Portmanteau Commentary: Gareth Pugh - Genius of Duality

As a lover of fashion-as-performance-art of the likes of the late Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood, Gareth Pugh's collections found an immediate place in my heart. The textured balance of light and dark, the strange visualisation of the duality of dark vibrancy and androgyny make Gareth Pugh's pieces really something to get your heart race pulsing. His recurring theme of black and white make him even more popular in Lira Leirner's fashion realm.

If you've read my previous posts, you'll know that black and white are a recurring theme in my discussion as well as my artwork. For instance, I've previously discussed in "Black and White is the new [insert visual file of black and white]" whether the word-marriage of the antonyms Black and White still stand for the visual color they are meant to represent, or whether it been smeared with a layer of greasy misuse of by self-projecting colonizers, getting soaked up by the bred of language which we feed on, hence making us choose to eat it fully, grease and grain, or not at all.
The artwork I have hanging in my hallway and that most draw me in galleries and exhibitions (such as at the Byam Shaw Central St Martin exhibition) are always black and white. Are they really colors? Or are they in fact simply the quickest visual representation of antonyms, duality, contrast, antithesis, opposition, and disparity?

Take a guess at how badly I want a pair of these... sigh.

What further fascinates me is not only the exploration of darkness and light but also the connection it makes to the written word and its implication of fact. "Here you have it, very clearly, black on white."

I therefore always liked to imagine that once it is white on black, the authority and meaning of the written word and truth itself becomes distorted. I did so in the application of my writing on paintings and canvas and you may have noticed that I use the hexadecimal color 999999 for the text on my blog - that is because I very consciously do not want to be conveying a sense of truth, which I have come find subjective. I therefore chose my own personal favorite shade of gray, making it clear that it is MY truth. The usage of both non-colors with their vast array of implications and cultural baggage provides a great field for Gareth Hugh (and me) for creative expression and exploration of light and darkness, which in his case ties into his autobiographical connection with the extreme London club scene, where night is daytime in the sense of the implication that it is during daytime that we are awake.

I feel that bloggers and writers can very much associate with the notion of this. Full fleshed bloggers don't sleep. We write and night, black on white, reversing the order of a learned 'natural' cycle.

Having started working as a ccostume designer for the English National Youth Theatre at the tender age of 14, the theatrical foundation was set to create a fashion genius in the oldest sense of the word - barely commercially viable, he has been quoted in Icon Magazine (December 2006) to have said that he has yet to sell a dress. This has widely been attributed to the "unwearableness" of his theatrical pieces apart from in music videos and live stage tours. His pieces have been worn by Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Kylie Minogue and Rhyana. I'm not sure what this guy is complaining about. Luckily, it seems he has been creating more wearable pieces (according to British Vogue) alongside his wild and amazing catwalk experimentation.

However, this is another point that makes Gareth Pugh undeniably attractive to me as a subject to write about. My own pieces are very wearable, so I wonder how that impacts the exclusivity and outlandishness of a piece.

After all these personal connections, interests and meanings that are to a great extent projected, what is indeed intended by Gareth Pugh's collection leaves us with beautifully weird creations of the best kind and I truly hope more people outside the fashion industry (Anne Wintour is apparently a great supporter - again - what is he complaining about?) start realizing he exists and that his wearable and commercial collections don't force him to lose the edge he brought with him from his circumstantial anger and theatrical routs.

LL Fashion Label: Next batch of ten dresses with Amelie Lerma- My favourite pictures

After a rushed and hectic arrangement where I invited the gorgeous actress Amelie Lerma over from France to take pictures of ten new dresses (much more than my usual batch amount), and after almost two months of waiting, I finally received the pictures by the quirky, yet very busy Steve Bliss.

Here are my favorites pictures for each dress:

LL Creates: Wear your Blog - Kristin's QR code maxi dress

A couple of days ago I went to see Kristin, the clothes whisperer, hold a lecture at the instituto marangoni on none other but the 'fashion street' - this is the actual name of the street, I'm not making this up. Due to some lost make up and other lost causes such a very suspicious receptionist who wouldn't tell me where the lecture was being held, I was late, but early enough to see Kristin being unbearably hot, fanning herself with her notes, answering questions from much adoring, apparently shy students, who immediately started discussing amongst themselves the advantages and hierarchies of having a classics literature or fashion degree when writing about fashion - once Kristin was safely out of earshot.

Robert Clayton of Yorkshire Pearls, the maker of wild and intricate bangles, who is working on his first fashion collection due to be unveiled to the world in autumn, was holding Butters, the little Pomeranian dog who is so used to being adored, she doesn't even flinch or follow dog etiquette or procedures of introduction when someone strokes her (and she gets stroked A LOT).

Nice as they are, they allowed me to tag along to a lunch at one of the typical Brick Lane spicy Indian restaurants with fresh modern decor and nicely diffused natural light (I had a water -too early for food!) We then went to the Vintage Market on Brick Lane, where my shopping diet was put to a strain with a perfect blazer to match with my Gucci shoes. Taking a recovering shopaholic to a market where silk and tweed float about in a fraction of their worth, is - painful.

I therefore distracted myself by observing Kristin's attitude, mannerism and style. A cool, laid back character with an acute self-awareness that can be seen in anyone deeply involved with fashion, I'd describe her style (in words) as bohemian chic with an eclectic elegance and as much of a dash of quirkiness as spices can be found in Indian food. My mind started up, working like a rusty old middle aged cart with a heavy load, creaking along a strange path full of stones and dust clouding the path itself, making the images and impressions difficult to depict, yet coming out at the other end of the road with a result. So, I can't really explain or remember the specifics of my train of thought due to my brain's cloudy and rusty ways, but I can explain the results and what happened thence after.

Portmanteau Diary: Hello my name is Stuart Bannocks... and I am a Designer

For the last year Stuart Bannocks has been producing 'a badge a day'. As the project developed throughout the year, his process of stretching and distorting the definition of 'made' as well as 'badge' emerge as critical themes within the work. His project questions among other subjects the relationship between the made and the not-made, as well as continuously asking the pressing question of 'What do I do next?'.

The work has been documented in the book titled: HELLO MY NAME IS STUART BANNOCS AND I AM A DESIGNER published by Shopwork, and available from www.shopwork.net

(Words taken from Shopwork group statement - sorry, I lost all my content during a computer crash and it's too painful to re- write.)

The gallery is a lovely space in a street that made me wonder whether I was still in London - everyone knew each other and was friendly, and I don't mean in a London way - in a village way! Really great location.

The exhibition itself was so great that it prompted a certain gallery curator (hint, he's in some of the pictures) from the Aram Gallery to say "This is exhibition is good. It's too good, actually". Indeed.

We are all designers, aren't we, really?

Portmanteau Diary: Byam Shaw 100 Years - Central St Martins Fine Art and Architecture Exhibition

I grew up with art. Surrounded by art. Almost every holiday, throughout my childhood and teenagerhood, was planned around exhibitions and art fairs to an extent where I actually went through a phase of refusing to enter museums and used to just sit in the sun until my family came back out. I still find myself reluctant to delve too much into the art world - I know it too well to like it. However, I keep finding myself at art openings and galleries a lot more than I'd like to admit, simply because I am still surrounded by people involved in it (and I often wish they were fashion launches I get invited to instead). Needless to say that there is not a lot of art that touches me or manages to excite me. I tend to look at it, acknowledge it, but pick it apart before even being able to enjoy it. However, every now and then it does hit me, and so far it has done so with only a handful of artists, and even more concretely, only very few specific pieces of said artists, which I connect to on an absolutely personal level.

One of them is Jemma Austin. Jemma went through a phase a couple of years back of creating abstract expressionist paintings inspired by Mark Rothko, whose paintings themselves I count among the most boring I'd ever seen. I am a firm believer in the idea that art is personal and sure, I can acknowledge and even admire historical context and meaning, but that doesn't mean I like his pieces. Jemma, on the other hand, created a series of paintings which made me cry the first time I saw them. Bearing in mind I am not exactly a fan of abstract expressionists art (I prefer constructivist, clean, mathematical pieces), this came as quite a surprise. I bought two of her paintings, one of which is the center piece on my office wall and makes me sad and happy every day.

Ratio of Sorrow

So of course I didn't say no when she invited me to an exhibition at the Byam Shaw 100 Years foundation at Central St Martins. The fact that she is practically my sister in law plays only a minor role, I think, and I focused on trying to pick out the talent from the pool of rubbish that was unfortunately also present. Apart from painting and other countless talents, Jemma is also a gifted photographer, who strikingly depicted the concept of doll-like physicality and role playing that we are all involved in, not just when putting on make-up, but in general.

Portmanteau List: An Ode to my top Favourite Shoes

Look at my sweet little soldiers... These are my top twenty one favorite shoes only. I didn't photograph all of my shoes because that would cover too many pages and what's the point? I created this ode as a memory preservation, just in case London manages to ruin them, which I'm sure it will.

Which one do you like best and why?

Portmanteau Commentary: Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada is the new Gordon Gekko from Wall Street

When it comes to culturally iconic sharp tongued business characetrs, Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in The Devil wears Prada is the equivalent of Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street.

Gordon Gekkos celebration of Wall Street toughness and exuberant, get-rich-quick, non-apologetic, immoral broker mentality shaped a whole generation of brokers and investment bankers. Based on an number of real and existing characters, the film and iconic character acted as a manifestation of an exaggerated portrayal of a created character, which consequentially became a concrete cultural reference point and kickstarted the justification of a whole generation of Gordon Gekko wannabes.

The innate immorality, unlikeability and bad boy characteristics only enhanced the immense appeal and elevation to iconic status through several layers of simulacra.

Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly plays a very similar role in culture. Envied by her peers she holds a position of power and she plays rough and foul to get it, stay in it and ahead of everyone else, and most of all - she is utterly unapologetic about it.

What exactly is it about those two business characters that appeals to our generation?

First of all, materialistically, they have it all. They have power, money, the respect of their peers, a luxurious lifestyle and amazing clothes and toys (cars, designers at their fingertips etc etc). The immorality, cruelness, coldness and calculating, almost inhumane disposition seems to not only a small inconvenience but actually a means to be able to get to their position.

The second characteristic that is appealing is the clear display of intelligence, wit, hard work, all consuming dedication to their craft and a resulting sense that in fact, not only do they deserve their success but are excused to do as they please to keep it. Although a classic cinematic trick of unrealistic exaggeration, the ooze of coolness, wit and sharp tongues resulting in iconic quotes and characteristics make it hard to not succumb to incorporation of such industry characterisation into our culture and way of thinking as well as the way in which we view ourselves within that industry.

Iconic quotes, which succinctly express opinions and emotions many of us are to decent to express but are, when taking a few layers of sugarcoating off, exactly what driven, ambitious, intelligent, hard working people in both the fashion and stock exchange industry really do think. Here are some jewels coming from the gifted fingers and minds that are the writers Stanley Weiser and Oliver Stone: "Greed is good", "Lunch is for wimps", "What's worth doing is worth doing for money", "If you need a friend, get a dog", "It's not always the most popular person who gets the job done". Similarly, Aline Brosh McKenna and Lauren Weisberger came up with "The details of your incompetence do not interest me", "By all means move at a glacial pace", "Hire the smart, fat girl", "Is there some reason that my coffee isn't here? Has she died or something?", "Bore someone else with your questions" and most poignantly "Everybody wants this. Everybody wants to be us." While Gekkos quotes are more memorable as actual statements, Priestly is memorable as a character and in the sharpness, tone and context of delivery of the lines.

Further films that openly admit to reflecting reality have underlined and pointed out the real source and inspiration of these two characters as well as the perception of them and re-enactment of their characteristics within their industry. For instance, the documentary The September Issue, which was a behind the scenes view on the preparation and decision making process of putting together the most important yearly edition of vogue (I love Grace by the way - on all levels), shows Anna Wintour as a decisive, has-it-all pope of fashion, revered feared and adored (as the trailer says). The devil wears prada, as we know, was mean to be based on Anna Wintour, and watching the documentary doesn't do much to make us not believe that. Director Ben Younger has often discussed as having been taken out dialogues in the script of The Boiler Room almost word for word from real conversations between young brokers he researched. For instance, there is a scene in which they watch Wall Street together and not only know it word by word but discuss it afterwards. During the introduction of new recruiters Ben Affleck's speech is filled with references to Wall Street and Glengarry Glenn Ross, another deeply established, constantly referenced business film in business and banking circles.

The layers of simulacra become very blurred, but it is clear that despite the obsession with celebrity that fill many tabloids and minds, those people who matter find their icons in tough business characters, reinterpret them, and internalise their characteristics as part of a learning and growing up process until their business characteristics become as sharply tailored to ourselves as a custom made Vera Wang gown. The fact of the argument is that those drawn to these characters already hold their truths within them and simply look to them as an affirmative cultural reference.

There's nothing wrong with being good at what you do and wanting what you get when you are, is there?

LL Fashion Label: The Lira Leirner Label

Same as I did with my business cards I wanted to keep the clothing label of my dresses personal but crisp with impeccable finish. I took inspiration from hand sewn labels that we find in vintage high end garments, especially 20s dresses and London based hatters such as Madaleine Thonnet's fingerprinted and big stitched labels, originally borrowed from then less obvious identifying criminological methods to prevent counterfeit labels. I am particularly drawn to the stitch and size as well as the delicate silk for the labels raher than the more common cotton version used nowadays, which facilitates the stitching process but takes away some of he glamor that I feel instantly comes across with silk labels.

Using a fine cream raw silk I stitched the logo on with black silk yarn and then firmly pressed the sides in and understitched it onto the lining of the dress to avoid having any stitching seen that would deter from the logo itself, keeping it in line with the aesthetic of my website, which avoids lines and merely graphically implies through positioning of content.

Portmanteau Diary: The Real Runway Launch Party

As so often before, I RSVP'd to a party with the full intention of going. Then my laziness gene kicked in, just about ten minutes before I should be leaving. I was working, and yawning - it's been a long week! I ventured Zahra "Do you want to go? I don't mind either way." And - THANK YOU - she replied saying "OH yes, we are going!" That's her here having a £12 Caipirinha in my hat, looking her hot self.

Thanks to having a friend who knows when to put her Jimmy Choos in my bum to get me going, we arrived in Mayfair after a long winding bus ride. That's the problem when you live in a lovely house in a lovely area - it makes it harder to leave! I'm glad I did, though, as you can see.

Almost as soon as we got there I met the lovely Ellen, who organised the whole event. The Real Runway Launch Party was to celebrate the launch of a slick, minimalist and glossy website which discusses fashion, its runways and backstage issues with a critical, edgy and slightly radical view. Ellen is as lovely in person as in writing, I really hope she had time to relax!

I wish I could now say "I'll let the pictures do the talking", however, my camera ran out of battery ca. half an hour in. Luckily, this was not an issue for WeKnowWhatYouDidLastNight the partner of the event- go have a look, there the pictures will actually do the talking! There's one of me and Zahra, too. One that provoked a friend, who hadn't seen me for a while, to say "Did someone force feed you food?" Lovely.

I ran into a few other fashion people, namely a backstage organiser I met at the Indian Premier London Fashion Week with Vauxhall Fashion Scout, some very VERY young looking models who assured me they were over 18 and were all absolutely gorgeous, very fun, and took us into the VIP area where I happily waved my cross marked hand at the bouncer (I wasn't very impressed that I was cross marked).

Here's a picture of Zephyr (I think!), who was sporting my favorite accessory of the evening - a light tube that molded along the line of his glasses, into the back of his shirt, still very visible, all the way down into... his trousers (the middle area) - and at the front, right into his pocket, pointing at, you know. I'm so glad I saw him early enough to take a picture.

Impressive light show by the Whisky Mist:


I am probably in the wrong business to be admitting this, but I am not one who handles being given free gifts very well. I have a very influential imaginary gnome floating next to my head reminding me that the only things that are of value are the things I worked hard for. In fact, that gnome is firmly lodged in my brain by now.

When an old boss once brought me a present from a trip, I worked extra hours. When Stuart gives me a present, I give him five back (in the grand scheme of things).

So I feel like I need to at least acknowledge the lovely goodies bag that Ellen managed to put together with her impressive PR skills.

And my favorite, the 80s style brushstroked white blue black printed Shirt by Collect London, which kept me warm on my way home and which I've been wearing today with jeans, black studded leather shoes and a vest.

All in all a great night out, amazingly tasting, yet strong drinks (a rare sentence you'll hear from me), and the first hang over I've had in at least four years. That should speak for itself. Thank you, all!

What LL Wore: Purple day out at the ArtHouse

I went to see designer in his studio at the ArtHouse and the sun was out, but it was still a bit chilly. I had to get my travelcard topped up and went to the corner shop, from where I tried out a new route to get to the main street, only to discover that the back streets are an array of unorganised dead ends. I did find this wonderful house front, though, full of wild, yet stunning flowers. And the door number is my lucky number! A good day all round, walking in my Jimmy Choos is always good.

Purple enrico coveri lambswool scarf, beiley by hollywod purple genuine panama straw hat, brown aigner sunglasses, purple ruby moon knit dress, bandage brown leather jacket from a charity shop in toronto, purple satin jimmy choo shoes, second hand vintage leather satchel, calvin klein nude tights

What LL Wore: Hitting coral reefs at the office

I met up at starbucks with a former colleague of mine today so he could coach me for an interview tomorrow. We had to re-locate to my old office and I felt very jumpy – my old boss could have walked in at any minute (which isn’t illegal or wrong – just awkward)! It was worth the risk, though, I learned lots! And am feeling very prepared.
The rest of the day was a bit shit, though. London can be pretty annoying sometimes. Why is everything so expensive? Why must we spend £7.50 on a ticket every day and £2 for tiny a handful of vegetables from Marks and Spencers? Spending money on things I see as inessential (such as food and travel!) put me in a very bad mood.
At least I looked the part of the pissed off lady (as well as the part of the eager learning student once accessories were removed inside), which for some reason was making a lot of seedy middle aged men hit on me despite being clearly covered up. Wearing a hat, scarves and sunglasses are such a lovely way to hide.

Black zara hat, black leather biker gloves, Alessandro Dell'Acqua biker sunglasses black sunglasses, DKNY gray white black silk scarf, black longchamp rubber le pliage bag, black long Perseption Concept knit vest, 3 year old h&m blazer, cotton dress with exposed zipper orange dress, Zara moc croc ankle heels orange shoes, aigner pink sunglasses, nude Clavin klein tights

What LL Wore: Bloodthirst

I went to an interview today and I wanted to wear my claret Gucci shoes – they make me feel comfortable and a million pounds worth. I love this deep red, as opposed to a more pop red as it resembles the blood-flood shade of my lips and cheeks when I’m angry or excited – and is therefore unbelievably flattering and brings out the brown of my hair and eyes. It’s like they say, you are what you wear!

Gray beige Italian felt hat, second hand claret red silk crochet dress, claret red Gucci suede and satin architecture four inch court shoes, claret red lambswool scarf, red le pliage Longchamp bag ca. 1990, green beige checked umbrella.