In the words of Public Enemy – “Don’t believe the hype”. This is my mantra for all fashion shows following the Ann-Sofie Back show. My first warning was when they served tiny little portions of mushroom risotto out to the waiting audience. I hate mushrooms, order buy and they had no alternative. It was a bad omen, but I was prepared to excuse as the venue was pretty cool. The Topshop show space in the University of Westminster was a vast warehouse with as much potential as Andy Warhol‘s Factory. Then the lights dimmed, the music started and I knew we were all doomed for the next 20 minutes. First the music: it literally didn’t make any sense. It was a comedy sound-scape that could well have been the backing music to a Laurel and Hardy film. It had no rhythm, no progression and no point.
Then came the clothes. Ann-Sofie Back gave us a collection inspired by OK! and Heat. No, I’m not joking, these are the actual words that she uses in the press release. Any designer that references Britney Spears “pixelated crotch” as inspiration is one that needs sectioned.
All the clothes looked as if the hem had come down, got caught in a revolving door and then been chewed by a dog. Apparently this was homage to Kate Moss’s disintegrating Dior dress at the opening night of The Golden Age of Couture at the V&A. On one particular dress the unravelled hem attached to silver anklets around the models leg. Oh, and some of the models had garters around their thighs. It was all a bit wife-swapping-in-the-suburbs for my liking.
If Ann-Sofie Back is determined to use the C-list celebrities as her inspiration, then who does she hope to dress other than these fame hungry vultures that haunt the weekly gossip magazines? Just as Britney inspired Justin Timberlake‘s Cry Me A River, this collection made me want to weep. Ann-Sofie is definitely not bringing sexy Back.
Alexei of JoFo with a terribly inaccurate flier outside the Liverpool Barfly. (Ed’s Note: There is no one called John or Johnny Foreigner in the band.)
Johnny Foreigner have, approved like so much British Beef reared talent of late, had huge amounts of exposure and press without as of yet releasing an album. However on the back of this near- perfect little EP Arcs Across the City I would say all the digital chatter is fairly justified. JoFo essentially play noisy, cluttered and down right chaotic indie pop at its best, never allowing themselves to forget that it is imposing rhythmic vocals that are needed to win an audience over.
The opener Champagne Girls I Have Known hurtles into view in a way which epitomises the frenzied feel of the band, messy guitar and sporadic drumming opening up, and then getting into swing with a controlled form of chaos. What makes the song – and indeed the band – truly special, is the perfectly balanced duel vocals of Alexei and Junior which compliment each other beautifully. There are perhaps even elements of the ignoble Mark E. Smith in the haywire shouting, the words sounding occasionally uncontrolled and existing independently of their creators. Balancing this on the other hand are the wonderfully melodic lines and segments that arrive out of the clutter, on Suicide Pact, Yeah the vocals sound particularly fine, with a perfect little refrain appearing as girl and boy come together to sing “I’ve got nothing to lose“. The self cited influences of Dismemberment Plan and Q and Not U are glaringly present but JoFo are by no means simply an amalgamation of the two, creating as they have a genuinely unique sound, same but different if you will.
Johnny Foreigner sound as though they have somehow captured the musical zeitgeist at this present time, components from hand clapping to synthesisers to glockenspiel are all present however where lesser bands might use these tools in a derivative or tired way, JoFo integrate many elements together in a manner which is not at all forced. Almost in parallel to fellow new comers Los Campesinos! it feels as though they have been coming for a long time, an amalgamation of trends of the current time, drawing on so many influences yet somehow remaining fresh.
JOFO are TOURING EXTENSIVELY NOW
Photograph by Christel Escosa
Upon one very monotonous day in college, pharmacy I received a call from my partner in crime ranting some inaudible words, but my ears pricked up when I heard the words ‘Skins Premiere Party‘. Much to the envy of all my companions I discovered that yes, I indeed was going to the infamous Skin’s party in London town and you my friend, are not; cue smug face. My mindset was expecting a wild dancing orgy full of drugged delirious crazed ape faces due to excess consumption of everything wrong under the sun, courtesy of those captivating E4 TV ads which suck me in like some sort of turbo powered straw.
My comrade and I arrived at an old, beaten-down theatre with an exterior attacked by florescent chip-shop style skins banners. Armed with three drinks tokens, I spied with my little eye my first celebs, Michael Bailey (Sid) and April Pearson (Michelle). One to get star struck all too often, even by Paul O’Grady, I decided to opt out of the risk of much personal embarrassment and headed upstairs for the premiere screening of the first episode from series two. The derelict but grand pavilion with wooden steps for seats housed us skins devotees and after a tedious wait the exclusive screening started with screaming fans to my left and my right. The long-awaited episode captured everything a rebellious young’n could and would do, and was greeted with an enthusiastic response all round. But personally, I was more interested in working my dancing shoes – I did not put on my hooker heels to watch a giant TV screen, and was the first to scramble my way out to the main room when it’d finished in search for music and alcohol.
The Teenagers opened the live performances, but perhaps since it was so early on in the night the audience seemed to have unjustly fallen asleep in their drinks. The troopers still made the most of a bad situation and hammered away at their instruments with exuberance and by the end of their performance, I was beginning to wonder if all the publicity was one big scam.
Hats off to the fighting Teenagers for dealing with this crowd (see girl on far left)
Next to brave the merciless audience was MC/Beat boxer/Multi vocalist Kila Kella, and I’m not sure whether it was his high-pitched vocals, or perhaps his ‘give Justin a run for his money’ beatboxing talents, but he finally got a response from the audience! Hurrah! The hype-man he was, stirred the animals within and there was no turning back; the party had started at last and we all didn’t give a toss about our bleary eyed disco dancing. Mylo and Kissy Sell Out took over for the rest of the night and served up tunes that had zealous effects over my body as I proceeded to thrash my cheap wine-fuelled body around without any breaks, which left me feeling rather delicate come Sunday afternoon. Kaya Scodelario and Mitch Hewer aka Effy and Maxxie, left their celebrity status’ behind and joined in the fracas, living up to their controversial on-screen characters.
When all the other weaklings that couldn’t take the heat had left by midnight, my trustful crunker and I were still raving like the Skins kids we are at heart ‘til closing time. No I did not participate in an orgy, no I did not sniff any of the white stuff, and no I did not dry hump all the boys on the dance floor – but an evening, which started out rather placid, spiralled into an alcohol-induced mental rave like no other, topped off with a somnolent night bus journey home, cheese on toast and toilets filled with said cheese on toast.
In reference to Catherine’s (fashion ed) Public Enemy slip-in, when it comes to Skins parties – do believe the hype.
Apologies for the poor focus but this photo was the best depiction of the crazy monkeys of the nightime
Schoolgirl pleated skirts worn with hold-up stockings were far from childish. Top hats, bells, knives, clocks, revolvers, and birdcages emblazoned the buttoned up silk blouses in white and old rose. Borrowed, black bowler hats from Rene Magritte‘s masterpiece ‘Son Of A Man’ defined the crisp, white shirt collars, infested with ants. Large, black silk ties were knotted, like your grandfather would have, perfectly.
Hair was slick, gelled, and parted to the side, and occasionally, black spiders crawled through it. Metal cogs decorated the black patent, stiletto heels. Short, velvet dresses in deadly nightshade and slate grey were layered over white Edwardian shirts, and cropped, thick knits in grey/white layered over corseted waists and little shorts.
Chandelier prints made with crystals and beading adorned magenta mini dresses with long sleeves. Necks were decorated with jewels, an elegant touch to the cobwebbed lace and black, hooded coat, which gave a more gothic vibe. The moon shone bright on the cyanide blue silk dresses, whilst silhouettes of the night were pierced with white lightening bolts. The clock struck midnight and time became lost in a fantasy. A fantasy that drove innocence away, bringing tainted behavior to its audience.
After prematurely running out of free beer after only one bottle at an unnamed nearby event, discount my colleague Eliza Knight and I made our way to Beyond Retro‘s do. The annual masquerade ‘Valentines Frock Night’ held at their Cheshire Street shop just off Brick Lane was not only to celebrate that day where I believe you’re meant to give special people chocolates or flour or something. The event was also to celebrate the arrival of one thousand Spring/Summer frocks fresh from NYC and, store according to their staff- an excuse for a party.
We were greeted by Beyond Retro’s friendly staff (below) who were pretty drunk and all dressed up in a slightly confused Marie Antoinette theme. Pink champagne was poured on a table which I am sure looked like a work of art an hour or so before our arrival but was now merely a soggy demolishment of a few Bakewell tarts, drug Fondant Fancies, Lovehearts and some lonely strawberries. A few more pink champagnes were poured and fear slapped me around the face- me + a sweetie dinner + pink champagne + lots of wonderful vintage clothes = trouble.
I steered clear of the deluge of New York dresses, there were too many and I felt it was dangerous territory. Instead I stayed in the unusually safe shoe area where I chatted with the staff, gobbled some more vintage sweets and watched Eliza Knight prance around to vintage Wham! in silver sparkly stilettos, which she ended up going home with.
Already slightly perturbed that I only had a standing ticket for John Rocha (what’s so important about Debenhams, medicine after all?), I became increasingly disgruntled when I had to wait outside for twenty minutes in the bitter cold, my eyes still bleary from the early awakening that the show required. On top of that, I was fully expecting the show to be harrowingly dull. As a grizzly bear might say, ‘grrr’.
Still, there was an element of entertainment value in the wait, as, like some kind of fashion horror show, several ridiculously dressed people with their specially allocated seats passed me by; one woman surmounted with a large marshmallow-shaped fake-fur hat that seemed to be obscuring her (fashion) vision was particularly amusing, as was the cutting remark of her colleague who greeted her with the obligatory double-peck and an added “darling, where does the hat end and you begin?”
Eventually we were instructed to pile into the tent, and I took my place between a rather morose-looking woman and a group of excitable teenagers, anticipating a series of tedious vest tops and floral v-neck jumpers. I was mistaken. The collection was surprisingly interesting, as were the fourteen-year-old models with humongous manes of backcombed hair as they emerged in their folded felt hats that resembled oversized fortune cookies. A lot of purple, orange, black crochet and gold brocade was involved, and v-neck jumpers were nowhere to be seen. On the whole it was a worthwhile event, but a shiny goodie bag for us suffering standers wouldn’t have gone amiss.
Located in one of the loveliest venues I’ve had the pleasure of sitting in, unhealthy the Sinha-Stanic show was an assault to the senses. The Royal Academy of Art provided an arctic white space with benches for the audience to perch on. These were a little too high for my non-model legs, visit this and I felt like I was back in primary school, sitting there swinging my legs (until I kicked over the water belonging to the lady beside me). After 30 minutes of celebrity spotting and an apology, the show began, and out stepped the models.
The hair was spectacular; single braids sat atop the models heads reminding me of a croissant (it was nearing lunchtime and I was hungry).
Volume skirts, so popular on many of the catwalks so far, reappeared in lemon, silver, pink and dogtooth incarnations. This selection is sure to please everyone from the pastel-loving housewife to the Hoxton whore. This play on volume was further echoed in a range of shift dresses, which had been tailored to give an almost geometric silhouette.
Meanwhile, oversized sweater dresses adorned with Swarovski crystals were worn with cropped jackets. The juxtaposition of scale and texture worked well, evoking the teenage rebellion Sinha-Stanic were so influenced by (well, teenage rebellion if you have a trust fund and can afford Swarovski crystals).
Ultra short hula-hoop skirts with wire hemming, generic urban cowboy ruffles, remedy gothic lace and military accessories were Cook’s key pieces to strut down the catwalk to country remixes of rock classics. There may be some daring tights around these days but the ones prancing down the catwalk at the University of Westminster’s industrial basement could knock the socks, or tights off any you’d come across in M&S. Cook’s tights were snakeskin/ tie-dye looking with a latex glaze. They were brilliant but I can’t imagine them being at all practical… oh dear, I said the P word during London Fashion Week- that’s my first fashion faux pas. But think of them on a sweltering day!
It wasn’t long before I started to think that these models looked a bit like fish. Grey ensembles of frills, tie-dye, lace, scales, fins (just kidding) and wet legs. It’s ok though, the vertiginous boot shoes and military hats bought the collection down to earth. As the show progressed so did the colours- a trouty green and a salmony pink. The sparkles and tassels followed.
As you can tell, I didn’t really jump for joy at this collection, except those tights of course. It wasn’t the aquatic feel that upset me- the lace and fringing, and I suppose the colours may be arguably pretty but I couldn’t help to think that things looked a bit east end market cheap.
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