Saturday, 23 July 2011

Light and Dark

Weather is always unexpected. Seasons may attempt roughly to toe the line and reflect the time of year (it would be worrying if russet leaves fell from the trees in March). However, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, in their attempt to find some distinction or definition, are hampered by what the elements throw at them. Weather likes to wrong-foot us. Went out without an umbrella? Ha! The rain doesn’t care. Experiencing an unprecedented heat-wave? Oh, sorry.
However, sometimes it creates extraordinary scenes. In the instance of these photos (the next part of my Bertie’s styling series), it was the storm clouds creating the drama. Great banks of grey in the distance – hovering like piles of mascara-coated cotton wool - were offset by intense sunshine in the foreground; illuminating and sharpening colours.
Looking at the seemingly stage-lit scenery is like seeing a photo with multiple exposures – different weather systems layered over each other.

But isn’t that exactly like life? There’s only one planet earth, but it houses multiple ‘worlds’. London is a prime example – within the space of three streets, one can travel from extreme privilege to poverty. This sense of overlapping lives – and experiences – has been high in my mind recently.
While most of the UK news has been centred on the News of the World scandal (which I will say, I have been following doggedly), with links all the way up to the Prime Minister, other atrocities and tragedies have been occurring worldwide. First, the famine in the Horn of Africa. While the bright lights of the western world have been focused sharply on Fleet Street and the media, the rumbling thunder of empty stomachs has been presented mostly as a background image.
Reading reports on the sheer numbers involved – the children who suffer – the abject loss, is devastating. The immediate reaction, after horror, is one of absolute sympathy; of wanting to do something, anything, to help those most in need. Unicef? Medicins Sans Frontieres? Red Cross? Which one would be most effective? But then the Googling starts. The questions pile up.
When I make a donation, will it be guaranteed to reach those who most need it, rather than being appropriated by corrupt governments? What about global over-population? What other ways are there to address the crisis, rather than tossing money around? How to make an active contribution?
I don’t know enough about economics or politics to form rational answers to the queries above, and if anyone is better placed to give more informed suggestions, then I would be very grateful to hear them.

Clothes, Cameras and Coffee may be a style and photography blog, but I am perfectly aware that I am incredibly privileged in being able to indulge in hobbies and creative aspirations. I have the time to write; to hunt out second hand bargains; to while hours away reading; because I live in a country of comparative material prosperity. Things may be a little less certain than we would like, but we are not in any immediate danger of extremities such as starvation or war.

But then there are events that bring these layered, multiple exposures – snapshots of other people’s lives – closer to home. The Oslo and Utøya attacks are uppermost in my thoughts. The horror is so extreme that I can’t even begin to articulate a response right now. One of my best friends is currently on a different kind of summer camp here in the UK – comparisons are inevitable. The rise of the internet, and 24 hour news channels, means that we seem ‘battle-hardened’ to what we see happening. However, reading details of what has happened provoked similar feelings to hearing snatches about the Beslan school siege when I was much younger – queasiness, bewilderment (and sobering realisation) at the pain humans are capable of inflicting upon each other.
One does wonder though – with the prevalence of a greater world knowledge, and information only a click away – if we shouldn’t have a greater consciousness to match? In all honesty, in an affluent country, it is all too easy to switch off the computer, and retreat into a warm house; pretending that nothing exists beyond the blank screen. Often this might be simply self-preservation – it is impossible to sustain having our minds filled with tragedy 24/7. Nevertheless, one of the fundamental human qualities is compassion, and we need to keep feeling this in order to respond.

To return to the original analogy, the weather backdrop to these photos was one of extreme contrast. All these appalling events around the globe are disturbing. However, they don’t negate moments of wonder or joy either. Life is both incredible, and hard and full of hurt in equal measure – a ragged bag of grief and laughter. It’s dark and light.

The black lace twenties dress was borrowed from Bertie’s, to style. My favourite details are the pink and green hem, with scalloped edging. I styled it using a variety of accessories and garments – including a pink vintage silk skip, a pink silk shirt (with matching scarf), a vintage carpet bag, black men’s M&S brogues, second hand heels, thrifted belts, a charity shopped cardigan and family owned jewellery.

Edit: After further research and discussion, I have made a donation to the DEC appeal, which is an umbrella organisation for fourteen charities.


San said...

What happened in Norway is extremely shocking. Same goes for the famine, which is quite horrible, especially if we think in what luxury we live. It is important to help and I will donate to Medicine sans Frontieres.

Life is a gift, especially when you can live it in peace and don't have to worry for the next meal. I'm extremely grateful for my life.

Beautiful dress, nice styling. Have an enjoyable weekend nonetheless.

The Fancy Teacup said...

The dress from Bertie's is beautiful, especially the continuous layers. It's very thought provoking and sobering to see news focus on sensationalism, rather than tragedies or successes the affect the world as a whole.

♥, Jamie

Raez said...

Wow I definitely agree with your statement about life having its dark and light moments. The Oslo tragedies are shocking and unimaginable and my thoughts are with those who were affected, but once certainly cannot forget that there is still joy in the world somewhere :)

On a lighter note, I love how you style that single vintage dress! Goes to show how one can turn a statement piece into a basic.

xx Raez

Anonymous said...

You've touched on so many important and very relevant points here Roz and somehow have managed to bring them together into a way that makes it just a little easier to comprehend. It is true that each of these stories, if on their own, would evoke a huge public interest with the likes of newspapers, news channels, radio programmes and sites such as Twitter constantly bringing in new sources of information to the world. However, as we are currently immersed into the NOTW scandals it seems that people are finding it difficult to think further afield to the famine in Africa and then more recently the awful news of the attacks in Oslo.

The way you've put it about appreciating that simply by living in a country that is pretty stable compared to some areas of the world you can enjoy having hobbies and not have to worry about whether by going to school you will be taken hostage or that the state of the weather and so your crops denotes whether or not you will starve. I too remember watching the Beslan school siege in 2004 - even then I couldn't understand why these schoolchildren should suffer - they were simply the pawns in someone else's horrific chess game.

It makes me appreciate what I have so much more and tedious household tasks and revision don't seem as awful as first thought when you think of how other people around the world are suffering. It's scary though - no one was exactly expecting there to be a bomb dropped in Norway were they? I think we all need to hope that the global community can be unified in putting a stop to these kind of terrible events.

Can I also say Roz how much I admire you for voicing what the rest of us were thinking - but instead of not mentioning anything else happening in the world and writing a style post you've made people think.

On a happier note I loved your Oxfam post - here's to many more of them! Sorry for the length of the comment but I just had to voice what I was thinking.

Alexandra xx

amateur idler said...

You're so right. "A ragged bag of grief and laughter" expresses it perfectly. I'm going to remember that phrase.

Jessica said...

You always have great posts, I enjoy looking at your style, I completely agree about the weather :)

Please take a minute to look at my vintage boutique;

Retro Threadz Vintage said...

Wonderful post. I love the layered dress & the bag is the best


AvaPilar said...

With all the horrors we see in the world its hard to believe that humans capable of inflicting such pain on one another. We tend to live in a bubble until something shocking shakes us up and then reflecting on our worlds present circumstance is so painful. But i suppose for some, being oblivious to the corruption and poverty that plague this world is the only way to keep them from believing its real. But you are right, life has it dark and light moments.

A bit contradictory for me to switch from such a rant to fashion, but i feel this comment needs some light. That dress is stunning! The cardigan reminds me of the coat Patrick Mcgoohan wears in the 60s television show the Prisoner. If you haven't watched it, i would highly recommend it!


damn! Roz your writting is so powerful.

PeanutButterHound said...

Thanks for discussing the famine- it breaks my heart and I feel like no one else seems to know/care about it.

I too feel torn about who to donate to. Red Cross claims that no more than 10% of your donation goes to administration. While when you look at the footage on TV- you see the emergency structures have the Unicef logo on them so they are clearly getting in there and helping.

Take care xo

Rebeccak said...

The attacks in Norway are completely shocking. Terror attacks like that really hit hard, since it could easily have happened anywhere - it could have been us.

This dress is amazing.

Natalie Suarez said...

that dress is so stunning! loves it! :)


Ruta, Look Ugly in a Photograph said...

This is an amazing dress. Definitely something that I would want in my wardrobe! I like that you paired it in different ways. Beautiful combinations.

Tere said...

you have an amazing style! is the first time i visit your blog and i really love it!

have a great day!


Penny Dreadful said...

It has been an awful week or so hasn;t it. It seems the Red Cross are doing their best to get supplies into Somalia, but it is incredibly difficult. All we can do is give what we can and let the experts do their best x

Comtesse de ferveur said...

I feel the same sense of disjointed confusion with the world and it's not helped by the soullessness and reckless speed of internet news nowadays.
Your pictures and styling are joyous xxx

Polka Princess said...

Aah...that's such an interesting dress! My eyes seem to be darting from panel to panel, detail to detail enraptured by the mystery of the sheer layers....sigh!

Vanessa, Take only Memories said...

That dress is so pretty! I love the pink and green at the bottom. What a subtle touch!

Vix said...

It seems very frivolous to comment on your beauty, elegance and damned fine dress sense after such an eloquent and powerful piece of writing.
The world seems beset by the most appaling tragedy of late, my absolute idol Amy Winehouse being the latest heartbreaking piece of news.
We have to do what we feel is right, giving to charity, however small the donation must help in some way, it's better than doing nothing. x

Lady-Pa said...

the dress looks fab on you

check out my blog


isa telaraña said...

You have a big heart. And your blog is special because you show us how to be fashionable without throwing money...
Thank you!

Caitlin Rose said...

it's very interesting because I went through such an array of emotions while reading this post. Firstly, it's funny that you mention seasons being unpredictable, because I think that is a very english way of looking at things. Here in Canada I assure you there is no blurring between summer and winter, spring and fall, they are very distinct, and one would never get them mixed up : )

however, your analogy is quite beautiful, and I think your right, there are so many truly wondering and terrible things in this world and it's so difficult to negotiate them all in your mind. and I have no answer to this, it's simply an observation.

Your dress looks lovely and lovely on you. and thank you for your kind comment on my little video, if I do look nice in it its because of that filter on the i phone, it makes sweat look like a warm glow ; )


Caitlin Rose

SabinePsynopsis said...

The bad news just seem to come in heaps... the Africa crisis, Murdoch gate, now poor Amy and the terrible incident in Norway. I know it might feel superficial to blog about clothes, but it's also good for the heart to see beautiful pictures and you in this wonderful dress. xoxo

The Foolish Aesthete said...

The tragedy in Norway is indeed sobering. Unfairly, we seem to "accept" awful things happening further afield (say, in Africa) and are only given a jolt when things occur directly affecting our comfortable lives. My heart goes out to Norway (I had several friends from university from there). And it goes out to other countries suffering terrible life-death concerns.

On a side note, the blog world appreciates how you can continue to share beauty through your photos and your prose! I love the special lighting storm clouds bring, and your dress looks like a black lace trellis emerging from a green and pink field.

Ellie Jane said...

Roz, every time I read your blog I am forever stunned my your insightful posts. Although, off-subject I would just like to thank you for writing them as there is sometimes such a negative image of bloggers and I feel that you so completely contradict this. I am the same age as you and I wish I was only half as eloquent!

Stephanie Hoff Clayton said...

Roz, I admire your statement: "...I am perfectly aware that I am incredibly privileged in being able to indulge in hobbies and creative aspirations."
Stay aware and you will do great things. :)
I also admire that interesting lace dress, especially when worn with brogues. As always, your style choices are very refreshing.
Happy week!
Style Odyssey xo

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys said...

A wonderfully written and eloquent post, and very topical given that the world feels as though it's on the brink of collapse this year (as it has felt many times before, I'm sure).

One thing you brought up in relation to the famine--overpopulation. In a course I took earlier this year on climate change, it was pointed out that some extremely over-populated cities and countries contribute practically nothing to global emissions. It's overconsumption in the Western world that causes the problems, and not the number or people overall. While that's a different issue from famine and overpopulation, I think it's worth bearing in mind. There is enough food in the world to feed the entire population many times over. It's inequality, poverty, corruption, free trade pressures and the consumption habits of the wealthy that cause the problems. But there's no need for the poor to die to decrease the population. I know that's not what you meant, but I remember thinking about these same things myself a few years ago.

Kate said...

Its really insightful of you to say all this about realising how privaliged we are and I love how intelligently you write about the troublesome things going on in the world, while at the same time looking incredibly stylish in a beautiful dress! great post!

Mónica C. Welton said...



Closet Fashionista said...

LOVE these photos, all the looks are so amazing!

And your posts always make me feel like my posts are so stupid, you write so well and bring up such interesting topics!

the nyanzi report said...

superb post. great writing and great fashion.

Fabrizia said...

Hi! I like this post so much, you look really great!
If you want come and visit my blog, and if you like, follow me!I'll be waiting for you!

Lydia said...

I love this and the different ways you wore it! In the first pic I almost thought it was leopard print. Thanks for your birthday wishes!

Fashionistable said...

As always a wonderfully written and thoughtful post Roz. There are a lot of jaw dropping events happening around us right now. I gave to the DEC too but also Unicef as they are not on the DEC list.
To the dress and the beautiful photography. The dress looks so different when belted it is amazing. Xxxx

The fashion moodboard said...

Really lovely outfit and you look absolutely stunning in those pictures!


the Citizen Rosebud said...

I'm going to just comment on the dress- but I love the extra thought you always add to your posts: Berties must be amazing to shop, as that dress is a wonder and you look wonderful in it! xo. -Bella Q

Sigrid said...

my favorite combination out of these is that beautiful collared pink shirt under the dress with the amazing mary poppins-esq carpet bag!!!
tres magnifique!


Love Sigrid

YOANNE B said...

love this dress.

AAREN1975c said...

Dresses so cute, love them alot.

Tim Robinson said...

I really like the 1st monochromatic portrait. The action poses are interesting as well.

hannah, heart city said...

lovely look!

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