The Essex Taj Mahal x

 

Grayson Perry

Grayson Perry

When was the last time you were touched by someone so brilliant they made your head start sub-dividing?

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Stand back and welcome previous Turner Prize winner and national gem, Grayson Perry and his new project, a House for Essex: a collaboration with Charles Holland and the architecture studio FAT.  Built in Wrabness this huge marmite piece of art is a monumental shrine to a completely fictional character, a lady called Julie May Cope and is dedicated to the ‘Single mums of Dagenham, hairdressers in Colchester and the landscape and history of Essex’. The house holds testament to Perry’s visions of Julie’s life, through her birth in Canvey Island in 1953 to her two marriages, her children, her work all the way to her sudden death at the hands of a pizza delivery moped on Colchester High Street at the premature age of 61.

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On the outside there’s a shining copper roof and 1924 glazed terracotta sigils of St jules.

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Inside, the main room is in the style of a chapel to pay homage to the life of an ordinary woman.

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There are biographical tapestries and pictures over the ceilings with snap shots of her history.

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In pride of place and hanging as a chandelier is the very moped that killed her.

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Upstairs, the two bedrooms are dedicated to her two marriages..the second of which was a story of true, tender love which permeates through the whole building and draws it together.

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Kitsch, ebullient and eccentric it may be, but the joy of Perry is that in his work, as in his life, he describes the truth as he sees it.  Underneath the undeniable humour, there’s a deeper, thicker message running through.   This is a celebration of a modesty of aspiration and acquisitions that uses high art to pay homage to the notion of hard work and normality.  It’s one mans couture shrine to the silver linings and special moments that bless every single life, no matter how hard or down trodden.  Which ties up nicely with why it was commissioned in the first place: It’s part of philosopher and critic Alain de bottom’s (great name hashtag-childish-sense-of-humour) Living Architecture programme to allow members of the public – that’s you and me – to stay in buildings by world class contemporary designers. Click here for more details for your own personal taste of Julie’s life.

Imagine…a weekend away…here??

Laters, Kate x

Confident & Lethal x

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A look back at a post ahead of it’s time….

The new freshly revitalised curiously exotic cropped trouser (is it a culotte? is it a crop?) is a subtle study in seductive volume and intriguing silhouette.

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Worn with a pair of killer kicks.

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Or battered sneakers..

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They appear totally relevant, wearable and somehow..romantic.

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Hand-clappingly ravishing with full throttle satisfaction..I fall.

Laters, Kate x

(Photo acknowledgements: London-Boutique.com, Walsh Tippetts and Pintrest)

Le Shopping..

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Shopping in Brighton is a smorgasbord of instant gratification.

IMG_3114With Delicacies round every corner.

IMG_3112 IMG_3115 IMG_3092IMG_3117I found my Vintage 501’s at Dirty Harrys on Sydney Road..great selection, impeccable service..and all 3 pairs (!) (one shorter to roll, one in dark navy *rather lush* and one long pair)..came to the grand sum of £35!

IMG_3147 So I added in a pair of battered cowboy boots..

IMG_3138 And a beautiful vintage silk kimono from Wolf and Gypsy (well worth a visit).

IMG_3119 IMG_3125IMG_3118much cake and tea was had in celebration.

IMG_3124After which The Husband wanted to buy me this.

IMG_3126I wanted to buy him this…

IMG_0348 My favourite place for lunch or High Tea..not posh, just warm, genuine and eccentric.

IMG_3097 With doughnuts the size of cannonballs. Who could resist?

IMG_0350 And these catseye sunnies somehow just purred their way into my possession..

IMG_0358IMG_0361Just the perfect place, with the perfect company to gently put the world to rights.

Can I go again?

Laters, Kate x

Dismaland

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Dismaland: Because this was a highlight last year..brings back a few memories…

Dismaland:The temporary art project set up by the street artist Banksy in an abandoned lido in the quietly rotting seaside town of Weston Super Mare. Banksy writes in his opening welcome: ‘Bertolt Brecht once said ‘Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it’. Which is fine, but what if you’re in a hall of mirrors and the giant hammer is made of foam? This is the question raised by Dismaland Bemusement Park’.

And so it begins…

 

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Birthed from the detritus of Disney, with bored attendants, patches of weeds and artistic despair, this decaying edifice to humanity is set on a 2.5 acre site with works from more than 50 artists from 17 different countries.  It’s an instagramer’s delight, a visual sensation and a walk on the whacky, dark, black side.

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A play on double standards starts immediately, from the genuine bag search on the street (anarchy has it’s place, no spray cans allowed here) to the fabricated threat of Bill Barminksi’s cardboard screening room. What’s real and what isn’t?

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Inside it’s hard to know where to look first..the children slide riot van?

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The sadistic carousel? Tesco would be so pleased..

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Or the Big Rig jig, defying explanation or gravity.

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There are traditional stalls – each with their own unique twist.

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Knock the anvil over – with a ping pong ball and yay! you win the anvil!  Hit the anvil and you win a red bracelet that reads ‘this is a meaningless bracelet’. Didn’t stop me wanting one. And then you ask yourself why even attempt the futile? Except we did.  And failed.

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Or maybe hooking a duck from the muck has a greater chance of success – except the punters have run off with all the ducks – and it’s all for a paper fishfinger in a bag..

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Dominating the park is the dilapidated fairytale castle of broken dreams. ‘Step inside’, say the downcast attendants,  ‘See how it really feels to be a princess’..

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Through the darkness is the car-crash of Cinderella’s coach, her dying body illuminated by the flashes of pap’s cameras. We’re looking at them, looking at us..feeding us, feeding them..

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Sometimes it’s the smaller, allegedly quieter stuff that catches the eye..

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Sometimes the message is so strong to the extent you feel sleazy and  ambushed with dirty fluids.  This isn’t a place that brands itself on palatable.

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The art wants you to look, not just spectate. to take part and not just consume..which is a line that is all too easily crossed.  How many people are there walking around with the balloons stating ‘I am an imbecile’? Or actually taking selfies in the selfie hole?

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Did these people really understand what they were doing? Did they nod sagely knowing they were doing this ironically? But then their ignorance becomes part of the point.

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This isn’t a place for children despite there being works designed with them in mind..like the depressed, drunk Mr Rainbow puffing fumes over his tired playground..

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Or The Husband’s favourite: Pocket Money Loans

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Where the devil was in the detail.

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Take a seat in a stripey deckchair and watch Punch and Judy landing a punch with a Jimmy Savile themed show..

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Put up your feet at the Jeffrey Archer memorial pit fire.  He’s still alive but a book of his dies every day.

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Come into one of three galleries to wander round at your leisure. Meet the baby in the vending machine, covered in logos by Dietrich Wegner, guaranteed to make you ponder life.

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Meet Jessica Harrison’s distortion of suburban tranquility.

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Wonder if Severija Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene is her real name or is just another trick of the mind.  The art – tapestries made with power tools, certainly had a kick.

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Banksy has pulled it off: It’s hard to be underground when you’re hailed as a national treasure by the very people you want to vilify, but that’s part of the conundrum that makes Banksy’s Dismaland so very special – it’s a spoof on the British holiday by the sea – take it seriously and you miss the point, and yet it quietly smiles through blackened teeth and grittily mocks: don’t understand this at your peril…

Impeccably crafted and precision cut, deeply unsettling yet strangely entertaining it’s so good, it can’t be legal..and probably isn’t.

Laters, Kate x

Oh the joys of packing…

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When the kids were babies I soon realised that to avoid the crying of souls (mine) I needed to be excruciatingly anal about packing, particularly as it’s not and never will be an art form that comes naturally to my psyche. The truth be told:

1. I hate it.

2. Even the impending thought of it gives me brain-swell.

3. I AM a self-proclaimed light-packer. Until I pack.

4. I could just take cut off shorts, a white t-shirt and flip-flops..but why suffer clothes envy if you can avoid it?

5. How DO you take the minimum clothes for the maximum occasions?

6. I’m continually haunted by the idea it’s all wrong anyway.

7. There’s a profound anguish that the weather is undoubtably going to go through an unprecedented solar flux and be the opposite of what I’m reasonably expecting. Even though it never happens.

8. Will it really be hot/cold at the equator/in the mountains because it’s not hot/cold here (delete as appropriate).

9. How can I pack the stuff I’m wearing now?

10. What do people mean when they ‘throw a few things in’?

11. How do I know I won’t be invited to tea with the Queen or Beyonce or Karl Lagerfeld?

12. Why do I always have the most cases? I packed light..

13. And why do they never shut?

Burnt too many times, I learnt to make furtive lists on the computer in the hope that nothing vital in my then sleep-deprived-likely-to-find-hairbrush-in-fridge-state like nappies, nappy sacks, first aid kit, tranquillisers..would be disastrously and time/happiness sappingnly forgotten and there could be hope yet for my marriage.

Those days are (almost) gone, but the discipline has proved invaluable and certain rules still stand:

1. Start packing 5 days in advance and wear tea towels if necessary.

2. For a week or more pack 5 sets of underwear plus 3 of each for the rest (t-shirts, shorts etc)

3. Summer holiday for me…just dresses, the ultimate capsule wardrobe…beach dresses..other dresses..end of.

Until this year..

wideleg_playsuit jumpsuits_greatesthitsWhen my two vintage jumpsuits leapt into the suitcase..they were easy, different, could be dressed up with a pair of gold gladiators or worn with flip-flops and radiated just enough visual flair for a laid-back edge.

Minimalistic packing is over-rated..Long live the jumpsuit!

Laters, Kate xxx

Wednesdays Child..

IMG_2550And so the day starts…

Right everyone – have you all been for a wee? Shoes on? As there are 3 of you and only 2 large scooters and one smaller one, I’d be really grateful if you Charlie, as the smallest child, would use the smaller scooter today.

No. I don’t want to.

It would really help me if you could be a gentleman and help your Mummy.

No. I don’t want to.

I realise that, but I’d really appreciate it if you could help me.

I don’t want to.

Well, I don’t want to take 3 children to the playground, but I’m still going.

I don’t want the small scooter, I want the big one.

I’d like you to help me, can you do that?

No.

OK. Well, no Harry Potter Land on Friday.

But I want to go to Harry Potter Land.

So go on the scooter.

I don’t want to go on the scooter.

So then no Harry Potter Land.

But I want to go to Harry Potter Land.

Charlie, I’m going to count to 3..after that no Harry potter Land, 1,2..

(moves to scooter, we leave the relative safety of the house)

But I want the big scooter.

(Ignore, shut door)

I want the big scooter, I want the big scooter, I WANT THE BIG SCOOTER

Charlie, LOOK at me, do you want to go to Harry Potter Land? Yes? So tell me what you have to do..

But I want the big scooter.

JUST THERE! – did you spot that purple spotted fairy just hiding behind the car? Not there now?..I’m sure it was..look again..Maybe you’ll see it next time..Why don’t you just go and play with the girls?

Go away Charlie.

Bella please be nice, you have a friend.

But Mummy, Mummy, Charlie is being really horrible.

Charlie – why do you need to ride in the middle of the girls?..just ride to the side of them  ..and don’t touch their wheels..

But I want to ride in the middle of them.

I’ve told you not to. It’s dangerous.

Does it again.

CHARLIE you are going to cause an accident.

Does it again.

(Sit him on kerb to talk to at eye level) Charlie, if you can’t act properly I will take your scooter away. Do you understand? What did I just say – repeat it back to me…

You’ll take my scooter away.

Do you understand? Right, let’s go..

Mummy – he’s done it again!

Charlie – WHY did you do that??

(Take scooter to add to dog, poo bags, picnic, picnic rug, kite, football, cricket bat, cricket ball, stumps. skipping rope…)

I WANT MY SCOOTER!

I WANT MY SCOOTER!

I wANT MY SCOOTER!

Not until you can learn to behave.

I will behave.

So prove it to me.

Goes up to Bella, hits her.

CHARLIE BENTLEY. COME HERE NOW…

I want a cuddle.

Not until you’ve said sorry Bella and sorry to me and YOU STOP THIS HORRIBLE BEHAVIOUR. THERE WILL BE NO HARRY POTTER LAND ON FRIDAY WHICH WAS GOING TO KILL US ANYWAY AS YOUR FATHER’S FLIGHT FROM HONG KONG DOESN’T GET IN TILL FIVE IN THE MORNING AND THE DOG HAS TO GO TO THE POSH VET FOR ANOTHER APPOINTMENT (long story) SO QUITE FRANKLY I’LL BE MIGHTY PLEASED NOT TO GO BECAUSE IT’S NOT EXACTLY MY IDEA OF A FUN DAY OUT..

I want a cuddle, I want a cuddle.

WHAT DO YOU SAY CHARLIE?

I want a cuddle.

WWWHHHAAAATTTT DDDDOOO YYYOOOUUUU SSSSAAAAYYYY?????

Sorry Bella…Sorry Mummy…

Gives kisses, has cuddle.

But I want the big scooter…

Find brick wall. Hit head.

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Moral of this tale: When you see a mother tearing her hair out..

a. Honest to God..give her some sympathy..she’s been doing this for weeks now..schools in the UK broke up in July and don’t go back till September.

b. It’s probably me…………………………

Laters, Kate x

I Heart Mr Morris x

But as a rule, it’s been because of his interiors..however..
1010299_588194241225644_1977287225_n Nigel Weymouth wearing William Morris Jacket with Rufus Potts Dawson, Amanda Lear and Jess. Photo by Colin Jones 1967.421890_593424814035920_926321943_n-1156417_491981824170869_1810068023_nGeorge Harrison also sporting a fetching number… And the modern equivalents..alice_olivia_007_1366.450x675Alice and Olive floral skirt. Style.com

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Oswald Helgason A/W 2013 Collection..seriously worth checking out.314992_502618853107166_1707013513_n169017_181333038569084_8101372_nCrossing the centuries: Maria Sethe.

Which goes to show, when it works..it works.

Laters, Kate x

The True Cost of Fashion x

October-1947--Women-at-wo-001This was written a while ago – but I think still has some relevance today..

 

Working at the rock face of fashion I have realised that very few people actually know how the modern clothing business truly works, particularly in terms of cost..and therefore profit.

Researching a visual to explain things quickly I came across the website of Everlane, who produced the following pictures..

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The aim behind the pictures was to illustrate how consumers are ‘ripped off’ along the chain of events that leads to a designer purchase.  But is it entirely accurate?

From make to wholesaler = 224% margin

From Wholesaler to retailer = 333% margin.

Which are big margins – but the diagram doesn’t explain them – the margins do represent a percentage of the profit but it’s only a percentage not the full whack.  The margins are also required to cover other costs:

Further shipping,  more transport, import duties, administration, design time, development, currency exchange, banking fees, marketing, loss leaders, pattern cutters, equipment, fittings, pattern changes, warehousing and storage, rent, utilities, IT costs, even labels, zips, threads and buttons..and probably much more.

At the second tier, for the retailer there could be a brick and mortar shop to pay for, employees and all the associated costs, advertisng, their own loss leaders etc etc…

The pictures do prove that nothing in fashion is simple.

It is possible to cut these costs.  If you’re mass market and contract out to a third world country I’ve heard you can get a t-shirt made for 2p.  In fact clothes have never been cheaper and are now fully accessible to all. Which has to be a good thing..But at what cost? 1,100 people died in the Bangladeshi factory disaster…is it ethical? Is it exploitation? Where does the line get drawn?

There are other alternatives abroad – better factories, better conditions where many of the ‘luxury’ fashion labels get their product made.  And yes, with their financial clout and established infra-structure maybe they can make those sort of profits..but even then think how much money goes into marketing to support their brands?  And think about the problems that can go wrong – the delays, the accidents, the unexpected that all has to be factored in.  And all the time all that money being spent on manufacture is money draining out of the UK economy.

So where does this leave a British based start-up fashion label like us?

We can’t buy our materials in bulk so there is no reduction in cost for us there.

We can’t make our stock in bulk so there is no reduction here either.

Our ‘factory’ is an ‘atelier’ – a room of skilled – masterful – sewers based in London who make everything by hand.  Not at a cost not per garment, but per hour.  Look at a sewing machine, look at an expensive piece of silk and look at the finished product – the tiny stitches, the French seams.  It’s not a fast job.  Each hour is £25.00 plus VAT.  But that is the cost of a craftsperson at the top of their profession..

We have no choice, we have to start at the designer end, the hard end – so why bother?

We still believe that there is an element of magic in fashion.  We believe we can make a profit by cutting out the wholesaler and selling direct – only time will tell.  And we believe that at some point consumers acknowledge they are buying more than the tangible item itself..we believe that value can take on a new meaning, that design can be desirable, treasured and trusted…our atelier is so good they do work for Victoria Beckham.  We have drive, we have passion and we have a designer in Anna who has an acknowledged pedigree having worked with the greats such as Karl Lagerfeld and Valentino..she knows this industry and she was born to design.

The truth is that the Everlane illustration was too simplistic – the bottom-line is that in the retail world not all products are created equally.  And some are definitely created with more love and care than others.  Only sales will confirm whether that is worth the price.

Laters, Kate x