Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Material Girl

Madonna's daughter, Lourdes, is due to release the fashion line that she and the Queen of Pop have assembled together 'Material Girl' in August, and in order to promote said collection the teen has started a blog...

'Helluuur thurrrr, I'm Lola and this is my first blog entry,' she writes. 'I'm just going to use this blog entry to tell y'all a little bit about myself. I'm 13 and I'll be 14 in October, so I can't wait for that because I am FINALLY allowed to dye my hair... THANK YOU MOTHER!!'

Onto her style, and she reveals that a penchant for all things Eighties will prevail across the fashion line (thank you g-d) - 'I am totally obsessivo about 80's shorts... the 80s are another huge obsession of mine, which is totally amazingly awesome because Material Girl...HELLO! It's like 80's themed.' A girl after my own heart. I knew there was a reason I loved Madonna and the 80s!!!

'I'm in London right now and the best stores ever here, I love the vintage stores down in Whitechapel, also a lot of hot guys hang there just in case y'all care,' she adds.

So exciting developments in the land of fashion afoot... I will so be lining up to catch a glimpse (and a few items) when the line launches later this summer!! Will you??

Friday, 25 June 2010

Body Talk

We are bombarded on a daily basis with 'new' treatments, diets and exercise plans all promising to tone, carve and mould our bodies into beautiful submission. In the lead-up to my wedding, words like 'Scarsdale Diet' and 'Weight Watchers' were thrown around, and that was just by my bridesmaids terrified of not looking their best and it wasn't even their big day.

Beautiful models and glamorous, slender movie stars were put on this earth, we are certain, in order to show us what could be achieved (via extravagent sums spent on a personal trainer, private chef, hairdresser, stylist and make-up artist), but an ideal that will always remain just out of reach to the vast majority.

It doesn't matter how much I yearn to look like Scarlett Johansson, the likelihood is I just won't - I like food too damn much!

I drink copious amounts of water and green and white tea, I exercise 4-5 times a week and I moisturise my skin twice a day. I've tried the lemon and maple syrup detox, the Alli weight loss pill and not eating carbs after 5pm, and they all worked for the brief period I allowed them into my daily routine - but I like chocolate, and chips, and meat, and pasta, and pizza (I could go on). Don't get me wrong, I am not the size of a small house, but I'm not a size 'Jennifer Aniston' either. I'm an average 12-14 female who occasionally struggles into her jeans, holds in her tummy when it's eaten just that bit too much and has 'fat days'...

So, what's the answer? Believe me, I do not eat the items listed above regularly and my pasta is wholewheat. But fad diets and celebrity health 'experts' inform us that to really lose weight, the key is to cut these foodstuffs out of our lives completely and I just don't want to.

Moderation. Moderation. Moderation.
The mantra drummed into me by my mother from a very young age and one that should be applied to every area in life, in my opinion. That and having the willpower to withstand cravings, the patience to prepare your own healthy lunches and resist the 3.30pm urge to run to the corner shop for a Bounty... it's hard.

I realise this may be the rantings of a fat woman, but really this is the stream of consciousness that most likely scrolls through the mind of nearly every woman on a daily basis. The best we can do is fill up our water bottles, stock up on green tea, exercise regularly and take it one day at a time. Step by step...

Today, I started the day with a vitamin C drink and two pitta breads with peanut butter (not fantastically healthy but peanut butter is slow releasing, it wasn't lathered on and I haven't snacked yet and don't intend to). I have two bottles of cold water on my desk, no coffee (don't drink the stuff) and my lunch is in the fridge - wholewheat pasta with pesto, preprepared last night. I don't plan to eat again until dinner time, which will involve a roasted chicken, boiled potatoes and broccoli.

I will let you know if I was successful, and whether this approach to food can help you shed the pounds.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

My Fashionable Life!

A family friend once predicted that he would see my name up in lights. At the time I was eight years old and heavily into music and drama, and similar to many of my peers I dreamed of superstardom. Several years on, as I sat typing my first article for a student newspaper, I saw that my life was literally at the tips of my fingers. From that moment on, my love of writing dominated my ambitions, and like legendary English novelist, Rosamond Lehmann, I felt ‘destined’ to write. So I informed my family friend that he would indeed see my name, though contrary to his earlier prophecy it would be in print.

Having overcome the now prerequisite of childhood, divorce, I used it to my advantage - instead of dwelling on the unfortunate circumstances, I acknowledged the subsequent strength that it had instilled in me. This, together with my mother’s advice to be assertive, pushed me to pursue my goals. And so, armed with an extensive list of numbers and email addresses, I embarked on my mission to conquer the journalistic Holy Grail of “work experience”. I arrived at one of my first placements, Executive Woman magazine, to find a tiny, cluttered office; a place that would turn out to be a fundamental stepping-stone for my career, as three weeks turned into an ongoing freelance position. I devoured every morsel of advice that my editor offered up and let myself loose on the world to question a veritable array of important matters, such as, why the way you dress can determine your vocation and how to enliven your car using the principles of feng-shui! I was sent on press trips and encountered pampering at luxury spas in Denmark, nouveau cuisine in London and was introduced to designers and front row seating at fashion shows in France.

Realising my obsession with fashion was more than a girlie rite of passage into sophisticated womanhood; I applied to do a course in Fashion Journalism at the London College of Fashion. (Proximity to Bond Street - a definite bonus!) I look to life experience to fuel my writing. On July 7, 2005 - I was en route to an exhibition of diamonds at the Natural History Museum and found myself caught up in an event, which rocked London and realigned my perspectives. My train stopped short of the city and was evacuated of all passengers. My boyfriend (now husband) was in Birmingham at the time and all he could think of was getting to me as quickly as possible.

Reunited that evening we assessed the vulnerable and fallible state of the world and took comfort in the solidity of one another. It is important to know that you are heading towards a definite place, and this is what encourages me in my determination to succeed. I secured a place at the London College of Printing to do a Masters in Journalism. But, this was not before I left an indelible impression on an interview panel at another London University, who were left speechless after I handed them my portfolio cuttings, together with a stray condom from my bag - courtesy of the fresher’s pack I had been handed on my arrival! I eagerly anticipate the challenges that await me and just as I defied my vertigo with a terrifying yet exhilarating bungee jump off a New Zealand canyon, likewise, I will meet every future obstacle head on. That jump, has taught me that I hold the power to determine my fate. Sometimes, you just have to take a leap of faith.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Bookworms Anonymous

Books are hot!! It's official.

The 'hot coffee in a cardboard cup' has been replaced by ...the novel!! I'm not kidding, as I rode the escalator to the top of Green Park station this morning, every passing commuter was engrossed in a veritable selection of fiction.

And they used to say reading was only for swots and nerds... Well, in their face!

As a sometime nerd and avid reader, I am thrilled at this change in the trend barometer (even if it has only been noted by yours truly). And despite the constant barrage of hip, techno-complicated gadgets such as the Kindle and the iPad, I still prefer the feel of a real page-turner. In much the same way as I spend oodles of dosh on magazines despite much of the content being available on their dedicated websites, having the actual, tangible thing in my possession is far more satisfying.

Electronic reading devices are designed for those video-game obsessed, internet-addicted, gadget-needing individuals - for whom hardware will always entice more than a hardback.

I love knowing how far into a book I am - notably earmarked by my Twilight bookmark - and being able to pick it up wherever I am (on the train, in bed, in the park) and carry right on, easily able to flip back to something if need be, or read the author bio or see what other titles said author has written.

I am currently reading Marian Keyes' 'Sushi for Beginners' and in true Keyes style, I am by now intimately acquainted with each character and unable to put it down. I love getting lost in the words, the literary illustrations, the stories and quite frankly I don't believe this can be achieved - electronically.

I will always have bookshelves lined with books - but what can we expect in the future? Minimalism taken to a new level? We've done away with CDs, videos, I imagine DVDs will be extinct eventually what with the Apple TV... so we will live in white-washed homes with a computer for company? Dating replaced exclusively by cyber-dating, long-haul flights made redundant by Skype video calling and shopping done entirely online? It's a scary thought...

The world changes dramatically from one day to the next - with yesterdays' news again warning of brain tumours caused by excessive use of mobile phones, I can only wonder - will technology be the end of human life as we know it?

Thursday, 10 June 2010

What style means to me…

When I grow up I want to be… stylish? Most young girls’ aspirations revolve around popularity, potential superstardom and fairytale endings with their prince charming. Mine were a tad more tangible. I wanted to be a writer, so I made myself a writer. I wanted to have curly hair, so I teased, tamed and tormented my waves into pre-Raphaelite glory. I wanted a style all my own…

…so this is me. Today. Lamé purple leggings. A pink tutu. A cropped tee over a black body. A satin pink bow decorating auburn curls. And my prized pair of purple DMs.

Another idealistic ‘80s fanatic you might think. But my style is about more than what I wear.

Style pieces itself together gradually, garnering elements from one ensemble or another, fads, fashions and phases. And though it may not be discernable as one stumbles through puberty and teen angst, a style all your own is being woven into the fabric of your being.

I have been channelling Eighties chic for years, through a vestige of big hair, leggings, and brightly coloured ensembles constructed in a bid to emulate my ‘80s icons. Born in 1985, my style inspiration derives from the quirky individuality of Molly Ringwald, Madonna and Mary Stuart Masterson.

As children, my brother and I would play dress-up, raiding the “fancy dress” hamper stored in the bottom of my mother’s closet. The floral leggings and oversized sweatshirts we donned were remnants of a fashion age that would shape the woman I grew up to be. I must have intrinsically known that I was a born devotee to the era of excess, as many items found their way into my wardrobe and stayed there, resisting the many desperate ‘clear-out’ attempts by my mother.

I spent my early teen years trawling through markets for vintage finds and reworking garments to achieve my longed-for ‘80s look. So much so that one Christmas evening, I abandoned the traditional movie and mellowing to create my own adaptation of a Katherine Hamnett slogan tee.

The ‘80s was defined by a generation of young men and women attempting to discover who they were and express their individuality. More than that, though, the big, bold ‘80s silhouette was a nod to tough times gone by and a means of armour with which to face the world. Having always been naturally drawn to excessorising myself with ‘80s trends, I grew to understand that my clothes served to simultaneously convey who I was while shielding me from the painful and difficult events in my life.

From my parents’ divorce in the early nineties and my father’s subsequent exodus to New Zealand, to the passing of my beloved Grandfather last year, I have modelled my wardrobe around my feelings. I surround myself with clothes and accessories that evoke a time I recall mainly via family photos and home videos, but one that fills me with happiness.

From a young age I developed a self-reliance and control that enabled me to deal with the loss, the hurt and the utter chaos that other people create. I realised I was the only person I could rely on. I wanted to be sure of who I was and what I was going to do with my life. My fashion sense and personal style derived from wanting to look different from everyone else. I wanted a style of my own. I didn’t want my fashion choices to be dictated by the fluctuating and fickle trends barometer.

Coco Chanel once said, “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” Fashions evolve as we do, and so too our style punctuates each stage of our journey through life. Once we recognise this fact, we stop surrendering to passing trends and learn about who we are.

It is easy to mistake style as only belonging to the striking glamazons who stalk the runways at fashion shows and the girls we know, who seem to have everything. They appear to conjure this flair as though out of thin air, while we trip over countless fashion faux pas in an effort to achieve it.

At times, growing up, I felt I lacked this quintessential element of sophistication that was their key to success. I observed my peers’ effortless style, presumably thanks to wealthy parents, and I yearned for the insider knowledge that would instil me with that same “je ne sais quoi”.

Living vicariously through the fashions exhibited on cult shows including Sex and the City and Gossip Girl you can lose sight of your own style and look to adopt something else. I considered imitating the polished elegance of a Charlotte York or a Blair Waldorf, but ultimately I knew that wasn’t really me.

The high street continues to celebrate the 1980s revival and I have plundered my bank account to indulge my obsession, forgoing reason in a mad panic to buy before the retailers refresh their stock with the next fashion phase.

Yves Saint Laurent said: “Fashions fade, style is eternal.” My style equates to my history, the richness of it embedded in every memory, every event I have experienced and every moment yet to come. It is what makes me who I am. And to me, that is what style is supposed to be: a window through which the outside world can look in and see ‘the real me’.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

What's in a name

Carrie Bradshaw (nee Preston) is my screen-soulmate...

"You are a real girl about town. You love the city you live in and are always hanging out at the coolest joints. Most importantly you love your clothes – you dare to be different and are always sporting the latest trends before any of your friends. Although finding the right man is important, your friends always take first priority."
[Heart radio quiz result]

The number of SATC quizzes I take to discover my SATC soulmate and the answer is always Carrie!! My friends may think I rigged it because I covet Carrie's wardrobe, lifestyle and washboard stomach but honestly there are inescapable similarities...

We share the following: naturally curly hair; a career in writing (and journalism), a creativity which leads naturally on to how we express ourselves in life and in fashion; we dare to be different - I choose my clothes on the basis that I think they're gorgeous and fundamentally I want them to demonstrate my individuality to the world and the way I feel on any one day; our lifestyles - although I haven't yet acquired the 'walk-in-closet' I too live beyond my means believing truly that fashion does feed me more than food; like Carrie I too have my select group of very close friends with whom I share a sisterly bond (one of whom is distinctly like Miranda...) and I have found and married my very own Mr Big (though without the emotionally fraught preamble!!).

A final point:
Since her marriage to John James Preston, Carrie maintains her individuality and her name (Carrie Bradshaw). I have been faced with the dilemma of what to do about changing my name in the light of my recent marriage and have reached a compromise; in order to satisfy my husband's desire for me to take his name I have done this in an official capacity (passport, driving licence etc) however, as a writer I am able to retain my maiden name in all my by-lines and future works. In this way, I have achieved a happy balance between my married self and myself!!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Sparkle all the way...

Sex and the City 2

What a fantastic follow-up to movie number one!!! The fabulous foursome are back (and then some)!! Beautiful clothes, beautiful men and beautiful shoes!!!! Liza Minelli officiating a "gay wedding" [quoting Mr Big], Carrie in a tux, Samantha back to her maneating form, Charlotte having a case of the Jude Laws and Miranda looking hot hot hot...

The sequel to Sex and the City: The Movie is better than I could have dared to imagine!! It radiates with glamour and luxury, vibrant colour, brilliant comedy and of course, sparkle!! Mr Big and Carrie are stumbling their way through 'the terrible twos' trying to avoid falling into the rut of being "Mr & Mrs Married", Carrie wants the zsa zsa zu to remain at its height but there's a couch in the way... Charlotte is also feeling her way blindly through the terrible twos as the family she always dreamt of becomes rather overwhelming and she realises it's not possible to do it all - but she does have a wonderful (if bra-less) young nanny to help her out... Miranda has recaptured her relationship with hubby Steve but must recapture what she once loved about law and the fun person she used to be... and Samantha, well, she's back!! Using every herbal (and nutritional) tactic to stay young despite her 52 years, she's the same Samantha we all know and love taking her pick of the gorgeous straight men available - and in one instance even getting arrested for it!! She undoubtedly puts the 'sex' in Sex and the City 2!!!! It's just fabulous...

I love the eighties snapshots at the start of the movie also as Carrie recounts how she remembers each of her best friends when they first met...

...and of course when she herself first arrived in New York City in 1986...

I have seen it twice so far since it was released last Friday... the first time on Friday with my hubby at a special VIP screening at The Tricycle Cinema in Kilburn followed by a Q&A with Kim Cattrall (aka Samantha Jones) - see pics:

It was quite incredible to see her right there sitting just millimetres away from me (I was in the front row, of course!!)

And I asked my question - I asked how the women, particularly 'Samantha' had dealt with the middle-eastern restrictions imposed on women in Abu Dabi (actual filming location was Morocco because Abu Dabi actually wouldn't allow them to film the movie there, wanted numerous changes to the script and even wanted to remove the word 'Sex' from the title). She said she 'Kim' found it interesting to experience such a different culture and commented on the fact that so many Americans don't even have passports or travel anywhere outside of the United States.

I went again last night to a Cocktails and Cupcakes gala evening with my girlfriend Ariella... Standing outside the cinema drinking and catching up and admiring our pink iced cupcakes the two of us were approached by a guy - straight and a fan of SATC - who proceeded to direct all his conversation towards me despite my frequent mentioning of my husband. It was only when said husband showed up en route from the station that the guy instantly redirected his attention to Ariella and then made a swift departure into the cinema!!! Hilarious!! Anyway, needless to say it was equally fabulous the second time around - cannot wait for the DVD!!!!

Sparkle sparkle sparkle...

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