The 3 L's

Idol of the Week: Emma Watson

Surely you’ve seen it? Everyone’s talking about it – the internet is going crazy over it. Twitter is pinging with supportive tweets and snaps. Celebrities are clamouring over each other to try and associate themselves with it. I’m talking about Emma Watson’s amazing UN Speech, which can be viewed here.

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I’m a big believer in having idols. I think having people to admire and even envy (within reason) is healthy – without losing sight of ourselves, of course – as it inspires us all to embark on a path of self improvement, and so when those who we admire involve themselves in greater causes, such as charities, it inspires those who look up to them to become involved, and to step back and think ‘how can I help? Is there something about my lifestyle that contradicts this amazing cause? Is there something that I can do?’

I’ve heard some people say things such as ‘why is this little actress getting involved with this stuff? What difference can she make – she’s an actress’. Please. As a member of the Harry Potter generation, its fairly obvious to me just how influential Emma Watson is. The series may be over (for now… who knows, after all), but the Harry Potter generation is ongoing, and therefore whatever ‘Hermione Granger’ has to say, this age group sits up and listens.

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It’s so great that she is obviously fully aware of this fact and is therefore using her voice wisely.

So yes, she is someone who I admire, in the mush that is the often-ugly world of Hollywood; a world of twerking, ‘accidental’ wardrobe malfunctions, sex tapes and… Jesus.. the Kardashians I think I’d cry if either of my younger sisters turned around and said that they want to be just like one of the Kardashians or Miley Cyrus when they grow up, to be quite frank.

So this is a little shout out post to someone who actually speaks sense.. simply because I like people who speak sense, but they are such a rare find!

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I don’t want other people to decide who I am. I want to decide that for myself.

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All I can do is follow my instincts, because I’ll never please everyone.

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But it’s a journey and the sad thing is you only learn from experience, so as much as someone can tell you things, you have to go out there and make your own mistakes in order to learn.

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I don’t want the fear of failure to stop me from doing what I really care about.

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There’s nothing wrong with being afraid. It’s not the absence of fear, it’s overcoming it. Sometimes you’ve got to blast through and have faith.

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I have felt for the last 10 years I have had this battle; I’ve been fighting so hard to have an education. It’s been this uphill struggle. I was Warner Bros’ pain in the butt. I was their scheduling conflict. I was the one who made life difficult.

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I don’t have perfect teeth, I’m not stick thin. I want to be the person who feels great in her body and can say that she loves it and doesn’t want to change anything.

EMMA WATSON in Glamour Magazine

The saddest thing for a girl to do is to dumb herself down for a guy.

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I feel that young girls are told that they have to be a princess and fragile. It’s bullshit. I identify much more with being a warrior – a fighter. If I was going to be a princess, I’d be a warrior princess, definitely.

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Don’t feel stupid if you don’t like what everyone else pretends to love.

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As much as someone can tell you things, you have to go out there and make your own mistakes in order to learn.

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The 3 L's

Why ‘Meet-Ups’ Will Never Be My Thing

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This evening, with a rare moment of time of my hands, I decided to spend it well, strolling through Green Park, here in lovely London, reading Richard Branson’s Like a Virgin (which I highly recommend to anyone with a business.. or a future business.. or any job at all for that matter.. or no job at all.. so anyone, really!) I was happily minding my own business, absorbed in my book, and then quite possibly the only thing that could have dragged me out of my meditative read-and-walk state in that moment was the click of a shutter – or rather – the continuous click-click-click of about two hundred shutters.

I had stumbled across a Brooke Shaden ‘meet up’ group, here in London. For those of you who are unaware, Brooke Shaden is something of a Flickr celebrity, whose portfolio can be seen here. While her editing skills and her constant steam of ideas are both equally impressive, I must admit, I find her work too gloomy and ominous for my taste. I’m personally more of a lens-flare/light-and-airy style girl. Nevertheless, I can see why she has such a large fan following, and the figures certainly show just how popular she is: 382K likes on her Facebook page, 12.3K Twitter followers, each photo of her Flickr account is littered with hundreds of likes, favourites and comments. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, then, that she can so easily convince a couple of hundred Londoners to gather in Green Park one cloudy evening for a ‘totally free’ meet up with ‘lots of hugs, models to photograph and the love of the craft’, with a single Facebook post as an invitation.

I lingered for a while, curious. I had my camera with me after all. Who doesn’t enjoy a spontaneous photo shoot, after all? What I saw, however, did not strike me as the polished, well organised workshops that I imagine when I see behind the scenes images from the various Facebook fan pages of the photographers I admire, complete with agency signed models, rails full of beautiful garments, and an amazing set that no one but the workshop-running photographer would ever otherwise be able to afford.

Instead, I can only describe the scene as being reminiscent of vultures picking at the same rotting corpse for hours on end. That is the big problem with meet ups and workshops – there is no privacy. In the short time that I lingered, watching from a park bench, I saw the same scene on loop: one photographer would tentatively approach one of the volunteer models, distinctive only from their wearing one of Brooke’s trademark vintage dresses. They would briefly discuss an idea, wander off to find a patch of grass to call a studio, and approximately five clicks of the shutter later, the vultures would flock.

Next thing you know, that one photographer’s idea has been photographed a thousand times by fifty other people from every possible angle. Those images will undoubtedly pop up on Flickr in a day or two – if some of them have not already – each edited with varying degrees of skill, yet all undoubtedly almost identical. Originality… obliterated.

That is why ‘creative meet ups’ will never be for me, she whose idea-sharing skills are fairly limited to my introvert evenings alone with my thoughts, or bouncing ideas around a room with a creative team of stylists, makeup artists, designers, etc etc etc. She who will tackle anyone who dares to photograph my idea over my shoulder. At meet ups, there is not idea bouncing, no collaboration. Instead it’s a silent, mutual agreement of, ‘whatever happens here, is ours for the taking’. One person will shout out instructions to the model, and everyone will begin to capture the same shot in a strange, almost zombie-like trance.

They’re not entirely negative experiences though; I can see the value of these meet ups to others; they can be a great place to network, make new friends, gain inspiration. Everyone looked to be having a wonderful time. But personally, I think it’s surely better to network over ‘portfolio sharing’ events rather than ‘photograph mimicking’ events’.

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Vanity Feed

The Row: Pre SS15

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The Row is one of those fashion houses that on paper can’t justify their prices for such basic items of clothing. Nevertheless, one sweeping eye across each increasingly intriguing collection and it takes the strongest of characters to keep a hold of all financial sense, and we’re left hanging precariously close to sacrificing our rent money for a t-shirt. As a childhood fan of the Olsen Twins, I have been eagerly watching their lines since they first announced the launch of The Row. They have not let me down, and long gone are the days of their tween fashion line for Walmart – and on this side of the pond, Asda. I’m sad to say that to date, my only Olsen fashion purchase is a long-gone pair of baggy jeans, complete with pink patches and two removable chains; one in pink, one in blue. Yes, we’ve all come a long way since those days, and I think the fact that I wore those shows just how long I’ve considered the twins to be fashion idols.

Of the celebrity-cum-designers of 2014, leave colour down to Victoria Beckham; the Olsens like their neutrals. The SS15 collection embodies Japanese influences, with kimono-esque coats, wraps and shawls, to the stiff, upturned collars of another era. The peasanty (yes, that is now a word), beige tones and coarse fabrics throw in a touch of that Olsen-made Granny-chic style that we have come to liken to the twins as much as we do their tween movies and their near-decade-long role on Full House (not that I’ve ever seen that aired on UK TV…), while the immaculate tailoring brings the collection together in a neatly tied, on-trend bow.

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Vanity Feed

Kate Moss for Topshop

Everyone with an even remotely fashion-minded blog is talking about Kate Moss’ new Topshop collection, and of course, I felt it only right that I join in. It’s been eagerly awaited since it’s announcement last year… probably longer in fact, as I think many die-hard fans have spent the last three and a half years with cramping crossed fingers for a return of their favourite fashion model-slash-designer. Thinking about it… has it really been seven years since her first Topshop collaboration??

One thing that I have noticed, however, is that my personal ‘top picks’ from her long awaited new collection, seem to differ from the top picks of most bloggers. It is a gorgeous collection, for sure, but no matter how many fashionista models or designers try to persuade me otherwise, I won’t be joining in with 2014’s cow girl trend. Not even Chanel can convince me otherwise. Nor am I a fan of seventies inspired fashion. I’m just not one for fringe.

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Kate Moss Topshop collection 2014 campaign

Nevertheless, it is a stunning collection, and no doubt it will remain on rails for all of five seconds. I think I’ll have to avoid Topshop for a while unless I wish to be trampled to death. I’ll stick to online shopping for my favourites. Maybe I can just about squeeze the gorgeous black jumpsuit into my suitcase.

My Topshop Top Picks:

Also, who was the photographer for her collection?? Brilliant.

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Wanderer

My European Top Spots.

It’s nearly April… I’ve been wondering where to spend my summer. While I’m looking at spreading my wings as far as Thailand or America (I know, completely different ideas there!) this year, I think I’ve definitely scattered my heart across different cities of Europe, including good old England. Then again… I tend to say that about pretty much every city and country I visit, so no doubt as I wander further afield, that list will just grow longer and longer.

I love the diversity of Europe; the array of cultures and languages and delicacies, the contrast of stark differences and intermingled traditions from border to border. There are some cities that I just find myself going back to again and again, and it never gets old – there are always new cafes serving coffee even more delicious than the last, more landmarks that I haven’t found the time to visit yet and beautiful little streets that are deserted but for myself and the occasional knowing local.

This wasn’t easy at all, but I managed to order my unruly top 10:

1. Paris. For years Rome held this top spot, but France’s capital has rather snuck up on me over the years – every time I go I love it more and more, even if I’m literally just passing through on a train, and somehow, it overtook Rome. Yes, the people can at times be a little snooty, but most of the time the snooty-ness that I have witnessed against tourists is purely because they are not meeting Paris’ standards – arriving in Paris in dirty clothes and Birkenstock with a tatty rucksack on your back is not going to make you the darling of the city. It’s quite like trying to wear jeans and a t-shirt to a ball. Everyone makes an effort in Paris, even if it is in that je ne sais quoi, ‘I just fell out of bed’ Parisian sense. They’re experts at putting in a lot of effort in looking effortless. Try to blend in, and that snooty-ness will disappear. Or so I find. 

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2. Rome. See, my ex-top spot has not slipped far. I love history. I love art, architecture, literature and the renaissance, all of which can be found on every corner of Rome. I feel comfortable walking around the city without getting lost – I can act as tour guide to fellow travellers. There’s no better feeling than realising that you know a foreign city. It’s not just a place that I have visited a few times anymore. I’ve always been and will continue to be lured to Rome for its history, its art, its food and its coffee. Yes, yes, yes and a very big yes from me on those fronts!

My one pet peeve when in Rome? Arrogant, metrosexual Roman guys who still live with their mothers well into their thirties. They linger around Trevi Fountain in droves. Huge, huge pet peeve of mine.

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3. Prague. When I first visited Prague, I didn’t really know what to expect. It’s just not a place that I have looked into too much before I arrived at  Hlavni Nadrazi station. Until then my Pinterest (what came before Pinterest? Good old fashioned cut-and-paste scrapbooks?) had been full of photographs of Paris, Rome, Athens, The Great Pyramids, Macchu Picchu and Buddhist Temples. I’d always planned to visit Prague, but somehow looking at what it was like never occurred to me. The beauty of the place blew me away. It’s a perfect blend of East and West European; some streets could easily pass for France or Italy – or even England, when suddenly you’re surrounded by Eastern European architecture, Czech music ringing through your ears and people drinking brands I can’t even pronounce.

Also, Prague is one of the most beautiful cities at night.

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4. Venice. Yes, it’s quite a pricey city, but then I’ve found that I can still keep my budget low – Venice is not a city teaming with museums and must-see sites with expensive ticket fares like other touristic cities. I’m also not big on souvenirs, which could prove to be super pricey if I were. Venice is the city I head to if I want to see Italy, without the hustle and bustle of Rome or Milan or – to some extent – Florence. I tend to avoid the few busy spots of the city – St Mark’s Square and Ponte di Rialto. Two or three streets from these Venetian hot-spots, and you’ll find deserted streets, a woman beating sheets over her balcony perhaps, the occasional cat, but otherwise you’re entirely alone. No cars, no noise. It’s wonderful.

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5. Florence. Yes, Paris may be my number one city, but Italy is clearly my number one country. Florence is a nice balance of everything I love about Italy. It’s not as mad as Rome, or as busy and metropolitan as Milan, and while it has that same peace as Venice, it’s gifted in sprinkles rather than spades. It is quintessential Italy in the country’s best region: Tuscany – I love taking day trips from Florence to explore the beautiful surrounding countryside.

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6. Lisbon. I tend to yo-yo between Porto and Lisbon when choosing my favourite Portuguese city, but right now, I’d choose Lisbon. It’s true what they say – ‘Porto works and Lisbon plays’. Things are much more relaxed in the south, and people seem to mysteriously work less and yet are richer. I do have one issue with Lisbon – its treacherously slippering paving stones.

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Seriously, I had to buy a new pair of shoes just because wearing my sandals or ballet flats was about as effective as wearing Cinderella’s glass slippers. Otherwise you pretty much have to choose between risking your life by walking in the road, or risking your life because every step could end in a broken neck.

Still, Lisbon is beautiful, not majorly touristic and yet not entirely isolated to the lone traveller who doesn’t speak a word of Portuguese – like me. Actually, that’s a lie. I can say thank you. I think thank you is the most important phrase to learn in every language. Even more so than hello.

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7. Budapest. Another city that I had little knowledge of – like Prague. I knew it to be cheap, but that’s about it. Yes, it is cheap, though as tourism grows, so do those prices. The architecture is sophisticated, the people are sophisticated – but for a few old men who linger on park benches whistling at passing women. So many people have apologized for ‘the habits of the older generation’ – honestly, it’s fine. Clearly they have never passed a building site in the UK. The famous thermal baths are wonderful. I recommend visiting the bath houses during winter – it’s instantly even better when you’re lounging in the steaming water watching the snow fall outside.

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8. Barcelona. I’m not a fan of gaudy Gaudi, but of course, his architecture makes Barcelona what it is. I find it amazing how we all flock to see a building that is not due to be finished until 2026. I mean, of course, La Sagrada Familia. However, one place where I feel Gaudi’s unique style does work within the city is Park Güell – also the spot of my favourite (yet discovered) view in Barcelona. In Park Güell you will find pianists, violinists and musicians of instruments so exotic that I don’t even know what they are. They claim a spot and play beautiful classical pieces to entertain tourists and locals alike. It’s quirky and amazing.

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9. Vienna. A haven for museum-geeks like me, my favourite being the Sisi museum; a museum dedicated to the life of Empress Elizabeth of Austria. It’s cleaner than Paris and Rome. It’s more efficiently run than England, but it’s not as frustratingly perfect as a few cities I have been to; so perfect that they no longer feel real. Also, the people who live there are unbelievably lovely.

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10. Off the beaten track. Finally, while I could go on and on about this city and that city, for me, one of the best parts of Europe is the little villages whose names I never learnt before I moved on to the next. I love the lakes, beaches, rivers and hills. I’m a country girl as well as a city girl, and I love rambling around woodland and climbing hills to see the view at sunset. So if you’re going to Europe, don’t just stick to the ‘must see cities’.

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The 3 L's

Old Hollywood Age Gaps….

It seems, for a woman in Hollywood, you have to have buckets of talent and gumption to push through the typical end-of-career age barrier. Meryl Streep, Judi Dench, Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor. Rightly so, I think – age seems to be the only thing that may stop mediocre-but-good-looking actresses like… Kristen Stewart. Lindsay Lohan. Blah, blah, blah.

The same can’t be said for men. Maybe it’s because men tend to age better. Look at Gregory Peck, Cary Grant, James Stewart. They have a ‘best before’ date too, of course – look at Harrison Ford now days, a great actor who has lost his sexy older man appeal and is now days simply… an old man with an earring and a penchant for canal boat holidays. My point is, male actors can go on being the leading man in a movie romance for decades longer than a beautiful leading lady easily can.

Example? Sabrina.

I haven’t seen the 1995 version, but the good old 1954 original; Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and William Holden.

Not to give much away to those of you who have not seen it, it’s basically about a young girl (Hepburn), who falls in love with her father’s boss’s son (Holden). She goes away to Paris for two years, and returns as this gorgeous and sophisticated European woman, complete with an enviously beautiful Parisian couture wardrobe and trademark Hepburn pixie cut. Pretty quickly a slightly complex, plot-twist riddled love triangle forms between Hepburn, Holden and his brother, Bogart.

Simple enough. I love this movie, though it’s been a few years since I last found the chance to sit down and watch it. But there was one particular line that strikes me each time.

Spoken during a scene between Hepburn and Holden, in which they are discussing their first kiss, Hepburn points out that they have kissed once before – which Holden has long forgotten.

‘I was nine, and you had your arms around me because you were teaching me to skate backwards. Suddenly, you kissed me.’

Note, at the time of release, Hepburn was twenty-five years old, while Holden was thirty five, and as he plays a man thrice-married, how much younger could his character be? He definitely looks like a man in his thirties.

Which means, nine year old Sabrina was kissed by nineteen year old David. And then there’s older brother, Linus (Bogart). Older as in, there’s a twenty year age gap between big brother and little brother. That’s thirty years between Linus and Sabrina. Creepy, creepy.

The same can be said about so many old movies, though

Rear Window. 25 year old Grace Kelly alongside 46 year old James Stewart.

North by Northwest. 55 year old Cary Grant alongside 25 year old Eva Marie Saint.

High Society. 26 year old Grace Kelly alongside 53 year old Bing Crosby, 43 year old Frank Sinatra and 45 year old John Lund. If you haven’t seen the film, I won’t tell you which one she ends up with.

 I just find it bizarre. Yes, women want men – we don’t want boys who are still living with their mothers, rolling around in yesterday’s boxers and the latest notch in their bed post, hungover, perma-tanned and full of steroids – the only way they can realistically achieve those bubble muscles. But surely the other alternative isn’t just wrinkly old men with borderline pedophilic tastes in fresh-from-school young women?

Well, according to old Hollywood, that’s the choice.

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Wanderer

The Pains of Restless Soul Syndrome

yup      and currently my spirit has been home too long for the liking…

Hello, my name is Emma and I have R.S.S. As in, Restless Soul Syndrome – yes, with capitals, because I think it should be recognised as an official condition. It drives me crazy. What’s that saying about… you can have it all, but not at the same time? Or something like that. That is my life. There’s two sides of me; the crazy, spontaneous-trip taking, digitally nomadic, wandering hobo creative travel nut, and the somewhat sensible, but equally ambitious, city-loving Fashion photographer. Part of me wants to spend the rest of my days (or the next several years, at least) seeing every inch, documenting every moment, building up this blog and making a freelance, online living, on the road. The other side of me wants a cute little apartment in London, or Paris, or somewhere in Italy, and to build up an amazing wardrobe and focus on getting my portfolio into the big fashion magazines.

When I’m travelling, I feel guilty for not devoting 100% of my time to work, even though I still am working (you know, about 50% of the time), so then I come home, as I did at Christmas, to focus primarily on work, sneaking away only for a few days here and there, and yet I find myself still feeling guilty. Guilty for confining myself to one place, to one office, one home, when there is so much of the world that I have not yet seen and so many things that I have not yet done! R.S.S is a contrary bastard.

I think it’s obvious that my ‘cure’ will be found in balancing out my needs out better. I’m still trying to become truly ‘digitally nomadic’ in my business. Too much of my work is still UK-based, and while popping to London frequently is great, and I adore it, I need to spread things further afield. I’ll live in London one day. That much is obvious to me. And Paris, and at least one Italian city. I’m just constantly torn between my impatience to move there now and my impatience to see every single country in the world. Yes, I’m only twenty-two. There’s plenty of time to do everything I want to do, but damn it, I wish it were possible to choose one thing that I want and temporarily switch every other desire off until I’ve finished with the first one.

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