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!