Monday, 22 September 2014

Sunday, 21 September 2014

DIGITAL WORDS / Alisa Ueno Interview

I interviewed Japanese IT girl Alisa Ueno for My Flash Trash.

Find the original post HERE

Please describe Fig & Viper.
Japanese women’s fashion brand
. Six retail stores in Japan

What is your day-to-day routine like at work?
Desk work-shooting-meeting

When you are designing do you ever have a particular person in mind that you want to wear those pieces? Or do you create according to your own tastes?
Both. I have muses on each season for example, Rita Ora was my muse for 2013 S/S. But not for all clothing because I have to make many stuff including mainstream on trend items and stuff.

You’ve previously said that London girls have a good eye for fashion. What do you like about London girls’ style?
They’re really good at mixing used clothing with original new stuff,
and the way they dress up is so unpredictable but natural at the same time, London girls are  phenomenal! Also, since London is such a fancy city, maybe that is why they are so fashionable.

What first got you interested in fashion?
I’ve been really into fashion since when I was in kindergarten. But when I started to model, that's when I really got what fashion is.

Who is your all-time fashion idol?
No one in particular.

Which aspects of your work life do like the most – modelling, designing or DJing?
Designing! I love all of my jobs, but designing is my main job and it is my expression.

What are your top tips for girls who want to get into fashion design?
Quick actions and play hard! Always create your own lifestyle and self-plan!

What achievements in your career are you most proud of?
Walked on the red carpet of “Transformer” Japan premier as a Japanese guest. Won a “best hair awards” as a new style section! Both of them were my pride achievements in Japan.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

PRINTED WORDS / Iconic Magazine #16 OUT NOW

The latest issue of Iconic magazine is out now. 

The current issue is dedicated, in a very timely fashion, to Neverland. 

Neverland was perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of Michael Jackson's private life and much is uncovered about the construction of this dream home in the issue through conversations with many people who had a hand in creating it. 

Iconic even managed to acquire exclusive designs for a water park that was set to be installed at Neverland... 

My contribution to the issue is an essay looking at Michael Jackson's identification with Peter Pan.

Order your copy of Iconic magazine HERE

Also, if you do not support the sale of Neverland, please take the time to sign THIS PETITION 

Saturday, 13 September 2014

DIGITAL WORDS / Kate Bush 'Before The Dawn' Live Review

Find the original post HERE

There’s no need to explain this phenomenon in detail. Kate Bush breaking her 35 years of being conspicuous by absence from the stage is a big deal. The biggest deal. One particularly lively Kate Bush fan forum quite rightly has an active thread asking where Before The Dawn “ranks in your emotional experiences”. This is not hyperbole. My first draft of this review was a page sodden with tears and drool. Before The Dawn rates pretty damn highly in my own record of “emotional experiences” as it is exactly that – not a gig, not a show, not a musical but an “experience” in every sense of the word.

Where to begin? For anyone who has been lucky enough to be immersed in Before The Dawn will understand the difficulty in expressing the scale and impact of the night. It is structured into three sequences – the first sees Kate Bush fronting a band for a set of music, which seems straight forward enough… more on that momentarily. The second is the centrepiece, ‘The Ninth Wave’, Kate’s concept suite on the second side of Hounds Of Love brought to life and made flesh. The third, after an interval, is another swathe of conceptual beauty as Aerial’s continual ode to the power of nature, titled ‘A Sky Of Honey’, is played out musically and theatrically in full. If Before The Dawn had consisted of just one of these acts it would have been more than enough to justify the hype of Kate Bush’s live comeback, but the fact that she is spoiling her audiences’ three times over means you are left overawed by her generosity of talent, spirit and vision.

The straight opening set of six songs is nothing short of spectacular. Kate Bush grooves on stage barefoot, followed by her backing singers, with the warmest of smiles to a room of people all audibly holding their breath as they adjust to her presence and await her voice. ‘Lily’ is a perfectly selected first song. It’s only right that something from ‘The Red Shoes’ – an album written and recorded with touring in mind – should commence this momentous occasion. ‘Lily’ is given a storming makeover and packs more of punch live than anyone could have imagined. The sound of Kate Bush and her band is truly astounding; its richness fills the theatre to bursting point. The urgent pounding drums of ‘Hounds Of Love’ breaks through for song number two. How can a night get any better, any higher than the ‘Hounds Of’ bloody ‘Love’? The beaming grin on drummer Omar Hakim’s face summarises his and his fellow band members unmistakable joy to be playing these hallowed songs. Aerial’s ‘Joanni’ is next, followed by The Red Shoes’ ‘The Top Of The City’ which again, is realised on such an overwhelming scale that is feels utterly removed from the original recording. ‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)’ inspires a thankful cheer from the audience before demanding revered silence.

All the while Kate Bush’s voice is nothing short of faultless. Just like you imagined it would be yet somehow even better. Her backing singers too make an impact all of their own. ‘Top Of The City’ sees them creating a powerful, vocal wall of sound. ‘King Of The Mountain’, another towering number, brings this section to an abrupt end – a curtain descends and an explosion of confetti rains down. Wait… Nope, it’s not confetti, its tissue paper inscribed with an extract from Lord Tennyson’s ‘The Coming Of Arthur’. “Wave after wave… Till last, a ninth one…”

And so it begins, after almost 30 years of waiting ‘The Ninth Wave’ is fully executed. A ship, The Celtic Deep, is in trouble. A lone, female passenger is missing. And there she is, Kate Bush adrift in a sea of darkness, framed by her orange life jacket singing straight to camera (for this is a filmed segment) ‘And Dream Of Sheep’. It is deeply affecting. The stage has been transformed into a fearsome underwater realm with only live fish skeletons to keep Kate company on her one woman voyage. The feats of theatricality reached in this portion of the show are astounding – Kate bursting suddenly through the floor of the stage as her outer body experience takes hold; the rocking ship that houses the ghostly domesticated scene of ‘Watching You Without Me’; the helicopter search light that swoops over the audience; Kate’s distressing cries of “Let me live!”; and finally, and most touchingly, her lone outstretched hand that secures her safe return to land.

“Thank you,” Bush beams to the standing mass before her – just one of the many, I lost count after standing ovation number 11, that the performance demands this evening. “We’re going to take a quick break, if that’s alright?” she humbly asks. We need to get our breath back more than she does, trust me. “What can possibly happen next?” I wonder. “What is she going to do? Fly?” I chuckle…

Yes, for her final act Kate Bush becomes one with her favourite musicians, the birds, and takes flight after being fitted with a cumbersome set of wings towards the dĂ©nouement of ‘A Sky Of Honey’. Again, it’s one of many magical moments that accompanies one her most impressive musical landscapes – puppets coming to life; showers of billowing feathers and tree trunks crashing through the night time set. It is at this point that Kate Bush’s son – Bertie – takes up his biggest onstage role (having also been credited as “Creative Advisor” for these shows and serving as backing singer) as he plays “The Painter” who frets over nature’s ruinous effects upon his canvas. Although his biggest cheer came when his mother sang, “I’ll tell my son…” during ‘The Morning Fog’, so key has his influence been over making her live return real. ‘A Sky Of Honey’ roars to a glorious end with Kate Bush howling at human limitations, “I’ve gotta be up on the roof”, despite transcending the possibilities of performance here before our very eyes.

Two final treats are in store: The first, a calming, lone encore of Kate Bush at the piano playing ‘Among Angels’ from 50 Words For Snow (no material predating 1985 is played). The second, a rousing rendition of ‘Cloudbursting’ where everyone is more than happy to bellow out their own “yeah yeah yeah yeah ooooooooh”. Kate gorgeously growls that most inspiring of lines, “But just saying it could even make it happen,” pointing a finger towards the crowd as she does so in the sassiest of fashions. After this monumental residency comes to an end, who knows what else Kate Bush could make happen. Conversely she could disappear and take one of her extended, working breaks once again. Either way Before The Dawn marks yet another apex of Kate Bush’s evolutionary life and art.

Written for DISORDER

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

DIGITAL WORDS / Five Reasons Why Kate Bush Is The Queen Of Everything

Find the original post HERE

Hi Stateside Galore girls! This list is written specially for you. As you may know, the whole of the UK is going batshit crazy for Kate Bush right now. We are currently in the grip of certifiable Bush Mania!

Last week saw the premiere of Ms. Bush’s ‘Before The Dawn’ live residency – her first live shows in over 35 years. She has not staged a concert since her 1979 ‘Tour Of Life’. No one truly knows why she has remained absent from live music (so ignore anyone writing claiming they do!) all that matters is that she’s back! And we are LOVING IT!

All 22 dates of her ‘Before The Dawn’ show sold out in less than 15 minutes after the complete surprise of their announcement. Critics are running out of stars to assign to their reviews of her shows. She made chart history yesterday by being the first female artist to have eight simultaneous entries in the UK top 40. And a new documentary about her (in which she did not appear, because, duh, she didn’t have to) proved so popular the number of viewers trying to catch it again online crashed BBC’s iPlayer. Here are five key reasons why Kate Bush should be your queen:

Kate Bush educates you
In comparison to all other music artists, no one understands, translates and transmits their cultural references more effectively than Kate Bush. Lady Gaga trying to channel Andy Warhol? Pah! Miley Cyrus calling her ‘Bangerz’ tour “educational”? Ha! Beyonce quoting Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie? Hmm. Well done for trying to convince us you’re all cultured and shit, but this shallow magpie stuff doesn’t fly with Kate Bush fans. Listening to Kate Bush will not only make you book smart, she will also increase your existential and linguistic intelligence. She will teach you to sing pi to 138 decimal places (‘Pi’), she will introduce you to Wilhelm Reich (‘Cloudbursting’), Gurdjieff (‘Them Heavy People’) and generally make you question the limits of human knowledge (‘Sat In Your Lap’).

No one tells Kate Bush what to do
Being told by my father that Kate Bush was the first female artist to have a number one single with a self-penned song is what sparked my interest in her. That song, of course, was 1978’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, a song she insisted her record company release as her debut. After that, there was no way any music executive could act like they understood her artistry better than her. Her refusal to play the fame game is a defining quality of her career – her one-off UK tour, the limited number of interviews she gives, the time she takes to make records (there was a 12 year gap between ‘The Red Shoes’ and ‘Aerial’), her selective public appearances – and it’s a shame no artist since has been brave enough to believe that their art is strong enough to withstand restricted exposure.

She is the riskiest of risk takers
‘The Dreaming’ is her infamously experimental album. It came as a great shock due to its break from her established melodic, piano style. It did not sell particularly well and undermined many people’s ideas of who Kate Bush was as an artist. But, in hindsight, it was a risk worth taking as it now plays as a key stepping stone towards her ‘Hounds Of Love’ masterpiece. At the time, it seemed like self-sabotage and proved to be difficult recording process for her, but it can now be understood as a necessary wall of fire that elevated her already lofty musical ambitions. Yet another lesson – do not be afraid to explore your own creativity.

Innovation should be her middle name
Kast Bush’s ‘Tour Of Life’ set a whole new standard for music concerts – she sang every track from her first two albums, changed costume 17 times, incorporated elaborate magic tricks and dance routines, and introduced the world to the headset microphone. And even before anyone had seen her new theatrical ‘Before The Dawn’ shows, she had already eradicated the plague-like problem of ticket touts (through a simple but timely bit of administration that requires the ticket holder’s name being printed on their tickets and being matched with ID at the concert – WHY ARE NO OTHER ARTISTS DOING THIS!?), and even stopped people from using their camera phones via a polite but strongly willed letter to her fans saying, “I very much want contact with you as an audience, not with iPhones, iPads or cameras”. Hooray for stamping out arseholes who make you watch gigs through their phone screens!

“Original” is the only appropriate genre title for Kate Bush
In the beginning, she was pop’s most unconventional star. As her music progressed she took on elements of prog rock and mastered the concept suite with ‘The Ninth Wave’. However, no musical genre comfortably encapsulates Kate Bush’s arms-open-wide approach to songwriting, from the characters she embodies to the stories she tells and the sweeping song structures she houses them all in. There really is no word worthy of her, but “original” is as close as one can get.

Written for GALORE

Sunday, 17 August 2014

I Hate… Conjecture / “Let me have it. Let me grab your soul away”

Have you heard? Kate Bush is playing live for the first time in, like, forever. Yeah,  weird right?
We all know the story. 1979: The Tour Life. Then? No more tours or standalone concerts from Kate Bush.
What do we know about her beautifully out of the blue Before The Dawn dates? Sweet FA.

But, of course, magazines and newspapers are shambling together the ropiest of features and speculative bullshit in order to try and seem part of the elusive buzz that only Kate Bush can concoct.
Women’s magazines have been running wafer thin articles such as “How Kate Bush Influenced Fashion”  and they bat around adjectives like “billowing” and “romantic” blah blah blah. She’s beautiful. Sometimes she wore flowing gowns. Sometimes she wore informal dancewear. Kate Bush is above and beyond anything as menial as fashion and trends. End of.
As for anyone trying to guess what will happen on August 26th when Kate Bush arrives on stage – you are, unequivocally, a fool and beyond help. No one has ever been able to second guess Kate Bush. And anyone that Kate Bush doesn’t want knowing her business does not know her business. Period. So let’s stop wondering, “Will she do ‘Wuthering Heights’?” “Will she be dancing?” Let’s all just appreciate the fact that we still have an artist who can captivate, surprise and truly thrill. She could come on stage dressed in a bin bag and spit at her sold-out audiences and we should still be grateful just for her very presence.
For anyone hoping for “special guests” – who the hell could be more “special” than Kate Bush?
And as sign-off to this rant I took offense at this hot gas from The Independent last weekend that, on the subject of dance, said: “it’s simply unbecoming for a woman of a certain age to be prancing about, and certainly not in the leotard and leg-warmers of the 1979 shows.” 
Who is to say what and is not appropriate for a woman of any age? Let alone KATE BLOODY BUSH.
Please allow me to make this clear *coughs to clear throat and speaks into megaphone*: Kate Bush can do whatever she likes, whenever she likes and you had better appreciate it.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Thursday, 10 July 2014

DIGITAL WORDS / Amber Atherton of My Flash Trash Interview

Find the original post HERE

My Flash Trash is the jewellery destination for girls in the know. You’ll find My Flash Trash stocked in select locations or you can browse the treasure trove of carefully curated pieces from their online boutique. My Flash Trash caters for both girls who are looking for an impulsive budget buy and those considering investing in statement pieces. Whether you want to show off some attention grabbing faux bling or keep it understated with an item from the designer that everyone else is yet to catch on to, My Flash Trash has you covered.

Founded in 2008 by Amber Atherton, enthusiastic entrepreneur, model and former Made In Chelsea star, My Flash Trash and it’s handpicked merchandise has drawn attention from British fashion institutions ranging from Topshop to Kate Middleton.

We met up with 23-year-old Amber to talk accessories, royalty and inspiring career advice.

What’s a typical day like for you as the owner of your own business?

I get up early to go swimming or do pilates. I walk everywhere so I’ll go to my office where I’ll stay until the early afternoon. Then it could be off to a photo shoot, an event or to see a stylist – something like that. Once I get home I can be on Tumblr until 2am!

Do you enjoy being your own boss?

Having the freedom to dictate how want to run your schedule is the most enjoyable thing about being your own boss. Managing your time is a skill though and you do learn to get better at it. I’m currently working from a colour-coordinated timetable.

Since My Flash Trash started in 2008 it’s undergone some changes. Your stock has varying price points. You also have your own design imprint called Flash Trash Girl.

In the beginning it was exclusively market place but now I design my own ranges alongside continuing to support up and coming designers. So it changed from being a market place to being a brand. I like to say it’s for champagne girls on a lemonade budget. It’s both inspirational and aspirational. We have pieces that range from £12 to the hundreds.

Your latest Flash Trash Girldesigns were stocked in Topshop’s flag ship London store. How did that come about?

Our brand is quite limited in terms of distribution in that we don’t want to be stocked in every store. So there are very few suitable channels but when Topshop approached us it was a no-brainer. They came to us and we designed the collection specifically for Topshop.

Where are you hoping to pop up next?

America is our biggest growing market so we’re having discussions with American retailers and concept stores about the best way for us to progress.

Do you enjoy deigning your own pieces?

I do it enjoy it. I’ll work with a designer to refine my ideas. There’s a pair of hoop earrings with palm trees on them, and that’s from a design I drew in the early hours one morning. I get just as much fulfilment from the creative side as I do in the analytics and financial forecasting!

The main focus of My Flash Trash is the platform it gives to new designers. How do you go about curating the collections you stock online?

It’s a combination of designers sending applications to us and us scouting out designers from trend blogs or Instagram. All the pieces we stock are a mix of being tasteful and dreamy, girly and romantic or others are quite tongue-in-cheek. The items have to be conversation starters. We often have quirky pieces too. There’s this armour ring that seems to attract so much male attention. I don’t know why because it looks quite threatening. Overall what we curate has to be individual but trend reactive.

What are your current favourite pieces?

We havethis necklace that says “internet” on it and I am just obsessed with it. I love all of the new Flash Trash Girl pieces because we put so much into making them. The inspiration for them came from watching The O.C. and Spring Breakers. I also really like a designer from Israel that we’re about to launch who makes rings. There’s also a London designer who makes incredible skull rings with gems in them, they have this rock and roll romance about them.

Your first collaboration was with the girls behind the fashion movement Funkyoffish. Do you have any others in the works?

We have Wah Nails coming up. The Wah collection isn’t particularly ring or finger focussed, it’s more about [founder] Sharmadean Reid’s aesthetic. It has real attitude. We’ve also in talks with other designers and celebrities… Watch this space!

Plenty of celebrities have been seen wearing My Flash Trash purchases. BeyoncĂ©, Rita Ora, Alexa Chung, Cara Delevingne… But Kate Middleton wearing your Double Leaf Earrings by Catherine Zoraida has to be the ultimate in celebrity clientele. How did her patronage affect your business?

It caused the website to crash. We were selling a pair of those earrings every four minutes. It boosted our American sales a lot. She’s worn them more than once and each time she’s seen in them we’ll get an influx of orders from America especially. I don’t think a lot of people would associate our brand with Kate Middleton so it was interesting. It emphasised that My Flash Trash does have this girly, princess side.

Your background in fashion is more high end. How have you adapted to being the figurehead of such an accessible brand?

A few years into Flash Trash and we started selling really expensive jewellery, like £600 - £1000. We started as a very small brand and we were featured in the likes of Love and Vogue magazine. But when I was on Made In Chelsea suddenly the entire teenage population of England was following me on Twitter, visiting the website, seeing the prices and quickly logging off again. I realised it had to become more commercial.

You were involved with Made In Chelsea from very early on, way before it premiered on TV. Was it a difficult decision to leave after three series?

It took a long time for me to finally decide to go. It was a lot of fun and I am very grateful for the experience and the way it introduced so many girls to My Flash Trash, but ultimately I don't think it reflected who I really am. I was probably the worst reality start to ever exist! Plus I was bringing my laptop to all the filming and would be doing work or having conference calls in between shooting and I just had a moment when I was drinking champagne listening to Spencer or whoever chat about something or other that I was like, ‘Okay, I've had enough now!’

You’ve done modelling, TV work, now you’re a successful entrepreneur… What aspect of your career makes brings you the most happiness?

I am really passionate about motivating other people. I love meeting up and coming designers and encouraging them to make everything bigger than what they think it can be. So many people have limited boundaries on what they can achieve. I feel very passionate about enterprise and career motivation. I also love the challenge of creating products and a brand that people believe in.

A great piece of advice you espouse is “Don’t be afraid of rejection”. It’s not just applicable to the business world. How do you put it into practice?

This comes from when I was modelling and I was far too young for it. I was 13 when I did an early shoot and from the age of 16 to 19 I was going out to castings a lot and being rejected. You develop a tough skin from that and you have to realise that it doesn’t matter. I just don’t process rejection or the word “No”. Even if something doesn’t work out you have to keep a spirit of positivity and self-belief. If something doesn’t work out you just have to seek out new opportunities. I’m not massively spiritual but sometimes you have to think “That wasn’t the right timing” or “That wasn’t meant to be”.

Finally, what should we be accessorising with for the rest of 2014? How can we be ahead of the trend?

Chokers. They are back. We’ve got so many coming. 

Written for GALORE