Instagram is an amazing thing. Thanks to it, I recently discovered my new favourite vintage store in LA, Collection. The Echo Park store, which opened at the end of July, is kind of a hidden gem. Although situated on Sunset, it’s towards the downtown end, where the bustle of Echo Park fades away and there’s only the odd shop dotted around. I’d driven past its neon sign several times, and thought it looked interesting, but it was Instagram that gave me the inside scoop. Offering a finely edited selection of vintage from the closet of a life-long collector, it’s curated with “an eye to current trends but a focus on timeless classics.” Think ’90s but not the ’90s of grunge, mini backpacks and plaid skirts. This is the more sophisticated ’90s by lesser-known designers with a quiet, modern aesthetic, like Rifat Ozbek, Ghost and Richard Tyler. Their clean lines, easy shapes and subtle details still look contemporary today, and fit in perfectly with the minimal, bohemian look so popular on the east side of the city. I got a sneak peak of the treasures the store offers at the Current Affair vintage fair (a must!) this past weekend, and plan to check out the store in person very soon. It’s right up my street.
A long overdue LA lately! Here’s a few Instagram highlights of what I’ve been up to this summer. From the top: The amazing kaleidoscopic marble floors at The Getty Villa, Stained glass decorations at the Ojai Rancho Inn, amazing floor tiling at the Raven Spa Silverlake, more Ojai Rancho Inn decor awesomeness, tranquility at Korakia Pensione in Palm Springs, breakfast at Sqirl, Jarvis and Florian introducing the Pulp documentary and succulent wreaths in Ojai.
A couple of weeks ago I finally got the chance to see the long-awaited Pulp documentary, Pulp: A film about Life, Death & Supermarkets. Screened by Cinespia at the United Artists Theatre in LA, it boasted a Q&A with both the director Florian Habicht and the legend that is Jarvis Cocker.
I don’t why I was surprised that it was a sold-out event with lines disappearing round the block, but I was. Pulp, the British Indie band that defined my teenage years, big in America - who knew? To me Pulp has always been a very British band, singing about British life in a kitchen sink drama kind of way that is unique to our gloomy little island. How could that translate, how could anyone else who wasn’t British possibly understand if they hadn’t grown-up there?
Of course I knew that my American friends loved Pulp, that the band held the same resonance to them as it did to me, but at parties, weddings and bars when Common People or Disco 2000 came on I would look around the dance floor and think, (rather ungraciously) yeah, but you don’t really know what it’s like. You don’t know about council estates and chip stains and wood chip on the wall.
But what I loved most about the documentary, which followed the lead-up to the final performance of their comeback tour in their hometown of Sheffield in 2012, was how it proved me utterly wrong. Some of the most joyous moments in the film were interviews with mega fans, who’d traveled from all over the world to be there for this homecoming gig – from the Aussie twins who’d accosted the band at an Australian festival earlier that year to a nurse from Georgia, who’d traveled all the way to Sheffield for one night for the gig.
It was the nurse who moved me most. She was so beautiful and loved the band so much and what she said was so eloquent that I wasn’t sure if she was actually an actress playing the role of single mom nurse who’d traveled thousands of miles to see the band perform or the real deal. She explained that growing up in Georgia Pulp had been her favorite band, and what appealed to her about them was that they sang about things she could relate too, like being a single mom.
It made me realize that the band’s appeal is universal, and it made me appreciate that you don’t have to be a Sheffield native or a girl from Glasgow to enjoy their music. You can be a single mom from Georgia or a German dude or Australian twins, the themes Pulp sing about – love, loss, lust, longing - translate. It made me realize that I was being a little ungrateful and a tad selfish for wanting to keep the band, and what they mean to me, to myself and my peers only, when clearly there are so many people from all over the world who also feel a special connection to their music. Was their emotional connection to the band not valid simply because they weren’t British?
As I watched the film (which is amazing and well-worth downloading, whether you’re a Pulp fan or just a fan of music documentaries) I let go of my snobberies and enjoyed sharing the Pulp experience with my friends from America, Quebec and the UK, who are all mega fans and who to each of them Pulp means something different and something personal. And Jarvis was pretty good too.
Nobody rocks a T-shirt and jeans, or a white shirt and jeans for that matter, like French actress Marine Vacth. The gorgeous 23-year-old from Lyon is the mystery girl in the Tommy Ton shot from a few posts ago. An accomplished model (she took over the Yves Saint Laurent perfumes campaign from Kate Moss in 2011) she recently moved into film with her first lead role in French Director Francois Ozon’s controversial movie Young & Beautiful, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May. She’s also been getting a lot of attention from the fashion pack for her slouchy, androgynous style – think white button-through shirts, wide leg trousers, boyfriend coats, ’90s jeans and blazers, all paired with an ankle boot. She oozes that effortless elegance and fresh-faced gorgeousness that only the French seem to master. And the best thing about her? She looks like she doesn’t give a f**k. Girl. Crush.
My favourite, not necessarily trends, but pieces from the Spring/summer 2014 shows. The oversized sheer T-shirts and longer line proportions at Calvin Klein, the lace slip dresses at Stella McCartney, the graffiti prints and coat silhouettes at Celine, the tailored jackets at Chalayan and the high waisted culottes at Proenza Schouler. An exciting season ahead indeed.
LA is full of strange and beautiful little secrets. Like the hidden stairways you find all over the city, that connect the pedestrian main streets to the hills behind them. Or the Garden of Oz, an odd yet delightful psychedelic homage to L. Frank Baum in Beachwood Canyon. My favourite has to be the Chandelier tree though. Situated in Silverlake near the reservoir, I first started noticing it on my weekly trips to the nearby Trader Joe’s. Looking like something from a fantastical Tim Walker photo shoot, it always made me smile whenever I went past. Unsurprisingly it’s become something of a local landmark - but a mysterious one. I’ve always wondering who created it? Who lived there? And how much must their electricity bill be each month?! All those questions are answered in this lovely little video by film maker Colin Kennedy. Watch the story of the tree and its creator Adam Tenenbaum above.
Video by Colin Kennedy
I don’t know who this girl is, but I love everything about her look. From the oversized slouch coat to the ankle skimming jeans to the black Chelsea boots, it’s basically everything I want to wear right now.
Image: Tommy Ton for Style.com
I’m really bad at shopping in LA. I think it’s because to go shopping here takes a concerted effort. You have to get in a car and drive there, where as in London it is all around you, all the time. Bored at lunch time? Just nip out the office down to Oxford street and have a rummage round Topshop. Got an hour to kill after work before meeting friends for drinks? Hit up Zara or H&M for that one piece you never knew you needed. Let’s just say I did a lot of damage when I worked near Oxford Circus and when I left London I gave 3 massive laundry bags full of clothes I’d hardly worn to the local charity shop.
So I guess LA’s lack of high streets a good thing, as it means I don’t spend so much on impulse buys that I never wear again. I have become the inconceivable, a considered shopper. Who knew? It seems very grown up. Nowadays I do most of my planning online (for best pieces and prices) before setting foot in a store and I make sure I buy pieces that I’ll wear more than once, and that work with the rest of my wardrobe. That being said, my new sensible shopping routine doesn’t appear extend to footwear. I’m still prone to buying shoes that are too small for me, thinking it’ll be ok (it’s never ok). Anyhoo, here’s some of my recent online buys, and some that have gone on the wish list for now.
My buys: The perfect white shirt from Zara that’s going to take me from the very mild fall we’re having in LA to the equally mild winter. I’ve been looking for a good tan shopper for my every day needs for ages and Zara happily came up with the goods this season. My wish list: The ultimate leather skirt for winter, courtesy of Whistles. Their leather selection is just awesome, from biker jackets and a-line skirts to carrot leg leather trousers (that’s right, carrot leg leather trousers. Don’t judge, they’re amazing!) check it out. I’ve been searching for some stylish but comfy everyday sandals for ages and these little babies from Aussie brand Kuwaii in the palest of lilac are like a dream come true for me.
LA lately, the life changing edition! This summer has been a very busy and momentous one. I got married, moved house and next month a new edition of my book launches. Like most people I’m massively guilty of comparing everything I do to other people’s achievements and sometimes it’s just nice to take a moment to sit back, take stock, and be grateful for what you have, rather than focussing on what you haven’t. A friend recently posted a great quote from Theodore Roosevelt which pretty much sums it up, “comparison is the thief of joy”. I’m trying not to let anything steal my joy these days.
Images: Griffith Park Observatory views/new shoes by Deux Souliers/ big box little box / Parker Palm Springs times/ my bridal bouquet from my favourite florist, Clementine in Silverlake/ new mini edition of my book!/ outdoor library, Beachwood Canyon style/ watching my fellow Glaswegians Belle & Sebastian at the Santa Barbara Bowl/ beach times.
Images from my instagram @londonsusie
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty over street style at the shows. The circus it’s become in the past few years is too staged, false and repetitive for my tastes. Everyone seems to be dressing to be photographed (sometimes in more outlandish and desperate ways) and the initial joy and inspiration I found in the spontaneity of those kinds of photos keeps diminishing season by season. The market is too over saturated and the public, fashion insiders and fashion observers too self aware. It makes for style and fashion that feels forced and false, rather than something that is innate and personal to an individual. Amongst this though there are still moments of simple brilliance from people who don’t have to try too hard. People like stylist Ursina Gysi above, or Stevie Dance, or Yasmin Sewell. What they all have in common is they are comfortable in their own skin and know their own style. Amongst the hundreds of street style images we’ll be bombarded with over the next month, they’re be the type of people I want to see.
Images: Tommy Ton for Style.com
I recently came across the British sculptor Brian Griffiths while researching a piece on exhibitions in my home town of Glasgow. Known for his inventive and sometimes fantastical sculptures made from reclaimed and found objects, Griffiths has transformed items as mundane as old furniture and cardboard boxes into space ships, gypsy caravans and Viking sail boats. I especially love the orange tarpaulin covered bears head, which explores the same techniques as his current exhibition, Borrowed World, Borrowed Eyes, at the Tramway Theatre in Glasgow. Playing with the gallery’s industrial space, he’s created a maze like field of huge geometric sculptures, covered in old, painted and patched tarpaulins. Something about these giant boxes intrigues me, or maybe it’s just the muted utility tones and juxtaposition of shapes that remind me of Ben Nicholson, one of my favourite artists. Either way the results are oddly bleak yet strangely appealing. I wish I was in town to go and see it myself but sadly it finishes on the 22nd of September, way before my next trip home. If you’re in Glasgow be sure to check it out.
The perfect summer dress. It’s as elusive as the perfect pair of jeans or the perfect stripey T-shirt. A piece that you happen upon accidentally, rather than seeking out on purpose, because when you do it evades you, like some sort of elusive mythical creature. To me, the perfect summer dress is simple, casual, flirty and doesn’t try too hard.
It was cemented in my mind, bizarrely, by a series of car commercials I watched growing up in the early 90s. In what has become an advertising classic, the commercials featured a young woman (Nicole) and her dad (Papa) in Provencial France. The story of each advert goes like this: Nicole waits for Papa to be distracted while she steals his car keys and goes off on an adventure, returning the car before Papa has time to notice. The joke being that he’s aware of her escapades the whole time, while also indulging in some of this own.
Nicole is a typical French beauty, with that fresh faced gorgeousness and casual chic style all French woman seem to have. In my favourite ad, she is wearing the ultimate summer dress, a little flippy polka dot and striped button through number, that is subtley sexy and just 90s enough. I’ve been seeing more of these dresses around lately, perfected by ethical label Reformation, who make all theirs out of deadstock, surplus fabric and old vintage pieces. Everything is one off and limited edition and even better, good for the environment. They have the look nailed. If they remade the car commercial today, I know what Nicole would be wearing…
I saw Terrence Malick’s Badlands for the first time at the weekend. Beautifully shot and styled, it was like every frame was a perfectly composed photograph, artfully balancing colour, pattern and light. I couldn’t take my eyes off Sissy Spacek’s alien beauty and Martin Sheen’s dead ringer for a young James Dean. Together as a young couple on the run from the law they travel through some of the most spectacular American landscapes - like Edward Hopper paintings brought to life or William Eggleston photographs in motion - adding to the dream like quality of the film. I can see why it’s consistently referenced by film makers, designers and stylists, and why it’s been preserved by the US National Film Registry’s Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” A true American classic.
I’m in a bit of a dilemma at the moment. I have a collection of art, fashion and design books, lovingly and proudly built up over 13 years of living in London, from my time at art school to time spent working in the fashion industry. Currently, they’re all residing in storage in Scotland, and as I settle in the States I’m starting to wonder whether it’s worth shipping them over to California or whether the cheaper option would be to start the collection from scratch again, a daunting thought! If I bite the bullet and start again, I know which book I’ll be starting with, this beautiful Taschen book on Raf Simons. Edited by i-D Founder and Creative Director Terry Jones and delving into the i-D archives, the book celebrates the designers own menswear label, his work for Jil Sander and his new appointment at Dior. If that wasn’t enough to peak my interest, it even has Kate on the cover. Although it’s released on Taschen on the 15th of July, you can pre-order here.
LA Lately. Store fronts and sunbeams in Silverlake, furniture shopping in Highland Park, Chris Burden LACMA lamps, visiting the new Leica store (which is amazing!) Guisados Tacos with lovely Leonie before she left for NYC, a new restaurant on Beverly I’ve been meaning to check out for ages, more LACMA, the re-opening of Echo Park Lake (hurrah!) and The Princes Bride at the cemetery.
Images: My instagram: @londonsusie