Friday 5 February 2016

Three Birds

A parrot, a magpie and a crow all lived together in a wardrobe full of clothes.

The parrot was bold, confident and debonaire. She adored fine tailoring, classic details and well crafted yet comfortable footwear. She believed in the enduring appeal of a woman in menswear and could never resist a good blazer. She had an encyclopedic knowledge of fashion and she never stopped talking about it. She would go on and on and on, banging on about English shoes or Jil Sander at Uniqlo or some such thing, until the other two had had enough and would tell her to shut up.

The magpie was a tinker, resourceful and endlessly curious. Old fashioned couture, luxurious fabrics, folk textiles, anything shiny, all of it pleased her. She was incapable of walking past a shop window without pausing or leaving a junk shop without buying something, but most of all she loved to sew. She was always trying to make things she thought would please the other two but they never came out quite right and she only ever pleased herself. 

The crow was thoughtful and clever. She knew that nothing beat a well-cut, quality avant garde piece and she liked to go about undercover in a minimalist overcoat and preposterously overdesigned shoes. She secretly wished everything was black, white or navy blue, and that the other two would stop shopping so that she could afford Yohji Yamamoto. 

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Thing #10: George Cox/Robot brothel creepers, 2015

I wish I could say I was cool enough to have been wearing creepers all my life. Unfortunately I'm not. Like many people, I returned to the style a few years ago when thanks to Mrs Prada the crepe sole began inching its way back into fashion favour. I bought my first pair in about 25 years from Underground, who along with TUK are probably the best known and most easily available of the dedicated creeper brands. Being very classically minded, I went for the most basic style possible: a three eyelet lace up with a pointed toe in plain black leather.

Before I go any further, let me say that my mass-produced Underground creepers were very nice shoes. They were rugged and comfortable. They quickly became the indispensable workhorse on the shoe farm and I walked them into the ground. But by the time they became unwearable it was obvious that any replacement was going to have to be an upgrade. It was time to go back to the source for some English bench-made quality of the kind only to be found at George Cox.

Tuesday 3 March 2015

Signature #1: Snowflake Tattoo 3.3.2015

Some images in this post are not safe for work.

By the time you read this, the ink will be drying on my first ever tattoo, a decorative hexagonal design based on the crystalline shapes that form when water freezes. This snowflake motif was inspired by a weekend I spent in Warsaw with a dear friend of long standing (let's call her Celine) five years ago this month. I've chosen to put it on the inside of my right upper arm, where I can display or conceal it as the fancy takes me.

Attitudes to body art have changed significantly in the last ten years with more and more people going under the needle. It's no longer considered as vulgar to sport a fine line tattoo on the forearm as it was a decade ago and if not for these changing mores I'd be unlikely to consider wearing such visible ink myself. But perhaps the question is not why permanent skin embellishment is creeping back into favour, but why it should be considered improper in the first place.

Monday 23 February 2015

Thing #8: 1970s Vintage Pea Coat, sourced 2008

I once spent several weeks during the run-up to Christmas stranded on the couch after a cycling accident. With nothing better to do than surf the Internet I did all my gift shopping online and bought a winter coat. I looked at many examples, new and vintage, from many different sources and I passed up a number of brand new mid-range coats to buy this one. I've not regretted it for a moment. They really don't make 'em like this anymore.

Buying vintage online can be a gamble when you can't be sure what you're looking at. Used garments rarely declare their quality in amateur photos taken by independent dealers. It's far harder to assess fit when all you have are a vendor's measurements. How can you tell how fabric feels from an image on a screen? All you can do is use your imagination and trust your experience. 

Monday 9 February 2015

Thing #7: Ralph Rucci Pin Tuck Dress, completed 2015

Appropriated Edge has been woefully silent for a month or so, during which I've been learning some valuable lessons in the art of community engagement, an essential life skill for an aspiring blogger. Here on the Internet, we all have the potential to become part of a shared global conversation in which we are both content providers and audience members, an ideal which collapses when all that time you spent engaging with the community has kept you from updating your blog. 

So I've decided to begin again with the garment which in a roundabout way inspired me to start this enterprise in the first place, a project which I began as 2014 was drawing to a close. This is the Ralph Rucci pin tuck dressa notoriously complicated piece of home couture which I would probably never have attempted without the inspiration of one particularly talented sewing blogger

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Thing #6: Artisanal Tartan Jumper, purchased 2013

After my investigation of Pringle and its reinvention as an international fashion brand, I decided to show you the real deal. A genuine Scottish jumper, tartan no less, knitted in East Lothian and purchased last year at Macraes of Edinburgh at the bottom end of the Royal Mile, where Scott Officer's gorgeous hand-framed intarsia sweaters had a small cult following among the neighbours. I later discovered on a subsequent trip that its riff on the Hunting MacLeod tartan appears on more or less every carpet in every guest house in the country, making it the perfect nominee for the title of Appropriated Edge Christmas Jumper 2014. 

This wool-silk mix jumper is so far removed from the vagaries of high fashion and the ubiquities of the high street that it probably shouldn't exist at all. In fact, it's tempting to say that it lives outside of fashion entirely and any attempt to recontextualize it as an objet de la mode is bound to be fruitless. But I'm going to try anyway.

Monday 15 December 2014

Thing #5: Vintage Andean poncho, acquired 2003

This poncho is the sartorial equivalent of a holiday snapshot: a traditional textile purchased on vacation in Peru. We walked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, ate piranha ceviche on the Amazon, and went shopping for blankets in Cusco.

In the space of a few seasons, wearing a blanket has gone from fringe (ahem) trend to completely normalised in fashion land, thanks to Louis Vuitton's eyewateringly expensive throws and Burberry Prorsum's faintly ridiculous monogrammed security blankets. Suffice to say that this was absolutely  not the case when I bought this over ten years ago.

But I'll say it upfront, if my wardrobe were to catch fire, this unique piece would be one of the first things I'd rescue. Its controversial status as a fashion item has never bothered me particularly when for every snide remark from one onlooker there's always been a gasp of admiration from another. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this is no ordinary blanket.