Alice: The Eternal Muse

I’ve always been a massive Alice in Wonderland fan- and am really excited about seeing Damon Albarn’s wonder.land over Christmas- but what actually inspired me to write this blog was the Mert & Marcus Alice photos of Kendall Jenner in (December) Vogue. In case you haven’t seen them, take a look at this pure fabulousness:
VogueThis shoot, together with the fact that YESTERDAY marked the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, compelled me to consider the seemingly eternal influence the children’s book has had upon the world of fashion specifically. We all know that the ‘Alice band’ was said to have emerged following the publication of Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass, but the influence of the novels has shaped more than just hair accessories. The world of Alice is engrained into our collective cultural consciousness and has permeated a range of creative spheres for generations. All things Alice just don’t get ‘old’ and the world of fashion has drawn inspiration from Carroll’s Wonderland in countless ways. Wonderland is quintessentially British and it is the fantastical, quirky nature of Carroll’s tale that makes it so appealing to adults and children alike. The novel’s resistance to interpretation can be seen as the precise reason why it has been so culturally influential over the last century and a half; people use Alice in a multitude of ways. The Tim Burton remake saw a return to the more gothic, dark undertones of Carroll’s novel and it is this type of approach, rather than the cutesy vibe, that seems to ring true for the world of fashion.

That being said, Disney’s influence upon how we perceive Alice- as a style icon especially- simply cannot be ignored. The influence of Tenniel’s illustrations is obvious, but Disney has also played a crucial hand in shaping our conceptions of how Alice dressed. Depictions of Alice’s outfit varied widely during the nineteenth century and it is only since the Disney 1951 cartoon adaptation that the blue dress and pinafore have become synonymous with Alice.

One particular highlight of the blue dress at centre stage is Grace Coddington’s 2003 Vogue Christmas spread shot by Annie Lebovitz. Natalia Vodianova was Alice and designers such as Marc Jacobs (see him below portraying the caterpillar) and Tom Ford portrayed supporting characters.

alice in wonderland vogue marc jacob

THE blue dress came to take centre stage of the shoot (watch the great HBO documentary In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye to find out more) as designers such as Karl Lagerfeld were tasked with recreating Alice’s iconic outfit. Months of research went into planning the shoot and Coddington made sure to stay true to Sir John Tenniel’s iconic illustrations. Images like Alice holding the flamingo were painstakingly recreated and the result was as whimsical yet as striking as you would expect:

alice flamingo

As well as the blue dress, the iconography of the novel has become a focus point in the world of fashion. From Queen of hearts prints to all things tea-party, any modern fashion fiend worth their salt knows an Alice reference when they see one. From subtle to outlandish, Alice in Wonderland is more than a theme and is in fact a cultural institution. alice illustration.jpgMarks & Spencer’s used Alice in Wonderland for a 2013 campaign with Rosie Huntington Whitely as Alice and David Gandy as the mad hatter. It’s my belief that the known tear jerking tactics of our grocers at Christmas time are enough to tell us about the importance of advertising content with wide spread appeal. If it’s one thing we all know its that Alice sells. The world of Alice is one like no other; inherently creative, exciting and eccentric yet equally familiar and comforting, as with many things from childhood. Alice brings out the child in all of us.

Whilst Disney have partnered with several fashion brands and sellers, from Selfridges (‘Alice in Wonder room’ 2010) to Swarovski, their most recent venture is with Marc by Marc Jacobs who utilises all the imagery we associate with Alice. From the Cheshire cat to keys to laughing flowers to door knobs, each item features a visual reference to Alice (specifically the Disney cartoon of course). The collection is introduced on the website with Alice’s classic line- ‘I am not like other girls’- and it is this that I believe sums up the appeal of Alice in Wonderland most succinctly. We love it because it is wildly imaginative and totally unique.Alternative worlds will always appeal; we all want to take a giant step through the looking glass or a tumble down the rabbit hole. The wonderful words crafted by Carroll (real name Charles Dodgson) have in turn fostered visual markers that continue to have a wide spread appeal for style camps of every persuasion.

150 years ago, a young girl named Alice Liddell convinced Lewis Carroll to write down the imaginative tales he so often entertained her with so that she might keep them forever. Today, any fashion item that even references the world of that story can become a collector’s piece and as the focal point of any range Wonderland can make millions. That, I believe, is testament to the eternal nature of Alice.

Alice in Vogue

Natalia as Alice stepping through the looking glass (Vogue 2003).

Tomato and Mascarpone Courgetti

It was the Hemsley sisters (some of my favorite foodies) that got me into one of the hottest new food trends-spiralizing -and I am now a sworn believer. Even the briefest look at #courgetti on Instagram will show you that I am not alone in this, making long spaghetti like shapes out of veg is such an amazing way to up your vegetable intake whilst still enjoying all of your favourite pasta/noodle dishes.

By switching carb heavy pasta to courgette (amongst numerous other vegetables you can sprialize with ease) you can feel a little less guilty about enjoying rich sauces and I promise that you won’t notice the difference. I’m not one for health fads and yet I would literally scream from the rooftops to everyone I know about how fab this is; it tastes the same, you really don’t feel like your missing out, and just proves how much we eat with our eyes. It’s even boyfriend friendly- tried, tested and completely approved!

I use the Hemsley & Hemsley spiralizer but if you don’t want to invest in one until you have been converted then a julienne peeler- or even just an ordinary hand held peeler- works absolutely fine. You can use a knife (that’s how I started to do it) but be warned, it’s fiddly and takes a while!

I hope you all enjoy this as much as I do. In the run up to Christmas little tricks such as sprializing go a really long way in helping you to eat lighter without feeling that you have to compromise on deliciousness. This is such a simple dish where the flavours of basil, mascarpone and tomato compliment each other beautifully. The dish feels like Italy on a plate and yet is still substantial and warming enough to be enjoyed on a cold winters night; once tried it’s sure to become a household classic!

Ingredients

2 large courgettes

3 cloves of garlic, crushed.

1 finely diced onion (either red and white is fine)

300g passata or alternatively you can use a tin of chopped tomatoes

80g mascarpone (approx. two heaped tablespoons)

100g young spinach

plenty fresh basil

½ teaspoon of dried oregano

salt and pepper to taste

(you will need a spriralizer, a julienne peeler or hand held peeler)

Method

Start by gently frying your onion in a little coconut oil or ghee for a couple of minutes until soft before adding the garlic and oregano and continuing to sauté for a couple of minutes. If you want to up your vegetable intake further- which after a heavy weekend I often do- then at this stage you can add a finely diced red pepper add cook for another minute.

Add your passata/ tomatoes to the pan and bring to the boil before simmering for around 10 minutes until you have a lovely rich sauce. At this stage you can start to gently stir in your mascarpone until completely incorporated before throwing in the fresh spinach. At this stage you can taste, season and add half your basil leaves as well. As you stir the spinach will wilt and you should be left with a lovely silky sauce to which you can add your spiralized courgette.

Keep the pan on the low heat whilst you stir in the courgette to make sure that it is both warm and completely mixed up with the sauce. Once this is done you are ready to serve. Garnish with the remaining fresh basil leaves and enjoy!

My 70’s Halloween Look

Ok so firstly, I’ll hold my hands up and admit that this 70’s inspired outfit is certainly not scary and therefore maybe not conventionally ‘Halloween’. But cheerleaders, cats, nurses and so on aren’t either, and I’ve dressed up as all of those things in previous years, so on saturday I felt totally justified in rifling through all the clothes I normally wear in order to create my Halloween look. Also, have you seen how New Yorkers do Halloween? Take one look at Humans of New York (amazing photo blog you have to follow if not!) and you’ll see how 31st October can often be more fancy-dress than frightening.

So, in the spirit of avoiding the obvious day-of-the-dead make up (ashamedly, this is not for the reason that it might be considered cultural appropriation as so many online voices have been keen to point out but actually just coz I attempted that look in 2013) this year I- and my empty purse- decided to build upon an idea that could work with clothes I already had. However, luckily for all you people who might not have seen these pieces yet, they are all in season and on sale in Urban Outfitters, Zara and Topshop now.

As you might have guessed, it all started with the AMAZING Pins and Needles faux-fur swede coat I have on (see no. 1 in gallery). This jacket is literally my new favourite thing, the minute I saw it in Urban Outfitters Brighton I fell completely in love with it and after spending £159 on it, I decided to try and channel the glam 70’s look for Halloween. I have had so many compliments on this coat in everyday life but it was with this outfit that it truly looked perfect. I paired it with another relatively new purchase (both pieces are this season), a lovely blue and yellow printed jump suit from Zara (see picture no. 2) that also looks very 70’s.

If-like me- you peruse the high street shops regularly you’ll have noticed that just about everything seems to have been inspired by the seventies at the moment. From the cute A-line buttoned skirts that are so prevalent to the abundance of polo-necks that are back again this year, the era clearly has an appeal beyond short hem lines and bold prints. However, given that I had to convey the fact my outfit could at least be considered undoubtedly seventies and of course, as a ‘costume’, I played it safe with all the obvious markers. My mini jumpsuit is amazing because, whilst the appearance of tailored shorts at the back make the piece look smarter and just generally more acceptable in length, the front has the appearance of a dress, which together with the opening around the neck made me feel literally like one of the original Charlie’s Angels. I paired this with black plated heeled boots from Topshop -which despite having been purchased as simply ‘nice’ boots, conveniently worked perfectly with my seventies vibe- together with thick black tights that were less about style and more about keeping me lovely and warm whilst traipsing through Elephant and Castle in search of my friend’s house party.

And now to turn to the most undoubtedly unstylish aspect of my outfit, the wig. Despite my boyfriend’s laughter, I persevered and wore the Smiffy’s ‘Partyrama’ blonde wig that I had rushed out to spend £7.99 on the day before Halloween because without it, I would, quite frankly, have just been wearing a standard everyday Kathleen outfit. In the end it worked well in so far as it marked me out as a definite costume wearer, and was actually also just pretty fun to wear given how different it is to my real hair. Make up wise, I wore a LOT of it, as girls tend to do on Halloween (I’m tempted here to quote THE mean girls halloween line but will resist, as anyone whose likely to read this will OBV know it already). I used Mac Studio Fix Fluid foundation together with a Mac concealer and Mac bronzer, finishing my skin off with a bright pink Lancome blush. On my eyes I used heavy duty glam lashes (Superdrug’s own brand) with MAC black liquid eyeliner and lots of mascara in an attempt to evoke the Biba girl look. To make the look that extra bit bolder, I also wore a bright pink lip stick by YSL (No. 49).

Ultimately, you’ll have to be the judge of whether I actually looked any good. But I for one can say that, despite the fact that we have to wait another year for Hallows Eve to roll round again, I am loving the retrospective attitude to style that has shaped 2015 winter trends. If I can give anyone hoping to look even a tiny bit Halston-esque one piece of advice, it would be to go an try at least try on the Pins and Needles suede coat on NOW because believe me, you won’t regret it. The seventies look really still is as fabulous in 2015 as it was in the days of Cher, Abba and Bowie.