Friday, January 28, 2011

Stylish Blogger (Apparently)

YYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH! Freedom! The essays are in! Hurrah etc.! I'm actually too exhausted to muster this much enthusiasm in real life but you get the jist.

Anyway, last weekend a nice thing happened to me. It was good timing because during peak essay periods the only other nice thing happening to me is breakfast (not to diss breakfast - I LOVE breakfast). This nice thing was that the very lovely Olivia of cheapfrills bestowed upon me a Stylish Blogger Award. Luckily she couldn't see me when she gave it to me! I can barely remember the last time I wore real clothes. Essay time = unparalleled pyjama time for me. But not in a good way. Anyway, as part of the award I must share 7 things that you might not know about me. I have actually done one of these before and it turns out that coming up with 14 interesting, amusing, unknown facts about oneself is pretty tricky so apologies if these are a bit uninspiring. I should keep a narcissist's notebook in case of such occasions and just jot down hilarious and amazing things about myself whenever they cross my mind... I'm sure that would make me into a delightful person!

So, here goes...
  1. I can style a grey fleecy blanket in 97 different ways. I know this because it has been the key to my wardrobe for the last fortnight. I can make it into a natty dress, top, coat, cloak... I can almost convince people that it is real clothing (almost).
  2. My first ever make-up was a blue mascara and a pale pink pearlescent lip gloss. 12 never looked so chic!
  3. I can sing Eternal Flame word for word. And I mean every single word. It turns out it is a little bit creepy... I blame Atomic Kitten and its being No. 1 for about 3 months during my formative years.
  4. My starring dramatic role at school was as The Pig with the Ring in his Nose (aged 5). I looked like a cocktail sausage in my pink leotard. Other winning performances included 'Dancing Jellyfish' and 'Chorus Flamingo'.
  5. You wouldn't know it now but once upon a time I had the worst teeth ever. I was an orthodontist's fantasy/worst nightmare. I moved to my secondary school with headgear (only at night, thank god) and I still made friends - that is charisma, people.
  6. My favourite art galleries are the Musée D'Orsay in Paris, the Van Gogh Museum and Rembrandt's House in Amsterdam and the Villa Borghese in Rome.
  7. I am super cute when I miaow along with the Mad Men theme tune. Sure, there are those who might disagree but they would be WRONG.
Hurrah! I always enjoy reading people's '7 things' so I am going to pass this on to (in purely alphabetical order) Couture and Crumpets, A Daisy Chain Dream, Dreaming Spires and Old Car Tyres, The Fish TankJazzpad, Penny Dreadful Vintage and Walk the Sand. Thanks again, Olivia.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. I'm off to Edinburgh for post-deadline celebrations so I won't be blogging. Woop!

Chuck x

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I Am Cat Lipstick

"And I have come to eat your face!"

I'm torn. I am simultaneously a bit in love with this Paul & Joe cat lipstick (c/o ASOS) and quite afraid of it. The idea of smushing it into my face target="_blank" just creeps me out. What if it didn't like that? It would want revenge and who would blame it! Had a loooong conversation with B about the dangers of angry cat lipsticks hiding out in your bedroom and plotting your eternal damnation. This is what happens during essay week when I have no legitimate reason to leave the house and my brain/sanity slowly disintegrates.

On a brighter note, the matching swan dress is 1/2 price if you have a spare £215. Such a lovely print. The lipstick looks like it is a nice colour too but I can't get past the way it seems to be staring at me...

Oh dear.

Chuck x

Monday, January 24, 2011

Done Deal - Alexander McQueen Pre-Fall 2011

Guys, I've found it! I've found my future wedding dress! It was made in heaven by the tiny fingers of seraphims from milk and honey and clouds and cherry blossom and moths wings and spiders webs...

Well, technically it was made by Sarah Burton and her incredibly talented team at Alexander McQueen but that doesn't diminish its divine inspiration. I can't decide whether I would want it in a paler colour or whether it is too perfect to change. Either way I will be the most beautiful bride the world has ever seen. *Sigh of happiness*

The Alexander McQueen Pre-Fall collection is beautiful. The styling, the hair, the model, the makeup, oh yeah and the clothes. I really like this new simplicity; to me this isn't 'minimalism' but I love how pared back it is. I can't wait to see what Ms. Burton does for AW/11, it is one of the few shows that I am already excited about. I wonder if it will be more of the same? Eee!

I couldn't resist posting a few pictures from the lookbook. Click to see them full size.

(All photos c/o Fashionising)

Blissful. Posting this actually made me feel happier.

Chuck x

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Sunday Book: Frankenstein - Mary Shelley

I have decided I am going to write my weekly book posts on Sundays. It just seems suitable and this way I will be able to keep track of when I need to do them. I think I function better with structure.

That said, I am not doing a proper, eloquent, intelligent post today. [Those do happen... sometimes... occasionally... maybe.] I need to save all my real words for my essays and I don't like the book I am 'reviewing', as it were.

I know that lots of people have to read Frankenstein for GCSE but luckily I dodged that bullet. I have, unfortunately, had to read it twice since coming to university. The second reading, last week, did not endear it to me any more than the first one did. Yes, it can raise many interesting discussions but the book itself is poo.

Supposedly Frankenstein was the winning ghost-story in a competition between Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Byron. A) There aren't any ghosts. B) It doesn't really follow the format of a ghost-story. C) How rubbish were Shelley and Byron's stories?? There are too many frames within the novel - Walton, Frankenstein, the creature, Felix and Agetha's narrative, blah blah blah... Frankenstein is so whiny and fainty and unsympathetic. None of the characters are engaging and the ending is a big let down. Generally dull.

Told you I didn't really have any spare words. So yeah, I think it is rubbish. I know it is 'seminal' but don't bother. On the plus side, it is quite short.

Chuck x

Saturday, January 22, 2011

'Edvertorials' - Not So Stupid Now

Apparently 'edvertorials' are all the rage. Or so I read on BoF. These are obviously a combination of editorials and adverts. I, cynic that I am, snorted contemptuously at such a foolish portmanteau word [Sidenote - I get regular Google hits for 'cheggings', seriously peeps, twas a JOKE] and at the idea of people wasting three minutes of their life voluntarily watching an advert. And then the Devendra Banhart/Oliver Peoples 'edvertorial' video caught my eye. And I watched it. Because I am a sucker. It was Devendra, he lured me in.

And of course I loved it. It is a beautifully shot video of beautiful people in a beautiful setting doing beautiful things to beautiful music. Irresistable...

Of course, there has to be a hook, I guess. Devendra hooked me into the first video. Then Shirley Manson went and hooked me into the previous campaigns 'edvertorial'. Long time no Shirley in my life - I used (still do really) to love Garbage. This video is more 'quirky' than straight up luscious but still gorgeous with a great soundtrack. Damn you, 'edvertorials', now I look like an idiot.

Killing all my beautiful videos with one stone, I just saw the new (I assume?) Cee Lo Green video. Nothing like the last one. I would like to go to this America, please.

Mmm... procrastination tastes gooood.

Chuck x

Friday, January 21, 2011

Linkety Link

One of the funniest things I've read in a while:

Bra Shopping for Busty Women in Denial at The Hairpin.

She feels my pain! Obviously I'm a narcissist and this article is about all me. The old mental image clashing with the ginormous reality, the cruelty of high street underwear, the difficulties of finding anything even vaguely acceptable looking in one's size... Sadly she doesn't know about the Wonderbra ULTIMATE STRAPLESS (the amount of engineering in this beast totally merits capital letters). A sterling bra that you actually can jump up and down in - it has hands! It comes in a really good range of sizes and it isn't crazy expensive (in comparison to BIG bras, not in comparison to flimsy Topshop bras). Would really recommend, have made a couple of friends buy them.

Anyway, laugh out loud funny. A definite read for anyone with plus-size breasticles.

Chuck x

Thursday, January 20, 2011

All That Glitters is Not Gold

(Hair - my own, Jumper - Whistles sale, Nails - Topshop)

Was just trying on my new TS nail varnish when I glanced down and was blown away by a) the general sparkliness of my being and b) the impressive colour match between my jumper and my hair. It hasn't quite come out in the photo but my jumper is glittery bronze and apparently so is my hair. I had assumed it was red, nay ginger, but nope, it is bronze...

The nail varnish is 'Gypsy Night' and is part of a mini set I got for Christmas. I had already tried 'Utilitarian' (khaki) and 'Silver Bullet' (pretty much what it says on the tin) and been generally impressed. The khaki isn't as khaki-y as I would like - more miscellaneous dark colour - but the silver is amazing. Not the gunmetal colour it looks in the bottle but a really bright dense silver. It only needed one coat to look really good although I merrily whacked on two.

The glittery black needed three coats to look at all opaque but I like the final effect. There is silver glitter for sparkliness but my favourite bit of the nail varnish is the 'gold-leaf' - the chunks of gold film-y stuff (technical, yes?) suspended in the varnish - which adds some interesting texture and stops it being straight up glitter.

UPDATE - the film-y stuff in the nail varnish must be holographic because they changed colour in different lights! In bright light the chunks are greeny gold but in low light they are a dark red copper colour - magic!

A nice set of colours and a pretty great gift all year round, I would say. The packaging, like all of Topshop's make up, is very cute and the miniature bottles let you try out weird colours you might not buy full size. Perfick.

Anyway, must get back to my window sun-bathing. I'm loving the perfect winter weather today.

Chuck x

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


[Not sure of the provenance of the photo, sorry]

Haven't done one of these in a while. No spare brain at the mo though... Slow essay death.

Here Brigitte Bardot shows us how to work a leotard. Gosh, she was beautiful. And totally topical too, ballet is big news. Think Chloe SS/11, think Black Swan...

I will post something more substantial as soon as I can.

Chuck x

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Really? Really??

(Picture c/o Catwalk Queen)

Surely we are no longer calling two women kissing 'hardcore'? I don't care if one of them is transgender - this is the 21st century! I'm hoping that the byline, which I can't read, is referencing something that actually is hardcore because I like this latest LOVE cover. Lea looks beautiful and Miss Moss looks badass (there is no way of saying that in English). Makes such a nice change to see her without the bed-rumpled, boho hair. Generally a great shot, I am just horrified by the apparent politics.

Hopefully I will have misread this and it is actually referring to heavy S&M. Chains, whips, bondage, anything...

Your disgruntled,

Chuck x

Monday, January 17, 2011

Hello, I Love You

Hey, Donna Karen wedges. I love you. Will you be my friend? Will you walk your £615-selves out of the Net-a-Porter stockrooms and into my arms? I know we will be blissfully happy together...

Chuck x

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sublime Stitching

So it turns out it totally isn't too late to be receiving or giving Christmas presents! B just gave me a Sublime Stitching ('This ain't your gramma's embroidery') giftcard which I am super excited about. As you might know, Sublime Stitching was set up in 2001 by embroidery artiste Jenny Hart to make embroidery cool/interesting/exciting (when was it ever not those things??). Obviously it was a huge success and is still going strong and continually updating with new patterns. And now I get to pick one!

This is where it gets tricky. Which to pick?? These are my favourites...

At the moment I am erring towards the Dia de los Muertos pattern set. I can never resist a nice bit of Catholic iconography and there are sugar skulls and votive candles. Mary is going to look good on anything, right!?

I really want the Tattoo set for the swallows and the scrolls (not shown above) but I think the knives and skulls might be a bit Ed Hardy and I'm not sure that is a risk I'm willing to take.

I love roller derby! I watched a match in Edinburgh this summer and Whip It! is an excellent film. Naturally I feel inclined towards the Roller Derby set but I think I'd feel like a bit of a cheat embroidering these since I don't skate. The rollergirl is amazing though, such power. [Btw, VB, I see a birthday present...]

And how amazing is Mr. Fox from the Ryan Berkely series?? He also comes with Miss Kitty, Mr. Robin and Mrs. Rabbit. Fantastic Mr Fox is a great book and a great film and a great pattern but where would I put him? I feel he could only really be framed and that is a bit limiting...

So what do we think? Can we pick favourites or is it like trying to decide between your children? Just tooooo tricky. I need to make the call though because they are delivered from Texas so the sooner I place my order the better. Tough tough tough. I am feeling craft-y this week, I've just realised. Essay procrastination much?

Chuck x

Saturday, January 15, 2011

To Do

1. Finish the boyf's Christmas present before the end of January. February is tooooo late to be giving festive gifts.

Just got to fill in the background, cut to size and hit Poundland for a postcard frame. No problem (*must find the time*).

Who doesn't love The Thick of It?? One of the funniest things on TV in the last five years. This is a favourite quote and much used. New series coming soon, I believe. Not the quite the same without Chris Abbott but still wonderfully written.

Chuck x

P.S. Posting is going to be basic/intermittent for the next fortnight - double deadline. Groan.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Elliot Atkinson

I was intrigued to see that Lulu Kennedy has just announced the line-up for Fashion East AW/11. While I knew James Long, I hadn't heard of Simone Rocha (although apparently 'she needs no introduction' - ignorant, moi?) or Elliot Atkinson. It turns out that Rocha is a bit stark for my taste but Atkinson has some nice pieces in a universal-hipster kind of a way. His previous two collections have featured lot of easy, wearable clothes. I'd say that his aesthetic seems to have been clarified in SS/11 so it will be interesting to see what he produces for his next season

According to the designer or whoever writes his cover, 'the clothes are naturally and characteristically sexy whilst also nonchalant' and 'a distorted opulence runs through the collections, finely balancing the conflicting qualities which give the label its heady frisson' (Elliot Atkinson). A little heavy-handed with the thesaurus but who doesn't occasionally fancy being sexy/nonchalant?


Question: Did aviator jackets or camel enjoy a briefer fashion moment? I reckon camel might be just about clinging in there but I could happily go five years without seeing another brown/white shearling jacket.


Sharper, oui? I like these splatter/marble prints, especially the bed-jacket thing.

Anyway, something to look forward to.

Chuck x

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mao II - Don DeLillo

Following up on Susan Sontag’s On Photography and Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida I have just read Don DeLillo’s Mao II. This time it was a novel but it was still photography themed. I haven’t read any other DeLillo books but I got the sense that I might enjoy them in a dark-ish kind of a way. I liked his background voice, his characterisation and his sense of the American bizarre. Unfortunately, I didn’t love this particular novel. I found it laboured and much of the dialogue unconvincingly theoretical. There are also some literary games which I don’t care for and rather too many unanswered questions for my taste.

That said, I guess it is hard to write a novel around theories of photography. This one looks at a reclusive novelist, a young Moonie, a photographer recording world authors and young Swiss poet being held hostage in Beirut. These characters overlap and are united by cameras and images – the novelist has his picture taken for the first time in 20 years by the photographer who is driven to catalogue the literary world photographically, Karen is photographed by thousands during her mass wedding and becomes obsessed with silent news footage of crowds, the poet exists internationally as a picture to be traded… Interesting ideas but not a vastly enjoyable book. Oh well.

I wouldn’t encourage anyone to read this but I will be trying other Don DeLillo books in future.

Happy Wednesday,

Chuck x

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chocolate Orange Cookies

Today my Mammy made marmalade (I wish I called her Mammy!) and I made culinary magic! I'm generally a bit snobbish about chocolate and orange together - Rose's orange creams and Terry's chocolate oranges don't really do it for me - so I forget sometimes what a great combination it can be. Luckily today I remembered. The marmalade needed about 9 hours of boiling so the entire house smelt delicious, as the oranges jam-ify they smell so rich and creamy... I had been planning to make chocolate cookies and I wanted to put orange in anything and then it clicked. BOOM. Chocolate orange cookies. And what a great idea it was!

The basic cookie recipe I used was from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking which I got for Christmas. Baked is a bakery in Red Hook, New York and both the bakery and the cookbook were recommended by David Lebovitz and it is a beautiful book. I hadn't got round to baking anything since I was given it because I have been doing essay prep in my pjs and being fed by my lovely Mammy and generally being supercool. I decided to ease myself in with something super easy, hence the cookies. I assumed that there was a universal cookie recipe (I have two good cookbooks that have identical - very good - recipes, seriously exactly the same) but I thought I would follow this one to the letter just in case. Turns out the mixture has a very different consistency - it is much more solid and it nearly broke my electric whisk (well, sorry, some of us don't have KitchenAids) and took a lot of arm work to stir in the chocolate chips. I actually ended up needing to add some milk to be able to mix the flour in. Probably because of all the flour the cookies themselves are puffier and cakier than the ones I'm used to. My Madre says this is the American cookie style, anyone know if this is true?

Also, because it is an American cookbook, the recipes are all in 'American'. Yup, cups, sticks, Fahrenheit... It took a certain amount of translation but I was helped by my beautiful new cup measurements. Another Christmas present. I did mention that I had a baking themed Christmas! No offence to anyone but American measurements are bizarre. Cups don't make anything easier and how was I supposed to know that 1 stick of butter is 4oz or 1/2 a pat?? Where is the logic in that? And how are you supposed to measure butter in cups? It is a solid! Anyway...

Ingredients: (I had to halve the quantities suggested because it would have made millions!)
  • 1 and a bit cups of plain flour
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 1/2 tspn baking powder
  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick or 4oz or 125g or 1/2 a pat of butter. The book says 'soft but cool'. I don't think my butter was soft enough hence the difficulty beating it with the sugar. Make sure it is very soft!
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup golden caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • ~250g/8oz roughly chopped dark chocolate
  • 2 large, drained ladlefuls of half-cooked marmalade! Quite specific I know but I'd worry that fully cooked marmalade might be slightly too bitter and not orange-y enough. I also think that fresh oranges wouldn't be orange-y enough either as well as possibly being too wet?
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F/190oC.
  2. Mix the flour, salt and baking soda in one bowl.
  3. Beat the sugar and butter together in another bowl until pale and golden.
  4. Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Add the vanilla and stir in.
  5. Add half of the flour and mix in. VIGOROUSLY. Add the other half. More mixing.
  6. Fold in the orange chunks. I used a strainer spoon to fish to large spoons of orange chunks out of the boiling jam mixture and plonked them straight in the cookie mixture. I possibly should have waited a bit because quite a bit of the chocolate melted instantly but I think it kind of worked to fully infuse the cookies with chocolate-orange flavour. The entire cookie tasted of chocolate orange, not just the chunks of chocolate or orange.

7. Refrigerate until slightly firmed up (if you can be bothered).
8. Line a baking tray with greaseproof and dollop on the mixture. You want to keep the dollops relatively small and well spaced. An inch is a good start but in my experience the further the better.Bake for 10-14 mins until golden.

9. Eat delicious hot cookies. Get thoroughly overexcited at how good they are. Forcefeed them to everyone around you!

SO GOOD! So pleased with these.

Chuck x

Monday, January 10, 2011


After much to-ing and fro-ing I have finally made the commitment. I'm not getting married but I have bought a camera. This has been a long time coming - I am not good at decisions. I think I have made the right one though, I love my new baby and I can't wait to take lots of amazing (hopefully) photos. It is really gorgeous! Now I just need to learn how to get the best out of it and overcome my lack of enthusiasm for digital editing...

Chuck x

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Chocolate and Bacon Cupcakes

These are so wrong... Right?

I do love chocolate and I do love bacon but surely not together... Surely?

God, I want to go to Boulder, Colorado and find out! Tee & Cakes looks like an AMAZING bakery. Do I have any readers in Colorado? I want to live vicariously through someone...

Chuck x

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My Week with Marilyn

Reading The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog and of his Friend Marilyn Monroe (I know, catchy title) this summer only served to bolster my mild, or not so mild, fascination with Ms. Monroe. And then I saw Some Like it Hot at the cinema this term and I was blown away all over again. She is just the most charismatic creature, so hypnotically beautiful and delightful... *rhapsody* ... And now I have seen some of the shots for the upcoming My Week with Marilyn and I am seriously excited. I know virtually nothing about the book (which looks like it is between print runs) except that it documents a week in the filming of The Prince and the Showgirl when young nobody Colin Clark sweeps Marilyn away from the set for a much-needed break. I am withholding judgement on the plot (although I'm slightly wary) but I will be going to see this whatever the critics say. It looks set to be absolutely stunning!

I don't find the below promotional photo of Michelle Williams as HRH MM particularly convincing but she looks wonderful in almost all the stills and on set pictures that are floating about. Apparently the cast was kitted out with What Katie Did bullet bras (waaaaaaant - will finally get round to getting one someday) and corsets. The clothes look like they're going to be perfect too...


This just wonderful - love everything about it.

Hey, Emma Watson. Fancy seeing you here. I like your cute mustard cardigan.
She has a small-ish (I think) part as Lucy, the wardrobe assistant.

Not sure that this picture is connected to the film but it came up when I googled it and it's just pretty.

This is an extra and how amazing does she look!? Love this dress.

Wikipedia thinks the film is coming out in January but I couldn't see anywhere else confirming that. We will have to wait and see. In the meantime I will be lounging around the cinema twiddling my thumbs and considering whether it a good/stupid idea to peroxide my hair...

Chuck x

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Mag Loving

So yesterday I was loving blogs and today I am loving magazines. What can I say? I have a lot of love to give. I'm also not sure that I believe in the rivalry between blogs and magazines. I rarely buy magazines and I spend far more time reading blogs but a good mag is a treat and a little luxury to curl up with. And, on occasion, they too have little fashion surprises. Take Alessandra Rich who featured in this week's Grazia - I hadn't heard of her but her designs are beautiful and ticking many of my boxes. Her SS11 collection is a little bit Erdem, a little bit Christopher Kane and a lottle bit maxi!

Alessandra Rich is apparently 'a fashion brand that embraces traditional Islamic dress and contemporary Italian couture, synthesized to bridge cultural boundaries' (FB). I can't say that I care much for the use of 'synthesize' in fashion chat but traditional Islamic dress + Italian couture + Grace Kelly as style inspiration sounds good to me.


Btw, in my head we are still totally in Autumn/Winter - have you seen the weather?? I didn't like this collection as much as her spring one but these two dresses are beautiful. I can't be trusted in that much white but I love the purity.


Oh yeah...

Mmm, love those colour pops! Thanks Grazia.

Chuck x

P.S. This maxi fetish is getting out of hand...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Blog Loving

I love blogs. They bring me beautiful things. Take today - StyleBubble and Kingdom of Style splurged loveliness all over my computer. Susie showed me William Okpo, a pair of Brooklyn-based sisters, and Queen Michelle showed me Shakuhachi, an Australian brand. Chances are that neither would pop up in a UK magazine but they are gorgeous and I'm glad I didn't miss them.

There isn't anything I can really add to Susie and Q. Michelle's posts so I will content myself with spreading the love and the loveliness a little bit further...

William Okpo, SS/11

How perfect is this silk trench? Impractical in so many ways but totally beautiful.

This slightly reminds me of Jonathan Saunders, in the best way possible. Love the pleats.

Shakuhachi, Pre-Fall

Sheer maxi skirts seem to be everywhere at the moment and this is exactly how I want to wear them. Everything is right with the trouser ensemble too - sheer, lace, collar, pleated troos...

SS/11 - Currently in stock, some on sale...

This is on the border of being slightly too 'cool' for me but there are some great pieces and Bambi looks gorgeous (of course).

Also, apparently, I have a bit of a maxi fetish at the mo. Can't get enough! 

Wasn't that a feast for the eyes? Thanks SB and KoS, consistently inspiring.

Chuck x

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Thomas Lawrence

I went to see the Thomas Lawrence exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery today and it was gorgeous. If you are in/near London I would really recommend it (heads up - it is very expensive, £9 for students). He captured high society with warmth and charm. I would love to have him paint me because he seems to have brought out the best in all his subjects. He is also particularly brilliant with details - fashions, textiles, jewels - so you can bask in the Regency glory.

These pictures do not do the large paintings justice but they are still lovely...

(Marguerite, Countess of Blessington - Wallace Collection, London)

(Lady Peel - Frick Collection, New York)

(The Daughters of Colonel Thomas Carteret Hardy - Cleveland Museum of Art?)

(Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington)

(Pope Pius VII - Royal Collection, Windsor)

(Elizabeth Farren - The Met, NY)

(Mary Hamilton - close up c/o the British Museum, London)

(Queen Charlotte - National Gallery, London)

(Look at her hand, it is just perfect - close up c/o Making a Mark)

I hope you enjoyed wallowing in all that beauty as much as I did.

Chuck x

Monday, January 3, 2011

On Photography - Susan Sontag

OK, I'm going to kick off one of my New Year's resolutions with a book post. Technically I read this just before Christmas but my latest read was Roland Barthes' Camera Lucida and frankly it was rather inaccessible. By which I mean, very inaccessible. It probably didn't help that I read it in translation but I found it painful and obscure, interesting but unlikeable. I can't imagine anyone wanting to read it for pleasure. Continuing the photographic theme though I found Susan Sontag's On Photography gripping. Both books are concerned with the theories of photography but Sontag's is less personal and wider reaching. Her writing style can be rather didactic but on the whole she is exciting and readable. Aside from the odd bits of Cold War mentality the book has aged well (it was published in 1977) and lots of the ideas still seem deeply pertinent today. Possibly they are even more relevant given the ever increasing power of the photo and image in our culture. Facebook was only launched in February 2004 and Sontag died in December that year so I don't know whether she could have imagined how it would explode or how personal style blogs and tumblrs would take over the internet. Some of her comments seem to be a direct response...

'Needing to have reality confirmed and experience enhanced by photographs is an aesthetic consumerism to which everyone is now addicted' - This IS Facebook. This is sharing your holiday photos with the entire internet.

Photography 'is mainly a social rite, a defense against anxiety, and a tool of power'

'There is an aggression implicit in every use of the camera'

'All photographs are memento mori'

'Much of modern art is devoted to lowering the threshold of what is terrible'

'The camera's ability to transform reality into something beautiful derives from its relative weakness as a means of conveying truth'

On Photography is not a light, fun read but it is a seminal look at photography and if you are interested in the subject I would strongly recommend it. I think you only really need read the first third of the book (it gets a little bit repetitive after that) and there is so much there. A fascinating look at something that plays such a huge and often unnoticed role in our lives.

Chuck x

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I put off posting yesterday. Partially this was for practical reasons - New Year's Eve was a very late one in London and it took me a while to wander home. Mostly though I had a mental block - the first day of the new year felt like the first page of a new notebook. I am a wary notebook starter. The crisp, new pages, the possibility, the pressure... I want it to be just right! Since this is rarely possible I thought I'd just skip the pressure and wait for day 2. So here we are.

I don't really do New Year's Resolutions. I think that generally you are just setting yourself up to fail. I'm bored of telling myself I need to lose 10 lbs. That said I have enjoyed reading other people's New Year's Resolutions so I thought I would formulate some general resolutions (no capital) that have been on my mind for a while. It will be good to have them on record to look back on.

  • Try to reduce consumption. I don't need any more clothes, there is no getting around that. I am going to try and master loving clothes and fashion without feeling the need to buy. I need to start saving money and this will be good for my conscience and the environment.
  • Read and blog at least one book a week. I let my book blogging slide too much because it requires actual thought but I am going to try and get it back on track. It will be interesting to see what happens to my reading next term when I start my dissertation. Its twin module is crammed full of sexy full things though so don't worry. Bet you can't wait for my Ulysses post!
  • Hold a weekly tea party. I need to utilise my beautiful new triple layer cake stand - savories, cakes etc. and petit fours. The works. This blatantly isn't going to happen but it is a nice idea. I don't actually have any real food resolutions at the moment. I am happy with the way I cook and eat. We'll see whether I can hold it all together after I graduate...
  • Ooh, I know, nail pastry.
  • Buy a half decent digital camera and start taking proper photos for the blog and real life.
  • Take up yoga properly. I really enjoy yoga and I know I will get more out of it if I do it more regularly.
  • Work out what I am going to do with my life.
I also need to make a few decisions about this blog. I've been thinking about joining Bloglovin'. What do you think?

Happy New Year one and all.

Chuck x