Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Christian Dior Haute Couture

I'm having a manic week work-wise so my run of posting has trailed off considerably alas. It'll be a few days before I can start up again, but in the mean time, I leave you with some fashion escapism courtesy of the genius that is John Galliano. It was strange as I was thinking of Edwardian fashion on the train today, before seeing these pictures. I adore the colour combinations. Sumptuous and elegant. As always. And the deep red gown reminds me of a friend's wedding dress.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

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America’s Next Top Short Model?

This is a piece I wrote this morning which was intended in my head for the Guardian's Comment is Free section - but having written it I now realise is far too frivolous for them!

America’s Next Top Short Model?

America’s Next Top Model is one of the guiltiest of pleasures. A hugely popular tv programme on which girls compete for a flash-in-the-pan modelling contract and a spread in a minor teen magazine, and which revolves around the gargantuan ego of ex-minor model herself Tyra Banks, this reality format veers towards the absurd. Never more so than in the present series being aired in the UK – which features contestants all under 5 ft 6, the bare minimum height for catwalk modelling (and Kate Moss’ height).

The fashion industry’s demands for a certain kind of physical “perfection” have come under fire of late, in terms of its “size zero” culture. We have, over the years, occasionally seen plus-sized models on the catwalk (mostly when a designer’s ideas have dried out and he needs to distract attention from the clothes being worn to the bodies wearing them: yes, Mark Fast of the hideous knitted dresses, I’m talking about you). But the one thing that all models have in common regardless of body shape – be it voluptuous, athletic, heroin-chic, or cosmetically enhanced curves – is their above-average height. You’ll never see a lass of 5ft on the catwalk. There is space to be “plus-size” now in the fashion world (i.e. a UK size 8) but you’ve got to be Amazonian with it. The one thing you can’t be is short.

This is demonstrated by the fact that ANTM has had to switch from its longstanding partner agency, internationally renowned Select Models, to offer a contract instead with another agency beloved of all the high-end glossies. Wilhelmina. Um. You say you haven’t heard of them? Neither has the rest of the world. But Wilhelmina’s books are open to models of all heights and body shapes. Yay! Whether those “models” actually get any work, is not mentioned.

Which is why the current series of ANTM seems particularly cruel. Of course, it’s the central irony of the show that after 15 successful series in US and a staggeringly global franchise (New Zealand’s Next Top Model, anyone?) this programme has failed to produce a single supermodel. You do, on occasion, get to see faces that seem kinda familiar on adverts in Superdrug. But this disconnect between the programme’s stated aims and its actual achievements (the inflation of Tyra Banks’ ego to megalomaniacal proportions is the only one I can think of) has never been as ludicrously apparent as it is in the present series. (Short) girls are being taught to strut their stuff for a catwalk they’ll never get a leg-up onto. Not even for Walmart.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

It's Commute-Time! Ups and Downs

Here I am, heading back from my first trip to the office of 2010! If I enjoyed working from home I'd be pretty chuffed by that, but I don't much, alas. I just wish Canterbury was a bit closer!

Anyway, I also haven't done an Up/Down post in a while so voila:



Not up as such, but I do love him more than ever. He's been working really hard of late and I'm so proud of him. I feel truly blessed. Which is odd phrasing for an atheist, but I do.


I felt a little bereft when Ugly Betty/Project Runway/House/ANTM all either finished or went on hiatus at the same time, but NO LONGER! This show could have "Made for the Rabbit" as its title, and each of the three eps I've watched so far haa whizzed past far too quickly.

Spring clothes

Hurray for a way girlier season, thanks to Luella (RIP one of my favourite labels, your spirit lives on on the high street). Polka dots, florals and sugar sweet shades ahoy!

Being busy

Lots to do at the moment in terms of work and also home responsibilities, but I'm so much more productive and happy when I have lots on.

Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

Again, it's got Poco Rabbit written all over it (and yes, I am generally anxious about punctuality too). Even though it's out in March I'm excited already!


Lack of aid getting through to Haiti

I struggle to find the words to express my sympathy, sadness and solidarity. So I'm going to donate instead. I only wish things would start moving and that every time a disaster occurs, we were't so slow to respond.

30% cut in higher education funding

Scary times. It's not like it's not been hard enough to get a job as a lecturer. I do wonder exactly who Mandelson thinks is going to teach their target of 50% university attendees.

Eyelid eczema

Bleurgh. I have this right now after wearing makeup three days on the trot (crazy, me) and now can't wear any until it's cleared. I look rubbish.

I usually do 5 Ups and 5 Downs but I think at the moment I have a lot more to be thankful for than complain about.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Monday, 18 January 2010

Photo Tag

Emma at the fabulous Passion for Fashion blog just did this tag, and I'm tagging myself to do it as it's fun!

You have to pick the 10th picture in your Photos folder and tell the story of it. The 10th in my iPhoto is:

which I took when ambling around my garden a few years ago while my dad was gardening. It just struck me as one of the most perfect flowers I've ever seen. Last year I used this photo as the basis for a birthday card I drew for one of my best friends:

It's almost exactly a year since I drew it - and she's just had her birthday again, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARA!

And I tag everyone :)

Saturday, 16 January 2010

No7 vouchers at Boots - until 31 January

Just to add - if you like the Totally Teal polish, right now Boots are doing their miraculous £5 vouchers so if you have one, it'll cost you only £1.25!

Like, totally teal.

These are my nails at the moment - No. 7 Totally Teal which I totally love! I haven't seen another shade quite like this murky teal creme. I'm not really keen on "novelty" nail colours - most of the bright and pastel shades doing the rounds at the moment clash horribly with my skintone (incidentally, there are no way near enough nail swatches for women of colour by women of colour! A nude polish for a fair skinned gal sure as hell ain't gonna be a nude for me! For me, that's OPI Tickle My France-y). Excuse the application - I wasn't really concentrating as I was watching Come Dine With Me at the time...

This was my makeup yesterday too - a bit matchy-matchy with the nails, but it was worn with a light green/aqua floral dress so I think it worked nicely to bring the colours together.

MAC Moisturecover Select concealer
Urban Decay Primer Potion

MAC Pigment in Teal (this is the Teal found in the 2008 Little Darlings Cool set which is a different colour to the regular pigment! it's a more powdery blue shade compared to the true teal of the regular one) over lid and bottom lashline
GOSH Let's Twist Eyeliner in Blue Grass
MAC Paint Pot in Delft as eyeliner on lashline and waterline over the GOSH liner
MAC Vanilla pigment in inner corner of eyes as highlighter and on browbone
YSL Faux Cils mascara

MAC MSF in Dark
MAC Breezy blush

Clinique Glosswear for Lips in Mystic (this has been discontinued and although it looks berry above it is actually a lavendery purple)

Close-up of eye makeup (but not green in real life!)

Friday, 15 January 2010

10 things that make me happy

10 things that make me happy

As tagged by the lovely Lou:

To accept the award you need to post 10 things that make you happy and do at least one of them today. Remember to link to the person who tagged you and pass on to 10 others.
Here are my 10 things in no particular order....

1. Being with Bartimaeus: my best friend, and the love of my life. * yesterday

2. Spending time with my brother, sister and my wonderful, wonderful mum. * today/tomorrow

3. Seeing my friends. *today

4. Reading: especially books that make my brain whizz, and books that I lose myself in so deeply I miss my stop on the train (not that I like missing my stop!) *today

5. Chasing Molly-cat around the house and hearing her Miss Piggy-type squeaks of indignation (I am a mean cat-aunt, I know!) *today

6. Drinking a really hot cup of tea. *today

7. Exercise: as a PE-hater at school, I’d never thought I’d say that, but it really does! As Elle Woods says in Legally Blonde (one of my favourite films) “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands.” *today

8. Writing: my blog, journal and even (sometimes) my academic papers. *today

9. “Making” things: cooking/baking, sewing, embroidering, drawing and jewellery-making are all things I love to do.

10. Going to Bangladesh and seeing my family there.

I tag:

Random London Girl

Geeky Weirdo Chick

Butterfly Wings

Passion for Fashion

Pretty or Punk

Vex in the City

The Front Cover

Style in the City

Le Monde Voit L'Avenir En Rose

Emerald Green 88

Thursday, 14 January 2010

My new style icon from my new favourite show

is Emma Pillsbury from Glee:

I love the sugar-sweet and yet quirky colour combinations, the Miss Moneypenny primness, and most of all her fantastic accessories. She makes me wish I was a redhead, because all colour combinations just seem to "pop" on her. This was my favourite outfit to date (note I've only seen the first two episodes), you can just see a bit of the forest green/black polka dot skirt she's wearing. Forest green/black's a favourite colour combination of mine and I love her necklace:

I've only been wearing earrings of late, but Ms Pillsbury has inspired me to dust off some of my beaded necklaces, particularly these two that I think she'd give me at least an A- for. I also have the red one in green:

I'm sad but looking forward to Monday's episode already! It's the perfect antidote to the January blues!

Monday, 11 January 2010

Yearning for summer

I'm not a winter person. For a brief two-week period I enjoy the novelty of wrapping up warm, of layering, of wearing dark colours instead of brights. But at this point in the year, when I've forgotten what it's like to be warmed by the sun, when I wake to darkness that doesn't seem to lighten some days, and my colour palette consists of only the darkest shades, summer can't come fast enough.

Add the current snow situation and I'm closing my eyes and clicking my plum snowboots to take me there.

And when I see pieces like this H&M dress, I covet covetously, and daydream of flip flops, sunglasses and long golden summer days.

In the mean time, if I manage to get my hands on it, it'll be layered with long sleeved tees, cashmere cardigans, and my UGGS.... not quite the same!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Roasted Salmon and Spinach Pasta Bake

Can you tell that posting more entries is also a bit of a vague resolution? I've been up since 5.30 today to help my mum walk to her car and make sure she got to work ok and am going to make myself some porridge in a minute, but this is what I made for dinner last night. I actually concocted it about a month ago when I had some roast salmon leftovers to use up - but it was so good that I decided to recreate it from scratch again!

You will need:

3 salmon fillets

for the marinade:
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 lemon squeezed
sea salt
1/4 tsp chilli flakes

cheese sauce (I use Delia's recipe here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/database/anykindofcheesesauce_70007.shtml but I use cheddar only and I add 1/2 tsp of English mustard at the finish)
1-2 tbsp green pesto

500g spinach sauteed in butter with 1 clove of garlic

200g broccoli cut into mall florets, steamed

600g pasta (I really like using 3 colour pasta in this recipe as it brings all the colours together: reddy pink of the salmon and green of the veg!)

extra cheese and (this is really old school this bit) crushed ready salted crisps to top

1. Marinade salmon. Preheat oven to 200C.
2. Make up cheese sauce and stir in pesto.
3. Roast salmon fillets in oven (Our heat-demon Rangemaster takes 15minutes but I guess normal ovens would be more like 20-25?)
4. Boil pasta until al dente, steam broccoli and sautee spinach.
5. Break up salmon fillets into large flakes (setting a bit aside for your cats is optional).
6. Stir pasta, vegetables and salmon into cheese sauce and pour into a large oven dish.
7. Top with extra cheese and crisps, some extra black pepper and then place back in oven or grill until cheese is golden brown.

I suppose you could make it less of a faff by frying off the salmon and boiling the spinach - but I think it's the roasting and sauteeing that give the bake more flavour.

It's perfect comfort food for this weather!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

To Be Read 2010

I thought I'd make a list of all the books I've bought and been given recently that are waiting to be read this year. I've just finished re-reading Harry Potter 7 and can't decide which of these to read next...

Burnt Shadows, Kamila Shamsie
The Wind on Fire Trilogy, William Nicholson
The Sea of Poppies, Amitav Ghosh
The Inheritance of Loss, Kiran Desai
The Summer Book, Tove Jansson
Gate of the Sun, Elias Khoury
Shadowmancer, G. P. Taylor
The Black Magician Trilogy, Trudi Canavan
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Hmm. Am leaning towards Shamsie because I read this piece on an upcoming exhibition I'm looking forward to seeing, and I thought it was beautifully written:


Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Face of the day(s)

Happy New Year! I made a vague kind of resolution to wear more of my makeup this year - last year I got stuck in a bit of an eyeliner-mascara run, but I have lots of eyeshadows (particularly 10 mini MAC pigments from last year's holiday collection) and I should wear them more. Plus my sis bought me a lovely Urban Decay eyeliner and palette so I have even more shades to play with now!

So here are two looks I've done recently. The lilac shimmer look was for New Year's Eve (which was a nice quiet night in), and the green look was for a belated Christmas party my best friend held on the 2nd.

MAC Moisturecover Select concealer
Urban Decay Primer Potion

MAC Pigment in Quietly over lid
Urban Decay Oil Slick eyeshadow in crease (from new palette)
GOSH Metallic Brass eyeliner on waterline (sounds weird but it is in fact a lovely minky grey with a subtle shot of bronze shimmer - and my only grey liner!)
Urban Decay Revolver liquid liner on upper lid lashline (wot my sis got me for Christmas, lovely steel grey!)
YSL Faux Cils mascara

MAC Mineralise Skin Finish Natural
Shu Uemura Glow On Pearl blush in P Wine 25
MAC Brow Pencil in Spiked

NARS Lipgloss in Metis

Close up (I have to work on my blending!) and excuse the chunky silver glitter, I used UD Uzi as a highlighter but it didn't really work. And then I couldn't get the glitter off!

This looks quite light here but it was in fact much brighter green in real life, with glitter!

MAC Moisturecover Select concealer
Urban Decay Primer Potion

Shu Uemura eyeshadow in P Green 450 on lid
MAC Humid eyeshadow in crease and lashline
GOSH eyeliner in Woody Green on top lashline and waterline
MAC Glitter Liner in Lime Dandy over the top on top lashline
YSL Faux Cils Mascara

MAC MSF Natural
MAC blush in Springsheen (also from my sis for Christmas)
MAC Brow pencil in Spiked

YSL Golden Gloss no. 7 in Golden Amber