Alexander Calder: A Modern Ode.

I spotted this video homage to American sculptor Alexander Calder on Nowness yesterday and just had to share. I’ve loved Calder’s work since I was first introduced to it in a dark, hushed lecture theatre at Rhodes University in 2004.

I love the contrast between the eerie-elegant stilts of each piece and the poster-paint brights they end in. These colourful discs are stamped into familiarly natural, symbolic shapes: leaves, moons, birds and planets; stars, suns and wings. The video ode, created by film maker Carl Kleiner and his set designer wife Evelina, is an amusing play on these forms.

Featuring quails eggs, marshmallows and luminous slices of carrot, Calder’s sophisticated arrangements are recreated in perfectly paradoxical harmony.

Carl and Evelina are famous for their intricate, playful work with IKEA, which you can have a marvel at here.

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Creep, Yeah!

I apologise for the terrible TLC reference in the title of this post, but my new Underground creepers make me so happy that I literally sing it every time their leopardness comes into my line of sight.

I’ve been dilly dallying with the idea of a pair of creepers for some time now, but I faced a few obstacles en route. One colleague commented that they looked like ‘Buffaloes mated with school shoes,’ a fair point, to his credit. When I saw them on sale on ASOS for under £40, I knew it was fate. These are by Underground, an independently-owned London label, famous for their huge selection of creepers. They sell everything from single, double and triple soles, to wedge, high top and steel cap creepers.

The guttural love of the creeper is due in part to its rich history, which is rooted in rebellion and of course, music.

Creepers were first worn by soldiers in North Africa in the years following World War II. Their sturdiness and durability – the distinctively notched rubber sole that they are famous for – made them perfect for the desert. When the war ended, the soliders returned to London and many of them visited brothels. This heralded the inception of the shoe’s more colloquial nickname, the brothel creeper. Between the 1950s and 1970s, the creeper became the shoe of choice for fashion rebels and outsiders. First the Teddy Boys and later, the punks, adopted the creeper. Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood stocked them at their legendary King’s Road shop, fuelling the creeper’s association with sub culture. Indie, ska, punk, goth, new wave and psychobilly fans today are still champions of the creeper.

I love how connected the creeper is to its history – how it has became a visual cue for music, rebellion and taste over the decades. It’s a symbol that lets the world know what you’re into.

Source: Wikipedia

Images: My own

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Oh Iris.

After a long and stressful day yesterday, I retired to bed to do one of my favourite things – read the new Marie Claire. This month, Iris Apfel, 90-something year old fashion muse and all round inspiration, features in a three page article. If you’re not familiar with Iris, watch Advanced Style for an introduction and then go out and buy the new SA Marie Claire.

In it she says: ‘Clothes are not frippery. Properly done, they can be an art form.’ She goes on to say that she thinks ‘the greatest fashion faux pas is looking in the mirror and seeing somebody else. Relax. Have fun with your clothes. There really is no fashion police.’

She also despises jeggings.

Iris’ fashion philosophy mirrors my own (jeggings included). And for that reason I am wearing a mesh polka dot tutu with a chambray shirt, my highest heels and a luscious cowrie shell around my neck today.

Thanks for the inspiration, Iris.

Image source: Dazed & Confused November 2012 / Styling by Robbie Spencer / Photograph by Jeff Bark / Garments by Comme des Garçons

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Polkalot.

A week from today I will be attending Design Indaba on behalf of Woolies to cover the conference and to mingle with delegates, speakers, exhibitors and creatives. Obviously I am interested to chat to the attendees about serious issues, such as how design can change the world etcetera etcetera, but I must admit to being equally excited about talking to them about their personal style. The Indaba is sure to attract some interesting dressers and I plan to meet them and report back on their sartorial leanings.

Of course this begs the question: But what will I wear?

I have, of course, thought about this briefly. Having attended the Indaba once before, I feel it is the perfect occasion to break out some of my more eccentric outfit fantasies. This one – which I am calling Polkalot – is what I imagine to be the ideal getup for an interesting, flustered girl who spends her days striding down passageways in pursuit of the next fashiony Instagram, or the perfect printed-sock-to-brogue arrangement. For three days I will be this girl.

Three days, three outfits.

Stay tuned for more of my potential Design Indaba endeavors and, later, for documentation of the style at the conference itself.

PS: If you’re in Cape Town this week and next, don’t forget to check out the Design Indaba Film Festival, as well as the Design Indaba Music Circuit, which are both open to the public.

Outfit: Shirt: vintage / Jumper: Country Road / Skirt: Mr Price / Heels: Preen x ALDO / Inspiration: Louis Vuitton SS13 x Louis Vuitton & Yayoi Kusama

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Mixing Metals.

I’ve always had a penchant for metallics.

Well, bling, actually. Even if I hark back to my university years, where my feet knew nothing but well-worn Converse high tops, there was still always something magpie-worthy in evidence. From jewellery to sequins to beading, foiling, metallic leather and lurex, I am a metallics fiend. Metallics are fancy and eye-catching; a little bit gaudy. I like that teetering-on-the-precipice of bad taste edge that a metallic elicits. It simply means you need to wear them really well.

I also like that they work so well with opposites. The opposite of a high-shine metallic is a plain white tee, a lived-in band t-shirt you can’t let go of, a pair of super-soft ballet flats or some decrepit ankle boots that have seen every dance floor since you were 21 years old.

I recently acquired two gold minis – one, a rose gold skater skirt with a button back waist and conveniently located pockets, the other, a shapely 60s-style mini with a brocade finish and an exposed zip. Number one is from ASOS, number two is from Country Road. Both were born to shimmy. They are perfectly at home next to my pewter DVF mini, which I’ve always liked to call my intergalactic skirt. Together, they are a metallic trifecta.

I love to pair them with really old t-shirts – to me, the contrast of old ‘n worn and new ‘n shiny paired with unusual heels is party perfection. It’s a mix of dressed up/dressed down that makes me feel comfortable and as ready for a gig as I am for a sit-down dinner.

This love of metallics if probably most prominent and most liberal when it comes to accessories. I like to mix yellow gold and silver with shades of rose and pewter to the extent that I mismatch earrings to get the right balance of tone with the rest of my jewellery. It creates a kind of harmony that makes so much sense. It allows for variety within a spectrum.

Metallics were a prominent trend this past summer and they look set to shimmer throughout winter, with appearances at Sass & Bide, Marc Jacobs and Antipodium on the catwalk in the last week. Get ready to shine, girlfriends!

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Supernatural Floral Design Studio.

 

I spent dusk yesterday barefoot and surrounded by stray petals and leaves in a small, duck-egg-blue room in Walmer Estate. Two of my childhood friends, Jessica Ellis and Emma Frost, opened their floral design studio, Supernatural, less than a month ago, and yesterday, they were in full Valentine’s swing. They invited me along to sip on a glass of icy white in between snapping them in action and soaking up a few tips, which I’m sure you will find as enlightening as I did.

Being a regular flower-buyer and admirer myself, I asked them to share their 10 top tips for buying, caring for and making blooms last longer.

1. When shopping for roses, test the firmness of the bud between your thumb and forefinger. A firmer, tighter bud means that the rose is fresher and will last longer.

2. A rose that is bruised has been manhandled. If the bruising looks like it does in the picture above, the rose has a disease called botrytis. Remove the infected petals at the base to prevent infection of the rest of the bloom.

3. Buying flowers from an outdoor flower seller or stall? If your flowers have been exposed to wind and sunshine all day, they may wilt or dry out faster.

4. Outdoor stalls also often stock plenty of blooms that last a long time, like lilies, fynbos, sunflowers and gerberas. This is because they still look fresh, long after they aren’t. Tricky!

5. Like the look of flowers that are already plump and blooming? They won’t last as long. See the gladiolus (or glads, as Jess and Em affectionately call them) above for reference.

6. Check that the stems of your flowers have not been too roughly stripped (as pictured above). Barren patches on the stem will mean your blooms won’t last as long as they should.

7. Change the water in your vase every day. Simply topping it up, as I had thought, doesn’t do the trick.

8. If you really want to give your blooms the best care possible, rinse the vase when you replace the water. Bacteria grows in the vase daily and can affect the lifespan of your bunch or posey.

9. Never let the leaves of your bunch touch the water in the vase and make sure to remove leaves that have dropped into it. Rotting leaves pollute the water.

10. Flowers only take in water from the base, so you only really need to fill your vase about one third of the way up. If the ends of your stems are submerged, you’re in business.

You can read more about Jess and Emma’s story here, but if you want the inside scoop then I can tell you that they are both wildly creative in completely different ways, a fact which is evident in the diversity of their work. Emma’s style is velveteen flamboyance with a Bohemian blur; Jessica’s is French Riviera with a side of beach bum cool. Jess is straight forward, where Em is a little ditsy. And both are very, very funny.

Watching them in action made me want to fill my apartment with flowers that have strange, seductive names. I think I’ll start today.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Contact Jess and Emma here.

Like & follow Supernatural on Facebook & Twitter.

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On Fashion Heritage.

Some afternoons, I spend a hours soaking up inspiring bits and pieces on Nowness. It truly is an archive of creativity that is unbound by budget or brief. I love how they pair interesting creators together to make videos, installations and more that are stand-alone slices of art and interest. From never-before-seen snippets of 1970s blue movies featuring inflatable furniture and lush-lashed girls to short films about unrequited love, Nowness sets the benchmark for unusual and memorable content globally.

This animation, created by fashion favourite Suzy Menkes and entitled Cyber Craft, documents milestones in luxury fashion, from the induction of the Versace Medusa, to the history of the Burberry trench and Elber Albaz’s trademark bow tie.

It’s a whimsical reminder of how deeply these hallmarks of fashion and brand are etched into our minds. I’m not one for flashy name brands, but I am enchanted by the passion and respect for craft that the fashion houses in this animation have maintained through the decades.

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