Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Absolutely Fabulous

Sweetie, sweetie, SWEETIE DARLING! Come here, closer. Let me tell you a little secret. Just a little one. Tip-top exclusive darling. See what I’m wearing, yah? Lacroix, darling, Lacroix. Second hand, not that anyone need know. I told the fashion editor of ‘Here! There! Then!’ that it was from Harrods. The look on her face – well, it would have been a look but with the amount of botox she’s had it was more a flicker of eyelashes. And the jacket, yah? 100% absolute genuine bona fide vintage. 90s is SO the new now. Betty Barclay, dontcha know? Had to fight it out with some silly little supermodel with legs up to her hairline at an exclusive boutique event in Shoreditch (I was top of the guest list, natch) – she wanted to donate it to a charity for orphans or something equally worthy. I mean charity is what I DO! Me just wearing it – that’s charitable to all those around me who get to witness this fabulous ensemble. It nearly came to blows, but on realizing that I’m a woman who doesn’t yield easily when there’s a multicoloured quilted mess to fight for, she backed down. So I obvs headed off for lunch to promenade the outfit – there’ll be a feature on the Mail’s Sidebar of Shame by the end of the afternoon.

The other day a memory floated up for no discernable reason. I love the way that the idle mind does this - sometimes halting at a specific moment, making it fresh again. This particular image was of me and a friend aged 16, just after we’d completed our GCSE exams. We decided that the best possible way to celebrate was to have a day of wearing silk pyjamas and watching Absolutely Fabulous. We carefully saved up between us for a half bottle of Bollinger champagne (“A little Bolly darling?”) and eked it out over several episodes. It was as about extravagant as we could imagine, a silly touch of opulence needed to commemorate leaving our poorly-behaved, not-much-liked secondary school.

There’s been plenty of re-watching of episodes since (and a little more champagne drinking). There are so many quotable moments and lines. “Sweetie darling” is so much a part of the fabric of the everyday that my mum and I drop it into conversation with each other all the time without thinking. It’s amusing as my mum will sometimes talk of playing Saffy to her own mother’s Eddie-style tendencies. 
The other line that comes up every now and then is “Lacroix! Lacroix!” The dress pictured above is an actual Lacroix item (though from some kind of diffusion or collaborative line) – bought in a charity shop after a slightly excited squeak on seeing the label. In my head it’s a name inextricably woven up in the image of Eddie simpering “People will think, wow, it’s a Lacroix” – neatly capturing the worst fringes of consumerism and status in just seven words.  

Perhaps part of the irony is that some 20 years on, although still farcical, Ab Fab seems closer to catching elements of fashion and celebrity culture than ever before. The choice of trends may have changed (although the current 90s renaissance means that Eddie’s attire may soon be the height of cool), but the ridiculous-ness remains relevant. The inanities endure – be it in the continuing delight in all sorts of buzzwords briefly picked up and dropped again (totes, amaze, adorbs etc); the fact that the pronouncement made by the beauty editor at the magazine Patsy works at, that “skin… is in!” isn’t that far from the headlines in certain publications; or the ways in which the two main characters’ attempts to remain young seem tame in comparison to the more extreme treatments one can now buy anywhere.

There are other continuities. If there ever were an Ab Fab character who’d get stopped so often at LFW that she’d never make it to her destination, it would be Bubble. In fact, I’m surprised that no-one has made a Tumblr to document her outfits (see some of the best moments here). Some of her outfits err very closely to the whole na├»ve, girly 90s aesthetic that’s springing back up. Then there’s the hair twisted up in ribbons, those stripy shorts and tape measure around her shoulders, pink tutus, dogs in bags, dodgy headwear, military jackets, fringed cowboy ensembles, and that general ability to layer up frills, flounces, smocks, shirts and spots like there’s no tomorrow (and no shame).

Yet could Ab Fab exist with the same relevance and hilarity in the same way today? It seems that the revived episodes last year couldn’t quite match up. I wonder if that’s partly because we’re beyond satirizing, too busy turning ourselves into parodies without need for someone else to mock? It’s not enough to say, “Hah, Twitter and manufactured controversy; hah, Instagrammed pictures of meals; hah, silly advertising hashtags; hah, Made in Chelsea; hah, selfies; hah, Cosmo headlines; hah, ‘micro-pearl dermal abrasion therapy with super-active Mongolian yak protein and diamond moisturizing particles with some gold-coated kale and chia seed rejuvenating facial scrub on the side’ (or whatever else is “scientifically proven” to make one look ten years younger); hah, Facebook witticisms, hah, hah, hah.” 

We poke fun at these things already. Pointing out that people do silly things on social media won’t cut the bill. So, maybe it's time for a new comedy with bite – something functioning on the edge of absurdity as it sends up the silliest parts of modern culture. 

All the clothes are second hand or family hand-me-down, while the jewellery is vintage (mostly from family). The bomber jacket is dangerously similar to one that Eddie actually wears - pictured below. The shopping bags were sourced from various locations (the only thing I've ever been able to afford to buy in Selfridges is the odd magazine or two) and of course, what I really needed was a Harvey Nichols bag. The champagne half-bottle usually sits on my windowsill with a candle in it. 

(Image from this rather delightful feature on BBC America titled 'How to Dress Like Edina From Absolutely Fabulous')



Fashionistable said...

Just love this post. Such Fun. Sweetie Darling. Xxx


Haha, splendidly interpreted. Well done. When I think of viewing old episodes I instantly thought of my nan, she's such a fittingly "darling" user. That Bubble is wonderful and hilarious in every way! Marvellous photos and styling Roz for this fun post! Champagne to me is always welcomed. :)

Melanie said...

I directed Miz Bagg to your post post haste, now that she is back from her weekend trip to Paris to purchase a three-pack of new designer lightbulbs. While there she had tea with Mizz Totes, during which time they "seriously discussed the lack of serious seriousness in the fashion industry" (quote from her press release).
Bwa-haha. Great post, seriously. Ab Fab is one of my favourite TV series.
By the way, where can I get that micro-pearl dermal abrasion therapy with super-active Mongolian yak protein, blah, blah, blah, but minus the yak because I'm vegan and minus gluten, and minus the chia seeds which are so last year. Mwah. Ba-bye.

Northern mum down South said...

OMG, it’s a Lacroix , darling how absolutely fabulous

Ellie Connor-Phillips said...

this is such a coincidence....I am just about to finish my GCSEs, and am getting myself through my drip-feeding myself Ab Fab episodes on a daily basis!

Vix said...

Fabulous, dahling! That really is Patsy's jacket.
I love the sound of you and your pal swanning around in silk pyjamas and quaffing champers and, like you, I shriek, "Lacroix!" on the rare occasion I come across it in a charity shop.
You're right, we need a new comedy, one perhaps that features a certain type of fashion blogger as well as Instagrams with a lipstick stained coffee cup and cake crumbs, weird gluten-free wonder diets and Tweeting from one's hospital bed. xxxx

Sacramento Amate said...

You are indeed in every single shot
You miss the sun, I miss the good English comedies.
You are always welcome to share the sun with me here.
We only have 50 days of rain a year, crazy,no?
Sending lotsssssssssss of sunshining
your way

SJ said...

"Lacroix, sweetie, Lacroix!" What a brilliant show - I have fond memories of it, too. I'm not sure if it is still relevant today but I do worry that Eddie's penchant for colourful puffa jackets could come back around...

Ivana Split said...

Gosh, I loved that show! I think I about 16 when I used to watch it:) Those girls were hilarious, but I do see what you mean when you say that the show might not have aged that well...and only because we as society seem to have become so superficial that shows like this don't seem to make that much sense. In an era where almost every woman that can afford it- is somewhat obsessed with dieting, anti-aging, abs, appearance and the art of mixing anti-depressives with fine wine- this kind of comedy seems too light. I mean it is not only the PR or fashion word anymore, is it?

It would be hard to make a show like this one nowadays, you're right about that.

Wonderful outfit btw! I love the shoes! and I like the fact that you shop at charity shops, I've always loved vintage pieces.

Lally said...

Sweetie darhliiing! What a fabulous post. I haven't watched Ab Fab in years but I similarly at the age of 16 went through them all. I love the story of you and your friend slowly sipping the Bolly (and that you have kept the bottle!) I remember having my first glass of Bolly at a friend's 16th birthday party and being terribly disappointed by the taste. I've come round to it now but at the time I remember really trying to pretend to like it and not make a grimace whilst drinking it!

Love the jacket! I think I probably squeal Lacroix if I found a piece in a charity shop!

Lally XX

Urbiana UK said...

Love it!!! So cute


Anova said...

It's really inspiring that you don't take yourself too seriously, being creative in your own way is really important in these days! Nice pictures, xo

vintagevixenarts said...

Lol!!! Ab Fab is my favorite Brit comedy!!
Your shoot was mahhhvelous sweetie!!

Cameron Adams said...

Spot on : ) My wife calls her talking GPS 'Bubble' after Ab Fab.

Ivana Split said...

thank you for your comment:)

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