Thursday, 30 April 2009

Stephen Sprouse-Louis Vuitton

There was an article in Vogue last year about the then-upcoming collaboration between Louis Vuitton and the late Stephen Sprouse, featuring his prints on classic Louis Vuitton products. This bag is one such a product-I love it. Granted I'm not really a bag person-I mean, I love nice bags as much as the next girl, but I'm not the kind of person who can spot a Birkin from a mile away or who queues overnight to obtain the lates Marc Jacobs arm-candy. But this bag really appeals to me-I love the mix of classic Louis Vuitton with the crazy graffiti print (and in such a nice colour too!). I don't know-it just seems to make what would be quite a 'serious' bag muchmore wearable.
Not that I'm likely to ever get a chance to wear it...but a girl can hope!
(In passing, I was wondering if I need to insert copyright acknowledgments on any of these photos?! Just wondering...I don't want to be banned from the blogsphere just for neglecting to add a few words in small print at the bottom!)

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Camera Desperation

OK, now that summer's a-coming in I am in DESPERATE need of a camera. I KEEP seeing things I want to take photos of, and then realising...wait, my disgusting little digital camera's been broken since before Christmas and I have no means of capturing this scene except with my 1.3 megapixel phone camera which literally makes a picture full of coloured squares. AARGH, so annoying! I was cycling to rowing this morning in the perpetual sunlight and I came to an area of the towpath that was like a green tunnel: the trees were growing so close together overhead that they were touching, and all the nettles and bushes on each side were over a metre high. The road was basically blotted out by all this greenery, which smelt and looked so fantastic that I wanted to dive into it (although of course I didn't, not wanting to look like a total psycho). I had forgotten just how great summer is. I mean, really:

1. It's summer. So it's warm, sunny and altogether happy-making.
2. All your nice clothes can actually be displayed to people instead of being buried under lumpy jumpers and black winter coats. Plus there's no need to go out carrying armfuls of extra layers in case of a sudden cold snap.
3. Shopping is so much easier because all you have to take off in the fitting rooms is a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. Plus shopping is so much more fun, because summer clothes are as a rule nicer than winter clothes.
4. The summer holidays-2 months of freedom from school, homework, stress, having to get up early, uncomfortable/unflattering school uniforms...
5. Summer food-ice cream, strawberries, rasberries, lemonade, cucumber sandwiches (OK, so I might be guilty of a little wishful thinking...)
6. No more milk-bottle legs-whether it's from the sun or from a bottle, your legs will definitely be white no longer. Well, apart from people like me, who even when they lather on layers of self-tan still have disgustingly blotchy skin which doesn't go brown but merely turns a darker shade of blotch. Ew. On the upside, my arms tan well. Kind of.
7. Summer skin-which in my case is much more spot-free than in winter. Plus the sun's so much more flattering than a winter gloom, so all that's needed is a touch of foundation/bronzer, maybe a bit of waterproof mascara and you're on your way!
8. Summer cinema-if the unthinkable happens and the sun is absent for a couple of days (but of course that would never happen in England...) there's always a million great films to see. I'm looking forward to the next Harry Potter instalment, Angels and Demons (I never actually saw the Da Vinci Code, but the book of Angels and Demons is really quite good so hopefully the film will be too), Julie & Julia, and best of all, TWO Christian Bale films, The Terminator: Salvation and Public Enemies. How I'll survive without my heart pumping itself to a standstill I don't know!
9. Summer romance-well, so far this has been a bit of a non-starter, but 15 seems like it could be a good year with not one, but 2 British beach holidays at resorts notorious for their public-school antics.
10. The beach-only weirdos go to the beach in the winter. Actually, I guess that makes me a weirdo because we went to the beach while on holiday in Devon in October. But we only went for a walk on it, we didn't actually sunbathe or anything! The summer heralds the arrival of the proper beach holiday-sun, surf, sand, and hopefully a few good-looking beach boys as well!

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Summer Dresses Under £300

This continuing nice weather, broken only briefly by a rain shower this morning, is making me positively broody about a nice summer dress. I spent a few minutes browsing my favourite internet shopping sites (well, they would be if my mum actually let me buy any of it-I would, of course, have to use her credit card, and she doesn't believe in the Net-a-Porter 'try it on at home and return it free if it doesn't fit' statement) and came up with these lovely dresses. If only I could afford them *sigh*. I started off looking at dresses under £100, but those Marc dresses crept under my radar, and they are so lovely-how could I not include them? They would only feel left out and sad, which would be a rude thing to do. My favourite is number 5-the Marc Jacobs sundress. I love the shade of blue, and the irregular geometric print. He is such a genius with all things pretty and feminine-I'm torn between feelings of love and acute jealousy whenever I stumble across his collections in magazines/online.

1. Block poplin jersey dress-Topshop-£45
2. Stripe block poplin dress-Topshop-£40
3. Frill sleeve empire dress-Topshop-£40
4. Mixed-stripe jersey dress-Marc by Marc Jacobs-£210
5. Confetti print dress-Marc by Marc Jacobs-£289
6. Karaoke sleeveless cotton dress-Maje-£130
7. Floral print sundress-Juicy Couture-£215
8. Tiered floral silk dress-See by Chloe-£255
9. Jersey linen tank dress-Alice + Olivia-£295

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Back in the Jug Again

And so the slog begins...yes, I'm talking about school. Been back for two days so far, and already at 8:47pm I can hardly keep my eyes open. Time for an early night, I think-once I've finished watching 'The Apprentice-You're Fired' on iPlayer. Like a child I need my nine hours sleep, or I won't be able to function the next day, so staying up till 10:30 watching TV was unacceptable. I'll keep quiet about the fact that I stayed up till 11pm reading one of the Private books (teen series about a prestigious Eastern American private co-ed boarding school, where the scandal runs not just to drugs and sex, but murder and kidnapping...niice. Plus, I found my literary soul mate when, at one point, the girls in the dorm are watching 'Batman Begins' and pausing at all the hot Christian Bale moments. Which I can tell you, having done exactly the same thing myself, is basically every time he comes on screen. Mmmm...I LOVE HIM!! I don't care if he flips out at DPs/beats his wife/is a psycho axe murderer-he is GORGEOUS.)

Anyway going slightly off the topic here. Not that this post really had a topic in the first place. I'm too tired to sit down and write meaningful passages about the coming of spring etc etc. I just thought I should explain about the forthcoming lack of posts-it's because I'm now back in the rat race of school/rowing/music/homework/trying to keep up with Gossip Girl and all the blogs I'm now addicted to thanks to Vogue's latest article about their favourite fashion blogs. Thanks, Vogue. Way to give me insomnia. Maybe I should send them my doctor's bill when I fall asleep while doing something dangerous like operating a saw, and cut my hand off?

Could work...

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Shopping New vs Shopping Thrift

So on Sunday, having realised that my wardrobe is really not prepared for this good weather, I spent the evening cutting the bottom off a particularly hideous large floral-print Primark tunic, and turning it into a top. Without the sack-style bottom half it is actually a fairly nice t-shirt-it has one of those empire line above the boobs, so that my paltry B-cup actually seems a little bigger than it is, and it looks pretty paired with the American Apparel high waisted skirt. If I had a functioning camera I would post a picture, but I fear I will have to wait till my birthday until I have the ability to do that.

Anyway, the next day, buoyed up by success with the scissors I decided to have a root through our old dressing up box. Once before I found a really lovely square scarf in there, with silver embroidered on purple, which I wear a lot. This time round I found a bright blue cropped jacket, without any buttons etc, with a fine plaited rope running down from the shoulders to the bottom. My Mum said it was made to go with one of her May Ball dresses from University! They say what goes around comes around, and this seems right on trend for all the cropped tops popping up in Topshop et al.

So wearing my new find I floated out in search of face wash, and while I was there I stopped in one of the 4 charity shops that grace my local high street. I've made a few half-hearted sorties into them before, encouraged by friends' tales of perfectly fitting Levis for a fiver, but I've never had success. To be honest I usually get frustrated by people who wax lyrical about their 'vintage clothes' and how they 'mix thrift-store finds with classic designer looks'. It usually means they're wearing some old tat inherited from a distant cousin along with plentiful high-street or indeed designer clothes. Perhaps in America it's different (one thing I regretted about New York was not having had the time to go downtown and look at all the cool, quirky vintage shops I heard about from my exchange) but in England thrift stores-or charity shops, to call them by their proper names-usually contain mounds of cashmere, old office-wear and no-brand jeans, and not much else.

But yesterday I came across a lovely blazer, in a small style (it comes down to the top of my hip bones, and the sleeves are 3/4-length) with blue and white stripes. It fit perfectly and is thin enough to wear as a light outer layer in the summer. I recognised it as old H and M, but I got it for £8, and of course there's the bonus that all the money goes to a good cause (British Heart Foundation in this case).

Today I went to Westfield, the biggest shopping centre in Europe, to look for a light summer dress and denim shorts and came away empty handed (annoyingly I found a pair of shorts in Topshop but didn't put them on hold while I went to search in Gap for my mum. When I came back they were gone). What with shops such as Oxfam stepping up their act to offer good, high-quality fashion clothes for less, it seems that maybe charity-shopping is on the way up. At the end of my holiday, at any rate, the score certainly stands at

Shopping New-0 Shopping Thrift-1.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Happy Snaps

Having (almost) finished posting all my New York pictures on Facebook (the sunny weather has hindered my progress somewhat) I've finally come up with my favourites. I admit freely that they have been shamelessly edited, but now that my dad had taught me to use his 20-year-old SLR (imagine that-me snapping away with a camera older than me-how weird!) perhaps I'll learn how to achieve pictures like these without any post-picture editing at all. Anyway, I hope you enjoy these 'final favourites' (the inverted commas are there because, really, there's nothing final about a group of over 20 photos).

This is what southern Manhattan looked like from Ellis Island on the day we visitied. Typically, the two blindingly sunny days were the days when we spent most of the time inside.

This is another of my overall favourites. Technically it's of New Jersey (boo hiss) but it was taken from New York so I think it deserves inclusion.

One of the things I loved about New York were the old metal fire escapes that zig-zag all over the apartment buildings.

Rather annoyingly these photos are in a rather strange order (I'm still trying to work out how this whole blog website works). This is my last view of Manhattan from the Triborough Bridge (I think...)

I found it rather funny that below every 'Don't Honk' sign you were guaranteed to find a yellow taxi honking irately at something or other.

I took a few pictures of these sweet old ladies who had braved the icy wind to eat their snack outside. I hope they didn't mind.

This is possibly my favourite photo from the whole trip. I love how the trees are so soft and gauzy in the foreground, and the mix between old and new.

I do in fact have over 300 photos from the trip, but these are most of my personal favourites (I'm sure I've missed some out, but I certainly tried to include them all!)

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Spring Fever

Finally, finally, I think I can say that Spring has reached London. This happy occasion has advanced on us winter-bitten Londoners slowly, tricking us with unseasonably warm weekends as far back as February before plunging us back into the bleak, dreary weather that our city is so famous for. But today has been the first day that I've actually worn shorts (although the sun has now retreated behind the clouds again as if embarassed-Mr Sun, there's no need to coy-we all know you're there, so quit trying to hide!), and-more importantly-my mother, a woman who took an emergency fleece with her while walking in South Africa, has decided that the heating no longer needs to be turned on at night. A momentous occasion indeed.

Cycling along the river in Chiswick this morning, with the sunlight glancing through the suddenly lush-green leaves of the trees, I realised how scenery that had seemed barren two weeks ago was suddenly full of life. I always find it so hard to believe in the depths of winter that these matchstick models passing for trees are merely hibernating instead of utterly dead-but now I am proved wrong as they bloom and blossom, sprinkling the pavements with confetti-like petals. At last I can feel confident in venturing outside without an extra layer in case the weather turns bad. All I can say now is:

Roll on summer!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Le Maquillage

Having washed my make-up brush yesterday for the first time in...well, a while, I decided that maybe God should have added an extra Commandment to His list of ten:

"Thou shalt wash thy make-up brushes often and well."

I don't slather my face with make-up every morning, but I almost always apply some form of light foundation/powder on school days, and ususally bronzer as well when I go out on the weekends. Not much, but enough to take its toll on my brush, as I found out yesterday.

I was slightly disconcerted when the water from the tap turned grey after I merely shoved the brush under the flow. When I applied a dab of shampoo (tea tree for sensitive hair, may I add-only the best for my brushes!), lathered it in and then rinsed it, the water that came out was positively mud-coloured. Oh dear, I thought to myself, my poor skin!! When, after four more rounds with the shampoo, the water was coming out clear, I could finally stop and dry the brush-but my head was still spinning. I'd always associated the 'wash your brushes every week' commands with neurotic fashionistas who only opened doors if they were appropriately armed with disinfectant and/or vacuum-sealed hand protection. In fact it seems they have a point. Another thing to add to my diary, I think!

On the up-side, I read in one of the Sunday newspaper supplements last weekend that make-up can actually be good for your skin in the summer-an even layer of foundation can apparently do as much for blocking the sun as a SPF 15 sunscreen! Much more preferable to going out with a greasy face. By-the-by, if anyone has a good grease-free sunscreen I would love to hear about it-the summer holidays usually play havoc with my already-oily skin!

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The First Cut is the Deepest

Today, after a gap of I can't think how many months, I finally went to have my hair cut. Although people occasionally comment on how nice my hair is, I've never been one of those people who do a lot with their hair. As a little child my mum would have our hair cut shoulder length with a straight fringe-I was one of those children with really fine blonde hair on who such a cut looks OK. And although the fringe has since grown out, and my hair's gone a little further beyond my shoulders than it used to be, I've never really bothered doing anything serious with it. Luckily it's a lot thicker now than it used to be (I blame the nightly nit-checks with a comb that pulled out more hair than it left in), and also a lot frizzier, despite a variety of 'sleek and smooth' shampoos. But investing in straighteners and curling tongs and expensive product just seemed like such a waste when my hair was fine to begin with.

Last time I went to the hairdressers I tentatively asked for layers that turned out invisible and did absolutely nothing. This time I went in a little braver. "Um, I was thinking of maybe doing something to the front? You know, to make it more interesting, because it's all the same length and it's kind of boring."
The hairdresser-a vaguely camp-looking man with a developing paunch and an indie t-shirt-looked rather delighted by this suggestion, and began mussing up my hair with his hands while running through all the fantastic things he could do to make it look presentable. By the end of his little spiel I had discovered that to complement my "well, it's sort of rectangular-shaped, isn't it" face I should have a long side fringe, with layered hair that was just below the shoulder and shorter at the back to 'soften it up a little'. Privately I wondered if perhaps this man was going a bit mad with all the ideas, but he was the expert, not me-and anyway, I reasoned, how bad could it turn out?

I must say I had a few misgivings when the first few snips cut off a good inch more than I'd been expecting, but it was a bit late now. My mother didn't help by enquiring three times in the first five minutes if I was "all right, darling?", either. To my right my brother's plain inch-off cut was completed, but still the man was snipping away, drying a little, holding up another section and wildly cutting at the edges to 'roughen it up a tad'. But as my hair slowly dried, and he started brushing more and cutting less, I realised that for the first time I was receiving not just a cut, but a style. I watched, fascinated, as he blow-dried my normally straight and slightly frizzy hair into a sleek bob-yes, I am now the owner of a real bob, something I would never have imagined myself having in a million years-which curled inwards at the front and had a magical volume that came from nowhere and will, no doubt, vanish into nowhere too the minute I wash it. After a solid twenty minutes of styling, he stepped back a little and allowed me to take in his creation.

I've never really understood why people pay exorbitant amounts of money for the latest celebrity hairdresser, or how characters in books feel 'a million dollars' after having a drastic new haircut. It's not that I don't appreciate how much a haircut can change a face-it's just that investing in some designer clothes or having a makeover always seemed, to me, to be the better and more dramatic option. But looking in the mirror at my new cut, complete with a choppy, layered bob and long side fringe, I came a lot closer to understanding why people become so attached to their hairdressers.

The sun had firmly retreated behind the clouds as I walked out in my t-shirt and flip-flops (I painted my nails yesterday, OK, and it was really warm when I left the house!) but, however cheesy it sounds, I genuinely couldn't keep a smile off my face as I walked home. I hope that vaguely camp hairdresser realises that he made my day, if not even my week! As I turned off the high street I though to myself, "Dammit! I never even asked his name."

Monday, 13 April 2009


Good morning. I am a fourteen-year-old girl living in London, and I have a problem.
Or, more specifically, New York Withdrawal.

In the grand scheme of things, not such a big issue. But the oft-referred to 'Grand Scheme Of Things' is really so grand and so infinitely more important than my own little problems that it's hardly even possible to relate to. To an ant whose life consists of finding crumbs and carrying them back to the ant hole, NYW would no doubt be even more catastrophic and momentous than , say, a tsunami would be to me. If you're not so keen on things that only seem important to ants and me, maybe you'd be better off reading The Financial Times or a book about Nietzsche.

So here's the story: this time 2 weeks ago I set off with ten other girls from my school to go on the questionably-titled 'New York Exchange'. My heart went with me, but it never returned. That simple. After a week in the city of straight streets, pretzels and a general abundance of all things yellow, I realised that London, a city I have always loved for its vibe, its fashion, its green spaces and its people, had paled in my mind to a vaguely pleasant place only preferable to the Outer Hebrides because of its shops and proximity to several international airports.

I flew home in deep gloom.

Not even in jet lag could I find some solace-my cheery family, fresh from a week's skiing, were careful to keep me up and moving for the 12 hours between my arrival home and a reasonable bed time. When I slept, I was too exhausted even to dream (unusual, for me), and the next morning, waking to the usual Spring gloom of London, that buzzing City of Blinding Lights seemed even further away than the 3500 miles it already was. Morosely, I spent time ploughing through my photos and editing them in various ways on Picasa. My family found my homesickness mildly entertaining at first, and then a little annoying; maybe even affected. What could I tell them that would begin to explain my angst, when I'm still not sure myself why I loved New York so much and what I miss?

There is so much there that's different to London: the straight roads with their grid system, the yellow taxis that make up a third of the traffic, the subway with its sardine-tin trains, the regimented wilderness of Central Park, the way that everything's so close together (I spent the whole week in Manhattan). The road signs, the people with their American accents and curiosity about this big group of chirpy English girls. The skyscrapers, the flashing lights of Times Square, the weather that alternated routinely each day-one day sunny, one day cloudy. The huge portions, the confusing clothing sizes, the language (loo-restroom, lift-elevator, holiday-vacation, crisps-chips...) and the pronunciation (herbs-'erbs, awful-ahful). Just something that made me feel excited when I got up every morning, and made me feel chic and fashionable walking the streets. As a girl slightly obsessed with fashion and Gossip Girl, to be in the city where The Devil Wears Prada was filmed, and to sit on the same steps and walk in the same park that Blair and Serena do on a weekly basis, was intoxicating.

Who knows how long it will be before I go back there again? Certainly not in the immediate future, for with this summer already planned out, and Christmas and next Easter designated for mocks and GCSE revision, there's hardly a spare minute for me to spend popping over the Atlantic. But one thing's certain:

I will return!