Monday, 20 September 2010

How mini is too mini?

I don't have the lyrical, long legs of my model, Shona, but in the summer time, I like to wear short skirts. I feel free in them, and I think there's an art to getting the length just exactly right. For me, that length is mid thigh, which is long enough to not expose myself, nor spend my days hiking my skirt down out of fear of exposure, but isn't so long as to be frumpy.There are certain lengths which just seem to shear off women's legs, and make them look, leaden, stumpy. I call them "Little Dot Legs". When I see my legs looking that way, it's usually because the length or cut of the skirt I'm wearing isn't favourable.
One of the comments I get quite a bit about my range at Fall of 74 is "Oh, I love those dresses but I couldn't wear skirts that length." Comfort, psychological as well as physical is important, but I guarantee you that more women could wear a skirt over the knee and look incredible than would think so. It's funny how our own ideas of how we look are often distorted. I was very late to the skinny jean thing because I was convinced they would be like sausage casings on my legs. Once I tried them, I realised my mental picture didn't match the reality at all.
I'm working on an A-line mini for summer, which won't be outrageously short, but will have pockets. Pockets, not for storing things in, but for striding around with your hands in them. It's good for holding it all down, as well as looking cool. Something lovely about striding around with your hands in your pockets, I think.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The face of Twiggy.

The Whiteley family, Wendy, Brett and their daughter, Arkie.

Twiggy was the ultimate, wasn't she? Those eyes, and those freckles. I was thinking about her last night as I packed the make-up for my range shoot this weekend. My model, Shona, is uncommonly beautiful, as you would expect of a model, and such a unique face too - it seems to convey an earnest, almost childish innocence, but as a woman and mother, she is far from naive, striking a wonderful dissonance between face and character.

Anyway, you start to go a bit nuts when contemplating influences, and the model you are using, particularly when it comes time to examine the powders and pigments you're going to use to embody all your ideas, at the same time feeling as though this. is. it.

I feel a lot of pressure to get the look right, and somehow every decision seems so loaded. I stood for the longest time with a NARS blush in each hand, thinking "fresh and translucent.... or rosy". Apart from making me feel like an idiot, it's actually harder than it seems. I gave up trying to make a desicion and just crammed them both into my bag. We're not talking about trying to make my gal look like Twiggy, but a certain sense I want to capture.

I've also been thinking about wendy Whiteley, artist and wife of artist Brett. Signature dark eyes under curls. I think I'm just going to have to think of my feet while styling the shoot, and try not to overthink it all.

Friday, 23 July 2010

MUSE My imagination runs away with me.

Terry meets Julie, Waterloo Station
Every friday night
But I am so lazy, don't want to wander
I stay at home at night
But I don't feel afraid
As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset
I am in paradise.

As I sat in the backseat of our family car on long drives, listening to Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks, I always imagined things from the perspective of the singer, looking out on the world. I guess I misheard the lyrics because I thought he sang "But I am so lazy, No one to wonder if I stay at home at night" which sounded to me like an odd reason to be lonely.

I'm working on a dress called the Terry Meets Julie dress. It has long been rumoured that the Terry of the song is Terrence Stamp, and the Julie is Julie Christie, who dated in the Sixties as young London scenesters. Ray Davies denies the song was written about the two, but to me it doesn't matter. I found a lot more glamour in my own imaginings, which revolved around Terry and Julie being ordinary, young, working class Mods with clerical jobs. A song so evocative of weariness and ennui beyond that was always the perfect fuel for my teenaged imagination. I would get completely washed away over this kind of thing, just kind of drowned by British pop pathos. The two are meet at dusk on a cold, grey day, improbable happiness in the dreariest setting imaginable, and I like it better to imagine that they are beautiful, but they don't have much of a future, so aren't to be envied from a window above anyway. Just kind of temporarily beautiful, they meet at the end of a grey work week outside a busy tube station, with people hastily rushing home all around them. What I'm designing is the dress that I imagine Julie, fit bird that she is, wears directly from work to go to the pub with her boyfriend. And possibly they drink pints. And play darts.

Forget glamourpuss Julie Christie: I want to dress like a secretary on a date in 1967.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

MUSE Sharon Tate, Part Two.

To me, Sharon Tate is the personification of an extinct kind of beauty; regal, fresh, and doomed to be a personal sacrifice to herald the end of the Summer of Love. She can only ever be doomed, because we can see her with nothing but hindsight, and we know how it ended.

Sharon's last meal was at El Coyote in Los Angeles. El Coyote and I go way back. It's my favourite place to eat in LA even though it's a particularly dire restaurant in a number of ways. It reminds me of something out of a David Lynch movie, moody, sordid and secretive, it feels like an extra character joining every party, sitting shadowy at the table with you. A dark place, velvety, with pokey booth-filled dining rooms where weary seeming serving women swish around in giant skirts, carrying aloft the giant cheesy platters of food. It was the first place I ate when I moved to LA, my room-mate Mike drove me directly there from the airport, and I went regularly after that, usually dragging friends along who couldn't see the appeal in the place, but would humour me anyway. The restaurant seems to gently fold over you, consuming you slowly in a chill way as though the sun has passed behind a cloud.

I didn't know Sharon had her last meal there until much later, and it doesn't really enhance the sense of the place which is nebulously sad, cooling it's heels in the LA heat, shading its clientele in near pitch dark in the middle of the day, with the greasy smell of corn chips in the air. The best margaritas can be had at El Coyote. I know I haven't written a stellar review of the place but if you're like me, and enjoy perverse places with personality and a bit of a story, then you might like it. I have to wonder if it was a nicer place when Sharon went, did they give the keys to the valet? Was it a genuinely pleasant place where ordinary people went? Chic people went? Or did they enjoy the melancholy camp as I do? I wish I could go back and tell her not to go home.

The dress I'm working on is about the way I want to feel in the summer time, inspired by the essence of Sharon Tate: a breezy, leggy A-line mini dress in gorgeous Liberty floral, a way of hinting at the hippy aesthetic without the danger of detouring into gauche prints or synthetic fabrics. Wear it with sandals and pad along elegantly without a care. A summer dress, for a nearly barefoot summer beauty. The sort of dappled soft sun of a summer afternoon, before slipping into a darkened room. The El Coyote dress.

Sharon liked best of all to be barefoot. She wasn't allowed to go to clubs and restaurants barefoot, so she laced leather thonging around her toes and ankles to look as though she was wearing sandals and out she went.

Take a look inside Sharon's wardrobe.

MUSE: Sharon Tate, Part One.

I have to talk about Sharon in two parts because it's almost impossible to talk about Sharon without mentioning the Very Bad Thing that happened to her. I do want to talk about her without going into it too deeply, so I'll just get the horror out of the way first. The worst part of that Very Bad Thing is that it robbed her of her life, but beyond that it also forever linked her with the derelicts and pathetic no-hopers who did the robbing. I always thought it was a shame that not only did Sharon not live long enough, at 26 years of age, to really make any deep imprint on popular culture, but that she would always and forever be associated with tragically lost hope, the end of the long summer of love and a bunch of nasty losers. What they did, in essence, was just kind of smush out her beauty the same way a bored truant might harrass a kitten or pull up a garden bed just for the sake of it. And now she's kind of married to the losers. It must be horrible for her family to have the family's names come up every time Sharon is mentioned.
Are you sensing my disgust? I'm not down with John Waters and the whole idea of paroling Lesie Van Houten.