I was about to declare how quilted coats are thoroughly over. I was going to zap readers of Jack of Hearts with an electrifyingly short post about how naff they have become, chiefly because the naffffest of boys have started wearing them on top of their lurid Lynx-soaked 'OSAKA 6' tees and those god-awful mass-produced ‘retro’ sweaters depicting dolphins and howling wolves.
But I had to swallow my pride and consequently change my tune. Just as I was meandering through Google images, looking for a photo of a knob wearing a quilted Barbour jacket to illustrate my grief – I came across these images of Ralph Lauren’s new gold quilted coat… and boy, it’s just heavenly. Look at it!
It’s a double whammy, because I also pet-loath Ralph Lauren. Despite the fact that Christian Bale doppelganger Ignacio Figueras (pictured below) is doing a bloody good job on their campaign, Ralph Lauren essentially dangles a very English fairytale ‘old money’ prestige in front of a ghastly ‘new money’ American clientele.
I once read an interview in which Nicholas Coleridge spoke to a book-buyer for Ralph Lauren. He essentially scoured secondhand bookshops in England, and took the books across to the US where they would fashionably adorn the store, creating that much-sought bookish look which of course has nothing to do with American wealth, but everything to do with American wealth fantasy.
In my experience, boys who wear a lot of Ralph Lauren are not the most avid readers. They subscribe to the Jack Wills handbook, read the shark-attack tell-alls in FHM and might occasionally stretch as far as borrowing a John Grisham off their Dad on holiday, to put their sun cream bottle on top of by the poolside.
So to conclude, the quilted jacket is clearly still in action. But only if…
A) It’s a perfect fit. None of this baggy and saggy crap.
B) It’s a bold colour or a bizarre metallic shade.
C) You have a pretty face. So no glum fat-faced stubbly pricks trying to evoke a sense of land ownership.
D) You’re not a candidate on the BBC’s The Apprentice
It seems this year a lot of designers are simply making more of what sells, as opposed to taking large risks, and so we can expect to see plenty more of the plain quilted jackets from Burberry and John Richmond. Just think hard before you pick one up though, after all, summer is a comin in… and quilted jackets will be deemed utterly useless as you loudly sing cuckoo… you’d be better off with a cute white hoodie, a Celine visa cap and Dior shorts.
4) Armenia - "Nor Par Jan Jan"
I don't know how Armenia managed to find two women who are so exceptionally ugly, and at the sametime kind of alluring. They're actually stars over there, called Inga & Anush. They wore tambarines on their heads and danced around in strangely villainous dresses, like Disney witches. In fact, their entire set looked like a medieval brothel. The song Nor Par Jan Jan was weirdly powerful. I'm ashamed to say.. I loved it! It's definitely going into an iPod playlist this week.
5) Ukraine - "Be My Valentine"
Svetlana Loboda looks a lot older than a woman who was born in 1982. Also, I can't imagine her being the type to take Valentines all that seriously. The beat of her song is practically 'Everybody Dance Now', but the dancing made this song amazing... she brought along her three musclemen dancers who apparently go with her everywhere, a sort of testosterone entourgage. She's a big star in Europe too. This year she made her muscle boys dress up like Roman centurions with shoulder pads and bare chests revealing their 8 packs! Russia's camera angles on the night were a bit biased against this tune, they kept panning out and randomly sweeping across the audience, so we couldn't actually see enough of her naked muscle men, or her wonderful self. That's why I put her in my Top 5.
So, a whole year to wait now until we join Alexander Rybak in Norway. Let's hope they go for an outdoor lakeside setting, with Hollywood lights lit up across a Norwegian mountain, and plenty of trolls with multicoloured hair and gem stone belly buttons. Yay.
The Jack of Hearts is written by Jack Cullen
For Vivienne Westwood's manifesto visit http://activeresistance.co.uk/
It only seems like yesterday that series 11 was hot out on the shelves but here we are, June 2010, and Series 20 is out! My Bearbricks collection froze in December 2009, the last addition to my collection being a cool felt-covered bear, a gift from Hans @COMMEdesGARCONS, but this new series is so cool I think I'll bring my collection out from semi-retirement.
The 20th series includes a Bearbrick with “articulated feat” (a nod towards the first ever 2001 basics) plus designs from Krooked and SSUR (pictured above, far right). The flag this time is fittingly South Africa as a nod towards the World Cup. There’s a Lots-O-Huggin Bearbrick from Toy Story 3 (far left, above), a Gremlins character Mogwai for horror (next along), Iron Man and Captain Action. The jelly Bearbrick is a rainbow bear for Series 20, possibly the first official gay Bearbrick? The first hidden Bearbrick from Series 20 that I’ve seen so far is a variation on Hiroshi Fujiwara’s fragmented bear, a cool pink and yellow lightning version, very Sex Pistols.
Browse Series 20 on the website High Snobiety.
And here we have it, after a dry patch, and just in time for summer… Ciara’s back!
Despite one or two killer singles back in the mid noughties, Ciara’s last album flopped sadly. Save for a sickly-sweet appearance on the Sex and the City soundtrack with Click Flash, not much has come from Missy Elliot’s star pupil.
Ciara’s a hard act to sell, her voice is average and she looks a bit like everyone else. It’s all about producers, and for Fantasy Ride they’ve certainly picked out a strong bench.
Admitted: she’s still trying to be Beyonce, to the point that her album art is indistinguishable from I Am....Sasha Fierce. But it’s a perfectly sufficient album to pop onto the surround sound system in your pool house while you crack open some Bollinger. Or alternatively down a few Bacardis in your bach-pad before a night out in Leeds.
Here’s the Jack of Hearts track-by-track lowdown:
Ciara To The Stage: A sultry slow jam intro with a comeback from Justin Timberlake’s ‘My Love’ Pingu sound effects. She repeats “I’m coming”… in reference to taking to the stage, and even tries her hand at a bit of a rap.
Love Sex Magic: You all know this tune. But yeah, basically the big-time lead single that was hastily added to the CD in post-production. A great track all the same, it brings out the best of Ciara’s over-arching girly harmonies.
High Price: Ludacris pops in to say hi on this dark urban sleaze track that occupies very late 90s Jamelia ‘DRAMA’ territory, which is fine since nobody knew of Jamelia before Superstar. Louis Vuitton namedrop – check.
Turntables: Chris Brown appears this time for Ciara’s Bollywood take on Rihanna’s Please Don’t Stop The Music. It’ll be a big hit because it’s samey and simple. Pass the Nurofen.
Like A Surgeon: Ciara takes on a bit of role-play in this doctor-patient pun-mania. “You’re my best patient” and “Book your next appointment” – Fine. “My ears will be your stethoscope” – Ciara you’re scaring us babe.
Never Ever: This is my favourite song on the album. It will no doubt annoy some, with its blatant rip-off of ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’, but I can’t get enough of Ciara’s sugary Barbie vocals, gently skipping along a mellow and summery guitar melody which sounds like a slowed down carousel version of M.I.A’s ‘Paper Planes’. Illegally catchy. She even quotes herself from 1,2,Step, bless.
Lover's Thing: Like most of the stuff on Ciara’s last album, this is a very laidback r’n’b threnody. The Dream’s bunged-up nose wingey contributions begin to grate, but all in all – a sweet little song.
Work: Reeeeeeeeeeeee-wind. Missy Melissa Misdemeanor Elliot (M.E.) whips up her usual foot-stamping dance floor filler. A sped-up version of Work It, without the word It. Missy addresses the ladies and hot girls a lot more in this song than anything else… not that I’m suggesting anything.
Pucker Up: Jamie Oliver must be in heaven, as must the head of marketing over at Pukka Pies HQ.
G Is For Girl (A-Z): Ciara self-titles herself as original in the lyrics to this song. Shame it’s a rip-off of PSD’s Buttons. Still, a sexy track with some funky zig-zag twisty groove thing going down…with catchy over-rhyming alphabet-based lyrics. Ends up sounding a bit like "Your leg bone's connected to your......"
Keep Dancin' On Me: Really interesting, not sure what to make of this one. It’s a bit 808s & Heartbreaks, she even mentions flashing lights. Moody and atmospheric, nice minimal keyboards, I like it.
Tell Me What Your Name Is: Quite Mariah, especially the wealth-fantasy lyrics…. “flying first-class to the Philippines” – well done Ciara, do you want a medal?
I Don't Remember: That’s right - it’s an Ode to the morning after a one-night stand, a bit like Britney’s “Blur”. It’s a fresh sound, but the lyrics are inevitably gash - “I can’t feel my face” … is that an Americanism or is the song darker than we think?
Echo: Ciara tries to be Keri Hilson, but it’s the end of the album and you’re already skipping back to tracks 3 and 6. Good effort though.
Jack of Hearts gives this album 7/10
Words by Jack Cullen
Like me, are you in need of some fresh electronica? Are you tired ofgoing to parties and watching people become ecstatic over Justice’s hits from 2005?
The answer is in blogs. The problem with the mainstream music industry is that there’s too much politics and maths involved. Sure, incredible electro artists are certainly well promoted, eventually, like Crystal Castles, Friendly Fires, Passion Pit and Laidback Luke (to pick an alliterative quadro of acts). All strong acts will claim their moment in the spotlight, but it''s more fun to cut the crap and just jump the gun.
It will take a long time before Valerie Records (acts include College and Anoraak) receive the publicity Ed Banger Records (acts include Uffie, Mr Oizo, Justice and So Me) received, we’re talking two years, if you’re hanging onto printed media to inform you.
Magazines are brilliant for interviews, discussions, editorial shoots, reviews and opinion pieces… they have the financial weight to pull big names and intelligent writers.
However, if you’re looking for a bright and zany new track to step out of the shower to.. you need to rely on teenagers’ blogs, like DiscoHands, PalmOutSounds, DISCODUST and Fluo Kids.
This guy featured on my blog today is called Mashepest, and I found him on DiscoHands. He’s an up and coming producer from the UK, and several of the tracks from his first record are available free on DiscoHands, including ‘So Young’, ‘Million’ and his remix of Lemonade’s ‘Slime’.
My favourite track from the all new Mashepest has to be ‘Mineral’ though. For me ‘Mineral’ evokes a lazy early 90s Sunday morning, watching the title page of Sonic upload, slurping the lemon-tinted milk at the bottom of your cereal, and then that powerful second, just as you’re watching the distant traffic outside pushing up a rain-stricken hill, that awe-inspiring wave – and you realise that you’re going to upturn all of this suburban crap and really make something of your life.
Words, Jack Cullen
The photo above is from last July when I met her. Excuse my dishevelled hair and anorak - it was at Latitude festival, the morning after a woodland rave, at which Ethan from Crystal Castles was on the decks. Despite my hangover, Carol Ann Duffy read with such power and conviction, I promptly set about buying all of her books... and boy have they comforted and entertained me in odd solitary moments. Mind you, my Mum's 'borrowed' most of them now, so I'll be lucky to see them again.
If only she had been given the post ten years ago we would all have been saved from the over-exposure of Andrew Motion’s tired and drivelling poetry, which ranges from ponderings on a lady’s missing glove to that desperately cringe-inducing rap to mark Prince William’s 21st. Rumour has it Blair rejected Duffy in 1999 on the basis that she was in a relationship with the novelist Jackie Kay.
Sexuality is perhaps the most interesting political hub of the Laureate Duffy story. Chiefly because some newspapers seem to think she is the first gay poet to take the position… Oh how wrong they are. Amidst those state-funded crates of sherry, the throne of the poet laureate has faced the other way a few times...
The post, although not officially titled, was effectively put into place for Ben Jonson in 1617 by James I, a homosexual monarch, whose residence Apethorpe Hall had secret passages linking his bedchambers to those of his favourite courtiers. Here on Jack of Hearts I have briefly looked into three other poet laureates with same-sex stories to tell...
Bridges built a strong and close friendship with Gerard Manley Hopkins, the pair were at Oxford University together in the 1860s (around the time that the word homosexual took on its common usage). Hopkins fell in love with Bridge’s younger cousin Digby Dolben, a pupil at Eton, and wrote spouts of erotic verse in his diary about him. At Dolben’s 17th birthday party, Bridges invited Hopkins along, to tragic affect. The young Dolben drowned a year later. Bridges, who outlived Hopkins, heavily edited his diaries and poetry to apparently spare his reputation.
Not a homosexual, but culturally was at his best when being linguistally overt with a generous touch of camp. His career was believed to have benefited from the mid 20th century conspiracy-theory group ‘Homintern’ (!)
In Memoriam, one of the greatest pieces of Victorian literature, marks Tennyson’s distress and inner-turmoil over the young death of his best friend and lover Arthur Hallam.
The truth is, homosexuals have been prevalent and will prevail throughout literature forever. Carol Ann Duffy will be fantastic as the new face to this ever-changing story of that wonderfully bizarre, eccentric and powerful voice – English poetry. Her sexuality, like those of her predecessors, is as public or private as she chooses. For she has found success not through that, but through her individualism, her humour, her intelligene, her popularity and her talent.
Below: portrait of Digby Mackworth Dolben
The Jack of Hearts is written by Jack Cullen