Thursday, 8 December 2016

The fascination of fashion

How old is too old for certain items of clothing? Who determines what we should wear, and how? My obsession with this question probably started when I saw Iris at a film festival last year. What does it mean, now, that because of her fame the 94 year-old Iris Apfel is now in an advert for watches in January's Vogue (itself an interesting issue for featuring the 'curvy' model Ashley Graham on its cover)? Has Iris sold out? Have we commidified her, because of our condescending sense that she is 'amazing' because she wears what she wants? Or is she just laughing at us, making money from the very obvious thing that fashion is for her: fun and fascination?

I've been thinking about these questions recently, and they've informed the pictures below, which play with the dictats of fashion and ask what it is about fashion that might 'work' or not. And if we can work this out, is this because someone told us or is it more about the physics of things, when put together, just being 'right'?
Ripped jeans, past a certain age, with iron-on patches (blue): is that because the wearer (me) is 'un certain age' too?

The other leg. I like the way the rips work against (with?) the shiny sandal. But how many rips are too many?

'How to wear' instructions on a headscarf. Should anyone try this at home? I did!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Manchester, North Quarter, springtime

In Manchester a fortnight ago to catch a flight, I took a detour off the main drag and found myself in the 'North Quarter', an area which has had a cultural renaissance in recent years. The spring light was lovely, and did interesting things to the collection of buildings -- some grand, some ramshackle -- in the area. And the city's emphasis on music, fashion and food was everywhere in evidence .

 This was taken in a back street near Piccadilly Station -- so not strictly in the North Quarter -- but I liked how old and new and light and dark worked together here.

Sachas 'Art Deco' style Hotel (it doesn't seem to get great reviews), in the 'heart' of the North Quarter. The shadows are interesting here, too. I toyed with saving the picture in black and white but then you wouldn't have seen the lovely gold and red features.

This is 'North Tea Power' cafe in the North Quarter. Love the name; love the blossom. And they serve tea in cafetieres...

One of the main streets in the North Quarter. I love the juxtaposition of old shop fronts, building numbers, street signs and new frontages for vintage and record shops. The colours really 'pop' too.

Someone got there first! A proper photographer takes a photograph of Piccadilly Records, North Quarter.

Monday, 31 March 2014

What's in a frame? Image, boundary, text

As a long-term admirer (though not so much as a connoisseur) of Pre-Raphaelite art, I have always been fascinated by the ways in which the Pre-Raphaelites (some of whom were poets as well as artists) framed their paintings with words and images. There is a brilliant blog on all things Frames written by a Courthauld-trained picture frame historian, and she has several posts on Pre-Raphaelite frames. Anyway because of this interest I have been (unconsciously) taking framed photos for a while now, and in some of them the frames are accompanied by text. I guess on an obvious level it gives you a framework (ahem) within which to work, but beyond that there is something satisfying about the ways in which images generate their own boundaries: sometimes through accident, and sometimes by design. All the pictures below have been taken, again, in either Oxford or London.

 The Savoy sweet shop, The Strand, London, 19 December 2013: a rather saccharine (cynical?) frame perhaps?. (Wish I'd taken this slightly more to the left).

View from my flat, East Oxford, Christmas Day 2013: do Christmas cards count as 'text'?

By Donnington Bridge, Oxford, 11 January 2014: not quite a frame, perhaps, but I like how the notice tries to write the scene, and the gate delineates the boundary. The 'purple' tree was a happy accident.

Sunset from my flat, East Oxford, 15 March 2014: I am lucky that my flat faces west! I like how the scene isn't quite what you would call beautiful -- it's as if the houses and cars are oblivious to what's going on in the sky above.
Garden view, Herne Hill, London, 22 March 2014: I like how the Victorian window frames actually cut through the scene rather uncertainly, in contrast to the jutting extension to the left. The garden walls and fences add more delineation, making a usually familiar view slightly unsettling (& askew).

 M Bar, Leadenhall Market, City of London, 26 March 2014: this old-style Italian bar is beautifully designed, so generated its own frames really. Yet it is not a flawless scene, by any measure. The glass cabinet at the front seems, on further inspection, to be full of bags (used for storage, perhaps); and are those Walker's crisps packets above? But I do love how the man on the left is taking a moment to eat his lunch, and drink his wine, looking out through the window at another scene entirely.

For CW

Sunday, 23 March 2014

What's in a name? Oxford (and London) streets...

As someone who lives and works in a place associated traditionally with history and learning, it might come as a surprise to see that all of these photos (apart from 'Tubbs Road', which as you can see is North London) were taken in Oxford. I like thinking about the ways in which street names and their environments play against, or with, each other.

Hertford Street, East Oxford, 19 January

Tubbs Road, Harlesden, London, 25 January
Walton Lane, off Worcester Place, Oxford, 12 March
St. John Street, Oxford, 19 February

Leopold Street, East Oxford, 23 March