Friday, 20 January 2017

FASHION FOCUS: BILL CUNNINGHAM: THE MAN BEHIND THE CAMERA

A simple man, with an incredible eye not just for style, or fashion or photography for that matter, but for people. For the people on the streets going about their everyday lives, in a city that is quite literally brimming with life. In THE city, in New York City. A man with the ability to capture the interesting, the stories of us as humans, the stories of humanity that we take with us everywhere we go in our hearts and our souls that effect us in many ways and make us who we are and the stories that the clothes we wear and the style we carry tell about us as people and as individuals. That man was Bill Cunningham and this is his story, a story of a man behind a camera.



For nearly forty years, Bill captured every style and trend that was popular in the 20th and 21st century, whilst riding his bike around the streets of New York from 1978 up until his devastating death in June 2016. He made them his own, in a small column in The New York Times called 'On The Street'. From scrunchies to snapbacks, denim to dungarees, stripes to spots, he inevitably and essentially gave birth to something that today is done by everyone, from giant fashion magazines like Vogue and Elle to bloggers like Susie Bubble and Trendy Crew or even just your avid street style photographer, all with the same idea: to capture and showcase a trend and a moment in time. But he didn't just capture trends, he captured the very essence of who we are as individuals, our style because after all, our clothes say a lot about us, our moods, how we feel or even who we are as people. He did it brilliantly, making trends of his own that people wanted to read about and see within his column and was rewarded and honoured for his work throughout his life, receiving several awards for his contribution, not only to the fashion industry but to the creative arts, including an award in 1983 from The Council of Fashion Designers of America for outstanding photographer of the year, a living landmark award from New York's Landmarks Conservancy back in 2009 and in 2012, he received the Carnegie Hall Medal of Excellence (the invitation read "Come Dressed for Bill").

In 2012, Richard Press created a small short film entitled 'Bill Cunningham: New York', which I first got to see when it was released on Netflix (I was on a documentary haul that day). It gave us an insight into his personal and professional life, both behind and in front of the camera, from his work in previous magazines that he had founded to his love and family life in his younger years.  But I was truly inspired by what I saw and the man that I was learning about. It follows the everyday life of Bill as he shoots his photography on the streets, at parties, at social events and even at Paris Fashion Week. But I think for me one of the things I love the most about the film, and that made me smile the most was the positivity and respect that every major part of the fashion industry has for Bill including Iris Apfel (who herself has had a documentary made about her style and her role as a fashion icon). Anna Wintour herself said "I think that everyone who knows Bill and understands who he is and what he represents, will always be thrilled to be photographed by Bill. I've said many times that we all get dressed for Bill".



But even after his death, his work continues to inspire me and many others. My work with Manchester street photographer 'The Mancorialist'  heavily influences the look of our street style collaborations that I thoroughly enjoy creating for my blog. "You have to do three things. You don't get the most information from anyone in particular. You have to photograph the collections, you have to photograph the women on the street who had bought the things and how they're wearing them, and then you have to go to the evening events. You can't report to the public unless you've seen it all. People just go off and say what they think. Well, it isn't really what I think, it's what I feel". I think for me one of the main reasons in which I chose to use The Mancorialists work, was because in many ways it reminds me of Bill's. The ability to capture a natural moment, without asking people to stop and 'pose' for the image. A moment in time captured forever for people to marvel over or be inspired by in different ways. A moment and an image that in one hundred years time from now, people will look back on and be shocked by, be inspired by or maybe just as we look back on the imagery and style from one hundred years in the past, may think to themselves "did people really dress like that?". And that is the magic of the camera, the image and the man behind it.

Monday, 9 January 2017

COVER STORY: FEBRUARY 2017: JENNIFER LAWRENCE


Ever since she came onto our screens back in 2006, the funny, charismatic Jennifer Lawrence has given us every character that we could want within the frames of film and television. She's brought stories to life through the magic of fantastic storytelling and her formidable craft. From the bad ass shape-shifting Mystique from the X-Men franchise to a strong leader and role model, Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games trilogy or even a widow, Tiffany Maxwell in Silver Linings Playbook, she brings her A-game to each role, treating every unique and relatable character we've read about in books, we've seen on our screens, and whose stories, experiences and lives we have related to and fallen in love with, with passion, with dedication and with humanity. She's a big clown (which she herself has said in interviews) often joking around and playing tricks on set with fellow actors and actresses including James McAvoy (who stars alongside her in the X-Men franchise). But it's her humanity and relatability in which I personally find most heartwarming and lovable about her as an individual and as a woman, she has a positive outlook on life and refuses to change anything about who she is for anyone or for any part that she plays for that matter "I'm never going to starve myself for a part. I don't want little girls to be like, 'Oh I want to look like Katniss, so I'm going to skip dinner". A formidable and inspiring young woman who is very much a role model, not only for aspiring young actors and actresses but for all young people out there in the world, who want to bring fantastic stories to life, who want to sing, who want to play a character that they dream of playing in film or on stage and that will one day, aspire to be, in her very shoes.


The sheer, natural beauty she posses, has (quite rightly so) given her the role of also being the face of one of Paris's (if not one of the world's) most famous fashion houses: Dior. Lawrence starred in advertisements for their Autumn/Winter 2016 handbag campaign for the brand and has also worn a few of their breathtaking creations to some of the world's most prestigious events on the planet, including The Oscars (I have to say her trip over the gorgeous pastel pink Dior ensemble as she went to collect her Oscar for best actress, was comedy gold) "you guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell and that's really embarrassing, but thank you" and of course, The Golden Globe Awards (to which she was also nominated for best-supporting actress in a leading film). But she really doesn't even care that much about what she looks like, she doesn't even think of herself as a fashion icon for people to look up too or marvel over "I really would not call myself a fashion icon. I would call myself somebody who gets dressed by professionals. It's like 'dance monkey, dance, right onto the red carpet'. I would call me more of a monkey". But let's be real about the situation, pretty much 80% of Hollywood's A-list celebrities are all dressed by professionals, right? But in my eyes, she is someone to marvel over and look up too, not just for her style (which is so right in so many ways) but for her poise, for her positive attitude, for her talent, and for her level-headedness and the fun she has within what she does. She is in many ways what all young people aspire to be, not just an actress, but an amazingly motivational young woman who just wants to do what she loves and that for me personally, is incredibly inspiring and most of all, incredibly relatable.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Friday, 2 December 2016

COVER STORY: JANUARY 2017: DAVID BOWIE


"There's a star man, waiting in the sky" and his name is David Bowie. Style icon, artist, musical legend. From the early '60s right through to his death in 2016, David Bowie was admired and loved by many fans and friends throughout the creative world for his contributions to style, music, art and fashion, with a career that spanned for over forty-eight years of his life. He paved the way for many other artists to be unique and taught them to be themselves with their music, their performance and their looks. He in many ways, single handily changed what it meant to be an 'artist', not just in music, but in fashion, in art and in performance.


I begin, of course, with his music, of which there are many songs, written by himself and by others that we all know and love. Bowie's lyrics, style of writing and the structure of some of his songs such as 'Let's Dance' forever changed the way in which we as music lovers listen to music, and the way in which songwriters and lyricists write their songs. The BBC documentary "David Bowie, Five Years" (which is available on Netflix) is a fantastic insight into the way in which he wrote his music, alongside such legends as John Lennon  who helped him co-write 'Fame', a song he wrote based on personal experiences with his management, and the band Queen, who co-wrote 'Under Pressure'. He has performed onstage and in music videos with pretty much every single musical talent, you can think of including Mick Jagger, Cher, Luther Vandross, Bing Crosby, Tina Turner and Coldplay. His last album to ever be released 'Blackstar' debuted in January 2016 and was the biggest selling album of the year, coincidentally, the same day as his birthday, a mere two days before the shocking news of his passing from cancer and was a triumph to the collection of albums and songs the artist had released since the debut of his first solo single 'The Laughing Gnome' in 1967. Tributes to his music are everywhere online from fans, but I think for me, my favourite has to be Lady Gaga's at the 2016 Grammy's. She single-handedly embodied Bowie's essence and gave a truly spectacular visual and vocal performance in collaboration with technology giants 'Dell' of some of his best and well-loved songs. Legendary songs such as 'Fashion''Ashes to Ashes''Life on Mars' and 'Let's Dance' will forever be in both my iTunes library and my heart as personal favourites of mine, particularly 'Fashion' (for obvious reasons). 

He was very much, a visual artist, his looks and style were shocking, unique, thought provoking and interesting to look at, influencing and changing the way that we see artists when they perform and changing even the way in which fashion designers created their clothes even today. In 2013, Jean Paul Gaultier created a fitting tribute to Bowie and several other 1980s iconic looks and styles, including Grace Jones, Michael Jackson and Boy George.  Bowie created and forever changed his looks both in his music videos and within his onstage performances and created characters that reflected his style and his music at the time of its release (my favourite being the clown from the album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) which was referenced in the BBC TV drama 'Ashes to Ashes'. Ziggy Stardust was probably one of the most popular among fans and his most iconic (his reference to the space age heavily influenced his music with songs like 'Space Oddity') and is often the most talked about when people speak of him and his music. He certainly was a visual man, giving the likes of Grace Jones and Madonna a run for their money when it came to fashion, but it was thanks to the crazy, eccentric and fun decades of the 1970s & 1980s that he was allowed to experiment with his visual looks and wardrobe (let's be honest, most guys these days certainly wouldn't paint their faces white and wear eyeliner). An artist who is massively influenced by both Bowie and Queen alike is Lady Gaga. Her ability to be able to change her looks and style so often both onstage and in her everyday life, was heavily influenced by the two artists, which she herself has said in many interviews and is rather fitting and fun to see that even modern artists today within my generation, are still being influenced by iconic artists.

He was and still will forever be someone to be admired by myself, by other musicians and by fans, someone who's influence will carry on even after his death, someone who will influence the way we dress on catwalks and on stages, someone who's music will make people dance in bars, it'll be played in people's homes and on people's playlists I think for as long as music is written and will forever influence the way in which artists perform, someone who changed what it really meant to be an 'artist', and someone, who will never be forgotten.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

MANCHESTER ART GALLERY: FASHION & FREEDOM: 14-18 NOW

Manchester is well renowned for its work in the creative arts. From its actors such as Christopher Eccleston, its singers such as The Smiths to its fashion designers such as Henry Holland and artists such as L.S Lowry, its contribution to creativity is much celebrated throughout the UK and the world. Manchester has housed some of the most wonder exhibitions over the past few years throughout its various museums and art galleries in and around the City, that I have had the privilege of visiting since I've been living back in here. From art to fashion, photography to illustration, paintings to design, it's showcased and given birth to some of the most iconic artists and designers the UK has to offer.
































































Up until the 27th November, Manchester Art Galery is housing the 'Fashion & Freedom' exhibition. A look at the style and fashion that women were wearing during the first world war years of 1914-1918, but with a modern and contemporary twist. Contributions from major and emerging designers from around the UK such as Vivienne Westwood and Holly Fulton alongside each other was fantastic to see, with each individual designer stamping their own style on the inspired pieces from the period, yet having a real cohesiveness between them to bring together a wonderful tribute to the ladies that still managed to remain stylish, even through dark and horrific times. It enabled the women of the period to really be free, in the sense that for the first time in British history, women were encouraged to work whilst their husbands and lovers were out fighting for their country.










































Modern and contemporary pieces in the collection, mirror historical pieces from the time that have been put on display from the British Fashion Councils archive, including corsets and undergarments and really allows the talent of the emerging designers who have contributed to the exhibition to shine for the public to see. Also alongside the clothes, a lineup of small documentaries and short films have also been specially created to complement the pieces that are on display in the gallery.




The exhibition is perfect for any fashion lover, or to be honest, any lover of the creative arts in general. It showcases beautiful craftsmanship and is a must see for anyone looking for some creative inspiration or looking to learn a bit of history from the hard working, dedicated ladies that were given the freedom that they thoroughly deserved at the time. Let me know what you guys thought of the exhibition if you've visited it, in the comments below and as always, let's be social:

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