80s special: October’s a fest

Welcome to October! I may have backdated this by a few days as it was written in September..then my internet decided to crash! But here it is: my 80s fashion special, just in time for winter. It is mostly serious, but please remember that I don’t take myself too seriously and you can still find me in Primark. ALSO, following on from last month, you can find my interview with Neon Indian for The 405 here.

Head Over Heels for the 80s

Most of the time, I wish I’d been born just a few years earlier. Of course, I mean being born into a parallel 1980s where there was the internet, and no Berlin Wall… So, I’m going to write a seasonal guide to being an 80s child in the horrible 2010s, and if you dont care then I have this to say to you:

Truly the best song of the year. But anyways, I digress:

1 – Wearing an abstract print = edgy, but not ridiculous (please don’t think/say Nathan Barley). Vintage shops, the internet, parents and Urban Outfitters provide us with such wonderfully 80s threads – perfect for a trip to the library to do something 80s like read Bret Easton Ellis novellas and drink iced lattes. This is rebellious because of the possibility of *whisper it* getting water on a book. In all seriousness, though, this is a look which works. It doesn’t just work a 9-5 job to feed it’s kids, it also works overtime and moonlights as a dancer; I say this because it can carry any look into the evening. Guys can keep the jumper and switch from jeans to chinos, but girls can invariably have more fun: swap jeans for a net tulle skirt and thick winter tights, plimsolls for smart brogues, a daytime handbag for a Chanel-esque clutch, and the vintage knit is working so hard it will indefinitely be signed off from work and prescribed some pills.

– Some blogs dedicated to the subject :

http://www.frombetsywithlove.com/

http://vixenvintage.blogspot.com/

http://www.glamoursplash.com/

2 – Headbands = bringing hair together since ever. I know what you’re thinking. Men…wearing headbands? Since when has that been acceptable outside of European football? Then in September 2010, University Challenge brought us the University of the Arts London team, and a clever/fit guy in a headband, and suddenly all Serie A sins were forgotten.

Band of brothers: Walker (second right) shows why a male equivalent of Claire’s Accessories would be so, so right

American Apparel’s lamé headband takes the wearer from cute-girl-next-door with a penchant for aerobics, balayage and itsy-bitsy dogs (exhibit A)…

…all the way to the Nordic poledancing lessson which is Exhibit B.

Once again, American Apparel manage to tread the line  between Sweet Valley High and Richard Kern with aplomb.  Unfortunately the current story apropos of the chain is the fact that shiny headbands and hedonism haven’t saved it from imminent bankruptcy 😦

Also try:

Earmuffs. It’s almost winter, and earmuffs combine a headband with a vesatile space for cold, reddening lugholes. Etsy’s collection of homemade crafts is a great place to find individual pieces like Princess Leia ones…!

3 – 80s slogan wear = acceptable. If you can’t identify phrases such as “I carried a watermelon” and ” I want my MTV”, or you don’t know a My Little Pony from a Cabbage Patch Kid; you never laughed about the “groove” which Action Man has at his crotch and you’re not sure how to spell Bueller (Bueler? Buller?) then perhaps you should stay away from slogan wear, unless your lack of pop culture knowledge is some kind of ironic, Thatcherite nod, in which case, on you go…

80s clothes are the vestments of a marriage made in heaven. However, noughties rip-offs like this ‘ironic’ Trueblood slogan tee are not quite what the Doctor (Who) had back in mind during the 80s, when varsity prep become a religion.

Blood-y awful: HBO had more luck with the Flight of the Conchords clothing line

4 – Bouncy hair. Speaking as a curly haired girl, volume has never really been an issue. I went through a phase of wanting super-sleek hair…until I realised that a bouncy blowdry is super-flattering as well as being slightly less of a workout. AnnaLynne McCord does both 80s looks with ease; usually she carries off a super curly blonde do which is definitely a homage to bygone glamour, but a bouncy blowdry works equally well on her honeyed locks. Curlies: if you want 90, 210 ways to recreate the 80s (excuse the pun) then follow her lead.

In conclusion, don’t overdo the 80s look. Don’t try imitations, but instead go for new accessories and tees to compliment vintage outerwear. Go authentic and look for good quality and potential when buying pieces. Check boring things like the washing directions, especially on pieces which have been dyed or altered in any way from their original state, and don’t part with your cash for clothes which are truly ready for the bin.

Hallowee-ed be thy name

I’m probably too old for Halloween. However, this hasn’t stopped me pushing the 80s theme on and looking forward to the 31st…as well as compiling some great tunes to be enjoyed, whether or not your tounge is stuck firmly in your cheek:

– A Nightmare on My Street – The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff: the second Smith to feature this month, and gosh are they a talented brood. TFP and DJJJ used the same time signature for all of their collaborations, but I’m sure that it’s economical considering that Kings of Leon have made a career out of recycling. This beat makes Fruity Loops look like Mozart, but it works, and it manages to make Elm Street sound like Sesame Street. PS: this was played in the NME office two Halloweens ago, so it is definitely at the core of our culture.

– Psycho Killer – Talking Heads. This one starts off sounding like some banal driving CD and continues the weirdo-loner theme with the inclusion of some random lyrics in French and emotionless delivery courtesy of David Byrne. He was probably more psychotic when he was all wicked and lazy circa 2002, but the song is still hauntingly beautiful.

– Damien (all 3 parts) by DMX – D muses about the devil over a typically Def Jam track. Getting slowly more demented, this triptych includes his strange penchant for unneccessary narrative (see Party Up!’s religious verse), which is both comic and very, very unnerving. Here’s part one:

There are probably other Halloween songs, but none of them are as amazing as those…unless we’re including The Monster Mash or any “scary” Disney songs within these parameters.

Soooo, unless my internet decides to go loco, I will be posting just before this evil day occurs…probably from my kitchen where I’ll be dousing a crucifix in garlic and watching an 80s film.

Adios!

x x x x

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Some topical pieces for August

Hey there! My mailbox won’t open. It has all of the amazing work I wanted to share with you today. Quite ridiculous. So instead I’m going to go and do a phone interview with Neon Indian:

..and by the time I come back, hopefully it will be working again.

*some minutes later*

Ok, it’s working now, great. Before I go and do this phoner for The 405, I’d like to share some pieces which were written for another website but alas they were never published. So here you go, two topical and culture packed pieces.

Do’s and dont’s for the courtroom:

Ever been asked to give evidence in an important trial on an international stage? Do a Naomi and leave the lexicon at home. Confusion over what you’re being asked (“blood diamond? Qu’est-ce que c’est un “blood diamond”?”) as well as monosyllabic, lampen lingo (“i-was-given-dirty-looking-rocks-by-the-bad-man”) served the supermodel pretty well, as she testified at The Hague. Of course, it would be libellous to accuse Naomi of telling anything less than the-whole-truth-and-nothing-but-the-truth; however her story proves that when the entertainment and political frames collide, unintentional comedy can ensue.

Naomi's story: story rhymes with jack-a-nory

One fateful night in 1997, Campbell claims to have been asleep following an oh-so-peaceful Nelson Mandela charity function, when she heard a knock at her door. Two men gave her a pouch, reportedly saying it was “a gift for you”. Without meaning to puncture the validity of Ms Campbell’s account, when was the last time that a knock at the door roused you from your sleep? It must have been some pretty aggressive knocking, which fits slightly better with the President Charles Taylor myth (read: the black Stalin). Had I been cross-examining, I would’ve also asked La Campbell where her swarm of staff where when the drop-off occured. Do you think Naomi Campbell touched doorhandles at the height of her fame? Her legal forte is ABH, as witnessed in the magistrates courts of Great Britannia, where court artists surely enjoy themselves sketching her chignon. So, please don’t take our comedy sunshine away, foreign war trials…more importantly, she might make you look like a joke. And Liberia – as recently investigated by Vice here – is really anything but.

Making light, making money..making a mockery?:

Music has been “helping” us to deal with serious issues since the dawn of time. Self-help songs such as abstinence anthem “We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off” are customary to our culture, and every boy-meets-girl pop song carries a similar brand of emotional counselling.

Even Queen tried it, albeit with tounge pressed firmly in cheek.

However, speculative songs-about-potentially-serious-subjects (SAPSS) rarely appear in the same frame as the subject matter, for fear of trivialising the latter. It’s not like the latest Ripper case is going to be accompanied by a light piano instrumental of “Roxanne”on the 6 o’clock news. Plus, it’s kind of patronising to assume that Roxanne or any other lady of the night wanted Sting’s career advice in g-minor in the first place. Ironically, the news itself sometimes like to draw attention to songs which might just make an audience think that the news is all bureaucracy and trivia. About 10 years ago, BBC news got all angry over a song called Tapa Na Cara (that’s “slap on the cheek” in Spanish).

Tapa Na Cara: 1/3 of women in America is physically abused, and bad dancing isn't usually a factor

Surely telling victims of domestic violence to get angry about a mardi gras anthem is about as relevant as telling someone whose family were murdered and arranged in a pentacle formation to get angry about Halloween at TGI Friday’s?

Plus, it’s kind of naive of the BBC not to think that Western pop hasn’t been linking sex and violence since the beginning of the world, or more aptly, “since OJ had isotoners”. Brazil were positively late on that angle. Anyhow, I digress – the strangest thing I’ve witnessed of late on the internet is an inverse of the SAPSS phenomenon. It is a SAPSS appearing in the same frame as the subject matter, and dodging the “disgustingly immoral” card by way of endorsement from the victim of said serious crime. Antoine Dodson flew into a wholly justifiable rage after an attempted rape on sister Kelly at their home in Huntsville, Alabama, and his subsequent tirade was shown on local news. As part of their well-known “Auto-Tune The News” viral series, comedy group The Gregory Brothers decided to give Antoine’s rant the T-Pain treatment and the video became an overnight meme sensation. The result had more potential and playability than Rick Astley in a gay sauna with Gap Yah rah star Orlando, getting a mutual erection over Chris Crocker circa 2007:

On one hand, it is hugely inappropriate to make a song about a sexual assault which isn’t a) a raw autobiography or b) in aid of a rape charity. It is pretty taboo full stop, actually, unless you’re in Sublime and you can practise irony as well as santeria. On the other, the song in question is almost a two-fingers up at rape (I should stress almost) and could even be viewed (I should stress could) as liberation in the face of anger, poverty and humiliation. Indeed, the makers of the video went dutch with Dodson, who filmed his last video in an apartment which certainly did not resemble the grim surroundings of the Projects where his sister was attacked. At the end of the day, it’s a bittersweet, almost Dickensian paradox, however much we sick British animals with our supposed love for a “working class hero” justify our love. It is because they are poor and black that society allows us to make them into court jesters, much like the cast of the current BBC3 series “Peckham Finishing School”, all picked for a cheap laugh. Antoine Dodson can sit pretty in an Ed Hardy t-shirt and muse about his “fanbase”, but we’re not really laughing with him. Nor are we laughing at him.

We’re laughing at rape, albeit a highly dramatised song about the possibility that someone is “raping errybody out there”. Our fauxmance with Antoine Dodson has most definitely moved from entertainment to exploitation. Sounds pretty sick, right? Some Americans might be behind the Dodson’s as they grasp at their very own American dream. But we are uncompassionate Brits, and we take Lolita and A Clockwork Orange and abuse books on holiday and read them on the beach. But perhaps if all of us rubberneckers who’ve downloaded “Bed Intruder” because of the internet hype have helped a family escape a life where rape could traverse from criminality into comedy…then maybe it would be ok to advise you to buy it.

H xxxxxxxx