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.
I was lucky enough to get an invite to the private view of the Royal Academy of Art’s latest exhibit, Sensing Spaces. I cannot believe that after almost 8 years of living in London I’d actually never been inside the RA, despite walking past numerous times. It was bizarre exploring the gallery for the first time finding that there were structures in place hindering and inviting visitors to interact with the space in a new way when I wasn’t even au fait with the traditional way *slaps wrist*. Either way, this exhibit begs some interesting questions about how we interact with space, and the traditions of design, curation, interaction and architecture.
For starters we went to the top of the wooden structure by Pezo von Ellrichshausen and said hello to the angels on the ceiling.
Moving through the exhibition you really engage all senses (hence the exhibit title, duh) – from Kengo Kuma’s traditional Japanese bamboo scent/light scultpures that were altogether satisfying and soporific (below), to Li Xiaodong’s hide-and-seek labyrinth…
…and Diébédo Francis Kéré’s interactive structure (pic below) that boasts a fun colour sensitivity and invites visitors to contribute to its shape, which feels like a really innocent and childlike way to ask questions about architecture.
This exhibit is perfect date fodder. Go play!
Posted: February 8th, 2014
, Diébédo Francis Kéré
, Kengo Kuma
, Li Xiaodong
, Pezo von Ellrichshausen
, Royal Academy of Art
, Sensing Spaces
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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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Some of my fave bits from the Superstripe exhibition by Patternity @ 28 Redchurch Street, E2
AMAZING SET DESIGN BY LACEY
80’S POWER COSSIE
For more info & the full schedule of events: GO HERE
I’ve been living in my new place since July but I still feel like I’m settling in. It’s gotten to the point now where I am desperate to make it homely. I despise any trace of the student aesthetic (as I did even when I was a student) and have decided it’s worth investing in beautiful things to feel at home. In my last place I bought a bureau, now I’m looking to frame some posters and pay attention to smaller details such as bedding, lighting and rugs.
Inspiration comes from the Selby (duh). Particularly designer Abigail Ahern‘s gorgeous London home. I love the way she layers rugs and rich plummy colours against a gothic backdrop of matte black.
I’ve also decided that I definitely need to display more of my pictures and postcards (if anyone knows of a great, cheap framer in London let me know!) and would love clusters of artwork a la Jennifer Earle & Mike Gabel‘s loo (also on the Selby).
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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Right now I am really loving the music of Dave.I.D. I spoke to the Creative Director/Designer behind his visual output, Simon Owens to find out about his sound and the stunning graphics on his limited edition 12inch which is out in February.
Simon explains the concept behind the visuals for Dave.I.D’s unique sound:
“Dave.I.D has this strange sound which is both past and present, so I came up with this equally contradictory overarching idea of ‘industrial futurism’. Whereby shape (and the space it gives) and material were really important, anchored by considered though slightly odd and off (hand drawn) typography/logo.
We started off with hand printed, distressed (almost destroyed) press shots, and a strong directional shape (rhombus) used in 2d print, actual packaging shape, and the material used (tarpaulin). With most copy/details in an old Germanic digitised typeface. And then added the fire red, black, white, and bronze as the main colour scheme to emphasise the strong, confrontational nature of the music. It’s not music you can just put on in the background, it requires your attention! And that’s something which is quite at odds with a lot of the new music made right now. So it was important the design reflected this.
In some ways i think Dave.I.D has created a new genre. Either way, and unintentionally it plays with your minds ability to place when it was made, mainly through industrial textures, which was definitely the main idea for using chemical blue tarpaulin for the ‘Gangs’ ep sleeve, with the shape taking it somewhere else, a forward leaning idea of the future. Industrial futurism/industrial RnB!”
See Dave.I.D play on Saturday 10th at the Old Blue Last for the Quietus ILM after party.
Tonight is the PV for SHOP magazine’s exhibition at Kemistry of magazine cover illustrations from the past year. Designed in collaboration between Studio8 Design and the commissioned illustrators, these 77 covers each represent a European city and its fashion identity. The prints are available to buy with proceeds going to Kids Company, the London-based charity run by Camila Batmanghelidjh. The charity supports vulnerable inner-city children in London. The exhibition is on until 26th November. Get down there.
43 Charlotte Road, Shoreditch EC2A 3PD
Even feeling on the whole like a small fish in the big sea that is London, there are always moments when I feel that this is my city; I understand my style and I understand its style. But when I think of NYC, a place so fantastically foreign and out of reach to me that the doorway to it in my consciousness may well be topped off by a neon sign glowing ‘The American Dream’, it’s tiny kipper all the way. On top of that, New York girls are renowned for their slick togetherness, while I am bohemian in my mind, scruffy in reality.
So the chance to see what someone who works in the same building as Anna Wintour wears to work each day is one of those brilliant sadistic opportunities that makes me swear I’m going to stop biting my nails, drop a dress size and invest in more of the designers I love.
Coo over Vogue USA’s Preetma Singh’s working wardrobe here
Posted: October 28th, 2011
, Anna Wintour
, New York
, Preetma Singh
, Vogue USA
, working wardrobe
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