Portmanteau Diary: A week and a day with Lira Leirner


I have never really been much of a diary writer. I tried to do it two or three times, always resulting in a lovely empty book that had the first couple of pages covered in random scribbles. I have written regularly, especially in primary school where I had to write an essay, play, story or whatever took my fancy about a discussed topic every single day, but writing about myself every day seemed kind of… boring.
The act of a blogger can be and has been compared to that of a diary writer but there is a big difference – you don’t have to write about yourself or the things you did that day. So, writing a blog is quite different, I’d say. The act of writing every day involves a discipline and commitment that I tended to not want to tie myself to.
However, when Charlotte from Stylecartel made me an offer I could not, or more accurately, didn’t want to refuse. After all, whipping up an article about what and when and where I do over a week is still doable, I thought. Keeping me up before bed time, which is already more than late, as you will see, I stuck by it and bring you the “Week with Lira Leirner” including household dramas, fashion making and art shows. In order for you to not get bored, I whacked in a lot of pictures.
DAY ONE
Every morning either the sun or Stuart’s stampede wakes me up as he rushes to work. As my upper eye lid still unglues itself from the lower I intuitively reach for my iPhone and blink at it while I don’t waste my first half hour of the day trying to wake up – I already do some of my work whilst trying to wake up. Good ol’ iPhone. After an hour or so curled up under the duvet having done as much of the “soft” work possible, my arm ventures out of the cave and grabs whichever dress is on top of a heap of unorganized clothes near the bed. I peel myself away from the sheets and stumble down to my office knowing I have real work to do now. The opening sound of the macbook is as strong a catalyser for my awakening as is coffee for others, so I usually manage to get some solid client work done from 8am to around 2pm.
In addition to that I finished off the article about Daisy Dares You for Stylecartel when I came across the strange dilemma of electronic dependency. One of the films looked bad but sounded good, and the other was undecipherable but looked steady. Instead of exasperating at the face of electronic failure, I decided to simply use the sound of the former. I wanted to get ready to go to the market in order to get silk knit jersey for Kristin Knox of Clothes Whiperer’s custom made QR code dress but got tied down with work: the translation editorial from French to English for yet another client. It was interesting because the client is an architecture magazine.
I figured it was already too late to leave the house so I finally created a company page on facebook. I was still deep in the juju when Charlotte came home at 4.30pm and snapped me out of my working trance to remind me that I had, once again, completely forgotten about breakfast and lunch. We had a nice chat over a bowl of porridge then it was back to work.
I restructured the entire Lira Leirner website deciding to create a follow section, excluding a whole collection and adding new content and made a big change – instead of entering a text only list on the first page the landing page now redirects to the shop page directly, allowing a complete overview of all the pieces before deciding which one to learn more about.
At about 5pm Stuart came home and made me a badge to cheer me up as I was getting some serious recovering shopaholic blues.

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The Shopaholic Anonymous group, which consists of me, this badge and Stuart as a supervisor as well as the looming possibility of not making rent after turning freelance was established because of a shoe collection, which is three times as big as what is shown on this picture….
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…and this, a pile of clothes bigger than myself with a full room of floor-to-ceiling shelves still full.
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We both worked until about 9pm – that’s when we realised we had no food in casa, so we managed to rip ourselves away from the hypnotic grip work has on workaholics like us and went for a nice “walk” to the corner shop. For dinner I had plain mozzarellas with fresh tomatoes and some crisps whilst watching “Have I got news for you!” because eating food is the only time we allow ourselves to not work. But of course it was straight back to work after the 20 minutes of BBC iPlayer chuckles. I still had to change every single page of the website via Dreamweaver…
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At around half past midnight I discover Emily of Fashion Foie Gras’ passionate post about 10 being a healthy size for tall women and the ridiculous sizing system in fashion. I started writing a strongly felt comment but decided to blog it and create a poll instead. Finally, at 1.30pm after finishing all pages I went to bed where Stuart was watching a war escape documentary for “research” for his project. I really gotta say, some of these foxy grey-haired old men would have looked good in their heydays! Check out the color coordination of light blue in the stripes of the shirt, his eyes and details of his silk scarf!
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I did some more “soft” work (emails to arrange meetings and interviews I’m having with a designer) and then finally switched off the annoying war documentary and turned the lights off at around 2am but I still spent another hour writing notes about my day into the comic sans ridden notepad in my iPhone for this very article and made sure I didn’t wake Stuart. As I was about to fall asleep at 3:28pm my last thought was whether Alex of Alexloves didn’t like my answers in the interview she did with me, but turns out she was just really busy!
DAY TWO
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Today I wore the t-shirt from the Daisy Dares You goodie bag all day, which I tweeted and added to the lookbook.nu group on flickr. The cut is so comfortable and sexy! After the usual work for major clients for ca. 4 hours interspersed with reading fashion blogs and research for the same client I received some wonderful emails responses about my Daisy Dares You article – one from the head editor of stylecartel and one from the PR company responsible for the event.
Same as yesterday I was meant to go to Lewisham to go to the bank and the fabric shop but then got a call from an old friend who had been trying to arrange to come over for weeks to try the map dress on so I went around the corner to the dry cleaners and had the dress steamed.
We spent a couple of hours reminiscing and catching up, then she tried the dress on which looked stunning as she has a tattoo down her back and the dress is backless. However, as she’s a comfortable sporty type she said she couldn’t breathe because the waist was fitted (which is kind of the point) and joked she wasn’t prepared to suffer for fashion like I am. I loosened the seam but she still didn’t like jt so we had to let it go. I was sad, the dress looked great on her. We had a bit of a banter about my article complaining about non petite dresses and that I’m not making stuff for her size, which made me even more sad because I surely didn’t want to be accused of not creating dresses that can fit anyone fabulous enough to want to wear them no matter what size.
http://blogol.hu/pikz/csodavaro2/RocherRaffaello15pc.jpgI had half an apple and the rest of yesterdays crisps from the same package and shared two Raffaelos with my friend Yuuuummmyyy! I promised myself I’ll make a dress her size with a low cut back from beanbags, my next piece planned for the recycling couture line.
She left at around 5pm by which time Stuart was back. I had to do more work for the big client and then I got a much welcomed surprise in the form of Charlotte knocking on the door and excitedly displaying her latest purchase to join her Myasaki collection: she had bought Ponyo, a story based on the legend of the little mermaid. Stuart was pretending to be a “guy” guy drinking beer and watching a 0-0 hence boring football game whilst I started working on shortening the Volvo Subject60 article for Stylecartel.
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On Twitter bloggers arranged a meeting to happen soon, excited! Once the game was over we watched Ponyo while I was trying to figure out the plug in to upload pictures in my demoted account only to find out I didn’t have the privileges to do so! This meant I had to copy the images over from blogger at the wrong size which made was quite irritating. Ponyo was cute but certainly not my favourite to come out of the amazing Ghibli studio. In fact Stuart said “This film is so sweet it gave me diabetics”. I gave up and sent the Volvo article for approval so I could go to bed time and write diary notes until 1am, which is when I realised I didn’t have dinner but I was too cosy already. Nighty night!
DAY THREE
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_mKn3MI5-_gA/TB51rsF32iI/AAAAAAAABGc/4o0_44qLt2M/s1600/kristin1.jpgHad an uncharacteristically long lie in today – got up at 12! I immediately got ready to force myself to go to the market, something I have been dreading and keep pushing further away every day using the reason “work” as if going to the market to get fabric wasn’t work. I’m a recovering shopaholic, so the venturing to go anywhere near shops is a guaranteed way to put me in a very bad mood. However, I had been, without luck, trying to find printers all over London to custom print silk knit jersey for Kristin Knox of Clothes Whisperer’s dress. The stretchiness of silk jersey was really proving to be tricky for any non-sewn in manipulation such as paint to create a coherent pattern. After an onslaught of not requested brainstorming ideas in the form of Stuart’s voice I decided to settle with squared sequins or embroidery, meaning that it would be a feature, and not a pattern.
So I went to the bank to pay in a cheque then straight to the fabric shop, which was bursting with customers as usual. I dwindled my way through the crowd and managed to snatch one of the bitchy self-important saleswomen out between two of her errands only to find out that they didn’t stock silk jersey. Frustrated, I went to the Lewisham market to get fruit, then to M&S for vegetables and chocolate musli for my porridge, then to the pound shop for Tofiffee! I had some Toffiffee on my way home to calm me down, I was not happy with the £10 change the woman had given me in coins at M&S.
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http://winterhouseworldtour.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/toffiffee2.jpgOnce I got home I did some client work and researched a provider for silk knit jersey, which was almost impossible to find!! In my bad mood I got bored of work and Twitter with their “nationalistic, BNP-proud-making chants” so I decided to work on something that didn’t involve the outside world – sewing a men’s shirt. The office was messy so I took my beloved Toyota sewing machine and ironing board to the kitchen where I could use the whole floor to cut the fabric.
I didn’t want to put my housemates off so I figured I’ll include them in the process and made some measurements on my housemate as I still need to get used to men’s clothes! He was the only guy around as Stuart was at work… The process was soothing.
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http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_mKn3MI5-_gA/TB57Nz56HTI/AAAAAAAABG0/LCn_zzkN7-o/s1600/IMG_1046.JPG The concept of the shirt was along the lines of the jumpsuit I had previously made – meant to be a mix of smartness and comfort made of check raw silk pleats with suiting fabric cotton navy blue cuff links and a hood! I prepared the pattern and managed to fit pattern just about to use up the rest of the fabric I had. My other housemate was cooking and making me hungry so I had a mozzarella and tomato salad from the shop the other day and a plum, yummy!

I took a break in order to do some client work and answer to more question for a fashion journalist student about why I’m interested in white collar crime, I’m afraid I may have ranted a bit. I went back and finished the hood and the pleats preparation. However, the first side I did turned out quite badly in comparison to the second one. I finished the second one by the time Stuart had come back and had finished making his dinner, so I spent the rest of the evening undoing the pleats – My least favourite job in clothes making ever!
But we watched the Ricky Gervais show and then a British film called “The plot”, which made me realize just how long I’ve been living in the UK for as I recognized most actors. At 3am I had finally finished undoing the pleats and was glad I had used the day to be a designer again, I’ve been a blogger quite solidly lately!
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DAY FOUR
There’s not much to report today, except I continued indulging my fashion designer side today. Of course I did the usual client work and as I’m in charge of the house account I had to check the finances for the house as bills and rent were looming and chase everyone up. I had been invited to come along to a vintage fair by Bert and Markus Maverick in Shoreditch but I decided I wouldn’t be much of a welcomed guest at the vintage fair giving that I was a recovering shopaholic and not going to be spending a single pound.
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I got up at 11 and went straight to the kitchen to continue redoing the front pleats. However, once I had finished them I realized I’d made two of the same side so had to re-unmake the pleats AGAIN! I did so whilst watching Ricky Gervais show show then did some client work and emails including answering some more students’ emails. After that I finally paid attention to the pleats and told myself third time lucky! I got the pleats done correctly but they are a little irregular. I finished the rest of the shirt including exciting bits such as the hood and long stripe cufflinks.
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As I spent most of the day in the kitchen I ate quite a lot: several plums, porridge, and some chocolate. I was almost finished by the time Stuart came home and started cooking so I made my favourite meal with the food I had bought yesterday: vegetables! We watched “Have I got news for you” whilst eating and crazily enough, it was I decided to go to bed “early” instead of starting a completely new task.
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DAY FIVE
I had a bad dream and woke up at 9am with the sun streaming into my face, which made me determined to spend some time outside! However, as so often before, I told myself “just a little bit more” and ended up not realizing that I’d spent hours doing client work until suddenly one of my housemates came in asking the name of our landlord as she was talking to British gas on the phone, which is when I realized that I had, once again, missed out on the sun. She then had the cheek to ask me if I’ll be here from 12 to 6 and I grunted and wasn’t happy. I felt like wearing blue that day because that’s how I felt.
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I received a message from Bert asking for a meeting so I walked all the way to the studio as couldn’t afford the bus fare until that cheque I had paid in the other day came through. I later discovered I’d forgotten my wallet anyway, so I’m glad I didn’t waste my time waiting for a bus. I worked on Bert’s blog after his best friend Kristin aka the Clothes Whisperer sent us the log in details and more pics and press. I met an artist from the studios, a lovely woman, who told me she’d buy one of the royal mail bags if they were for sale. Bert was hungry but I didn’t have £ so didn’t want to go eat, but being Bert he convinced me to come along and get invited. I met one of Bert’s friends who gave us a lift to New Cross and liked my name – we had a discussion about how differently people pronounce it in different countries.
In New Cross we met another one of Bert’s friends, a photographer as I later found out. He had a very nice business card and was interesting to talk to but a tad too touchy for my taste.
We found a pub that offered both Thai and “Lira” food. Or in Bert’s words “boring English food”. Despite the fact that the pub was almost empty we waited an hour for the food during which time I did some client work on the phone. I ordered an ommelette with cheese, chips and salad, which was very greasy and overcooked, but I was hungry so I didn’t mind until later in the afternoon when it made me nauseous.
Bert very rightly complained it was my fault that he had to eat shitty Thai food… Sorry, Bert! Next time I’ll just tag along to any Thai restaurant and won’t eat, the way it usually is, I promise. We walked back to the studio where his friend had a look around while I finally located the right place in the HTML template for some of the changes that Bert wanted made.
I got a call from my best friend who is visiting and was coming to see me in Brockley to aforementioned financial situation instead of me coming into town to meet her. My hat received lots if compliments in the Art House Studio and Bert showed me his hat collection of which I loved one particular – a felt brown hat with abstract orange felt flowers. It was so “me” that Bert simply gave it to me! The day was looking up, I was so happy with my new hat! Yay!
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On my way to pick up my best friend I received a text message from Alex of AlexLoves informing me that the interview with me was finally up so checked it out on my iphone as I walked from New Cross to Brockley station. I came across a banana case that lay exactly next to a pile of dog poo. That’s a weird thing to mention, but what are the odds?
As I waited I did some client work on the phone. When we got home I found out that my housemate had been home on time and that British gas had fixed the boiler! I was looking very forward to having a nice hot shower again.
My best friend and I had sooo much to talk about but after a while I started feeling nauseous and she was still sleepy from travelling so I had some chocolate and Fanta, which really helped, and went for a walk in the park before my friend decided she was and needing to follow her body’s command to snuggle up into a bed.
I checked Alex’s blog properly and typed in “Lira Leirner” on google to see where she ranked and I found a feature on me I didn’t know about that had been posted today as well! There was a feature about my collection on Emerging Fervor! What they and Alex had written was so sweet and flattering, any annoyance I had that day were truly smoothened. I was over the moon! I then did lots of client work until around midnight and was very tired, most likely from all the unusual walking my chair potato self had done today – I fell asleep immediately.
DAY SIX
I got woken up by Stuart from a horrid dream involving ants, religion and pearl clad middle aged women drinking from wells full of leaves. Our landlord was coming round so we could sign the contract and mentioned that he had seen my dresses and the website – they seemed really impressed, which was a little surreal. Stuart went to work and I started working on client stuff. I then received an early birthday present from my mother- in- law.
It was a twelve moths subscription to the bible of fashion. It was the http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_mKn3MI5-_gA/TCYuZ8yOBVI/AAAAAAAABIM/oRQGJRkUKm4/s400/Picture+1.png
…. resulting in me looking a lot like this:
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I was asked to upload some pictures onto facebook but instead of just uploading the pictures I decided to write a proper blog post about a yummy creme de la crepe place in covent garden. I then did some more client work but less than I would have hoped. I did a lot of computer related necessary work, including adding new pages on my blog – press and dresses.
I came across an article by stylite about branded contact lenses, which prompted me to write another blog post called “When Branding gets out of hand“. I received a package from a friend with a dress as a present that I’d seen on the top floor of Urban Outfitters three months ago (old picture to the right), what an awesome present!
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It reminded me to email my other friend about Refugee Week Fashion Show, and to confirm the press tickets for the Barbican gala for Brazilian film festival – Music and Rhythm for next week. I then had to take on the boring task of house administration and do things such as organize dates with the gardener, British gas, and the fridge guys to fix our fancy fridge that keeps making noises and sort of breaking down as well as some house accounting. I then e-mailed a student dress pictures for their dissertation. This is sounding like a list, but I then did more client work until Stuart came home from dinner with his mum at 11.30pm, making me realize I hadn’t eaten again, so he made me go to the kitchen but as my lazyness gene (only present when it comes to food and cleaning) kicked I simply had yet another porridge. Whilst eating it I got distracted with work again and Stuart had to actually come down after the shower to tell me to go to bed at around 2am.
DAY SEVEN
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After getting up earlier than usual, which allowed me to get some solid client work done from 10am to 2.30pm I made my way to the Shopwork Gallery, sporting my new hat, a Moschino dress and Miu Miu shoes. Unfortunately, I had picked out the absolute worst time to travel on a bus – not only did the “every ten minutes bus” timeframe get seriously blown out of proportion after as I had to wait 25 minutes for a bus, during which time I went to get a stack of chocolate, but it was then also packed with children who were just leaving school. Anybody who knows me knows that I’m something of a childophobe, so this was certainly not an ideal situation for me. On top of that I discovered that my euster card had run out and I had to pay the full fare, which I hate doing. I managed to wedge into a seat after a couple of stations – next to a grumpy old lady who was taking up half my seat despite being as small as me.
Anywho, enjoyed meeting two old friends family friends, discussed the work then went for dinner in a pub that had just opened that week and still smelled of freshly cut wood. Amazing! we talked about why the iPad is useless and how tab water is purer than bottled water, to which I replied “Not here it isn’t”. Sorry, London, but it’s true. They told me about a designer called Heather Lucy, who creates dresses and beautiful designs for physically handicapped people, which I thought was a very interesting concept.
Once back home Stuart watched the Southafrica against Uruguay game, which was without a doubt the most awkward and cringe-y world cup game I had ever seen. They gave a red card to the host nation’s goalie for barely touching the guy? Really not cool. For some reason this set off a wave of frustration and irritation about my work and I needed a big dose of chocolate before going to bed at 1.30am.
DAY EIGHT
I got up late today and was still frustrated about day before. What better way is there to vent your frustration than having a nice bitching session with your housemate over breakfast porridge? It was already 12 when I started with client work and my brain was being pretty slow – we all have these days, right? My friend came over to try on a couple of dresses to choose one to buy. She chose the Green Tree Names dress.
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We went to the Goldsmiths Art Degree show and I wore the dress my other friend had sent me as a present the other day, together with Zara lace up boots, a corset on top, vintage tweed and velvet Yves Saint Laurent blazer, and print stitch black leggings.
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We ran into Bert and his crew in what I like to call the “Squiggly Building”, including the photographer I had met the other day and the beautiful Dhanasun who was wearing a floor length Scottish check skirt.
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Check out the blog post about the degree show here. Went to Hobgoblin Pub afterwards where we kept an eye on the game and ate chips n cheese. I also came across this guy wearing THIS T-shirt next to a sign saying “Who says size doesn’t matter?” Brilliant. And he was so proud and blissfully unaware of the sign.
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Some old flatmates walked in came say “Hi”, which was very awkward. Strangely enough, I got a call from my landlord right then and there and a big drama ensued surrounding housemates who hadn’t signed the contract yet but were in the pub and it was all pretty ugly with yelling and “Can I talk to you for a sec”. I went home very angrily but not angry enough to not appreciate the beautiful sundown that happened that evening.
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When I got home I talked to my mum on skype. Stuart was stuck on train for 30 minutes due to a fatality on the train tracks and had to travel all the way around to a station far away and walk 45 minutes to get home. This isn’t London’s best side. My friend’s invitation to go to Cambridge the following day, where I had studied for two years before moving to London five years ago, was very welcomed and I looked forward to heading home to get an early night’s sleep and wake up to travel to Cambridge in the morning to see the Art show at my old school as well as all my beloved tutors.
I was weighing up the plus and down sides of being a shopaholic in London while doing some client work and answering piled up emails when the nicest finish to a week I could hope for happened: I received a request from Sarah from Sarah’s Scribbles for a custom made Lira Leirner Tea Tattoo dress, which allowed me to go to bed excited about the next day and the coming week, where art, design, fashion and writing as well as hours upon hours of work, forgetful meals and short sleeping spells are surely to fill “The days of Lira Leirner”.