Dye, My Darling

This week, whilst reading about Courtney Love’s new fashion line, I discovered  rainbow-haired lady Chloe Norgaard. The Norwegian model has attracted attention for her crazy-coloured hair. Her hair looks incredibly good given the amount of bleach it must have seen and I love her grungey 90s style and smile. It’s not a look everyone could pull off, but she does it very well and it makes me feel rather envious.

At the age of 20 I decided I was bored of my hair, which I’d never really dyed, and decided I’d like to go blonde. I bought some bleach, hoping for a white-blonde Gwen Stefani-style look. Bleaching your own hair isn’t something I’d really recommend, especially if your hair is quite dark and you have little experience of hair-dressing. What I ended up with was a strange colour-gradient that ranged from white through canary-yellow to orange. The only person who thought it looked good was my colour-blind flatmate (and that wasn’t particularly comforting).

So it looked awful. As a bit of a rescue mission I bought a pack and red dye and coloured it over. My hair was the colour of pillarboxes and double-decker buses and I felt something like a superhero. It was fantastic.

It came with a lot of up-keep. I dyed my hands red. I dyed bits of my forehead red. My bathroom looked like a death-scene from an amateur slasher-flick. All my towels, pillowcases and shirt collars got a red tint to them. It faded almost immediately  and from using different dyes I ended up with a strange tequila-sunrise effect with orangey-red and pinky-red patches. I switched to an amazing Special Effects dye called ‘Infra-Red’ that claimed to give my hair a UV glow, and I re-did it about every 5 weeks. I couldn’t wear red. Or pink. Or green, or a lot of things, I was continually clashing.

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Halloween Costume Inspiration: Robotica

So, what did everyone dress up as for Halloween? I’m actually celebrating it next weekend, so I think I still have a bit of mileage for thinking about costume ideas (and buying all the spooky tat I can get my hands on).

I’ve dressed up as a robot before. It mostly involved cardboard and a lot of tin-foil. However the look can be done much better, going for more of a bionic look, half-human half-robot, or something of a futuristic cyborg. Or saving that, just taking a bit of inspiration from Barbarella to create a shiny silver space-age outfit. Here are a few of my picks for tough and shiny things.

The 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Red Carpet

I had no idea who this woman was (apparently she is a Russian singer), but this terminator-style arm piece kicks so much ass. Designed by Leonid Gurevich and created by avant garde jewellers Gilding Primal Instinct, it’s made out of replica guns.

Girl Armour specialise in these one-off, amazing breastplate outfits. I’ve never seen anything quite like them, they’re crafted to such fine detail. They look pretty sturdy too, don’t imagine they’re all that comfortable to wear.

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The Lascivious SS13 collection features this great metallic two-piece that seems a bit too special to hide under clothing.

Closet Skeletons – Halloween Inspiration

Photo by Pauline Darley. 

It’s less than a month until the dress-up event of the year (Purim excluded), it’s the Goth Xmas, it’s Halloween! And I have already begun scheming about outfits Some of the best/funniest costumes I see each year are based on recent cultural references (who’s going as one of the Avengers, Effie Trinket or Christian Grey this time?) or an extremely poor taste zombie version of a recently dead celebrity. Or this could be a chance to, Mean Girls-style, wear your most revealing costume under the guise of fancy-dress (teenage sex-worker seems to be a popular choice year on year). What are you planning on wearing? (What do you mean you’d not thought about it yet?!)

Personally, I think I’ll be going for something a bit more elegant. At the moment I’m drawing on my love of things anatomical and considering going for something with a skeletal-theme (though not day-of-the-dead sugar skulls, they’ve been done rather to…death).

 I’ve completely fallen in love with this embroidered body-suit from Marchesa. The detail is beautiful and I like how the sheer fabric shows off the body, whilst juxtaposing the bones on the outside, a gilded exo-skeleton. I’d like to wear this under a low cut dress, so the golden ribs would show across the chest (or wear it on it’s own to a rather wilder party!). Kirsten Stewart wore a dress from this collection to the Snow White and the Huntsman premier.

Other beautiful examples of the skeleton in fashion are this amazing leather harness from Zana Bayne (this too would look good over or under something more floaty and feminine. NSFW image here. I’m particularly taken with the detachable arms (complete with ulna and radius) and finger-harnesses.

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Amazing Legs – The Alternative Limb Project

Photo by Jon Enoch.

I recently went to see some of the Paralympics and was stunned by some of the skill and ability of the athletes. It really made me think about the strength and determination involved to rise to such a high level of ability in a world designed for the ‘able-bodied’. Indeed, seeing some of these individuals compete, it seemed strange to really think of them as ‘disabled’, they’re highly talented and possess abilities greater than the majority of the population.

London really raised the profile of disabled athletes and the closing ceremony was a spectacular example of this. One of the stars of the show was Viktoria Modesta, a singer and model who also happens to have had a below-the-knee amputation on one of her legs. Far from hiding it, Viktoria’s prosthesis is part of her unique look and she has various limbs for different occasions (and to accommodate the wide variety of platform heels she wears!). Looking through some of her photos, I spotted some more unusual artificial limbs. Viktoria has often worn pieces created by The Alternative Limb Project, who make imaginative and striking prosthetics that are also very wearable.

TALP director Sophie de Oliveira barata began her career by studying to create special effects prosthetics for film and tv and worked sculpting silicon limbs in a leading proesthetic centre before she set up her own studio. She collaborates with artists of various different mediums to create both ultra-realistic limbs and more fantastical and surreal pieces, tailored to the needs and imaginations of her clients.

These amazing limbs remind me of the carved wooden legs Alexander McQueen made for the athlete and double-leg amputee Aimee Mullens. They’re fascinating, beautiful and exclusive – pieces of art that can only be worn by a select few. My ordinary legs seem awfully boring in comparison! Work like this seems to speak about how difference can be interesting and exceptional, in the many ways in which it presents. 

Sophie in her amazing studio.

Eyecandy – Zhang Jingna X Mother of London

Time for something pretty! If money were no object, I’d have my entire wardrobe made by Mildred Von Hildegard, the designer of the enigmatic Mother of London. It’s all slick, asymmetrical leather with buckles, straps, studs and puffed sleeves and shoulder-pads a-plenty. Glamorous couture for a post-apocalyptic era. LA-based photographer Zhang Jingna (also known online as Zemotion) is a fierce young talent in fashion photography and for me, this collaboration is pretty close to perfection. Ethereal, ghostly and graceful, the model seems like a dark queen of the ocean. The location gives a feel of a kind of watery wasteland and the images are filled with contrast, milky whites and inky, tarry blacks. Delicious. I’ll no doubt be featuring more work from both of these fantastic creatives.

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Hello Beautiful! – Elin Kristin Lundgren Footwear

Would you look at these ridiculously amazing things? London College of Fashion graduate Elin Kristin Lundgren has created the Octopus boot, in beautiful frosted mother-of-pearl colours, glinting like an aquatic disco-ball. There’s so much attention to detail here, the detail on the heel, the buckled straps, the bubble-like cut-outs. Can you see the transparent platform with minature roses inside? This is something created with passion and perfectionism. There’s scant information about on the creator, but I expect we’ll be seeing great things from her very soon.

Nange Magro’s EEG-activated dress

Inspired by modern technology and Sci-Fi and driven by a ‘passion for surrealism and obscure, alternative worlds’ , London-based designer Nange Magro created the ‘Mechapolypse‘. The futuristic ‘electronic couture creation includes a cap with an EEG chip, detecting the electrical activity of the wearer’s brain. The designer states that when the outfit changes depending on the level of concentration, which I presume means that levels of alpha waves (associated with relaxation) are being measured. Changes in activation lead to the dress’s spine lighting up and the skirt opening up, rather like an insect’s wings, to reveal a transparent latex skirt. With a bit of practice, the wearer should be able to control the dress (and perhaps avoiding revealing themselves at the wrong time!).

On her website Nange describes her fascination with the concept of garments that are ‘technological sculptures’, “Which move and are in synthesis with the person who is wearing them represents both her ideal future and passion. A garment should represent an extension of the body and brain, and not merely be a mask that aims to divide or mediate the connection between a person and the surrounding world. Clothing should be something more than skin. It should be something that we can choose to describe ourselves in our own personal way; controlling it, means a lot more than we usually think. Being conscious of our body and its surrounding environment is one of the most important issues today.”

So what’s next, underwear that disintegrates with high levels of arousal? A shirt that shocks you if you start nodding off at work? I love the Giger-esque spiked helmet and spine but I’m not sure how I feel about my dress opening and closing according to my brain-waves. I applaud the unusual hybrid of science and fashion but I think this style may just not be practical for everyday wear (and also rather open to abuse!).