Saturday, 31 December 2011

Moments that defined 2011...

2011 will most likely be remembered worldwide as a turbulent year.

From instability in the European financial market to Colonel Gadhafi in Lybia, 2011 was defined by economic and political tensions.

The top 5 moments that I think 2011 will be remembered for are:

1) U.S Commandos kill Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan raid

US Navy Seal Team six will go down in both American and world history after the elite unit raided a Pakistan compound in May and killed Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda, orchestrator  of the 9/11 attacks and the worlds most wanted terrorist.

The killing came ahead of the 10 year anniversary of the September 11 attacks, which was marked by many memorials and tributes.

2) Japan suffers from an earthquake, tsunami and a resulting nuclear crisis

People all over the world banded together to help the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. A record 9.0 quake resulted in mounting calamity, especially due to the threat of a nuclear disaster when wavces tore through the seawall and into the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

3) The Arab Spring: regimes fall in Lybia and Gadhafi is killed

2011 kicked off with the Arab Spring: the domino effect of toppling governments. The public of Tunisia, Egypt, Baharain, Syria and Lybia revolted. Despite individual circumstances, this domino effect, aided by social networking tools such as facebook, gave the Arab Spring a collective feeling. In Egypt and Tunisia, citizens managed to achieve quick and astonishing change. However, in Lybia protesters battled with supporters of the long-time leader Mommar Gadhafi. The contagion of protest spread to the US with Wall Street, rather than the government as a target, and lead to the killing of Gadhafi in October, after he had spent months on the run from rebel forces and NATO bombardments. Revolts still continue in Syria.

4) The Royal Wedding

In the midst of turmoil viewers all over the globe found a moment of ease with the fairytale perfect Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. It was one of the most watched event of the year from
TV to internet viewings.

5) Amy Winehouse dies

The unexpected death of Amy Winehouse in July was mourned throughout the world. The singer and songwriter died at age 27 of alcohol abuse after consuming three bottles of vodka, five times the legal drink drive limit. It was reported that the artist's private GP, Christina Romete, that Amy had said earlier that day that she did not want to die as she had not yet achieved all she had set out to do. This feeling was shared by many and has been reflected in tributes. Though a great talent was lost, her voice will live on.

I am really sorry I have not blogged in the past few days, I forgot how manic this time of year can be. Have a good New Year everyone :)!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Must have of 2011...

Apple iPad 2

Last year everyone wanted the iPhone but in 2011 it was all about the latest apple creation, the iPad.

The tablet laptop has two cameras for FaceTime and HD video recording, 10-hour battery life and over 200 new software features. With so much squeezed into such a portable and light piece, which supposedly weighs less than a newspaper, it is no wonder why everybody wants one! 

However, in many ways the iPad 2 is just a crowd pleasing piece with it's stunning design in comparison to it's previous predecessors of the iPad 1 and the iPhone 4. However, bar the difference in weight there is not much else between the original model and the iPad 2, which brings up the question of why is it so much more popular? Was it all down to good advertising? 

Also, the iPad 2 does not offer every feature that iPhone 4 users enjoy in iOS 4.3. You cannot use the iPad as a personal hotspot, which is a feature that lets you share the phone's 3G Internet connection over Wi-Fi and your other gadgets.

By no means I am saying the iPad 2 is an unimpressive creation, it is remarkable that is drops in weight yet sustains it's battery life. However, I feel it is a gadget that will stay very much in 2011. The iPad 2 wont hold the crown of the best tablet laptop for long.

Writer of the year...

Caitlin Moran

The Times columnist's debut novel, 'How to Be a Woman' has wowed all this year with it's witty take on modern feminism, so much so that it was voted book of the year by the public. 

The 36-year-old wrote her book in 5 months, taking inspiration from twitter instead of the library! The part-biographical, non-fiction novel, which defines feminism as 'simply the belief that women should be as free as men,'  follows Caitlin from her thirteenth birthday- 'I am 13 stone, have no friends, and boys throw gravel at me when they see me'- through adolescence, the workplace, Topshop, clubbing, love, fat and the more serious topics of abortion and motherhood.

Moran's novel will have to snorting with uncontrollable laughter in recognition of situations that are so true of life, whilst also providing readers with a short but sharp feminist message. Though the book is prized for it's humour, there are serious sections that are just as striking, for example, the sections on her birth and abortion are particularly moving, even more so because they are true. 

The final argument made by Moran is that there should be more of us: different women having more power in the world. Why should only the women who are deemed pretty and young be successful? Moran argues for more female happiness, and 'How to Be a Woman' once read, will add to any woman's confidence.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Blogger of the Year...

First of all I would just like to say MERRY CHRISTMAS!

As a wee present I am going to award my blogger of the year to...

 Kathryn and her blog: 'A Pocket Full of Fashion'

This fashion and beauty blog is both versatile and entertaining. In Kathyrn's Outfit of the Day posts she always picks pieces that are stylish yet affordable, which is great for students like me.

I also picked Kathryn as my blogger of the year because she takes a real interest in every area of blogging and helps promote the blogs of others with a list of her favourite blogs on her home page and with encouraging comments to many new bloggers. 

Merry Chistmas Kathyrn!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Actor/Actress of the year...

Colin Firth in The King's Speech

Though this film was released at film festivals in 2010, it was not released in British cinemas until 2011 and that is why Firth's performance is still considered the best of 2011 in my opinion.

This film was exemplary in every way, especially when it came to Colin Firth's performance. 

The film opens with the the Duke of York (as King George VI then was) attempting to give the closing speech at the Empire Exhibition in Wembley Stadium in 1925, which was broadcast around the world. From this opening scene Firth plays the part perfectly. He looks completely anguished behind the eyes as he fails to speak. The scene is of such an upsetting nature that Firth manages to sway the audiences sympathies behind this poor man for the rest of the film. 

Firth manages to stammer brilliantly throughout, making it a great dynamic device. The intensity of his character is played perfectly off the cheeky, colonial speech therapist, Logue, who is insistent on using first names, donning the King Bartie. 

The long scenes between Geoffrey Rush's character of Logue and Firth in the consulting room are well sustained and very funny. 

In my opinion, the film really revolves around this relationship more than anything else. This Rocky-style story line, in which a man who has lost all faith is helped by a gifted trainer who triumphs over what is at first considered the impossible, is often overdone in other films. This is perhaps the only downfall of The King's Speech as it is completely devoted to this restricting story line, with no sub-plot. There are also minor questions of inaccuracies, as there always are with films based on true stories, The King's Speech gives across the impression that Bertie had no other friends bar his therapist, which is not strictly true.

However, despite these minor criticisms, Firth's performance in conflict with Rush's character brings the film to life. He holds the viewers attention throughout the film, with the audience backing his character every step of the way. The King's Speech is definitely a film that leaves you with your heart in your mouth. 

Friday, 23 December 2011

Request blog of 2011...

A certain friend of mine, who has been loyally following my blog :), has requested that I write a RnB/Hip-Hop themed blog. I must admit this is quite daunting for me as this is not a genre of music that I know much about but I will try and give it my best shot.

Hip Hop: From birth to the modern day

Hip Hop: A culture and form of ground breaking music and self expression with elements that consisted of the elements of graffiti art, DJing, MCing and breaking.

Looking at this definition I, alongside many others, utter the question: Is Hip Hop dead?

(Public Enemy)

Back in hip hops heyday of the 80s and early 90s, the most popular and successful groups were militant, they made genuine political statements. Groups such as 'Public Enemy', 'A Tribe Called Quest' and 'KRS-One' , despite their stylistic differences, seemed to be working as a team to vocalise and raise awareness of the history and experiences of black people, particularly in the US. They symbolised a distinctive change for the better in US society, in which it was now acceptable for young kids to look up to, respect and aspire to be like black public figures. However, today rap stars, though famous and idolised by some, are less admirable in the sense that they don't stand for anything, they do not represent a mass political movement and they are often poor role models. This has been shown by Kevin Powell, former Vibe magazine senior writer and editor of 'Who Shot Ya? Three decades of Hip Hop Photography', 'If you were a young black male growing up then, you could aspire to be Chuck D, or Big Daddy Kane, or Too Short, or Doug E. Fresh. You had choices. That doesn't exist anymore.'

Hip Hop artists today rap about money and violence and less about the hardships of those who fought for their civil rights, 50 Cent felt the need to bang on about his past as a drug dealer that was shot 25 times. It seems that if rappers were to write about more cerebral issues they would be mocked by their peers or be deemed as less gansta, which is ironic as, in my opinion the most gansta of all are those who bravely stand up for what they believe in. Co-founder of politically concious group Public Enemy, Bill Stephney, states, 'There is an over-representation of the criminal aspects of black youth culture from the videos and the records... Not all black kids out here are slinging on cocaine, crack and heroin and shooting at one another. What about the black kid who works at Haagen-Daz in Brooklyn? He or she is not represented. What about the black kid who just goes to church with his grandmother on Sunday? I don't hear their story in any of these records. All I hear is bang, bang, shoot em' up!' 

So what I want to know is how did this happen? When did rap leave it's glorified political past and become an expression of violence and abuse in what has been described as its least innovative period? 

Is it due to what has been called the crack epidemic in urban communities which changed many of the values of youth black culture in the 1980s? Is this what has created the 50 cents of the rap world who express a die hard mentality over meaningless materialistic things?

This mentality began in the early 90s with the introduction of the group NWA (Niggaz Wit Attitudes), which represented the beginnings of the careers of many big rap names today such as Dr. Dre and Ice Cube. While their first album was great, their follow up, 'Niggaz4Life', seemed to talk about violence, drugs and sex. However, it was this album which sold in mass quantities and, therefore, defined a new popular movement in hip hop music.  

('Express Yourself' from NWA first album 'Straight Outta Compton' (1988) reflected the end of the glory days of politically motivated hip hop before their more modern follow up album)

Record labels pushed aside groups like Public Enemy to make way for the future of hip hop, hungry to match the enormous sales of NWA. This new direction was set in stone after the release of 'Suge Knight's Death Dow Records' - which released albums by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.

This made way for the first popular white rapper to hit the hip hop scene. Eminem's first three albums made a total sale of 20 million, representing $300 million gross for Interscope Records. 

American record companies have made huge profits from selling ghetto culture to the mainstream consumer. However, the movement in the sound of RnB and Hip Hop music is not completely the fault of the record labels. In todays hip hop music artists with catchy tunes, such as Dizzie Rascal, have just borrowed the backing tracks from previous records, taking away from the creativity and integrity of the music. Stars such as Puff Daddy, for example, started this trend. Puff Daddy, who previously made ground breaking tracks with Ma$e and B.I.G., later topped the charts with songs that instead of using samples borrowed entire records. 

(The backing track is taken from 'The Police' track 'Every Breath You Take')

The modern day consumer also plays a part in these developments. The consumer has changed. Back when Run DMC were popular the majority of hip hop consumers were black kids now, the majority are from white suburbia who are looking for a way to rebel. As co-creator of Public Enemies Chuck D said, '15 years ago, rappers rapped for the people, whereas today they rap for their companies, because money dictates the direction.'

Though the popular movement of rap has changed there are still underground rappers who write about politics  and more diverse themes. I think it is hard to say whether hip hop has died. It has definitely transformed. Despite the fact that lyrics are perhaps less meaningful than they once were, some aspects of the hip hop industry have changed for the better. Concious rappers who write about politics and mistreatment of their peoples sometimes sacrifice the quality of the music itself for powerful lyrics, where as non-concious rappers like Snoop make much more catchy and musical records. 

Another important aspect of rap in the 20th and 21st century is the dominance of females in the industry, with artists such as Eve and Missy Elliot. This is perhaps the one positive thing I will take out of 2011's hip hop. This year the rise in popularity of rapper, Nicki Minaj, has shown that women can be highly successful in the industry. She has broken the glass ceiling of the hip hop world and is possibly the most popular RnB artist of the year. 

Biggest heart of 2011...

Jeff Skol

The billionaire, first full time employee of eBay and the previous President of the online auction house has used his financial status for good in his second career and has became one of the most noted humanitarians of the last decade. 

After making his fortune from the wake of eBay's success, Skoll departed from the company and progressed to create the 'Skoll Foundation', which was launched in 1999. The premise behind the organisation was Skoll's concept of the 'social entrepreneur': individuals who are defined by the Skoll Foundation as innovative beings and creators who break the status quo and transform our world for the better. The foundation currently funds 81 social entrepreneurs as they tackle unique challenges in over 100 countries across the globe.

Thereafter, Skoll established the broad 'Skoll Global Threats Fund' in 2009 to tackle the issues of climate change, water scarcity, pandemics, nuclear proliferation and conflict in the Middle East. Alongside this Skoll created 'The Participant Media' in 2004 to produce films about what he considers to be meaningful or world issues. The noted 2006 film, 'An Inconvenient Truth' received an Academy Award for the Best Documentary Feature. The release of latest blockbuster 'The Help' has totalled nearly $175 million worldwide.

In May 2011, American publishing and media company, Forbes, compiled a list of 19 individuals who have donated at least $1 billion over the course of their lives including Bill Gates ($28 billion lifetime giving). This list calculated that Skoll had donated approximately $1.2 billion since the late 1990s. Skoll's charitable record predominantly consists of gifts to eBay stock to the Skoll foundation, however, it also includes a $7.5 million donation to the University of Toronto and an $100 million donation to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. 

Skoll's humanitarian work was recognized when he won the Tech Awards James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award in October of this year. 

The reason I have chosen Skoll as my humanitarian of 2011 is mainly because he seems genuine. Celebrities, such as Angelina Jolie (UN goodwill ambassador) and George Clooney, who have taken on mass humanitarian projects usually win humanitarian awards, most likely because their work is more widely recognised due to their celebrity status. However, though I appreciate the work these celebrities do is admirable, I sometimes can't help but wonder what their motives really are. Do they genuinely want to help those in Libya or Kenya or do they crave positive media attention? Though, Skoll is known for his work with eBay he is hardly a celebrity and I feel that he sometimes does not receive the credit he deserves. 

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Biggest LOL of 2011...

Charlie Sheen 'Winning'

In 2011 Charlie Sheen redefined the term celebrity meltdown, which even put the Britney Spear's head shaving incident to shame.

In January the actor's top-rated comedy 'Two and a Half Men' was put on hold whilst he was treated for substance abuse. However, only two months later, Sheen was fired from the show after making some extremely abusive remarks about series creator Chuck Lore, CBS and Warner Bros. 

Then just when we had all thought that things couldn't get any worse for Charlie, he went completely off the rails. This was first apparent in the interviews following his departure from 'Two and a Half Men', do the words 'tiger blood' and 'winning' ring any bells? Next thing you know Sheen was involved in another complete mess involving custody issues with troubled ex-wife Brooke Mueller and was then booed off stage during his slated 'My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not an Option' stand up tour. 

After the infamous 'Good Morning America' interview, Sheen landed 2 million twitter followers all eagerly awaiting his next bout of insanity. It was only a matter of time before spoof youtube videos were made.

Though, I do admit that I, alongside the millions of viewers, found the songify winning video amusing, which is probably why this moment has been titled as the biggest 'lol' of the year. However, when I take a step back and think for a moment I do feel almost guilty for laughing at the breakdown of this broken man. The transformation of his meltdown from news to an internet sensation probably helped to fuel Sheen's excessive breakdown. It had became more a spectacle than anything else and, with a rapidly increasing number of twitter followers, Sheen probably wanted to exploit his own exploitation and top his latest drug fuelled scandal.

Luckily, it seems that Sheen is gradually recovering from the years events after rehabilitation and is now patching up the cracks in his family life after going on holiday with ex-wife Denise Richards and his two children. 

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Biggest loss of 2011...

Amy Winehouse

The death of Amy Winehouse on Saturday July 23 was up there with the biggest shocks of the year and was definitely the biggest loss of not only 2011 but, in my opinion, the last decade. The dynamic Brit won over audiences world wide when she rose to international prominence after the release of the single 'Rehab' in 2006 from the 'Back to Black' album, which won her 6 Grammy Awards. 

After much speculation it was uncovered that the artist had drank herself to death, consuming 3 bottles of vodka accumulating to 416mg of alcohol, which is five times the legal drink-drive limit of 80mg. It was reported that the artist's private GP, Christina Romete, did not believe that Amy intended to drink herself to death as just hours earlier Amy had said that she did not want to die and that she had not yet achieved all that she set out to.

This incomplete feeling is shared by many, including me, with the debut 'Frank' and the jaw dropping 'Back to Black' it was clear that Amy was not your regular run of the mill female artist. Considering the fact that her entire discography could be listened to in just a few hours, it is almost startling that the artist made so much of an impact. In addition to her smouldering, soulful voice, Amy had an undeniable talent for song writing, with lyrics that were both sharp and witty but subtly beautiful. Yet, despite the clever lyrics, covers of  Winehouse never hold the same resonance. Amy gave both 'Rehab' and 'Valerie', which are essentially both commercial pop songs, depth and edge with her instantly recognisable and raw voice. 

With this is mind, I agree with what Amy said- she did still have so much to give. With just two short albums she had left an irreversible mark on the music industry, just imagine what she could have done with two more. Daily Telegraph critic Neil McComick voiced the thoughts shared by millions when he said, 'It's deeply sad. It is the most completely tragic waste of talent that I can remember.'

As 2011 comes to a close and I reflect back on this loss, there is one thing I find slightly unsettling and that is the question of what will Amy Winehouse really be remembered for? In spite of her celebrated talent, the downward spiral of Amy's private life in the years following the release of 'Back to Black' is still prominent in the memories of many. It seems she was never able to escape the ghosts of her past with trips to rehab, numerous arrests and increasingly erratic live performances. In death will Amy still be unable to escape these ghosts? Will her reputation be remembered alongside her undeniable talent? Will she be put in the same category as musicians such as GG Allin and Jimmy Hendrix? I hope that time will treat Winehouse kindly and that future generations will learn from her troubles with addiction but will remember Amy firstly for her music so she can finally rest peacefully. 

Monday, 19 December 2011

Favourite fashion trends 2011...

I'm too sexy for my shirt...
Shirts and blouses are an essential staple to any practical wardrobe and thanks to the embellished collar trend of 2011 they are now a stylish must have. I have invested in so many collared dresses and crop tops this year, I just can't have enough! I absolutely adored some of the detailed and studded collars available to buy on the high street right now. Designers who embraced the embellished collars were Miu Miu, Louis Vitton and DKNY.

(Miu Miu)
(Louis Vitton)

Detailed detachable collars are being sold individually on the high street, ideal for adding some edge and flair into an outfit or for layering. 

(River Island)

Rock n Roll chic
If I was told that in January that by the end of this year I would own and proudly wear a pair of leather trousers I would have laughed myself into hysterics. Yet somehow I find myself out donning the leather trousers in October and lusting after other times such as a-line leather skirts and hotpants, how did this happen?! I remember cringing at a photo of my Mum in a pair of leather trousers when she was my age. The leather trend seems to be a love-hate one that bobs in and out of the fashion world along with dungarees and flares. Despite this it is very much so in now and a nice pair of skinny leg leather trousers are not only bang on trend but are also practical in the sense that they can be dressed up and worn casually. They are a fantastic new wardrobe staple, yes they may live a short life style wise, but they can pretty much be worn with anything all day everyday whilst they are at the height of fashion. The leather additions to our 2011 wardrobe are thanks to the leather detail in Louis Vuitton a/w collection:

For a faux leather high street buy, get these H&M trousers

Every teardrop is a waterfall...
I just cannot get enough of waterfall hemlines, they turn a basic dress into a dynamic, edgy and sexy piece. Not only that but they seem to suit just about anybody. Unlike the maxi style which can swamp those with shorter legs, the waterfall hem flatters all with it's short to long dynamic, providing a beautiful midpoint between maxi and midi, and in some cases mini!

Both from The Pokey Hat Vintage

(River Island)

Man up...
I must say that a trend that has impressed me in 2011 is the edgy boy look in female fashion with tailored suits, button up shirts and the bow tie. It is a look I am inspired by but a tad to nervous to carry off myself. It is a confident look that can still be beautiful but just in a less conventional way. I have a lot of respect to those who are able to pull it off and style icon, Alexa Chung looked dazzling in her tux style suit at the Met Ball fashion party this year. The designers that have embraced this look are Ralph Lauren, Channel and Moschino.

(Ralph Lauren)

I moustache you a question...
When it came to jewellery accessories, statement t-shirts and even hip flasks in 2011 the quirky imperial moustache was everywhere. For someone who is not a fan of men with moustaches I strangely loved all the accessories and quirky novelty items from key-rings to snow globes, and I particularly embraced the trend durig 'Movember'. I certainly hope this humorous trend continues into 2012 or else what else am I to do with all my tasche memorabilia?



(Mug and Christmas bobble both at Urban Outfitters)

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Best fashion newcomer 2011...

Isolated Heroes

The Isolated Heroes label, founded by Samantha McEwen, has dramatically risen in profile and success since it's first s/s 2011 'Voodoo Zumbies' collection was launched at the Heriott Watt BA Fashion graduate show in June of this year. 

The premise behind all of Samantha's designs is the Voodoo religion from it's roots in African slavery to it's relevance in modern Caribbean culture. Samantha found this inspiration after visiting Cuba for a holiday. The designer was fascinated by the roadside shrines she saw in rural areas and the elaborate dress of some of the Cubans sitting next to these shrines. After speaking to the locals, Samantha discovered that this was part of the common practice of the Voodoo religion and was astonished at the fact that people continue to practice the unusual religion today.

In the 'Voodoo Zumbies' collection Samantha took influence from the sense of identity and fierce optimism running throughout the religion to create wearable, durable yet delicate pieces, with a view to the items reflecting the creativity of the African people who practice voodoo. The first collection was indeed innovative and did evoke a positive feeling with bright colours, clashing textures and oversized printed, tribal pieces with the embroidered voodoo style faces.

Following the success of the initial collection which resulted in much media attention, with Samantha's pieces featured in blogs and publications such as Slave magazine, the second Isolated Heroes collection explored a deeper and darker side of the voodoo religion. 

The Isolated Heroes a/w 'The End of the World is Nigh' collection is inspired by the practice of Voodoo healing powers in the modern day multiple murders, which is the sacrifice of a human with a look to the body parts being used by witch doctors in their potions used to create wealth, power and prosperity. When I caught up with Samatha at the In the Company of Wolves fashion show in Glasgow in October she said, ‘I became quite intrigued by these ideas, particularly the open practice of multi-murders in South Africa and the rise in witch doctors and ritual type potions in the UK.’

These influences are prominent in the highly impressive collection, particularly in the use of the statement red woollen chocker style pieces around the neck and head and the sequined skeleton dress. Samantha said, 'the hand sequined skeleton dress is an obvious symbol of the idea of the death of the victim and the spandex printed bodysuit with raffia neck pieces symbolises images of the spirits that are worshipped at these sacrificial ceremonies.' 

(photos from ITCOW fashion show)

The designer is still currently in the early stages of developing the Isolated Heroes label with a view to having an official launch in early 2012. Isolated Heroes has already been met with much popularity and success in 2011 with Samantha's pieces showcased in catwalk shows such as the annual Glasgow In the Company of  Wolves fashion show; interns working under her label and with her collections sold on ASOS marketplace, in LA LA Land and various other Glaswegian boutiques and runway pieces sold to European and Japanese stocklists.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Style Icon 2011...

Alexa Chung

Who else could it be? Alexa Chung has gone from just a Saturday morning TV presenter to the most worshipped fashionista in the past decade. She was my style icon last year and the year before that and, with the return of sixties style this a/w, Alexa has been in her fashion element in 2011. 

She somehow manages to look classy, edgy and reserved all at once, a difficult fashion feat for most. She is often spotted at the front row of shows for some of my favourite designers such as Christopher Kane and Channel, the label for which she acts as ambassadress.

Here are my favourite of Alexa's outfits in 2011:

(Alexa in a 1960s vintage Balenciaga by Atelier Mayer)

(Alexa Chung in a Christopher Kane Galaxy Dress)

(in Marc Jacobs)

(at the Met Ball fashion party hosted by Anna Wintour)

P.S Sorry there was no post on Thursday, I was cramming in some last minute studying for an exam on Friday. I will make up for it with an extra post on Tuesday

Friday, 16 December 2011

Artist: Newcomer 2011...


Fifteen year old Jasmine van den Bogaedre, known by the stage name of Birdy, is a young English musician from Hampshire who has grown massively in popularity since the release of her cover of Bon Iver's 'Skinny Love' in March 2011, which reached number 17 in the UK top 20 and was play-listed as 'Record of the Week' by Fearne Cotton. The artist was taught piano by her mother, who is a concert pianist,  at the mere age of 4 years old and began to write music at the age of 7. Bogaedre first tasted success when she won the UK talent contest 'Open Mic UK' with her own song 'So Be Free' in 2008, beating 10,000 entrants in both the under-18s category and the grand prize.

Since the release of 'Skinny Love', Birdy has covered Ed Sheeran's 'The A Team' and the XX's 'Shelter'.

Birdy apparently stuck to cover versions for her debut outing because it allowed her more time to focus on her GCSEs. Though Bogaedre's covers are beautiful, I hope that as she matures she will write more of her own music to follow 'So Be Free' and prove that she is more than a skilled pianist with a powerful voice. I genuinely believe this girl has true potential and I look forward to seeing what she will produce in the future.

(apologies for the fact there is no actual video)

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

TV Show of the Year...

Fresh Meat

It is the new successor the the Inbetweeners, and the first comedy about university humour since the 1980s hit show 'The Young Ones'. The reason for this is perhaps due to the fear that no other student life comedy would live up to the legend that was 'The Young Ones'. However, the Peep Show writers Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong prove themselves once again and succeed in creating a classic British comedy, with the vital ingredient of the socially awkward humour we are masters off down to a tee. 

The show focuses on six Manchester University freshers living together in a house share. Amongst the cast are  some familiar faces: Inbetweeners star Joe Thomas who progresses from his high school acting playing yet another clusmy, luckless in love student in the role of Kingsley; Greg McHugh aka Gary the Tank Commander who stars as the socially inept, know-it-all Howard and comedian Jack Whitehall as the pompous, arrogant and vulgar public school boy JP. Kimberly Nixon plays Josie, the overly enthusiastic girl who just can't say no, to anything, including marrying her boyfriend who she planned to break up with after cheating on him with both JP and Kingsley. Zawe Ashton plays the part of infamous straight talking and hard living character of Vod and her desperate to be cool loyal follower and secret swot, Oregon, who is played by classical singer Charlotte Ritchie. 

In spite of the usual difficult first episode most programs suffer from, the relationships between Bain and Armstrong's characters were quickly established and engaging: the animosity between JP and Howard shown in their bathroom stand off, JP's power over Kingsley who quickly becomes the groups doormat, Oregon's unspoken contempt for Vod's laziness and also Josie's secret drunken encounter with JP which decreases the chance of her getting together with Kingsley, who she clearly has feelings for.

The characters continue to develop with the series and prove to be complex, deep and authentic. In the final episode the surprisingly lovable drug abusing flunker, Vod says, 'Sorry Kingsley, you have to be honest in I Have Never or it's total chaos', a line that could have passed through any students lips. 

The character of JP who at first is repulsive, turns out to have a sweet side and can be quite caring shown when he comforted Oregon after her horse died. Whereas Josie, who thinks she is a caring person, turns out to be the fake, evident when she is ditched by fiance Dave after he found out about her various infidelities, which follows with a drunken night out reminiscent to that of the first episode, which ends in similar consequences with JP. 

Overall, though sometimes over exaggerated, as these shows tend to be, the series realistically and hilariously depicts the lives of six students. The larger than life characters such as Vod and JP ended up being more convincing than the stereotypically 'normal' student Kingsley but perhaps this is because there are all sorts of types at university. As a student myself I find it hard to define what constitutes as normal in the student world anyway, maybe that question will be answered in the second series of Fresh Meat which is due to return in late 2012!

For those who missed the first series you can watch all the episodes on 4od:

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Designer of the Year...

Miu Miu is branch of the Prada label and is often referred to as the little sister. The Prada label, which was established in 1913, is now one of the world's largest fashion houses. In 1978,  Miuccia Prada inherited the label after the death of her grandfather. In 1992, Muiccia launched Miu Miu, which gained immediate success as a more affordable way to add some Prada into your wardrobe. 

Although Miu Miu is part of the Prada label, is promotes a completely different image, targeted at a younger audience with more edge to the sister brand. 

Miuccia Prada won my designer of the year award mainly on the basis of her a/w 2011 1940s modern inspired collection, which completely blew me away.

However, I was not a huge fan of the s/s collection inspired by the desire to be famous, which had a very Elvis Presley in Las Vegas feel to it with square tunic style tops with red flowers embroidered across them. The1970s glam rock inspired star detail and the neon and metalic 1980s feel did not appeal to my personal taste. The only items that really sold me in the s/s collection were the glamorous sleeved midi dresses with pleat detail, particularly those in bold colours such as the electric blue and banana yellow pieces.

When I saw the Miu Miu a/w collection it was love at first sight. The collection seemed to have a more maturity and elegance about it than the s/s line, without completely jeopardising the edgy pretext for the label. With collared jackets and dresses and fur bolero style pieces wrapped over shoulders and around waist lines the 1940s influence was hard to miss. Perhaps this is why I adore every piece, as the forties along with the sixites are my two favourite fashion eras. 

The modern slant the label is best known for was prominent in the sunglasses and beautiful metallic hells matched with the vintage inspired garments. The black and white leather and fur clutch handbags are a subtle but classic addition that completed each outfit. 

The stand out pieces for me were the broad shouldered winter coats with collar detail, particularly the mustard yellow coat with a flattering v neck line and also the simple yet timeless tea dresses with fur detail over the shoulder area, in keeping with the broad shouldered theme of the coats.