Politician Style Watch: Nicola Sturgeon

No time like a general election to revive a comatose blog, eh?

Living in a London-centric world means WWP has become one of those arseholes who, rather sadly, finds it very difficult to care about political matters further north than St Albans, and on a bad day, Westminster. In fact, before I even moved here, I found myself googling the location of ‘Holyrood’ in my third year of university, thinking it must have been some hilarious typo of Hollywood. And I studied for a BSc in Politics.

One year later, it was the SNP’s year. And although a truly independent Scotland failed to materialise, the party seems to have held onto its new-found fame by booting the Lib Dems out of the General Election maker/breaker spot. Who is leading this army on this glorious road to success? Nicola Sturgeon, of kick-ass oratory skills and bad hair.

Sturgeon is near-flawless in her media skills, leaving me so impressed after an interview on Today that I felt moved to tweet about it before 8am. She was a lawyer, a regional MSP before the age of 30 and, like the vast majority of female politicians, appears hard-working, dedicated to both her job and cause. Whatever your views on the SNP, it’s hard to find fault with a leader who is neither (a) mind-numbingly fixated on the job at hand (she once interviewed Borgen star Sidse Babett Knudsen on TV) or (b) a Goddamn man.

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Style-wise, her wardrobe is depressingly Theresa May: lots of matching dress/suit jackets, brooches and pearl necklaces, give-or-take a love of ironic shoes. Yet unlike May (who in the last year has tried to brand herself as some sort of style icon, with fund-raising shopping trips and Desert Island Discs proclamations of a love of Vogue), Sturgeon has the good grace to admit to her ‘meh’ choices, stating: “I’m not naturally a smart-dressing type. I’m more at home in jeans” in an interview with The Daily Record.

So why, if she’d (arguably rightly) rather concentrate on her party’s campaign rather than the Net-A-Porter sale, does she clearly invest so much time in her bad hairstyle? It’s blowdried to death, lacks any movement and staying true to the SNP’s colours, is an unappealing tone of yellow on black. Let it go Nic! Get some Kérastase treatment on that dried-out bouffant, grow out that bowl cut, put down that barrel brush and get back on the Today programme – every day, if you can.

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Historic style secrets: A 1957 lesson in normcore

WWP’s all-time favourite scene in a film is that of Audrey Hepburn dancing around a smoky club in Paris maniacally, in the much-overlooked classic Funny Face. Not only is the choreography about 30 years ahead of its time and showcases Hepburn’s talent as a dancer (which like many stars of her generation, eclipses her acting abilities hands-down), the fashion is everything any lover of minimalist normcore could ever desire to achieve.

A mid-level ponytail complete with a Deschanel-esque fringe. The best eyebrows in history. A black, soft turtleneck. 7/8ths slacks. White socks paired with loafers. It’s as if the film’s stylist – just some guy called Hubert de Givenchy – transported himself forward in time 57 years to pick up a selection of catalogues from J Crew, Cos and American Apparel and recreated them amid a decade synonymous with ra-ra skirts and Christian Dior.

Of course, this film is largely remembered in sartorial circles for characterising the New Look; indeed, when I visited the V&A’s Golden Age of Couture exhibition back in 2007, they had those photoshoot scenes playing on loop in the background. But just as we as a 21st century, (hopefully) feminist audience are more sympathetic to the philosophising, intellectual Hepburn than the bimbo who ultimately gives up her morals to marry a 58 year-old Fred Astaire, her all-black outfit speaks to us more than the decadence of silky red ball gowns and the aristocracy of mid-century Paris.

Don’t take my word for it, just ask Beyonce and Gap. The video for Countdown and the 2006 advert for ‘the skinny black pant’ are both homages to the best scene in a film ever.

Louise Wilson Dies

WWP has chosen to interrupt radio silence (I’ve somehow incurred a real job writing for a real magazine) to lament the death of Louise Wilson, professor of fashion at Central Saint Martins and infamous personality.

Wilson, in the greatest of all colours.

I didn’t know her, never met her and had only ever come across her name in a brief mention in Vogue On…Alexander McQueen. But after reading through the obituaries and Emily Sheffield’s brilliant interview with her for Vogue, I’m saddened that I was not more aware of her unashamedly personable character. Her early death at the age of 52 is infinitely more saddening.

A mentor to many of the ‘modern greats’ in fashion (Christopher Kane, Jonathon Saunders and Mary Katrantzou to name but a few), some have accredited her with shaping the UK fashion scene into what it is today. But what also needs to be celebrated, and revived in the wake of her legacy, is her ability to speak her mind – a trait which is horrifically lacking in the fashion industry.

She was first and foremost an academic, which perhaps explains her relatively low-profile and absence at after-show parties. This retreat into scholarship and dedication to her students was both a blessing and a curse to the fashion world: if only she had written a column slating shows she didn’t like, or a book on the real workings of the industry that glossed over the glossy. God knows she would have been the woman for the job.

What struck me the most from Sheffield’s interview was the observation of a postcard on her office wall, which read: “Same shit, different year; we have nothing to say and we’re still saying it.” Has any quote ever summed up the fashion world better than that? It shows she had a wry sense of humour, an acute awareness and a huge understanding of reality beyond the world of fabrics and flashbulbs.

The industry, and the world, is crying out for more people like that. Which makes the fact that she left it too early all the more tragic.

Sartorially Satanic: The Politics of Christmas Jumpers

If you reside in the UK, you may have noticed an increase in the amount of Christmas jumpers being worn in public over the last few years. 2013 has truly bought this ‘trend’ to head. For the Christmas jumper, once exclusively the ironic Sociology student’s choice of festive apparel, has spread to all corners of society. WWP has spotted this atrocity in the following places (the list is not exhaustive):

  1. On successful businesswomen shopping for suiting at 7pm on a Friday night.
  2. On schoolchildren in lieu of school uniform.
  3. On receptionists at the dentist.
  4. On dental nurses at the the dentist.
  5. On a Chinese woman who, in broken English, asked me where she could find a matching Christmas jumper for her two year old son.

Many socio-fashion commentators have rejoiced at this fact, and the 200% rise in sales from last year makes for some great editorials. Joshi Hermann’s piece for the Evening Standard, for instance, calls on the population to embrace the jumper as “a symbol of national Yuletide togetherness”, no doubt picturing a nation populated by middle-class, 30-something SW19 dwellers. Others have lamented the abhorrent aesthetics; the ugliness that has permeated the high street. Yet like many things in the fashion world, if you dig a little deeper it is clear that this issue is not all sugarplums and Santa.

This year, Save the Children launched ‘Christmas Jumper Day’, whereby one wears a quirky jumper to work or school and pays a pound towards the charity. All for the best of causes, however it has two uninvestigated implications. Firstly, unlike an average charity ‘non-uniform day’, children are asked to wear a specific item of clothing. Ergo, parents are forced to purchase a specific item of clothing. Notwithstanding the amount of playground teasing this may lead to (“Mine’s Vivienne Westwood’s bespoke design, yours is from F+F at Tesco?!”), this is a gross economic pressure on families below the breadline, particularly at Christmas.

Secondly, most families will not be bidding on the British Fashion Council’s designs at auction (Mary Katrantzou, McQueen and Peter Pilotto all created brand new designs).  They will instead minimise their costs and head to Primark, Gap, Asda and H&M, all of which are infamous for their unethical labour practices that often involve young children.

So as a rough calculation, £1 goes towards Saving the Children and around £15 goes towards keeping them oppressed by giant retailers. And that kids, is the true meaning of irony.

Tales of the Recession: My Wardrobe

My-Wardrobe.com – the site which regularly makes me cry with poverty – quietly entered administration last week.  It was bought by Growth Capital Acquisitions on Monday, and will now ‘refocus on the UK market’ and set lower prices.

This is hardly surprising. The luxury fashion E-commerce market has gradually been filled to the brim with the likes of Far Fetch, Matches, Net-A-Porter and My Theresa (one of the worst names for a company ever) and it shouldn’t take a genius to realise that supply is vastly outstripping demand. It’s difficult to see how far a lower price point will get them – God knows there’s a huge vacuum in fashion between £150 and £500. But it’s strangely comforting to know that even the expensive and untouchable can collapse.

We can only hope that Jack Wills will be next.

Sartorially Satanic: Queen Elizabeth

‘Fashionistas’ tend to fall into two categories: those who love colour, and those who hide away from it in fright. WWP unashamedly falls into the latter category, whilst Roberto Cavalli, Anna Dello Russo and David Bowie occupy the former.

There is also the existence of the colour hyprocrites, those who insist on dressing the rest of the world in neon whilst they themselves crawl back to their wardrobes of black and grey. The profession of this third species of man? Stylists. Imagine Andrea Lieberman leopard print; Gok Wan in pink. Those who can wear colour do, those who don’t style. And the relationship between the amount of colour worn by a stylist and the amount of colour they use when styling is very often inversely proportional.

Ergo, the Queen’s stylist must look like Wednesday Addams. Why must she always wear so much of one colour? Particularly – why must she always wear PURPLE?

 

This Cadbury’s Milk Tray look wouldn’t be a problem if she mixed in some neutral tones, or wore simpler pieces. But she doesn’t. Everything her lazy stylist pulls out in the morning is one block colour. Nowadays, you don’t have to match your bra to your knickers, or your shoes to your handbag, so why match your hat with your jacket with your dress with your lipstick?

This problem isn’t just confined to royalty, it’s a worldwide phenomena. We as a society have been led to believe that our lives will be changed if we wear colour, and we’re predictable and morbid if we don’t. This is all down to those pesky colour hypocrites; specifically it’s the fault of Gok Bloody Wang. The ‘How To Look Good Naked’ producers would never dress their subject in a cute black shift dress in the final reveal. It has to be jewelled tones, bright lips and (for some unfathomable reason) a neckerchief.

We the people must reclaim our right to wear black. Black is easy, flattering and mysterious. Moreover, wearing colour all the time will not make you ‘fun’ or ‘edgy’ or the worst of all things – ‘random.’ Most of the time it will just make you look like a CBeebies presenter.

As for the Queen, I feel she is a lost cause until she becomes a widow. But the day Prince Philip dies will be the day I stop caring about the royal family altogether.