On Friday night instead of donning garb and heading out to party, I went to the Southbank Centre to hear two feminist icons in conversation. Asking the questions: celebrated Times columnist Caitlin Moran; promoting her new book Not That Kind Of Girl, prolific polymath Lena Dunham.
Tickets reportedly sold out in 12 hours. “Even Stephen Fry couldn’t do that,” quipped the Southbank Centre’s artistic director in her intro.
Summarising Lena’s successes, Caitlin spoke of her “sheer fucking ladyballs” and her prodigious effect as a writer, actor and producer on the show Girls, which internationally made girls feel that they are normal – “I can see me!” Caitlin emphasises.
8x Emmy nominated and 2x Golden Globe winner Lena wrote her book in antidotal chapters and on Friday night she read from the chapter about her mother / selfies / nudity. Perhaps most revealingly, she explains in response to critic’s exclamation at her bravery at stripping off (she half-jokes – I bet Blake Lively doesn’t come under this questioning) “it’s not brave to do something that doesn’t scare you.”
There were a lot of nodding & smiling & clapping moments, but here are a few more of my favourite soundbites from the evening:
Caitlin asks Lena “when was the last time you were anxious?” “About 10-15min ago,” Lena replies. The Call The Midwife crew is in the audience thanks to Lena’s tweeted special request. Miranda Hart waves in a queenly manner towards the stage. “What if they don’t feel the magnitude of my gratitude?” Lena asks sincerely.
Continuing on the anxiety theme, Caitlin asks “if we were calm, would we create as much?” An oft-pondered question, Lena quotes her father in response – “Fear isn’t what keeps the plane in the air.” Her Dad said that by worrying we can’t prevent what’s challenging in life. In fact, Lena explains, the things that threw her weren’t what she would have thought to worry about at all.
On the criticism Lena received when the sum she received for her book deal was announced: There’s a moral dimension to earning so much money and entertainers are paid unfairly when you consider doctors and nurses and teachers. But being questioned for how much you earn is a feminist issue – guys don’t have to deal with this. She gets anxious “lest I be seen buying shoes I don’t deserve.” Recalling how she once saw a male celebrity who she won’t name “wasted in the airport on a golf cart” she deadpans – “that must be a fucking pleasure.”
Discussing food and appearances and women’s complicity, Lena laughingly brings up the Daily Mail article that recently came out: “The Daily Mail said I had debuted a noticeably slimmer face. I was enraged from a feminist point of view, and also like thank you. [...] Every time I’m cat-called – it’s horrible and it’s validating and that combination is super dark.”
Caitlin asks, to the audience’s delight,”is being friends with Taylor Swift as much fun as it looks?” “I want to tell you guys it’s not,” Lena pauses, “but it really is. She’s so rad. She has an amazing amount of control over her business. I can’t say enough good things about her… She smells amazing.”
Lastly, towards the end of the evening an audience member poses the question about the lack of diversity in Girls. Lena answers “there’s a lot of criticism I don’t are about (being called fat, etc.) but I do care when women say they feel excluded.” She goes on to explain how she didn’t feel capable of representing everyone’s experience. “The problem of representation in TV is people need to see themselves on television, but more women need to be in positions of power in the industry to bring their story to television.”
Caitlin then jumps in to defend Lena: “You have to look at who’s commissioning. It’s a predominantly straight, white male industry. [...] To be racist by omission? That’s a big word we use for serious things. Can you call a person who’s written something semi-autobiographical about their experiences racist?” Getting the final word, Lena says “this is a conversation we need to have and if I’m the one that has to take one for the team to start the conversation I’m all in.”
I can’t sufficiently express how much the evening got the brain juices flowing and all done with wit and poise. It’s kind of cringe to think I’m just another person in the 2000 strong audience from one event on the book tour, but what can I say – girl crush to the max.
Posted: November 3rd, 2014
Tags: Caitlin Moran
, Laurie Simmons
, Lena Dunham
, Not That Kind of Girl
, pop culture
, Southbank Centre
, The Times
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Last week I had the pleasure of attending a special beauty evening at the Heals store on Tottenham Court Road. The Sleeping Beauty event saw speakers Sarah Stacey and Jo Fairley, of Beauty Bible, joined by Geraldine Howard of Aromatherapy Associates. Between them, they discussed the link between a good night’s sleep and good skin. They illustrated how, aided by AA’s cult Deep Relax products (‘knock out drops’, according to Jo) and the best apps, it’s possible to ‘sleep clever’ – blocking out the day’s stresses and sleeping deeper, resulting in better looking, younger skin.
One of Jo’s favourite apps is the Brainwave Dream Inducer by Banzai Labs (69p on the App store). With this app you can set your own music or listen to pre-programmed soothing sounds, while the app sends gentle pulses to your brain to help you relax and enjoy a deep sleep and vivid dreams. Definitely want to try that one out!
Unlike so many press events, I really felt that the evening struck the right chord. The speakers were witty and friendly – and quite importantly succinct so the evening didn’t drag on. We were free to stay and chat as long as we wanted, have hand massages courtesy of Aromatherapy Associates using their heavenly rose scented serum & lotion and peruse products. During my massage I got talking to one of the AA beauty girls about aromatherapy, which honestly I’ve never really considered an essential in my beauty arsenal. She explained how simply sniffing pure frankincense oil can interrupt nervous anxiety or even a panic attack. Suffice to say, I bought a bottle!
One of the most interesting and ‘aha’ moments I had during the evening though was when talking to Sarah about my skin concerns. Thinking she was going to recommend me a cleanser, she in fact explained how the skin is simply the gut on the outside and if I don’t take care of that then I can’t expect my skin to improve. Showing me a green juice recipe from one of the Beauty Bible books it was clear that these women live ‘wellness’ and it made me stop and think about what I’m doing to my body and how to take better care of it. Easier said than done, but definitely worth investing in.
For the first time ever I attended the Vogue festival this year, mainly to see it for myself but also because Phoebe Philo was speaking. I attended the talk, Phoebe in conversation with Alexandra Shulman, and below are my favourite notes from the hour. (N.B. As I was furiously scribbling a lot of these are in note-form/paraphrased.)
P: Céline didn’t have a historical designer. It was liberating, I could do what I wanted to do. What it did stand for was quality. I never looked at the archives.
A: Did you talk to a lot of people, friends, about what was missing in fashion? Because Céline has added to the offering out there.
P: I didn’t look around, it came from within. It’s what I really believe. I don’t put it out there unless I stand behind it.
A: Can you define the things you believe in? It seems you really feel pained by compromise?
P: I find mediocrity hard. I am a passionate person. I believe I give it a lot, so if it’s not good what’s the point?
Talking about the new Céline flagship store on Mount Street:
P: I think [the stores] should stand for something. I just wanted it to be strong. There are lots of shops around that are quite bland. I wanted to do something different and new. I worked with FOS, an artist on the interior. A completely absurd, wonderful guy. Very into function. He knew nothing about luxury goods.
A: What attracted you to fashion?
P: It was a bit of a calling. I feel somehow it was always in me. Using clothes to say something. When I was little I was very clear about what I wanted to wear. My mother dressed me in good, tasteful clothes and I wanted to wear things that were a bit sparkly, spangly and trashy.
A: How do you feel about being copied?
P: Mostly it’s flattering and exciting. Coco Chanel said ‘so long as you’re copied you’re relevant.’ Occasionally it’s too close to the bone but the details, the fabrics, the craftsmanship is hard to copy.
A: How much do you feel you personally have to exemplify the brand?
P: I don’t really think about it. I don’t find it useful to me getting on with what I do to think about it. I just do what I do.
A: You’ve said you dislike the cult of the designer. You’re always in strong control of your image.
P: I’ve just done what I was comfortable doing. I have an innate fear of fame. It doesn’t look like a good place to be. I like being incognito, I value that freedom.
A: Women aren’t usually at the top, running businesses. Do you think it would be different if they did?
P: I don’t think gender is relevant. I see men struggling as much as women within fashion. I think it’s more to do with individuals, personality. It’s a high pressure job. The bigger question is why aren’t there more women generally running companies? It should change. It is changing.
A: Would it make working practices different if women were running them?
P: Not particularly, I don’t see it like that. We should spend more time just getting on with it, not talking about the difference. But – somehow, somewhere girls are getting the message that they’re not good enough. I think clothes can make a political statement. When you wear Céline you should feel confident and strong. We should be teaching young girls to feel good. I don’t think young boys necessarily feel good either, maybe it’s our culture.. But there are so many more men in powerful positions. I think it’s motherhood. There’s a breaking point where people have left to bring up children and when they come back they miss the stage at which they would have gone right up. For the average person I think it’s very complicated. I’m very privileged and fortunate. It’s tough.
On the fashion industry’s unrealistic perspective on women’s bodies.
P: It’s complex. It’s good to talk about it. It’s unrealistic to think the fashion/film/sex industries won’t have an extreme ideal of beauty as a way of selling themselves. Let’s talk about it though. I don’t have the answers. I really do believe anybody can be seductive and sexy and gorgeous and beautiful. We use an extreme idea of beauty as a way of showing Céline but I don’t believe it should be like that outside of the show.
A: The role of the show? The point?
P: It’s a concentrated way of getting the message across. They last 8 minutes. Our moment. Everyone stops talking, they listen and watch. Been very happy showing in that format but Rick Owens’ show [with the dancers] got me thinking I’ve got to think about another format sometime.
A: But there’s still that moment.
P: It’s that created environment. Every detail of that is yours. Some sense of live performance. I’m moved by it. It takes effort.
Question from the audience: How did you decide what to wear to collect your MBE?
P: I just did it. I went with my family. They were all very proud of me, it was a wonderful moment. I just did it. I just got dressed that morning.
Question from the audience: What element of clothes do you think are emancipating for women?
P: Women should have choices. I’m not a fan of women being sexualised through clothes. As long as she’s chosen to wear it, it’s different. You should dress for yourself. Don’t dress for other people. There are too many images of women that are sexualised. It’s disempowering. I would prefer if we didn’t behave like that.
Question from the audience: Why haven’t you got your own company? The ‘Phoebe Philo’ brand?
P: It hasn’t happened so far. Maybe it will. I feel very fortunate so far.
Question from the audience: Any ambitions you would still like to fulfil?
P: I would like to create a foundation while at Céline helping people on some level. I’d like to spend some time working with less fortunate people than myself.
Question from the audience: Why don’t you sell Céline online?
P: I strongly believe you should experience Céline clothes, ultimately in the Céline store. Get a sense of the store, the materials, the world the clothes are set in. Or you go to a department store. But there you can still touch them, feel them, see how they’re constructed, look at the lining.. I feel that that process of buying clothes is important.
Following Mother London’s participation in an ELLE magazine project to makeover outdated preconceptions about feminism, the creative agency has gone on to launch a provocative visual debate.
Project Bush showcases and celebrates the right to choose how we fashion our nether regions, photographed by celebrity photographer Alisa Connan. In a hypersexualised and -beautified climate, it’s refreshing to see such a stark questioning of a culture that has become the status quo. Love it or hate it, you’ve got to admit you can’t ignore 93 vaginas.
See the full display of anonymous participants (bravo) from 14-18th at Mother London, 10 Redchurch Street E1 7DD.
Posted: November 11th, 2013
, ELLE magazine
, Feminist Times
, Mother London
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As a UCL grad, gravitating towards the north of London has been only natural but I can’t help but notice the attention south London’s been garnering of late, particularly the up-and-coming areas of Peckham and New Cross. So in the spirit of trying something new, I’m packing my passport and heading south of the river to check out what it’s got to offer in terms of bars/restaurants/fun times – starting with Rooftop Cinema’s new outpost at the Bussey Building in Peckham Rye.
A stone’s throw from the station, you can’t help but fall in love with the view of London’s skyline.
We went to see Lost Boys, a total classic vamp film complete with 80’s fashion & amazing layered scenes of homoerotic initiations.
What I love about this outdoor cinema experience is that the movie starts as the sun sets (alleviating any issues with light vs the projector) and Gerry & the Rooftop Cinema gang provide slankets to ward against the chill. Sitting in the striped deckchairs with your own headphones on ensures you’re totally undisturbed by people going to the street food stands/the bar/the loos. Winning.
Check out their programme of events at www.rooftopfilmclub.com – they also show films at Queen of Hoxton, Netil House and Kensington Roof Gardens.
Posted: June 10th, 2013
Tags: Bussey Building
, Kensington Roof Gardens
, Lost Boys
, Netil House
, New Cross
, Peckham Rye
, Queen of Hoxton
, Rooftop Cinema
, Rooftop Film Club
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Every year I’ve been invited to attend the launch of the Queen of Hoxton’s summer rooftop and this year is no different. The rooftop is open to the public from this Saturday 11th May and I thought I’d do a little preview of what to expect..
I used to live in East London and I’ve worked on Brick Lane since Jan 2012 so if I’m not back in my borough of Haringey I’m often in Shoreditch. Queen of Hoxton is a bit of a Jack of all trades as far as venues go – it does lots well. I’m more of a catch up with friends in the early evening kind of girl as opposed to an all-night raver (as anyone who’s met me for more than 10min will attest to) and Queen of Hoxton is perfect for that kind of vibe. The rooftop even more so.
Thank God we have some gorge summer evenings ahead! Cue smiley, happy faces.
As for what’s on – this year QoH are debuting a ‘Hot Tub Tropicana’ – expect loungers, a padding pool, and if you’re really lucky, a hot tub. Am hoping for an appearance of these fellas:
They’ve got new BBQ grub and bevvies on offer, like pulled pork buns with whisky BBQ sauce, roasted red pepper, feta & pesto burgers and pink grapefruit frozen cocktails. For dedicated foodies, there’ll be a National Picnic Week celebration coming up in June (TBA) with vintage stalls and gourmet hampers. But I think I’m most excited about the bespoke rum coke float stall with traditional ice cream (only available at lunchtimes & weekends)!
QoH friend Rooftop Film Club is already in situ following its winter hiatus with a programme of cult movies like Amelie, Jaws, Dumb & Dumber and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. They even give you blankets and headphones, and the bar and barbie stay open for late night treats. For more headphone entertain experiences, there are also headphone disco parties with DJs Norman Jay and Jazzie B – dates TBC.
Best of all, if you’re as sceptical about the weather as I am (the other day I went bare-legged to work, but made sure to pack ‘emergency’ jeans) then you’ll be pleased to know they’ve introduced a semi-permanent cover in case of wet weather. Fingers crossed for sunbathing-worthy sunshine all summer long!
It feels like now Fashion Month is over everyone just wants to go on holiday. Not to sound like martyrs, but we do need some serious beach time! I am really craving the feeling of the sun on my skin. So it’s apt timing that Spring Breakers is out..
Tash & I are off to the ICA for Ultra Culture‘s screening of the movie + keg party later this month. Can’t wait to let loose Harmony Korine style.
Should the movie start me thinking about bikini season, I might have to go invest in this tank top by Harmony x Agnès b, (available in stores early April).
Doesn’t it look so cute with little denim cut-offs! Get me to the beach!
Posted: March 6th, 2013
Tags: Agnes B
, Harmony Korine
, Spring break
, Spring breakers
, Ultra Culture
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Last night was the launch of the Fashion East’s pop-up at START with window displays and a selection of SS12 by James Long and Agi & Sam.
A great time was had by all, especially me – chatting Ludacris with Sam, wanting James Long’s wigs, catching up with Louisa, getting caught in the middle of Pee Wee & Paul’s Paris plans… culminating in dinner at The Diner with MVDHorst, Madeleine and photographic duo Meinke Klein – where we ate a whole lotta meat!
The boys’ collections are in Start and online until 2nd May.
As with many great ideas, this one started in a pub. Chatting to Ivor, Kit and Oscar about architecture, we decided, along with Louisa and Joe via Twitter, that we would go on a tour of the Barbican. Having been to the Barbican arts centre many times for exhibits and films, the 90 minute tour gave an exceptional insight into the site’s history that as a visitor you cannot immediately grasp. I cannot recommend it enough – the tour guide was not only knowledgable, but passionate. He explained why the architecture style shouldn’t strictly be labelled brutalist, how the estate fosters a feeling of community – and thus exclusion for outsiders – without so much as a gate and the political tensions and context surrounding the 40 year project. I came away feeling both enriched and hungry to know more.
Here’s a sample of fun facts I learnt today:
The Barbican gets it name from the Latin barbecana, meaning fortified outpost, castle. This reflects its history as a site of great conflict and violence from Roman times onwards.
The site is now Grade II listed due to the coherence of the design which is dominated by semi circles and castle motifs, such as turrets and arrow slits.
While it’s well respected nowadays, the arts centre was in fact an afterthought in the design process. It opened in 1982.
The architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon took planning officials on a tour of Europe to showcase their influences and stopped off at such cities as Berlin and Stockholm, but also, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, Venice. Something of the Italian Renaissance piazza culture can be felt in Ben Jonson Place and the front of the arts centre.
Originally the architects wanted to build a moat around the whole estate.
The conservatory is only open on Sundays and bank holidays, while the water fountains are turned off at 7pm every day so as to give residents a bit of peace and quiet.
You too can book an architecture tour of the Barbican here – I do recommend going when the sun is shining. It was a glorious day out.
Posted: March 25th, 2012
, Ben Jonson
, Chamberlin Powell and Bon
, Kit Neale
, menswear designers
, Oscar Quiroz
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As I explained before, I’m starting a new job. On Tuesday..
This time last year I was flu-y and bored, which led to much pondering on my life. I was resolute that five months after graduation it was time to really start getting known in the industry. [Although that may seem impatient to many, I should elucidate that my first internship was seven years prior to graduation.]
Well, 2011 was all I could have hoped for – and more.
I worked alongside Sasha at LibertyLondonGirl.com for the best part of the year – which has been an honour, a privilege and an education to say the least!
I attended London Fashion Week AW11 for Modabot.de and BLOW PR’s BLOWonline
I blogged for Hudson Jeans for seven months
I started writing for Ligature magazine
I consulted for Beaujais
I had my writing published in 1883 and SHOP magazines
I assisted Anna Trevelyan and Nicola Formichetti, during which time I suggested Obey My Demand lingerie, which Lady Gaga wore throughout her Born This Way video.
I began blogging for the Huffington Post and Dazed Digital
I went to Paris (for the first time!) with The Shirt Company – which was an adventure and a half.
I attended London Fashion Week SS12 with LLG – meeting and working with the fabulous Briony and Katie B.
I started trialling trainers and fitness classes, working predominantly with the fantastic Dean Callis
I started styling (including look books and a main fashion spread in Matchbook magazine) which culminated in some freelance work with the fashion team at Stylist magazine
Oh, and I got engaged! [See my Wedding inspirations here]
I have really worked and worked and worked – so much so that my only New Year’s Resolution this year is to stress less and have more fun! But you know what? It was all worth it, not least because I’m beginning 2012 with a very exciting new job which will no doubt bring more adventures and many a late night: I’ll be working at Fashion East with the fabulous Lulu Kennedy, who has just been awarded an MBE no less! I am so excited about 2012 and so grateful to everyone who made 2011 so fantastic! Happy New Year everyone.
Posted: January 1st, 2012
Tags: 1883 magazine
, A Girl A Style
, Anna Trevelyan
, Dazed Digital
, Dean Callis Personal Training
, Fashion East
, Hudson Jeans
, Huffington Post
, Katie Bowkett
, Lady Gaga
, Ligature magazine
, Lulu Kennedy
, Nicola Formichetti
, Obey My Demand
, SHOP magazine
, Stylist magazine
, The Shirt Company
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