London

Art and Afternoon Walks

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No matter how busy my schedule, I always find the time to take a long walk around London, see an exhibition or two, perhaps visit the theatre, anything that can get me out and about, drinking in as much culture and inspiration as possible, and of course, my camera has to come along with me (but for theatre trips). I’m always trying to make sure that I avoid a creative rut, and before moving to London, I did feel like my whole life was in a rut, a routine, even if, by travelling, it wasn’t a typical one. One of the promises that I made myself when I made my move here, was to get back into the habit of regularly stepping out of my comfort zone.

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For me, street photography is definitely out of my comfort zone. Oh, I can’t and have been known to snap away as I make my way around an unfamiliar place – abroad. It’s a much easier thing to do when there are language barriers, and I’m so clearly not a local. But here, in London, where people can potentially confront me over what I’m doing, knowing that I’d probably not be a good enough actress to pull of pretending to be a tourist.. its a scary thought to an introvert like myself. However, I was determined, and as you can see… I didn’t come away empty handed.

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Kudos have to go to my old college professor (hi Steve), who had a habit of shooting candid street photography discreetly from waist/chest height. At the time, I thought he was crazy he is, of course, completely crazy, but I found it to be such a great way for me to break through that shell of shyness, the paranoid part of me that was too busy fretting about whether people would notice if I take a shot of them, whether they’d confront me, but equally, being too shy to approach people and ask for their photograph (after all, yesterday it took me five minutes to pluck up the courage to ask to the wonderfully dressed woman on Brick Lane, hurried only by noticing that she was about to leave, only to be told, frankly, to bugger off).

So that’s how I began, with a few tentative clicks of the shutter from waist-height, timed to match a noisy rush of traffic. No one noticed. I came to a quiet street, with no noise to cover Canon’s irritably loud shutter. Second photo, and again, no one batted an eye lid. And that was it, boom, fear obliterated. I spent the rest of the afternoon brazenly hopping about, camera pressed to my eye, photographing anyone and anything that caught my eye. It now seems like such a stupid thing to have begun my afternoon worrying about, as after all, I have been carrying around a camera for as long as I can remember, and if ever I leave the country, I have no qualms about photographing whatever takes my fancy, so why does that suddenly change in London?

Well, not anymore.

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Everything I love about London is here for all to see; the madness, the vast, eccentric mix of culture, the mass of public art and entertainment for us all to enjoy, the laughter and how easy it is for everyone to enjoy the city together, but equally the unspoken rules of London: no eye contact, do not speak with strangers, especially on the tube. Big no, no, which as a person who enjoys a good book when travelling by tube, is more than happy with this arrangement. There’s this energy about London and I feel like I’m absorbing it whenever I leave my home; I return each evening smiling, inspired, motivated to knuckle down and work, network, create. Not that I specifically need London for any of that, but to be in a city that amplifies my creative energies tenfold, is such a wonderful, incredible feeling.

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I walked about a dozen miles… from Islington to St Paul’s Cathedral, walking south to Tate Modern (I then stepped inside for a browse, as it’s been far too long since my last visit!), along Southbank, past Big Ben, through Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus, followed by what must have been 1000 miles walking around the mega Waterstones alone (I can never resist), back along Fleet Street, and back towards Angel, back home.

Yes, I guess you could say that my feet now hurt, as do my legs and shoulders. Of course, I could have been sensible, I could have taken the tube, or the bus, but then I would never have found half of these photographs if I had done that. The aches and pains are worth it… and tomorrow morning when it’s even worse, I’ll read this back and look back through these photographs and remind myself of that fact. No, that won’t be necessary. I’ll still be buzzing from my day.

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If Only: Outfit of the Day 1#

Like most girls, I have for years enjoyed wasting hours of precious time on various Fashion blogs, or perusing Lookbook.nu, perusing with green-eyed envy the carefully styled outfits of the globe’s most glamorous bloggers, photographers, models, students, graduates, interns and general ‘average Joe-anne’s; those in the same boat, it seems on the surface, as myself, (recent graduate, recently moved to London, pushing, like everyone else, for that big career break), and yet they are magically able to somehow afford what constantly appears to be immaculately designed, sweeping white-walled apartments and bottomless Narnia wardrobes.

I know that bloggers carefully design their public persona. Some may spend a week completely redesigning their entire work area simple for a quick ‘what’s on my desk’ post, while others swap and borrow from a long list of friend and family members’ wardrobes in order to constantly appear to have been on the shopping spree of the century. The more well-known bloggers may get sent free stuff, or take home goodie-bags from a range of events that their magical spot of the internet grants them access to.

These past few months, I’ve fallen in love with blogging, in the same way that I love my photography. It’s become very much a part of who I want to be, professionally… though I’m still figuring out the logistics of that. However, I do not have an immaculately designed, sweeping white-walled apartments, nor do I have bottomless Narnia wardrobes. I moved here to London in June, with one 10KG, carry-on sized suitcase… partly because I did not realise at the time that I would actually be moving to London, rather than simply passing through on my travels… that decision rather hit me like a ton of bricks. Therefore, 90% of my wardrobe remains locked away in my Dad’s spare bedroom in Derbyshire, waiting for my return. Not to mention that last summer, I decided in a stubborn fit of nomadic wanderlust that I would be living indefinitely out of that same suitcase, and so I had the clear out to end all clear outs. Yes, yes, I know. Silly, silly me. My wardrobe is calling to be built back up to its former glory of all colours, all fabrics, all designers.

Hard to do when you find that you’ve suddenly (a madly, willingly) gone from the luxury of nomadic travel, in all of its rent-free, bill-free, other-‘settler’-related-bills-and-taxes-free glory, to… rent, bills, other-‘settler’-related-bills-and-taxes. I find myself constantly asking where my money has disappeared to, checking my bank statements in a panic, convinced that I’ve been robbed, only to realise, ah, of course… it was rent day yesterday.

It’s been a shock to the system, to say the least. The past twelve months have spoiled me. However, from this came the ‘If Only’ series; an insight into my personal fantasy land, where I can live a-la-Sabrina-the-teenage-witch (you remember? She wore a completely fresh outfit everyday with a zap of her finger, because she could), and wear whatever I want; a completely fresh outfit everyday. Go on, indulge me. It will be so much more interesting than anything in my actual wardrobe.

11-Aug

1. Kate Moss for Topshop Jumpsuit. £90 £50. Available here.

2. Valentino Embellished Suede Cape. £10,440 £6264 . Available here.

3. Guiseppe Zanotti Fish Embellished Sandals. £640. Available here.

4. Reed Krakoff ‘Mini’ Atlantique Tote. Available here.

5. Love Moi Black Gold Triangle Statement Necklace. £17. Available here.

6. Links of London Diamond-cut chain necklace. £110. Available here.

7. Assad Mounser Swarovski Crystal Chain Necklace. £400. Available here.

8. Venna Crystal Pendant Spike Chain Necklace. £485. Available here.

9. Venna Crystal Spike Pearl Necklace. £435. Available here.

(7, 8 and 9 twisted, twined, quite possible taken apart entirely and worn, reassembled, as bracelets)

10. My Flash Trash Bronze Six Grill Ring. £48. Available here.

11. Saint Laurent D-Frame Acetate Mirror Sunglasses. £195. Available here.

12. Alexander McQueen Resin Skull-Handle Collapsible Umbrella. £330. Available here.

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April Wish List

Springtime is (almost) upon us… or so I keep whispering to the beautiful floral tea dresses that have been waiting impatiently in my wardrobe for far too long. There’s nothing worse than wet tights in the rain, after all. Every change of season, I try to resist the inevitable style stereotypes of dark colours in winter, brights in summer, neutrals in autumn and, of course, florals in spring. Every change of season, I succumb almost immediately. It’s a weakness of mine, I know. I’ll work on that… In the mean time, however, I have been perusing the current sales and new gems of the best online shopping hubs to find my spring ‘must have’s’ for you to enjoy.april

1: Christian Lacroix. Naked Life Cushion. £95. Available here. Do I need yet another cushion? Probably not. Would it go with my current decor? Definitely not. But, oh, to own a cushion featuring not only such a true sentence for any English person (it’s struck a definite cord of recognition, like an acknowledgment of our ongoing struggle with the need to wear clothes when in the privacy of our own home), but to own a cushion that says naked… I can’t think of a single person I know who wouldn’t be compelled to comment as soon as they saw it.

2: Floral Vintage Style Watch. £7.33. Available here. I don’t know I’m always looking at watches, seeing as I have never worn a watch but for during my secondary school exams. I have my phone, that will do… but this one is so pretty. I am a bit of a sucker for collecting pretty things that I will never use.

3: Ciate. Best Sellers Nail Polish. £9 £6.50. Available here. I know they say ‘never judge a book by its cover’, and that should apply to packaging too (how often have we been duped by promising looking merchandise only to find a 99p store quality mess inside?) but my hot pink nail polish as now dried up and separated and clumped together beyond all help, despite the best efforts of our good friend Mr Polish Thinner… I could buy the same, usually trustworthy Topshop varnish… or I could allow myself to be tempted by this equally pretty, but different bottle. Yes, this is a big decision to make on a Monday evening.

4: French Connection. Feather Light Yellow Trouser. £75 £29. Available here. I once dated a guy who declared that no one could pull off the colour yellow, and for about a year after we broke up, I avoided the colour like the plague. His words were seered across the front of any sunny hued garment like a bad DIY-Punk shirt. Lately, however, I’ve been venturing into the most upbeat colour that it is possible to wear, and I should never have allowed him to convince me that it such an unflattering no-no. Especially as he never even saw me wear yellow. It was around about the same time that I spotted in an online Zara sale, the last few (plus-sized) pairs of a yellow, tailored suit trousers. Had it not been for the sizing issue, I’d have snapped them up straight away, regardless as to certain opinions. I searched for a similar pair for months and months, to no avail, but now, finally, I have spotted a style that trigger that same over-excited, ‘I must possess you’ feeling. Yellow trousers will be my Summer’14 look.

5: Bea & Dot. Two-Steppin’ Out Dress. $109.99 $32.99. Available here. This one took me a while to figure out my feelings about… love it, hate it… hate’s a very strong word.. dislike it? Like it? I’m still not entirely sure, but it’s definitely adorable with a potential to be upgraded downgraded altered to adorkable.

6: Blessed Type. All You Need is Love Wall Print. Prices start at £6.11. Available here. No place can be home to me without lashings of creativity peppered across every surface. I think many of us are the same, no? For some, that means bookcases stacked high with beautifully bound, well-read books, collected lovingly over the years. For others, that would be their own gallery of their personal artwork on display, while some may prefer to collect the art of others. I would be a combination of the tree, and lately, my decor attentions have keenly turned towards typography artwork and ‘motivational’ posters. Luckily for me, Etsy is full of beautiful options for me to fritter away my hard-earned money on.

7: Paperchase. Garden Mix Hand-Stitched Notebook. £10. Available here. In this tech-mad world, while yes, I do spend about twelve hours of every day in front of my computer – leaving it alone only to pick up my camera – I do prefer to get my ideas down onto good old fashion pen and paper rather than using the thousands of note-taking, schedule-planning, mood-board-making apps, websites and software that we have to choose from. And at the end of each exciting day, I like to sit down, and write it all down in my journal, my deepest, darkest secrets, my ugliest and silliest thoughts. For this, I always need the prettiest notebook, and for several years now, I have been using Paperchase exclusively for this necessity.

8: Wu & Wu. Sweet Sweet Fawn-tasy Container Set. $27.99. Available here. I can’t imagine for a moment what I’d put inside these… all of my ‘bits and bobs’ already have little containers of their own, which of course means that I would either have to go out and spend even more money buying various bits and bobs for each container, or I could stock up on sweet treats and periodically refill each tin… or of course, I could use them as cake tins in case I ever decide to venture outside with a baked treat… which would never happen, in which case, these beautiful little tins would be bought purely to gather dust in a kitchen cupboard. When I started these Wish List posts, I never promised that they’d be practical…

9: J Crew Leather-Trim Faux Raffia Sandals. £270. Available here. Regarding the current weather, is this wishful thinking on my part? Probably. Is it too soon in the year to be contemplating buying sandals? Of course not! With the insane amount of walking I do during my summer travels, my sandals never last longer than a single season, and so every spring, I find myself thinking long and hard about which style I should go for this year, watching the trends, determining whether or not to break said trends, contemplating whether to go for something completely different than I have gone before. It has to be said, every year so far, I’ve resulted in buying an almost identical pair of sandals to those that I have bought every previous year, in black, white or brown, depending on which will suit the most outfits… but this year, I’ll say it again, I am determined to break my pattern and purchase a pair of bright, colourful sandals that are more restrictive in my choice of outfits!

10: Urban Outfitters. Fox and Badger Plate Set. £14 each. Available here and here. These gems are sold separately, but aren’t they gorgeous together? I would display them side by side, exactly as you seen them above, on a shelf in my kitchen, with a little cactus in a white pot thrown in there too.

11: Smalldrawing. Mysterious Tropical Island Phone Case. £25.54. Available here. Technically I’m displaying the wrong sort of case for my personal wish list here, as I own an iPod, rather than an iPhone, but let’s overlook that and focus on the pattern… how adorable is this case? How summery and happy and cute! I would buy it now, and use it throughout the summer, and autumn, until the last leaf falls from the trees, by which time I will have inevitably become bored and found a replacement, wintery case instead, because it seems that we live in a world where even out phones need as many outfits as we own. It’s only a matter of time before phone-and-her outfits are a reality.

12: Penhaligon’s Endymion Bath & Shower Gel. £25. Available here. One final treat… because I am running low on shower gel, and this one simply looks so luxurious and sophisticated (as far as shower gel goes) and it probably smells delicious.

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Workaholic

Regal Fashion

Anita 1#

For this photo shoot, I collaborated with a great fashion stylist, Eliza May, who managed to persuade several designers to hand over their beautiful garments for our photo shoot, which took place at Elvaston Castle in Derbyshire. Our model travelled from Manchester to work with us, the gorgeous and talented Anita. It was a chaotic morning (in the best sense), full of creative souls dashing around, our model sitting patiently while our talented hair stylist and makeup artist worked their magic. Eliza did a great job of organising the delivery, collection and arrangement of several outfits, which were displayed prominently in my apartment while we prepped Anita’s first look. It’s always great to work with so many talented individuals on a single shoot.

The sun shined all day, despite the ominous forcast for rain, and so our backup plan went forgotten. All in all, it was a great day for a photo shoot.

Anita 2# Anita 3# Anita 4#Anita 5# Anita 6# Anita 7# Anita 8# Anita 9# Anita 10# Anita 11# Anita 12# Anita 13#Anita 14# Anita 15#Anita 16#  Anita 18#

Designers:

Jennifer Prendergast

Lucy E

Rhea Clements

Kee Boutique

MUA: Adele Coxon

Hair: Neil Farley

Stylist: Eliza May

Assistant: Joanne

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