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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Festival Preview: Latitude

Come one, come all, to Suffolk. Suffolk? Yes, Suffolk. There's a really bloody brilliant festival there.

Written by Ian Steadman

Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Viveka Goyanes
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim Seoghee
All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Kim Seoghee may not be Flemish (I’m gonna bet he isn’t) but his work sure as hell feels the touch of Belgium. With a team of skinny stoney faced pretty boy models and ethereal girls, visit web Kim showed us a classic example of the sulky European genre. Eyes emphasised with kohl, visit this the models lined up to show Another 7th Day, prescription a pick ‘n’ mix collection in black, grey and cream. Amongst the upbeat surroundings of Alternative Fashion Week their cool collective attitude stood right out, but they’d fit right in at Paris or London fashion weeks proper.

Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim Seoghee
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim Seoghee
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim Seoghee
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim Seoghee
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim Seoghee
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim Seoghee
Kim Seoghee with his models.

Laura Panter showed a clever collection – ‘This collection cries adolescent’ – God knows what being a teenager had to do with it though. The clothes were a curve enhancing mix of pastel chiffon and wool with bondage inspired straps and belt features.

Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Panter
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Panter
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Panter
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Panter
Laura Panter.

She was followed swiftly by the work of another Laura. Laura Fox had put together a cute series of outfits inspired by ‘British Heritage, Harris Tweed and Oilskin’ – with the aim of promoting manufacturing in the UK. Her love for classic British designers such as Christopher Bailey for Burberry were clear in what I thought was a sweet and mature collection, and that was before I discovered that Laura is wheelchair bound. She has a good web presence with a Carbonmade website and a twitter feed so she clearly hasn’t let a little thing like a disability stop her from keeping busy. And my friends over at Creative Boom have also blogged on her here. Dead impressed.

Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Fox
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Fox
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Fox
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Fox
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Fox
Laura Fox had business cards to hand: the way it should be done!

Sarina Hosking showed a couple of pieces titled Beauty and the Beast. I have to say I’m not surprised by the title – during a week when titles often bore abstract relevance to the collections they were attached to (at best), this did exactly what it said on the tin. The girl that really got all the photographers salivating was a sexy grown-up version of Little Red Riding Hood, complete with red lacy veil. An elegant gent in wolf mask looked on. They were a distraction from the rest of the collection but heck, why not mix and match your fairytale references? According to her myspace Sarina is principally a theatrical designer, so it all begins to make sense.

Transform by Elizabeth Wilcox was described as ‘Sportswear creating capsule wardrobe’. It was certainly sporty but I am not sure I was feeling the marl grey highlighted with neon sculptural thing.

Viveka Goyanes put together cutesy cream printed shirts with carefully styled black and white tailoring to present a mature collection called Brummella the Dandella. I particularly loved all the little touches, like the ripped and accessorised socks. It always pays to look down!

The first festival I ever had the fortune to attend was Latitude 2007. Still a fresher at university, page still fresh-faced and just a little naïve; a small hatchback, viagra order four friends, and every nook and cranny jammed with our camping equipment. We were green, and we didn’t know that you wouldn’t need six sets of clothes, nor a full foldable mattress, nor (as one of our group, bizarrely, thought) a full set of crockery. It was only due to our general keenness that left us arriving early and managing to snag a camping spot both close to the site entrance and (crucially) within 600 yards of the car park. That was, I discovered, exactly the limit of my stamina for being able to carry my own weight in paperbacks and camping stoves (three!) and several pairs of shoes. Oh, idle youth! These days I can take five nights of living in muddy squalor like a medieval serf in my stride, but that’s only down to training myself; I had to ween myself off such modern luxuries as soap, razors, and fresh underwear.

But I digress – this is meant to be a preview of Latitude 2010. The background: Latitude occurs every year in July in Southwold in Suffolk, and operates under the banner of Festival Republic (formerly Mean Fiddler), that gargantuan promotions company with fingers in many pies and still perhaps best know for the carnival of the damned that is the Reading and Leeds Weekender. Latitude is something of a pet project for Festival Republic, who felt that British festivals had lost track of what made them so culturally important in the first place – not just the bands but the atmosphere, the vibe, the performers on stilts and the chance meetings in the dark under the boughs of some off-to-the-side willow. Glastonbury has become something of a behemoth, but it used to be a small and intimate affair; Latitude’s raison d’être is to mimic what Glastonbury is suppose to once have been. My verdict, taking my experiences of 2007 into account, is that they have succeeded admirably, though it would be churlish to say that it’s exactly as the same. Many of those ideals that the hippies celebrated at the solstice three decades ago – appreciation of the earth, appreciation of humanity – have arguably seeped into the larger (regular) festival-going public, but these days we’re much, much better at recycling.

Capacity is relatively small, as far as festivals go these days, capped at 25000 since 2008, and the wondrous thing about Latitude is that you can go the whole weekend without seeing a single band. There’s a strong lineup of comedy acts, theatre performances, literature talks and other cultural oddities that mark it out as unique in the British festival scene. I’ll run through some of the things to look forward to this year, for those that are going, and if you’re not then be quick, because it’ll sell out soon.

There are several music stages scattered about the site. The largest is the main Obelisk Arena, this year headlined by Florence & the Machine, Belle & Sebastian, and Vampire Weekend. Other artists worth seeing include folkster Laura Marling, indie legends Spoon, insanely talented Mexican acoustic duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, gorgeous melody act Dirty Projectors, and even a recently-reformed James. They’ll probably sing that song about sitting.

Move across to the second stage and you’ll find the Word Arena, headlined by the National, the xx, and Grizzly Bear. The first is one of the best bands in the world, without question, and if you go you’ll probably find me there too, undergoing some kind of trembling transcendental spasm attack. I love that band. Oh god how I do. The xx are an interesting choice of headliner as their music, so heavy with meaning and yet so utterly minimal, might struggle to hold a headlining slot on a festival stage. I’ve seen them live before and they were bloody fantastic, so I’m sure they’ll be fine; I won’t be seeing them at Latitude, though. My reasons involve a broken heart, a worn mixtape, and shattered promises – I won’t burden you any further than that, but know that it was horrid. Grizzly Bear are sick, and will absolutely suit the beautiful site that Latitude is situated within. Also playing the Word Arena are Wild Beasts, Richard Hawley, the Horrors, and Yeasayer, etc. etc..

Then you’ve got your Lake Stage, which is (no surprises here) situated next to a lake, as well as the Sunrise Arena deep in the woods on the edge of the site. Exactly who shall be playing where on these stages hasn’t been announced yet, but what is know is that artists and bands such as the Big Pink, Black Mountain, Girls, These New Puritans, Tokyo Police Club, and a bunch of others. I’ve been looking back through past years and Latitude 2010 looks like being potentially the best ever with regards to the music acts (though 2009 was also pretty sick – Nick Cave!). But it’s not all about the music, of course, otherwise it wouldn’t be quite as sweetly unique as it is.

In the Comedy tent there are sets from Richard Herring, Emo Philips, Rich Hall, Phill Jupitus, Mark Watson, but also many smaller acts such as Mark Oliver and Doc Brown. In previous years this tent has had a propensity towards overcrowding when the bigger names have appeared, but hopefully they’ll have ironed out the creases there. We’ve already covered the Literature tent on Amelia’s Magazine, somewhat, but I’ll add that Jon McGregor is also giving a talk. He’s the author of If Nobody Speaks Of Remarkable Things, a novel that is in itself extraordinarily remarkable and one of the finest examples of prose-poetry I’ve read in the past decade. Also of note here is that Dan Kitson, who probably blushes when he gets described as, “perhaps the finest standup comic of his generation,” all time, will be telling a story for an hour every night at midnight on the Waterfront Stage. His work is rarely available on video as he doesn’t like the idea of his shows being pirated, so please take this opportunity to see him in the flesh.

John Cooper Clarke is in the Poetry tent – one of the towering figures of modern performance poetry in this country should be reason enough to raise some curiosity there, but there are also appearances from important figures on the British poetry scene like Luke Wright and John Stammers. Eddie Argos, of Art Brut fame, will also be doing a set – if you’re familiar with the man then you’ll know that’s an intriguing prospect.

I’ve barely scratched the surface here – there’s a Cabaret tent that parties on into the early hours of the morning, there’s the Film & Music Arena showcasing some unique new audiovisual shows (as well as more irreverent stuff from the likes of Adam Buxton and the Modern Toss crew), and there’s also a chance to wander into the woods to find both the opera performances and the In The Woods area, a woodland clearing set up for late night raving. There are numerous plays put on at the Theatre Arena, including performances from the Royal Shakespeare Company and Everyman Playhouse. There’s a huge childrens’ area that’s almost like a playground.

Hell, the whole thing is like some gaudy carnival from the middle ages transported through time for our enjoyment. There’s a parade at some point, there’s giant painting projects, you can row boats in the lake, you can watch a jazz band play all day on a floating stage on the lake, and so on, and so on. The beauty of the site just completes the package, and thankfully the Latitude team are very good at maintaining it. They’ve got a well-developed set of environmentally-friendly policies that have managed to recycle most of the waste from past festivals, including designated recycling bins, bags handed out to campers for sorting their recycling, and everything you can buy on site is sourced so that it won’t damage the environment both getting there and if it’s thrown away. Sorted.

So that’s Latitude 2010. Three days almost doesn’t seem enough, does it?

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