Thursday, 24 February 2011

Homage to Jaeger

This post has been brewing in my mind for a while, a little like a stylishly coloured soup (perhaps carrot and coriander with a hint of tumeric, based on the latest collection?) on a slow heat that is only now coming to the boil. I often write about my mini collection of vintage Jaeger and my love for this quintessentially British brand. Perhaps it seems strange that someone of my age delights in such a perceived 'grown up' label - but this is the key to why I find the vintage pieces quite so irresistable. Sometimes I will pick up an item in a charity shop, mainly because I am attracted to either the cut or design, and then I catch a glimpse of that eponymous label - it's like a little Jaeger-radar operating in my head. But I suppose after a while, there are just certain label traits that one notices and picks up on. I like British heritage brands (Burberry and Pringle of Scotland also come to mind) - for me they represent an evocative image of elegant older women, stately homes and faded black and white photos. Jaeger is now something like 126 years old, and the pieces still have as much longevity today as they did twenty or thirty years ago. I always get the sense with each new Jaeger London collection that they have the same classic aesthetic, and a long-lasting beauty.

It was almost inevitable that I would, at some point, do a whole post centered around my carefully collected pieces. However, it just took one event at London Fashion Week to nudge me in the right direction. And that was the Vodafone private  VIP viewing event of the current season SS2011 collection of Jaeger London.
It was the end of Sunday, and mum and I were planning to go back before a party in the evening, when the wonderful Jill rang up with something of an opportunity. In fact, it was more than 'something', it was an incredible chance to sit front row at an event. So, armed with my camera and a lot of excitement, it was off to the BFC showspace to see one of my favourite clothing brands up close! I will feature my shots from the show in a forthcoming post, but for now you can see the Jaeger London video here. Big thanks to the absolutely charming Amy at Vodafone for organising this.

When I got back from London, it was strange reverting to a soundtrack of chirping birds, as opposed to the faint thumps of beating catwalk music. However, I felt very inspired after my trip, and immediately pulled out all the Jaeger clothes I owned. One messy room and three styled outfits later, here we are.

For my first look, I put my first ever Jaeger item - a grey jumper now so loved it is developing holes, with my latest buy - a plum coloured Jaeger skirt from my favourite charity shop. The hat is also vintage Jaeger, with a Christian Dior brooch that belonged to my Great-Grandma. The tights were my mum's, the beaded collar was my great grandma's as were the gloves, and I bought the shoes with my Next voucher.

In the second outfit, the Jaeger items are the skirt (ebay) and top (charity shop). The knitted socks were a present, the vintage shoes are from ebay and the owl necklace is vintage.

The third is made up of a cotton Jaeger dress from a vintage speciality charity shop in Edinburgh (with the hem taken up and sleeves rolled up) layered over a silk Jaeger shirt and tights from ebay. The shoes are Next, the belt was my grandma's and I made the 'mummy's scissors' necklace.

The colours of the new AW2011 collection remind me of a Frida Kahlo pallette without the dark undertones - all those earthy oranges, yellows and browns. And being a girl who likes classic alongside quirky, the tailored jackets and plentiful pockets appeal very much to my rural roots and aesthetic. I could definitely imagine rambling through leaves in any of these gorgeous creations, although perhaps without the heels!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

A coterie of coats (London Fashion Week)

Via the Telegraph (Bridget Fleming)

On my last morning at Somerset House, the lovely Lucy of Snippets of Shiny Thoughts asked me to sum up London Fashion Week in a few words. Well, Lucy, here is your answer - LFW is exhilarating, theatrical and an experience akin to jumping into a plungepool of effervescent visual moments, styles and people.

Above are three photos taken from different sites, all of the outfit I wore on my first day (Saturday) at London Fashion Week. (Take a look at Style East for another fabulous version too). It's been an exciting few days, and now that I'm back home the fun continues with seeing shots of my outfits on websites and blogs that I respect and admire.
 The weather was frightfully foul peppered with energetic drizzling (is that an oxymoron?), but this didn't stop it being a wonderful day to be inducted into the whole process of LFW. From seeing my first ever show (Louise Amstrup, but more on that later) to meeting a whole host of wonderful bloggers and experiencing street style photographers who were in the majority unfailingly courteous and creative.

I got very used to repeating the description of what I was wearing, so here for the record, this outfit is made up of: a vintage leather coat from a market stall (Christmas present from my mum), a suede miniskirt (topshop) from ebay, men's Marks & Spencers brogues from a charity shop and a bag bought at a charity shop stall at the Big Chill festival. The polo neck is thrifted, the gloves are vintage  (grandma's) and the cross pendant belonged to my great grandma.

(Portrait taken by me - lovely to turn the camera on Jill for once!)

I'd like to send out special thanks to the ever-incredible Jill (pictured above).  LFW would have been a very different place and experience if it hadn't been for her - from advising with press passes, to a pivotal role in involving my mum and me in being invited to a private viewing of the current SS2011 Jaeger collection.

Along with the Jaeger experience (which deserves a post of its own - coming shortly), other highlights included attending the Mulberry after-party, courtesy of a really kind friend, plus briefly meeting Erin O'Connor the next day. She is truly the epitome of British charm and grace. In the flesh, her poise is just breathtaking. If there's anyone who knows Erin, please tell her that even in a fleeting encounter, her generous spirit is obvious! I also really enjoyed attending the Osman (thank you Tanya!), Louisa Amstrup, Masha Ma and Todd Lynn (thank you Nao!) shows. I'd like to write a better analysis of the clothes I saw once I have sorted out all my photos, but I can safely say that it looks like structural garments will be very popular come autumn. There was a real sense of quality with these garments, with obvious craftsmanship and attention to detail. 

Thanks Style East for the photo!

Finally, I really enjoyed meeting Style East (link above), Bip, Dvora, Lucy, Carrie, Frances, David, Daniela, and sadly although I didn't see Carly, she apparently saw me and my mum! Also, special thanks to the lovely Ling family for their unfailing kindness. Finally, to the young woman in the gold jacket after the Louise Amstrup show, who came up to say she really liked my blog - big thanks to you, as well as the others who took the time to say hello too.

If anyone comes across a street style shot of me somewhere on the web, I would really appreciate it if you could just leave me a comment to let me know! I am currently trying to collate the various images...

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Seventies stripes

I originally called my blog 'Clothes, Cameras and Coffee' merely on a whim when I started it in June 2009. However, little did I know then that my fledgling love of clothes and coffee would turn into a full blown obsession! Now I realise that the first two references in my blog title are regularly acknowledged, while the 'coffee' element is somewhat left out. However, this post should change the balance a little!

The inspiration behind this outfit was the idea of a lazy seventies morning - complete with breakfast and plenty of vinyl records. And of course it started with an outlandish dress that my mum bought a year ago from our favourite local market stall. On a hanger it looks like some hideous hybrid of beach towel and fire tinder (I was almost scared to brush my hair, lest a static spark set the incredibly flammable fabric alight!) However, when I put it on I felt much more elegant than anticipated.
As I have mentioned before, the seventies is not a decade I am naturally drawn to - I prefer the New Look of the fifties, or the youthful spirit of the sixties. However, I thought now would be a perfect time to showcase the dress, as the the next London Fashion Week (which I will be attending, if I actually manage to get into any shows!) is mere days away.
The percieved seventies trends that dominated the catwalks in September will now be available to purchase and wear. But the question is - is it already too late? The introduction of livestreaming shows, immediate dissection and discussion of the clothes on the internet, and in some cases the privilege of pre-ordering pieces the minute they hit the catwalk, means that the initial excitement can die away quickly. Much can change in the six months between the initial showing and the availability in shops. I posted my first seventies inspired outfit days after the spring/ summer trends had been established. Savvy bloggers will have probably already got the nylon out of their systems (And I have to say, as a bit of a fabric snob, I'm usually reluctant to let man made fibres over the threshold of my room), and are ready to interpret the next hand of cards flourished by the fashion world....

I really enjoyed the theatricality of this shoot. It was a fantastic excuse to pull out all the seventies crockery that my mum has found in various charity shops and on ebay! There is something about setting up a photographic scene that feels like putting together a theatre set - choosing the appropriate props.
And for matching accessories, I added some charity shopped faith wedges, a pair of chocolate brown tights and a necklace that belongs to my mum.

As a final point, I just wanted to thank AvaPilar who commented on my last post who suggested looking up some of Kate Bush's music videos. Having now done so, I feel the same way about her videos as I do about Tim Walker's photography - stunning in their variety and endlessly innovative ideas. For anyone who hasn't seen it, do look up 'Cloud Busting'.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Running up that hill

Although I didn't consciously plan two separate halves in my behind-the-camera shoot with Caitlin (see part one here), I realised once I was looking through the photos that the six outfits naturally fell into two categories. These three outfits seem to have a distinctly Wuthering Heights/ Kate Bush-esque feel, along with the original Helena Bonham Carter inspiration. In fact, at one point I asked Caitlin to pretend to be Cathy (lace skirts always make me want to wander over moors crying "Heathcliff!"), which resulted in an improvised monologue she recited whilst running around the field. However, I think for me, these photos just evoke recollections of Kate Bush's music.

While I was in hospital, recovering from surgery, I  listened endlessly to Kate Bush’s album ‘Hounds of Love’ - it allowed me to rise above the pain. Her lyrics, like a current, would dredge my heavy body up from the riverbed of pain and buoy me towards the surface. Music allowed me half hour ‘floats’ where the hurt was underneath me.
Whenever I hear that music it strengthens the memories by instantly pulling me back into that white room. (I was running up that hill, and dreaming of sheep...) Now the tracks are comforting - a mix of wanting to cry and smile. Somehow they remind me both of great wildness, but also of a safe cocoon of recovery time, with the autumn leaves falling past the windows of the hospital building.

The first outfit (and my personal favourite) is comprised of a vintage fifties velvet and taffeta dress (used to belong to my mum), a 'ruff' necklace I made out of some patterned tissue paper, and a child's Laura Ashley boater from a charity shop. The shoes are also thrifted, and the vintage leopard print gloves were given to me by my paternal grandma.

The second outfit is made up of an eighties monsoon raw silk dress with a vintage blazer (from a market stall) belted over it, cinched in with a second hand belt.

For the third ensemble, I put together a charity shopped lace skirt with a vintage silk jersey shirt that belonged to my great-grandma. The blue top underneath is Caitlin's (we had to improvise, as she nearly caught hypothermia in the wind!), the gold belt was given to me and the vintage necklace was a gift from my lovely grandma Babi - it used to belong to her.
The final shot was taken next to some ponies who appeared out of nowhere - Caitlin says she now wants to visit them regularly, bearing horsey gift snacks! Oh & Don't you think she has a very Carey Mulligan look about her in some of the shots? (Particularly the first).

Going back to the music idea, I find that songs can be incredibly evocative. I can almost categorise the last few years through the range of albums found on my iPod! Amy Macdonald reminds me of my first modelling trip, Beth Jeans Houghton (another fabulous eccentric to add to the list) brings back memories of recovering at home, and Massive Attack take me back to the Big Chill music festival. Do you have a particular song or artist that immediately transport you to a different place and time?

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Woollen comfort

What does the word comfort mean to you? For some, it is a cosy jumper on a rainy night. For others, it might be a person or place that makes them feel secure. For me, this dress and hat symbolise comfort in both those aspects.
Let's start with the hat. I found it recently when helping to sort out items in my great-grandma's house - I saw the soft yellow lurking in the back of a cupboard and was hooked. I've worn it lots in the past few weeks, and each time it garners comments. However, as well as being very comforting in the keeping-my-head warm way, it is also a comforting reminder of my great-grandma. Unfortunately, she now has dementia (it is such a cruel illness in the way that it changes behaviour), and I rarely see a glimpse of the person I remember from when I was little - the one who sang me songs, and gathered together all her copper pennies for me so I could exchange them at the bank. However, I feel like I have come to know another side of her through the  very few photos that remian (many were destroyed in a previous house flood), and the clothes and accessories that have come my way. I know that I often touch upon the theme of relatives living on through clothes, mostly in reference to deceased members of my family. However, I think it is also appropriate in this instance as the rational, creative part of my great-grandma has all but passed on now. (Although her strong will most certainly remains!) But I get a comforting idea of how she was when she was younger through her many fur collars, her Jaeger coats and cardigans, and of course her hats. I'm sure this particular one will accompany me to London Fashion Week when I travel down in a few weeks!

The cable knit dress is very comforting too, but purely in a warm and functional way. Last summer I helped out at my school's customising and clothes recycling day, for a younger year group. My friend and I were roped in for our technical know-how of sewing machines (although this mainly meant stitching seams for the students involved, some of whom seemed visibly daunted at the prospect of - shock horror - using cast off clothing!) However, I managed to have a riffle through the mound of t-shirts and tracksuit bottoms and unearthed a rather attractive oversized men's jumper. It was the end of the day, and I asked if I could take it home to alter - once it entered my room though, it joined the pile of 'to do' items under my bed. Three months later, during a big clear out, I decided to get rid of it. Luckily my mum, having more faith than me in its potential, rescued it. And voila! Two cut off and hemmed sleeves later, here is my new favourite jumper dress! It's perfect for these fluctuating temperatures (it was -9C again on the way to school a few days ago).

To add a purely non-practical element to the outfit, I decided to put it with some lace up heels I got for christmas last year. The belt is charity shopped, as is the green leather Anya Hindmarch bag and the faux pearls also belonged to my great-grandma. The jumper with rolled up sleeves underneath is my mum's. I found both the wonderfully kitsch brooch and gold charm bracelet (with some vintage charms from a market stall added on) in my local charity shop. They have a tiny jewellery basket that is usually filled with the detritus from Christmas crackers - however, I just got lucky on that particular day.

My mum took the photos during my marathon shoot session last Sunday, and althought the lighting conditions were quite harsh (not brilliant on the auto function), I think the air-iness lends itself to the mood.

So what represents comfort to you?
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