Posts Tagged ‘ASOV’

Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! My review for A Shaded View On Fashion.

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore Somerset House 20th November – 2nd March 2014 text and photos by Tamara Cincik

Dear Shaded Viewers,

Interning at Vogue is a rite of passage for a fledgling fashion editor – if they are lucky.

I interned at Vogue, a 3 month stint, when I came back to London, from a several months post-university hippy haze in India.

At the time, my look was more vintage party, than pret a porter Paris: wearing 1930’s ballgowns with Adidas trainers, a velvet turban and a bindi on my forehead, was my go-to uniform for the fashion room.

There I watched, learned and took in what it meant to be from Vogue and in vogue.

Izzy Blow was Fashion Features Editor, we sat next to each other: her with her rolodex, I remember lots of numbers written in red pen (is that a real or imagined memory? is this how memories become myths in the making?), me bagging up returns; her with her daily visits from Detmar and his sister, or Alexander McQueen, who was fresh out of college and still living at his mother’s, me with my dockets and biro.

Between calls (we prepped computer-free), we would have conversations about diverse subjects: from Medieval jewellery to Sir John Soane, whose London house she deemed ‘sexy’, as well as the merits, or not, of having babies and our families.

I knew that her family had had wealth and yet she didn’t have much, I knew she missed her family house and her father. I saw how much she helped so many people, with a passionate vehemence, like a classical patron, a latter-day Medici.

Designers Julien Macdonald, Alexander McQueen, Owen Gaster, Philip Treacy, or models, Stella Tennant, Iris Palmer, Honor Fraser, Liberty Ross, and Sophie Dahl, all started their careers with her support. She cared so much that they were nurtured, supported and encouraged, making connections, push, push, pushing those she believed in, onto her pages at Vogue, Sunday Times Style or Tatler.

Or onto the catwalk, where if she believed in a designer, she would be sitting front row, clapping and twitching excitedly with her support.

Perhaps she would be seated there with a lobster on her head, or a ship, perhaps with red lipstick on her teeth, perhaps an overload of fur, or Manolos with heels scrapped by bus rides.

In the days before the knowing cartoons looks of the bloggerati, I always enjoyed watching Izzy. Sometimes, I felt too shy to join the circus, which surrounded her at fashion shows; sometimes I was right there with her. And each time I was, I was welcomed with a charming clever conversation: be it about clothes, lovers or art.

The last time I saw Isabella, was at an afterparty for the gallery Detmar owned with my friend Pablo De La Barra. Pablo insisted I came to the Blow’s Eaton Square flat. I had come from a yoga class, wearing grey dyed KTZ leggings. Izzy was in a long white gown, about to go onto a party with Bryan Ferry. No one raised an eyebrow at either. The flat was brimming with people, art, clothes and ideas.

This is how I would like to remember Isabella: a social hostess, unjudgmental, elegant and in her element, spinning a web where threads of art, fashion, music wove seamlessly into happy memories.

I had been worried that the exhibition would not show her kindness, her charm, her self-deprecating lack of personal ambition when promoting those she believed in, her ability to overspend in pursuit of an amazing shot, or dress. But it did.

I did worry that a collection of clothes, without a sense of the woman who wore them, might feel empty. But it didn’t.

The charm, the themes of family, of England, of heritage and loss were all there, with each room a triumph.

I would recommend this exhibition to anyone who knew her, as well as those, such as the young man in the amazing triangle hat, I encountered there today who didn’t. Acolytes for whom her name is like that of a Hollywood legend, an inspiration for them to believe in the extraordinary.

Tamara Cincik.

My Latest Blog For Diane Pernet’s A Shaded View On Fashion: At The V&A’s Club To Catwalk Exhibition Opening.

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Club To Catwalk At The V&A: Lessons in Posteuring, Posing and Maintaining Glamour Relevance…

The Entrance to the Show.

I was invited to the press opening of Club To Catwalk this week.  If you fancy an hour of digestible street culture history, then I can recommend this exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

This is not a dense, intense, cerebral gallery show packed with anything more avant-garde than a well-curated edit of the most relevant designer pieces from yesteryear.  For an easy to learn lesson in British club culture: the exchange of ideas between music, art, clubbing and fashion, as well evidence of the St Martins meets Blitz roots of many of our greatest designers, this ticks all the boxes.

Smart Clothes: I love how Chrissie Walsh was inspired by The Ballets Russes and Kandinsky.


Genius Galliano.

A jacket Leigh Bowery wore, customised with hundreds of golden hairgrips, for The Blitz Denim show.

Love English Eccentrics texile designs.  Swoon.


Stand And Deliver!

Troubadours and Peacocks.


Goths and Victoriana.

Pam Hogg Catsuit With Friends.

Boy London and the Ray Petri Zone.


Film Noir For Club Kids.

Betty Jackson.

To book or for more information, please click here: –

Tamara Cincik.

My Piece For ASOV About The David Bowie is Exhibition Opening At The V&A.

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

From Everyday to Everyman, from Stardust to Space Oddity: The David Bowie is Exhibition at The V&A. By Tamara Cincik.


The Press Opening of the David Bowie is Exhibition at The V&A.  The first international retropective of David Bowie’s career.


I think a lot of us hold David Bowie dear to our hearts: like a precious friend who has seen us through so many versions of ourselves. We’ve grown up with him looking back at us across album sleeves and TV performances.  Depending on our age, perhaps we were there right from the start: watching his personas shift from cute quiffed boy next door to asexual alien, from rakish matinee idol, to troubadour.  There is something somehow both avant-garde, yet comforting; if David can do it, so can we.  If he can push himself to change, be creative, let go of success, of characters, identities, in search of new challenges, then so can we.  We don’t have to accept anything less from ourselves, we don’t have to settle for second best.  We can reinvent ourselves.



When I was starting to style, I was confronted by the fact that the work I was doing, was less than I wanted it to be, than how I dressed myself.  I’d been perfectly confident working as a fashion assistant to some amazing fashion editors, but once it was my name on the page, I felt nervous of being brave, or stepping out of line, of creating stories which were as rich as my imagination.  All of which was obviously frustrating.  One afternoon, I I bought a secondhand copy of ‘Hunkydory’ from Record and Tape Exchange on Camden High Street, where I lived and played it incessently on my record player.  The album would catch and I would have to nudge it over the jump, and the sound was both stereo and scratchy in that way that only records can be.  One song became my repeat play mantra, ‘Quicksand’ and it was these lyrics which pushed me to be braver, to reveal more of myself in my work, to dare to rise to my potential:

I’m not a prophet
or a stone age man
Just a mortal
with the potential of a superman
I’m living on
I’m tethered to the logic
of Homo Sapien
Can’t take my eyes
from the great salvation
Of bullshit faith
If I don’t explain what you ought to know
You can tell me all about it
On, the next Bardo
I’m sinking in the quicksand
of my thought
And I ain’t got the power anymore

I loved the way this ballad spoke of magic and dreams, of self belief and stripping away the bullshit.  That someone from Bromley could work hard, plug away and never give up on his creativity, spurred me on to try to be as good as that song.  I wrote a list to inspire myself with my aspirations and top of the page was: ‘To be as good a stylist as Quicksand is a song.’  Whether I have achieved that is open to debate, but what I do know is, I tried.  I tried really hard.  I let go of the fear.  Can you say the same?


I was looking forward to the press opening for weeks, would it live up to my hopes, I had a feeling it would, as The V&A consistently holds well curated exhibitions and to take on the popular culture god that is David Bowie, well you have to be brave and you have to have done your research.

I got a great sense of his collaborations, such as how at an early stage in his career learning dance and mime with Lindsay Kemp informed his performance personas, from Ziggy through to Ashes to Ashes, via a fascinating video of a long haired Bowie visiting Warhol at the Factory and nervously miming opening up his chest to pump his heart to camera.

IMG-20130320-00003 2

Similarly the clothes, the collaborations with fashion and set designers to create radical stage personas; these are not simple set builds or indeed costume changes.  If I learnt anything, it was how fully engaged he is with all levels of image control, from the mock-ups of album artwork he drew in coloured pen, to cardboard stage sets.


By the end of the exhibition, I actually felt very moved.  I really appreciated that this is a man, who like me, perhaps like many of us, has felt like an outsider.  Perhaps this is his appeal?  The normal boy from the suburbs, quite a shy boy, it seems judging from the interviews at the exhibition, who was drawn to keep trying, plugging away at being a singer, reading avant-garde novels on his way into work at an advertising agency, and for a time, 10 years in fact, nothing much happened.  And then when he created his first alter-ego in Ziggy, he was able to act, to manifest a stage identity to launch a messianic Martian: part space Odysseus, part Clockwork Orange anti-hero, somehow it struck a chord, a chord of the alien outsider, the leader from the everyday world made supergod from outerspace.




David Bowie is 23rd March – 11August 2013

By Tamara Cincik.

PS If you read this David, the curators said please could you come to see the exhibition.  If you do, I hope you like it.  I did x.

My Interview with Mary Portas for ASOV

Friday, August 26th, 2011


Mary Portas is a brilliantly British phenomenon. She transformed Harvey Nichols into the shop we all wanted to spend in; then she marched onto our TV sets, teaching her retail mantras to failing businesses, the charity market. From OAPs working in charity shops, to overly hair-gelled estate agents, her refreshingly real retail prowess made for gripping viewing, as we saw her map out how they could improve their businesses, we all felt her verve, her potent power at seeing where things could improve and wanted so much for them to listen. SS-Become
Now with her store-within-a-store at House of Fraser on Oxford Street, Mary has identified a gap in the mid-market high street here in the UK, the over 40s stylish woman. Cecilia Chancellor is the model: a face at once familiar to anyone who remembers ‘The Face’ or my old boss the talented stylist Anna Cockburn’s 90’s fashion shoots and I think the perfect fit for Mary’s store and its image. En route to a Cornish weekend away she kindly answered a few questions about the store and why someone like me (a new mother with so little time to shop, that service now more important than ever) might like to go there.


1) Mary Portas at House of Fraser is a new collaboration for Mary, in that it brings her manifesto – her Maryness to Oxford Street, to a department store and therefore to a mass market who know and love her from her TV shows. How different do you think this is from what is on offer currently on Oxford’s Street, or indeed ‘the’ high street?

Mary: Because I’ve created a curated space; everything in it has been edited down for grown up women in mind. Where there’s just too much stuff in the shops my space cuts through all of that to exactly what women need and want. Then the design of the shop is hugely important; the space and the staff is all geared towards a great experience. You’ve got to see it and feel it to totally get it. Bring your baby in, the staff will take care of you and him and give you coffee….


2) What I love about Mary is her direct no-nonsense charm: she gets straight to the point and we admire her all the more for it. It became a saying in our house: ‘what would Mary say?’ when we experienced bad service in a shop or restaurant. With online shopping so prevalent now, is service even more important for retail’s survival? Will we pay a little more for a little more?..

Mary: Service is a no brainer. Customers want service that includes knowledge. The staff in the Mary shop had an exam before they were allowed near the shop floor. When they serve you,  they will be able to tell you everything about everything in the shop; right down to how the shoes were made, and the essential oil in my candles and the story behind each one.

3) The over 40’s woman Mary has identified is a largely untapped  resource in fashion, which I agree is more fool the industry, as these  are the women whose kids have grown up, who have worked hard and
have  more money available to shop. What do you feel are the differences in their needs and wants from a shopping experience and how are you satisfy this?

Mary: This is the no bullshit audience. They want quality at a
reasonable prince, they want sexy shoes that won’t kill their feet,
they want modernity and style that reflects where they’ve got to in
their life and their achievements. Its not twee. Its slick and cool.
No-one on the high street is doing this.


4) My mother is an extremely glamorous 60 year old: ex rocker, child of the 60’s; well-versed in the ways of boutique shopping, as she started with Biba and Bus Stop. These babyboomers are the ones with
the cash, more than my generation are in lots of cases AND they are eternally youthful, way more than their war bride parents were. However they don’t like showing their knees and i saw alot of above
the knees looks on your website. Is this something, along with the arm coverage Mary has identified, which you are intending to add into the collections?

Mary: You can’t lump 40 year olds next to sixty year olds. Melanie is 40 next year! I’m sure you are in your mid thirties, you would not want the same things as someone twenty years older than you, it’s about a spectrum. There are a few above the knee dresses because the audience is grown up women; and not everyone wants to cover their knees! There are also below knee dresses; structured high-waisted leggings that are like spanx for your lower half, and pencil skirts that hit below the knee, as well as wide leg trousers. Later in the season, I’m proposing chic tunics to wear with those structured leggings and it is such a good look on a grown up woman. So many people are asking about this; I’m not dressing geriatrics. I want modern women through the door; if you don’t like your knees, that where the super high denier tights I’ve come in. My hosiery collection is designed to go with the dresses; the colours are great.

5) I love the collaborations with British brands, such as Clarks and Biba. What more are in the pipeline?
Terry de Havilland perhaps, Eley Kishimoto? For those of us who like our fashion more edgy than Clarks can offer, but still want it age appropriate and fabulous?

Mary: I haven’t collaborated with Biba; Biba is a sub-brand of House of Fraser’s and nothing to do with me! Working with Clarks has been a phenomenal experience for all of uson both sides, and the whole point is that my shoes look nothing whatsoever like trad Clarks. The Clarks elements incorporated into myshoes is the high quality production values, old-school workmanship,and best of all the inbuilt comfort technology. We’ve developed our own colours, leathers, and lasts.  This is Clarks, but not as you know it.

6) Christian Lacroix once told me that women over 60 tend to stop buying fashion. What can you do to entice them back into your shop?

Mary: Nothing, I’m not trying to entice anybody over 60. I’m trying to entice women with modern minds who don’t go around with a number attached to their sense of who they are.


7) What trends can you see translating from the catwalk into your store, ie appropriate for the market you have identified, in the next season?

Mary: I don’t see this market as a sub-group who are inspired by different trends than the rest of the market. This market is living in the same cultural landscape as everyone else; their needs are just slightly different, their desires are more sophisticated, and they put up with less crap because they can spot it a mile off. These are women, who if they had the budget would be shopping at Prada, Marni, Jil Sander, Donna Karan and DvF. There is nothing out there for them at a mid-to-premium high street level.  My sister is at the top of her profession in the NHS; but she could never stretch her salary to Prada, only on big birthdays. When she came to my shop she was like a kid in a candy store.   We’ve already set down some of our Spring 2012 trends. We’re feeling for sleek 1990’s inspired modern sporty silhouettes; we’ve got some spectacular prints in development with a contemporary artist, and there is a definite 1930s feel of opulence and elegance in the air inspired by the chic of Nancy Cunard and Diana Vreeland.


8) Do you intend to take this to other stores after London?

Mary: Yes. Manchester is next.

9) How hard is service with a smile?

Mary: I only employ happy people, service with a smile comes
naturally to them.,default,pg.html