Review: Clothes Show London 2010


Volumes of knock-off Cath Kidston provide further evidence that the one-woman chintz revolution will soon be capsized by chavs

Who needs a map when you can just follow the maxi dress mafia from the Tube? No England match is stopping these mums from bagging a sarong for a fiver. My mind’s in two camps today. I’m excited to see what the “fashion theatre” show will be like and eager to check out a few new labels like Blacksmith, but not so sure about the knife-point subscription offers to More magazine that I’ve been warned about. I’m also decidedly unsure about anything presented by Jeff Brazier.

So I keep quiet, swig my high-brow Hildon water and follow the sweaty throng of floral prints. Today is going to be very much a look-and-learn low profile affair.

Upon entering the air-conditioned warehouse I am immediately jumped upon by a girl promoting Corona and their shifty sounding ‘Save The Beach’ project. I unwillingly take a free canvas bag, write down my old email address, try to fashion my face into the word WHATEVER, and move on to find myself affronted by another clipboard crow. A theme has begun.

Starters:

I am at first taken aback by the volumes of knock-off Cath Kidston, providing further evidence that the one-woman chintz revolution is about to be completely capsized by chavs. But we knew that already. Statement vests, polka dot patent and sequined shoulder pads are the other predictable suits du jour. Pre-faded Disney sweaters are nowhere to be seen, finally.

Main course:

Lots of teenage girls scrambling over Jade Jagger’s “my turn to pretend I can save the world” tees, teenage girls queuing up to get inside Paul’s Boutique and taking photos of Superdry on their pink iPhones. Waxed Corona boys skip about in briefs, playing ball on their specially made artificial beach, their whitened teeth reflecting onto the wall like disco balls in provincial gay bars, I'm starting to enjoy myself now, can you tell? Top Clothes Show tip - wine. As warned, there are subscription stalls for More, She, Cosmo and all the other not-quite-Glamour middle band mags. Still, £1 for More and I get a free carrier bag? Why not. I watch a hair demonstration and cannot decide whether to laugh or cry at the comments that girl's gonna get in the playground tomorrow.

Pudding:

4.15 and it’s time to take my seat in the fashion theatre, built into what looks like a disused car park. But before we can gape at male models we have to watch Jeff Brazier award a prize to someone, rattling on about Pepe Jeans and Benefit. This is followed by a performance from “up and coming” boy band The Wanted. With elementary dance moves and zero facial conviction they chimp about to their first and hopefully last single which is unbelievably titled “All Time Low”. They finish on the line "Look into our eyes - None of us are gay - 1,2,3 - you're back in the room."

The fashion theatre show starts with an oriental-themed pseudo-feminist Kill Bill thing, followed by a bubblegum beat mix of Blondie’s Call Me, and some ASOS animal suits appear. Teenage girls are in jaw-cramping awe. There’s a street clothing dance routine which is quite fun, leading into a Rihanna ‘Rude Boy’ section with brilliantly oversized red chain links. Glittery American football shoulder pads are whored out as novel (teenage girls haven't seen Party Monster).

A few thousand chequered shirts, chintz and Chippendales later, the show reaches its most sophisticated moment, set with surprising beauty to La Vie En Rose. The music throughout the show flicks cleverly between the two target audiences, mothers and daughters, Bryan Ferry one minute, Lily Allen the next.

The fashion theatre is fun, funky and does its job at watering down catwalk trends and padding out high fashion with Butlins grins. Regrettably only one male model is attractive, but at least the stylists know this and put him in some good outfits, including corsets.

Highlights:

The best stalls were Never Fully Dressed with their nice pearl and seashell details, Manhattan Chic and Tatty Devine for their futuristic pendants, Blacksmith for their unusual chic monolithic garments and Limb who exhibited some great comic strip and vintage car themed summer dresses. I also loved the acoustic rivalry in Earl's Court between the motherly applause of the Style Stage and the booming boos and hisses from the bored boyfriends who assembled themselves around a TV set in one corner to watch the England match. The last, England, match.

On my way out I am given a goodie bag which contains a melted Kit Kat Senses, some Head & Shoulders, a Tampax, a breakfast bar and some estranged Scandinavian mints.

An afternoon well spent.

'I Love Charlie' : Little Chef Unwittingly Create A Cult Cocaine Addict T-Shirt

To celebrate their 50th anniversary Little Chef has brought out a new range of 'retro' memorobilia t-shirts, dedicated to the brand's mascot Charlie, and in doing so have consequently created the latest cult fashion item for cocaine-addicts, cock-in-cheek gays and fashionistas on a budget.

With a slogan that is so simple and to the point, not even the A-list-t-shirt-slogan-slash-poet-of-our-day Henry Holland could have thought up something this genius. The micro-trend is ideal for students as the Fruits of the Loom designed tees only cost £5.99. You don't even have to ask your dodgy Uncle to drive you to a Little Chef in the middle of the night this time, you can just buy them online using your coke-cutter from http://www.charlieshop.co.uk/

Whether the brains behind Little Chef's PR team knew the cult potential of this new merchandise range we can only guess. You would have hoped at least one team member was down-with-the-kids enough to point out the obvious? Maybe they're not allowed to admit it, but they just really know their target market. Eat your heart out Nandos, with your pitifully half-witted "Chicks Rule" t-shirts.

Coming to an Agyness Deyn near you, Thank You Little Chef for giving us this year's hottest t-shirt trend for next Saturday's London Pride. Not that I'm suggesting London's gay population do a lot of coke, just that we love a bit of raw meat with our shit coffee after a long ride.

The Graduate: Dare you venture to the dark trouser side?

Note: This is a response post to the previous post 'I'm 22 and feel OLD'

More and more shirts may appear in my wardrobe, but I won’t let myself lose sight of the frosty woodland behind them.
*****
In response to my last blog post on graduate plight, I received two emails basically stating that there are plenty of jobs where one can go to work in jewel-encrusted shoulder pads. And so I have written in response the following words:

There are some jobs out there that permit excessive levels of hedonistic freedom, but for every convincing Peter Pan graduate who is paid a lot (or more likely to be the case – hardly anything) to discuss pencil skirts in Prada and the meaning of Posh, there are probably ten porn-obsessed paranoid graduate jobseekers living on the poverty line in a moist shroud of their own Pot Noodle breath. It’s a risk.

It’s the yellow brick road of famine that so many creative minds tread, where you can very suddenly find yourself nearing 30, undermined by a new generation of technology and aesthetics, and you’ve got nowhere.

Of course a lot of students go travelling, to broaden their Facebook photographs, to bury their heads in the sands of Byron Bay whilst pulling the Ray Bans over their eyes, but even this can rarely last for more than two summers, and when the travelling does end you find yourself two years behind on the career ladder, poor and confused culturally – “Why should I put a suit on when I could run a café in Laos?”. Plus there’s nothing more annoying than trying to be a cool beach bum when there are rich beautiful teenagers making a better looking job of it than you.

Although I’m not quite ready to admit it to myself - I probably do enjoy acting older than I did this time last year. I no longer want to paint myself up to look like a Smurf and visit every dank pub in Leeds. I cringe when gappies on Facebook update their status to something like “It’s f**king sweet man, gonna join Charlie and hit Thailand up for 3 months”.

Despite taking a punch at St.Paul's banker toy boys in my last post, I can also see the appeal of that life. That lovely tick-list life plan by which you can measure your progress: Car, flat, wedding, top of the range coffee machine, kids. But that life's definitely not for me. I can't envisage a house without at least one room that's smitten in blu-tacked pages ripped out of Coitus magazine.

I’m still in my London honeymoon period. I quite like black trousers, I quite like my small-talk with the receptionist José at my gym and I quite like sitting on the Thames enjoying a quiet glass of wine before going home to finish the Guardian.

All of these things oscillate and it’s about contrast, and both sides of the coin have their own attractions. But I am watching now, watching to make sure I don’t grow up too much. It’s important for me to let my hair down at the weekend and wear tiny shorts out, so that I don’t lose sight of the party monster that might have been. More and more shirts may appear in my wardrobe, but I won’t let myself lose sight of the frosty woodland behind them. Not yet at least. Let’s see where we are this time next year. I may well have that Nectar card, gulp.

I'm 22 and I'm Already Getting OLD

I’m increasingly irritated by loud plasma screens in bars and find myself thinking ‘Oh why can’t they just turn that Taylor Swift bitch off and put Sky News on’, before frowning around frantically in search of a place to sit down like a peeved ferret.

I was given a very serious warning during my final year of university. A graduate acquaintance informed me that I should make the most of partying and popping around the clock, because very rapidly that glistening Glenda-esque bubble of studentdom would just pop and disappear forever.

“WHAAAT?!” I glared and seethed over the sound of Crystal Castles, casting one shifty eye around the living room of my student house, settling on a bottle of gin mixed with Lilt. No more student parties? No more melting charity shop Action Men on bonfires? No more days dedicated to Mario Kart? No more breakfast in KFC? No more waking up in the single beds of passed-out freshers, realising you don’t know their name, stealing a hoodie off their floor, raiding their fridge for a BabyBel and then letting yourself out? No more Matey bubble bath? “NEVERRR!”

I mean, I knew growing up would happen to some of us, like the beady-eyed medics, the yawning law types, or those banker boys who from the sporty spring of their step alone were always destined to join graduate schemes where they would get bent on Grigio in the morning to ease the pain of being bent over a leather-bound desk by their CEO every Wednesday.

But not me. Even if I did move to London, I’d go to work in jewel-encrusted shoulder pads with over-sized headphones and nothing but Kinder Eggs in my lunchbox. I’d attend gallery openings, appear in a few double page spreads in i-D, go for a milkshake with Emma Watson and then retire to my Regent’s Park flat for a nap with George Craig until it was time to change for dinner.

But as the first anniversary of my graduation looms, I’ve taken a quiet moment of intense self-examination to realise just how grounded I’ve become…

The most identifiable changes are of course visual: I used to have long bleached toxic yellow hair like Cyndi Lauper. I now have short ‘easy to manage’ brown hair like a 1940s postman. I used to wear pink beach shorts and faded baggy sweaters. I now wear buttoned shirts and black on black. I used to keep myself fit by dancing until breakfast or shagging like a bunny until Location, Location, Location came on. I now have a gym membership.

I used to pride myself on my pop trivia and loathe politics. I now know more about Tessa Jowell than I do about any of the chart’s latest arrivals. In fact, I’m increasingly irritated by loud plasma screens in bars and occasionally find myself thinking ‘Oh why can’t they just turn that Taylor Swift bitch off and put Sky News on’, before frowning around frantically in search of a place to sit down like a peeved ferret. And here’s the crux, the grand finale, the pivotal moment immediately after which I realised I was growing old and a psychologist may be on the cards –

I asked a Sainsbury’s cashier what the advantages of a Nectar card were.

!!!

Forgive me Lord for I have AGED!

(Note to self - INSERT HERE - to the soundtrack of my life: Being Boring by The Pet Shop Boys)


The Pygmy Princess: Scary Archive Footage of Tribal Australia, South Pacific Island 1930s

I'm utterly spellbound by this clip of a so-called "Pigmy Princess" (Pygmy Princess) from Australia in 1937. I'm not sure if the little lady in the clip is actually a pigmy, but she's very strange. I'm sure you'll agree that the way she dances and acts with her eyes has a certain level of professionalism to it. I wonder if she's actually a contrived act to impress tourists as opposed to a bizarre tribal spectacle. The narrator is great when he says that she picks up where Mae West leaves off too! Watch the clip yourself here and let me know what you think -

PIGMY PRINCESS IN AUSTRALIA

It would be great to find out more about the Pigmy Princess. Does she have family living in South Pacific Island still? When Goolging 'Pygmy Princess' I found some expired links and references that suggested Butlins, the mega-low-budget British holiday camp company, had dancing Pigmy shows. Perhaps this woman is one of those performers? The best part of this video is the wild cackling. Definitely one to post on your friends Facebook wall!

Be@rbricks Series 20

GEEK ALERT: This blog post is an optional read due to its fancifully specialist nature. The text has been moved, and is now an appendix to a previous BearBrick related blog post. Click here.

Help! I've taken part in a World Cup Sweepstake at work.

I’ve drawn Group D. Can anyone help me? I need FOOTBALL KNOWLEDGE! Who's Germany's best player? Are there any notable German WAGS? Are Australia better than Serbia? And where's Ghana? I thought it was a nachos dip.

At first I was a bit ginger about this World Cup sweepstake thing, what with ‘sweepstake’ sounding a bit too sporty in itself and ‘World Cup’ being an emblem for everything that I’m not. Still, it’s the taking part that counts and if I'm intellectually robust enough to enjoy Eurovision then surely I can handle a piddly World Cup right? It’s not like these football fans have been studying the game for years is it?

So. I’ve drawn Group D, and have already set about reading up on my teams: Germany, Australia, Serbia and, um, Ghana. I went to Berlin once but spent the time shopping, site-seeing, eating waffles and fagging about. I’m really kicking myself now for not visiting their official football shop. I might have a little rummage in their online store later and grab myself some black and white Deutschland briefs.

I’m a quarter Australian, so that’s cool, my Granddad rocked up on British shores in the 1950s. I’ve watched porn from Serbia, and I think I’ve heard of Ghana (*does a Wikipedia search on Ghana Football Team 2010*).

Germany’s team certainly look very German, and according to my friend David Langford who works in a betting shop the odds are quite high at 5/4 for winning their group and then 14/1 for winning the Cup, making them the 6th best team. They’re my best chance of winning the £16 jackpot, which I would probably spend on Glass Candy’s album and a couple of Red Stripes in G-A-Y Late.

Ghana look a bit scary, like they journeyed to South Africa in four off-piste Jeeps with machine guns slung over their backs or something. I probably won't watch any of their matches.

Serbia is intriguing, their team list looks like an explosion in a Scrabble factory, and some of their players are so utterly unfamous they've not even bothered to change their Facebook settings. Nikola Zigic, Dragan Mrdja, Danko Lazovic and Marko Pantelic are the forwards. In fact, I think I’ve seen Nikola in a couple of, er, films. Footballers have to be diverse in countries like Serbia you see, wages aren’t as lucrative as they are over here in the wag wag west and they can never be too sure where their next meal is coming from. I think Serbia might be the team that I watch most, purely on the basis that one of them's called Dragan.

Above we can see Serbia's Nikola Zigic bringing some of his acting skills to the pitch. Below, Harry Kewell is a bit of an Australian heartthrob, but is he any good at football?

Which players are the best for each team? How far will Germany get? I need answers! I’m a football know nothing. Even if I was sporty at school, the bellowing public school that I attended didn’t even offer football. I think on a Friday night the European kids were allowed to play it for an hour in the sports hall, but there were no teams that were taken seriously and no to-the-death fixtures set up against rival public schools. The highest profile football ever really enjoyed was a bit of a quick kicky-ups contest in the Chemistry block corridor.

Currently I’m using two websites to educate myself. This one, the BBC World Cup official site, which is as boring and comprehensive as one would expect, but doesn’t have very good photos of the teams. And then there’s this site Marca that a football fluent colleague sent to me. I like the look of the site, kind of like a spaceship control panel and very colourful, but it’s all a bit above my head in terms of content. Why can’t there be a Big Brother style World Cup website with profile pictures, gossip banners and easy-to-digest news updates? I want to see a 'HOT or NOT' snap poll beside each player. Apparently collecting stickers is the best entrance exam to building a knowledge of the World Cup, but I've missed the boat by 15 years.

Germany Vs Australia is on Sunday. My first task will be picking a pub to watch the ghastly matches in, I can't let my flatmate catch me watching football, it'd be social suicide. I think there are some people near Finsbury Park who folllow football, either that or everyone coincidentally has a red and white scarf. I'll have to follow them when I leave the tube later and see where they go...

Will Capello's WAG ban mean gay hotel parties? Jack Cullen speculates a WAG-less world.

If they're not having sex with each other by the first week then they'll be punching each other up, and if they're not doing either then they'll be out riding rough trade in Rustenburg.

I cannot believe Fabio Capello has banned British WAGS from the World Cup! Like any half-baked attempt at social engineering, this scheme simply cannot work and the more Capello's veto is enforced the more it will backfire. This article asks more questions than it answers, so please do join the debonair debate. Ready? Right, it's WAG O'CLOCK, let's get started...

Firstly, to start grand before we descend into a cesspit of sloppy celebrity goss, there are strong anti-feminist implications at work here. Is Capello suggesting that all footballers' wives are obtrusive slappers who need to be kept clear from their husbands' careers?
I can see how the World Cup is a 'business trip' and so arguably socialising should be kept within reason, but like in all industries, partners play an important business role in terms of offering support, sanctuary and prowess. Sure they do the odd bit of gold-digging, but they also do a heap of emotional shit shovelling, believe. Isn't Capello's WAG ban an insult to those footballers' wives who are modest, hard-working and who strive for a low media profile? Isn't it important that these men see their kids?

Capello clearly thinks WAGs get in the way, but has he considered what new horizons might be explored if he keeps all the England boys locked up in a hotel together? What about the supressed gays, the closet cases and the bisexual footballers that already cost the England team a fortune in PR consultancy? Does he expect his players to send a goodnight text home and then cuddle up with their copy of Strikingly Different?
*****
When the cats are away will Shaun, Ashley and Matthew come out to play?
*****
Surely Capello's scheme is a gay footballer's dream come true! All those charged-up men, tails wagging, and no WAGs to take the pain away. We can only wonder at what new sports might emerge when two or more are in need of a good WAG. If they're not having sex with each other by the first week then they'll be punching each other, and if they're not doing either then they'll be out riding the rough trade in Rustenburg, aka 'Headlines Heaven'. Perhaps only then will Capello realise that the fierce sound of Abigail's Gucci heels wasn't so problematic after all.

Of course Capello already knows this minefield of sexual temptation and so he has launched a large surveillance operation in which the England team's rooms will be rigged up with cameras, according to The Times online. A vast labyrinth of technological perversion will set sail in order to prevent the boys from hanky-panky. One player has already complained it'll be like Big Brother, although I think Broke Straight Boys is probably a better comparison.

Deprived of their WAGS, will England footballers be allowed to invite a friend along instead? A male companion, a butler, a confidante, a little matey? Maybe Ashley Cole should use this WAG veto to beat his ex Cheryl at her own publicity game by adopting a boyfriend for the World Cup.
*****
Just imagine - Ashley blows a kiss and the cameras will pan to Jean-Paul Cole sitting in his tight McQueen jumper, looking vacuously into his iPhone from behind flawless Prada shades. Lloyd Daniels and Joe McElderry sit beside him.
*****
The truth is, we like WAGS. Amongst a celebrity-infatuated nation they've become a fun sideshow of the World Cup. They don't distract the real sports journalists from the core subject of football, they simply distract the football fans, and that's because no matter how hairy your back is and how many lions are tattooed onto your gut, we all love a bit of celebrity escapism, a touch of wealth fantasy. Some of these women like Victoria Beckham and Cheryl Cole have earnt column inches in their own right. Unlike footballers they don't need the placid pie charts and transfer tables that taint the back pages, these women occupy covers and on a daily basis.

In banning WAGS from the World Cup gossip columnists aren't going to suddenly start writing about sub-benches and injuries, they'll simply find out where the WAGs have gone and photograph them there instead. Half of the country are women and so it comes as no surprise that WAGS shift newspaper stands in a way that Jamie Carragher's return from retirement never can. Rooney and Crouch will have to rush down to reception each morning in a paranoid frenzy to read what the WAGs did next, to see what happened at Abigail's party.

These brilliant lipstick feminists, these world ambassadors, these heros of our day, are at risk of losing their status to a new generation of exotic overseas WAGs. British WAGS, like swans amidst a lake of Canadian geese, are an endangered species. Our beautiful WAG legacy is under attack by foreign faces. Spanish siren Sara Carbonero and Italian love fox Alice Bregoli already have their eyes on the prize. Clancy's tears will pour across photos of that Chilean cheeky-chops Pamela Diaz. The News of the World has already published their Top 10.

Fabio Capello cannot control the British media. No matter how many Max Cliffords he employs, the Daily Mail already has all the gay footballers on file and thoroughly researched. Like stealing candy out of a baby's cot, Capello is taking WAG-watch away from tabloid writers, and in doing so he is daring them to write instead those even more succulent stories they've been saving for a rainy wagless day.

If WAGS are off the menu then and it's a boy-only British camp, this can only mean one thing - the birth of the BAHs. Sol, Christiano, are you ready to lead the way from afar?
Above: Dolce & Gabbana have dreamt up Capello's vision of of a WAG-less world in the past.

2nd Baptism: Crystal Castles 2 Review

My review of Crystal Castles 2nd album has just gone live on my resident Gay Times blog.

I say review, its more a collection of arthouse thoughts, tenuously contemporary metaphors, references to electro pop culture and abstract impressions. Shit poetry if you will. Still, this is the sort of journalism that is becoming for a band, act, concept, destination like Crystal Castles. For example, of my favourite track Baptism, I wrote: "A proper treading popcorn into your Grandmother’s carpet and screaming ‘What do you want from me BITCH?’ dance floor unifier." See what I mean?

Even The Observer knows traditional reviewing techniques must be assassinated when Crystal Castles come under the quill. Their dude referred to the album as "like being on a strobe-lit ferry in rough seas".

Crystal Castles also star in these archive blog posts on the Jack of Hearts:

1)
The Lion, The Kitsch and The Warhol - my musings on their Madonna plagiary, stolen Chanel logo and general brilliance.

2)
The Halloween Charts - Alice Glass came 5th on my 2008 Halloween Charts, just beating Jade Goody and Greggs the chain bakery by the skin of her fangs.