oh, baby: blues

Unintentional sequential juxtaposition: 07.04.12/13.04.12.

We'd been to Brighton to see our friends' brilliant new baby boy, shot a whole sequence of him dancing on his back, and then I didn't shoot for a few days, and then the next shot I happened to take, on a whim, was a shelf in my cupboard. It's been so dark and cold and rainy here in London that pastels have felt like a thing of the past, but I swear to you: the minute I put these shots up, the sun came out. Outside my window, our lavender and pale blue pansies are smiling at me, the start of blue hydrangeas starting to form, and across the mews, our neighbours' house painted yellow, against a stunning blue sky and the lime green of the trees.

This random collection of my jumpers and tees dates back to my NY days: reliable old friends.


no woman, no cry

This version gives me the chills: I'm not kidding, that film has had such an impact on me, I can't stop singing Bob Marley songs in my head. I was having a long coffee chat with a good friend yesterday at Jaks, and his music came on.. what can I say, really? 'everyone have the answer.. everyone knows WHAT can bring this unity.'

I think I might have posted this shot before - it was one of those click as you pass things. I just think this is the most classically beautiful look: masculine and feminine, in perfect balance. Effortless good style.

The best looks seem to always be on the people who have something more important than fashion on their minds.


one love

We just saw MARLEY today. What a film. Have you seen it? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

What an incredible man. He only walked on this earth for 36 years, but he packed a lot of living into that life, and has left a lot of love in his wake.

(Photo by me, in the Dominican Republic, summer before last).


boats against the current

'Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter - tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther... And one fine morning -
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.'

Two separate photos, pulled from my archives. I met Leila and Rhiannon at my - and their - first fashion week, September 2009. They couldn't believe that a)I asked their names, b)wrote them down and c)remembered, and greeted them, when I saw them again. And again. We kept running into each other everywhere, and they became two of several Muses. 'Everyone else just shoots us,' they said. 'They don't even say thank you.'

And weirdly, three years ago, this time, I met someone on the street. I guess I gave her my card but I didn't hear from her - all I knew was her name was Peony. It only occurred to me now - I know her. I've seen her over the years at fashion weeks, and last I knew, she lived near us, with her mum. You might even know her, too - I think she has a blog.

Alternative Fashion Week is on in East London, and my lovely friend Dvora asked if I wanted to go. I can't - I've already got other plans - but I'm sure she'll get great shots. She's shooting, I believe, for Vogue, too. I can't believe that all this time, our paths didn't cross, and now - when I'm less intense about my blog, about street shooting - she is such a warm, generous friend.

Funny old world.


blow up: bad boys

Art imitating art imitating art: I shot these at the press preview for BRITISH DESIGN 1948-2012 at the V&A. If you can imagine, it's this massive exhibition, and I had entered into a dark time warp of Mary Quant mannequins, original David Bailey photos of Mick Jagger, and there's this screening, in the darkness, of a scene from Antonini's Blow Up. And my heart nearly stopped because I remember as a young girl having such a crush on David Hemmings, who played a photographer that (I later learned) was modelled after David Bailey. And this great iconic music from the period is playing, and I was mesmerised, watching this scene.. it's just so blatantly sexual. And as I started shooting - because it is SUCH a treat, as a photographer, to be allowed to shoot inside a museum - and another press photographer saw me shooting, so he starts shooting too... here we are, shooting still photography of movement, but it's not live, it's frozen in time, but we're still trying to catch action.

I remember David Hemmings from Camelot. We had gone into NYC on a school trip, Derrick Johnston - the cutest boy in the school - had just confessed his love for me and all the kids were teasing us about it on the bus. That was my absolute romantic, coming of age film. Everyone loved Lancelot (Franco Nero) and yes, he was cute - and the prototype for all my future romances in NY with cute French boys - but I was equally drawn to Arthur, Richard Harris. The English man, with his wit and wisdom and, well, Englishness. And then, about halfway through the film, who should appear but this sprite. This bad boy. MORDRED. Played by David Hemmings, with his cute little goatee and that blonde hair.. I mean, this guy was trouble with a capital T, and he only had a few lines in the whole film, but I was totally intrigued.

Of course, when Blow Up came out, I doubt it even played in our local suburban cinema. I don't even know how I knew about it - God knows, I was way too young to be able to see it. I must have devoured magazine or newspaper articles. I was fascinated with the idea of a mystery developing - literally developing - from a blow-up of an image that the David Hemmings/Bailey character caught in a London park. Hampstead Health, I'm pretty sure it was. And so I've whiled away a good hour or so, blowing up these stills, and musing on the concept of bad boys.

'I only went out with bad boys in college,' my friend Margaret said recently, 'and then, when I was ready to settle down, I got in touch with the good guy, who had always loved me.' I, on the other hand, married the one bad boy I knew - and wouldn't you know it, he calmed down. But it does seem that, as men go, they do fall into one or the other category. I mean, as women, we can have a phase where we're trying our best to be bad, so boys will like us, while inside, we're secretly good. But bad boys don't seem to operate that way. They're bad just because they feel like it. And they don't care whether we like them or not, which, I suppose, is why we do.

Images blown up by me, courtesy of Antonini's Blow Up: showing at the Victoria and Albert Museum until August.


dress me up and turn me upside down: lace

I am such a freakin' hypocrite.

It was either the day, or the day after, that I did a post about how I'm not a trend follower, blah blah, so don't tell me I should wear pastels when I've been wearing them all these years without your help, thank you very much. I was walking back from seeing a friend for lunch, and passed Buckingham Palace, got tangled in the tourists and had one of those Wow, I can't believe this is my life, I LOVE THIS CITY SO MUCH moments.

Then I kept walking, through Knightsbridge and the tri-factor of H&M, Topshop and Zara. And the pastels.. the sorbet colours.. or, ice cream colours, as Veshoevious just did the definitive post about.. and while I, too, could go home and shop my closet, I became like one of those kids in the park. There's no point in Mommy telling them that 'we have ice cream at home', I wanted a cone NOW.

But especially, because I have the most delicious tops - tees and short sleeved knitted jumpers and cardigans and pullovers in every shade of strawberry, mint, blueberry, lemon, and mocha, what I really want, I mean, REALLY want, is a lace skirt, like this one from Zara. No, this is not a sponsored post, and I'm not bothering to link it - you guys know how to find it. They don't even know how badly I want this skirt. I just know that I could wear it so many ways. Not with these shoes - that's not me - but with flip flops, suede slippers, loafers and white socks, or even heels. Just a few minutes inside those shops gave me such a hunger for all things ice creamesque. And lace. All the trees are in blossom and isn't this just the most beautiful time of year?

I'm wondering, tho.. there's a fabric shop around the corner. I really should see if they have lace. If they do, it would be the easiest thing to sew. If I do, you'll be the first to know.


in defence of sorbet (have a banana)

When I was asked by the Observer/Guardian to talk to them about StreetStyle for their piece not long ago (link's on my sidebar, if you're curious), one of the questions was 'what's the most annoying trend this season?' While I laughed and felt it was a great question, I didn't feel that I was up to speed on trends, having spent less time in the blogosphere in 2012, and more in the real world. So I asked my friend Pearl.

Within minutes, she came back with 'Pastels.' And then I realised: oh yes, that's what the mainstream media has been banging on about. Pastels, sorbet colours.. which I've always liked, always owned and worn, especially in winter. So when they then added to the brief that we'd have to be shot - by one of their own photographers - and they asked me to wear something 'glamourous and trendy', I suddenly found myself in a muddle. Because I just have this aversion to the concept of 'trendy': it gives me the heebie jeebies. I mean, I understand that's meant to be the whole point of our blogs, but I really don't give a toss about trends. And when all these PR people send me their PR stuff to 'share with my readers..' I just don't want to be part of that machinery. Don't want to be a cog in that wheel.

What I was always interested in - since childhood - was the way trends moved naturally. Organically. Like the way my friends and I would wake up on a Tuesday and all feel like wearing lime green, without planning ahead. Like there was a lime green meme in our head. And I understand, I respect, that what most women (and some men) want is to be told what to wear - they want to fit in. Fair enough. But since what I'm drawn to is STYLE, to me that feels like the opposite of following 'trends'. Especially since I've noticed that the Industry cannot dictate what we women want to wear.

Case in point: harem pants. Remember them? Of course not. They were meant to be huge (well, literally: they were) back in the Spring of 2009, when I started my blog. And I ranted and ranted and ranted about the trend.. anyway, I'm wondering if pastels and sorbets and ice cream colours are this season's harem pants. Because I'm not seeing them on the street. Except on me.

Ironically, in my conversations with the Guardian editor about what to wear for the shoot, when I brought up pastels she leapt at it. Yes, please, wear pastels. So I did. Head to toe on a freezing cold day and the shoot was so unlike what we streetstyle shooters do: it was all 'turn your foot that way, no that way', til I nearly fell over several times. And it was so not a good look. Because the truth is, we can't wear it head to toe because we're not, you know, six years old. Still, a bit of sorbet, in moderation, can be a good thing, I feel.

Shot this in passing, stepping into the glorious sunshine after the V&A Design show. More of which coming up.


perfect couple

I have no idea who this couple is, but I was watching them interact for a while, while we were listening to this great guitar player. In a room crammed fill of beautiful girls, this was one of the few - perhaps the only one - who had a boyfriend. A hot boyfriend. Who was clearly smitten with him. I watched the way she kept his attention: she looked smart, and fun, but also, she looked interesting, and, crucially, interested in him. She had him in the palm of her hand: just as she got his total attention, she'd become mysteriously aloof. Like a cat with a mouse. Genius.

So we were driving to Brighton this weekend (Happy Easter everyone! And Passover: am I the only one who thinks it's rare and quite amazing that the holidays fall on exactly the same time? The Last Supper being, in fact, a Sedar). We were going to see our friends' first born son, a beautiful baby boy named Matthew, for the first time. He is three weeks old. And I was telling my husband about how happy I am that a close friend is back with her boyfriend, having listened to my advice.

'You know I don't give a toss about these things,' he said, while cutting off 'some bastard' that he was having a some kind of driving contest with on the M23. 'What things?' 'Relationships.' But he did concede that I was very good at it: giving relationship advice, and all that crap, and next thing I knew, he was coming up with a new career for me. A private relationship coach.

I thought about it: I mean, I really love it. Talking with women about relationships. It's pretty much all I do, or think about. And it's true: I am rather good at it. 'They'd have to never, ever meet you,' I pointed out. 'If they did - if they ever saw us together...' I couldn't even finish the thought. 'Physician, heal thyself.'

The other guy was passing, so my husband sped up, got in front, and slowed down, just to piss him off. 'I'd need a name, of course..' I mused. 'Jack and Jill?'

'How about the Relationship Doctor?' he suggested. (This is the guy who came up with StreetStyle London, btw). 'No, honey,', I laughed, 'You're not really good with names.' They we started arguing about that for a while, which segued into that it was his idea in the first place, and missed the turnoff. Which was my fault.

So what do you think? Is it a good idea? Any suggestions for a company name? He told me to I ask on my blog - yes, this post was his idea, too. I'm illustrating it with shots from a party last year at Selfridges, for Havaianas.


that unique orla kiely glow

Saturday turned suddenly cold, after this heat wave in the UK, and I was stuck in traffic and rushing through the Oxford Street Saturday shopping circus, afraid I'd be late for my interview with Orla Kiely. When I arrived at Uniqlo I was greeted by posies. Pockets of posies at the entrance: sweet smiling spring flowers, like kisses. Then I rushed upstairs to meet her and her lovely team. Impressions of light, sparkling water, fresh strawberries and grapes. Simplicity and calm. Green and red against the neutral white, colours and patterns like her clothing downstairs, in the shop, being consumed like a fish feeding frenzy.

The first thing I notice about Orla Kiely are her eyes: palest blue, irridescent, knowing, wise, and kind. And then her smile. She's got the most amazing smile: it's that kind of Julia Roberts, beaming from ear to ear smile. And then I'm in Orla Kiely world, and the sun is shining.

We chatted at first about her collaboration with Uniqlo, in celebration of UT's 10 year anniversary. It is a perfect marriage of ideologies: she has two sons, and she's always shopped for them at Uniqlo. She spoke of the value for money, simplicity, quality, which is what struck me about my tee from the collection: it is so fine. Mighty fine. It feels.. well, it feels expensive.

And I was thinking.. Uniqlo is Japanese, and in some ways Orla's work feels Japanese to me. I can't explain. It also feels Scandinavian.. but while I was editing these photos, I found myself listening to Joni Mitchell, especially California, so I'm illustrating this piece for you with music that feels like what her designs sound like to me. But it also feels like London: King's Road, late Sixties.. Chelsea. Chelsea Morning.

Because I kept finding myself referencing music, during our chat. I see Orla like an artist, but also, what she creates.. it's like music. And then, uncannily, after, when we went downstairs and Orla was meeting her fans (something she is so modest about - and yet, clearly happily pleased), and freak serendipity: there was my wonderful friend Adrienne Johnson, huge Orla Kiely fan, who was drawn in by the flowers, shopping the collection! And she was talking to Orla, too, about music, about how we are drawn to people, designs, ideas, as if with our cellular memory.

And that's what hit me. That's it: cellular memory. That thing that draws us in: to a song. To a place. To Uniqlo, on a cold Saturday. To sunshine.

That's what I connect with about Orla Kiely. I don't even know the first time I heard of her, first saw her designs - we arrived in London in 1997, she started in 1995 - but her vision has been with her all her life. She is Irish, and as she was explaining, Ireland is an island. And it's hard to imagine the world we grew up in, but without internet, eBay.. the clothes she wanted, the things, patterns she saw.. she couldn't just press a few buttons and get things delivered to her world. That had to come later, when she created it. The Orla Kiely world.

It feels like a garden to me: the source, the well, from which her vision springs. Now of course she has a team, hand picked like the posies, surrounding herself with like minded, generous souls. Beautiful people, in every sense. This springs from a family that gave her great support, inspiration, love: talented people, not from the fashion world, but intellectuals, academics: they taught her that anything was possible. She remembered their kitchen, ground-breaking in the sixties, designed by an architect, olive green with an orange ceiling. It brought back memories of our kitchen in the seventies, how we excited we were to renovate it in graphic shades of 'pumpkin' and 'avocado'. As befitting a brilliant colourist, she thinks in colour. Memories of her grandmother driving a green mini: a prolific craftswoman, always making things with her hands. Showing her, not just in words, but by example, that women can make things. Make things happen. And that's when it hit me: she's not striving to be an artist, I don't believe. Not trying to shock and cause controversy, like a Damien Hirst, like an Alexander McQueen, or John Galiano. What Orla Kiely seems to be is a craftsperson. She could just as easily, as happily, be making clay pots. Or bread. Endless possibilities, being busy with her hands. Like her Gran.

And always, at core, the marriage. Because Orla's husband is her business partner. And the secret to their success is they have built this business organically, letting it grow without selling out to outside investors. Which means Orla owns her own name, as she should. They clearly work in harmony, with separate but equally vital roles. As she said, with the same simplicity and clarity as her designs: 'without him, none of this would be possible.'

I've been looking through not just the Uniglo collection, but the ORLA KIELY site itself. And it's not just pattern on pattern. A lot is solid, clean: navy and white, for spring as per look number eight.. oh, I'll shut up now, because this is the longest post I've ever done. I want everything.

As I fell asleep Saturday night, I was picturing my pretty posy on our coffee table, beautiful and alive for just a brief time, but that's the nature of spring, and then I started seeing patterns. Orla Kiely patterns, lulling me to sleep, like little sheep.

Orla Kiely for UNIQLO is in the shops now, or online. Thank you Ali and Liz at Modus, and MELANIE JANE CAMPBELL, for the smiles and the flowers.


garden of eva

It was last week I think: one of the gloriously, bizarrely, freakishly for this time of year summer days, and I had just left Jaks from a long luxurious lunch with my friend Pia, and wanted to do some reading and writing at the sweet little V&A cafe in the newly built South Kensington open courtyard area. And I saw this girl - Eva - sitting at the counter. She worked there, but wasn't working. And I thought at first she had a black print top under her amazing floral top, but no, it's a tattoo.

Figures: just at the time when I thought I'd hung up my streetstyle shooting shoes.. luckily I had my camera on my phone. But really: am I going to have to start carrying my Canon around again? I feel like a serial killer in remission: I'm feeling the urge to shoot again.

Orla interview post coming up, chickens! Hope you all had a delightful weekend.