Monday, 24 March 2014

We're Shopping... Guest shop girl at James Long and other musings

Next Saturday, 29th March, I'll be taking a trip to James Long's sample sale 'pop up' over at The Hackney Shop, 99 Morning Lane to take up residence for an afternoon as a shop girl so come and see me for a gossip. James is known for his fabulous menswear, knits and womenswear and I've been a fan since I saw his shows at Fashion East a few years ago. Anyway it got me thinking about my previous illustrious days on the shop floor...

My first ever shop assistant role was in 1978 at PX in James Street, Covent Garden with Steve Strange and deejay Jay Strongman. It was a part time job, we opened around 11am in and finished around 7pm. The shop initially was off Floral Street in a defunct fruit and veg shop as Covent Garden market, then boarded up was being renovated into the shopping centre we see today. The area was bleak in those days but PX became known as the home of the new romantic era. Designer Helen Robinson took the task of creating a neo-futuristic look worn by the dandy's of the day, press studded shirts and 'peg' trousers complete with piping were mixed with retro items such as German storm trooper leather trench coats, vests, and various vintage accessories such as medals, caps and diamonté broaches sourced by her partner Stefane Raynor who had by then moved on from BOY to create the lo-tech shop. Our playlist included Kraftwerk, Bowie, Iggy Pop and Grace Jones. I would go to work caked in makeup, beehive, cinched in waist and on blues (speed) and we'd basically sit around all day smoking, catching up with the gossip and rearranging stock.
Michael Jackson came in one day but most of the time we were visited by friends, although people would travel to London to see what it was all about. Marc Almond told me a funny story recently that I was totally unaware of, about how he came down from Leeds and visited with a friend. They went shopping in the area and spent all their money at Paul Howie's on Longacre. By the time they got to PX they were too frightened to come in as they thought they should buy something but they still wanted to visit the shop. I was in that day Marc told me, but as we didn't know each other then he just peaked round the shutter to have a look! I wish they had come in, I've always been a huge fan of Marc's and had heard of him even then. 
I still worked at PX when they eventually moved to Endell Street, the look had changed, ruffles, taffeta and velvet were the order of the day. With the help of designer Claire Thom we introduced a women's line of bespoke creations and Stephen Jones set up his first millinery salon in the basement. 

Outside the PX Endell Street store courtesy of Shapers Of The 80's / photo Martin Brading

In the late 80's and into the 90's my next shop job was at World, Michael and Gerlinde Costiff's shop in around 1986/7 where I took a part time job once again. The shop on Litchfield Street, WC2 near Cambridge Circus represented an eclectic life of travel. Michael and Gerlinde took a fascinating journey collecting African beaded dolls and accessories, Brazilian headdresses and Asian artifacts. Mixing it all up with flashy NYC 14th Street gold jewelry (think Neneh Cherry in Buffalo Stance or Man Child, she and Judy Blame came by to stock up for said video's), fake designer track suits, bum-bags, Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf T-shirts and the designers in London such as Rachal Auburn, Michael Kostiff's own logoed 'World' designed T-shirts, plus the club T's of the late 80's... Schoom, Spectrum etc.

Pages of Michael Costiff's recent book  Michael & Gerlinde's World' courtesy of Charlie

I worked there with deejay Martin Confusion and model and muse and singer Roy Brown (aka Roy Inc) once again our time was taken up with gossip and folding t-shirts. We'd have mix tapes in those days, usually soundtracks created by Martin himself. From the shop came the club Kinky Gerlinky which monthly night started at Legends on Old Burlington Street and later moved to The Empire, Leicester Square. Of course we all deejayed there as well with Roy on the door in an outrageous get up prized nipples exposed along with Tasty Tim, also trés beyond. The shop closed in the early 90's. Michael Costiff still has a shop, you can find World Archive in Dover Street Market nowadays where Michael mixes his ornate finds with his own designs and screen prints. 

My own career in deejaying took off by the 90's and I haven't thought of being a shop girl since really, mind you if I did it would have to be a very special shop, the sort that opened around midday and sold an interesting mix of clothes and nicknacks... (& have a sneaky fag in) perhaps I should take it up again and open my own! 

James Long website

Friday, 21 March 2014

What Is She Wearing... Lulu & Co

New in from Lulu & Co a capsule range from Louise Gray, a personal fave designer of mine I was thrilled when Fashion East founder Lulu Kennedy sent me a personal orders look book. A bit about Louise and her exceptional designs, she's the one who goes for bold prints, swirling patternage and hand woven fabrics. She mixes it up with ingenious shaping and layers on fierce accessories... In one of her last shows Stephen Jones did the placky bag bonnets for her, Tatty Divine have given her reflective baubles and she's even worked toilet roles as bracelets! Although Louise is taking some time out from London Fashion Week we are hoping she'll be back. 

Some of Louise Gray's Lulu & Co bits 

A bit about Lulu & Co, Lulu Kennedy and friends put together affordable diffusion lines from a few of our favourite designers including Jonathan Saunders, Bella Freud and Roksander Illinic on a seasonal basis. Separates in the form of emblazoned T's and sweatshirts,  frocks, skirts everything a girl could want to keep abreast of the fashion fireball!

I chose a gorge double denim ensemble skirt and bustier and I'm not taking it off this week!

Wish I had ordered this as well though now... #Obsessed 


Thursday, 20 March 2014

Kylie, She's Nice...

And she's camp and vamp all at the same and therein lies the loveability of Miss Kylie Minogue over the years. She has something enduring and endearing, she's no frosty diva and she doesn't take herself to seriously but she is serious about her work and perhaps that's why we all love her. In real life she's funny with a line in witty repartee and likes nothing more than snuggling up in a cashmere blanket with a good book. That's one side of her, the other is the bit we all see is the Kylie stepping out and working it. She's doing a bit of promotion at the moment what with the release of a new album 'Kiss Me Once'. I went to the intimate gig she did at the Old Blue Last in Shoreditch last month where she managed add to add a bit of sparkle to the hipster venue and she flung herself into the after show Karaoke 'Kylieoke' shenanigans with drag performers Jonny Woo, Ma Butcher and the Gay Bingo team much to their amazement and amusement. See it's moments like this that everybody takes her into their hearts. The other night I popped by to see her perform at the Bloomsbury Ballroom for another helping courtesy of Mastercard #PricelessSurprises. She gave us exactly what we wanted, a selection of previous hits 'La La La' included, some new ones from her latest work including 'Sexcercise' complete with dancing girls and exercise balls (which I would say is her homage of Olivia Newton John's 'Lets Get Physical'), plus 'Les Sex' and a costume change thrown in for good measure.

As seen in Stylist magazine - photo by Ellen Von Unwerth

It's that voice that fascinates me, in essence it's the perfect pop voice, there isn't anyone that can match it really. A little bit like she's had a quick inhale on a helium balloon except she hasn't, her high pitched range sits perfectly upon the pop compositions she known for. It's a voice made for pop. In the olden days in order to obtain that kind of warble producers sped up artists voices, (think Madonna's 'Holiday' era), today we have the auto tune.
So with all this was going on I was having a chat with a friend who wondered if Kylie actually had expanded her fan base, 'course she has', I said. She does have a very loyal following who have kept with her through the decades and that's very apparent. She has also kept abreast of of the pop machine, adored by the younger generation who love the latest on the pop scene and I hasten to add have this information on good authority!
Anyway pop fans Kylie is hotting up for a tour so catch her while you can...

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Pam Hogg Reveals All - talk at the V&A 14th March

She started off studying fine art but she doesn't draw her designs, 'They're all in my head', she said at her recent talk at the V&A to a full house as she explained the complexities within her creative process. She spent the 80's establishing herself as part of the London artistic scene and by the end of the 90's she'd given up fashion design more or less to focus on her music (she sings btw) and a dj career. In the past few years she's once again donned her fashion crown and taken to the catwalk with seasonal shows via the Fashion Scout platform amalgamating her various talents within music, film and fashion by means of expressing her creative outlook.

She is indeed a scene queen and embraces a red carpet walk with the best of them, Pam represents a side of London life that appears both in the mainstream press and with the rock 'n' roll elite. She likes to party but ultimately she's a focused and intense individual. 
Knowing Pam Hogg for some years she's extremely passionate about everything she does, her life is full of drama as she strives for her vision to become reality. Fashion is a tough old world let it be said and Pam's struggle for perfection has led her to a life on the edge and I suspect she wouldn't have it any other way. She more than once explained she didn't have any money, slept a mere 2 hours a night in the weeks leading up to her London fashion week shows and went out foraging for inspiration on the streets of Dalston. Working like this she has found that flashes of perfection reach her imagination like thunderbolts... the show must go on! 
Pam's bodysuits made of intricate figure forming patternage have become her signature pieces, they emerged in the 80's and have featured in magazines by rock and pop royalty alike. And so, as each season goes by Pam Hogg further develops the look, sheer, lace and sequined but it's the shiny multi-coloured ones that have set the precedent and they're a bugger to produce, so much so Pam takes it upon herself to make each one herself. Do not be deceived though, Pam is no one trick pony, delve into the Hoggsters collections and find her draped gowns, party frocks, tailored suits and ruffled and strapped creations are at once futuristic, glam and gothic all at the same time. She says she feels she's empowering women, that's one of her main themes and although she doesn't feel over political there are overt symbols within her female stand point, some more obvious than others. 
Further into the talk Pam explains further personal revelations, ideas plucked seemingly from thin air relay a sense of a spiritual journey, each collection interlinking with the next within the context of social awareness. A close bond with her father revealed something of a eureka moment in more recent years when reminded that her childhood bedtime reading matter consisted of the book 'The Pilgrim's Progress' by John Bunyon from 1678. She refreshed her mind and reread it realizing all these years she had been subconsciously referencing passage after passage from the book. Pam's penny dropped and after such a sharing instant with us Pam excitedly and in depth explained how it all made sense...

A/W 2014

Thursday, 13 March 2014


This week I had the pleasure of hotfooting it up town to see one of my oldest friends milliner Stephen Jones collect an award given by The Champagne Bureau. Set in the historic building The Undercroft at Banqueting House, Whitehall where we were treated to a selection of fizz from De La Joie De Vivre and a multitude of nibbles whilst admiring a selection of archive hat's from the House of Stephen Jones.

For over three decades Stephen has been changing the way we wear our hat's, in fact I think it's true to say he brought millinery back into the limelight at the time. In his acceptance speech he remembered his first salon in the basement of PX in Endell Street (we're talking 1979 here!) where I worked as a shop girl... thanks for the name check dear. From his creative beginnings Stephen has never ceased with a work ethic that is both inspiring and fascinating. His attention to detail and focused attitude was and is always a thing that I've been mesmerized by.
In the 80's we shared a flat with Lee Sheldrick who did many wonderful illustrations for Stephen and later deejay and archivist Jeffrey Hinton. Even then Stephen would go to his tiny Soho headquarters in Wardour Street and whip up seasonal collections which in the early day's I modeled for him. We would have soiree's throughout the day with tea served and a set list of Stephen's favorite 'easy listening' soundtracks creating a delightful ambience as we turned our heads this way and that to show the full detail of each hat. I loved these small affairs I have to say. Stephen Jones Millinery then moved to a larger premises in Heddon Street and I continued to model for him on occasion. 

Me, modeling Stephen Jones 80's

Nowadays Stephen is based in Great Queen Street, Covent Garden. He has a shop front full of his latest collections which actually when you walk in is quite breathtaking. You really can study the detail and craft that goes into each hat and headpiece. Rather prolifically Stephen also designs the the hats season after season for other designers including Giles, Comme and Raf Simmons for Dior, personalities both in music and the arts, has just launched his second perfume 'Wisteria Hysteria' as well continuing a pace with own seasonal and diffusion collections. 
As Stephen said in his acceptance speech 'Joie De La Vire' (joy of living) is a description quite apt when describing his creative work. Chin-chin Stephen, let's raise a glass to your outstanding career! #ChampagneJoieDeVivre

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

London Fashion Week Round Up A/W 2014

Yes I know I'm a bit late with this one! These are the shows I went to this season, lot's of highlights!

Nasir Mazhar - Check in with Nasirs glitzy street wear,  attitude emblazoned with a focus on the body.  Sexy, bold and sassy in pink, gold, grey and black. The leggings yes! The hair yes! Everything yes!

Westwood Red Label - Snazzy combo's and signature Westwood looks.  Tailored but with a quirky edge, oh so adorable!  Love all these touches that make Westwood so wantable.

Meadham Kirchhoff - Living the dream in boxy suits , loved! Floaty layers of lace and chiffon, adore, and we have to mention the shoes... I would wear everything from Tralala this season and top it off with their new Tralala perfume.

Fashion East - Ashley Williams
What a darling,  she's got pony motifs,  fringing and canary yellow sequins. Little tip and don't tell anyone but denim is a big trend this season and miss Williams gave us lashings of it in the cutest way possible! Loved the bonnets... want!

Sister by Sibling - Drenched in the threads of gothic romanticism,  the drama of Sibling's craft set's a modern rock 'n' roll mood. Fab hat's btw from Bernstock Speirs!

Pam Hogg - Our Pam send her models slinking down the runway in her signature catsuits and added cute handknits with activist slogans. Yes it's time to take a stand everyone... #pussyriot #LGBT #PamHoggShop

KTZ- All the rage, the modern warrior woman steps out in futuristic ethnic glory. A mostly monochrome collection with a splash of gold and ski based bootees good enough to clomp around the winter months in.

Lucas Nassimento -  Minimalist knit, leather it's all about the simple but well considered silhouette at the house of Nassimento.  Subtle colour washes and a new kind of chicness.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Elton John Day... it's coming

I wouldn't say I'm a superfan of Elton John but he has had quite a few memorable hits to say the least and for that I must pay him homage. Ah yes indeed, 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' was on my playlist back in my youth spent sunning myself in my parents garden in 1973 along with Bowie and Ferry. Anyway what with Elton John day coming up on March 22nd (did I just make that up?) I went to a private screening of 'Elton John -The Million Dollar Piano' the other evening and sat through Elt's film due to be screened on the above date for one night only at cinemas across the UK, if that doesn't make it Elton John day I don't know what does. 

Don't expect a repeat of david Furnish's 'Tantrums and Tiaras', do expect a full blown Las Vegas, live from the Colosseum, Caesars Palace full on camp concert for an hour and forty five minutes. It went really quick btw, that's cause Elton has got song after song, (with a bit of banter thrown in and more than a few visual delights), of amazing material that spans over four decades! He's influenced many it has to be said and it's quite apparent that Elton looks most at home on the stage even though he's quite private, dare I say it, shy in his personal life... well he's just fiercely guarded, of course he is a man of his stature. 

I used to know his hairdresser in the 90's so I got to go to a concert with a VIP pass on one occasion, that was a lol, witnessing side stage the great man singing his maje hits. Then one day I got a call to dj for Donatella Versace at a launch in Lake Como for an exhibition of the late Gianni Versaces frocks. I walked into the Versace household and lo and behold there was Elton sitting in the middle of Donetellas parlor dressed in an ornate jacket and sitting on an ornate chair. (*gasp!) We all sat around chain smoking and hung on his every word. What a moment... Gianni's ashes on the mantlepiece, Donatella chit chatting away, Rupert Everett and I passing a few comments, a lot of scented candles and all set in the luxurious Versace home of picturesque Lake Como! 
Anyway I diverse... back to the concert and the million dollar piano, I was fascinated to hear Elton talking about how he and Bernie Taupin constructed their songs, never together at one time but via notes and more recently emails, Bernie writes the lyrics and Elton conjures up the tunes around his prose. I was touched when Elton dedicated 'Blue Eyes' to Elizabeth Taylor and then went on to say how he names all his piano's, this one's called Blossom after one of his favourite jazz singers Blossom Dearie and not Madonna lol! 

He then went on to work the audience into a frenzy with 'Crocodile Rock' and a stage invasion. His band members consist of an original cast, some new comers in the form of rather dishy housewives faves duo 2Cellos and backing singers Rose Stone, Tata Vega, Jean Witherspoon and Lisa Stone, all diva's in their own right. Elton is a true professional and although he said he'd had a little break sometime ago, a moment I never noticed. As far as I can see he's a workaholic and has never actually stopped rather prolifically creating music and performing since he first found his vocation. All hail Elton John I say... he really should have a day created in his honour.

Princess Julia

Wednesday, 5 March 2014


I love wearing makeup, I love talking about makeup and listening to other people talk about makeup, MAC's UK Director Terry Barber gave us a fabulous resumé of all things MAC for S/S 2014 recently. I just love his references which included Noosha Fox, Veruscha,  and a vision of a 'slept in Bardot'. It all starts off with a complexion that reveals a 'fine veil of radiance', it's non-makeup makeup, blurring, plumping and resurfacing. I was fascinated to learn that MAC have incorporated products that mimic and incorporate an element of skin care into the equation. Makeup + skin care = reality and a resurfaced perfection. I got up today and did a bit of that myself with their Prep + Prime BB Beauty Balm, course I had to have a go... glides on a treat I have to say.

I was a bit worried it wouldn't cover my imperfections but it did I'm happy to say and I did feel an added layer of moisture and protection, it's an SPF 30, fight those elements dears and get 'perfection in texture' as Terry described it. Next it's the Prep + Prime CC pressed powder, now powder is very important to me and this recipe is light but covers well without being claggy. Right, moving on lets talk about blush... 'not simply there for cuteness', I always think I might end up looking like 'What Ever Happened To Baby Jane' no chance here though, the idea is all about washes and textures, brightening rather than creating structure. Have a look at the make up Lucia Peironi created for Giles and you'll get the jist. Alex Box did a clever thing, blocking out areas with white highlights, the effect of daylight beauty. There's a return to femininity, less androgynous but just as arresting. Lips next, 'rubbed rosebud neutral', stripping the formality away there's a sense of effortlessness, a 'slipped on red', chicory, tobacco and walnut stained hues. 

Obviously there's an art to acquiring this particular look the word 'painterly' sprung to mind as an image of Peter Pilotto's dense matt lilac lip flashed up, Kabuki for Manish also revealed a painterly attitude in his work. Eyes... new feline, doe eyed, natural glitter over super sexy vampish cats-eye eyeliner. Miranda Joyce for Sister by Sibling hit the nail on the head with flirty, a nods as good as a wink attitude. I also liked the chalky white eyeliner effect for Kenzo and hint of a brushstroke from Mash Ma. There are false eyelashes but they're enhancing rather than the main feature, think Holly Fulton's adorable girl woman, a hint of the Lolita's and you're off!   

Monday, 3 March 2014

Life's a Drag (a celebration)

Jeffrey Hinton is mainly known as a dj, in fact I credit him fully as inspiring me to take to the decks in the 80's. What you may not realize is that over the years Jeffrey has been an avid archivist amassing a collection of photographs and film as he goes about his life filled with interests around music, dance the arts and fashion. His life like mine (we were flat mates throughout the 80's btw along with milliner Stephen Jones) is a journey of curiosity across many creative disciplines. He does this with an open spirit, great humor and wonderful sense of community. Now then it has come to my attention of late that Jeffrey Hinton has been collating his archive, last year he unearthed and edited some of his film work at the ICA OFF-SITE exhibition at the Old Selfridges Hotel and V&A 'Club to Catwalk' fashion installation along with installation work and talks at the National Portrait Gallery. This year he is part of the BFI Flare: London LGBT film festival with 'Life's a Drag (a celebration) his most recent work which travels across previous decades to the present day.

Film clips...  from Life's a Drag, left Gay Bingo, right rare footage of drag artiste Rose Marie

Talk and screening on March 25th, 6.10pm... it's sold out already!