Link Up

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I finally did the chore that bloggers hate which was to clean up my links list.  It was admittedly ridiculously long and perhaps lacking in a vigilant editorial eye.  In the ye olde days of blogging, you'd have a tight knit community of trading links and commenting that grew to be unsustainable when you felt pressurised to add a link because certain bloggers would badger you to death with "SEEMYBLOGSEEMYBLOGSEEMYBLOG!" comments.  I don't mind the sentiment.  Sure, everyone wants to get their blog out there and now it's harder than ever to do so.  That said I'm a firm believer though in things naturally surfacing because they're good, which is how I found most of the blogs listed here.  

Cleaning up the links list was an exercise which followed on from an interesting conversation on Twitter I had mainly with Rachel Deer, an avid fashion blog commentator, which had sprung up from a post I read on A Hit of Sarah's blog, expressing a dissatisfaction with the way the blogosphere has evolved in recent years, or rather how a hierarchy where personal style blogging with little appreciation for writing or substantial content has emerged.  She's not the only one.  After going through about a 400 links consisting mostly of dead blogs and spam/porn sites sitting on expired domains, I also came across a fair number of similar posts, declaring said blogger's decision to quit the game because they felt dejected, unappreciated and generally frustrated.  

The Twitter convo I had with Rachel and other people, which I've pieced together at the bottom of this post, discussed the lack of diversity within the upper tiers of fashion blogging.  As in, those that are raking it in and wielding influence over a massive readership and social media followers, are generally of the same ilk of blogging and that is the genre of personal style blogging.  I think the conclusion was that we could appreciate this genre (and afterall, you could say I myself contribute to that category) but that diversity, niche-led content and a celebration of individuality needs to exist and not just exist, but flourish, gain traction and get those numbers up so that they too can reap rewards for taking the time and effort to create content that is more leftfield.  You might say that the numbers speak for themselves and that if the reader were into it, then bloggers who do churn out more weighty content would have huge traffic numbers.  To that I'd bring up the comparison to fashion magazines and say that the readership of say a Dazed & Confused is tiny compared to that of US Glamour – but both their audiences are highly valued by advertisers and the industry for different reasons.  If it's a straightforward numbers game, then that's a depressing thought.   

Therefore, I thought I'd take the opportunity to highlight ten of my favourite blogs at the moment, which are carving out their own niche and doing it sometimes annonymously, whilst appearing to enjoy the act of blogging for what it is – which is independent guerilla content creation – that thing that makes me mega chuffed to press the Publish button on every post.  You keep on pressing that button not because of the potential financial rewards, freebies or perks but because you want to see something come to life on screen that you have created.  You'd keep doing it even if only your mum was reading it (in my case, I don't even get the mum traffic).        

The Cutting Class – My natural go-to answer for everything really.  What's my favourite blog?  The Cutting Class.  What's the future of fashion blogging?  The Cutting Class.  To clarify, I mean when people ask me where I think fashion blogging should go, I say there needs to be more niche-led blogs that have a unique hook, which this blog does, as it takes the time to analyse pattern making, design detail and garment construction of collections.  Ok, so I know the author in person (she keeps her identity annonymous on the blog) but I actually got hooked on it before I found out its true author.  She's also just self-published a book entitled How Patterns Work, which I've not yet seen but am confident if it's a fraction of how fascinating The Cutting Class is, should be a great resource and read for any fashion enthusiast.   

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Lynn & Horst – How can I learn how to write as succinctly as Lynn & Horst fo on its realm of aethsetic exploration?  The imagery alone would be worthy enough as an inspiring Tumblr-esque blog but Lynn & Horst take the time to add credits and accompany posts with a thought provoking paragraph to really bring those images to life be it J.W. Anderson's collections or artwork by Ken Price.    

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Pictures & Paper - Vicky Kear has beaten me to the punch with Pictures & Paper.  I've always wanted to keep up a regular section on Style Bubble to review magazines, zines and interesting fashion publications but … err… content continuity and regularity is just not my thing and so I'll leave it to Kear to post photos and accompanying honest reviews on the latest interesting independent rag mags.  

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The Window Shopper - A lot of the blogs that I've listed here celebrate the written word but it's also brilliant to find a niche within image only blogs that hasn't yet been served.  Vicky documents interesting window displays and visual merchandising on The Window Shopper which along with set design, art direction and show production is a field in fashion that is fast emerging from behind the scenes and becoming a part of our lexicon of understanding fashion as a complete creative entity.  

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The Guilty Hyena - Sometimes the "CHECKMYBLOGOUTCHECKMYBLOGOUT" comments do throw up some good gems.  Actually that's doing The Guilty Hyena a disservice.  She's actually a regular and witty commenter on the blog so it's no surprise that her blog is a good 'un.  Beautifully designed, visually stimulating and with taste that is right up my stra√üe, it's definitely not a guilty pleasure to be checking her blog on a daily basis.  

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A Hit of Sarah – Ah the blog which started this links haul and niche blog appreciation.  A Hit of Sarah is written by errr… Sarah, a journalist and publicist based in New York.  It's the kind of content mix which I love – interviews with creatives and designers, discussion topics and exposure on new talent, all with hefty chunks of text.  I read and rejoice at every 100 words hit in a post.    

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Origami Mon Ami - I love writing that expresses enthusiasm about fashion with visceral sentiment.  Beginning a post with "If I could just stop licking the screen for a moment…" is always good in my book.  Lena Loginova in Brussels writes about young designers and visually amazing things with that kind of wit, which sucks you in.  Her pictures also do generally make me want to lick the screen.      

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Of Stranger Sensibilities - Joy of Of Stranger Sensibilities has the sort of taste and style that pink-loving, tulle-hugging, frill-humping me won't ever be able to fully enjoy.  That doesn't stop me from reading her musings on sartorial goodness, culture and clothing with provenance.

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Youth Savage – I found her blog through a comment on The Business of Fashion and hurrah-ed for a blog that again, does that mixy thing of combining outfits, collection reviews/features as well as general commentary.  I loved her recent post on Honest By, the entirely transparent label by Bruno Pieters.  Youth Savage, as the name suggests, has a definite opinion on the state of fashion and isn't afraid to express it at any given instance.  

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Part Nouveau - Highlighting the cyclical nature of fashion, this blog written and conceived by Lilah Ramzi, who is a graduate of fashion history, is fast becoming an industry favourite and for good reason.  It picks up on nuanced similarities between the past and present, sometimes with a short time gap that suggests fashion's tendency to repeat itself, perhaps needs to be checked.   

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Oh and if you still don't have enough reading matter here's that long-ass Twitter convo… 

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Bernstock Speirs à Trois

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There's apparently another (maybe last) chance to get tropical in London as the temperature builds up to another (sort of) mini heat wave for the bank holiday weekend and and so Bernstock Speirs have timed their series of Totally Tropical visors well.  No, they've got nothing to do with Lilt, a distinctly un-tropical drink but instead a limited number of visors have been adorned with raffia and silk flowers and for the next two weeks, three different ones will be released on the website every day.  I stopped by the store on Brick Lane to get in on the tropical action and also to put money where my mouth was by finally buying my own Bernstock Speirs classics such as the veiled beanie and the bunny cap.  I had to walk into the store looking sheepishly at the floor because both the lovely Paul Bernstock and Thelma Speirs were there, as I had to explain to them why it is despite my ongoing support of the label, I haven't got it physically on my head.  I'll put it down to ongoing unwillingness to buy online and thinking "Oh, I'll just pop into the store" when the fact is I don't really have time these days to "pop" into anything.

My Bernstock Speirs inner chakra is now fully awoken and rebalanced.  The veritable trio is made up of a tropical visor, which I'm totally going to sway around in this weekend, dancing to Blondie's The Tide is High and Jamie xx's Far Nearer.  Then there's the long awaited bunny cap, which if you go in-store is available in more colourways than it is on the website, and also now comes with spangled gold ears at the V&A museum, in celebration of the Club to Catwalk exhibition.  My natural affinity with the bunny cap is such that when I put them on, a "Perk Up" bulb lights up in my brain.  My faces spasms into contorted expressions and my fingers zing up into peace signs.  Actually, who am I kidding?  That's just my default modus operandi in posing for pictures.  Seriously though, happy things can only occur when the bunny cap is on.  If you don't at least twitch your mouth into a ghost of a smile at the sight of them then your soul is withered.

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IMG_0684Worn with PushButton shirt, J. Crew liberty print sequinned skirt

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Sadly I have to end the post on a less happy note.  As I was picking out my veiled beanie colour (they come in bright shades of blue, pink and orange for this season) Paul and Thelma were telling me that Aldo have ripped off their veiled beanie and are flogging it for ¬£15 shops.  They have fought off design copycats before in court and were successful as they are more than confident that their veiled beanie, which they first introduced in 2005, is their proven original design.  Even the more visible veiled beanies that Stephen Jones created for the Jil Sander' S/S 12 show, that spawned a thousand knock-offs and DIY versions, were really ensuing successors to Bernstock Speirs' design (although Jones used a hip hop gangsta beanie shape as opposed to the pom pom beanie).  Sure, you can say it's just a veil on a pom pom hat but it's likely that Aldo were more than inspired by Bernstock Speirs' design.  There may not be a lot that Bernstock Speirs can do on legal grounds given Aldo are a Canadian company and they'd be fighting a retail giant.  Better to drum up some noise and get Aldo to remove it from sale (it's not online yet but it will probably be dropping in soon given it's already been featured on product pages in mags).   If ASOS and Topshop can remove products through a mini Twitter storm then hopefully Aldo can do the same.  I have nothing against their product in general but in this particular instance, I know which version I prefer.  ¬£15 for a (probably) acrylic pom pom made in god knows where, with the knowledge that I'm wearing a nicked design of a brand, which I've vocally supported.  ¬£85-¬£110 for a soft Shetland yarn or Johnstons of Elgin cashmere knitted pom pom hat, finished in Paul and Thelma's lovely atelier in London, and knowing where the source of that design came from.  If you're going to quibble about price difference, then I say go down the DIY route and stop Aldo from pocketing money from someone else's design – knowing Thelma and Paul, I doubt they would begrudge you for that make-do spirit.  

**EDIT** Hurrah!  Make enough of a noise and someone will heed your words!  After a small and vaguely indulgent Twitter outburst, Aldo contacted both myself and Paul and Thelma to promise that their veiled beanie copy would be withdrawn from sale.  They reiterated the point that they themselves support independent designers (J.W. Anderson, Preen, Julian Louie and Mark Fast to name a few) and that copying designers goes against what they are doing in that respect.  It's as I suspected.  Big company.  Many employees.  Many many products.  Things get signed off and processed quickly without the knowledge of everyone in the higher creative tiers of Aldo knowing.  Good on Aldo for responding quickly and avoiding unecessary and perhaps what would have been a fruitless legal tussle for Bernstock Speirs.       

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IMG_0749Worn with vintage embroidered jacket and vintage dragon top, Hudson leather skinny jeans

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Cheap Date Redux

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‚ÄúThis was a magazine that grew out of a deep love of thrifting. It was founded in 1996 by Kira Joliffe and I became the co-editor when I moved to New York City shortly thereafter. Cheap Date became a celebration of  individual style, freedom of choice, empowerment and a love of dressing up; with interviews with the people that we loved. The magazine was embraced by incredibly talented people ‚Äì like Karen Elson, Liv Tyler and Chloe Sevigny – who did things for us that they wouldn‚Äôt normally do. It took on a cult following.  The sense of fun and irreverence was amazing.‚Äù Bay Garnett

At the Selfridges Denim Studio event I very nearly rushed over to Bay Garnett, who was styling the live campaign, to politely demand when she was thinking of reviving Cheap Date, as she had hinted at its resurrection in an interview with Oyster magazine not so long ago.  I was even going to be so bold as to offer my paltry services as a writer/dogsbody/slave should she wish to take Cheap Date to the 21st century next lev.  Alas, we all know how great I am at fan-girling people I admire, so the opportunity to give Garnett a gentle nudge came and went.

That leaves me no option but to pine and whine, as I flip the pages of this Cheap Date compilation book (only available through 2nd hand Amazon peeps unfortunately), featuring content from the first six issues dating from 1997-2000.  Every page of thrift-related interviews, Jackie-style comic strips and DIY pin-up photos feels scuzzier and funnier than the later issues of Cheap Date and definitely less glossy than their more well-known book counterpart The Cheap Date Guide to Style (which does admittedly do a good job of filling the gap after great tomes such as Vogue's More Dash to Cash and Cheap Chic).  The writing and presentation style of Cheap Date is perhaps of its time but the pages certainly hold up today, when you consider that game-changing irreverance in fashion feels scarcer than ever, despite the onslaught of blogs, zines and indie title (I'd cite Rookie as an exception to that observation).  It portrays a hilarious extreme in anti-fashion sentiment that perhaps can't ever exist again because of the way brands fuel and feed content today (from credits in shoots to advertorials to the basic reliance on brands to provide content filler).  Despite loving what Cheap Date stands for, I can't profess to being the 100% thrifter, hate-trends, hate-fashion persona, which the magazine celebrated.  Perhaps were it to ever resurrect, it would have to have a different stance anyway considering Garnett herself is still a contributing editor to British Vogue and is for want of a better word, part of the fashion establishment.  Just a few more thoughts to add to the mix if I were to by chance to encounter Garnett again.    

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Three Clicks

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>> I doubt there have been any other pair of shoes, or perhaps any other garment, that have as much cinematic recognisability, as the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, designed by costume designer Adrian.  One glance at these crystal-encrusted Valentino Tan-Go shoes on my living room floor, and a couple of guys who were filming at my flat, immediately asked whether I wanted to go back home to Kansas and where the yellow brick road was.  The Tan-Go's are certainly not the first or the last to have a stab at the ruby slippr tribute.  An endless trail of red shoes have tried to capture a fraction of the spirit of those iconic slippers, with varying degrees of success.        

I'm not entirely sure that these Valentino Tan-Go's were intended as a straight forward tribute, despite all the references to the film in their cute little stop-animation viral video but as Oz-inspired ruby red slippers go, they're pretty successful in conjuring up those magical three clicks, which might transport us back home.  Another pair of red shoes also immediately comes to mind for those who have watched the Powell and Pressburger classic, The Red Shoes, where a pair of blood red ballet slippers holds less fortunate consequences for the film's heroine.  The Wizard of Oz may have broken Technicolor ground but it was The Red Shoes that really used that technology to its full potential, with its luscious and vivid cinematography searing those fatal red shoes into your consciousness.  Or you could go even more obscure and imagine Rudolph Valentino tangoing his way around a bar room in the 1921 silent film The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  Then there's Valentino's longstanding relationship with the colour red, which creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli haven't shied away from since their succession to the house.  Combine all of that together and you have yourself a pair of storied shoes, that really fire up the imagination as you click the toes together.      

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IMG_0557Worn with vintage bed jacket, Fancy Shit dress, American Apparel mesh t-shirt underneath, Meadham Kirchhoff red slip dress, mintdesigns socks 

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