Thursday, 29 October 2009


"We think back through our mothers, if we are women"
-Virginia Woolf, A room of ones own

Today Radio 4 Woman's Hour, which often tickles my ever so geekish, yet feminine fancies, hosted a special programme on fashion. Fantastique! A number of thrilling subjects were broached, each of which Im sure I will regurgitate in my own inadequate way at some later point on this blog.

What really struck me about the program, was a theme which each of the guests kept returning to: their mothers. Justine somebody, who has written (one of the many) biographies of Coco Chanel, said that she thought fashion was so popular because it relates to our 'eternal search to understand your mother'. This idea really hit home for me.

It is not exaggeration to state that the way I remember is through clothes. Clothing for me is a sensory experience and nothing brings back the sensation of being a littl'un quite like the memory of watching my mother get dressed for a night out with my dad. I can hear the brush comb through her hair, feel the red velvet jacket and smell the chanel no 5. Its an almost unsettlingly powerful memory.

I wonder then, if the fact that many women turn to fashion as a means through which to 'understand their mothers' could in fact be read as our attempt to understand femininity in general. I think it might. T B C.

Saturday, 24 October 2009


I read recently an angry piece of writing in the observer magazine, which lamented the release of the 'American Fashion Cookbook'. The writer, yummy-mummy Rachel Cooke, argued that the fashion industry had no right to be simultaneously sending 'starving girls' down the catwalk whilst crystallising their love for cakes and treats in this book (which includes a collection of recipes from US designers such as Caroline Hererra and Izaac Mizrahi).

Both industries, cookery and fashion, are towering 'cultures of consumption', which have escalating popularity among the middle classes today. Both carry connotations of luxury; excess; money. The pairing does not seem as unlikely as Cooke proclaims.

But, there is something alarmingly vulgar about this collaboration. Britain's greedy fad for cookery programmes, cookery books and celebrity chefs is far too senseless and lacking in moderation for my delicate fashion disposition. Our industry is more controlled and restrained in it's passions. It doesn't surprise me that the american fashion council have banked in on the rise of the two trends. Cupcake sellers in London have been also doing so for a long time. But I dont think it should be encouraged to develop any further.

No, a designers place is not in the kitchen, but not for any reasons associated with size zero. Rather, us fashion types value a certain subtlety, delicacy and restraint which is incompatible with anything that includes the words 500g butter, eggs, milk and flour.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Leaping tiger

"History is the subject of a construction whose setting is not homogenous, empty time, rather a setting filled by the presence of nowtime. So for Robespierre ancient Rome was a past charged with nowtime. The French Revolution understood itself as the recurrence of Rome. It cited ancient Rome the way fashion cites the dress of the past. Fashion has a sense for the actual present, no matter where it moves in the thickets of the past. It is a tigers leap into the past. Only to find itself in an arena where the ruling class gives the commands."

Thesis XIV, Walter Benjamin