Monday, 6 December 2010

Loneliness is the inability to relate to the world - PROJECTION

During the School of Arts MA Show, showcased in Manchester's Holden Gallery in October, I decided to project my video piece 'Loneliness is the Inability to Relate to the World' (see post 26/09/2010) onto a plain white shirt in a darkened room. This was in order to re-embed the piece into a wider fashion context and ultimately to draw attention to the notion of attachment-related emotions constantly being materialised and embodied through what we wear.
Here is a composition of some stills from the show...

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Of Uggs and Hunters

No, I wouldn't say that either Ugg Boots nor Hunter Wellies have ever been appropriate office footwear. Rather their common ground has been as ambassadors of leisure and 'the outdoors'..days off, chuck on, off we go! The former allegedly originally warmed up the feet of oh-so-wet-and-cold surfers after a good dive in the Australian sea; the latter have protected the landed gentry's feet during a good dive in the English mud since 1856. Still, the more striking distinction lies less within their function but more in terms of their wearer. Meanwhile both have of course become fashion items. Whereas Uggs have evolved as celebrity off-duty footwear ( as in 'popping down to the shops', frequently seen in 'Shock-Horror: Stars without make-up'- features), a 'look' readily adopted by Chavs and Scullies around the country, Hunters on the other hand were made more commercial through the likes of Kate Moss wearing them at Glastonbury and other summer festivals in the unpredictable English weather.
But up until recently they were still silently crying out the words 'middle class'..they were HUNTERS, not just any Wellies (those have been consigned to fashion's backwoods about 6 seasons ago, particularly the ones with nasty flowery patterns and worn on a sunny day).
So, I am unsure as to what exactly has happened, whether it was the change in Hunters' ownership (now an importer of Chinese boots) or Jimmy Choo's questionable snakeskin imprint Hunters edition that produced a more obvious deviation from its conservative path, but yesterday, for the first time I have indeed witnessed the shift with my own eyes: Liverpool Scully Girls have officially adopted the Hunter boot: Faux sheepskin waistcoat along with the usual other faux-ness (hair, tan, nails, eyelashes), miniskirt and Hunter boots! The two young girls even got the 'to the knee' socks, with only about an inch and a half of woolly material pocking out over the rim of the rubber absolutely spot on! It was magical, I should have really stopped them for a photograph.
Meanwhile on the Ugg-front... I used to think they were incredibly ugly and I could never understand why people end up walking on the inside of their boots rather than the actual sole. But somehow this season, with the notion of 'Ugg' having spread to just about any (flat) boot with a bit of sheepskin featured somewhere, I may as well admit to having caught myself eying up one or the other model. Worse even, I am, in all likelihood going to purchase a pair.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Skull scarf? You're still hanging round?


I thought to myself during a recent day trip:

''re still around? I haven't seen you in so long!'

as I spotted not one but three people having it draped around their necks

- the skull scarf!

With these women not appearing particularly fashion-forward to me, I immediately found myself hypothesising about the exact time it had taken for this catwalk trend to hit the high streets.
First shown so many seasons ago, of course it was Alexander McQueen.

But has it really taken over four years for this trend to be adopted by fashion laggards?

Yes and no.

No, because the scarves are back as we are paying tribute: Kyle is, Nicki Hilton is, of course Naomi is, and all other McQueen fans who are moaning the loss of a genius are. I suppose more than ever before this most iconic McQueen item appears to work particularly a memorial gesture.
You can get yours for £220 from his website.

Yes, because those three skull-scarf-featuring women may have heard of the name McQueen, but, that I dare to presume, they don't know what in the world his name would have to do with their scarves. They certainly aren't paying tribute.
You can get yours for £ 14 from Miss Selfridge.

Admittedly I never liked them in the first place.

But it's ok, Lee would understand, he certainly wouldn't wear one himself in 2010.

So, skull-scarf,

go away now,

would you!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Note to self: Il faut être patiente Madame!

Is there anything more soothing for a creative soul -forever questing and striving, yet more often than not undefined, ownerless and torn- than seeing things coming together in the end? I believe not.

Most frightening moments of 'what on earth am I actually doing here' are beautifully juxtaposed by episodes of revelations 'of course..yes, of course'.

things take time,

trust in it
and breath.

# 1: l'inspiration

Hedi Slimane, this is insane,

as in beautiful. x

Friday, 1 October 2010

'Kate, I know it's not just your fault, but can I say though I am still annoyed' OR 'the death of old clothes as new trend'

OMG! Are you eagerly awaiting the next and (final???) Kate Moss for Topshop collection, which is about to hit the stores UK-wide this month? Go on...
Erm no, actually me neither.

But is it true, is the 14th collection really supposed to be last one? What a number is that to finish on anyway? Some sources seem to have found an answer already: 'replaced by a younger model' (Mail online August 30th 2010), as 19 year-old Chloe Green, daughter of Topshop boss SIR Philip Green, is rumoured to take over some of Mrs Moss' design duties. Lovely story I must admit, but let's be honest, it was never going to last anyway, was it. I am sorry Kate.
Where shall we start..
It was spring 2007 when Kate's first collection arrived in stores and yes, people were going mad for it. Whereas one camp was prepared to risk serious injury in the battle of the racks , another could be overheard sighing 'oh not another celebrity-design-collaboration-thing' or indeed 'I am not paying that much for this shit!'. But something was different this time..
We could all work out that the celeb's role in such a collaboration in terms of actual involvement in the design process is never a significant one and that the real selling bonus is image endorsement rather than creative talent. However what is momentous in Kate's case is the fact that this was never even made a secret of. Kate was not 'co-working' on design ideas and concepts for one coherent collection (Whereas a collection by definition is not more than 'a group of objects or works to be seen, studied, or kept together', in a fashion context it usually implies at least a shared concept of inspiration in order to achieve aesthetic consistency.) Instead randomly picked pieces of her own private wardrobe made up the entire 'collection'. So what we came out with were not clothes inspired by Kate Moss' style, but clothes that seem to materialise Kate Moss herself. Unfortunately though a mass-produced and cheap-looking version.
The idea is brilliant yet doomed at the same time. On the one hand 'becoming her' is desirable and has never been made easier for the customer (many pieces are copies of very exclusive Vintage and designer pieces she had famously worn out to events, been photographed in and are hence associated with her.) On the other hand no matter how rich a source Kate's wardrobe may be, sooner or later it will be exhausted. And this, it appears, is just about to happened now.
Now Kate, I appreciate you had enough bad press, you may as well quietly finish after your 14th collection...
but yes, I am still annoyed- A. because such talentless collaborations are naturally disturbing to everybody who could call design their trade (a bit like Katie Price's novel topping UK's bestseller list. SAD) and B. because it really made Vintage into a high street trend. Yes that's a contradiction in itself and yes it pretty much killed it. Thanks.

Monday, 27 September 2010


The narrative of the video piece is based on a chart I created in response to my research into attachment theory. The chart depicts a fictitious cycle of how a period of dating may be experienced by individuals who are identified as ‘attachment-anxious’. This applies to people whose quest for love may be hindered by fear of rejection and abandonment. The chart is divided into two halves: cathecting/decathecting (the process of investing or withdrawing emotional energy in a person, idea or object), and subdivided further into 11 chapters using 11 metonyms :

Loneliness is the inability to relate to the world
Excitement is the disruption of organised mass
Vulnerability is open
Desire is an unanswered glimpse
Anticipation is magnified space
Control is a possession
Fear is cold
Disappointment is absence
Desperation is infected energy
Sadness is down
Loss is a full stop

With the exception of ‘Control is a possession’(1) and ‘Fear is cold’(2), all other chapters/
metonyms are devised concepts I based on personal associations and mental imagery.

1 Gibbs Jr. W. R and O’Brien, J. (1990). Idioms and Mental Imagery: The Metaphorical Motivation for Idiomatic
Meaning. In Altmann, G. (ed.), Cognition 36, 35-68. Elsevier
2 Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Sunday, 12 September 2010

you said you'd call

silk and cotton voile cuff, digital print, Multi Head embroidery

Unfortunately I had to part with my cuff as it was in fact stolen from an exhibition space. Who knows, you may see it round. Let us remember it comme ça..
in memory x

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Control is a Possession

In their 1990 experiment Gibbs Jr. and O’Brien ‘Idioms and mental imagery’ subjects
were given a list of five different idioms in five different ‘emotion-categories’: Anger,
Authority, Secretiveness, Insanity and Revelation. An example for an anger idiom would
be ‘hit the ceiling’ and ‘spill the beans’ for revelation. For each idioms subjects were then
asked to comment in regards to the mental imagery, reversibility, intentionality, manner,causation and whether they value the statement as positive or negative for each idiom. They summarized the results (together with results from previous experiments, largely based on Lakoff & Johnson, later Koevecses) as follows:


- Gibbs Jr. W. R. and O’Brien J. (1990). Idioms and mental Imagery: The Metaphorical
Motivation for Idiomatic Meaning. In: Altmann, G. (ed.), Cognition 36,
35-68. Elsevier
- Kövecses, Z. (2003). Metaphor and Emotion: Language, Culture, and Body in Human
Feeling. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

- Lakoff, G., and Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

the feeling of a feeling

In ‘The feeling of what happens’ (1999) the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio offers an accessible introductory insight into the concept of consciousness. He identifies consciousness as the essence of all knowing and vice-versa. At the beginning there is an organism and (images of) an object. Only through consciousness do we gain knowledge about the possession of that organism: the organism is me, a sense of self.
"The sense of self is the act of knowing an object is an infusion of new knowledge, continuously created within the brain as long as ‘objects’ actually present or recalled, interact with the organism and cause it to change." (Damasio 1999, p.26)
According to this view an emotion, is an image of an object. However only once it interacts with the organism, it becomes a feeling of that emotion (‘feeling of a feeling’) and only once the organism has gained consciousness this can be known as the feeling of that emotion.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

I woke up today and thought 'Shit. I actually don't give a damn about fashion.'

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Sunday, 14 February 2010

While some degree of recurrence is soothing for the soul, on a general note sameness makes me feel ill.

Sunday. A day out. Brick Lane.
I know.. why would I in the first place? Not on a Sunday!
Sensationalism? Boredom? Stupidity? Self-testing?
Research! Checking out the old neighbourhood! Cake!
And I’m thinking to myself ‘next time there might be a McDonald’s. A Nando’s at least. Oh wait..there already is one..round the corner, next to Office..’
While I could continue to suggest my general resentment of the conquest of chains of previously privately-run businesses (I think there is a word for it: globalisation), what really leaves me with a feeling of dissatisfaction isn’t the sameness of shops, but the sameness of aesthetic values.
Cafe 1001.
What I see: 2nd hand (I mean Vintage) jeans, brogues, a deliberate omission of socks, your old maths teacher’s jumper, a waxed jacket, a woolly hat, a beard.
A sight to behold!? Not really, to be repeated 23 times while I am sitting here.
‘So what!’ you might say. ‘So what!’ I do say..yet something is still bothering me.
Grotesquely all these people, just like me, would say about themselves never to follow trends. Interesting.
It’s not that I particularly dislike any of these style elements either, nor the combination, I simply cannot stand everybody liking the same things. (I think there is a word for it too: fashion)
My ego seems to be entering a battleground: Surely it doesn’t make sense to stop liking something simply because you’re not alone liking it. Surely popularity doesn’t diminish quality or aesthetic value...
Or does it?

In his 1904 essay ‘Fashion’ Simmel writes ‘Man has ever had a dualistic nature […] striving towards generalization on the one hand, and on the other by the desire to describe the single special element. Thus generalization gives rest to the soul whereas specialization permits it to move from example to example […]’ (p. 131)

As for my matter he speaks of a ‘curious social-psychological complication: the tendency towards individual conspicuousness primarily rests content with a mere inversion of the social imitation. […]
It is often absolutely impossible to tell whether the element of personal strength or weakness preponderate in the group of causes that leads to such a departure from fashion. It may result in a desire not to make common cause with the mass, a desire that has at its basis NOT independence of the mass, to be sure, but yet an INHERENTLY SOVEREIGN POSITION with respect to the letter.
Such opposition is by no means always a sign of personal strength.’ (p. 142, 143)

So just after the 23rd time of the same outfit passing by I start enjoying what I see, digging further into the most generous slice of cheesecake man has ever seen.

‘Rise above it girl. Rise above.’

and then I dreamed that we was magical!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

One and three Collars

Yes, in case you wonder, I have indeed stolen the title from Joseph Kosuth's 1965 piece One and Three Chairs, where he exhibits an actual chair, alongside a photograph of a chair and a sheet of paper with the dictionary entry defining the word 'chair'.. (

Whilst in One and Three Collars all objects are actual collars, the message of being a collar is transported on and perceived through at least one additional level. (241 Collars hence would have made another good title for the piece. perhaps)
The first print is using dictionary definitions of the word 'collar' (as well as the French equivalent 'col' and the German 'Kragen'), the one in the middle depicts my personal associations with a specific collar (a specific shirt rather, and thoughts and stories about when I was wearing it) in handwriting, whereas the last print is taken from a scan of a different collar including creases and its button.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

The Middle Ages rule!

After the return of the cape I would be delighted to see another Medieval fashion aspect taking today's trendy youth's fancy by storm: The Mi-Parti. Referring to a bi-coloured garment ('separated in the middle') the Mi-Parti first occurred in 11th century fashion. With the wedding of the German Kaiser Otto II and the Byzantine princess Theophanu, more colourful and more precious fabrics entered European costume. Originally the Mi-Parti was worn only by servants and court jesters indicating the subordinate position of the wearer.

Going by Alexis Mabille's last week's Paris Haute Couture show, I believe he'd be delighted too!

Friday, 29 January 2010

The relation of Roland Barthes to Primark's Boyfriend Blazer

As a recent womenswear fashion trend the Boyfriend Blazer, a long, oversized blazer was seen (and partly still is) everywhere on the high street. What is particular about this blazer however, is not its cut or the fact that it is marketed as daywear, but its rolled up sleeves, which reveal a contrasting lining. The sleeves are not only displayed in their rolled-up form, but actually pre-manufactured -held up with a stitch .

Roland Barthes' 1967 The Fashion System (English translation 1983) draws upon the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure's semiology (the system of signs):
Saussure divides language into langue (language) and parole (speech), with langue representing a system of fixed rules, which is independent from the individual, whereas parole is the individual mode of using langue. Applied to fashion Barthes translates this into dress and dressing.
While dress is concerned with social components, like age, gender, class, degree of civilization and location, dressing is empirical and concerned with ‘how’ something is worn, yet for Barthes bears no conscious intention of transporting sociological value. (2006, p. 8-9) As a working hypothesis he put together the following dressing objects (2006, p.18-19):

1 - the individual dimensions of the garment in relation to the size of the wearer
2 - the degree and particularities of how worn-out, scruffy or dirty
3 - pieces or items missing
4 - non usage (buttons not done up, rolled up sleeves)
5 - pure protection. Not formalized (improvised outfits)
6 - choice of colours /except ritualized colours)
7 - circumstantial derivations for an item’s deployment
8 - non-stereotyped acts of usage particular to the wearer
9 - anomalies, or allowances, in the dress object

Now to return to the Boyfriend Blazer and looking at number 4 of Barthes dressing objects above, this reflects the cycle of fashion rather well: A simple stylistic aspect is first featured by a couple of individuals, which at this stage I would definitely classify as dressing in Barthes’ sense. The question of intention becomes interesting yet again. Whilst somewhere down the line the sleeves where rolled up to regulate temperature or to give more freedom of movement, the sole intention shifts to aiming to make a fashion statement. As it is adopted by more and more people and ultimately mass-manufactured, this trend enters dress and would have certainly been dropped by its initiators.

Barthes, R. (1983), The Fashion System. Translated by Matthew Ward and Richard Howard. New York: Hill and Wang
Barthes, R., Stafford, A. and Carter, M (eds) (2006), The Language of Fashion. Translated by Andy Stafford, Oxford and New York: Berg

Sunday, 24 January 2010

my ex used to hate this jumper.. I wear it all the time.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Ma pièce préfereé, part IIII

The story of Rosa's jacket.

how you feel. how I feel.

The inside is good and real. The outside is bad and deceiving. Heart, brain and soul forever over appearance. A noble coat cannot hide a rough heart...
..but is what I look like not part of who I am? Am I then most genuinely me when I am naked?
While it governs a great deal of our lives, being too occupied with the way we look has been forever frowned upon. When people are asked about their thoughts and feelings regarding the way they dress the preferred answer would be 'not bothered' rather than admitting to ascribing any significance to it.
In his 1959 Presentation of Self in Everyday Life Goffman compares our public life with being on stage:
When [...] ‘an individual appears before others he will have many motives for trying to control the impression they receive of the situation.’ (p. 15)
‘It is probably no mere historical accident that the word person, in its first meaning is a mask. It is rather a recognition of the fact that everybody is always and everywhere, more or less consciously playing a role…’ (p. 19)
We might indeed appear genuine in a certain outfit (or no outfit) and fake in another. In any way there is no doubt that the testing out, the engaging in different identities, in different looks is just part of who we are or who we might become in the future. The science of our clothes is not fashion but rather the study of the sum of materialized identity snap shots.

What I have gained from the Dressing Diaries so far is: 1. even the most hated, boring t-shirt, can bear a striking story, 2. 9 times out of 10 'I've just thrown this on' will reveal itself as a blatant lie and 3. you can learn some interesting and sometimes puzzling facts about yourself merely through getting to the grounds of why you are wearing what you wear...
self-expression??fuck that..I believe I only ever wanted to impress that boy..

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Why are we wearing what we wear?

It is certainly a complex construct of different motivation factors that determines a person’s choice of clothing on a daily basis. It is the fast changing ‘grammar’, the flux of the of the sign-language of today’s society together with our own ever-evolving identities that make it an impossible task to come up with an omni-applicable formula: The red jumper might represent love and warmth for one person, it might recall that horrible car accident for another, it might translate into one’s mother’s love who has gifted it at one point or it might remind the next person of a public figure or friend they admire and want to emulate. Even when somebody claims ‘it is just a red jumper’ and it may not consciously convey any further meaning to them (apart from functionality perhaps) this person still cannot escape from people around him or her ascribing meaning to it.
As Simmel (1904) put it ‘the man who consciously pays no heed to fashion accepts its form just as much as the dude does, only he embodies it in another category’

In an attempt to at least learn about my own habits and motives when it come to selecting clothes (that is composing outfits from my wardrobe and not from rails or shelves in shops) I started the DRESSING DIARIES. Every day I record thoughts and feelings about my clothing choices. Just like an ordinary diary this has proven a rather therapeutic tool of self-reflection. You start telling stories through your garments. It is full of surprises, revelations and confessions...