Real Wild Child..
As promised, I thought I'd give you guys a little insight into my favourite look of the moment. It's the outfit I wore to do make-up for my client in Kensington Palace Gardens last Saturday. It would be fair to say that my fashion personality could quite probably be described as schizophrenic. I can go from rude boy, to rocker, to chic urban sophisticate and back again in the space of a day but surely this is the joy of getting dressed. Clothes and accessories are more to me than mere adornments. They reflect the many facets of my personality given how I feel at any time, on any given day, or depending on the occasion.
I've always loved Rock and alternative icons. You could say it's the rebel in me, my inner wild child breaking free.
Nothing speaks of sex, drugs and rock n' roll more than the iconic black leather jacket. My personal favourites are a biker one I picked up for the princely sum of £18 from a guy in Portobello Market, a stunning double breasted, buttery soft number from Carolyn Massey (a gift from my former life as a fashion editor) and my latest love affair, a vintage Harley Davidson cropped affair I tracked down from a vintage specialist in Crystal Palace, South London called Bambino. I decided I wanted to reward myself with a present so I scoured the internet looking for vintage leather specialists and found a blog piece about this place. I read that Kate Moss had worn a vintage Lewis leather jacket from the emporium for a Vogue editorial and I was sold. I was a bit gutted when I got there because nearly everything on the racks was size medium to large and I'm smaller than male fashion sample size with my 36" chest. The only piece that fitted me is the one I'm wearing in the photos. It is cropped in style, which wasn't originally what I wanted - but I had to concede that it was love at first wear. Plus, I was going to be damned if I was going to trek all the way to this place and not come back with the goods. I asked the owner how much it was, adopted my best "fashion bitch" air of cool "froideur" and haggled him down to a price that was quite honestly a bargain to end all bargains given the supreme quality. And thus a love affair began.
The key to rocking a look successfully is partly down to knowing what suits you and running with it and partly down to attitude. To quote Harper's Bazaar's Laura Brown "you gotta drive it like you stole it". I think what makes this look cool is the mix of influences, textures and the layering. The chunky grey knitted beanie I stole from my mother. It has a hole in the back and I keep meaning to darn it before it gets out of control but I think it gives it a "lived in" hobo vibe. The vintage Harley Davidson black leather motorcycle jacket with zip details and rivets is from Bambino. It has some mud on the sleeves but I haven't bothered cleaning it because like Courtney Love, leather jackets kind of make more sense when they're battered. Underneath I wear a plain long sleeved black jersey top from GAP with an oversized black t-shirt layered on top. The t-shirt was a gift from a relative from back home in Ethiopia (my mother's side of the family - my father is Scottish) and features a massive silver foil print Ethiopian Orthodox / Coptic cross emblazoned across the chest. Religious iconography and beautiful woven cottons are as much a part of Ethiopian / Eritrean style and cultural heritage as tartan is to the Scots. I think it's cool to plunder your own culture (or cultures in my case) for visual references.
This is one of my favourite bags from London design duo Chris and Tibor. It is called the Clerkenwell Large Black Prarie Leather Tote. I have had it for years (another relic from my heady fashion editor days) and like all quality leather accessories, it gets better with age. It is big enough to fit my MacBook, books, my make-up brush belt, documents, umbrellas, keys, scarves, food and make-up. Essentially it's my Mary Poppins bag. The bag is so cool it has its own YouTube video. Sadly the male model didn't come with the bag (we can all dream). But I was told at the time of selecting it that the fashion editor of Esquire had also chosen it which, truth be told, did make me feel quite smug. I'm sure I have many faults but bad taste isn't one of them!
These are my favourite Cheap Monday black skinny jeans. I love the skull motif on the back, it's very me. Though I could do with buying bigger sizes (these are a 26" waist and I have several pairs) as I bought these when I was a hungry fashion waif and I virtually need a shoe horn, baby oil and a prayer to get them on now. They barely squeeze over my thighs and butt. If they didn't contain lycra I wouldn't have a hope in hell. The cool black leather and chain belt is from Donatella Versace's VERSUS line, a gift from my friend Jonathan.
This is a pic of me from last summer, just after I sourced the Harley jacket. I miss my tan and my quiff. I wish it was warm enough to just wear t-shirts now but alas London in January is a rather cold and damp affair. Boo! My friend Oliver told me over lunch that I reminded him on the 80's Levi's model Nick Kamen (but prettier). I had no idea who the guy was so I had to get Oli to What's App me some pictures and I have to say I was pretty chuffed. My friend the designer Francesca Marotta said similarly wonderful things (and she'd met Nick up close in Notting Hill). Needless to say I was over the moon. Let's face it, there could be far worse comparisons.
A pic of my baby Harley in all its glory.
These are my Portobello Hi Tops in Black / Grey Marl that I bought on sale for £20 from Duffer of St George at JD Sports. I'm 32 and I am yet to own a pair of Converse. They seem to be as ubiquitous as All Saints clothing to wannabe London hipsters and I'm not really one for homogenous, identikit style. I have since gone on to purchase an additional black tracksuit from the brand. The tracksuit is seriously comfortable and designed in super-soft continental jersey. The hoody is perfect layered under leather jackets for extra warmth and urban flavour and the bottoms work equally well broken up and worn with other things. Style and comfort don't have to be alien concepts, I think when fused they make ideal bedfellows.
This is the soft-as-a-feather tribal print "Primarni" scarf my friend Laura gave me as a present last year. She knows I wear a lot of black and I loves me a print to keep everything from getting too sombre.
The VERSUS Versace black leather and chain detail belt my friend Jonathan gave me (thanks J - loves ya).
On the subject of VERSUS, does anyone remember this iconic "Donatalla Says More!" slogan t-shirt from the now defunct "Cool Britannia" fashion label House of Jazz? Damn it I should have bought one at the time.
To quote Rachel Zoe, "I Die!"
All my jewellery have stories to tell. The dragon claw ring is from a cool Rockabilly dude called Sean I met last year in Essex. We bonded over leopard print (seriously). I had borrowed a leopard print scarf from my friend Charlie to the point where she let me keep it (result) and Sean had a fondness for leopard print brothel creepers (no really). We kind of did that thing that people do where they admire each other's style. He appreciated my taste in jewellery and one day gave me this ring. It turns out he was in a rock band with one of the dudes from The Clash. Something to tell the god children right?? The thumb ring harks back to my teenage years ambling around Camden Market (before they turned it into a generic high street populated by mass market mainstream brands).
The silver and mother of pearl cross "Sex, Drugs and Rock N' Roll" ring set with pave sapphires is from Stephen Webster's flagship store on Mount Street (a gift from my lovely ex Matt). He also bought me the chunky silver ring on a trip to New York. It's from C'est Magnifique in the East Village. We were strolling through the city and I spotted this cool little family-run treasure trove. Once inside, I saw a wall of Press clippings with pictures of legends such as Johnny Depp, Iggy Pop and Keith Richards and I was in seventh heaven. It reminds me very much of two of my other favourite jewellery haunts, Wild Ones on the Kings Road and The Great Frog off Carnaby Street.
A close up of the Stephen Webster "Sex, Drugs and Rock N' Roll" ring. A total heirloom piece. Stephen has more celebrity devotees than you can shake a stick at. Madonna, Ozzy Osbourne, Christina Aguilera and Russell Brand to name just a few. He came onto the scene with his "Crystal Haze" pieces thanks to Madonna and his marine theme "Jewels Verne" collection remains one of my all time favourite jewellery collections. I also adore Shaun Leane for his supreme craftmanship, originality and cool collaborations with the likes of Daphne Guinness, Alexander McQueen and Bjork.
A picture of Johnny rocking some finger candy from C'est Magnifique NYC.
The C'est Magnifique NYC store.
C'est Magnifique's Alfred Albrizio III hard at work. This is literally what he looked like when he re-sized my ring for me. The lovely guy even gave me a special price on my ring.
Some of Alfred's cool skull designs.
Alternative Style Icons
Danish supermodel (and muse to everyone from Lagerfeld to Hedi Slimane) Freja Beha Erichsen.
Top American male model Bradley Soileau, star of Lana Del Rey's Born To Die and Blue Jeans music videos. "Hell is so hot right now". HELL YES. Between Brad, Maroon 5's lead singer Adam Levine and Prison Break's Wentworth Miller I'm starting to develop a serious fetish for body art. Watch this space.
Hedi Slimane, former designer for Dior Homme and now design director at the revamped Saint Laurent Paris did the coolest "special music project", selecting (and shooting) alternative 90's music icons such as Marilyn Manson (pictured in a Saint Larent biker jacket), Courtney Love and Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon to front a campaign for the brand's Pre-Fall AW13 collection. All I can say is lucky buggers! The clothes, oh my god the clothes. Swoon.
Ariel Pink (also wearing the Saint Laurent biker). No I had no idea who he was before either but he looks a bit like Grunge icon Kurt Cobain (be it his slightly dorkier, less pretty cousin).
Marlon Brando rocking biker leathers and indigo denim in The Wild One. Bella Freud's iconic jumper says "Ginsberg is God". If this is true then surely Brando is the universe? Right??
The Clash. Just because.
Electro pioneer Gary Numan..
The bad boys from Grease.
Johnny Depp in Cry Baby.
So this is the 80's Levi's model Nick Kamen that I was told I'm a prettier version of. Oli, did I tell you how much I love you for saying that?