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Posts tagged ‘style’

12
May

Art Exhibition Confronts Fashion For High Heels

Screen Shot 2013-05-12 at 18.11.12A humorous exhibition of kitsch ‘unwearable shoes’ by award-winning artist Anne Tilby entitled ‘Tortured Soles’ will open to the public on Wednesday 15th May in the heart of London’s Soho, and aims to subtly confront women’s fashion choices in wearing high-heels, given the potential health issues this can cause to their feet in the future.

The free pop-up exhibition will run for three weeks at 23A Frith Street, Soho, London W1 until 7th June 2013, and then goes on tour around the UK.  The exhibition features over thirty kitsch handmade women’s ‘unwearable shoes’ and ‘shoe art’ created by Tilby, together with lush prints, an animated slide show of associated and philosophical issues, and fun workshops.

While the shoes are stunning works of art in their own right, http://www.bigfrieze.com/portfolio-item/tortured-soles/ the exhibition aims to confront the real health damage high-heels can cause to women’s feet in the long-term, and is designed to inspire women to reflect on their fashion choices.  In the US and UK over 80% of foot surgery is performed on women, often as a result of their long-term choice of footwear and Tilby hopes the exhibition will provoke discussion and debate around the issue.

Screen Shot 2013-05-12 at 18.12.12The ‘Tortured Soles unwearable shoes’ range from the sublime to the surreal and have been created in a wide variety of unexpected materials such as nails, seashells, twigs, metal, paper, peanuts and even one from cow dung entitled Shit Shu!

There are shoes with legs, shoes wearing rollerskates and even a shoe ‘couple’ kissing!  Tilby has a particular talent for creating kitsch recycled chandeliers, so there is even a ‘shoe chandelier’!

Some of the design is so appealing, it is highly likely Tilby will be inundated for commissions for real shoes like those she has created and for other commissions for her art and design. In fact Tilby is currently designing a ‘fried egg flipflop’, which she hopes will be ready for the launch next week.

Tilby has a long history of creating stunning modern art and pushing boundaries with humour.

This is the second time she has used bodyparts as inspiration for her work, having previously created the cheeky ‘Twin Cheeks’, a surreal range of painted ‘bottoms’ which were depicted variously as plum puddings, landscapes, and Minnie Mouse, for example.  These too can be seen on her website www.bigfrieze.com under her portfolio.

Screen Shot 2013-05-12 at 18.11.46Celebrity Julian Clary, who has been a client of Tilby for many years, and for whom she produced a giant motorized glitter shoe for one of his shows, says of her:

“You have to learn to go with the flow with Tilby.  Her imagination can suddenly take a turn for the surreal, and if you can’t hitch a ride at a moment’s notice, you might miss out!

Other well known clients have included the Royal Opera House, Spitting Image, Father Ted and Ken Russell, plus significant private and corporate commissions and Tilby has worked nationally and internationally.

Tilby also runs Trash Factory which offers workshops for adults and children to turn everyday recycled materials into stunning and useable pieces of art, furniture and fashion – such as hand decorated chairs, recycled chandeliers, waste-paper baskets made from waste paper (!), hats, edible fashion and jewellery. Customised workshops can be arranged.

For further information on Anne Tilby’s art, the Tortured Soles exhibition or Trash Factory please visit Tilby’s website at www.bigfrieze.com

Tortured Soles will also be on tour around the UK at the following locations throughout 2013:

Hatfield Galleria Shopping Centre

Birmingham Theatre

Lythe in Scotland

BookArt Bookshop in Hoxton London N1

Bad Behavour, Brixton

Other locations and dates for 2013/2014 will follow and full details for all exhibitions will be posted on Tilby’s website.

This article has been reproduced from Stylezza, www.stylezza.com

Would you like publicity for your work? Get in touch to talk about your ideas.

Val Reynolds, Editor

26
Jun

Buying a Bra … An amusing take on a simple(?) purchase

No man – unless he’s Gok Wan – can be expected to understand about bras. It seems that I’m not very good at it myself despite many years of experience. It all seems perfectly simple. You start with the measurement around your ribcage, and then add on to that various letters of the alphabet to indicate the volume of the breasts concerned. What’s hard about that?

Frankly, when you compare it to the identifying names and numbers of the different models of certain cars, it seems a doddle. The difference, I suppose, is that there’s no compulsion on men to get their heads around bra measurements whereas obviously if they’re thinking of investing in a new car, no amount of time is too great to be spent studying magazines and listening intently to the latest pronouncements by badly dressed men on BBC TV.

Some time, when I’ve nothing better to do, I might compile a list of The Things That Would Be Different If Men Had To Do Them. The trouble is that that list always starts with Having Babies, and every woman who’s ever given birth wants to be included in that discussion.

Meanwhile, returning to the subject of bras, does anyone out there find that she can just go into a shop, take what she thinks is the appropriately sized bra off the hanger, and go away happy? The last time I tried choosing bras off a hanger was in M&S and (with no disrespect intended to Marks as they’re no worse than any other retailer and do at least have a huge variety of styles), I took, in stages, ten bras, each one supposedly of about the same size, into the fitting room – and not one fitted. If anyone thinks I was being fussy, think again. When I say they didn’t fit, what I mean was that in many cases they couldn’t even be fastened around my ribcage while others were so loose they fell down to my waist. A few could be done up, but the accommodation for my breasts was about half what was needed so just a fraction of the essential me was contained inside the cup, the rest bulging out in all directions. Once, I put one on and sighed with pleasure as it felt so comfortable. This was the one! The band felt secure, my bosom fitted nicely inside the cup, this was perfect! I put my T shirt on over the top and looked in the mirror, and couldn’t see my bust! I looked like a rather podgy man. I looked down – no breasts in the place where they usually lived! When I took off the T shirt I realised they’d sidled around into my armpits where they sat, looking smug and comfortable but more like lumps of dough than objects of beauty.

Then there’s the question of the wires. Can you actually imagine any man wearing a garment containing wires? It just wouldn’t happen, would it? The fact is that wearing wires is doomed. It’s inevitably going to produce problems and discomfort, at the very least. I can almost feel sorry for the designers as the infinite variety of women’s figures makes it next to impossible to design a wire that will fit all comfortably. If it sits happily under the breast, you can be sure that the ends will poke sharply into the soft area between them, or into the flesh under the armpit.

But let’s suppose for a moment that you’ve found the perfect bra, which fits comfortably and just as the designer intended. What could go wrong now?

Well, for a start, let’s grapple with the vexed topic of nipples. Who was it that decreed that women should be assumed to be nipple-less in public? Men too have nipples. Are they bombarded with advice on how to avoid them being visible under their clothes? Are there little nipple-shields for men to be worn under T shirts? I think not. But women are programmed to believe that their nipples must lead a double life, rather like spies; invisible most of the time, before springing into action when the situation demands.

This means that a seam has to be inserted across the cup so as to conceal the nipple, but because no seam is ever going to be totally smooth like skin, any garment worn over the bra is going to reveal little lumps and puckers of fabric, each one looking from outside remarkably like – a nipple! This will attract an interested audience of men trying to decide which little lump is actually the nipple (no, I don’t know why either), or of women criticizing your choice of bra.

As if this wasn’t enough to spoil the appearance of your clothes, we next have the innate idiocy of some designers/buyers. Does a bra really need to be made more feminine? By its nature, it can’t be much else, but how many manufacturers insist on adding tiresome bows or miniature roses? You put on your slinky new top over your deliciously pretty and flattering new bra, but nobody is going to think how nice/sexy you look as their eyes will be drawn to the bizarre construction whose outline is deforming the fabric between your breasts. What has she got tucked down there? A hamster? A sandwich in case she feels a bit peckish later?

At least these days they make bras which mould the breasts into relatively normal, rounded shapes, unlike those of the 1950s which contorted the bosom into something which looked as if it should be contained in an armaments storeroom. The only exceptions nowadays are sports bras, which still produce a scarily aggressive silhouette. Whenever I drive to the gym I half expect the police to stop me for possessing offensive weapons!

So, is there an alternative? I don’t know how many women of the 60’s really did burn their bras, never to return to wearing one. I suspect very few did, because the average natural bosom, left unsupported, doesn’t produce an attractive shape underneath clothes, and certainly doesn’t help if you’re running for a train. Some women wear crop tops underneath loose and flowing clothes, but this won’t do if you work in a formal office, particularly if you work in the City where the attributes of female staff seem to require as much studying as the year-end results of multi-national companies. Is there an answer? I wish I knew.

Do get in touch if you have an answer! editorinbalance@mac.com
Janet Hamer, Guest contributor
Imagery: © Pintail
20
May

When did you last polish your shoes?

Cherry Blossom Polish lids on production line

Cherry Blossom Polish lids on production line

It would seem to be a generational thing. I’m old, much older than many of our readers, and I don’t clean my shoes very often. All made from Nubuck they only needed proofing on purchase and later, much later, a clean/restoration session.

Okay, so I’m different and don’t do the polish bit, but what I do remember about polish is Cherry Blossom, Meltonian, Mansion Polish, along with other contemporary products such as Dinky toys, sugar in blue paper bags, crisps with blue twists of salt in the packets, broken biscuits in Home & Colonial – all products my generation will be familiar with. And just how many are still around?

Well Meltonian has gone, as has Mansion Polish but Cherry Blossom shoe polish is blooming, or should I say shining! Apparently these days we are more conscious of repair and care, rather than throwaway and buy again and shoes are taking a more centre stage position.

A pair of miners' boots after one has been renovated with Granger product

A pair of miners’ boots after one has been renovated with Granger product

Cherry Blossom is a British product through and through, originally conceived and produced in 1906 but over the years the name has changed hands. In 1992 Grangers, the company well known to campers wanting to reproof their tents, equipment and clothing, bought the right to use the name, manufacture and sell in the UK and export to certain other countries.

I visited the Cherry Blossom factory in Alfreton, near Derby a couple of months ago. It had a real good feel factor about it.

The science of polish is not hugely technical, although over the years it has adapted to health and safety standards and more recently bypassed the need for certain specific ingredients by creating replicas. This sounds a bit odd, but in the case of a specific wax – mined in Hungary which is becoming very scarce as the mines close down – it makes total economic sense.

So why the interest? I was curious to see how polish was made. The production methods are not specially high tech, nor base production, and some parts are labour intensive. But there is something reassuring about a British company still producing goods that go all over the world. I felt a quiet pride that such a successful original was still being produced in the UK.

With a widening user base, a broadening range of trade customers, and 30 different polish colours on offer it’s no wonder impressive sales are in evidence.

In fact an impressive range of products to complement shoe polish, creams and wipes is going to push the company’s profits hugely in the next year or so.

Clothing proofing

Grangers are astutely widening their product range to include shoe inserts, insoles – the ones I tried are excellent, orthotics, toe warmers –  great for skiers, hand warmers – excellent for football fans among others and I can foresee a very promising future.

Have a look at their website.

Interesting fact: Although called Cherry Blossom Polish the tin has never depicted Cherry Blossom but shown the rich shine which appears on ripe red cherries. Good question for a pub quiz!

Some of the Cherry Polish product range

Some of the Cherry Polish product range

Val Reynolds, Editor

Photography © Pintail Media

21
Mar

Anyone for a Swim?

swimmerAm I the only woman to be deterred from all the benefits conferred by swimming by the sheer horrors awaiting me in the changing rooms?

When my six year old daughter managed to dry and dress herself more quickly than I did, I realised I was a slow-starter in certain organisational skills. And she even managed to dry between her toes! I’ve never found the time to do that. More than twenty years later -and she’s still watching me with a pitying eye as I struggle to get myself in a state fit to be seen in public after a visit to our local pool.

The problems begin even before the swim. I’ve now got the hang of my new swimming costume after two false starts when I first managed to put it on back to front, and then sideways. (I still don’t quite know how I managed that, but it was certainly an interesting look and worth consideration for next year’s London Fashion Week) So, there I am, costume on, towel tossed over shoulder, hat, goggles and earplugs clutched in one hand, leaving the other to carry everything else to the locker. Coat, scarf, boots, socks, jeans ….well, you can work out the rest, plus a large bag for carrying my swimming kit, and my handbag with money, keys, etc are all to be carried in one hand and fitted into this small space at ground level. Taking tiny steps on the slippery tiled floor, I progress at a snail’s pace but sadly without the snail’s self-contained house, leaving a trail of garments on the floor and watched with bemusement by a couple of sylphlike teenagers.

At last at the lockers, I try to think it all through logically. I open the door, stand sideways on so as to prop it open with my leg, but then realise I can’t bend in that position in order to put things into the locker as I’m facing in the wrong direction. By this stage most of what I’m still carrying is falling from my grasp, so I twist round and with a great heave hurl the rest into the locker, remembering too late that my glasses are among them. Now to retrieve the items I’ve dropped – but I daren’t leave my handbag behind while I do that, and my handbag is underneath all the stuff I’ve just crammed into the locker. I bend down to fish it out, and discover that the twisting and hurling has set off my back problem. Clutching my bag, I retrace my steps even more slowly now that my back is hurting, collect my belongings, return to the locker and stow everything away more neatly, slamming the door closed before everything falls out. Then I remember that I need a pound coin to lock the door, and the pound is in my handbag and my handbag has just been packed away at the bottom of the locker. Starting now to feel just a bit impatient, I tear everything out onto the floor, and extract the pound coin before piling everything back in, noting as I do so that most of my clothes are now wet due to the puddles of water on the floor which unfortunately I hadn’t noticed before.

Locker locked, all I now have to do is put on my swimming hat and that’s when I realise that I’ve thrown my hat and goggles into the locker along with everything else. Gritting my teeth I open the locker, yank out the missing items, and shut it again, before pausing for a moment to fasten onto my wrist the plastic wrist-strap holding the locker key. I say “for a moment” when what I actually mean is “for at least five minutes” as these things were never intended to be fastened with just one hand as they’re entirely rigid and therefore can’t be wrapped closely around the wrist without some pressure being applied. I brace my wrist against my knee, against the wall, and finally against the slatted seats – which involves kneeling sideways on the floor beside them, watched this time with concern by several small children.

My actual swim takes about ten minutes, since by now I am feeling exhausted. Sure that I’m being observed with scorn by all the regulars as they speed up and down the lanes, I creep away from the water and head for the showers. I hang my towel on the hook helpfully positioned on the back of the door, turn on the water and discover that I’ve brought with me the tube of body lotion rather than the matching shower gel. Never mind, I can at least rinse off the chlorine with plentiful hot water, which is fine until I realise that the hook can’t have been intended for towels as mine is now thoroughly soaked. Avoiding pitying glances as I shuffle  back to my locker wrapped in a dripping towel, I open the door but am not quick enough to prevent the contents hurling themselves onto the floor again. Bit by bit I pick them up and clutch them to my soaking bosom before beginning the return journey to the cubicle.

Here, in a space which seems somehow to have shrunk in the past fifteen minutes, I fumble among my possessions for the body lotion and talc as there’s no point in trying to dry myself with a wet towel. Retrieving the lotion with triumph, I start to apply it to my limbs before stopping to puzzle over the apparent bubbles forming. Then I remember that this must be the shower gel that I’m carefully spreading over myself. I have a go with the towel to get rid of it, then shake on some talc in an attempt to soak up the water. Big mistake as now I have a sort of thick paste on my legs. At this point I might perhaps be moaning a little as I retrieve my pants and struggle to get them over my encrusted thighs. Worse is to come with jeans, a close fit at the best of times.

Eventually the horror comes to an end, and I sidle through the changing rooms to the exit. On all sides are women wrapped in clean dry towels, their hair swaddled in yet more clean towels, or fully dressed in dry clothes, carefully renewing their makeup and blow-drying their hair at the mirrors. I catch sight of myself as I scuttle past, hair wet and plastered to my skull, skin red and blotchy from the chlorine, eyes even redder as I never did find my goggles again, clothes looking as if they’d just been dragged from the dirty washing basket before being left out in a storm.

How does everyone else do it all so easily? And why can’t I?

Contributing author: Janet Hamer

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