Thursday, 31 October 2013

Chanel's Political Statement

I was just scrolling through my UnPublished archive and realised I never posted this piece on my personal blog! This is my review of Chanel's 'The Little Black Jacket' exhibition that I went to see at the Saatchi Gallery this time last year. I decided to write a piece on the political importance of the exhibition for my friend's online literary journal UnPublished ( Though this particular piece is now in fact a whole year old, the exhibition is still touring, currently in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The long grey room that has previously hosted so many flamboyant exhibitions has been transformed into a space that exudes the nonchalant luxe that Chanel embodies. From 12th October until 4th November, the Saatchi Gallery played host to Chanel's 'The Little Black Jacket' exhibition. The gallery has been stripped of excess and embellishment, and instead 113 black and white photographs of Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld's most inspiring muses hang on the walls. In each photo, the subject dons the little black jacket, a revolutionary piece designed by Mademoiselle Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel, whose notions of masculinity within female clothing shaped Chanel into the revolutionary brand that it has been for a century.

The little black jacket was originally a male piece, however as Lagerfeld states in the 'Making Of' interview, it has become "a typically feminine piece. It has crossed that boundary…It has become the symbol of a certain feminine elegance." The exhibition features both men and women wearing the jacket, establishing the androgyny of the piece as well as notions of gender equality that it represents. The muses span three rooms, lining the walls in a manner that is military, yet undeniably compelling. However, in typical Chanel fashion, the primary focus is not on the way that things appear. This exhibition is not only about the little black jacket itself, but about the unity it has provided for people of every age, sexuality, culture and religion that one can recall.

The ages of the models span seven decades, including arguably the most influential woman in fashion, sixty three year old Anna Wintour, editor of American Vogue, and even the unborn child of French actress, Charlotte Gainsbourg, whose pregnancy has now been beautifully immortalised. Each photograph mirrors its subject; the inaccessibility and enigma of Wintour, as well as the maternal excitement of Gainsbourg. Could it be that Lagerfeld and Roitfeld are trying to prove the agelessness of fashion not only through the jacket itself, but through its consumers?

Age is not all that we are invited to debate; the two also raise questions about cultural equality, providing the resounding view that there is beauty to be found on every inch of this world. Note the portrayal of Indian-American designer and actor, Waris Ahluwalia for instance, who is pictured in the classic little black jacket and a turban. Or perhaps the photograph of Kiko Mizuhara, a Japanese model, which modernises traditional expectations of Orientalism in the fashion industry, as she sports a kimono under her little black jacket. The most controversial and thus possibly the most interesting photo in the exhibition is of Danish model Freja Beha Erichsen wearing a nun's headdress, fishnet tights, black lingerie and the little black jacket. The depiction of a religion so vocally opposed to premarital sex contrasted with the iconography of prostitution makes for a very provocative piece, and could be Lagerfeld and Roitfeld's way of expressing their desire for religion and sex to coexist without condemnation of one another.

The little black jacket represents the unity and equality of Chanel as a brand, and of fashion as a movement. Fashion affects everyone, from those who work in the industry, to those who consider it as the last of their priorities. By choosing to portray minority groups of every area in the same piece of clothing, the exhibition neither glorifies nor diminishes any one individual or collective. Virginie Viard's words "It is outside fashion" ring true in this instance, thus making the little black jacket as much an iconic fashion piece as it is a political statement.

Lauren Pike

For those interested in the 'Making Of' interview I mentioned, here is the link

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Tumblr Love

I don't have anything new to update, so instead of a lifestyle or fashion post I'm going to share some of my favourite images from tumblr. These photos all belong to their respective owners but have all spoken to me in one way or another. Enjoy!

I am totally obsessed with tumblr. I think it is such a great place for visual inspiration and really serves well as a me-time hobby. This post is just a taste of what you'd find on my tumblr, but if haute couture, cityscapes, fashion and film appeals to you, click the tumblr link at the top right of my blog or take a peak at :)

Do any of you have a tumblr? If so, leave your link in the comments section below as I'd love to check out some of your blogs!

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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Festive Make Up and Home Haul

Last night after finishing my uni work, I decided to dedicate my whole evening to watching Tanya Burr's Vlogmas videos from last year! For those who don't have a clue what I'm talking about here is the first one, though I warn you they are very addictive and will result in premature festivity!

So with my Christmas spirit arriving at least a month early, I got up especially this morning to pop into town and buy a few festive bits! I had a huge list of things I wanted to get that revolved around some wintery make up (my cosmetics are far too summery right now) and some cosy home pieces to make my room a little more seasonal.

And here are my spoils! Not bad for an hour's work and less than £40!

Red knitted cushion, Cargo, £6; red mug, Cargo, £1.50; Christmas candle holder, Cargo £3; Rimmel Lasting Finish foundation in 303 True Nude, Boots, £7.99; Maybelline blusher in Flash Plum, Boots, £5.29; hair grips, Poundland, £1; Maybelline Baby Lips in Cherry Me, Boots, £2.99; Maybelline Eyestudio eyeshadow in 105 Rose Tint, Boots, £4.09; 17 trio eye shadow in Enchanted Smoke, Boots, £5.49; Natural Collection lipstick in Autumn Glow, Boots, £1.99

Luckily for me there were a fair few offers on (hence the masses of Maybelline purchases) so it was even cheaper than I listed! Here is a close up of all the make up as well as a few close ups and swatch shots.

I thought I'd use an Instagram Collage programme to show you certain bits in daylight and when it's a bit darker as I think lighting can make such a difference to how a product looks. And finally here is a picture of my room with my brand new snuggle cushion!

I realise it's much to early to be this excited about Christmas but I figured it's not too long until Halloween and once that's over I can be legitimately festive! Now I just need to avoid my stash of Christmas films for a week.

Are any of you getting festive already? I'd love to know if I'm the only one getting into the Christmas spirit early or if any of you have any autumnal make up recommendations! Let me know in the comments section below if there are any products you're loving that I should try :)

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Sunday, 20 October 2013

Autumn Buys

Despite the student loan swooping in to save the day, I have been very restrained in my spending of late. This is something I am not very good at (at all), so I'm very proud of myself for spending so little over the last few weeks! However, a few autumn buys are essential, so here are the few fiscally fabulous bits I've bought recently.

Mustard yellow scarf, Zara, £9.99; mint jumper, Topshop £46; handbag, Loot, £15; Chelsea boots, Primark, £10; vintage gold necklaces, Hickory Vintage, £5 for two.

Starting with this scarf  from Zara, I could not believe how cheap this was. It is so long and warm, and such a gorgeous colour for the autumn, I nearly fell down when I saw the price tag. I bought this at the end of summer and I've been living in it already. It is much more of a mustard shade than it looks in the store's photo, which I personally think is much nicer.

Secondly is the mint green jumper from Topshop. Last year they were selling a gorgeous maroon jumper with beading all around the neckline, and despite trying it on every time I went in to the shop, I never bought it because it was so expensive. So this year I thought I'd treat myself to this beautiful minty number! I love the colour and I think the detailing on the shoulders is just so pretty. Plus I actually bought it whilst Topshop were doing 20% off for students, meaning I got it for nearly £10 less than it should have been! 

This handbag was a vintage number from an independent store based in Leamington Spa called Loot. Luckily for anyone reading who isn't anywhere near, they have a website I really liked the style of this bag and it is a really convenient size to take to uni. It also has lots of different compartments which is essential for someone like me who tends to get grumpy very quickly when I can't find my keys at the bottom of my bag!

As you can see these boots have already been worn to death. At £10 they are an absolute steal and from trying them on I found them to be much more comfortable than the Topshop version which cost a lot more. Black Chelsea boots are such a staple for this time of year and I'm definitely considering heading back to Primark to stockpile a couple of pairs!

The last of my autumn buys are these adorable little necklaces. I bought them today at a Vintage Fair hosted by the Leamington Spa Pump Rooms; I was so close to not going but decided to pop in an hour before it shut and I'm so glad I did! I had to exercise a lot of my new found willpower to not buy everything I saw, but these necklaces were two for £5 which I thought was far too cheap to ignore. Though quite similar, I think gold is really pretty for the winter months and I'm expecting to get a lot of wear out of them both. The lady at the stall also gave me the card pictured, so I will definitely be checking out Hickory Vintage's website, as should you! 

That's all for my autumn buys so far, though I'm currently on the hunt for a warm winter coat as I've been told that this season is set to break a lot of records temperature wise! Just to leave you with one last thing, I saw Gabrielle Aplin at V Festival this summer and have since been obsessed with her album English Rain. Its really lovely to have on during these chilly evenings, so take a listen. Here are two of my favourites:

Panic Cord

Keep on Walking

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My Final Year Bedroom

A little late, but for once I've been embracing secondary reading instead of procrastinating! It is third year after all.

Nevertheless, I'm suddenly feeling the need to share pictures of my new bedroom on my blog! I can't quite believe that this is my last student house, and I was very excited to decorate it as nicely as possible to make the most of my home space during my final year of university.

I had originally wanted a very chic, minimalist room, with white bed sheets and no posters whatsoever. But upon my arrival at the new house, I noticed that there were a lot of blu-tack marks on my walls, and painting them would have been very risky what with my lack of DIY experience! So naturally out came the posters once again, and I've managed to tactically place them over almost all of the tack marks, leaving my room looking much cleaner than when I arrived!

Stupidly I forgot to take any before pictures, but here are a few pictures of my room once I was all moved in!

My chest of drawers covered in all of my course books and my baskets containing my hair and beauty bits. Also I keep my jewellery box, my favourite Zara Taylor earrings in their box, my perfumes (J'adore Dior, CK Summer One, Armani Code and Paco Robanne Black XS) all of my candles including the gorgeous Yankee Candle set that my boyfriend's sisters bought for me, and a gorgeous vintage hand held mirror that I bought in a charity shop.

Here is my main getting ready station (tiny, I know!) which has all of my necklaces and bangles on a stand, as well as my little everyday make up bag, and my more extensive collection. Also on here is my Urban Decay Naked palette that I use incessantly, as well as various toiletries and hair dryers/straighteners hidden under the draw.

This is my work desk that I'm typing away at now! The collage above is a poster that my Grandad gave me, as well as a few special birthday cards and pictures of my girlfriends back at home.

This is the nearest thing I have to a bedside table, which is possibly my only complaint about my room! Having to get out of bed to reach my cup of tea is a definite first world problem. Here I have last month's Vogue from when these pictures were taken, my three favourite pairs of sunglasses, reading glasses, a Buddha, my mini Eiffel Tower, and a picture of my boyfriend and I that he gave me last year.

And finally here is the amazing view from my room! Luckily it was much sunnier when I took these photographs last month than it is now, I think the view of the church whilst a storm is going on could be a little sinister!

And one last one looking out from my balcony!

I'm so happy in my new house, the location is incredible (we're right on the high street in the centre of town, so unfortunately for my bank account I'm ridiculously close to the shops) and my housemates are lovely. I'm so happy with my room and can't wait to spend some cosy winter evenings in here!

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Audrey Hepburn: The Creation of a Style Icon

Before I begin, I have a confession to make; I started writing this blog post as soon as I finished my work experience at the V&A right at the very beginning of September, and then completely forgot to finish it! So if this post seems a little dated and disjointed, I apologise. My efforts to blog more fell at the first hurdle upon moving back to Leamington for my final year at Warwick!

Back in September, I was lucky enough to take part in Fashion and Cinema's latest event, 'Audrey Hepburn: The Creation of a Style Icon'. Played host to by the iconic Victoria and Albert museum, I was able to gain some valuable work experience to add to my CV, whilst simultaneously hearing some truly fantastic speakers discuss my ultimate fashion icon.

As a Vogue obsessed Film and Literature student, an event created by Fashion and Cinema was an all too tailored fit for me. My actual work included checking spectator's tickets, answering questions, and generally aiding the V&A staff to make sure everything ran smoothly. However I was also lucky enough to be allowed to sit in on the lectures given by highly esteemed speakers, including Hepburn's son, Luca Dotti.

The three speakers on day one, Prof. Stella Bruzzi, Dr. Rachel Moseley and Drusilla Beyfus, talked in incredible detail about Audrey's fashion trajectory, her role as a Cinderella figure, and her relationship with Hubert de Givenchy. All three speakers were so insightful, and gave a wonderfully academic take on something that a lot of people may consider leisure alone. Hearing such highly esteemed speakers talk intellectually about fashion and film has only reinforced my personal beliefs that both mediums ought not to be considered merely as entertainment or 'stuff'. I even had a discussion with a journalist there about the value of fashion and the cerulean jumper speech from The Devil Wears Prada! I was in my element.

The second part of the event was truly exceptional, for Luca Dotti shared intimate stories about his mother's life in Rome and how she embraced Italian culture. From anecdotes about how she used to carry spaghetti in her suitcase (for you can find tomatoes anywhere in Italy, but what if you are stranded without spaghetti?), to his confession that he had no idea his mother was a style icon, for Givenchy and others were introduced to him merely as talented friends as opposed to globally renowned fashion designers. Dotti was warm, open, and light-hearted, speaking with the same glow of kindness and authenticity that his mother became so adored for.

Working at the Victoria and Albert Museum was very special for me. Having never lived or spent more than a day in London at a time, getting off the tube and walking through the halls of sculpture and silverware to get to 'work' was incredibly surreal, but a real treat. The people I worked with were absolutely lovely, and even gave me a copy of Luca Dotti's book 'Audrey in Rome' - a collection of images of Hepburn's time spent there - when I finished on the second day. I am so grateful to the V&A for letting me be part of the event, and am more in love with Audrey and her legacy than ever. To those yet to buy it, do get yourselves a copy of 'Audrey in Rome', for I am yet to top how content I feel when flicking through it with a cup of tea on a Sunday afternoon.

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