Sunday, 28 April 2013

Thoughts and Musings - Hipsters, Consumer Habits and Inspiration

So I just let my friend interview me about my consumer habits for her marketing dissertation. Her topic? Hipsters. and it's made me reflect on my own habits and the reasons why I do the things I do a lot. 

I don't necessarily identify myself as a hipster. 

It seemed to me that hipster is the new mainstream. She corrected me by saying that the modern conception of 'hipster' was actually the hipster of yesterday, and that the definition she was going by is that of an individual who actively seeks to be ahead of consumer trends. But if you go by that definition, I am definitely not a hipster. On the contrary, I almost feel like the anti-hipster. If hipsters are ahead of the trends, I'm decades late. I don't look forward in time and think "people will like this 5 years from now", I look back and think "When I grow up, I want to be Rachel Weisz in the Mummy". 

My friend asked me what it was about certain adverts or images that speak to me and stick with me enough to influence my style. Is it purely visual? Is it more about the atmosphere, the content, the message? It's definitely visual. For me, it's about a particular sense of aesthetic that communicates an atmosphere that speaks to me. If that makes sense. For example, I realised that the adverts or images that will stick with me and compel me to hit 'save image' or tear out a page from a magazine will always fit into one of three categories:

- Fairy Tale
- Travel and exoticism
- History (be it Victorian, Far-West 1800s America, or 1950s retro... amongst other things)

Interestingly, these correspond to the three types of images I reblog on Pinterest.
Is it escapism? Perhaps so.

She then proceeded to ask me about the trends that influence other aspects of my lifestyle - the bars that I go to, the food I eat, the hobbies I try out. Why I do the things I do. Do I actively seek out to be different? Would I be annoyed if my favourite haunts became popular with a wider audience? I told her about my love for pop-up bars (Leyshon Brothers, anyone?), speakeasy's and Secret Cinema. Sure, I would be quite annoyed if these venues, which rely mostly on word of mouth, suddenly became a regular go-to for half of London's population. I like my quirky taste and the individual style it gives me. The combination of it all makes me unique; it's a reflection of me and only me. 

But at the same time, I don't actively look to be different. I don't go looking for obscure hobbies or trends with the conscious intention of standing out from a crowd. I chose to wear certain clothes, frequent certain bars and do certain things because they correspond to a certain set of values, aesthetic and otherwise, that I appreciate.
I don't do any of those things out of spirit of rebellion, either. Although I have plenty of that in me, I don't sing or belly-dance or dig up the remains of dead civilisations to contest the society that we live in. I do it because I appreciate and adhere to a certain set of norms and values that may not necessarily be the ones that are prevalent in modern society. 

Take burlesque, for example. Burlesque is something I enjoy immensely, and have done for years. I've watched it, I've performed it, I've introduced it to people. Despite its recent surge in popularity, it's still a controversial topic for many people. Yes, it is essentially striptease. But I definitely don't do it to shock people. To me, there is absolutely nothing shocking about it - merely teasing -, nothing distasteful or degrading or objectifying to it in any way. I think it's sad that some people don't agree, that they let their idea of what 'politically correct' should be cloud their appreciation of not just burlesque but many things that are somewhat sexual; but I also don't care. These are my convictions and the norms that I chose to live by, and I'm not trying to influence anyone else. 

Even something as simple and yet so alien to much of our society as dressing up or nights out. Fifty years ago, if you went out for dinner, men wore suits and women wore evening dresses or gowns. And that was just a regular Friday night about town. Now? People have lost that sense of dressing up for occasions. I, personally, really wish these aesthetic values that I personally adhere to  would come back - does that mean I'm not trying to be unique? Where does that put me on the 'hipster' scale of trends?

Sorry about this wall of text! I'm not entirely sure what my point was, but I hope my all-over-the-place, self-reflective ramblings provided food for thought at least. If not, here are four pretty pictures to make up for it.

This is the type of image that inspires me.
You can find me on Pinterest here.

When I grow up, I want to be Rachel Weisz in the Mummy...

Boat necks and high waists

Boat neck top - Mango
High-waisted shorts - Primark
Teddy jacket - Primark
Jewellery - Primark
Shoes - Truffle

Yep, most of it's Primark. What can I say, I'm very big on disposable fashion... it's the only way I can quench my new-stuff addiction. 

Saturday, 27 April 2013

These shoes are mine, betch

...Or a headless outfit post.

My new shoes came in the mail the other day, and I just HAD to snap away...

Personally,  I think there's something very Rocking Horse Ballerina about them... but maybe it's all in my head.

I normally get worried when ordering shoes online, especially on ebay, but these fit perfectly and are very comfy. They're so light!!

Dress - H&M
Shoes - Truffle

I don't normally do this, but I unceremoniously cropped my face out because I looked horrendous. The camera just really didn't love me that day.

The outfit was actually vaguely inspired by a manga called Kagen no Tsuki  (Last Quarter) by ze Queen Ai Yazawa of the Nana fame. Her drawings were my (life)style inspiration all through high school (*smiles fondly at the awkward memories*).
Last Quarter is a short (3 volume) story about a girl who awakes from a coma to find that the girl from her dreams is real, but only she can see her. The graphics are beautiful, and I kindly put up the link, so go check it out, go go go!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Outfits from Outer Space #1

Good evening! Today I'm starting a new feature where I'll introduce some wacky items from my closet. Because, well, why the hell not?

The Bone Dress

I made this for a competition last summer, in Tuva, Eastern Siberia. How I got into that crazy situation in the first place is a long story, but I found myself competing in a talent show in the Valleys of the most remote place on Earth. The one rule: we had to make our costume. Now, bear in mind that, being on a remote campsite in Tuva, a two-hour drive away from the nearest town, our choice of materials was Luckily I happen to have a passion for bone jewellery bones in general, and I'd been collecting nice pieces and jawbones all month.

The jawbones are cows'; my belt is made of squares of tree bark (cutting bark from a log into wearable symmetrical pieces is not an easy task...) with a vertebra buckle (sheep or goat), and the headdress is sheep's vertebra and untreated sheep's wool (literally just fluff I picked off a fence...)

I couldn't tell you what the earrings are made of if I wanted to, they're some tiny fruits that were growing near the campsite.

Oh, and the horn appears to have been from a ridiculously big sheep. It was a get-well-soon gift from a friend; she brought it to our tent warning me that "it was leaking". Leaking what, I'd rather not know.

So much to work with, so little time!

The idea for the dress started with the jawbone collar and sort of just developed from there. I knew I wanted treebark accessories and a look that wasn't too soft... Basically something along the lines of the Forsworn armours in Skyrim :P

Skyrim's Fornsworn, whose armours were my main inspiration

I was wearing a water-polished tree bark pendant, too!

That horn makes a surprisingly good 50s-style hat...
My slaves friends hard at work... I can't sew to save my life,
so I'm grateful, really!

I can't sew to save my life, so my wonderful friends did it for me following my design, attaching bits of bones, leaves and bark to an old Primark dress I just so happened to have at the bottom of my suitcase (no, really, I swear!). We only had a couple of hours, so some of the heavier stuff had to go. I argued that we keep the jawbone collar though!

In the end, the collar had to be sewn on me because it was too heavy for the strapless dress to support... Originally it was intended to be a v-shape, like in the picture above, but the weight of it made it sag.

And don't even get me started about getting OUT of that dress... Well worth it, though.

Souslik (rodent) skull... I wish I'd managed to make it into a necklace
but I didn't have the right tools

Thanks to Triin Tanilas for the beautiful portraits <3

Friday, 19 April 2013

Halloween Pin-up

Morning! I realize I pick an odd time of the year to go back on my Halloween outfit, but I came across some pictures last night and thought it was share-worthy... Or maybe I'm just vain ;)

Every year, I go to Voodoo Rock night for Halloween. They're amazing rock parties in Electrowerks, Angel with bbq, face paints, live bands and even horror films playing through the night, along with several rooms of musical goodness. Check it out here if you're interested.

Oddly enough, every year I also ruin my costume and almost take myself down with it. The first year I went there, the tassels on my bellydancing costume kept falling off until there was barely anything keeping it together. The second year, my shoes snapped right in the middle as I was going down the stairs and I dislocated my thumb. So taking into account just how damn accident prone I am - or at least how blatantly cursed this place is - I went with a pinup costume, which I thought was fairly safe and foolproof.

Boy, was I wrong. As we were queuing to get in the sole of my trusted black heel caught on something, and I had to go dig around for a strip of plastic to hold my shoe together for the rest of the night.

Sexy bandage for my shoe...

"In Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it." This is particularly true at Voodoo, where everything is so gaudy (in the best possible way!). This meant I could go short short short!

Basque - H&M lingerie

Velvet skirt - made by a friend

Suspenders & Stockings - Intimissimi

I kept the makeup simple, with red lipstick by L'Oreal (286 Burning Rose)
and eyeliner by Urban Decay
I love this one, it makes me look like a wax doll...

Oh, one last note of warning - stay away from the green webs. The next morning that stuff was EVERYWHERE.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Affordable Fashion... the Evening Gown issue

It seems to me that black tie events, no matter how exciting the prospect, are the bane of student life. Costume parties, we can handle - nothing a bit of arts and crafts, and maybe a trip to the nearest charity shop, can't solve. But dressing up to the nines? The ghost of my long-gone student loan shudders at the very thought. Is it just me?

So when it came to my New Year's Eve party in Paris (yes, yes, this dates back a little), I was at a loss. I was aiming for something 30s-inspired, with a modern twist. But how do you recreate 30s glamour on a lowly student budget?! 
I ended up finding Primark.

Interior decoration by my wonderful aunt

Top - an old thing I've had for years, which I picked up in a little shop in Milan. Forgot to photograph the back, but it's cut in a V-shape with a black ribbon lacing up across corset-style.

Skirt - Primark (12 £)

Shoes (which you can't really see - they're black faux-suede stilettos) - Primark (12£)

So in the end, this whole outfit added up to... £24. 

Monday, 15 April 2013

Oh my god. Shoes.

Let's get some shoes - my ultimate lust list:

1. Wedge Converse heels


So many options! I'd like to get them in a bright, popping colour like pink or turquoise. Unfortunately these are Korean-made (i.e. the sizes are small!) and most manufacturers don't have my size :( 
(Before anyone says anything - yes, I am well aware that these are not real All Stars, but Converse have long discontinues their wedged collection. Nothing I can do there.)

2. Red or Dead's Shirley mary janes

These are just WONDERFUL. They also exist in black, gold and silver, but the red ones have awoken my childhood dream of owning Dorothy's Ruby slippers (pssst, here's a secret: I've seen at the V&A the original Ruby slippers, and the Harry Winston copy made out of actual rubies and diamonds, reportedly the most expensive shoes in the world... and they're not that nice. No, really. The kitten heel is awkwardly square and they look chunky. These are much better.)
Unfortunately it seems that the size 6 pairs are sold out EVERYWHERE. If you see or have a pair up for sale, please let me know!! (You can email me at

...Well, okay, maybe the Harry Winston ones are nice, too.

3. Jeffrey Campbell 'Litas

These shoes rule

These shoes suck

These shoes rule!

These have been spotted everywhere for a couple of seasons now, and I can see why. These shoes rule! (I'd be paranoid about going up and down the stairs, though).

4. Andreia Chaves' Invisible Shoes

Concept shoe designer Andreia Chaves has many tricks up her sleeve, but nothing beats the ingenious design of her Invisible Shoes. The pictures speak for themselves! These are actually for sale, price quoted upon request... I don't think I want to know.

5. Julian Hakes' Mojito shoes

What happens when an architect designs a pair of shoes? This.

These shoes are 300 dollars. These shoes are 300 fucking dollars. Let's get 'em.
(Actually, they're about 175 quid)

Oh, for those who are wondering what the hell I've been referencing throughout the post:

Let's party.