Posts Tagged ‘learn’
Whatever Happened to Counterculture
The Sex Pistols were cited as the voice of the underground: daring to swear on national TV, wearing safety pins and gobbing at the audience, they were the 70’s merry pranksters, hell-bent on pogo-ing their anger into our expletive-shocked consciousness: a reaction to the death of hippie free love and the shell-shocked dawn of Thatcherism. But look again, weren’t they styled to within an inch of their Westwood tees and Malcolm McLaren graphics; the World’s End refrain to punk’s politically angry throes: more boy band hype than voice of a generation? Perhaps their svengali, Malcolm McLaren was a precursor of Simon Cowell; perhaps the Pistols were nothing more than a manufactured by-product of a maestro on the make.
However, the vital difference is that they celebrated their teenage angst: a half-arsed career, spiralled by bad management and indolence, where shock was the common denominator, they didn’t care who realised how disgusted with the state of the nation they were, indeed I’d argue it’s this for which they are remembered more than their music; while the country waved Union Jacks to celebrate the Silver Jubilee, they dared to ask whether this really was a load of old bollocks…
A generation ago, in 1981, while the world was brimming with excitement over the romance of a Royal Wedding, in a parallel to today: Diana, a teenage virginal shy bride, who blushed into her fringe, the fascinating innocent, was held aloft with our expectations and collective gasps of adoration. We all bought into the myth, millions watched the spectacle and believed in the fairy tale. Sadly, like all fairy tales it had its dark flip side. Perhaps if we had been a little less naïve and more astute, we might have woken up from the fantasy earlier, to realise, that like all mythologised stories, there is always a rite of passage, a big bad wolf, a witch and a sacrifice. A virgin bride, an older, diffident man who loved another, the innocent, yet aristocratic nursery worker who was bound to grow up and ask questions, the institution of royalty; it is only now with hindsight perhaps that we can see what a recipe for disaster this truly was.
While most of us were fluttering flags at street parties, or watching fireworks explode in red, white and blue celebration, there were already the hints of the anger at Thatcherism’s divisiveness to come. That summer saw the Brixton riots: London literally was burning, people who had lived and worked in this country for over a generation, were no longer simply happy to bow down to institutionalised racism, they took to the streets and dared to answer back.
To come were the Miners’ Strike, the Poll Tax Riots, the St Pauls, Toxteth, Hansworth and Tottenham Riots. While it was the era of yuppy, meritocratic materialism: a glossy sense of grab-it-now excess, where we were told that we too could work hard and reap the benefits, that if our prime minister was a shop keeper’s daughter, we too could rise to the top of the pile through hard work and endurance and even buy our own council house at a heavy discount to gain entrance into the exalted realm of the home owning middle classes. There was the insistent drum beat of the angered anti-voice, those who questioned Tebbit and Thatcher’s political framework, the dawn of a time when Britain morphed from manufacturing global force to banking pleasure isle and dared to fight back.
So what has changed in the past 30 years?
Well, again we are about to celebrate the flag flutterings of another royal wedding: this time not to Diana the hunted, but to Kate the middle class, a proto-icon of discreet taste and astute acceptance, who, let’s hope, is more protected, loved and aware of precisely what the contract she has entered into is.
Again, too, we have a Conservative (albeit in coalition) government, again we are in recession and again we really ought to be angry. Ought to be…
But are we really? Personally I am furious! I am appalled that the cabinet is made up of the over-privileged and under-qualified; I am disgusted that they are closing schools, libraries, crèches, charities, hospitals and public sector jobs; I am shocked that they propose university fees which will prohibit the majority of students from leaving without a debt so epic they will never be able to pay it back. When Winston Churchill was asked to make cuts in the arts after WWII, his response was that the arts were what they fought for and if you cut these, what you had fought for was worthless.
I never thought that there would be a government worse than Thatcher. I loathed her with the venom of my youth: despising her glib, controlled platitudes. Where I too woke up from the seductive dream of the Blairite New Labour’s Cool Britannia, horrified at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, at least I felt that my sense of Britain was echoed back in the Labour government’s Thatcherism-lite appropriation of social conscience socialism. One where the state of the nation was tied into a world order of equality and democracy, however hard that might be to implement in reality.
Perhaps as one of the last of the meritocratic generations: a product of a grammar school and the first in my family to go to a university, I was a Thatcher’s child. Certainly I grew up believing that I too could and would do whatever I wanted, if I worked hard, possibly doubly hard than those from a more privileged background, who maintained their sense of collar-up entitlement, but against whom I knew I could play career poker and win the game.
The fashion industry I entered as an assistant stylist was a fascinating secret world and I was intoxicated by its perfume. I worked for the Fashion Editor Anna Cockburn, doyenne of a style called ‘grunge’ (but so much more), who challenged the style status quo, with work which allowed the raw, the beautiful and the damned their place; a fragile voice made strong, which meant fresh air, ruffling the feathers of fashion’s establishment (who else would call in Ann Summers which was then mistaken for Helmut Lang by colleagues at a Vogue shoot?), while we partied to Nirvana and rave and believed love was the way to break down the class barrier.
So here we are 30 years on from 1981 in 2011: another Royal Wedding about to entrance us with the dream of a good girl made good princess; another Tory government telling us they are in this too, while George Osborne, the trust fund tax exile, pushes through a budget so draconian, a generation of children will be tied into debt.
While the 1980’s had the Falkland’s War: a battle for a place which sounded Scottish, but which was actually closer to the South Pole; we have wars of so many fronts, that the war on terror seems an endless, expensive sacrifice.
While the 80’s had the poll tax riots, now they are about to make squatting illegal; while students then lost the right to claim benefits, now they are tied into a £60,000+ debt per BA degree; while then we had Section 28, last month Philip Sallon was seriously attacked while walking in Piccadilly, yet curiously there is no CCTV of the event; while then we saw the closure of mines and factories, of any possibility of Britain maintaining an industrial autonomy, now we sit back while the bankers foreclose on our debt, yet issue themselves with bonuses akin to Third World economies.
Am I alone in thinking the world has turned topsy-turvy???
Am I alone in thinking the world needs to wake up??
Am I alone in wondering why people aren’t taking to the streets?
Am I alone in wondering where is the voice of the counter-culture?
Am I alone in thinking that Lady Gaga and her glossy, veneered ilk are not enough of a reaction and wondering where fashion’s politically expletive voice is in all this?
Am I alone in disbelieving that what we have now is worse than what we had?
Am I alone?
Words by Tamara Cincik
With less than a month to go until I officially enter the secret, though now unlocked, room marked motherhood, I have veered between excitement and terror: excitement at meeting this kicking belly of a baby; terror at the responsibility and possibility I might be a rubbish mother. Then I look at this photo, taken by chance in an Istanbul restaurant and I feel warm inside, seeing how much love I have always enjoyed. Mum looks so beautiful; Dad is working a look, I am crashed out at the dinner table, as was my wont when I felt the need for a disco nap. When I see this, all the confusion of trying to do the right thing: should I ape Gina Ford, or copy Gowri Motha fades into the hormonal happy haze of late pregnancy as I cross my fingers, hope for the best and appreciate how much love I see in that snatched moment: this I see means more than regimes… Happy Mother’s Day! They really are amazing.
Last week I was invited to be the first stylist to come in and host a mentoring session at London College of Fashion’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion. Woo-hoo!
Alex McIntosh, who works there, agreed with me in our chats beforehand, that my take on sustainable fashion: ie that it needs to be as good as its unethical competitors, while maintaining it’s credentials, is the right way to see sustainable fashion’s future and this then was the starting block for my lecture. Our opinion was endorsed coincidentally (great minds think alike!), by New Gen winner, designer Christopher Raeburn, at the Esthetica talk hosted the day before at Somerset House. (http://www.christopherraeburn.co.uk/ )
Where compared to last season it was a much stronger selection of pieces from eco-fashion designers, on the whole much more likely to sell and get shot by stylists – which after all it surely what it’s all about!.. Was great to see old friends, such as Noki’s JJ, there with his NHS collection, as well as my girl Jessie Brinton take part in the talk. For me the gold star goes to Nina Dolcetti. Her taupe boots were glorious and this season’s ‘little sweets’ collection of shoes, really show how good design and ethical business can be viable. www.ninadolcetti.com
So the next day, daunted by the prospect of quickfire students and nervous to the core, I entered the pleasure dome LCF lecture hall and hosted the best morning of work I have enjoyed in a long time (goes to show that it is worth facing one’s nerves sometimes!). There had been a phenomenal response, something like 30 designers came to the event. So after a quick breakdown of my own career – which I tried to glide past(!), I discussed celebrity endorsement and the importance of visual imagery and consistent iconography for brand identity: breaking this down from the highest of high end, such as Chanel and Dior, how it has worked with my celebrity clients and then how this translates to these designers own developing labels. Fascinating, when you break down marketing a strategy and see how this effects each of us: from me the stylist, through to designer, advertising exec, art director, consumer et al, it is really simply fascinating. Especially when you translate that to the power of good, creating innovative sustainable fashion: ie guilt-free consumerism, which doesn’t rest on it’s eco-credentials, but really is a product of good design.
I worked through the designer’s own collections: their lookbook imagery and concepts; spending time with quick-fire responses to their individual strategy and vision for their company, mentoring each of them with different questions, answers and responses to their work, as each is a different designer, with a different style/collection/aim/idea of who their brand is aimed at. I came back to them with game-plans, ideas and I hope some good advice! I loved it, I really realised how much I enjoyed mentoring them, when I realised 4 hours had gone by and I would happily have stayed for 4 more!
For links to some of these designers’ work, please check out:-
Here is a piece I just wrote for the online green glossy magazine ‘Style Will Save Us’.
New years’ resolutions: so well-meaning, so hard to keep…
After enjoying the Christmas Craftacular fair hosted by Bust magazine in December, perusing the cute handcrafted gifts on sale: from embroidered brooches to knitted hand grenades; all to a DJ soundtrack of feel-good disco, I was inspired to use my Uncle Anthony’s John Lewis Xmas gift voucher to buy needles, a knitting book and 12 balls of grey wool.
My intention was clear: I have the allotment, I have the bike, I make my own hand creams and potions, I am keeping health food stores in credit crunch credit, but now there was another skill I needed to add to my list of DIY ticked boxes.
Knitting on your own is fun. I felt like my Nana, chilling, whilst knitting with one eye on the holiday season roster of film epics; but as I learnt when I went along to the Stitch ‘n’ Bitch event at the Royal Festival Hall, knitting with others is even better.
It was a rather bracing walk across Embankment Bridge and felt very
pleased with myself that I had made it along and not bottled out. 175
other knitters clearly felt the same!
It was such a lovely, nurturing way to spend an evening: there were novices and experts from punkette students and office workers, to glamazons and grandmas. Some taking advantage of the 2 for 1 cocktail deal, sipped colourful concoctions whilst sharing skills and smiles, pouring over patterns and needles.
Newcomers, like myself, were made to feel very welcome and could choose between an impromptu masterclass or joining the round table of knitters all happy to chat, ready to include you into the merry band.
With the ‘make do and mend’ mentality being all the more resonant in these economically challenging times, the message of coming together
as an ad hoc community and enjoying making something special and
unique for ourselves, seems the most pleasurable, yet modern way to spend an evening.
TAMARA CINCIK is a fashion stylist, writer and ‘style faculty expert’ at the fabulous new School of Life.
This week I’ve seen two films, both set in totally different versions of London, yet both completely charming in their way.
Somers Town by Shane Meadows is set in that small pocket of the city stage right of King’s Cross and where until recently I lived. I laughed so hard at points: the ducker and diver neighbour with the leopard print ensemble is genius. ”Where am i?” Tomo asks hungover on his fake leather sofa; “Barbados”, he replies, quick as a flash. North London quick wit – gotta love it!
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Dolly (Anna Trevelyan) is my former assistant and sparkly soulmate. We met up for a summit meeting in Soho Square: she was channelling Nancy in a slashed stonewashed denim homage to her one true love, Sid Vicious; I had enough jewellery on to give me neck ache. After Japanese food (Dolly) and green tea (me), while swapping advice and mutual appreciation, we went by chance to see Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. It was the perfect antidote: satin and deco elegance, I wanted to live inside this film! Set just prior to WW2, it casts a glitterball light on the games pretty girls play to survive inside the glamour dome; but how true love conquers all and feeds us more than furs, lingerie and stagelights ever shall… Smiling and calmed, I went onto Carnival, Dolly to a friend’s dj night; both daydreaming of bias cut romances.
Marianne Faithfull: Memories, Dreams and Reflections
How I would have loved to have studied at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics!
Kate Atkinson: When Will There Be Good News?
Not quite sure darling! As the story takes twists and turns in Scotland with past and present crimes.
Am reading in search of the best book to start my book club at Bistrotheque (am super excited about this: dinner, books, chat: heaven). Please let me know if you have any suggestions for this. Claudia suggested ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, but it was only by the time I got to Bali – ie the third/love section – that I realised I had in fact read this before!.. Not quite as bad as The Celestine Prophecy and good for her to write a bestseller to tell women to dump the man, travel and find a better version of life, but no this is not on the list…