Monday, 29 June 2015
Sunday, 28 June 2015
James Phillips' play, riding the wave of London's McQueen hysteria on the back of the V&A's "Savage Beauty" retrospective, was inspiring at times, but overall rather uncomfortable and pretentious. Its insight into McQueen's creative process was stunning, but it did largely appropriate his suicide in a way that was both cringe inducing and distasteful to anyone who has knowledge of McQueen's life, and death. "Savage Beauty" was much better.
The play was not simply a history of McQueen's life, though arguably it would have been better if it had been. The problem partially lay in its fictionalisation of the character of someone who was to a large extent an enigma whilst alive. Furthermore, being so recently deceased, it seemed insensitive to make such bold assumptions about his reasons for suicide then put them into a play performed for an audience's entertainment. McQueen was undoubtedly an incongruous fashion favourite. His refreshing, evolutionary creativity was completely different to what fashion had been before him. To try and understand the mind of someone capable of creating such hauntingly beautiful clothes is a great feat. To be able to do so sensitively then write a play about it, almost impossible.
In the play, a young woman named Dahlia breaks into McQueen's house, demanding that he make her a dress. They begin a one night only adventure across London, starting at the Saville Row tailors where McQueen began his career. There, he makes her a dress. Next they go to a club where McQueen is interviewed by a condescending journalist. This is also the scene where McQueen shows his unique skill to analyse strangers; past their appearance, into their history, their minds, their wants, their needs. The next scene was in a church where McQueen began to photograph Dahlia in the dress he had made for her, before realising that she had overdosed in an attempted suicide. He takes her to his mother's house and lets her try on a coat made of golden feathers that he made but doesn't have a collection for it to go with. This scene showed how having faith in fashion can be a powerful force. McQueen tells Dahlia that when she wears the coat she will feel invincible and like everything will be okay. She is doubtful, but eventually she puts it on. Next they are on the top of a tower block watching birds. At the end of the night they return to McQueen's house. Dahlia leaves, having promised that they would only spend one night together.
The main problem with the play was the script. The lines were melodramatic and pretentious; basically like everything I ever wrote when I was fifteen years old. Dahlia was very manic pixie dream girl, only instead of taking McQueen away from his problems, she forces him to face up to them. When they stand on the tower block at the end McQueen says to Dahlia that she deserves for someone to love her even when she is sat in a dark room all day crying or when she screams when the tube passes her so that no one hears. Of course everyone deserves to be loved, but this seemed a bit too Effy/Freddie in "Skins." You cannot depend on anyone other than yourself. If you are depressed, no one is going to save you but you.
Dahlia's character was underdeveloped and consequently seemingly shallow. She clearly had a lot of demons, but the audience never finds out anything more about her. She is merely a prop for McQueen to uncover his own underlying problems and anxieties. I have a fundamental problem with one-dimensional female characters. Obviously the play was about Alexander McQueen, but that does not mean that the other characters should be overlooked or ignored. By the end of the play none of Dahlia's problems are resolved. She just disappears into the night as ethereally as she arrived. Perhaps it was all supposed to represent a dream?
That said, the fashion elements of the play were beautiful. Dancers wearing McQueen-esque creations gave life to the play and reminded the audience that this was a play about a fashion designer. The scene where McQueen makes the dress for Dahlia is also fascinating; how the dress is made so speedily around her and how McQueen decides on what it should look like based on Dahlia's personality.
The scene with Isabella Blow was jarring because it was so real. In that respect it was very well done but it is important to remember that only 5 years have passed since McQueen's suicide. That is long enough to celebrate his work, but still too short a time to recreate conversations that McQueen may have had in his head with the woman who helped make him famous and whose suicide in 2007 was linked to McQueen's.
Overall, I'm glad that I saw the play because I unashamedly love all things McQueen. If the play had been wholly fictional perhaps I would have enjoyed it more. However, I am very critical about representations of mental illness so I'm still unsure. I enjoyed "Savage Beauty" a lot more than "McQueen" and for a fraction of the price.
Saturday, 27 June 2015
I want this summer to be enchanted. This means lots of walks and books and evenings watching the sunset. I finished reading "Rebecca" by Daphne de Maurier yesterday afternoon and it was slow to begin with but so haunting and mysterious that I could hardly put it down. I'm now reading "Emma" as my goal this year is to read as many classics as I can written by women (if you have any recommendations please leave them in the comments below) because my degree course will probably be dominated by male writers; not purposefully but there are more books written by men than women so it is likely that it will be. Also, I wrote a lot about feminism and literature in my personal statement before realising that nearly all my favourite books were written by men.
1. Abbey Lee Kershaw in Vogue, 2. Flint by Antonio, 3. tumblr, 4. Lorde in Dazed and Confused, 5. Declan by Antonio, 6. Rookie, 7. Naomi Campbell, 8. Nadja Bender in Muse, 9. Gemma Ward in Pop, 10. Kirsten Dunst, 11. Elle Fanning for Rodarte, 12. The Beatles, 13. Heathers, 14. Prada lookbook Spring 2008
Yesterday I went on a 12 mile walk. On Thursday I went to the park and lay down on the grass. I read and wrote, lying on my front and feeling my heart beating against the earth. I spent the school year studying poems that revered nature in English Lit and now I'm really understanding what all the poets from 500 years ago were on to. I've been putting off tidying my room and starting my zine because I love being outside so much at the moment. Being in the sun makes me feel so content, despite the fact I've got sunburnt twice already. I don't mind spending time by myself this summer. It gives me time to think and feel and read and write, especially when I'm outside and with nature.
Friday, 26 June 2015
My first week of summer has been pretty busy. After my last exam I caught the bus to Brighton with a friend, spent the next day chilling out in the park, went to Savage Beauty with Antonio, met Ellie for the first time and saw McQueen the play. I've been trying to take my camera, book and journal everywhere I go this summer, so here are some of the photos I've taken from this week.
Above is the outfit I wore when I went to Brighton last Thursday. The jacket, culottes, shoes and socks are from Topshop, the top is thrifted and the sunglasses are River Island. The necklace was made by a friend. I bought a candy necklace to mourn my childhood because I had officially finished school forever. I haven't eaten it yet. It's still hanging with the rest of my necklaces.
Brighton is one of my favourite places ever. It is the most liberal city in England, has a beach, quaint shops, a wonderful pier and is the setting for Brighton Rock. What's not to love? I discovered that it is really cheap to get the bus there from where I live (last summer I got the train) so I shall try to go more often.
These photos are from Thursday, when we went to Brighton. It was so hot so we just sat on the beach and read and listened to music. We made a list of the best things to do in Brighton (see below) so that we wouldn't waste the afternoon. We decided to go on the "Wild River" ride because there aren't many days in England where it's warm enough to go on a water ride I read Lorde's interview with Dazed magazine on the beach and it made me sad that I can't just lie in the ocean this summer like she can living in New Zealand. It was really interesting though and I loved the cover, but the photos inside were mixed. Lorde is so intelligent. I sometimes forget because her songs put into to words how I feel about teenage life before I even realised that that was exactly how I felt about it. Lyrics like, "cola with a burnt out taste, I'm the one you tell your fears to" and "that slow burn wait while it gets dark, bruising the sun I feel grown up with you in your car" sound simple but they are so accurate. She also has a great business brain, having written the whole score for the Hunger Games. Just, UGH. .
Lately I've felt overwhelmed by the pressing inevitability of growing up. The future is moving faster and faster before my eyes. I went to my school's leavers' breakfast this morning and now I don't have to go back to school again until results' day. This is my last school summer holiday, and I constantly feel as though I should be making more out of it. It's the typical thing where you're sitting in your room and being angsty and emo whilst you watch from your window as the sun shines and couples walk past arm in arm. I spend all year longing for summer and then it comes and it's just like any other holiday only a bit warmer. Last Friday I didn't feel this way though. It was the very start of the summer and I lay in the grass feeling like the sky; so vast and free and limitless. I want to feel like that again.
On Sunday, after seeing Savage Beauty, I finally got to meet Ellie from Rose and Vintage, having read her blog for 2 years. She was so lovely and cool and funny. We met in the V&A then walked to Hyde Park to climb trees, which was really fun until we realised that there were huge bug nests in the tree we were climbing. I STILL feel sick thinking about it. The sound of someone playing bongos merged with the concert music from the other side of the river. We danced underneath a willow tree and it was the perfect way to spend the summer solstice.
On Monday night I watched the "Free the Nipple" film. It was really interesting and it showed that there is still so much to fight for; especially in America. The free the nipple movement itself can seem trivial up against other problems and the film itself wasn't particularly intersectional. However, it did highlight why being able to show our bodies and take pride in them is important. It would allow us to own their own bodies; not having the media tell us they're dirty and wrong only to sexualise them and sell them back to us. I'm writing an article on this for the next issue of Pretty.
Anyway, I hope you all have had a good week!