Sunday, September 22, 2013

My travel to hyper-reality - A xKx production

I recently got the opportunity to play stylist, this time with photographer and fellow student Kyle Springate. Kyle studies photography at our school of fine arts, Michaelis and thought it would be interesting to bring  me on board for one of his photo shoots. Interesting, used specifically here to denote the vast difference in our artistic styles and tendencies – Kyle likes simplicity while I enjoy drama. So for the sake of the shoot I limited my overboard creative energy and streamlined it into minimalistic stylish ideas for the mermaid-human themed shoot.

I really appreciated being limited, not just because I had to be resourceful in other ways, but also because it made me realize that a theme can be carried through in many visual ways other than with clothing. Speaking of which, ahem, there was little of. Kyle wanted his photography to shine in its own light without any hoopla and too much drama, understandable since after all he too is trying to break into a precarious industry. So as I came to understand the shoot was to be inspired by mermaids and not actually replicate them. My touches were thus quite small, but in light of the scantily clad bodies, they were somewhat noticeable. Oh, and the models were a breeze to work with, despite freezing in the early Saturday morning rain and being forced to shoot in the pool. I initially felt sorry for them but then I had a Jay Alexander moment realizing that I have watched way to many episodes of Americas Next Top Model not to know that a model needs to push through, pose and smize like their life depends on that one shot. My favourite moments were definitely the off-the-cuff incidents that I am beginning to notice every photo shoot has. The blue eye-shadow that became lipstick; the African beads that created a narrative; and the satin ribbon that was used as a bra-esque cover-up are the kinds of things I  live for! 

A special thanks goes out to the following peeps:

Iman Allie– Co-stylist
Chloe Brockman – Assistant
Angus MacKinnon – Location
Lisa-Marie Swaine – MUA
Matthew Miller – Ice Models
Candice Kitching, Sydney Bailey and Victor– 20 Model Management
Tameez Vayej – Moda Models

Fashion Faith

Scraping your pennies together for a new item of clothing is not new to the any budget strapped student, but for some getting what they want and dressing well is harder than it may seem. The obvious advice one would give to someone less fortunate in the finance department is to be as creatively savvy as possible by being more thrifty in scouring second hand stores, bargain bins and taking ideas to  a sewing machine. But balancing lectures with studies, cooking and a hectic series obsession can dishearten even the most aspiring of fashion lovers who are affected by both fiscal and timely constraints.

I don’t want to preach but my advice to you is to have faith in fashion. Needless to say, but still good to remember, is the fact that like fashion your current circumstances are cyclical. The office job and zeros to your bank balance will be added with time, hard work and belief.  Keep your spirit alive with the vast array of online platforms from which to seek and document your inspiration. Also, instead of drowning yourself in hopeless despair at not being able to bag the latest trends, keep things simple by keeping your personal style simple. By investing in staples you can add years to your look, instead of chasing after the years that will give you better access to more fashionable looks. Trust in your styling abilities and listen to that inner voice that tells you that its ok to justify your cheapness with being a student. Fashion can be frustrating, and sometimes your makeshift version of a trend doesn’t quite cut it even in your own eyes. The point is to stay hungry. When hurdles approach try to figure out a way around them without compromising your own style or budget. It takes contemplation, reflection and perhaps ultimately getting rid of something or an idea to realize what works and what doesn’t work for you.

To quote the editor of the fashion Bible:

“Just be true to yourself, and listen as much as one is able to other people whose opinions you respect and look up to but in the end it has to come from you. You can’t really worry too much by looking to the left and the right about what the competition is doing or what other people in your field are doing. It has to be a true vision.”

Anna Wintour

Some thrifty business with Pippa in our freshman year.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Keeping my head above the banal water - How campus style has changed

Whether it was to spot out well dressed folk or conduct interviews for a project of sorts, many of us have earned and embodied the name of this blog in our undergraduate lives. As you plonked your textbooks and coffee down beside you, your friends soon joined and everyone would chuckle at the common joke of majoring in Jammie stair people watching but in reality not knowing where the lecture venue was. For me it was much the same up until I started blogging and began to see people differently. Being an over-analytical arts student and all, this proved a fun hobby – creating stories in my mind about the clothes people chose to wear and what inspired them. These observations formed chunks in my mind over the past four years and has led me to notice how style has changed on campus beyond the obvious fashion trends.

Emma embodying ombre H2T, back in 2011.

My freshman year at UCT introduced small town me to a range of sub-cultures I was never exposed to before or only ever came across behind a computer screen.  Style on campus back then was a lot more exciting, as a result of a fairly large monotonous background of 501’s and faculty hoodies, which provided the perfect canvas for super creative looks. I remember spotting the rare leather backpack or the odd pair of military boots roaming around, not realising that these early adopters would soon pave the path for a stream of commercial lookalikes. Style on campus is quite different now, with local retailers and buyers becoming more trend focused and the surge in phone apps and blogs alike. In today’s melting pot of current fashion, it has become more difficult to stand out from the crowd of online shoppers or kids discovering their grandfathers closets (cue Macklemore song). Everyone wants to be a hipster, and the enticing thing about it is that you can no longer tell who really hangs out at &Union or who simply bought a few items from their local Mr.Price. This however has led to some unimaginative mannequin looking attempts to looking cool and as much it frustrates “true” hipsters, it angers me too. Some get lost in trying to keep up with trends while others look like they haven’t fully evaluated whether a certain style truly suits them and their body type. As elitist as this may sound, festivals and second hand shops were once reserved for a particular crowd. I have nothing against anyone trying anything new, I just question their reasons for such sudden transitions and where their own voice and sense of style lies between the cross-print leggings and oversized knits.

A nautical head wrap with a side plait at the start of 2012.

My observations are not always good. I keep having to remind myself about one man’s trash. Having a story is what always wins me over and convinces me that you decided to wear those vintage shades for reasons other than sitting next to a guy last week on a shuttle that looked cool with a similar pair. It speaks much more to your confidence when you choose to try something new and daring regardless of its appeal to your peers. The scales have shifted from being creative and looking good to looking good while playing it safe. Perhaps it is a good thing that we are in a space where current fashion is extremely diverse and you can bounce off looks from friends and class mates on campus before fully committing to a look. Similarly, all this diversity may provide a useful resource to anyone who hasn’t quite found what they truly like and would enjoy experimenting in an environment where nothing is unusual. How I sometimes feel about street style on campus is similar to my nostalgia of supermodels. Their star power was alluring and effervescent - they had a voice and style different to others yet they dominated the industry making it to some extent more difficult for new comers to enter.  The elitism is somewhat appealing, but mass adoption is what ultimately drives new trend cycles and inspires further innovation.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The last of the best sellers

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Thanks, you really like my outfit? - Why street style photography will continue to march to its own path in South Africa

A day without any good outfit sighting or a few refusals from rushed subjects can make any veteran street style photographer question themselves and their ability in that moment. But because the art is still fairly new and arguably less convoluted in terms of its relationship to and influence on the South African fashion scene, street style in this country is likely to emerge not only on African time, but more importantly on African terms.

We’ve all seen, followed and secretly tried to emulate some of the looks found by international fashion bloggers who report instantly from events and trips. Street style has emerged quite differently in the northern hemisphere though, with its current state being a mixture of appraisal and the arrival of anticipated professional recognition for amazing work by some, found in opposition to unoriginal wannabes with solely competition, fame and celebrity status on their minds. Street style photographers have received a fair share of backlash from the industry for no longer being inspirational but instead looking to capture those peacocking individuals who 'casually' stroll by during fashion week in the most outrageous outfits in order to gain some exposure for their work instantly. Although a season behind, South African creatives are perhaps more fortunate than they believe. Simply put, we don’t have to compete (yet) in a highly over saturated market where instant gratification trumps hard work and creativity.

What makes me think South African street style bloggers won’t end up being pushed aside in a sea of paparazzo? Firstly, street style has not yet reached the level of influence it has in the fashion capitals upstream. For the most part, other than fashion weeks here at home, street style is seen as a supplement to the fashion influencers and publications and provide a sort of authentic, sister-like advice on how to wear trendy garments. This is coupled by the overall sense of style we have as a nation in which comfort is more important. Our hopes and dreams for life are uniquely glocal – we subscribe to some of the glory a few seconds of fame may offer but our overall values sit uniquely in line with more holistic approaches  to living, consuming and dressing up. Although the idea of Michelle from Cinder & Skylark snapping your outfit on a day you feel particularly well dressed may seem appealing, you generally don’t go out of your way to hunt her down. (similarly when attending artsy events you know Mali from Skattie, what are you wearing? will too. Some may consider this a bad thing, the fact that we have not fully harnessed the reach street style can have on both industry and fans alike. I think that street style is a lot more genuine on our local shores because we have the time to browse through exactly what it-girls and models are wearing and wade through the snaps of stilettos on cobble stone roads and fur worn on sunny days. Being on African time may not be such a bad thing for street style photography after all – it gives fashionistas time to focus on other important aspects of trends and then interpret it on their own terms without any major pressure to influence designers or brands. We’re a friendly bunch, and perhaps it’s because of our relatively modest culture as a nation or the lack of a bounteous seesawing celebrity movement, but street style photography is still quite popular and is open to less hierarchical hate as our Parisian counterparts may be subject to. 

Scouting got me scouted by Elle South Africa.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Ready, Set, Mo!

The last time I ran after you to get your picture, I was an undergraduate student with starry-eyed ideas of what my life would be like. A lot has changed since then. I ditched the arty films for a calculator, my brogues for trainers and my fairy tale dreams for a full dose of reality. By no means am I devaluing my creative, first degree or “selling out” to a more stable line of study. Simply put I had no idea what I wanted to do and seeked further skills to attempt to use those I already acquired. After graduating I decided to do a Post-Graduate Diploma in Management to try to market the variety of otherwise muddled skills I had acquired throughout my Media degree. Switching faculties gave me a new, slightly altered sense of direction and this trickled down to other areas of my life like my health, fitness and sense of direction. I decided it was time to break down the mental barriers I had built around physical activity after years of failed attempts at the inequitable school sporting system. For the past few months I’ve been hitting the gym, downing protein shakes and eating (for the most part) like a beast, all in the hopes of building a better me and challenging my own ideas of what I am capable of.

My style too, is changing considerably. I am finally allowing myself to like things that make me feel good regardless of the trend or wow factor attached to them. So, when shooting around campus this very last semester I hope to find people who put together looks that speak to them in the moment, people who wear the clothes and not the other way around I hope to find a glimpse of personality in even simple, ordinary ensembles. We all know that trendy looks will always circulate and play on popularity, but simple ones dressed well with a dash of character can create an even longer lasting effect. This semester I urge you to look beyond the trends and to try to focus on your statement style and what truly makes you feel good. Having consistency and confidence in your own styling abilities makes a stronger impression and tells a personal story rather than hopping on the bandwagon of catalogue-styled looks that frequent the paved brick-roads of this beautiful university. Be strong and invest some trust in your own sense of style.

Peace, Love & Fashion


First this happened. 

Then my wardrobe had to change to suit the long hours I was to spend on campus (and then in gym). Bye-bye collared shirts and pretty accessories.

And then after years of changing styles and colour and spending endless amounts on product, I pulled a Britney.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I'm having a spring fling with...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Winter sun

Sunday, July 29, 2012

I'm ready

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