26.4.11

FINDING THE PERFECT SPECS

Having been diagnosed ‘partially blind’; I recently embarked on a 'journey' to find the perfect pair of specs. Like any pursuit for the perfect pair, it proved to be a fruitful but long and thorough search.

After trying on hundreds, I ended up buying a pair of Retro Super Future frames from Liberty, and getting my prescription lenses elsewhere.  Along with the glasses and a couple of new nicknames, I have also picked up some ‘golden rules’ from the glasses master at The Eye Company, Wardour Street.  His rules for 'how to spot specs that suit’, are so spot-on that he taught my friend, a glasses wearing veteran, more in 10 minutes than he had learnt in 20 years. So here are the rules and they apply to sunnies too:

1. Try hundreds on; the more you try on the easier it is to identify what suits you.
2. The bridge is the first checkpoint when it comes to fit.  There shouldn’t be any gaps between your nose and the bridge.
3. The shape of the frames should counteract your face shape i.e. if you have a more rounded face, go for more square frames and vice versa.
4. Find a frame that compliments the shape of your eyebrows.
5. Be warned, big frames that encroach down your cheeks can make your jaw look long and droopy. No one wants to be droopy.
6. Make sure the glasses aren’t too wide; your eyes should sit in the middle of the frames. If they are too wide, your eyes will look too close together - never a good look.

Here are some of the cute 'Italian Made' Retro Super Future frames, and my chosen Super specs. 

NAUGHTY WALLS

Naughty Walls witnessed in London today:

1. New Banksy spotted in Noho...

2. New wallpaper in Soho House (pretty on first glace, very naughty on second glance....)

25.4.11

I LOVE MY BIKE / I NEED MY BIKE


With all this lovely weather in London, my love for my bike has been renewed. With full force. It’s pretty lovely to ride around this city with the warmth of the sun on your face, knowing that at the same time you’re saving yourself the bus fare, doing your bit for the environment and keeping fit (woop!)

And on top of how nice it is to actually cycle about, there is this whole growing obsession with the bike itself. Of building and owning bicycles that truly are ‘objects of desire’. If I had (quite a lot) of spare cash, I would ditch my 6-speed hybrid for a single-speed, light-weight road bike; probably in cream, probably with a tan leather Brooks saddle, I’m not sure about the wheels, but you get the picture. And then I read about Republic Bike, who “invite you to custom-build bicycles based on shared designs—choose from an array of colours for the frame, saddle, grips, chain, rims, tires and crank.  Who says your front tyre can’t be yellow, while your back tyre is pink? Ever dreamed of having a blue bike frame with red handle grips and a white saddle? Republic can make this dream a reality”. Wow. It’s like crack cocaine for the bike addict…



But that also reminded me of a great project I caught wind of recently: Bike Portraits. South Africa based Bike Portraits is a collection of beautiful photographs about different bikes and their owners.

Unlike the bespoke and aesthetically beautiful ‘fixies’ of Shoreditch and Williamsburg, the bikes in these photos are all worn-down and tattered, ‘work-horse’ cycles, that mean everything to their owners; bikes that are integral to their owner’s day-to-day existence. And to that, each photo tells a unique story, about how owner and bike came together and why that bike is so important to that person. A snippet from one story reads “This bicycle means many things for me, so I can say, I like him. I call him Tomzanele - it means “the last servant girls”.  It is also my daughter’s name.”

As I’ve been reading through some of the stories, I’ve realised that Bike Portraits is a pretty amazing project—they are trying to encourage cycling in South Africa amongst all social classes. They have said: “As you might know, South Africa is a world within one country, home to various cultures, with a tragic history of segregation and racism. Through this project we hope to give people a glimpse into each other’s lives through a well-known object of movement, practicality and joy—the bicycle.” They are still trying to raise money to turn the photos on their website into a beautiful photographic book—if you want to find out more about their fundraising initiative, click here.



It’s been interesting to create these two moodboards, and think about which draws me in the most: the eye-candy of the first, or the depth and stories of the second.

Moodboard 1: Images are from Republic Bike, Convoy and Affinity Cycles
Moodboard 2: All images are from the Bike Portraits’ website

To finish off this post, I have to include a link to the brilliant Mark Ronson & The Business Intl The Bike Song. There is no better place for it than here! Enjoy

22.4.11

THE BIRDS AND THE BEES

I cycle through Islington everyday on the way to work, but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I noticed this beautiful art installation along one of its back roads (Duncan Terrace Gardens). 
I obviously don’t look around enough.

I’ve been wanting to write about it since that day—but it took me a while to lug my big camera along the commute with me. But I eventually did, and I snapped these shots. Having now done some research into what it is, I’ve found out that it’s been installed for a good few months (I definitely have tunnel vision), but for those that haven’t seen or heard about it, here’s some info.

The installation ‘Pleasure Garden for Birds’ by London Fieldworks, is one of two ‘East and West’ London installations, and is made from hundreds of bespoke bird and bug boxes. Their form is inspired by the surrounding architecture, although they also contribute to the lifecycle of birds (giving them homes, sweet!). It looks as though the boxes have taken on a life of their own, and are ‘protecting' the tree somehow. That may be just how my mind works, but I think that’s nice. They have been commissioned by the local council as part of The Secret Garden Project, which aims to spread the word of lesser known green spaces and urban corners in London.  They'll be around for the next 2 ½ years, so you have a while to check them out...

21.4.11

SMART SIMPLE ADVERTS

Advertising has become more than just billboards, commercials and web banners. Brands are increasingly using technology based marketing techniques like crowdsourcing and augmented reality (have a look at Lynx’s Angel Ambush at London Victoria) to advertise.  This is all well and good, but considering the Western worlds ‘information overload’, it’s nice to see something simpler.

These three recent releases, are nice and simple for one reason or another. 

1. Tropicana’s illuminating orange billboard in Paris is genius. Simple and smart. They pinned over 2,000 oranges onto a wall of zinc and copper spikes, which lights up and says ‘Energie Naturelle’. Basically — for those who never got science like moi — the citric acid in the oranges reacts with the metal and creates an electric current, lighting the signage.

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2. KFC have finally created an ad that speaks to people beyond slobs who like eating from a big bucket. This ad is current, summery and engaging; miles ahead of all their previous one dimensional ads.

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3. Levis has released this patchwork stop-frame animation to communicate their new ‘Waterless’ jeans. Cute although a little too ‘green’ aesthetically.

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18.4.11

MR NICOLAS KIRKWOOD

Every season there is a shoe designer who tops all the rest. This season, it’s Mr. Nicolas Kirkwood. His creations for Peter Pilotto (in particular) are perfection; most definitely the shoe of the summer by a country mile. I would even put them in the same league the Balenciaga beauties that appeared last season, just far more practical.


Besides the shoes he designed for Erdem, he has kept it feminine and flattering, avoiding the ‘chunky monkey’ trend that is currently everywhere. Check out his own collection and his work for Erdem, Peter Pilotto and Rodarte at his website.


Nicolas Kirkwood





16.4.11

I USED TO MAKE MIXTAPES #01

So Summer is finally hitting London! Well, I'm sure it's just teasing us... luring us into buying summer dresses and sandles, only to rain for the next three months. But ever the optimist, I have put together a short, 7-song playlist to really bring on those summer vibes.  It has a folky nostalgic feel, bringing on memories of lying in fields or sitting by the sea.

Playlist:
01 The Cave Singers, Swim Club
02 Blind Melon, No Rain
03 Goldheart Assembly, Under the Waterway
04 Noah & The Whale, Two Atoms in a Molecule
05 Avi Buffalo, Summer Cum
06 Laura Marling, Rambling Man
07 Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Home (I couldn't resist including this)


The Cave Singers - "Swim Club" by crawdaddy Blind Melon - No Rain by KELBURN Under The Waterway by Goldheart Assembly 2 Atoms In A Molecule - Noah and the Whale by silkymike Avi Buffalo - Summer Cum by musicmule Rambling Man by Simplyx Home by EdwardSharpe

14.4.11

DAVE WHITE'S AMERICANA - PRIVATE VIEW

Last night, we (the Magpie and the Mule) trundled down the road to Dave White’s Americana private view at The Coningsby Gallery. Much busier than our last visit to the gallery, White’s distinctive and pop-art-esque creations were neatly curated within the intimate space. His expressive and iconic paintings of cowboys, Indians and animals were full of energy and captured the bloodshed and tension found on the Western Frontier. Pinpointing a favourite was easy; it had to be the opening piece ‘Sure Shot.’ However, our Mule was also taken by a particular Indian print, so she bought the 14th edition (14 is double lucky).

The show even featured a fellow four-legged animal and feathered friend—which I have to admit—upset us slightly, because in less than a year, this blog will become transatlantic, as the Mule will be leaving the Magpie for NYC. Anyway; overall it was an enjoyable, vibrant show. It would have been nice to have seen a couple of alternative interpretations of ‘Americana’, but what was there was fresh and arresting.






12.4.11

HAIR RAISING

Whether you love a bristly-faced man, or prefer them as smooth as a baby’s bottom, you can’t have missed all the recent fuss around facial hair.
We wrote about it in Sweet Jesus and Man About Town…so when we were pointed in the direction of Mr. Porter’s new article ‘A Blur of Fur’, we had to share it. And this image. Genius.


11.4.11

GIN, DRAWING, CUCUMBER & CHARCOAL

Walking into The Last Tuesday Society, you’d be forgiven for at first thinking you were walking into a normal little bric-a-brac antiques shop, although pretty quickly it’s quite clear that what you’re surrounded by is a little (a lot) more peculiar than that. It’s a taxidermist’s haven, a place for those with a penchant for discovering and collecting the down-right bizarre (think pig fetuses, stuffed antelopes and eyeballs in jars).

But despite this initial sensory overload, our reason for being there was for the Hendrick’s life drawing session. We spent two hours drawing two different models, and trying out several different techniques. All in all, it was an enjoyable little evening… although given that The Last Tuesday Society describe their events as “a combination of the cerebral and the carnival”, you’d expect the life drawing to veer a little further away from a bog-standard life-drawing class than it did.

We did like how Hendrick’s had got involved though. Very clever branding, pitched perfectly for an ‘anti-brand’ Hackney audience—there was no ‘overt’ brand-slapping, just some quite beautifully designed Hedrick’s cups and saucers, used to serve Hendrick’s gin and tonic (with a slice of cucumber... amazing!).


9.4.11

PICTURES SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS?

I have a little ‘pictures I like’ folder on my desktop, and I realised that a lot of these aren't really 'pictures', but instead, are lovingly crafted pieces of type; phrases, truisms, advice, and hopelessly romantic sentiments (there are a lot of these). They all bring a smile to my face in one way or another.
I hope they make you smile too.






These have all come from a variety of places, although Print Club London proved to be a particularly rich source, as did The Cool Hunter. JMU, two of these are yours too... thanks!

6.4.11

THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY

If you enjoy beautifully shot, moving, award winning films that are full of imagination, and you haven’t seen The Diving Bell And The Butterfly, you should watch it.  I don’t know why it popped into my head the other day, but it did, and I think its worthy of a post so here it is.

It’s a touching interpretation of the true and tragic story about the French Elle Editor, Jean-Dominique Bauby, who suffered an unexpected stroke, aged 42. The stroke paralyzed his entire body leaving him reliant on the people around him, and only able to move a small part of his head and his left eye.

The film takes you on a journey from his raucous fashion-led life at Elle, through to how he deals with his paralysis.  It shows how his relationships change and how he manages to write a memoir of his life through the single blinking movement in his left eye. Being French, it has sub-titles but the film is so absorbent and emotional that you forget you are reading. Seriously, if there are any lazy sub-title loathers reading this and thinking, 'well I like ‘beautiful, moving, award winning films’ but sub-titles… maybe not'... think again, it’s an incredible film.

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4.4.11

DESIGNERS MAKERS MAGIC

London Fields’ Broadway Market is packed full of delicious little stalls from second hand guitars to beautiful books to cakes and crepes. But on a Saturday it’s also packed full of people, which detracts from the stalls somewhat. So it was exciting to see another nearby market open its gates this Saturday. Welcome the Designers Makers Market, a platform and space for new creatives to showcase all things designed, made, printed, illustrated and crafted—all 100% handmade and original.

I loved the retro screen prints by James Brown (I’m going back next Saturday to get me one of those ‘you & me’ prints!) and Mr. Wingate’s cushions (the Eames chair repeat is now proudly gracing the sofa in my living room).

The market is actually quite difficult to find—it isn’t one you would stumble across if you spilled out of the sardine tin that is Broadway. Although I’m sure as word spreads, Designers Makers will start to fill out. So get there quick, whilst you can still peruse its loveliness in your own time.


2.4.11

YULIA, YULIA, YULIA...

From one beautiful woman, to another. Maybe it’s because Spring is in the air, or something.
These are photos by Yulia Gorodinski, one of my absolute favourite photographers. Picking some out to share here was very difficult, as I could have picked out about 30 more. They are all self-portraits, all brimming with sensuality and intimacy, whilst at the same time being romantic, innocent and pure. And to me, that's what makes each and every photo so incredible.

1.4.11

WHAT IS IT ABOUT FREJA?

Having spent the past couple of months following the Fall collections and sourcing Summer staples, I have been looking at models, models and more models, and have come to the conclusion that Freja is one in a million. What is it about her that I, and others (I’m not alone here) love?  Even the new girls on the block (catwalk block not Jenny’s block) like Caroline Brasch Nielsen and Bambi Northwood-Blyth—who have accumulated some air miles this season—dont compare, although it has to be said that she definitely does ‘bad’ better than she does ‘good’.

Maybe it’s her effortless style, her androgynous elegance, the fact she looks better without make up than with it; or possibly it’s her personality and charm, or maybe it's simply that her name is five letters long. What ever it is, she’s amazing… long model (live) the Freja!