Wednesday, 27 March 2013


I was looking through some old family photos the other night when I came across this lovely picture of my grandparents on their wedding day. 

I couldn’t help but notice that my grandmother is wearing a rather fantastic pair of shoes. They remind me of these beautiful Christian Louboutins. I love the way the strap elegantly wraps around the foot.

Monday, 25 March 2013

The Problem with Princesses

I’ve seen a number of articles recently by worried parents lamenting the all-pervasive power of the princess phenomenon. Thanks to the commercial juggernaut that is the Disney Corporation, no little girl can escape the glittering allure of puffy dresses, sparkling headgear and impractical glass footwear. The authors of these articles worry that princesses are poor role models for their children, teaching them that their appearances are their most important asset, and that servility and grace are more desirable traits than intelligence and strength.

To a certain extent, I agree with a lot of what the authors are saying. I was very distressed recently when my four-year-old niece explained to me that princes are necessary because princesses can’t kill dragons. But I think the anxiety expressed by the authors in these articles is somewhat misplaced; the problem is not princesses, but our society’s perception of what characteristics princesses are supposed to possess.

There is nothing inherent with the position of princess that makes women docile and passive. A woman born to, or marrying into, royal lineage is not naturally gentle and retiring, innately lacking both intelligence and wit; our society has just decided to present her as such.

Even a brief foray into the history books shows that princesses are just as capable of being badasses as any other section of society, if only we gave their stories the recognition they deserve.

What about Rani Lakshmi Bai, born in India in 1828 and married to the Maharaja of Jhansi, who spent her childhood studying swordsmanship and archery? After her husband died, she became a freedom fighter, leading an army against the British colonialists.

Or what about Isabella, the ‘she-wolf of France’? When her husband, King Edward II of England, confiscated her lands, took over her house and gave custody of her children to her political enemies, she travelled to France and raised an army. Isabella returned to England, deposed Edward and became regent. Depressingly, the most well-known portrayal of Isabella, Braveheart, does not depict Isabella as the intelligent and proactive woman that she was. Instead she is a passive victim, suffering under her domineering husband while providing essential eye-candy for Mel Gibson.

Criticising princesses for being passive and vapid, labeling them undesirable role models for our children, does a disservice to all the strong and intelligent women who throughout history have led armies and ruled empires. You can’t shade your child from the Disney Corporation and their perfectly polished princesses, the culture of the princess is too ubiquitous. But you can teach your daughter that she can wear a dress, sing to woodland creatures and still be an ass-whooping warrior-woman.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Documentary Short: Take My Picture

This documentary on street fashion and fashion blogging was all kinds of interesting. I highly recommend it. I would love it if they made a full-length documentary on the topic.

I can definitely sympathise with the premise of the short. When I was studying for my Masters, my campus was right next to Somerset House on the Strand. Getting to lectures during fashion week became the ultimate test of agility and endurance as one was forced to battle through a mob of stony-faced fashionistas. 

Watching this, I couldn’t help but be reminded of this article by the Hollywood Reporter describing how actresses who haven’t made films in years (let alone good films) are paid large sums of money to attend events wearing fantastic outfits. It appears that the internet and the proliferation of fashion blogs has facilitated the development of a new type of advertising. The fashion blog celebrities and actresses such as Jessica Alba and Kate Bosworth are like live-action magazine ads being played out on the streets. Fashion is no longer being promoted solely by faceless models from the cold, distant pages of a magazine but by recognisable faces mingling with real people.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Why I Blog

The first time I picked up Cosmopolitan, I was about ten years old. In one sitting I eagerly devoured the whole thing, cover to cover. From that moment, and throughout my early teens, I was a prolific devourer of women’s magazines. I loved the glossy pictures of beautiful things and I loved the stories about grown, professional women. By reading these magazines, I thought I was learning what it was like to be a woman.

But as I got older these halcyon-coloured tomes could no longer entertain and inform me as they once had.

Part of this was that I grew up. As a teen, my scrutiny of the articles was obviously limited. As an anthropology undergrad, I couldn’t read articles about how ‘marriage is this’ or ‘families are that’ without dying a little inside. The certainty with which the articles declared things to be a particular way infuriated me, glossing over the diversity and marginalising the dissonance.

But I don’t think it was just me that changed. I genuinely feel like women’s magazines got worse: vapid and patronising. I don’t care about the ‘cute boy at the gym’ because I’m a grown woman and I want a man, not a boy.  Or perhaps, in a radical detour from conventional thought, I’m not thinking about the opposite sex at all while at the gym (I am almost certainly just trying not to fall off the treadmill). I also don’t care whether animal print is ‘totes amaze’ or wedges are ‘defo on trend’; this kind of vocabulary should be reserved for the text conversations of 13-year-olds rather than printed in magazines supposedly aimed at adults. It’s like the magazines no longer respect, or even particularly like, the women for whom they are purportedly writing.

Into my twenties, the one magazine I still regularly flicked through was Vogue. I persevered with Vogue primarily because it remains more narrowly focused on fashion compared to other magazines, avoiding the almost invariably awful token discussions of ‘women’s interest’ issues. But then, in a recent edition, I came across ‘trad’ being used as an abbreviation for ‘traditional’ when discussing tailored jackets. Something inside me snapped.

I decided that I wanted to create a blog to showcase fashion without being patronising. I wanted to cover a range of topics, recognising that women can like fashion and maintain a genuine interest in a range of issues, in language that didn’t treat readers like children or gloss over complexities. From fashion to feminism, food to photography, I wanted to use this space to share things that I found interesting, challenging or just plain beautiful.

Obviously this blog is new and it’ll take some time for it to resemble what I have in mind. Right now the blog will focus on street style and articles on various topics. Eventually I want to cover runway shows and specific collections.

And so I ask you to be patient and enjoy.

Best wishes,