‘No Selfies In the Booth’

Today’s the day, you’ve heard it on the news, seen it on the TV, read it in the papers, or more appropriately on your news app on your phone or tablet, it’s vote day.

I’ll be off on my lunch break and I won’t be disclosing who I will be voting for firstly, because I am torn between two and secondly because it should always be your own decision drawn on by facts, not opinions.

The most important thing to remember today is to make your voice heard, especially if you’re part of the younger generation and/or female. The party chosen will be deciding the course of your future, how easy it is to get on the property ladder, how much tax you pay, how much care you would receive in a national hospital, not to mention the future for your children. These elements impact our lives an incredible amount, just think of what the government did after the Second World War, the establishment of the NHS and Welfare State, which are integral parts of our society today. Of course, if you are a woman your vote is vital and should be treasured, if it was prior to 1928 I would not be able to vote today as I’m not a woman over 30, who I might add were only given the vote in 1918 after the Great War and the work of the Suffragettes and Iron Jawed Angels. These women fought not only for the vote but for freedom, dramatic as it sounds, it’s the truth. The people before us have paved the way for our lifestyles today and you can make the most of this with a simple ‘X’ next to the candidate of your choice.

One thing to sum it all up is an interesting report I heard today, whereby voters must be ‘careful’ of taking a seflie in the booth whilst voting as it could be going against privacy laws, talk about a statement for our generation ‘No selfies in the booth’. Whether your taking a selfie, checking in on Facebook at your local polling station, tweeting ‘I’ve voted!’, just make sure you do.IMG_0080

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Spring is in the air and there is a Spring in my step, cliché or not there is nothing better than waking up in the morning to a tree covered in full bloom flowers and the sky a wonderful shade of blue, but what lies ahead for the year for me. I think the phrase ‘time flies’ is simply all to real, I now go onto my Timehop and see reminders of a bungee jump in New Zealand three years ago or a fancy dress night 6 years ago with numerous photos taken in a less than presentable student flat. Now I like to think of putting some of my time into different things, although the next bungee jump is already planned for the end of this year, in none other than South Africa.

Of course on the cards are the numerous festivals coming up in the Summer, unfortunately no Glastonbury for me however I do think I will be partaking in an old favourite South West Four, just a stones throw from my humble abode, taking place on Clapham Common. The line up is unmistakably good, Faithless headlining Saturday, their first major London performance in four years I believe, not to be missed. Within my girl group of friends we have also been looking into Croatia, a place I’ve never been before but have only ever heard amazing things.

One thing thatapril 24 is special about London is that you’re never short of things to do that extend outward from the classic pub session (not denying however these will still be a common occurance). I remember last year having lunch and a prosecco cocktail, in the height of Summer, with my Mom before visiting the fantastic Glamour of Italian Fashion Exhibition at one of my favourite museums The Victoria and Albert, London. We spent a little too much money in the gift shop stocking up on books and beautiful prints as well as a miniature vintage Fiat 500 for my Dad to match his actual vintage Fiat 500. Previous to this I attended a lecture on Italian Fashion with a special focus on Salvatore Ferragamo, Shoemaker to the stars and if only all lectures in life had been like this one, so informative and fascinating. Next on the list is of course Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, also at the V&A, I’m hoping to fit in time to go to one of the 2 talks accompanying the exhibition too! (Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, 14th March – 2nd August, for tickets click here)

The other event I would love to attend which is slightly out of my reach is the Trust Women conference, a 2 day long event covering topics like Human Trafficking and Slavery as well as Women’s Empowerment and Special Focus talks. In light of some of the recent events including the tragic lost of over 800 lives in the Mediterranean Sea, these topics are more relevant than ever. With an advisory board that includes Cathy Russell (U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues), Cherie Blair (wife to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, lawyer and founder of Cherie Blair Foundation for Women) and Christie Turlington Burns (Founder, Every Mother Counts, filmmaker, author, super model) the event is sure to be a success once again. (Trust Women Conference, 17th – 18th November).

Funny how when you’ve finished education you eventually start to look back fort it, however this time I’m looking for more fashion trends and empowering women seminars rather than geometry and physics calculations.

Help A Sister Out

The UK top feminist icons were recently announced and Angelina Jolie has been crowned the number one spot. Actress and fellow UN Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, who had recently launched her HeForShe gender equality campaign, ranked 2nd in the poll conducted by Fashion house Rose and Willard.

One positive message this poll shows is that gradually the image of a feminist is changing which can only be a good thing, I am a feminist and not ashamed to say it, I also shave my legs, don’t have a vendetta against the male species or refuse to wear a bra. Stereotypes are what make the term feminist have such negative connotations, why I believe some women are afraid to call themselves one, feminists are no longer bitter women writers but public figures, carrying themselves with grace and strength.

With Hillary Clinton hinting at a second attempt at the Presidency I must say I for one am excited, more so than one usually would be regarding politics. Could this generation see the first black president and the first female president? Madeleine Albright was appointed the first female secretary of state in 1997, paving the way for a string of women reaching one of the highest powers a person can hold. Hillary Clinton’s game changing speech in Bejing September 5th  1995, at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women was unforgettable wearing nothing other than a pale pink suit and pearls. In my opinion strategically chosen, underneath the pastel exterior was a woman on a mission a tactic to mislead those who felt she shouldn’t have been there especially with the tension with China at the time. However, with the poignant words spoken we have to question what has been achieved since and a full 20 years on the amount of women at heads of state around the world is still just 14 out of 192.

Fashion and feminisim, feminism and fashion, polar opposites, contradicting things? Not in my opinion, like I said a feminist isn’t what some people perceive them to be. I am a wizz with the nail varnish brush and spend my free time reading Vogue, finding new blogs to follow etc….. But can also talk for hours about the state of women in society.

We have work to do in society, but we are getting there. What we need to focus on is the bigger picture, I recently watched a documentary on Hillary Clinton’s speech (BBC iPlayer), which I recommend, no easy watch I assure you but it will make you want to get off the sofa and do something.

“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

Madeleine Albright – First ever female US Secretary of State (Keynote speech at Celebrating Inspiration luncheon with the WNBA’s All-Decade Team, 2006)”

This quote has to be one of my favourite of all time, women who say ‘I’m not a girls girl’, ‘Women don’t tend to like me, I think it’s jealousy’, ‘I get along better with men’, all well and good but I don’t know where I would be without the support of the women in my life, so can’t imagine how these women do without and seem to openly admit that they do without. Help each other don’t hinder, I’ll openly admit you cannot help feeling jealous, especially when on a beach, getting ready for a night out, we all know the feeling of Why isn’t my skin like hers? Why aren’t my legs the same as hers? But for women to succeed to where we want to be whether it be a stay at home Mom that makes the best Sunday roast or the next VP of Google, we have to quite simply help a sister out.

photo (24)

Choices, Choices

There is one thing in life which is unavoidable, making decisions. You wake up in the morning and it’s what do I wear today, in my case at the moment however this usually involves mastering the layered look (or trying to) as my office has sub zero temperatures; you decide what to have for breakfast and so on. It is these individual choices which are superficial you might say but there are other small choices which can often depict the person you are. You can choose to have an opinion, make your point heard, have an impact or you can keep your thoughts to yourself. Whichever you choose I think it is important for people, especially women to not be afraid of having their opinion heard and if you’re labelled opinionated, so be it. It’s hard to imagine waking up in the morning and having to choose your clothes for the day with strict guidelines in mind. I recently came across a video of an Iranian woman dancing on a train on the Tehran subway without her veil covering her face or head, breaking two laws. The video was posted on the website My Stealthy Freedom, a sharing page for women in protest against the strict regimes. An outlet for those who would like to be able to make a choice in life. I believe that feminism can often be misconstrued and unfortunately the sheer word ‘feminist’ is tainted, however it isn’t about women being better than men it is about gender equality, which works both ways. As a fashion enthusiast and a feminist I’m always thinking of the two things combined, a book next on my reading list does exactly this Fresh Lipstick: Redressing Fashion and Feminism, it covers exactly this explaining how wearing a 5 inch heel and a red lip doesn’t diminish your morals and doesn’t give anyone else a reason not to take you seriously. This post is in no way intended to preach, it’s simply stating that your choices make a difference and when you’re putting on your favourite jeans in the morning remember for a moment, that there were people in the past that fought to allow you to be able to wear trousers, go in to further education, earn your own money, the list goes on and on.

Life is about choices, just make them your own and no one else’s.

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Different

As I spent part of my weekend watching the splendor and genius of the one and only Pharrell Williams killing it at the O2 my love for him and all he stands for only grew. I organically found N*E*R*D at the tender age of about 13 or 14 and by organically I stumbled across them on MTV and from then on I was hooked. For any music lover you can often remember one piece of music, band or artist that turns you from a chart listener to a music enthusiast. From then on their albums were on repeat, their merchandise was on order and I was a complete fan, including being at the front row of one of their concerts in Brixton as a teenager and as you know I am short now, so you can imagine the size of me then and skill it took to be and stay at the front row!

Pharrell has always been in different whether it was through his Neptunes productions with his musical partner Chad or through N*E*R*D (with Chad and final third member Shay), however he now promotes this idea and aims it towards women. His incredible album Girl exudes this and no better than one of the hits from the album Marilyn Monroe in which he quotes ‘Different’ at the start of the track. Whilst at his concert he put so much emphasis on the strong female dancers he calls the Bae’s who are impressive in every way and continually said to the crowd ‘I want all the different girls to put their hands in the air’.

My gushing over Pharrell does have a point I assure you, being a feminist, slight tomboy and a subtle activist for racial equality and women’s and animal rights it’s important to hear such an influential person and not just a person but a man encouraging women to be different. If all your friends are listening to Rihanna and getting excited for the new series of Made In Chelsea (or worse TOWIE) and you would rather be listening to the new Defected Records podcast and watching documentaries about serial killers, well there’s nothing wrong with that.

It’s different people that have made our world what it is today and it is those people who are making the word a better place day after day, take Malala Yousafzai, having been shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan for being an activist for female education, she has now won the Nobel Peace Prize and is going on to do simply incredible things. She is an exceptional case but even a simple thing like going out your way to sign a petition against angora fur is making a difference and being different. I only hope there are more albums, books, films and people which help the younger generations see the beauty in being that little bit different.

Paris Fashion Week S/S 15

After a busy work week and a heavy weekend, few too many cocktails and then a boot fair Sunday I am a couple days late, however here is my look back on the wonderful Paris Fashion Week!

Under Alexander Wang’s direction the star studded (full Kimye collective front and centre) Balenciaga show was a dark and geometric spectacle.  It was a great mix of sports luxe elements and fabrics combined with chic laser cut skirts and dresses which will no doubt see their way translating into the high street stores over the next few months. The models oozed edge and futuristic sex appeal and the stand out piece for me has got to to be the extreme statement overcoat.

In a stark contrast to Balenciaga the Valentin Yudashkin show was supremely feminine and full of pastels. It was simply a stunning show, where I struggle to pick out a favourite piece, the colours were beautiful and not at all over done or overpowering next to the elegant silks and drop waist skirts. The perfect show that could epitomise the perfect wardrobe for the next Spring Summer season.

Elie Saab is always a stand out for me and this show was no different with one element reigning supreme, colour. There is something so simple about the designs, yet they feel completely fresh and new. Each design is feminine and ideal for the red carpet ranging in colour from rich teal to sunburst reds and yellows.

I couldn’t talk about Paris Fashion Week without the ultimate show, Chanel. The classic tweed ran throughout the show along with stunning water colour patterns and florals galore. I love the idea of going back to their roots with fabrics and textures and quintessential Chanel designs. However, the show stole my attention for one major reason a protest down the cat walk, including placards and mega phones and the genius Karl Lagerfeld himself. We can say there are subtle ways to make a statement, make your ideas known, but sometimes this is what is necessary. I am a self confessed feminist and not ashamed of it (or the word for that matter) and hearing of this show really was music to my ears. We are lucky that at the moment young female icons, such as Emma Watson and her recent UN speech, (which if you haven’t watched I urge you to, Youtube she may be a Harry Potter star but she delivered this flawless speech with nothing but poise and grace) Beyonce and her Ban Bossy essay and so on, are making an impact on a younger audience, however there is always more to be done.

They say every street is a catwalk but maybe now it’s a case that every catwalk is a platform.

Until next time!

Balenciaga S/S 15 Photo: www.vogue.co.uk

Balenciaga S/S 15
Photo: http://www.vogue.co.uk

Valentin Yudashkin S/S 15 Photo: www.vogue.co.uk

Valentin Yudashkin S/S 15
Photo: http://www.vogue.co.uk

Elie Saab S/S 15 Photo: www.vogue.co.uk

Elie Saab S/S 15
Photo: http://www.vogue.co.uk

Chanel S/S 15 Photo: www.vogue.co.uk

Chanel S/S 15
Photo: http://www.vogue.co.uk

New York Fashion Week S/S 2015

As we roll into undoubtedly one of my favourite times of year, LFW, where my Twitter and Instagram are a wash with updates from the shows, I simply have to check them on the hour every hour, otherwise it would just be rude really, I wanted to take a look back at the stunning New York Fashion Week.

I could go on for hours talking about every shade every layer and every outstanding collection, but we would be here all night, so I’ve some how narrowed it down to three that for me stood out that little bit more.

Juan Carlos Obando, I will be honest is not a designer I could talk about in detail, however this show caught my eye in a big way and I am now a fully fledged fan. The draping of the lavish fabric was effortless and there was something familiar about the styling but with a modern twist, something you may have seen on a Bond guy in the late 70’s. The frills were what caught my attention, something so simple that I thought was executed brilliantly, not to mention the use of lilac and peach which was completely memorable.

Onto a show which over flowing with elegance from start to finish, Badgley Mischka. It doesn’t really get much more feminine than the detailed floral patterns, lavish layers and wearable (dare I say it) styles. The collection displayed simple colour palets, pastel pinks and purples and creams and whites, perfect for the Spring Summer season and perfect to make any woman lucky enough to wear a piece simply feel her best.

My stand out of the whole week however has to be thanks so 82 year old designer, Oscar de la Renta. The collection was filled with range but flowed beautifully, with a mix of opulent florals and gingham. Now for me to see baby blue gingham means only one thing, my childhood favourite and life long obsession, The Wizard of Oz and to see the iconic pattern re-worked in such a way, well I think Dorothy would have been proud. As always Oscar de la Renta is already something I can see popping up on the red carpet, sure to bring any celebrity a hit on the well dressed list. The use of colour, especially that knock out lime green, brought the collection to life and I especially like the slicked back hair and minimal make up, causing all our attention to be on the creations.

Now onto LFW, see you at the front! (I wish!)

Juan Carlos Obando S/S 15 RTW Photo - www.vogue.co.uk

Juan Carlos Obando S/S 15 RTW
Photo – http://www.vogue.co.uk

Badgley Mischka S/S 15 RTW Photo - www.vogue.co.uk

Badgley Mischka S/S 15 RTW
Photo – http://www.vogue.co.uk

Oscar de la Renta S/S 15 RTW Photos - www.vogue.co.uk

Oscar de la Renta S/S 15 RTW
Photos – http://www.vogue.co.uk

Fit or Fashion?

As I begin to write my first blog in a while, there is a thought that crosses my mind constantly, especially as the golden days of Friday and Saturday draw closer.

If anyone reading this is like me, you will forever have on your mind ‘What to wear?’ and unfortunately this age old question comes down to two areas ‘Do I go for fit?’ or ‘Do I go for fashion?’ It pains me that this is sometimes the choice, however for me 99% of the time, the answer tends to be the latter.

As women we are often forced to confirm into types of behaviour and appearances to allow us to find our place in society. If a woman wears a tailored suit to the office she can be branded a feminist or manly, if she wears a skirt and blouse she is at the mercy of the men around her. A recent campaign caught my attention Ban Bossy, it delved into the mental affect calling a young girl ‘bossy’ can have. Whilst little boys playing in the school yard leading friends in a game would be called a born leader and girl doing the same would be branded Little Miss Bossy.

So as a single twenty-something, when beginning my Friday night drinks in South London I have to ask myself whether I am going to dress to capture the eye of a potential suitor or whether I will dress to capture my own imagination. Of course we all have the one friend ‘If you’ve got it flaunt it!’ Not usually my style. But every now and then I think I wonder if it would make a difference. Does wearing my oversized vintage tartan and velvet blazer with black jeans over a bandeau dress and court shoe really impact what a guy would see? Probably.

Every once in a while I gain the courage to don a ‘revealing’ dress and it is only down to the constant and often dominating encouragement from my best friends that I will go through with this kind of attire. However it seems my choice of fashion over the generic outlined format of ‘fit’ is simply my choice.

#banbossy

The pressure is on, or is it?

Since coming home from a trip of a lifetime, reality has indeed set in.

Seven countries in four and a half months, all offering new experiences, new opportunities and new life lessons. The beauty of South East Asia is undeniable and by beauty I don’t just mean the postcard beaches and screen saver sunsets, but the beauty within the people of these countries and the strength they show. The Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot regime, S21 were all things I am slightly ashamed to say I had never heard of before I decided to travel to Cambodia. The Cambodian genocide was a travesty and only happened a few decades ago yet my generation seems completely unaware of what happened. Half the population were wiped out and therefore in some way everyone still in Cambodia has a connection to the tragedy that took place, although you wouldn’t think this upon visiting the country and meeting the people.

Poverty is an inescapable realism you face throughout all these countries and yet some of the major topics of conversation between myself and friends were ‘I need a job when I get back’, ‘I need to pay off my overdraft’ and so on. The pressure of working and earning was still with us when we were thousands of miles away. I was having a conversation with my parents just the other day and they described what their work ethic was like when they were my age and it was more I’ll get money when I get it, rather than I need to get money now. With debts hanging over most of our heads and the ideal of being a successful 20-something always in our thoughts, I don’t think we can help the way our generation now thinks.

I have been lucky enough to land myself a fantastic job and will be starting next week, and thanks to reading up on New York, London, Paris and Milan fashion weeks my need to go shopping and spend the money I have earned doing a temporary job is growing simply too great and will be heading to Westfields to get my own pieces of the latest trends (military and biker are looking like the favourites at the moment). Earning money is a great feeling but when I’m thinking about what I am going to spend my pay cheque I want to try to remember walking round the killing fields of Cambodia in the blistering heat, listening to the stories of what happened there. It is only a little something but for the first time in my life I have set up a regular donation to both the WWF and RSPCA and that at least gives me a small amount of satisfaction that some of my pay cheque is going towards better things. I don’t mean to preach, however I can’t feeling like we need to let go of some of this pressure and sometimes just sit back and take it all in, before we get to 50 and wonder where the fun, excitement and spontaneity stopped and all consuming work began.

A million miles away

So it’ s been a long time since my last post and I’ve done a lot in that time. New Zealand was beautiful beyond words, a stunning country with so much to offer. From the skydiving, bungy jumping (obviously Nevis, go big or go home!) to white and black water rafting it was an incredible month, not to mention all the great people I met. The Maori people have an incredible history, I learned about them on a trip and my personal highlight was hearing about their tattoo traditions and how their tattoos paint a story of their lives, on their body. I went to an exhibit in the Te Papa Tongarewa museum in Wellington and was able to learn about the short but great life Vogue New Zealand had for 10 years, a few decades ago. The sample gowns were incredible and it was interesting to see what New Zealand brought to the fashion table all those years ago. I have now been in Thailand for a month and what a culture shock. The country is brilliant and you are never short of a good night out or beautiful beach or interesting character!

By making the decision not to bring out my beloved iPhone 4gs I made the decision to be relatively separated from what i know and love back home, (bar sharing my friend’s phone on the odd occasion). It made me realise that even though I am the ultimate phone addict I can go without for what will be four and a half months. I have struggled with is the separation from family and friends, needless to say it’s natural. However one other thing i struggled with is the separation from BBC Radio 1 and Annie Mac’s Friday night show, or Vogue news and updates daily in my Hotmail and general news. You become so consumed with what you are doing you forget about what is going on elsewhere. Traveling is incredible, exciting and you learn so much, along with university I sincerely recommend partaking. It tests you in ways you can’t imagine from bursting a blood vessel in your eye and looking like a zombie for 3 weeks, courtesy of a bungee jump, to breaking a toe courtesy of a drunken night in Koh Phangan, you learn to focus on what’s important and loosing something like a top is so insignificant compared to being able to contact home.

The next stop is the crazy place that is Lao, then onto Vietnam and Cambodia, to be filled with museums and war memorials, which I am so excited for. Then home. Four and a half months soon to be over and I am curious to see what that feeling will be like.