Faint Glimmers Remain

In the last few years, most of the world has fallen on tough times, and dressing has teetered towards the funereal—dark colours, simple tailored cuts and a minimum of jewels. I’ve personally experienced a style crisis and stripped my wardrobe of flimsy materials, banishing the romantic forever. This purging extended into a larger creative shuffle: I broke up the family circle of antique chairs surrounding my dining-room table to line them up like soldiers, and didn't bother about the festering damp problem on the wall, choosing instead to see it as part of my exam-incarcerated existence.

In grey moments like those, joie de vivre is a faint glimmer and life is an old brass teapot wanting some elbow-grease. This photograph of me, sitting void of inspiration on the floor, actually reveals quite the opposite. There is a peculiar glamour in lycra running shorts, converse sneakers and a midday black lace mini, paired with an eccentric neckpiece and hair in a messy bun. There is so much glamour in the "I don't care" of this life. The beauty of this is its dull shine: the hint of extravagance as it was, and the teasing residue that lingers.


An Affair with Aqua

A purchase for the soul.

I believe that the shopping experience can be incredibly spiritual, and fully support the 'retail therapy' cliché. There are few things more healing than discovering an item that makes one feel magnificent. It can partially mend a broken heart or bring about the positive drive needed for a job interview. When shopping one is searching for an item that will 'suit us'; in other words, we search for an item that speaks to us, and speaks of us to the outside world.

I once watched a girl on a style programme who hung all her dresses and handbags on her walls. Her entire bedroom was sartorially wallpapered, leaving her boyfriend completely baffled. He simply couldn't understand his girlfriend's intimate relationship with her wardrobe. She named each of her beloved items and refused to put them away. This may be a bit extreme, but attributing human qualities to inanimate objects is completely understandable for me. Shopping is the search for an item that brings out a part of us that's been hidden away: sex-god/dess, professional, rocker...

And perhaps even more than dresses, shoes and handbags, I believe that jewellery has a voice. Lying in a velvet-lined box or hanging simply from a peg, a piece calls out to its future wearer. Handmade jewellery speaks more seductively than a machine-made piece—the latter shouts out bawdy promises for a fling to be finished with the next season (or even before, if quality has anything to do with it!).

We live in a time of senseless mass-market production for mindless fashion fad-driven shoppers. I don't slate glossy magazines, but I do slate people follow them blindly, treating them as the voice of reason without looking in to themselves to find it. Fashion-related media in general should be seen as tools for ideas and inspiration, even a little guidance, but not all-knowing dictators.

Trends are the think tank of artists or designers whose creations are a part of their personal search for identity. If the message of such a creation appeals to you, then by all means wear it, but adapt the message to apply to you and your life philosophy: this is what makes an intelligent dresser. I don't want to be a fashion slave, but I'm not interested in being a no name brand either. I would like to be a self-created brand that reflects who I am: a product of the past, present and future. This copper-knit necklace dripping with turquoise crystal drops [last seen here] is one of my hand-picked jewels—there is no doubt, however, that it could quite easily have an affair with Michelle.

—Writing and photo by Emma

[Note from Michelle: Someone who manages to consume virtually every high-fashion trend and yet always look like herself is the indefatigable Anna Dello Russo. She also has a to-die-for jewellery collection.]



We're almost there! Still on the subject of sunglasses—this girl is such a rock star, wearing frames from Amsterdam. How does she make a furry shrug/tee shirt pairing look so easy? —M