28 June 2008

The future Coco

Playing Coco Chanel in her upcoming movie, Audrey Tatou's movie proved an adorable hit in my book. I tend to be a picky critique when watching movies, rolling my eyes at the cheesy chick flicks. But I don't know why this one I liked .. I really do think it was the French accent, and smart sense of humor that made this movie appeal to me. Audrey Tatou was mesmerizing in this movie where she played a gold-digger dropped by her older rich boyfriend when she has a fling with naive waiter Jean at the Biarritz hotel, thinking he is a millionaire when really he is the hotel's bar man. She subsequently takes the poor guy for every penny, then, when he follows her to the Cote d'Azur, she teaches him to be a successful gigolo and exploit rich, middle-aged widows. The ending is predictable, but nonetheless I found Audrey elegant and chic. I just can't wait for the Coco movie!

Visa Swap your Unwants

Fashion lovers gather all your unwants. I'm talking high street coats, scarves, pants, designer sunnies anything you would want to trade for, the Visa Swap bus could be coming your way and you could make a drop off.

A genius concept, the Visa Swap allows you trade unwanted goodies in exchange for points which is topped up into a card that you can then use to buy other goodies. It's like an accessible e-bay, a clothes voucher. Linsday Lohan is fronting their campaign this summer, and a menswear visa swap is added to this years swap-a-thon. If you can't get to Covent Garden to exchange your stuff just check out the van timings below for a drop off ! Being a rummager myself and continuing my addictive bargain hunt habit I shall be on my way to Covent Garden with a truckload of H&M tops I never wear anymore and a couple of small designer handbags I've had since I've been 16.

Van Schedule

Monday 30th June 2008
12noon – 1.30pm Sheldon Square, Visa Offices
Saturday 5th July 2008
2pm – 4pm Portobello Market, Raddington Road, Notting Hill, London
Sunday 6th July 2008
2pm – 4pm Elys Yard, Truman Brewery, Spitalfields, London
Sunday 13th July 2008
2pm – 4pm Outside Hammersmith Traid, 119 Kings Street, Hammersmith, London

27 June 2008

The House of Dolls

I reported the V&F invasion into L-town about a month ago when I first started blogging. I was super excited about the designers exhibiting their work for the first time in the UK- and being the fashion dork I am booked my ticket way in advance. Having the Barbican Center- the space showing the V&F collections mention me as a critique on their site- has been one of my blogger gold star moments and made me even more excited to check out the exhibition.

The V& F curation was gorgeous and simple channeling their journey of 15 years. One of my favorite bits of the exhibition was their impatience to fulfill their childhood dreams, and the installation created called Launch which was a mini version of what they aspire for the future and an effect to making their dreams come true. Their vision of a studio, catwalk show, photo shoot, and boutique, all in miniature. They designed a miniature fictitious perfume in limited edition of 250 bottles that were sealed shut.

Some of my favorite pieces were images of the Viktor and Rolf Strike, their frustration over lack of exposure in the press.

The most astonishing of all pieces was the Doll's House. Over 2 floors high, and probably is the biggest doll house in the world, the massive structure was at the heart of the exhibition, and contained miniature replicas of all their signature pieces. Each doll was made up to look like the model who wore the dress.

The best part is peeping through the windows from behind the doll house,where I am allowed a moment of eerie intimacy with the dolls and a chance to see the exquisite details, of the bows running down the back of a wedding gown the designers created in 2003.

I manage to film the Russian Doll Piece A/A of 99/2000 , where one model wore the entire collection sequentially. The Long Live Immaterial (Bluescreen) piece was also filmed and equally innovative. Each space at the exhibition had signature pieces form their collections like Bells, Stars&Stripes, Ballroom, Flowers, accompanied with a projection show of the actual catwalk. The music and scenery, differed from room to room, but all were overwhelmingly breathtaking.

TK-MAXX-ing it this summer!

Since Cow, I haven’t had a store craze in a while. But after today I think I am accumulating a store addiction unconsciously. It is called the TK Maxx (I’m in the area so let me just pass by and see if they’ve got anything good-addication)! For those of you who are not familiar with their concept it’s very simple. They buy big labels at small prices, and they have new stock everyday. (In not so fancy words- outlet shop!)

The nearest one to me is Hammersmith, which is a reasonable amount of tube stops away. I scored big time when I visited the TK Maxx in Brent Cross a few weeks ago scoring a Betty Jackson brown leather schooly looking wedge with open toe, and Miss Selfridge party shoes with scaled silver leather. Total score: 70 pretty quidys!

My last visit to the Hammersmith TK Maxx proved a big fatty failure because I found zilch! But when I opted to pass by again yesterday I caught sight of very pwetty black leather heels, very Gucci this season and snapped them up for just 25 pounds!

I think I enjoy frequenting the local TK Maxx because it’s the curiosity of snatching a good buy that drives me wild. Sometimes there is nada – and sometimes there are so many things to choose from! The gamble just makes it all the more fun to shop there. I don’t know why I opt for shoes every time, but note – to – self: I shall keep an eye out for their racks of handbags, dresses, and t-shirts. After I scour the shoe racks of course.

Experiencing the GOK !

Who is Gok Wan ? Was the first question I asked myself when I received an invitation to attend his new show Gok's Fashion Fix, which airs on Channel 4 at 8 pm on Thursdays.

I quick Wykepedia visit, I found out he is a style expert , TV personality and very popular here in the UK. His new show is a follow up of his previous show How To Look Good Naked.

His latest show sees him trying to come up with 200 pounds high street outfits to rival the expensive designer outfit. He is very impressive taking H& M, River Island, and Primark and turning a high street number into something out of a Prada catalog. He radiates positive energy, and is effortlessly hilarious. I am looking forward to his forthcoming episodes with Mischa Barton, Kelly Osbourne, Joan Collins, and much more tips on tuning my affordable into designer. Gok also has a free Style Consultation on his channel 4 site, do take a browse as its easy, fun, and gives you great tips on what clothes would suit your body type.

Visual Diary: The Beauty that is Nottingham

23 June 2008

Imagine .. A review

I must confess I knew very little about Annie Leibovitz before I saw her sister’s documentary on her called Imagine. I knew she was a big deal in Hollywood and the celebrity world – as they will jet set the world within 24 hours to be on location for her to photograph them. I knew she wore glasses and had crazy grey hair. I also knew that she took breathtaking photographs of over the top narratives. I thought Tim walker was a big deal (Sorry Tim), not to compare or anything, but the work of Annie has always had a big impact on me. I remember the Mary Antoinette shoot she did for the US Vogue like the back of my hand. I make a note of buying Vanity Fair if only to scour her latest creations.

Annie’s sister Barbra presents an intimate portrait of the still very demanded photographer who shot Royalty, politicians, musicians, and actors. Some of her most famous portraits were of Demi Moore when she was pregnant, and a naked John Lennon next to a fully clothed Yoko Ono taken just hours before his death.

Annie takes pictures like she breathes air, the documentary covers the many aspects of her life in section. Her personal wall, her magazine wall, and her relationship with drugs, music, Susan her partner, and her children. She has a huge family and remembers viewing the world through the frame of her car window much like a picture frame. To her, family and car rides complement each other and brings back memories of childhood. When she is driving her car it is when her body can take over and her mind can float. Her mother documented everything, always clicking way at family affairs, Annie and her sister joke the camera was like another member to their family.

When her father was in Vietnam, he dragged her to the Philippine where she took her very first pictures on base. She remembers her ambition at the time was to become an art teacher, and it was only when she took a workshop in photography using a 35 mm camera, which was a portable, relaxed, fluid, small camera, was she able to take personal photographs.

Her mission at that time was to travel, and be mobile, and she was able to achieve that by working with the Rolling stones Magazine. To her a magazine was like an empty canvas waiting to be filled with beautiful imagery. She was happy working with a magazine and remembers the powerful feeling she had when she first saw her pictures in print replicated over and over again in each issue.

The editor of the Rolling Stones nurtured her, gave her space and the freedom to do her thing which she never failed to deliver. She observed things well and would usually spend 3 to 4 days with the subject she was photographing to understand them in depth. She wanted to become part of what was going on, and meshed in the environment of the musicians she was photographing.

Arnold Schwarzenegger comments through personal experience that Annie has this great ability to adapt to the circumstances around her, quickly becoming one of the gang. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards agree with Arnold and through their experiences comment that Annie is not intrusive, and she did everything with them. She was the number one photographer of Rock and Roll and was great at capturing the movement of the music and the musicians.

Annie has always been interested in dance, creating portraits of Mark Morris (Alex from Sex and the City) She attended all his ballet rehearsals and according to him after a few days you forget she’s there, clicking away.

Photography is a heightened moment to Annie who notes that taking photos is a little note, a portrait of that moment. She loves that fact that she can't actually photograph dance but can only capture a single moment.

She cites Bea Feiler has her teacher; she had this ability to choose the pictures she wanted to show by looking at her contact sheet for 3 minutes, when it took Annie 5 hours. Annie tried to incorporate something of the personality of her subject into the picture, which made her work more narrative, calling them story portraits.

Annie states she has basic stupid ideas, and people go with them.Yoko talks about how Annie photographed herself and John at the height of their intimacy, when they were really feeling good about each other. Instead of approaching them with the bossy attitude of “Here’s what we’re going to do,” Annie would be like, "Here’s what I’m thinking, what do you think?" which John really liked. She allowed him space to collaborate his ideas with her. When she asked the famous couple if she could photograph them naked, Yoko didn’t want to, but John didn’t mind. Yoko says, John was different than most men in that sense, he didn’t mind being naked, and looking vulnerable by being naked with his woman.

After 13 years with the Rolling Stones, she got offered a job with Vanity Fair which at the time was a non-existent publication. The Rolling Stones used to be a drug culture to her, and the drug of choice was cocaine. The documentary becomes a little fuzzy at this point but you do understand that Annie had some sort of addiction to drugs and she went to rehab to get some professional help before working with Vanity Fair.

Vanity Fair was different from the Rolling Stones for Annie because she was coming into a mainstream publication. Conde Nast was more polished and clean and commercial than the Rolling Stones and to Annie the studio photo shooting and the dressing up seemed to her silly at first. During the time she was transitioning into a different environment with photography she met Susan Sontag. Susan was a writer and wrote extraordinary essays. She knew herself very well and decided she was gong to know Annie. Susan was a wordy person, Annie was an image person. Many said they complemented each other and though Susan was tough on Annie, she allowed her to explore parts of herself that weren’t visual.
Annie took Vanity Fair from selling 800,000 magazines to a million. She provoked people by doing different things with the celebrities. Budget is never a care for her, as the magazine companies pick up the bill. With time her shoots began to get more complicated. Annie wanted fire, rain, a circus, animals, a plane for her narrative photo shoots, and she always got what she wanted.

It was around then Annie felt she was losing herself to celebrity photography. She comments in the documentary that ‘the famous people were winning’ so Susan took her to the war in Sarajevo to take pictures. It echoed back to when Annie first starting taking photographs. On her first day she went to the morgue to take pictures of the dead. To her war has no reason, no explanation. The scenes of war were random, and leveled her experience. Going to Sarajevo with Susan rekindled Annie's passion for photography and reminded her of how she took pictures back when she was at the rolling stones, with a small portable camera. She was very grateful for that experience.

She thought her world was flat before she had children. It gave her life pace and made her stop working her crew to the ground. She finds taking pictures of her children a privilege, a responsibility she loves, and because of them she sees a different dimension to the world.
The documentary nears the end with comments from Hillary Clinton who is at wonder with Annie’s ability to humanize her subjects, to put them in a broader context. Life is so complicated and Annie adds that complexity and dimension to her photographs.
In the last few moments of the film Annie talks about Susan’s death and how it felt like to be on her death bed. She starts to tear up just remembering how it was like to see her slip away. She photographs Susan dead, producing some heartbreaking portraits of her body coming home.
Annie’s work is her greatest relationship, and she vows to take pictures until the day she dies. She says she is constantly framing the world around her.
This documentary is extremely gripping from start to finish showing me a very tender side of Annie who I assumed was just as wicked as Anna Wintour. It also details Annie Leibovitz emotional relationship with writer Susan Sontag, whom she photographed till the end of her life.