Friday, 26 August 2011

Between the Woods and the Water

I travelled home from London the evening before last on a heavily crowded train. My exhaustion only allowed for slumping in the seat while watching trees and towns swoosh past. The many crop fields that sped by (already shorn and given buzz-cuts) confirmed that autumn has definitely jumped ship and arrived early. As for summer, it slouched off with its hands in its pockets to play truant ages ago; hasn’t been seen since.

Yellow leaves are even now scattered across the city pavements of Portobello and Primrose Hill, whilst back home the smoke from garden fires permeates the valley outside my window. Our house also smelt of burning yesterday, but that was because our new internet modem started smoking ominously when we first plugged it in. That makes it sound like a rebellious teenager. It wasn’t - but it was just as irritating.
Although I love this season – full of spiced colours, misted endings and new beginnings – there is one thing I will be particularly sad to say goodbye to: reading books outside. I have a feeling that by September the only alfresco page turning will happen while swaddled in a cable knit jumper or welsh wool blanket.

A book is a book whether it falls open in Mumbai, Japan or the Cotswolds. Wherever it is read, the pages will spin webs of worlds to get snagged in. However summer (in Britain at least) is roughly the only time of year when one can pack a drink and a copy of Wildwood by Roger Deakin, and then relax to experience his words as I am sure they were meant to be heard; accompanied by the sound of birdsong and breeze. This is completely different to hunkering down with a cup of hot chocolate by the fire on a December evening.
The act of being transported to another location – be it Deakin’s bluebell wood or Patrick Leigh Fermor’s Germany – is the same regardless of weather or season. What changes is how the surroundings affect what is being read.

Take Laurie Lee’s ‘A Rose for Winter’. The first time I heard his beautifully crafted memoir it was while recovering from surgery in hospital. The soothing sound of my mum reading aloud the details of places and characters was the only thing that could lull me to sleep. I hardly remembered the events, as they were all half-heard, but I did feel moved nonetheless. Maybe my groggy state helped to make post-Civil War Spain all the more vivid. I could almost feel myself seeing the same views Lee must have enjoyed.
I re-visited the book during the summer months, and gobbled it up in about two sittings. If I remember rightly I picked it up after my exams had finished and grabbed a few hours of sunshine. Often I read while listening to my ipod, but this isn’t always the case. Outdoors it is better to be absorbed completely.

Travel writing – especially the trinity of Laurie Lee, Patrick Leigh Fermor and Roger Deakin – is a very distinct genre. These books are not plot-driven, but chug along at a sedate pace, propelled by the power of description alone. They can be dipped in and out of. They are not furious reads, but languorous. Just the kind of book I pick up at midnight if I can’t sleep (I have tried and failed to see if I could spend an entire night reading, but I always get too tired).
The mark these books leave is a desire to visit the places depicted. That’s fine if the novel in front of you is ‘Waterlog’, as one could pay homage to the rivers and lakes that Deakin swum in. Not so easy if one is reading ‘As I walked out one midsummer morning’ . The parts of Spain portrayed by Lee’s pen have crumbled away now. Our constant evolution as a human race is reflected in the landscape around us. We tear down buildings and construct new ones. Forests are cut down and replanted. Cars, computers and electricity have completely changed the way we live. My great-grandma was born in 1917. How different was her childhood? Books, like photos and films, act as preservatives. The images are pickled, dried or suspended in formaldehyde.
This was especially clear to me when I visited Spain for the first time this summer. I can’t remember if Lee ever travelled as far as Galicia, but although there were elements I recognized (terracotta roofs, yellow buildings, large rocky outcrops in the sea), this country is of course as much a part of the twenty-first century as the rest of Europe.
Thank goodness we do have books to give us a rich history of these countries. Not static museum exhibits, but tales with a beating pulse that remind us why it is as important to remember the past as to look towards the future.

Conversely, Berties Vintage – described in detail in my previous post here - is a modern shop decorated to resemble another decade. Like a good travel book, trying on dresses behind two gold, draped curtains immediately lifts an otherwise mundane day. To step into the shop, which is scented with the kind of perfume one imagines ‘ladies’ dabbing behind the ears with glass stoppers, is to dive headlong into another time. Who needs a Tardis?

The original twenties dress was kindly lent from Berties Vintage, and is accessorized with a second hand hat and a sash from the dressing up box. The high heeled sandals were from ebay (they’re Office) and the silk shirt was found in my local charity shop. The bag was from the Big Chill St Michaels charity stall.

Finally, thank you to everyone who sent me comments, emails and twitter messages to let me know that they had seen an image of me in the September issue of UK Vogue, on page 204. This was a very wonderful shock. I had no idea the photo would appear, as it was evidently snapped by a street style photographer while at London Fashion Week in February. I am uncredited. Here is the photo:

I don't who the photographer was, but thanks to them. I recently showed the image to the woman whose antique stall the vintage coat came from. She was thrilled as she can now claim that her clothes have been "seen in Vogue!" She and I agreed it was wonderful to see her vintage stall coat alongside the great and good designs.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Bad taste is the new black

At the end of my bed there is a whole shelf dedicated to scrapbooks – finished articles that I flick through for inspiration, boxes holding postcards and tattered family photos, containers bursting with images ripped from magazines. Every so often, my floor is deluged with Harper’s Bazaar images of models (I tear them up, but the Vogues stay intact) and portraits of famous writers that I rescued from paper recycling. Then, preferably while watching Green Wing/ Father Ted/ The Fast Show/ Black Books/ Spaced (depending what comedy mood I’m in), I proceed to fill up cheap scrap books from the pound shop.
I’m not sure what is so satisfying about this process – possibly it’s just that I love pictures and patterns. Being satisfied with a page in a scrapbook is like creating a really good outfit that juxtaposes unwitting elements together.

Recently I was looking through the first scrapbook I made several years ago. Inside, there are two snapshots of my parents. The first is my mum and a friend. My mum, her red curly hair reaching afro-like proportions, is dressed in a brown crocheted cardigan, with a petrol blue polo-neck and yellow joke sunglasses that make her look like a cartoon caricature. Her friend is similarly clad, with a tartan floppy fisherman’s hat, ‘bottle-top’ glasses, a pink jumper with an oversized collar peeping out, a floral waistcoat and countless strings of cheap beads around his (or her – I’m not quite sure) neck.
The photo was taken at my mum’s 21st birthday in 1986. The theme had been ‘bad taste’, and almost everyone had turned up in something vaguely seventies inspired, with a heavy emphasis on granny chic. That’s what was considered ugly when she was younger – a decade that has recently enjoyed a renaissance on the catwalk.
Looking back on this image, I was reminded of a famous Oscar Wilde quote:
“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months”.
I think I mentioned it on this blog a long time ago, but the words still ring satirically true. Obviously I don’t consider fashion to be ugly (you need Tanya Gold if you want that opinion), but nevertheless it’s obvious that the whole fashion industry is built on the changing of trends twice a year, so that new goods are constantly desirable. This sometimes means there are certain items that would be considered hopelessly out of date right now (aviator jackets, anyone?), while others that were recently dismissed are suddenly ‘en vogue’ once more.

So is the idea of bad taste constantly evolving, or are there certain items that can be considered strange no matter the year or season? I’m sure that this blue hooded dress (worn over a second hand dress) was once considered the epitome of chic during the synthetic seventies. Now, when I look at it, I don’t immediately think “My god, that’s a timeless staple that I can wear every day!” but I do feel I can appreciate the rather strange beauty. Admittedly, I did feel like an extra from Star Trek on an empty beach at seven in the morning while my mum took photos. However, if it wasn’t made of fabric so flammable I felt glad to be next to a large expanse of water, then I could have equally been a ‘lady of the lake’. The style, from the floor sweeping length to the dramatic sleeves, seemed highly influenced by medieval dress. Anything pre-twentieth century doesn’t seem ‘bad taste’ per se, but just un-wearable now. When was the last time you saw someone in full Elizabethan regalia, other than at a period castle or costume party?
They say that beauty is in the eye of beholder, but maybe bad taste is too? One girl's dream dress could be another’s worst nightmare. For example, I don’t go out in skin hugging body-con, neon and trainers, as that is my idea of bad taste. But for another person, they might see my choices of crocheted cardigans and jumble sale buys as unfathomable.

Of course, here I am talking about bad taste in terms of popular opinion. Some choose bad taste (in everything from fashion to music taste) purposefully as a form of rebellion – think of the punks of the seventies, or even the hippies of the sixties. These were groups of people who chose to go against what was then considered the norm, so that they could consciously stand out. Where we might now see the original punks as subversive, I’m sure many at the time swept them aside as teens with too many piercings who listened to bands that resembled screaming and the clashing of dustbins.

My dad was a late punk – the archetypal middle class boy trying to lose his roots during the late seventies and early eighties. However, when he later met my mum they both went through a very second generation hippie phase. Both my parents tried on various personas for size before dropping them again.
The other photo in the scrapbook shows my dad standing on a street several weeks before he met my mum, a row of houses with net curtains, made for twitching, stretching out behind him. His hair is as long and curly as my mum’s (at their wedding they actually had ‘his and hers’ hairdos), and he is wearing what appears to be sofa fabric. Of course, if I ask him about it, he likes to tell the story about how his patch-worked two piece suit was tailor made to his measurements, and that it was a one of a kind classic. All I can see when I look at the image is soft furnishings - he wouldn’t look out of place surrounded by chintz table lamps and china figurines.
That suit still hangs upstairs in his wardrobe, joined in the gloom by a tie designed to look like a fish, and some scarily bright shirts. All relics of his younger self. He still loves the grey and blue squiggled fabric (I may be mistaken, but I think we might actually have a picnic blanket made of the same material), but although I can appreciate it from a safe distance, I will never see it as anything other than slightly odd.

Thank goodness we’re all different though. I’m so glad that we don’t all have the same style barometer installed in our heads, as life would be distinctly dull then. Maybe fashion feeds on judgement, and constantly re-defines the boundaries of ‘Bad Taste’, but style should be about celebrating the individual.
However, I refuse to celebrate jeggings – ever.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Bias-Cut Reflections

My good friend Flo has stopped by. We both have hectic schedules – she is working full time, and I am running around completing projects. We have already had a ramshackle picnic, put together from fridge pickings, and eaten in the shade of the hollow tree up the road. We have sunbathed and chatted, stretching out our legs in the light.
When we return home we abandon the basket and head upstairs so that she can raid my wardrobe – trying on a green fringed two-piece and then a raspberry, raw-silk pencil skirt. She settles on the latter and asks me to find something dramatic to wear, so she can take photos. I sort through the coat-hangers, suspended on a groaning rail that buckles like an inverted bridge, until I find a thirties evening gown. I pull it out, slipping its cool form over a dusky pink silk slip. I swing around to pick up a cream turban before snatching a thin silk sash.
All the while, certain words and phrases tumble: “Moonyeen” and “Ballet Russes” and “Thirties eccentricity”.

Moonyeen was the original owner of the dress; partner to the silver beauty featured here. I didn’t discover her story until that first acquisition was posted on my blog, and I had written a thank you letter to the kind woman who had provided the exciting bag of vintage offerings.
Soon after, I received an email that detailed who Moonyeen was. Alongside her incredible name, she was “a kind and lovely person” who “in her youth... looked a lot like Grace Kelly so was very elegant and beautiful”. My interest was more than piqued. I imagined a classic, movie-star-esque woman who had worn and loved those clothes before me. What parties and wardrobes had this dress, with chevrons of blue and pink, graced?
More anecdotes emerged. I was told: “She went to an exclusive dance school in London when she was young but went on to marry my father in law who was in the navy. He became a Rear Admiral and served on the Royal Yacht Britannia which is no more. He remembers Prince Charles as a small boy playing hide and seek on deck with Princess Ann. The nanny was nowhere to be seen and he noticed that Prince Charles was hiding in a dangerous place where he could fall overboard, so he gently went up to him and told him to find somewhere else to hide.”
As I have said many times, I love the fact that stories often accompany the garments I am lucky enough to be given. The idea of Moonyeen, with her exotic name and story, completely inspired my styling choices.

Alongside wanting to do its original owner justice, I was also struck by how much this dress reminded me of the Ballet Russes. The photo-session with my very talented friend Flo (who incidentally will be studying photography at University in September), happened several days after I bought a lavish book called “Ballet Russes: The Art of the Costume”.
It was a bit of an impulse buy, and a greedy one at that. I already own the volume that was published alongside the V&A exhibition, but couldn’t resist the vivid pictures and details of designs by everyone from Leon Bakst to Sonia Delauney in this edition (produced by the National Gallery of Australia). As you may have guessed, books are my second biggest weakness after clothes.
The style and cut of the dress reminded me of the bold slashes of colour and intricate patterns that make the Ballet Russes costumes so recognisable and memorable. The dress doesn’t quite have stylised clouds or grand tassels adorning its edges, but it seems to display the same influences, down to the pattern of gold curlicues covering the fabric like veins.
It also epitomises the use of prints and patterns during the 1930s, as machinery advances led to commercial production of garments that included:

“Designs printed on silk, rayon and crinkle crepe”
• “Bold lines and patterns of the prevailing Art Deco style”
• “Contrasting colours and bright shades to emphasize print”
• “Influences from Cubism and artists such as Picasso and Man Ray”

(Quotes from ‘Vintage Fashion: collecting and wearing designer classics’ by Carlton books.)

Although the Ballet Russes’ grand reign is thought of as ending in 1929 – the year of Diaghilev’s death – it still had various renaissances during the thirties, when this dress would have been created.
One of the problems that plagued Diaghilev’s grand company was finances. Many of his costumes (alongside “stage sets... designs and musical scores” according to the book) were sold off in 1930 to cover debts. Although they were bought by a composer, with the intention of reviving the Ballet Russes, the effects of the Wall Street Crash put a stop to these fanciful thoughts (and led to a large re-sale in 1934).
I was fortunate to cover the American Economic Crash for my history GCSE (the hardest of all my exams, but also one of the most rewarding), which seems extraordinarily prescient in light of the current recession – which I understand is not going to improve any time soon. The effects of these difficult times were immediately apparent yesterday, when we went to our nearest large town (by nearest, I mean 40 minutes) and were confronted with one empty shop after another. Many windows were almost naked, their dressings having been removed and sold off at 70% discount.

Ironically, we now remember the 1930s as the decade of Hollywood Glamour – a time of bias cut dresses, silk jersey and Vionnet drapery. While thousands camped out in ‘Hoovervilles’, accompanied by the rhythm of the weary footfall of desperate jobseekers, film stars such as Marlene Dietrich and Joan Crawford enjoyed unprecedented popularity. The two extremes are not without links. The chic elegance of the ‘Stars of the Silver Screen’ provided much needed escapism for those caught up in the depression – cinema numbers were at an all-time high.

The same could be said of 2011. As a nation, we still lose ourselves in movies, TV Programmes and magazines that promote aspirational lifestyles. A dwindling number immerse themselves in the worlds and characters described in books and poetry. Many like to turn on a CD or iPod and tune off from the world.
However, although I enjoy life’s pleasures as much as the next person, capitalism and the emphasis on ‘needing stuff’ is not the be all and end all. It has, in part, led to these economic problems, alongside bankers gambling so that they might get an even more gargantuan bonus. Nevertheless, as many people have observed: while those who joined the rioting and were caught will now rightly face the consequences of their actions, the bankers have continued to act with impunity and moral disregard.

Finally, you may have noticed that my blog has had a re-design, courtesy of the very wonderful Olivia from Robin Blogs. If you fancy a new look, then she is definitely the person to contact. She is such a pleasure to work with, and brings ideas to life like a magician! I'm so pleased with the result. Huge thanks Olivia.
The ‘backbone’ brooch in the new header was made by my close family friend and honorary cousin Esme, who I have known since she was born! She is now a very talented silversmith (and cook), and created this extraordinary piece for me to express my response to both scoliosis and strength. You can see more of her designs here, and I will be featuring the brooch in a post of its own.

Monday, 8 August 2011


I tried to start writing this post about three hours ago. What happened to those 180 minutes I could have spent typing? Well, twitter and rolling news had a large part to play in it. As did obsessive email checking, and scrolling through BBC coverage.

Why the interest in the London disorder? But more importantly, why the need to find out what is constantly going on? The nearest I was to any rioting was watching my brother and a friend earlier use water-pistols to spray my windows as they laughed hysterically.
It’s awful – I know it’s awful. These riots will result in lost homes, lost livelihoods and potentially even lost lives. The looting and violence is shocking. I spend quite a bit of time in London, so although I do not call it ‘home’, I do feel for the capital and its inhabitants. No-one deserves to be subjected to the scenes we have seen on various websites – of buildings burning and crumbling, of masked gangs roaming streets like zombies, of ransacked shop fronts. It’s a Monday for heaven’s sake!

However, I didn’t really know much about what was happening until I turned on my computer this morning. I have a new policy of trying to cut down on internet consumption (a web-diet perhaps?), and spent the weekend enjoying the freedom of spending hours reading and scribbling ideas in my notebook. I went for a long walk, had endless family discussions, and finished sorting out my room.
And do you know what? I felt better for it. Not knowing what dreadful things were happening in the world, just for two days, helped me to clear my head.

So, as one can imagine, I had quite a lot of catching up to do in regard to the situation in London – which is still unfolding as I type - a strange thought. As these words make the journey from my head to the document in front of me, people are being affected. Firemen and paramedics are facing risk as my fingers move across the keyboard.
It’s not that I don’t want to know what’s happening – I do, and I think that is important for everyone to educate themselves about current affairs. But there’s current, and then there’s current. Twitter, like many other forms of social media, provides a constant stream of instant updates. Want to know what is happening in Hackney, right now, this very second? There are pictures, comments, hashtags and even blogs devoted to the events unfolding step by step.
Sometimes this is good, as it leads to instant (and very often important) knowledge, awareness and positive action. However, I do also sometimes wonder if Henry Miller was on to something when he wrote in ‘The Colossus of Maroussi’:
“To be silent the whole day long, see no newspaper, hear no radio, listen to no gossip.... to be thoroughly and completely indifferent to the fate of the world is the finest medicine a man can give himself”.

Along with the need to read and spread information (eg, advising people about where unsafe areas are), there is also an addictive quality to constant updates. It’s the same as seeing the ‘Inbox (1)’ message, or finding a Facebook notification or a blog comment to moderate. The internet seems to have sped us up to the point where we always crave the new, the next, the immediate.
I know that many may disagree – I realised that when I started trying to articulate these feelings. But my question is, is instantaneous news always healthy? Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes it feels a bit voyeuristic, like seeing news footage of waves engulfing the coast of Japan as it happened.
The news focuses on bad events like a child with a magnifying glass – sharpening every detail, and sometimes sizzling the subject of its scrutiny.
It’s true that we deserve to know what goes on in this world, especially if it affects us directly. But do you know what else is good? Letting go for five minutes, so that one can appreciate sitting outside on a windy day with a cup of tea, or reading a beautiful sentence in a book. Knowing that there are still good people in the world, despite the reports of criminals treating London’s shops as one large trolley dash.
I guess that is possibly why we find the past so comforting. We already know what happened, and that there is no way the events of previous years will change. They are constant - something we can analyse and dissect, safe in the knowledge that we cannot be harmed by history’s villains.

Which brings me on to the inevitable part of the post – the clothes. These photos were taken a few months ago; a now comfortable past. I remember the sense of solidity while sitting on the stone wall, years of work beneath me. Then there was the reassuring familiarity of the various locations that change daily according to light or season. But these are the changes that are anticipated – even expected. They don’t cause anxiety or worry.
I am wearing a second hand blue woollen blazer and patterned shorts, with Topshop shoes (and wellies) and Next tights. The ‘Mummy’s Scissor’ necklace is homemade, and the belt was my grandma’s.

Finally, to all those affected by the horrific London riots – those who have lost their business premises, valuable work or homes, those who have been subjected to violence – all I can say is that my thoughts and wishes are with you on this dark and deeply chaotic night.

Edit: In light of overnight coverage, my article seems already quite obselete. Is that how fast news is moving now? The havoc wreaked through this beautiful city - from Chalk Farm to Croydon - is beyond belief. In the end, I couldn't look away from coverage. It ended up being personal. I know some of those streets, I know people living in various affected areas.
Having tried to switch off from the terrible news, and finding this impossible, I started reflecting on the role of the media. All websites and feeds were linked directly to the rioting - useful for information, not so good for spreading inspiration. 'Copycat' events taking place in Bristol, Birmingham and other cities couldn't have happened as quickly in the past, as the pictures and coverage of mayhem wouldn't have been so immediately accessible. And that's before we even start looking at Blackberry Messenger. However, social media such as twitter has also been instrumental in the extraordinary riot clean ups taking place this morning; an inspirational group effort. Media - a double edged sword.
Finally, I was saddened to realise that many of those creating the lawlessness were of my generation - teenagers.  
For a very eloquent and thought-provoking response, by Camila Batmanghelidjh (who I admire very much), see here -

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The name of the rose

My first name, Rosalind, is derived from Latin, meaning ‘Fair and beautiful rose’. Rosalind is also a character in Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’, and has been played by actors such as Helena Bonham Carter, Juliet Stevenson and Helen Mirren. The role is best known for requiring cross-dressing as a man – not a trait she and I often share.

My parents chose the name precisely because it was Shakespearean, although it could also refer to Rosalind Russell (an actress), Rosalind Franklin (a chemist), a rural Canadian town or a moon of Uranus. As far as I know, none of these places or people were pivotal in the decision making.
However, it was a second choice. I nearly ended up as a Rosa – until good family friends decided that it would be the name of their baby, born before me. So, it was either Miranda or Rosalind. My parents settled on the latter.

Many of you know me as Roz – a nickname that I seemed to acquire along with my scratchy secondary school uniform at the age of 11. Much like a haircut, my name has been chopped and changed over the years; losing letters and growing them out again. In the past I had been called everything from ‘Rozzie’ to ‘Rose’, before these derivatives were trimmed down to ‘Roz’. This was how friends, family and teachers referred to me, the full version only appearing on formal letters and in the school register.
Some cultures believe that if you know the name of something or someone, then you have power over them. And it must be said, there is a certain power in being able to identify the world around you and make sense of it. This is especially true when we are little. We learn words and their meanings; carefully repeating (and often mangling) them until they are right – and we know what they stand for. Our dear friends’ two year old toddler is currently making his way through this process, and every time we see him he is more articulate!
Although this is an important step towards growing up, there is sometimes a bittersweet side. Once the environment around us becomes finite, then the excitement in the simplest object can be dulled. Once we know what a teapot or a flower is, it can never again be anything other than that.
I talk of naming because I am starting to use my full name, Rosalind, again and am in the process of altering various online profiles. I am still happy to be known as Roz, but I feel I have maybe grown up enough to start inhabiting all three syllables.
This small change has also coincided with a definitive altering of my aspirations. When I first started this blog over two years ago, it was on the basis of loving clothes and wanting to (one day) train as a fashion designer. I left a minimal amount of text under the photos I posted, sometimes with a rather embarrassing sprinkle of smiley faces. Each post was carefully worked out around the outfit, while the writing, like a younger sibling, simply lagged behind.

Several events catalysed my decision to change what I wanted to do with my life, and to some extent, my blog. First there were people I talked to and worked with – who demonstrated the hardships of the industry, and made me re-evaluate whether this path would be for me. Then there was the small fact that I didn’t actually enjoy pattern cutting and sewing, as it made my back ache and I often ended up frustrated. Finally there was the scoliosis – which overtook everything else.
People are often asked about what events they might change in their lives, if they could. Perhaps surprisingly I wouldn’t alter my curved spine. It may have brought a host of problems, but it twisted me into a totally different direction. People might have seen me at my worst while I recovered from surgery, but I saw them all at their absolute best, which was a real privilege. The long winter months spent getting to grips with my new scaffolding spine were also intensely creative. The frustration spurred me on to write, to try to put my experience into words and, like a lepidopterist, pin down the fluttering images in my head.

This new found love of writing – something I had previously considered a gentle hobby – grabbed my ideas for the future by the ankles and shook them upside down. Putting pen to paper (okay, typing away at a computer) is now something I consider seriously as a potential career. I want to pursue it, work hard to develop it, and painstakingly learn the craft.
Funnily enough, I guess this dress perfectly illustrates how much has changed within the last year. I first featured the draped lines here, eager to showcase the piece I had customised at my work experience/ internship at a local fashion company last July. As I circled around the mannequin, pins in mouth, and a vaguely Peter Pilloto inspired silhouette in my head, I had felt that creating beautiful clothes was what I would devote myself to. That changed.

Alongside the passion for words, there is also the photography. Although I am still fascinated by the facets of fashion photography, it is now portraiture that really excites me. Irving Penn, Ida Kar, Hoppe, Horste and Sally Mann all sit on my photography shelf – the pages of their books well-thumbed, the soulful eyes staring out. Like writing, the camera captures and frames fragments of a story.

These photos were taken by my dad on a family walk to a set of hills that are much loved. On the journey, we realised that it was almost a year since we had scrambled over the rocks and picked bilberries among the heather. We were revisiting the same place, hardly changed, but seeing it differently, with a new set of experiences. The place was at once familiar and new. Much like my dress – thrown on that morning. Much like my name, tried on for size and found to be a more comfortable fit.

The hat is second hand (Kangol), as are the shoes, leather bag and ribbed top underneath. The belt is Jaeger from ebay.
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