Title:  interruption
Posted:  Monday, 3 June 2013 @ 05:06
Just popping in to apologise for things being quiet of late. My laptop died a few weeks back and it's going to be a while before I can afford a new one. I'm hoping I can do some limited blogging from my husband's laptop but we'll see how it goes. I have countless ideas for this blog and hopefully I'll be up and running and blogging frequently by the autumn. Hope to see you soon! xx
Title:  is dressing 'vintage' stifling my individuality?
Posted:  Wednesday, 27 March 2013 @ 23:28

sometimes I just want to look like a Rossetti model

I'm pretty sure that most people who read my blog do not slavishly follow trends - heaven forbid! I imagine they don't even keep up with much in the way of modern fashion. I'm guessing, if you're reading this, you probably belong to some kind of alternative culture in one way or another and probably disdain mainstream style as lacking in individuality and creativity. And I totally agree with that. Wearing the 'must have' dress from Primark just because you've seen it on a celebrity doesn't make you stylish. You're not putting any thought into that. You're not expressing anything of yourself - except perhaps that you're lacking in creativity or, at the very least, afraid to share your creative side with the world.

But recently I've begun to question the very idea of 'style tribes' (which is a terrible and quite appropriative term by the by but moving on). There is one to suit pretty much everybody - whether you're an Essex girl, a raver, a hipster or a vintage girl - they're all there. But is any of this actually any better than copying an outfit because you saw it in Look magazine? Each little group has its own look - and yes, we could argue that within the vintage community there are many types of looks and there totally are but that isn't the point I'm making here - and follows the rules of that pretty closely. When I get too caught up in the vintage world, I find myself questioning whether my hair looks 1943 enough to go with my dress or whether this shade of blush would have been appropriate for day time wear. Whether or not I like it, whether it expresses what I want to express, it all seems to go out of the window.

Sometimes when I'm shopping, I'll see a really cute dress but I'll think to myself 'oh, it's not very vintage looking, I can't get that, it won't go with my style'. The thing is, if I like it, what does it matter whether it fits into a 1940s aesthetic? I love seeking inspiration from 1940s fashion magazines but I have decided that slavishly copying them isn't for me. Of course there are many wonderful guys and gals who do and it works for them and that is their hobby - recreating the fabulous looks of the past. But for me, clothes have to express something more than just 'I like the 1940s'. To be honest, my tastes are more wide and more varied than that. I love Pre-Raphaelites and sometimes I want to grow my hair really long and who cares whether it's too long to put in victory rolls? I love the 1960s and ye-ye girls and Francoise Hardy and I want to wear thick eyeliner and sing in French. I love medieval history and I want to pretend I'm Elizabeth of York or Anne Neville in velvet gowns. I don't want to be tied down to one style. I want to wear all of these things, all at once if I want. I'm not going to stop looking at vintage clothing for inspiration. I'm not going to stop wearing it. I'm going to keep pin-curling my hair and wearing red lipstick because I love it and it suits me. But I'm not going to let it define me.

Also, my apologies for the stylistic awkwardness going on over here at my blog, I'm messing around with the layout and my coding is shockingly poor!
Title:  beauty icon: joan crawford
Posted:  Saturday, 23 March 2013 @ 14:33
It's Joanie's birthday today so I thought I'd honour her by celebrating that famous face of hers.

Joan was a master of image renewal. She was Madonna before Madonna was even born. She was never one to get into a style rut but was always ahead of the trends - perhaps even setting them. Although we tend to remember her later looks with the thick eyebrows and crazy lipstick as being typical Crawford, in her heyday she was constantly evolving her look. She pioneered, with the help of Max Factor, some of the most memorable beauty looks of her day. There's a reason the classic 40s lip shape is called the Crawford Smear - it was first worn by Crawford back in the mid 30s.

Joan's first years in Hollywood were undistinguished and her make-up is likewise very understated - perhaps surprisingly so, given that the 1920s were a decade of dramatic looks. She played up to her most striking feature, her eyes. Her wide thin mouth was not suited to the classic rosebud lips of the day and her eyebrows also remained natural. 

By the end of the decade, following a marriage to the son of Hollywood royalty, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Joan was being groomed for major stardom. At this point, her look follows major trends of the time - the pointed talons, tanned skin, thinly plucked brows and vampy lips are all typical of the period.

Letty Lynton in 1932 helped to define the Crawford look. The lips were full and dramatic and scarcely followed the natural shape at all. Eyes were heavily lined, lashes thickly covered and eyebrows were dramatically curved although still thin. This is the classic image of Crawford at the height of her beauty - uncompromising and bold.

By the middle of the 1930s, Crawford's look had become softer and more natural, with the help of Hollywood's most famous make-up artist, Max Factor. Realising that her eyes were her most unique feature, just as she herself had done in the 1920s, he made them even larger by lining the waterline with a light shade and really piling on the mascara (although, on the bottom lashes, the mascara doesn't reach right up to the lash line, making her eyes appear even rounder). The brows are natural and the lips are light but retain the Crawford Smear shape.

When the 1940s dawned, Joan's make-up had taken on a softer, more natural look. Round eyes were no longer de rigeur and the lashes were more defined and separated. Her face is more cleverly contoured with her beautiful cheekbones highlighted. The eyebrows are defined and carefully arched and her lips are soft and glossy which accentuates the exquisite shape with its softly curved edges.

By the end of the decade, Joan's look had developed to the point from which it never really changed for the rest of her life. Her eyebrows were thick, dense and rounded, eyes accentuated with false eyelashes and the most notable feature of all, her lips, lacking any cupid's bow and becoming almost ovoid in shape. Although the colours changed, this would be the look with which she was to become most associated as she wore it for the remaining thirty years of her life, in some of her most iconic movie roles.

Joan truly knew how to create a look that suited her yet was adaptable - she was a true beauty chameleon who was able to change her look subtly so that she could fit neatly into any decade. What is your favourite Joan look? Would you copy any of her looks? 

Title:  evolution of taste
Posted:  Wednesday, 6 March 2013 @ 02:27
Some people have a sense of style that never changes. They can buy something one year knowing that they'll like it next. Their tastes don't change with the weather, the season or what book they're reading. They are easy to buy for and easy to plan around - they are always the same. I, on the other hand, am not. My tastes are constantly evolving. Things I found attractive six months ago I may now look at and think 'what was I thinking?'. Buying clothes is a constant struggle because I hate most of them by the time I've worn them twice. I try to resist impulse buys because usually they fit my moods but not my underlying personality.

How I'm wearing my make-up daily at the moment - bright lips, metallic eyes.

Take now for instance. At the moment, my style is drawing heavily on a combination of the 20s and the glam rock of the 70s (as well as the typical 40s look which is the basis of my wardrobe). A bizarre clash of styles you might think! And just a month or so back I was hankering after medieval styles, rich colours and luxurious fabrics. Now I want neon and glitter! It makes life difficult. But lots of fun! I'm trying to integrate more colour into my wardrobe and I'm wearing huge amounts of glitter make-up as well as neon pink and orange lipstick. The silhouette is remaining pretty 40s - a-line skirts and pretty blouses - but with added colours that would never have been seen!

Currently making up a skirt from a 40s pattern in this eye popping shade of pink! If anything, it's brighter in real life.

At the moment, my Pinterest is mostly featuring glitter make-up, Ulyana Sergeenko and art deco lines. Make of that what you will!

And who knows what I'll be obsessing over next!
Title:  byzantine extravagance
Posted:  Monday, 25 February 2013 @ 16:51
Whilst I do keep an eye on modern fashion trends (because I love knowing for instance when the shops are going to be full of pencil skirts or sweet back-button blouses!), I don't usually keep up with the fashion shows. However, when my tumblr dashboard was last night swamped with pictures of the Fall/Winter collection by Dolce and Gabbana, I sat up and took note. I'm an art history geek and one of the things I adore in particular are the Byzantine mosaics that fill the medieval churches of the Mediterranean nations. When on my honeymoon in Rome, I spent a lot of time swooning over the beautiful artwork that covered the walls of the earlier churches (many of the ones in Rome are Renaissance or Baroque but for instance the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere has incredible mosaics which, whilst later than the height of the Byzantine empire, are very much in the style). So when I saw D&G's collection inspired by Sicily's Cathedral of Monreale, I fell in love. Hard. The detailing is exquisite - the dresses themselves are covered in beaded mosaics that mimic those of the cathedral. The shapes are both modern and utterly timeless. And the shoes! I am hoping that this style trickles down to the High Street next autumn because I am LOVING it.

images from Style.com

(the shoes have tiny earrings! Practically Schiaparelli-esque)

If you like this, I seriously recommend checking out some Byzantine art (the Wikipedia post is a good place to start!). It's beautiful, mysterious and wonderfully ethereal. And whilst you're at it, check out the rest of D&G's collection - it's truly awe-inspiring. THIS is why I love fashion.