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Thursday, June 16, 2011

So, this is it...

... you and me, Blogger, we used to get along.

I really liked how easy you made design and layout.  I liked how free and all-inclusive you were.

But then something changed.  You changed.  First my stats went down, then skyrocketed.  For no reason whatsoever.  My friends can't leave comments on posts.  For days on end, I can't sign into my own blog.

Things have changed.  I've found someone else.  I've moved on.

to http://www.thelicentiate.com.  That's right.  The Licentiate dot com.

Things might look a little rough now, but they'll improve once I get the web people in.  Then things will start to look a little bit like before.  There'll be giveaways and competitions and outfit posts and all kinds of shenanigans.  Oh yes.

To the people who read this blog - thank you so much for following me.  You people are the best.  Every time I get a positive post I feel absolutely fantastic (you can blame this on low self-esteem).  Please come read over at the new address.  There should be a new post up right... now.

If you want to be friends on facebook, click here.
If you want to connect on twitter, click here.

The comments are off.  You know where to find me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Last Picture Show: The most stylish film you've never heard of

Showing this week at the Triskel is Peter Bogdanovich's classic The Last Picture show, which celebrates it's 40th birthday this year.

It's one of my favourite films.  Based in rural Texas is the early 1950's (an incredibly baby-faced) Jeff Bridges and Timothy Bottoms star as two high-school seniors poised on the brink of a very depressing adulthood.  It's sad and it's beautiful and it's painfully real

The set designs and costumes by Bogdanovich's wife Polly Platt (he would later leave her for Cybill Shepard, the ingenue of the film - she apparantly had affairs with Bridges and Bottoms during filming as well, which must have been a fun environment to work in) are some of the best to be seen in films and marked a turning point for realism in the cinema. 

Up until 1970, costumes for period dramas were pretty contrived.  Platt made the characters look realistic and unobtrusively stylish at the same time, which complements Bogdanovich's genius eye for a composition.  At the time of filming Orson Welles was living with Bogdanovich and Platt and I think the influence really shows.  Here are a few pictures.

This film is every west-coast style blogger's inspiration; slouchy cool and a touch of urban decay and general apathy.  It looks a bit like  Band of Outsiders lookbook - forty years before Band of Outsiders was even thought of.













Sunday, June 12, 2011

Debbie Reynolds' costume auction

On the 18th of June, Debbie Reynolds (from Singin' in the Rain and also known as Carrie Fisher off Star Wars' overbearing mother) will be auctioning off her collection of film costumes and memorobilia.  She initially tried to find a single museum buyer but, sadly, that didn't happen and now her huge collection will be sold off piecemeal.

I really hope that some of her items do turn up in a museum, because she owns some astonishing stuff, like Charlie Chaplin's bowler hat, Laurel and Hardy's suits, dresses worn by Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, that dress worn by Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch (you know the one...) and a pair of Dorothy's ruby slippers.

She also has the curtain-material playsuits worn by the Von Trapp Family Singers in The Sound Of Music.  Joy.  Actual joy.

You can download the catalogue online.  Here are a few items I would buy for sentimental or pure greedy reasons if I had the funds.  This is just a small smattering, because the catalogue is a whopping 319 pages long. 

Thanks to Penny Dreadful Vintage for bringing this to my attention.
Marion Davies monumental oil painting by Federico Beltran Masses from Davies’ estate

'Messala' historic winged charioteer helmet rom the 1925 Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ

Left - Eleanor Powell “Clare Bennett” black velvet jacket designed by Adrian in Broadway Melody of 1940. Right - Jean Hagen “Lina Lamont” camel coat with monkey-fur collar from Singin’ in the Rain.

Carole Lombard 'Connie Randall' gown by Travis Banton from No Man of Her Own

Left - Debbie Reynolds “Kathy Selden” green & white leaf patterned sleeveless dress from Singin’ in the Rain. Right - Ginger Rogers “Dinah Barkley” gold lamé dress from Barkleys of Broadway

Rita Hayworth “Maribelle Hicks” two-piece dress from Cover Girl.

Left - Susan Hayward “Jane Froman” pastel rainbow-hued ball gown from With a Song in My Heart, right - Jane Wyman “Belinda McDonald” green dress and tan sweater from Johnny Belinda.  If you haven't seen Johnny Belinda, watch it asap.  You will cry buckets.

Emerald-green felt “Ozmite” jacket designed by Adrian from The Wizard of Oz.
Go on, guess which film these costumes are from.

Cleopatra large-scale original concept painting of Elizabeth Taylor “Cleopatra” in her Alexandria apartment

Cleopatra large-scale original concept painting of Antony and Cleopatra on her royal barge by Ed Graves

Cleopatra large-scale original concept painting of a harbor scene by Duilio Savina

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Related #4: Made In Cork

This is a very belated related post (ooh, rhymes).
Adding on from last week's post on the Cork Fashion Week launch, here are a few pictures of the newly-refurbished Triskel Christchurch building, which will tentatively host the opening and closing nights.

The Christchurch building has been in Cork in some incarnation for around a thousand years or so. It's a former church (no big surprise there) and it is thought that the poet Spenser was married at the location.

The weight of history aside, it's a beautiful building that has been lovingly restored and is the lynchpin in Cork's cultural life, playing host to cult record shop Plugd and cafe Gulpd, art gallery The Black Mariah and as a music venue and arthouse cinema in the main building. They also have catacombs if you're of a morbid persuasion (like me).

A Fashion week event would look amazing here. Bet the last pastor never thought of that.





For more on the Triskel Arts Centre, click on their website.
For more about the building and refurbishment, click here.

Photos 1,4,5 from here.
Photos 2,3 from here.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Related #5: Clothing as Memory

If you read yesterday's post, then you'll know what this photo is about.

This photo was restored by one of my aunt's friends after she posted the picture on facebook - a really nice gesture.  My grandfather would have been 85 last week.  He was born on the same day as Marilyn Monroe.  Truefax.

I'm usually fine with people reblogging my pictures, but this is a family photo, so please don't copy and paste this. If you like it, then share the link. Thank you.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Licentiate Column 09/06/11: Clothing as Memory

How do you remember people? Do you use mnemonics, or acronyms or mind mapping? Or are you one of those people who has an eye for the little details? Is it the face you remember, or the voice, or the perfume?
Memory is a funny thing. Anything can trigger a once-buried picture into either painful or joyous resurrection from the deepest, darkest regions of the hippocampus or temporal lobe.

In a hens-teeth email from my father (as in ‘as rare as..’) he wondered what images of him were built in the minds of close friends and family.

We had just been sent a picture of my grandparents when they were both very young. My grandfather is impossibly chiseled in white tie and tails. My grandmother is radiant in floor length chiffon, blissfully unaware of just how many children she’s going to have. It is Christmas Eve. She is sporting a brand new engagement ring. They are both very happy.

They are not the parents my father remembers. He remembers my grandfather with a perpetual cigarette in his right hand. I barely remember him, because he died when I was very small.

It’s the little details that you remember, the trivia that acts as infill and enriches the bigger pictures. You might remember a person’s filthy anecdotes, you might remember their grating verbal tics. All of it adds up to a memory. I remember a person’s clothes.

It might seem shallow to see the world through material things (in both the literal and figurative sense) but your memory glues itself to the aspects of a person to which you pay the most attention. It seems that I’ve been a clothes monomaniac since conception.

My father? Shirts. Floral shirts form Liberty, stripes by Paul Smith. My mother? Black Agnes b and rows of jersey wrap dresses hanging in their dry cleaning bags. My brother is tracksuit pants occasionally tucked into socks, my sisters are cocktail dresses and bright, Alexander Wang-ish vests, the collars slightly blemished by the odd dab of foundation. My mother’s mother is a pair of neatly ironed slacks in stone and olive.

It’s this way of thinking that leads me and many others to believe in the importance of vintage clothing. Every piece tells a story. It might mean nothing you you, but that tie belonged to a father, a brother. Even though they may have discarded it, it can still hold some powerful and distinctive memories for another person (if not a powerful and distinctive odour). That Penneys top may be super-cheap and on-trend, but is it really that special? Is it the stuff that memories are made of?

This isn’t a diatribe against cheap clothing and for designer goods, it’s a call to realise how important old clothes are. Because, when a loved one leaves you, what are you left with? There’s you. There is a full, yet empty wardrobe. And there are your memories.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Licentiate Column 02/06/11: Made In Cork

Cork Fashion Week is a bit of a misnomer. A fashion week is industry only. In Cork, shows are ticketed and open to all. The clothes you see on a runway are shown six months ahead of production. What you see in Milan in February, you won’t see in Brown Thomas until September. In Cork, what you see is already, or very soon to be manufactured. Fashion weeks are intense, fraught and cloaked in mystique, albeit a mystique that dissolves a little bit as each season passes.

In Cork, we take a much more leisurely pace. It’s both our idiosyncratic advantage and the perpetual pebble in our shoe.

It was with that in mind that I went to ‘Made in Cork: A Prequel to Cork Fashion Week’ in the Woodford Bar last Sunday. As I was waiting to go in, a possibly drunk, possibly homeless man tried to climb a tall, spiked, wrought-iron gate opposite the bar. He made a decent go of it, but impaled himself in the groin over two spikes and had to be lifted off the gate by a bartender and a slightly wobbly passer-by, who managed the whole procedure with a cigarette clamped between his teeth.

A Garda van pulled up, obscuring the view. Then, the sound of denim ripping and a very loud, sharp intake of breath. It was time to go inside. An inauspicious start in any circumstance.

I hoped that this wouldn’t be the marker for the event. Taking a seat inside the smoking area afforded the best views and elbow room, so that was where I sat myself, with a notebook, an unfortunate looking BIC pen and an endless supply of fizzy pop.

The crowd was a mix of models, photographers, fashion lovers and one small, very bored looking boy in Communion garb. Unlike London fashion week, where everyone is stressed beyond belief, the attendees looked genuinely happy. They were smiling, greeting each other with hugs, buying pints (of champagne), trading bon mots and making plans for the evening.

It was as if they were actually glad to be there (with the exception of Communion Boy, who had a pout that Andre Leon Talley would spontaneously combust with jealousy over). This is not the fashion week the world was used to. I was bamboozled. Pleasantly bamboozled.

The first half of the show was excellent. Trends were expertly curated. The preppy looks were a particular favourite - all white jeans and jumpers casually knotted over shoulders, ready for a game of tennis in the Hamptons. The vintage dress selection from Miss Daisy Blue was excellent as usual, with a mix of psychedelic print maxis, prom dress and LBDs that looked classically and contemporary.

It’s always good to see something grow and expand. I’m very proud to have been a witness of such growth from Cork Fashion Week’s inception. This September promises to be the most diverse and exciting Fashion Week yet.

Each year it gets a little bit bigger and, as Cork become even more creative and focused on fashion niches, the community at large adapts and rallies around it. Even if it’s something as ridiculous as lifting a stuck wino off a gate.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

African Wax Fabrics

My first proper boyfriend lived in Ghana for a year.  In our emails back and forth he would tell me about the food, the nightlife and the time he drunkenly passed out at a party at the Irish Consulate in Accra. 

Reading back over his emails from five years ago, it's clear that Ghana is an incredible country with Everest-type highs and supertrough lows.  Floods, typhoid and the odd Internet cafe going on fire are recurring motifs in the emails.  But then again, so are friendly, welcoming people, sporting tradition and the merits of river boiled kenki.

He never told me about the fabric though.


Wax fabric is predominantly made in Ghana and is responsible for some of the trippiest, brightest, graphic prints available in the world today.  The prints can be abstract, but are usually full of signs and symbols denoting a persons social status, political affiliations or general likes.

African art has a tendency towards the literal and these prints follow on from that.  With the popularisation of wax printing, more and more prints are devoted to technology and commerce.  You can buy Pop Art-ish yards of fabrics stamped with lipsticks, batteries, car mufflers, chickens and irons.


I love the pure, flat joy of these prints.  It's only a matter of time before a label like Proenza Schouler or Erdem picks these brights up and works them into a Spring/Summer collection (fingers crossed). 

There are already Western designers that work with these fabrics, but I'm yet to see a top or dress that justifies the fabric and brings out the best in it.  Is it just me or is a lot of this clothing, I don't know, a little bit... patronising?  Or self-congratulatory?  People need to get out of the mindset that Africa is synonymous with charity - then we'll stop treating their indigenous goods like another person's cast-offs and give it the shape and beauty these prints deserve.

To see more, go to the African Fabric Flickr pool

Photos 1-4 from here.  Photos 5-8 from here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cecil Beaton Book Covers


I found these while combing through the internet for an out-of-print book. If you're looking for something that's that bit to hard to find, ABE Books is the place to go. On their homepage was a feature on the books and illustrations of Cecil Beaton.

If you're like me and know close to nothing about Beaton, then this post by The Selvedge Yard is an excellent place to start.

I just love these covers. Now I just need a spare two and a half thousand dollars to buy a clean copy of Cecil Beaton's New York and see what's inside the beautiful watercolour dustjacket.


All pictures from ABE Books (this isn't a sponsored post, by the way)

P.S How great a title is 'My Bolivian Aunt'?
P.P.S You'd be surprised where you'd find copies of these books.  Check your local library - you might be surprised.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Related #3: Do it like a Dude

Yesterday's post dealt with women who dress like men, or don't (Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, I'm a-looking at you) to assert their power.

But where there are Queens, there are Kings...

And where there is power, there is also subservience...

So, to veer insanely from one end of a spectrum to another, here are some pictures of women who dress like men to show their love for a man.  Like a king.  The King, in fact. 

These photos were taken by Grey Villet in 1957 for TIME Magazine.  They show a day in the life of Susan Hull, who has decided to take the plunge and get an Elvis-style pompadour, joining the thousand strong ranks of girls and women in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who love Elvis so much that they want to look like him. 

If you want to put it in a modern context, imagine thousands of femme Justin Beiber fans, all with the same, super feathery, peekaboo, come-hither (but not too close, I'm a good Christian) hair*.  Just for the love of the Biebs.  Have you shuddered?  Has an icy cold finger of revulsion crawled down your back?  Good, let's look at the pictures.

All captions from the original article (because they're hilarious)

Susan Hull looks apprehensive as beautician prepare to form lock into Presley sidecurl

IN NEW GLORY: Nancy Hull happily shows off Presley cut.  Beautician who created style stresses convenience for girls who like swimming without caps.

CONFRONTING FATHER outside the beauty shop.  Susan Hull (left) and her sister Nancy, 20, display haircuts.  He was noncommital about new style.

COMFORTING MOTHER, Susan promises not to have her brown hair dyed black.  After showing cut to family, she gave ponytail to 4-year old brother.

CONVINCING SWEETHEART, Susan explains her coiffure to her beau Lew Potter in Motorcycle shop.  At first he threatened to break their next date.

CLIPPED GALLERY sits for a group portrait in Didgson's beauty shop.  The sideburns are standard but the number of stray locks on foreheads is optional

Read the original article here.

*Lesbians who look like Justin Beiber notwithstanding.  The Lesbiebers are awesome.