Saturday, 31 July 2010

A Single Triumph

Watching a new film is often like picking a chocolate at random from a tray of Thornton’s - you’re never quite certain what you’re going to end up with. You could be landed with nougat for example (bad) or you could, on the other hand, stumble across a strawberry cream (good). However, I knew I was in safe hands watching a film directed by the infamous fashion designer, Tom Ford. I had read about his directorial debut in Vogue months ago, and witnessed the furore when ‘A Single Man’ first hit the cinema; glowing reviews and a BAFTA for lead actor Colin Firth. However it was not until a few days ago when I saw the DVD in my local library, that I actually got round to watching it.

It is rare that a film leaves such an impression upon me. Films may be good, but they soon fade and merge into one another. When the end credits rolled on ‘A Single Man’ I was left staring and speechless. That night scenes from the film hovered poignantly in my mind’s eye.

The story tells of George Falconer, a professor whose partner of sixteen years, Jim, died in a car crash. The film follows George’s last day - because George plans on killing himself that evening.

Heartbreak is universal. Although George Falconer is living the anguish of having lost the man he loves, in Colin Firth’s portrayal is a heartbreak that crosses continents, bridges prejudices and reaches out to anyone who has ever fallen in love and knows the pain of a broken heart.

It is simple things that makes the film so special. The opening scene commences with the main character saying he spends each day just trying to be George. In a world where everything is about doing - working, making money, becoming popular, going places - it is often worth reminding ourselves that simply ‘being’ can be enough. For George Falconer simply being is perhaps the hardest thing of all, showing us in stark clarity his tragic motives for suicide.

As you would expect from a designer who turned Gucci into the glamour-emporium it is today, ‘A Single Man’ is a beautifully stylish film. In heady flashbacks perfectly made up faces are bathed in a golden film, whilst an almost grey light and the minimalism of George Falconer’s dress and home reflect his darker moods. Clothes play their part - there is the black suit that George Falconer dons every day, each morning with a new white shirt fresh from its packaging. Or the soft, fluffy jumper worn by Nicholas Hoult’s character that implies an innocence and youth that appeals to his lonely professor.

Relationships within the film are challenging, yet the viewer isn’t alienated - empathy flows naturally. Julianne Moore’s character portrays with sad conviction a love that can never be reciprocated, whilst even the perverse relationship formed between George Falconer and his student, based on a strange curiosity, is believable and understandable.

It would be pointless to describe the beauty of some of the scenes, because every single shot is perfection. Better then to say, watch it and find out. For me ‘A Single Man’ was the best film I have watched in a long time; stylishly and evocatively shot, and giving a poignant view of love, friendship, pain and heartbreak - in short what it means to be human.


Friday, 23 July 2010

This summer I've been loving...

I hate being pessimistic. So despite the pet hates of the season, there have also been trends I have loved this summer. Top of the list: denim has to be the fabric crush of the year. Its versatility remains the USP that works time and time again - a light blue shirt makes for a breezy option and a summery shade, whilst a denim jacket is practical for showers and cool weather.

If denim was a person they would be annoyingly, effortlessly cool. The kind of person that everyone loves, who is so laid-back they are nearly horizontal, who is All-American beautiful and fabulous fun. In short, the kind of person who leaves a trail of envy wherever they go.

I'm not a jeans girl, and have never understood the allure of premium denim labels that charge hundreds of pounds for a pair of jeans. But that's the fabulous thing about denim - it's not just jeans; it can have a hundred and one different variations. Let me illustrate: denim skirts... (but do you want short, long and high waisted, frayed...? And will that be dark denim, acid wash or pale blue?), dungarees (short or long?), shirts (fitted or 'I stole this from my boyfriend'?), dresses, shorts (again - will that be hotpants or boyfriend style with turn-ups? Will they have frayed edges, or will they be high-waisted?) and not forgetting of course the holy grail of denim - the denim jacket.

Chances are the denim has been in your wardrobe all along. But when Ralph Lauren choose to honour it with a full-blown runway appearance it is time for it to come out and play. This summer denim has been given the fashion recognition it deserves.

I don't know how I managed to live without my denim jacket. I bought mine last summer, and have never looked back.
Like the denim jacket, I don't know how I coped without a denim shirt in my wardrobe. It has been a summer staple that I have worn with everything - either tied at the waist or worn loose and baggy.
I have lived my summer in these shorts. It took me ages to find a pair that didn't leave any bum cheek on display (not a good look) and that were slouchy enough to be comfy in hot weather, but once I found them I didn't take them off.

In the words of Coco Chanel, "Fashion fades, only style remains the same." If this is true, then denim is style. The favourite of nations, and the most durable of fabrics, it will always have a place on the fashion scene, and in our hearts.


Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Reality Check... Clogs, Parkas and Harem pants

Fashion wouldn't be fashion without the sometimes ridiculous. However when what appears to be a distasteful joke makes its way from the runway to the masses, things have gone too far. It is time to pull our noses from the glossy pages of magazines, wake up from the camera flash induced slumber and look around. In short, a reality check is often in order.

Cue my three pet hates of current trends. Number one, clogs. I may adore Marc Jacobs, and it may be considered sacrilegious to say this, but the Louis Vuitton bearded clogs pictured above are one ugly pair of shoes. Said shoes marched down the runway in the spring / summer 2010 show, and after clogs made a clomping appearance at Chanel, they have bulldozered their way onto the high-street too.

I am not saying I am completely averse to a pair of clogs; Alexa Chung managed to look quite the chic young fashionista in her Chanel pair. However Alexa Chung is also Alexa Chung and would look fabulous in a (yes I'm going to say the cliché) sack. Therefore taking my style tips from her wardrobe is a risky business with potentially catastrophic results.

Clogs are one of these potential catastrophes. Firstly my ankles are not Alexa Chungesque, and my legs more 'sturdy' than 'svelt'. Much more useful for walking and running, however not well suited to a clog. No spilt tears however, as these are after all, wooden shoes of abnormally large proportions.

Finally, health and safety should also be considered when choosing an outfit. Have you ever tried walking in a pair of clogs? Or running up a flight of stairs? Any pair of shoes that come with a health warning of potential broken nose / spine aren't really the shoes for me.
Pet hate number 2, the parka. A wet-weather favourite of both 90s teenagers and Liam Gallagher, the parka has now made its come back. However with style icons such as these I must admit I am not running to Topshop to pick up my own version. Apparently the grunge style of a parka is a great way to add a 'hard edge' to a floral tea dress or floaty skirt. However the word 'grunge' is enough to make me cringe and reach desperately for something pretty. The word itself just isn't very attractive, and neither is a parka. Of course, parkas have been featured in Vogue shoots for months, however as per the Alexa Chung theory I choose not to make a judgement on an item of clothing based on how it looks on a 16 year old supermodel.

I'm sorry, but when I see a khaki parka I simply imagine arms laden with plastic shopping bags, and bad trainers splashing through muddy English puddles.
Finally, and in my opinion the worst of all sins - the harem pants. I say the worst of sins, as these are the offenders that have managed to make the biggest impact on the high street, tarnishing many a store with their unsightly presence. In fact so extreme is the epidemic that it seems jeans or harem pants are in fact the only 2 styles of trousers in existence.

Why, oh why, would I choose and pay money for a pair of trousers that make my bum look BIGGER and my legs SHORTER? I'm afraid there are no answers to this question. All explanations escape me. Worst of all; the tracksuit bottom harem pants. My two least favourite trousers merged into one ugly garment. Tracksuit bottoms should in my opinion be reserved strictly for sporting activities. And sitting watching the entire SATC boxset is NOT a sporting activity.

Take my advice and simply avoid the harem pants. The nappy look is not a good look. Perhaps it means I'm not bang on trend, but to be honest I don't mind. I think I'll sit this one out if that's ok.