Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots

This is part one (of two) of my latest behind-the-camera venture with the ever gorgeous Emma. Now, I'm not going to even attempt to try to describe how long it took me to choose which photos to post! Let's just say a large amount of my evening has been devoted to whittling down images.
For this shoot, I went to Emma's house - she lives even more rurally than me! It was perfect, surrounded by moody woods and buttercup fields (which you'll see in part two.) There was no theme as such, but a colour scheme of blues, greens, browns and creams. These colours all work well on Emma, and I enjoyed styling and putting the outfits together!

The first ensemble is made up of a forties green dress with an altered hemline (it was too long) layered under a vintage thermal vest. I always like it when dresses come with the matching fabric coloured belts, so I put it to good use here! I love the bow detail at the neck, and a very subtle pattern that reminds me of Van Gogh's brush strokes. The necklace belonged to a family member, and any of my more long time readers will recognize the boots. 'Why does Roz own a pair of size three seventies boots when her feet are size seven?' One might indeed ask. I'm keeping them, under the guise of 'using them for design inspiration' in later life, but really I just love looking at them too much to part with them just yet. Emma has been coveting them since she first saw them (and wore them - they fit her well, I would say like a glove, but a perfectly fitting boot is more appropriate), but they're staying in my room - sorry Emma!

The second outfit was my favourite of the five I subsequently shot. I bought this sixties mini dress in a vintage charity shop in Edinburgh (try Grassmarket for amazing clothes, especially 'Armstrongs' which is Scotlands equivalent of Beyond Retro!) The blouse underneath was my great-grandma's and the boots have been described at length above! All the vintage watches are from different family sources - I find the concept of these watches ticking on (albeit, not at the correct times!) long after their owners have gone quite thought provoking. The vintage suitcases are also from various sources. I have a little pile of said suitcases in my room - I want to be able to travel with vanity cases and trunks to store my clothes.. (Apart from the obvious transportation issues.) Who needs generic suitcases dahhling?

In the first set of photos I wanted to focus on the slightly eerie side of the forest, so a general lack of sunlight helped no end! (And this was before the rain later in the day.. I do not recommend trying to take photos while simultaneously attempting to hold an umbrella!) It was almost as though she was lost: the 'Little Red (or should that be green?) Riding Hood' aesthetic, like one who has strayed too far from the path.. I made poor Emma jump so many times to get that first shot - having been inspired by the classic Richard Avedon photo.
The second selection of images ended up being very sixties influenced. I told Emma to imagine she was waiting for someone, treating the abandoned trailer as though it was a train station. And as she commented, there "was a watch for every time zone".

I enjoyed taking these photos immensely, and I'm very grateful to Emma for being such a great model again!

The title is taken from the poem 'Blackberry-Picking' by Seamus Heaney. This is one of my absolute favourites of his poems as it so evocatively sums up the joy of picking wild fruit on a summers day.

In other news, I recently nominated the photographer Saga Sig and designer Charlotte Taylor for the Studio East  2011 awards. This is a fantastic initiative for those starting out in the creative business, and has given many individuals the publicity and funds needed to further their work. I would suggest you visit their website to nominate any 'up and coming' people in a creative industry you know of...

I also want to thank everyone who commented on my bloggiversary post, you're all such lovely people and it was much appreciated!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

As I walked out one midsummer morning (Plus one year bloggiversary!)

This is the result of my latest photography session with the ever wonderful Flo. A small departure from the usual outfit-plus-long-description-which-usually-involves-a-charity-shop-or-two formula, but still with added accessories!
Funnily enough, posting some photos taken by my good friend Flo fits in with my bloggiversary theme. A year (and a few days to be quite precise) ago, while recovering from being ill, I decided on the spur of the moment to create a blog. Another friend had introduced me to the concept of 'fashion blogging' by way of Sea of Shoes, Fashion Toast et al. I was so inspired, and already had some photos up my sleeve (well, on my hard drive) that I could use to set up this here blog - and who had taken them? Flo, of course! It all comes full circle.

Now that I think about it, this is a post celebrating creative collaborations. Flo had first asked if I fancied being her photography subject in the winter of 2008/09, long before the idea of being with a model agency and when my own interest in photography was a fledgling twinkle in my eye! (Or whatever the cliche is.)
This portrait series is only the sixth or seventh time I have worked with her (we both lead busy lives), but each time has been fantastic! However, sometimes it's hard to get the pictures as we're too preoccupied with chatting! I like working with Flo as it's a two way thing - I get to have a lot of input too, we discuss the ideas beforehand and I usually influence or sometimes style the outfits too.

Here the focus was on shadow and light, and I won't begin to describe how long it took us to find something to create the shadow stripes across my face! She took the photos in her gorgeous orchard, on a perfect midsummer morning while our parents drank tea together and read The Guardian. I also took some photos of her in said orchard. To warn you in advance, expect a big photography overload of all my behind-the-camera projects in the very near future! I've been busy in the last few weeks..
The sequined dress belongs to one of her friends and the two pearl necklaces (one faux, the other made up of 'imperfect' pearls - much more interesting if you ask me!) are mine. Gosh, I don't think I have ever written that little about an outfit to date! (Or probably ever will again - it feels unnatural.)

To go back to the idea of my bloggiversary, so much has happened in one year. It sounds cheesy, but I really felt welcomed into the 'blogging community' and have met some amazing people through Clothes, Cameras and Coffee. From correspondance with Judy Aldridge and meeting Jill, to my 'Blogger capsule collections'  and more outfit photo shoots than I can count, it has been a great year.
I've learnt PR skills, become very interested in photography (and developed my interest in fashion design!), honed my writing technique and become much more aware of styling both others and myself.

I now enjoy both being a model, and a photographer - I think the two roles compliment each other greatly. Being behind a camera gives one a much stronger awareness in front of it. (And vice versa, to an extent.)

The title is a reference to the book by Laurie Lee. I haven't started it yet, but it's third down in the pile of books on my bedside table. The minute I've finished reading 'A passage to India', then I want to start on Cider with Rosie (also by Laurie Lee.) Before going on to 'As I walked out...' It just seemed very apt for the mood of the photos as they were taken the day before Midsummer Solstice.

It really has been an interesting, challenging and wonderful year - and don't even get me started on what I have planned for the future! My mind is brimming with creative ideas, schemes and plans ready to put into action. Thank you to all my readers, commenters and lovely followers. Let's hope the year ahead is just as eventful.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Beyond blue

Another week.. whoosh! Life seems to be speeding at, well, a very 'speedy' speed right now. Exams, wonderful weather and creative projects have been responsible for gobbling time.
I had a wonderful photography filled weekend though, including the creation of about 5 posts worth of photos to share,  bit by bit! (Both behind and in front of the camera.) Other exciting weekend activities included a riverside picnic, making brownies for fathers day and buying a book on the sixties designer 'Andre Courreges'. Every new book is a step towards one of my aims in life - to build up my own personal library full of classics (preferably penguin editions!), fashion, photography and art books.

First up, this is my newest purchase from Beyond Retro in Brick Lane, London. (I could write an ode to that shop.)  Luckily, the last time my mum and I visited this jewel of a place, there was a half price sale rail from which I managed to extract both this dress and an electric blue leather pencil skirt. (The beautiful little cream lace and muslin shift dress I also bought, sadly wasn't on sale, but seemed to have been subject to a low pricing error - lucky for me!) In the shop, this dress looked almost purple under the harsh lighting, so imagine my delight when I discovered in natural day light it was actually an even more attractive shade of bright blue!
I like the contrast between the vibrancy of the colour, and the quite demure shape of the dress. I always enjoy finding pieces with 'juxtapositions' in their design.

Here I styled it with a belt that was my paternal grandma's in the seventies, my favourite white shoes from New Look (they do surprisingly decent, and cheap, high heels) and a Laura Ashley hat from a charity shop. I bought it at the same time as the straw boater (featured in the bluebell wood - Lady sing the blues so well.) I have a feeling this too may have originally been a child's hat. I love the blue ribbon! Wearing it makes me feel as though I should belong in 'The Railway Children' or 'Mary Poppins'...
The brown box bag usually holds my vintage Kodak box camera (found at a flea market) and the bracelet was given to me by a friend.

My dad has been chief photographer again (after a brief interlude of my mum using the 'auto' setting) and this was a great sequence of photos. I'd been taking photos of my parents for a project, which involved recreating a Tim Walker-esque office on the side of a hill, complete with table, chairs, flowers and sheep! You'll get to see some follow up photos taken of me in the same set, resplendent in my 'photographer's outfit', sometime soon.
In the same field we found this amazing section of a tree trunk - the sheer scale of it was magnificent and perfect as a backdrop.

One of my summer resolutions is to really learn to make clothes properly. This quest shall be aided by the use of vintage patterns, retro fabric and probably copious amounts of chocolate. I can already use a sewing machine, but I am anxious to get to the stage where my sketches can be turned into real pieces. Any tips would be most welcome!

Oh, and a lovely little bit of news. Today I was featured as Girl of the Day on Teenvogue's Snapshot blog in my wool cape ensemble! This is fantastic, as I love Teenvogue and the standard of their beautiful editorials. You know that feeling when you look at certain outfits and think "I wish I'd styled that/ modelled that/ taken photos of that!" I only wish there was a British equivalent..

Monday, 14 June 2010

Is what you wear as important as how you wear it? (Next blogger competition)

Is what you wear as important as how you wear it? I would certainly say it matters a great deal. Anyone with the money could buy an Alexander McQueen dress, but would they all have worn it with the same panache as the late Isabella Blow?
Take what I'm wearing above, could this skirt look more like it came from my great-grandma's current wardrobe? Granny without the chic - it was part of a twin set I bought in a charity shop, thinking it had potential. But boy did this one throw up a challenge! The elasticated waist is much too big, and on the coat hanger it seems to epitomise 'saggy'. However, hitched up with a vintage girl guides' belt and layered over a lace top, it began to take on a new look. But back to the question in hand...

I think in relation to models, the question of how something is worn is an interesting discussion point. There are so many models out there (just look at any one agency to see how many young women they have on their books!) So what separates the 'super models' from the rest? Sometimes perhaps it's just luck - going to the right casting or being noticed by the right person. But the models I hold high in my estimation are the ones who bring something of their own to the clothes they are styled in...
Some models are sometimes referred to (in what seems to me a derogatory way) as 'clothes horses' or mannequins, but I'm sure no-one could describe Lily Cole, complete with her pre-raphaelite looks and her well-known intelligence in this way. Or Karlie Kloss with her elegant, balletic poses? Or Chanel Iman in her exuberant shoots? These are models who not only wear the clothes they are put in, but inhabit them and make them their own.
Now those three models are very well known, but it is not only the ones gracing the cover of Vogue who manage to really wear the clothes, rather than the clothes wearing them.
Take Frida for example, an up and coming model with Select -

Take another look at what she has got on. A simple yellow shirt dress... Try to imagine it on a hanger - would it look as desirable then? No matter what the label?

It is that quality of self assurance, of belonging in those clothes. After all, why else do designers have their favourite muses? These women (models or not) represent everything that inspires the designer, that helps them to create something extraordinary.
My favourite shoots in magazines or online are the ones where it seems as though the model and photographer worked in tandem. Maybe it looks as though the model really enjoyed herself, or perhaps the clothes/ photographer worked perfectly for her. That moment when everything clicks into place: style eureka!

But of course, on the subject of the way clothes are worn, there are so many inspiring people out there and having percieved 'model looks' does not necessarily equate with being a style icon. Think of Coco Chanel, or Elsa Schiaparelli - people who shaped the history of fashion. Or maybe someone as modern as Christina Hendricks (of mad men fame.) Surely she was made to live in a sixties wardrobe? And she sure is dressed perfectly for her shape.

Or Alexa Chung - perhaps the woman responsible for single handedly making 'granny chic' desirable. If you were to describe, on paper, the things she wore, it wouldn't sound impressive would it?
-Double denim?
-Brogues with bare legs?
-'Geeky' glasses?
And yet when you see her, you understand what all the hype is about. Here's someone who really embodies the spirit of 'It's not what you wear, but how you wear it.'

Looking back to other eras, one might cite the success of Twiggy. Who would have thought a girl of schoolboy proportions and a bob would become one of the most successful models of her generation? Of course her looks played a large part in that fame, but gawky innocence in shoots and the simplicity of her style not only made her stand out but brought something completely fresh to the clothes themselves.

As a part time model and 'self stylist' myself, I practically live by the mantra of  the 'way you wear it' - why else would the majority of my shopping take place in charity shops and vintage markets? I positively revel in finding unassuming pieces I know I can create something wonderful with. The pleated skirt at the top is one such example, and here is another...

This Next silk dress is several sizes too big for me, but with the magic of a vintage belt it is suddenly transformed from shapeless to perfectly draped. Then a trilby, some white brogues, several watches and the look is complete. I jokingly called it my 'I'm with the band' outfit.

So maybe this is a small (scrap that, long!) sequence of musings about the fact that it isn't money or an 'on trend' item that creates style - only you can do that.

- I was recently asked to enter the Next blogger competition, in conjunction with their Model search. This post forms my entry.

If you enjoyed it then I'd appreciate it if you 'liked' it...
Sorry for not putting it up at the same time as the post - technical issues!

Friday, 11 June 2010

The little mermaid - dreaming of seaweed

Continuing the green theme of the last few posts, here is another fairy tale inspired outfit! I bought this 'two piece' at a vintage fair a couple of months ago and it immediately reminded me of sea weed, and in turn, 'The little mermaid.' (The original Hans Christian Anderson version of course! I have to admit I was put off the Disney version after having to endlessly rehearse a song from it for a singing exam.) So where else to take photos but on a beach?

This two part 'dress' was the first item I saw when I walked into an amazing local vintage fair. On the hanger it looked incredibly jewel-like and the texture really stood out. In fact, it almost resembled a pea green yeti on a coat hanger! I promptly tried it on (the zip is a nightmare with all that fringing) and decided it had to be mine. I do spend quite a large proportion of my meagre budget on vintage clothes, but items like this will always have a longevity and stay timeless.

The fact that it is a two piece means it is all the more versatile. The top half looks great with a tied belt, skinny jeans and brogues, and I'm already thinking about the fun experimentations I could have with the long skirt on its own...

For this mermaid ensemble I added some suitably aquatic jewelry. The fish skeleton necklace was found in a charity shop, and the crystal necklace was my great-grandma's.
I suppose I imagined it as an outfit the little mermaid might have created when she found herself on the beach, suddenly a human. Taking seaweed to fashion a long dress, and some... erm.. crystals she had found lying around and a fish skeleton to fashion into accessories fit for mer-royalty.
No shoes here - well, the little mermaid wouldn't have been able to walk in heels, especially on sand!

For these photos my mum and I had to get up at six-thirty to capture the early morning sun and an abandoned beach. (They were taken on holiday.) Mum wielded the camera as dad refused to get up that early on holiday! It was magical though - a stunning day, completely clear and it was already warming up by the time we went back for breakfast. 

The location was completely perfect, the real life sea weed complimenting the outfit. I love the dramatic structure of the posts covered in a layer of green, like they have got dressed up too. 

Thank you all for your wonderful comments on my photography - my mum was incredibly flattered!

Monday, 7 June 2010

The Green Woman

My parents take a lot of pictures of me for my blog, so I thought it was time to turn the tables!
This is a little mini-shoot I did with my mum just before half term. The light was beautifully golden and the bluebell wood seemed positively luminescent!
Now it may be obvious that there was rather a strong Tim Walker influence in the way I wanted these images to look, as I had been poring over the amazing book I was given for my birthday, not half an hour before heading up to the woods! That's what Tim Walker's images do to me: I always feel so inspired and ready to pick up the camera after flicking through just a few pages of his work.

I was also very influenced here by old folk-lore and fairy tales. In particular, the Green man (or woman in this case!) A mysterious individual who is part of nature, often depicted with a face of leaves. I always find myths fairy tales a very useful source of inspiration. I love the almost paper-cut-out 'baddies' and 'goodies.' The stories of princesses sleeping for a hundred years, vivid descriptions of gnarled forests and a world which gave stepmothers a bad name... I have a lot to thank the Brothers Grimm for!
I grew up with all those stories and more, so I suppose these images also link in with the idea of nostalgia. Fairytales are a remnant from our childhoods, a state of unbounded imagination and the belief that if we looked in the right tree we might just find fairies!

So full of ideas I dressed my mum in a silk monsoon dress from a charity shop and jewellery from various family members. (The bracelets are just necklaces wound around her wrist.) The mirror usually sits on my windowsill. I used that one as I liked the way the shape almost evoked a spear - one part green woman, one part woodland warrior.

I really enjoyed taking photos of her, even if she wasn't always the most willing model! ("Don't come too close, my wrinkles will show!") If you look carefully, in the third photo it kind of looks like she is growing out of the ground, as her feet are submerged in the grass.

Often for my photography shoots now, I make a moodboard to give a sense of the idea in my head. Here is the one I made for this project-


As you can see, lots of green tones mixed with a slightly ethereal feel and childhood nostalgia,with a hint of Ophelia in there! Oooh, that sounds a bit like a recipe..

I made a lot of these moodboards over half term, so I thought I'd share two others with you-


This one was inspired by 'Old school' hollywood glamour, of film reels, black and white and classic dressing. Again, a link with the idea of nostalgia and inspired directly by my 'M.G.M starlets brunch.'


Ever since seeing 'Where the Wild things are' I have wanted to stage a photo project of the same name, full of tree climbing and running around in the sun! This is a small representation of some of the ideas I had linked to the film title, full of colour and surreal images. Just need to assemble a motley collection of costumes now.

All images in the mood boards have been taken from magazines or leaflets (I keep massive boxes of clippings, postcards and pages I have torn out to riffle through!)


Friday, 4 June 2010

Where sky meets leaf

What a wonderful half term holiday - full of sun, sea, good food and photography. Pretty much my idea of perfect!

This outfit was an interesting exercise in restraint - notice my lack of accessories. Now, as any long time readers of my blog might recognize this is pretty unusual for me. No hats, gloves, necklaces, rings, bracelets or bags? Rather a challenge in minimalism! Some people's comfort zone might be a favourite pair of jeans. Mine is a string or two of faux pearls or a vintage pendant!

However, with the vibrant colour of this jumper it just didn't really need embellishment. I bought it in a charity shop during winter, and have found it to be a great, versatile piece. It works nicely with either jeans, a crocheted shirt, loafers and silk scarf tied in my hair (my idea of 'dressing down') or as shown here, with a lace dress.
The lace dress underneath is (of course) also from a charity shop. I like the slightly scalloped edge at the bottom, and the dusky pink layer underneath. You might recognize it from my last post with the gorgeous Zoe (Forgotten dressing up box). It just happens to work rather well under cosy jumpers!
I cinched it with a thrifted Tommy Hilfiger belt - notice the visible stitching detail around the edge. (Well, there had to be a little detail somewhere!) The wedges were also from my favourite little boutique.. Can you guess where? Another charity shop! (Well I never..)
 Altogether, this outfit probably cost about £12.

My mum took these photos in a gorgeous wood while we were on holiday with friends. We found a lovely old gnarled tree which provided great framing for the majority of shots!
While they were busy wild swimming in a river and being attacked by midges, we loitered among the trees. However, I managed lots of dips in the bracing welsh sea. Nothing like plunging into a mountain waterfall or crashing waves to give you an adrenaline rush!

Thank you for all your lovely comments and birthday wishes on my last post, they were much appreciated!

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