Posts Tagged Liberty


Happy anniversary Will and Kate. It’s been one year since my friends and I watched the wedding, and one of the (usually) sharpest among us, upon hearing that the maid of honour Philippa was about the enter, asked where Kate’s sister Pippa was.

Oh, I’ll take any chance to relive that.


Male readers may want to relive the sight of Pippa’s bottom as it sashayed into the Cathedral, but to mark this one year celebration, I am going to address another hot topic of the royal nuptials: Beatrice and Eugenie. Or the hats. Oh, those hats.

I’ve often wondered how men feel about hats, probably because I often wonder how I feel about them. In theory, they’re great. They have a practical benefit and a stylistic flair; this is especially key in the cold and damp weather that comes with London living.

Speaking of cold weather, I think men love knit beanies. I gather this when girls put them on before leaving the pub on a winter’s night and men just smile stupidly (the more stupid the smile, the more he fancies her). I also think certain fedoras, trilbies, whatever they’re called, are a sexy solution to bad weather – and as a recent trip to Vegas proved, a decent dance prop.

But extreme hats? I think we can all appreciate the artistry, but honestly… Beatrice and Eugenie were a subject of conversation, but who wants to be spoken about like that?! Also, can we for a minute discuss the fascinator? This may be the best named accessory on earth for the sheer fact that it is so fascinating, and by that I mean it sort of makes women look like those primordial deep water fish that have light bulbs and other fishing rod type ‘bait’ hanging off their heads. Do men understand what we’re trying to achieve with these things? Do we?

The thing is, the more extreme our choices, the more aware we are of them, and of ourselves, and about other people’s potential perceptions. Sometimes this feeling is welcomed; other times, it’s downright uncomfortable.

I give you two anecdotes.

Once I tried on a drapey, buxomy Vivienne Westwood situation at Liberty. When I left the dressing room, the wise salesperson said that while the outfit was ‘different,’ I emerged with my head held high so he recommended it without hesitation. My confidence, and its preservation, were the deciding factors.

Secondly, I studied art history at uni with a much beloved feminist professor. We were discussing the Cabanel painting of the Birth of Venus in contrast to another of its time, Manet’s Olympia. My professor taught us that what made Olympia so modern and (at the time) shocking was the eye contact and mental engagement of the subject, whereas Cabanel painted his model with her mental organ pinned down by her hand. In a weird way, I’m tying this back to hats. Your brain, probably the most sexy body part you’ve got, is inside that head of yours, so cap it off with something worthy of what’s going on in there. Don’t pin it down with ridculous cheap looking details. Go for quality. Go for something that makes you feel confident and then sashay into a room like Pippa down the aisle.

Or Philippa as the case may be.


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Bold Patterns

Stephen Meisels, 'Vogue Patterns', 2007

With Spring on its way, there is extreme pressure to get on board with patterns.  With this in mind at the weekend, I happily marched off to Liberty with a voucher and a burning desire to spend some cash.  After serious cognitive intervention, I backed away from the Manolos and tried on a Peter Pilotto print dress.  I emerged from the dressing room to a couple of swooning salespeople, flapping wildly about the intricacy of the pattern.  ‘Look at this signature chain detail, woven into the silk – and that’s just the foundation of what is an amazing print!’

As a woman, I appreciate that all of that is true.  I wonder if a man, however, would see this dress as he saw one of those early 90s 3D posters – you know the kind where if you squint your eyes up and look long enough, Jesus’s face will emerge… or a palm tree… or a Rolling Stones mouth?

While this dress probably doesn’t have any of those features, it did seem to convert my breasts into Lara Croft-like wireframes.  I suppose that’s a score for the men.  Otherwise, I fear that patters might do to men what they do to the eye.  Confuse.

The same goes for these Liberty, tropical and/or floral prints, rumoured to be all the rage this season. Are the feminine? Yes.  Do they attract the eye? No question.  But aren’t they just a little… Little House on the Prairie for these times? Oh wait, we are making them modern by clashing them.

Clashing patterns.

I read once that the difference between art and fashion is that art, in its time, is unpopular and later proves beautiful whereas fashion is at first popular and later seen as ridiculous.  Except the classics.  Like the little black dress. Men, in their wisdom, like those.  Well done, men.

I take it back – maybe patterns don’t confuse men at all.  Maybe men just see through them to the susceptible fashion victim underneath – and recognise that more straightforward styling choices reflect a stronger pattern of thought.

As a post script, I never bought the dress (more down to fit than pattern). The salesperson did try her best to convince me; she even brought me a pair of shoes to compliment the outfit. She went with the classic choice – the Manolos, and so then did I.

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