After what has felt like the longest wait in filmic history, Baz Luhrmann’s epic adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ hits UK cinema screens today. Will we drop everything this weekend to go see it? You bet’cha. And here’s what most excites us about the era that gave us Louise Brooks, the bob and all that jazz.
We want to move
A great deal of the social revolution of the 1920s looked to women’s fashion to carry off change. Flapper girls, with their penchance for all-night dancing, did away with that rotten, centuries-old corset for instance. Suddenly fabric could be felt against the skin again; and an emphasis on lower waistlines, pleats and luxury fabrics meant that girls could really kick up their legs and Charleston for sheer pleasure until the early hours. Even today any dress that we don’t have to endlessly adjust, check in reflective surfaces over and over, or doesn’t have us sucking in breaths to the beat all night long is a real partywear winner.
Left leg in, left leg out…
A classic T-bar heel, the 1920s shoe de rigueur, is a structured shape that’s ideal for dancing in because it keeps party feet supported all night long. What’s more, a slim T-bar strap is flattering and slimming, working as a stylish accent for any outfit you might pair it with.
A tale of excess
The Roaring Twenties was an obvious case of more really being more. Marabou feathers, jewelled hair pieces (to show off that trim new bob) and a more relaxed dress shape (all the better for embellishing or fringing) became provocative symbols of women’s new found confidence in society. Join in the celebration today with sequin clusters or over-the-top statement jewellery.
You may have noticed Meagan Cignoli before. As a fashion and portrait photographer, Meagan’s work has graced Elle, the Wall Street Journal and clients have included Oscar de la Renta and now French Connection. But after hours, Meagan has developed a reputation of a whole other kind. This girl has a seasoned Vine habit. With six second stop motion clips slowly taking over the social media world, and phrases like “Vine fail,” or “I would love to Vine with you!” creeping into her daily Twitter chat, Meagan is fast going pro-Vine. We asked her to talk Off the Record about pleasing 10,000 video fans daily.
How did you first hear about Vine?
Katie Rodgers (of Paperfashion) mentioned it. I was terrible at first, all of my clips were boring but once I’d found stop motion animation I quickly fell in love.
How do you approach making a video?
Generally I see something that inspires me, like a colour or shape and then I just start to play with it: turning it all around, putting it with other colours, burning it or wetting it. Just playing a lot. But sometimes I take longer and really think out the shots.
Where do you get your inspiration for clips?
Most of my inspiration comes from things I own; from my home, pretty stuff I like, food, flowers or fashion. When I close my eyes a million ideas flood to me. Since Vine came out I have not been sleeping much…my mind is just overflowing with ideas. It’s still a new medium for me.
What top tips can you give someone who’s new to Vine?
Take your time. Really think about what you are doing and think how this can be better. Whether it’s just being clearer about your composition, or shots, or switching the object to a more interesting item or lighting it better. Just always push yourself and focus on what you are doing. I see a lot of Vines that have a good idea but the execution is sloppy and I think; gosh you could have had a real winner there.
Favourite video you’ve made to date?
My favourite video with people in it is ‘Secrets Secrets they’re no fun’ and with still life it is ‘Love to Boston’. Perhaps because it took the longest and crashed twice, so I’m a little attached!
Favourite Vine you’ve seen elsewhere?
My favourite Vine oh gosh… I think Jethro Ames is really talented, so any of his really.
What do you think best lends itself to six second clips….fashion or comedy?
I think there are a ton of fantastic comedy Viners right now, and not many fashion. I’m sure they will start arriving soon, because fashion Vines have the potential to be fantastic.
Who should we follow on Vine (apart from you of course!)?
My list is so long! I love every Vine that I follow personally. For comedy? MarLo Meekins of course, Brittany Furlan is hilarious, Michael LoPriore, Rhea Kappa, Nick Confalone, Rudy Mancuso, Nicholas Megalis, Jerome Jarre and Rob Johnston. For arty stuff it’s Big Red and Falcon, Jethro Ames, Nick Mastodon, Sean Staggs, Khoa Phan, Yell Design and Pinot.
Comedian Luisa Omielan pegs her one-woman show as a piece intended for all “the independent women still living at their mama’s house.” Fueled by obsessive awe for Beyonce the megastar, Luisa talks the audience through all of the reasons she TOO hasn’t ended up as a super rich, ceaselessly popular, global icon of her generation. How could this be? Critics have labelled this the theatre show to see right now.
Weather wobbles aside, London is slowly shifting into summer gear. This weekend, Shoreditch’s popular Queen of Hoxton bar finally opens its rooftop bar for the sunshine season. Famed for drawing crowds from the Kingsland Road and beyond, Queen of Hoxton puts its neighbouring bars in the (literal) shade with its great views over the city and this year, jacuzzis, a new BBQ menu at the kitchen and of course, a packed film schedule for the Rooftop Cinema Club.
Queen of Hoxton 1-5 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3JX. Open until 2am Thurs – Sat
Meet me in the kitchen
London’s obsession with pop-up dining reaches its natural conclusion this month with Kitchen Party, a complete restaurant collective put together by cocktail experts and gin behemoths Bourne & Hollingsworth. Kitchen Party is three floors of gastronomical fun situated in the heart of Clerkenwell. Notorious food ‘designers’ Blanch and Stock, communal eatery Rack & Ruin and something called ‘culinary performance’ all feature on the menu in May. Wander, sip fine cocktails and worry about where exactly to tuck in first!
Kitchen Party is at Northampton Road, London EC1R 0HU. Thurs – Sat, reservations recommended
In a new blog series, French Connection will be regularly handing over creative control to new and aspiring photographers for a day. Shot on location, each fresh-faced photographer is given free rein to explore our fashion cupboard and work alongside the team to direct their own shoot.
Our photographer: Vicki King
I am a London-based photographer, originally from the middle of England. I graduated from London College of Communication last June with a BA in Photography and have been freelancing since then. I started out doing more fine art based work but gravitated toward fashion since finishing my degree, although I wouldn’t define myself by either genre.
How did you come up with ideas for the shoot?
I had wanted to do something like this for a while! After having shot nearly everything in a studio over the never-ending winter months I was basically itching to do something outside, with beautiful light and plants and all of the things I had been deprived of. I get genuinely excited by the sun when I see it now.
Ideas start out pretty loosely; I will normally have a mood that I am going for, a colour palette, or a location in mind and it just builds from there. Sometimes it’s hard to verbalise what you are trying to do until it is actually sitting in front of you. I tend to work quite intuitively.
Do you have a story/character in view when working on a project?
There is normally some sort of narrative but not a clear-cut one, I like to leave room for people to fill in the gaps themselves.
Why do you prefer shooting outdoors?
I actually like to combine elements of outdoors with shooting inside: be it plants or a set, to make the space a little confused.
Where do you go to feel more inspired?
For some reason I always seem to be at my most imaginative whilst travelling. On the train, driving, walking. I think it must have something to do with the motion and a lack of distractions. I’m not very good at sitting still – walking with headphones is a better option for me.
What’s one tip for aspiring photographer’s that you wish someone had told you?What was the last film/song/book to really inspire your work?
I rewatched Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers recently, which is an amazing film. I’d like to shoot something based on that movie. I find films good for visual references; when there is movement it’s a lot easier to make something appear natural in a very unnatural environment.
I think the Pre-Raphaelites said something about trying to portray music in their paintings; though obviously making something as emotive as music through a still image is really difficult. But it’s something that I try to reach. I also get teenage fangirl obsessed with songs – it’s everything by a band called HTRK at the moment.
And an important memory which influences your creativity?
The way memory in general distorts reality is pretty influential: it’s like looking at something through frosted glass; you remember only parts and in the way that you want to. Like real life, but better.
Experiment as much as you can. Don’t be afraid to be stylised. Shoot what fascinates you. That’s more than one. Oops!
What one image do you wish you had taken yourself?
I wish I could make anything half as mesmerising as any of Bill Henson’s photographs.
What’s next for you?
To keep making work, keep growing, and being endlessly dissatisfied haha.
How would you sum up French Connection in three words?
There’s nothing new about snakeskin. Yet for SS13, our design team set about deconstructing python print to recolour, pixelate and reinvent it across sleek cocktailwear. As womenswear designer Chloe explains, “we’ve worked up our own, cleaner and fresher take on snakeskin to move it on for the French Connection woman this season.” Next came designing the fresh shape to match. With a modern print established, what harm to dip into the past a little too?
The 1970s is an endless gold mine of fun fashion quirks. Collars went up, hemlines went down and androgynous fashion became just a jolly by-product of the times. Eveningwear was key. This was the disco era, a time to polish off the dancing platforms and fluff up your golden curls with plenty of hairspray. Shoulders were out. Tummies. Clavicles. Not that you could see any of that, twirling around beneath the disco lights…
But let’s look beyond the florals and lurex now to something more provocative and understated. This season we wanted to recall the coffee tones and milky sepia shades of the Seventies, with an emphasis on movement in skirts and dresses. A freedom of fabric was key back then – as it is with the box pleats on our Pixel Python skirt, giving a swing to every step.
This season we’ve reinvented the classic Seventies game of peek-a-boo. Whether it was the birth of the maxi dress or the need to show off a Farah Fawcett-worthy tan, fashion fans quickly took to dipped hemlines, side splits and sheer lace. We’ve adapted the best of this trick for now, contrasting a full skirt with a fitted waist and clever ‘peep’ split at the front, hidden at first glance with a high neckline.
So in a smoky shade of the night (we’re calling this one butter-tinged disco light), the Pixel Python Dress is set to be your eveningwear look of the season.
Fashion people can be hard to comprehend. You’d be forgiven for reading glossy magazine interviews with the style set and switching off as soon as talk turns to a bustling catwalk lifestyle run on avocado salad, weekly hair treatments and espressos. What would actually be useful to know is if this Editor/stylist/model sometimes sinks into the sofa too, with her duvet, just whiling away the weekend on ‘Come Dine With Me’ reruns. The five hour stints.
With this in mind, we decided to ask our SS13 campaign stylist (and Fashion Director of the bi-annual, much lauded Twin Magazine) Celestine Cooney all about TV, teenage memories and texting boys. You know, the real issues. The big stuff.**
**Celestine Cooney began her incredibly successful fashion career as an Editor in Dublin, continuing it here in London at Dazed and Confused, where she was hired on the spot by Nicola Formichetti the day that she dropped by the office with her portfolio. Since then, Celestine has worked with publications including Vogue, V magazine (and of course Twin) and has styled fashion brands Preen, Simone Rocha, Topshop and now French Connection. As IF we just weren’t going to mention all that…
Celestine on youth
Favourite kid’s TV programme?
Flipper, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo and The Adventures of the Black Stallion. I liked animals much more than humans when I was a kid. I was always in trouble with the humans in my life.
How does leaving a small town behind [Celestine grew up in the Irish countryside]leave its mark when you reach the big city?
I think you’re much more likely to be naive and trusting. Which sounds pretty cliché, but when you end up at a place like Dazed (as I did) and working in fashion, it really helps to be clueless.
When you were younger did you ever panic about what you’d do with your life?
I don’t remember ever panicking. I finished school when I was 16 and had a degree in film by the time I was 20, so I was still super young and I just kind of followed my nose the whole time. I was always busy, always working on something and getting paid to do random stuff that I liked. I ended up in fashion by accident – it was never my intention.
What were you like at school?
I was awful; a really bold kid. They expelled me from my boarding school when I was 13, then my new school wouldn’t let me do a gap year because I was too disruptive. I think they thought I would just go off the rails entirely. Hence I finished high school at 16, and ended up in university a year too young to even legally drink alcohol.
Celestine on identity
Three words that sum up your personality?
Rambunctious, loving and loyal.
As a stylist, is it better to put your own experience into your work or remain objective?
I put myself into my work for sure. Basically, I live vicariously through the models I style. All of my work comes from a very personal place. I think – honestly – it’s just an extension of me: the girl I was, the woman I am and the woman I want to be.
Is nostalgia largely productive or damaging to creativity then?
For me it’s really productive; I don’t pine for the past even though I am very nostalgic. It’s more about relating all of my early memories to what I am experiencing now. I think it lets me have a greater understanding of why I am the way I am and I believe it helps me relate to other people. Especially when they have a difficult temperament. I’ve been there, I get it.
How do you stop your work from slipping into something that looks too twee or overly romantic?
It really has to do with the feeling of an image…you can tell if it’s cringe and lame in the same way that you can tell if it’s really cool and effortless. There is a big difference between cheesy romance and sweet romance; the sweetness will always incite empathy and affection whereas cheesiness tends to incite a mild form of hatred and rejection.
You wrote on your blog that the colour green is different in Ireland…do you think you romanticise your past more now you live in smog-filled London?
I do romanticise Ireland, but that part of my life was very romantic; I grew up as one of five children and we had a pretty feral childhood. My mother would open the back door when the sun came up in the morning and we would all run out and not come back until the sun had gone down again. And in-between all of that, there were rivers of fish and ponies and dogs and fields and forests, plus a small army of local kids that we got up to all kinds of mischief with. It was a magical time.
The green in Ireland really is different! It’s the native flora and fauna, a hue of green that’s very distinctive. Maybe it has to do with Ireland being a very rich and turfy island, so it’s the sea air and the unique environment that make the colours so special.
Could you ever go back home?
I don’t know if I could ever live in Ireland again….I would love to have a small castle on a private beach overlooking the ocean, with a couple of Irish wolfhounds and some horses. I would want my kids to experience summers there. The connection with my parents and my siblings is so important to me, so I’m always very protective of that. I feel my life will always be in other places around the world, even though Ireland will continue to be the motherland and where my heart lies.
Celestine on boys
Tell us something about heartbreak.
My first love was with an Irish boy called Grattan. My first heartbreak was a few years ago, with an English boy called Harry. Before that I had no understanding of what it feels like to have your world cease to exist because someone else is not in it anymore. It was an epic heartbreak.
Do you remember what kind of thing you were wearing at the time?
I think I was going through my French Vogue phase…so Alaïa heels, short leather skirts and perfect white T-shirts with no bra.
What are your thoughts on ‘Facebook stalking’ a new crush?
I don’t do it…….I know everyone else does, but I think it’s creepy.
What advice could you give to a girl who is just waiting for him to text her back?
If they are into you they will text you back. Girls come up with all kinds of reasons why a boy isn’t texting them back. But believe me, they have looked at their phone in the last 24 hours….and they haven’t fallen into a river or got caught up in a tornado.
Celestine on music
What’s the sound of a carefree summer?
The two Bobs: Marley & Dylan.
What should we listen to when going through a break-up?
The radio play Cascando by Samuel Beckett signifies the core elements of heartbreak more than any song I have ever heard.
And finally, a really important song from your youth?
Pick Me Up, London’s annual graphic arts fair held in Somerset House, has acquired a special addition to the calendar this year. Cult comic outfit Modern Toss is inviting members of the public to head down to the Events Space this Sunday and write a big ole swear word in scribbly marker pen. And they’re calling it…..
By attempting to set the world record for the largest cartoon with the f*ck written across it the most times, the cartoonists are hoping to turn the profane into the mundane. And once you’ve got that out of your system, why not sit in the Modern Toss Portrait Booth and receive a complimentary portrait. Because these guys love drawing people. Badly.
Sunday 28th April, Somerset House, Pick Me Up Graphic Arts Festival, Strand, London WC2R 1LA
And something we didn’t know? Cara, plus fellow supermodels Kate, Jourdan, sister Poppy and more have all popped up in glossy print format at Joseph’s on Westbourne Grove for two weeks only. Taken By Storm, the photography exhibition to accompany last year’s highly acclaimed print collaboration with Centrefold Magazine, is celebrating the 25th anniversary of Storm Model Agency. Founder Sarah Doukas (who, let’s not forget, discovered La Moss first) has included new faces in the exhibition as well as those of catwalk legends, so it’s not one to miss.
Oh and speaking of Kate, there’s a picture of Moss in Forties vixen get-up, reclining with a drink and a smoke across a leopard print carpet. With luscious green drapes behind her. That snap is worth the trip alone.
Until Thursday 2nd May, Joseph Store, 230 – 236 Westbourne Grove, London W11 2RH
How would you sum up the spirit of Camden?
French Connection’s global headquarters sits in an endearing, idiosyncratic part of London that gives all who pass through it a story to tell. Fashion students from Scotland’s Heriot-Watt University have this month teamed up with Camden Town Unlimited (an outfit designed to promote the area as a place to work, live and visit) to produce a pop-up fashion shop. Featuring one-off collections inspired by the area’s fashion, art history and the businesses and communities that thrive here, frankly we’re feeling a little patriotic now.
French Connection’s all-white collection has launched just in time for the weather to catch up with our sunny state of mind. With an exclusive photo shoot starring Suki Waterhouse, we’re taking this opportunity to debunk the myths (white lies, if you will) surrounding a colour that often sends fashion fans running for the hills. Put down your florals ladies, and prepare to take a leap and a jump after Suki’s smouldering lead…
The fib: white is a wholesome symbol of purity. Save it for your wedding day.
A closely cut, little white dress balances a provocative lilt with classical Grecian elegance. It’s a knockout combination. Case in point: in what is sultry-but-sweet Marilyn Monroe most often immortalised? The defence rests.
The fib: white is the trickiest colour to wear.
Long considered the natural domain of long lithe limbs, golden complexions and a jet set with more yachts than economy flights to speak of, to the naysayers we say simply ‘Florence Welch.’ This porcelain, flame-headed fashion starlet has been rocking a dove-like look since Glastonbury 2007. To dip into the look try a gentle ruffle or floaty silhouette, for a less stark take.
The fib: white is boring.
Banish any preconceptions of baggy linen trousers or a ribbed vest top right now. As well as tucking a white T-shirt into a high waist (classic yes, but très French), this season also witnesses the return of the trouser suit. Sharply cut, there isn’t a taffeta gown in town that can come close to the blinding power of a look like this.
Have you tried Vine yet? Twitter’s new stop motion animation App has got us hooked, so much so that we challenged blogger (and fellow Vine addict) Meagan Cignoli to show us what can be achieved within the confines of a six second video clip…
What Meagan did next
Styled a cute spring capsule wardrobe….
….to help us get inspired.
Then packed a festival wardrobe…
…so we could get a few tips for our holiday. And pretend; dream even, that packing in real-time was just as effortless and pretty!
What cool Vine videos have you created or spotted?