocab used!

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Live ad!

If you happen to be in London today and get to read this then the next T-Mobile ad is being shoot in Trafalgar Square tonight between 6pm and 7pm!

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Access to all!

Don't forget that the London College of Fashion and the University of the Arts London, in general, offers a wealth of free exhibitions and talks.

Here's a few up and comings events you might be interested in!

6pm, Tuesday 12 May 2009 Mirrors, magic and multiplication: early twentieth century fashion shows Caroline Evans, Professor of Fashion History & Theory, Central Saint Martins School of Art & Design

6pm, Tuesday 19 May 2009 Gwen Loves Vivienne Janice Miller, Lecturer in Cultural Historical Studies, London College of Fashion

6pm, Tuesday 26 May 2009 Fashion & Celebrity Pamela Church-Gibson, Reader in Cultural Historical Studies, London College of Fashion Venue: Conference Room, The Innovation Centre (off Proctor Street, opposite Red Lion Square, tube: Holborn), Central Saint Martins School of Art & Design
To book a space or for further information email

I'll be at the one on the 26th of May!! And if you think I'm all study and no play - sadly it's Saturday night so hence having a moment to post and petit garcon and I are sitting down to Britain's Got Talent!!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Formula One

Now Formula One racing is hardly the bastion of fashion - more eurotrash than designer intelligentsia. Nor, surprisingly is it fodder for film. The last real motor racing film of note was Winning by Paul Newman mainly due to his good looks I'm sure.
However Formula One does provide a rich seam of stories, sub plots and generally skull duggery to warrant a film. Take the orgy participation President of the FIA, the soon to be divorced-and-having-to-pay-through-his-nose for it F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, the egos of the drivers and all the glam girls surrounding them. F1 is a bastion of male supremacy untouched or unsullied by female hands or the advancement of equality.
When the McLaren team boss Ron Dennis quit F1 today he said,
"I admit I'm not always easy to get on with. I admit I've always fought hard for McLaren in Formula 1," he said.
"I doubt if (FIA president) Max Mosley or (F1 supremo) Bernie Ecclestone will be displeased by my decision."
Sub text - they are out to get me!! I hate you all!! I can imagine lost of fist thumping on garage doors, desk tops and women wafting around in Cavalli. We'll have Monza with Milan and the Dolomites as a backdrop and some great trashy party in Monaco. Now all I need is someone to bankroll it....

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Beg, steal or borrow

This is the post when I confess I'm struggling to even post on this blog due to pressures of scripting, costuming and pre production. I dip in to your blogs, barely registering the details and feel as if I'm losing a limb. My blog world time is fading rapidly due to external pressures.

I need to cast a male lead and a female lead but I don't want a RADA try hard. I need a twenty something black male who is sporty and a book worm! I've got to pull together a production team who want to work for nowt other than expenses for a week to get experience and a show reel.

On top of this Mr Film Upstart leaves his breakfast mess for me to clear up every morning - he does get up at 6am while I'm only just managing to surface at 7:30am!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Drawing inspiration

In general most referencing of films for fashion inspiration are from Classical Hollywood, key foreign language films or independent filmmakers. Who hasn't mentioned Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's, Sabrina or Funny Face. Although I don't consider Funny Face to be strictly a fashion film apart from the iconic black turtle neck and cigarette pants with pumps worn by Hepburn in the left bank beatnik club scene. Funny Face is a romantic slightly comedic film using the fashion industry as the story vehicle. The consultation by Richard Avedon is excellent and the resulting photographic fashion stills in the film are illuminating.

Films that lend themselves to fashion inspiration usually do so due to strong direction or a strong costume designer. For example Alfred Hitchcock was exacting in his costume views even to the shade of colour to be used - most famously eau-de-nil for Grace Kelly's suit in Rear Window. Hollywood costumier Adrian created incredible almost fanciful costumes for George Cukor's The Women. Yves Sant Laurent was asked to dress Catherine Deneuve for Luis Brunel's Belle de jour to great effect. Films provide great visual images to imitate or act out a look.

My particular favourite is Wong Kar-Wei's In the mood for love (2000). I've always been a victim in a sense of Kar-Wei's evocative, nostalgic costuming of Maggie Cheung - the beautiful patterns and style of her 1960s dresses. Wong Kar-Wei was in some respects recreating the nostalgic memories of his mother when they moved by themselves to Hong Kong in the 1960s. Interestingly Kate Moss has spoken of recreating the memory of her mother's clothes with her latest Topshop collection. I'm still smitten with the dresses from In the mood for love and often try to find similar ones but to no avail!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Film Review Beau Travail (Good Work)

What constitutes a good ending to a film? Is it one that leaves you perplexed and challenging what you have just seen or is it clarity, a complete ending? I don't think there is satisfactory answer and often films produce very unsatisfactory endings from an audience perspective. Yet without giving away the fragmentation of the end to Beau Travail (1999) I was left stumped. I was left wondering about aspects of sub text to the film I had just viewed.

In essence Beau Travail is a story based on a French Foreign Legion troop in an African outpost. It centres on the sergeant Galup played by Denis Lavant, whom becomes jealous of a new recruit Gilles Sentain who attracts the notice of the camp Commander Bruno Forestier. There it is, the word camp and its appropriation for indication of mannerisms as a comment on homosexuality. The camp of the Foreign Legion is desolate, arduous and routine. The storyline contrasts obvious army style training with more surreal quasi tai chi, yoga and martial arts aspects of their daily discipline. Of which there are at times hints of homo eroticism, but as a viewer the subtle nature of this makes you question or wonder if you are reading too much or too little on this element of plot. More so when the film is in French and you rely on the sub titles to some extent or for all of the translation of dialogue.

The whole film is fragmented. The narrative relies on the in fill of narration by Galup looking back to the build up of his actions and his ensuing dismissal from the legion. This is not the French Foreign Legion romanticised, it makes you fascinated and yet surprised at its very existence. Particularly as the contrast between the legionnaires and the landscape is so dramatic. The setting and cinematography (Agnes Godard) of the film is spectacular, although one moment in it exposed perhaps only one weakness in the editing or the filming, when the sun catches the camera lenses and causes a sun spot to be projected on the film where there is no window. Picky I know but it spoilt temporarily what was otherwise a flawless example of beautiful camera work and direction. Claire Denis is a fantastic example of a good female film director, the subject matter is male, the story is masculinity and there is no resort to sex or violence. The beauty of Beau Travail is its complexity and at the same time its simplicity.

The complexity lies in the jarring nature that the spectactor, the audience views the unfolding story. The narcissistic clips of Galup woven into the film, his ironing, the black shirt and trouser combo, his hair combing and ultimately his dance at the end all play on your mind. There is a dance between the spectacle of the body combat training session of the troop and the walk around an imaginary circle between Galup and Sentain set to Benjamin Britten's operatic rendition of Herman Melville's Billy Budd.

What Denis achieves is a film that challenges you in your viewing and construction of narrative. Beau Travail place thoughts of sexuality and violence without having to localise it on screen in an overt fashion. It also achieves a perfect blend of stillness and miniml dialogue to allow observation to reveal the story.

It is the sort of film that provides great creative options to think about in respect of the colour in the cinematography and the setting in East Africa.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Light relief - Hammies's Q&A

I could tell that my new more serious blog was going to be challenged at some point and Hammie couldn't resist sending me a meme tag to undo all my good cultured work! Who am I to refuse such a goad - so instead of viewing Beau Travail as intended I'm sitting down to answer the Q&A in my kitchen on a Saturday night!
sorry forgot to kick laundry basket out of view!

Here are the guidelines:
1. Respond and rework. Answer the questions on your blog, replace one question you dislike with a question of your own invention; add a question of your own.
2. Tag eight other un-tagged people.

What is your current obsession? Probably the easiest to answer but my obsession in life is film, it always has been but I supresssed it for years! The trouble was I also loved writing and fashion. It has taken me years to get what I've got to do. I feel perfectly blended now as I start my film project studying for my MA in Fashion and Film at LCF. I love LCF and I also feel freed from my constant striving to work in the world of fashion. I never found my space until now so it is a passionate obsession.

Good fika place?(That would be coffee to us non-Swedes) Well if I wasn't on a no coffee for Lent drive, which has broken my coffee addiction, you'd often find me in the most unappealing place but with my perfect skinny cappuccino in Pret at Bond St Tube, great people watching and Pret is the only place I can get organic milk. I have an organic milk obsession, this is a confession, and Pret use the best organic milk in the world supplied by Rachel's Dairy of Aberystwyth. After nearly six weeks, that'll be 7 days to go I can now admit to actually being desperate for a cup of coffee, Pret will be my second port of call after popping in to Carluccios in St Christopher's Place or Market Place to get a Bicern - espresso coffee, Florentine drinking chocolate and cream - though it is more like milk than cream as I'm not a fan of cream.

Do you nap a lot? No, although I'd kill for a lie in!

Who was the last person you hugged? In my head Don Draper from Mad Men but in reality it was petit garcon before he fell asleep. There's funny advice about Don Draper yearning in the Guardian Weekend today!

What’s for dinner? It was ensalada de hinojo, fennel, potato and orange salad from the Casa Moro cookbook. Mr Film Upstart and I went to the book signing years ago where we sat poker face to hide the fact we couldn't take it seriously and that we were only there for the sherry! Which on the subject of sherry, I read again (note to self stop reading too much) in the Guardian today that sherry is the choice du jour for alcoholics. There was I thinking it was a refined cultural sip of a drink on occasion! The cookbook is fab and the salad was served with veal escalope, of which I abstained from and as well as trying to persuade petit garcon it was sausage, chopped up.

What was the last thing you bought? A dress from Cos - of which I raided all my forgotten savings accounts even my 0.07p one and took my 6 months worth of shrapnel to the bank so I could buy the £59 dress and still have money left over to stem the overdraft. The dress is fab and worth the phone call to Sainsbury to ask for my 7p, oh and the snotty HSBC lady who moaned as I handed her bags of coins to weigh on their 'super snazzy tells you how much is in the bag' scales, because I hadn't counted them myself to fill the form out - durr!

What are you listening to right now? At the start of the post it was Bizet's the Pearl Fishers but now, yes I do go on in a meme, it is the best of Stereophonics.

What is your favourite weather? A crisp, sunny late October or November day when the warmth of autumn still lingers but the beckoning winter days of December remind you that Christmas is coming! I love sitting on the back door ledge, feet in garden and hoping for a bonfire smell.

What's in your bathroom cabinet? A very large tub of Boots Aqueous cream, Environ eye gel, Environ RAD sunscreen and Environ rich vitamin A night cream. I've just run out of the day cream! Nail varnish remover, cotton wool, Chanel's Vendetta, Clarins hand cream and Crealine H2O plus Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream and Coco perfume.

Say something to the person/s who tagged you. Hammie you are an inspiration! I love your blog because not only do it give me buckets of hope but I love your writing and the kids. I've learnt so much and it has made me more tolerant towards people when they are vulnerable - I still get peed off by arrogant *******! I'm kinder to petit garcon even when he's having bath time tantrums due to his ocd routine. I've realised each of us have our foibles and we should accept and respect them - thanks to you Hammie!

If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you want it to be? Somewhere between Jamestown and Speightstown in Barbados set up on the hill with a view out across the sea. Now would be good!

Favourite vacation spot? I think this is impossible because I love so many varied places but if I had to really be specific then I think it is hard to beat a week in France, or Italy, or Spain or Greece - I love the warm Mediterranean!

Name the things you can’t live without. Family and friends. I have to confess petit garcon is quite rightly as my dad said the apple of my eyes but Mr Film Upstart is the love of my life even when he annoys me. I also couldn't live without writing and making up stories in my head, then there is music and dressing up, that's before I even start on food and drink. My old answer would have been coffee - even before family and friends but I'm a reformed character now.

What is your favourite tea flavour? Earl Grey, Mint Green Tea and Chamomile - that is it, I don't do anything else. And I know La Belette isn't going to forgive me about the chamomile tea thing but I just drink one cup before I go to bed, I couldn't stomach it any other time.

What would you like to get rid of? Prawns, I'm allergic to them, as in seriously allergic, anaphylactic shock allergy. I've had the whole Pulp Fiction thing but in the fat of my thigh. Once was enough. I'm very careful but it does cause issues mainly of disdain as I'm sure people think you are being faddy when you have an allergy.

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go? Austria, as they had great snow this season and I really really could do with a ski.

What did you want to become as a child? An actress.

What do you miss? Currently coffee and the odd chocolate cake.

What are you reading right now? I literally finished Cashmore's Celebrity/Culture book this morning so am finishing off reading Rojek's Celebrity now. I've always got 3 - 5 books on the go these days and all academic ones. Sadly my Proust that was bought for me for Christmas is sat languishing on my bedside table.

What's your favourite brand of jeans? I haven't got a pair of favourites because I'm not really a jeans person. I need to discover a good pair that fit and I suspect they'll be very pricey. I know everything and anything about jeans but prefer dresses and skirts.

What designer piece of clothing would you most like to own (new or vintage)? A Fortuny dress.

My own question.

Will you have plastic surgery/botox etc.? I really hope not, I've become more convinced that it is all a road to nowhere. I'm sure I could do with some and loads of people of sound mind whom I admire swear by face peels/botox et al. I'm scared I will look different. I'd rather age and still look like me with all the imperfections. Whilst I'd have facials and use skin care products I can't take the next step and I don't think I ever will.

I'm tagging Sharon Rose Vintage, Sister Wolf and Tor of Fab Frocks - that's it too tired to type anymore!

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Film Reveiw Red Sorghum

Most fans of Chinese director Zhang Yimou will have been introduced to him with Hero (2002) and the commercially successful House of Flying Daggers (2004). Yet Yimou has received critical acclaim since 1987 with Red Shorgum winning a Golden Bear Award at the 1988 Berlin Film Festival. Raise the Red Lantern (1991) was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1992 but missed out to Italian director Gabriele Salvatores's Mediterraneo.

For those of you who have yet to view a Zhang Yimou film then there are two immediate things that spring to mind to recommend his films to you. Firstly it is his use of colour in costume. We first see the beginnings of this with the opening scene of Red Sorghum as the female lead (Gong Li) is being dressed in Chinese bridal wear. Yimou uses tonality to counter the red with greys and beige in the other characters. This visual technique adds a dimension to the narrative which almost spotlights a character but equally highlights them in their setting. Yimou carries this on to great effect in his later films particularly Hero. The second compelling aspect of his films is the strong female characters. Zhang Yimou's films give a greater breadth of female characterisation than your typical Hollywood blockbuster.

The story of Red Shorgum is essentially a story of a young women married off to a prosperous leper. It is set in a winery near a field of red shorgum and involves the workers, a local villain and eventually the impact of the Japanese occupation and invasion of areas of China. It is in essence a simple story with clear narration to accompany the story. The sub text is its attempt to sympathetically deal with the communist conversion of China from its Imperialist past and give understanding and meaning to change. However, Yimou and other film makers at the time would not have been able to be overly critical of the Chinese regime. It was made at the Xi'an Film Studios - where daring and innovative filmmakers were shielded to some extent by the dynamic studio boss Wu Tianming, who was also the producer of Red Shorgum - until 1989 when Wu Tianming fled to the US due to political differences. The period of film making from 1984 is widely referred to as the 'Fifth generation' of Chinese film making as directors Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige the two most famous directors were graduates in 1982 from the Beijing Film School where Yimou studied cinematography.

Red Shorgum with its intense but unseen sexual relationship between Gong Li and Jiang Wen is contrasted with the steadfastness of the character Luohan. The thrust of the film is about people as individuals and includes a fantastic ritual involving the wine making. It is understandable that such a film was a threat to the Communist Party rule given the expression and freedom embodied in the film. It is a story of love with out sentiment and a beautifully shot one at that.

Sunday, 29 March 2009


What's not to love about a film which is in essence about greed, deception, money, power and murder taking place between two mobster friends, a trophy wife and all over a gambling empire! Okay maybe it is just me who is beguiled by the LA glamour and Sharon Stone's costumes.

Casino, (1995) directed by Martin Scorsese, it is Sharon Stone's finest performance as an actress and earned her an Oscar nomination as best actress in a leading role. She did however win the Golden Globe for her role as Ginger McKenna. Scorsese direction is sublime with the contrast between the glitz of Vegas and the cruelty of the mob related operators behind the scenes.

In true Gangster movie fashion the clothes are all important for the men and the women. Robert De Niro is immaculate in his pale pink matching shirt and tie ensemble but Stone is immaculately styled in high glamour 70s outfit by the costume team of John Dunn and Rita Ryack.

It's a gripping film with all the usual machismo and ruinous living that befalls the gangster lifestyle but as a fashion inspiration the high glamour of Ginger is a great look as an alternative to the demur sophistication of classical Hollywood stars Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Old school Hollywood costume designer know how

It was her prolific output and outstanding work with directors that established Edith Head as the most renowned Hollywood costume designer and arguably the most influential in respect of her public appeal and influence. Edith said of herself ‘I knew I was not a creative genius...I am a better politician than I am a designer...I was never going to be the world’s greatest costume designer, but there was no reason I could not be the smartest’ (Vanity Fair 1998:156). Remarkably, Edith’s self promotion and ability to adapt to change enabled her to wield an influence across all generations of women cinema goers during the classical Hollywood period and ultimately their consumption of clothes.

Head’s creativity led to her first influence on a fashion trend in 1936. Wrapping Dorothy Lamour in boldly patterned sarong for Jungle Princess (1936) started a trend immediately adapted by bathing suit manufactures and adopted by women on beaches from ‘Coney Island to Cannes’ (La Vine 1981:75). Head describes her design as ‘a garment that was to become a national institution’ (Head, Armore 1959:69). However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that her costume designs began to penetrate every layer of American society.

The new market of the teenager was deemed a 1950s revolution and Edith Head had her first success with the sweetheart dress designed for Elizabeth Taylor in A Place in the Sun (1951). The real significance in terms of the costuming for the film is the dress Taylor wore in the pool room scene - a strapless boned bodice top with an enormous white tulle skirt over pale green satin and white violets covering the bust. Edith Head won the Oscar for best costume in the black and white film category and the dress captured the public imagination so much so that every prom had many an Elizabeth Taylor. In fact one could argue that this dress has defined the look for proms and brides ever since 1951.

Head began to build a direct relationship with the women of America with her advice to the nation firstly on Art Linkletter’s House Party on radio and then when it transferred to television. She also contributed articles to Photoplay magazine from 1940 onwards and her emphasis was on ‘telling the average girl how to dress like a star on a small budget.’ (Cherichetti 2004:97). Her book The Dress Doctor in 1959 co-written with Jane Kesner Ardmore was a great insight into tricks of the trade and dress advice; which she followed up with How to Dress for Success in 1967. The age range of stars she costumed for meant she understood the desires and dress market of the teenage to those past their prime.

If you would enjoy a style book that is less 'selling me' and more a costume history then both the adapted Dress Doctor - sadly the original is no longer published with its marvellous titbit about Marlene Dietrich, who loved to bake cakes (and eat them) but had to keep this fact hidden as it suggested more hausfrau than sex siren - or Dress for Success will imbue some old fashioned classical Hollywood glamour.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Welcome to Fashion and Film

For those of you who are hopping over from Make Do Style or if you are new to Fashion and Film then here is a bit of background information.

It is probably useful to know that the fashion bit is not just about garments. Fashion is a term that covers a way of life that revolves around the activities, dress, interests etc. that are most fashionable. To quote the most Chanel quote of all 'Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.' More astutely Chanel said in 1962 'A fashion that does not make one look up-to-date is not a fashion.' And that is as they say that!

It is our tastes of the moment that defines fashion even when we borrow from the past, it still is fashion. It is just a recycled fashion that has become of the 'moment' again. Laver's Law suggest that there is a cycle or timeline of fashion

Indecent 10 years ahead of its time
Shameless 5 years ahead of its time
Smart now
Dowdy 1 year after its time
Hideous 10 years after its time
Amusing 20 years after its time
Quaint 50 years after its time
Romantic 100 years after its time
Beautiful 150 years after its time

Which helps explain the current fascination with the 80s.

Films also have a cyclical nature - for years no one would produce a musical and now we have a whole generation growing up with High School Musical.

This blog will attempt to highlight and discuss current trends as well as providing information on what's happening now.

Saturday, 21 March 2009


Well it seemed important to use her proper name - Coco 'Gabrielle' Chanel. An eagerly awaited film Coco avant Chanel is due for release in April in Belgium and France and I have no official dates for UK and USA yet. Starring Audrey Tautou as Coco Chanel and directed by Anne Fontaine - yes don't faint a female director but remember this is France and there are more!
No trailer to view but these stills should be a joyful appetiser.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Screen Seductresses Season

BFI Southbank is running an excellent femme fatale event from March 1st to March 25th - the screen delights are Chinatown, Gilda, and the re-release of Gun Crazy to mention a few!

Faye Dunnaway in Chinatown

Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity

Rita Hayworth as GildaPeggy Cummins in Gun Crazy

all images BFI

Thursday, 26 February 2009

London College of Fashion MA in Fashion & Film

The opportunity to study the combined delights of fashion and film are the core components of the wonderful and exciting MA in Fashion and Film at the London College of Fashion.
This will be the second year of this MA and already the current students have nothing but praise for the depth and breadth of the course content. To give you a flavour if you read some of my blogs posts you'll understand how the course inspires and what subject matter is covered.
The next deadline for application is the 19th of May to begin studies in Autumn/Fall 09. Course fees are £3,995 for UK students and £11,900 for International Students (this is a good time with the pound being weak against the dollar!).
Any questions please leave them in the comment box and I will reply.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Slumdog Millionaire leaves a sour taste...

Don't read this post if you want to still see Slumdog Millionaire (2008) or enjoyed it!
I listend to Danny Boyle being interviewed on Radio 5 Live before the release of Slumdog Millionaire and mainly wanted to go to see the filming techniques they used on the feature film. Starting with a positive the filming is fantastic. Beautifully crafted ariel shots of the slums in Mumbai and intense filming in crowded and small spaces do convey a spectacle of slum life that is vibrant and fascinating. It makes for rich cinematic viewing.

Then there is the narrative...whilst I don't wish to compare the work with Hindu cinema - either the populist Bollywood or more art house type independent films, it is unavoidable. What we have with Slumdog is a fascinating Western perspective on a complex culturally diverse emerging nation. India is moving forward as a world economy and this emergence now make it available for filmmakers to pastiche. Read, India isn't as economically poor as it used to be so now we can use it to make films. Mumbai is the new backdrop city like Paris or Rome... Except when the Italian neo realists used Rome as a location is wasn't exploitative of the setting as the films undertook to convey complete social commentary feature films e.g De Sica's Ladri di Biciclette/The Bicycle Thief. Indian cinema is what you need to go and see if you want to see Indian films tackling poverty or for pure entertainment.

What Boyle does is throw in lots of unreconciled moralistic views and turns essentially a tragedy into a dance off at a train station. Issue of racial thuggery, poverty and abuse of young children are wiped out and resolved by a TV franchise programme. Let's be clear here Boyle tells the viewer that if you choose to work in a call centre rather than be a criminal due to poverty then you are good. If this wins an Oscar then expect a new genre of Hollywood films - 'poverty porn'.

What is 'poverty porn' well if Slumdog is anything to go by it will be all tales of overcoming hardship and adversity with not only a happy ending but a neo Bush perspective, one where Western globalisation gives you capitalism as the means to a better life. Forget issues of democracy or rights and society, money will solve all your troubles. Hard earned capitalist money. In fact you will jump through shit to behold celebrity and sell your mother/brother/sister/whomever at the right price but don't worry somehow redemption will be found via a gun (for the baddy) or paying your taxes on time (for the goody).

So, sorry Slumdog, your success worries me more than I can celebrate the crafting of the film.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Leni Riefenstahl

Last night I watched the Ray Muller documentary on Leni Riefenstahl, She is probably the most famous and influential female film director ever. However, one slight problem she made Triumph of Will a complete showcase and glorification of the Nazi party during their rise to power. One the one hand it is a glorious execution of film and the other a seriously glossy and glamorous vision of Hitler and National Socialism.

She also pioneered amazing film techniques during the filming of Olympia again in 1938 in Nazi Germany.
The documentary tries without prejudice to evaluate and discuss with her guilt or innocence in respect of her friendship with Hitler etc. It makes for interesting and uncomfortable viewing but is a must for anyone interested in film, film technique and developments.

It also in a few clips shows the abject horror of Dachau - it is not sanitised in anyway. Recently there have been some bizarre holocaust doubters utters and all I can say is just watch Muller's documentary to see the reality of original footage that we don't ever get to see, disturbing and horrific doesn't even describe it.

Riefenstahl was investigate but never eventually tried by the international war crimes tribunal in Nuremberg after the war. She was acquitted at the preliminary investigation stage because she was never a member of the Nazi Party.

Undoubtedly Riefenstahl was an extremely talented and opportunistic woman - one can't but help but admire her and this sits uncomfortably with the reality of her work and life.