Posts Tagged ‘ FASHION ’

YVES SAINT LAURENT

Yves Saint Laurent
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It is hard to envisage in a culture when the Yves Saint Laurent-YSL- brand is so recognisable and prevalent that the person who lies behind this legacy was a shy, retiring nervous young man who cowered away from the spotlight and looked as if at an early age his greatest achievement would be that of rising to the exalted position of Christian Dior’s protégé. However with the death of Dior he found himself at the centre of attention of the world’s media when he was appointed the great couturier’s successor in the House of Dior and caught up in the maelstrom of attendant publicity such a post engenders.
This biopic by Jalil Lespert goes someway to trying to decipher the man behind the myth but falls short of providing any grit whatsoever, despite the debauchery and decadence of his subject’s lifestyle, in favour of a glossy and suitably stylised version where an endless succession of beautiful people meet in beautiful surroundings swathed in beautiful clothes.
The film also focuses on the relationship between Yves (Pierre Niney) and his long time partner Pierre Bergé (Guillaume Gallienne) through its transition from passionate lovers and business partners to feuding international jetsetters with affairs on both sides threatening the rock solid ground at frequent intervals but never permanently damaging the concrete foundation. At the crux of the relationship lies the unshakeable and untenable belief that Bergé always has Yves’ best personal and business interests at heart. Thus he sees him through his early and subsequent breakdowns always dragging him from the abyss of the depression which seems to cloud his life, if not his talent.
We also see how personal highs and lows lead to creative peaks and iconic designs such as the Mondrian dresses, ‘Le Smoking’ tuxedoes and cigarette pants, Safari Jackets and his Bedouin Moroccan collection inspired by frequent trips to Marrakech with a collection of acolytes, sycophants and genuine friends, including long term muse Loulou de la Falaise.
The main downfall of the film is however also its greatest strength; that of the undeniably gorgeous surroundings and outfits. Each scene feels like a grand sumptuous opening scenario to something more rewarding but unfortunately this expectation always peters out and it becomes clear the scene vocalises more than the action and the dialogue combined. Therefore even moments like the wild parties with open sex, mounds of drugs and beautiful slinky bodies remain the stuff of buffed up pop videos with not so much as an overflowing ashtray or frayed hem to hint at any seriously real reckless abandon. It is all too oily and smooth to retain any credibility or appear believable.
Even his lifelong rivalry with Karl Lagerfeld is glossed over as being nothing more than the odd raised eyebrow or sideways disparaging glance. This being despite the fact Yves had an affair with Lagerfeld’s long term lover, Jacques de Bacher, which was also a serious threat to his relationship with Bergé.
In the end this film was a beautiful portrayal of an internationally recognised brand which will do nothing to harm either the legacy or its sales. There is another Saint Laurent biopic due to be released later this year by Bertrand Bonello which threatens to tell a more unauthorised version of his life- Lespert’s sanitised telling was sanctioned by Bergé- which may be a more interesting film although whether its portrayal will be more accurate we will probably never know.

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation
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Already more than half way through the first month of 2014 and whilst certain parts of the country are suffering terrible rains followed by destructive flooding Scotland emerges relatively unscathed. Without wishing to jinx things it hasn’t even been that cold yet. I know, I know, I keep being told winter doesn’t really kick in until February but there is no denying that thus far we have been extremely lucky as regards the weather both temperature wise and in just about every other way too. After writing this I am sure we will suddenly be treated to extreme weather conditions and if this happens then feel free to blame me.
This week saw the iconic Kate Moss turn forty and typical of the Daily Mail who feel the need to attack any form of individuality or lack of conformity, like some kind of avenging and pious rottweiler , the accusations flew thick and fast that she may have committed the unforgivable sin of actually looking her actual age. As Moss herself has stated in the past, why shouldn’t she? Surely someone who has been working since she was fourteen and been at the top of her game since she was sixteen has earned the right to live her life any way she chooses to. Personally the fact she has not succumbed to our society’s obsession with remaining ever youthful but is seemingly comfortable in her own skin and body is something to be commended not scorned.
Having met Kate at a Kills gig at the Liquid Rooms I can confirm that in person she is gorgeous but more than that she is actually down to earth and on the night in question she was merely out as a girl supporting her boyfriend- Jamie Hince now her husband- and was simply out to have a good night. She appeared to be unaffected by the fuss that went on around her and I spent the bulk of the night in her company finding her entertaining, informed and in possession of the elusive qualities of charisma and instinct.
Instinct, along with hard work, is probably the quality which has afforded her longevity in a business notoriously fickle and for someone whose career involves being dressed by others in their designs it is when she appears in clothes of her own choosing that she really hits the mark. It is those outfits that others slavishly follow and adapt rather than the high fashion spreads in which she also shines. Some may argue that as she has access to such clothes then how can she possibly go wrong? The answer to that is simply very easily as so many others with the same access fail miserably.
Having lived her life thus far exactly as she wanted to is inspiring in our bland world of uniformity. In a position to choose who she hangs out with, goes out with and even who she marries these may all be fiercely debated and commented on but make no mistake at the end of the day the final decision has always rested with her. Even after she was pilloried in the press for taking drugs- model on cocaine whatever next?- she played the contrite game and came back bigger than ever even managing to secure the contracts which had dropped her in the light of the so called scandal at a higher rate than before.
Happy Birthday Kate, just keep on doing what you are doing and after your Playboy shoot I predict there will even be a resurgence in pubic hair growth. Waxing to a prepubescent state is all so outdated now. Fashion needs you and you are proof that style and verve will always outweigh fashion and its dictates.
Out at the cinema this weekend are two excellent films, American Hustle and 12 Years A Slave, both worthy of all the accolades they are collecting. Of the two I think American Hustle has the edge as the superb seventies styling and soundtrack are excellent and although I don’t usually advocate award ceremonies finding them to represent industry insider wheeling and dealings rather than artistic enterprise in the case of these two films I think they may have actually nailed it. Despite this the battle between these two could be thrown into disarray with the arrival of the new Coen Brothers film ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’, a veiled look at a fledgling Bob Dylan type, which looks like it could be another award contender and if not the only reason will be its release date in the schedules.
Out on Monday January 20th is the Fini Tribe classic Balearic anthem ‘De Testimony’ with a surfeit of remixes from the likes of Justin Robertson and Robot 84. Coming with a seal of approval from Irvine Welsh who rates them as highly influential on a scene which inspired him the single is available in an extremely limited edition-only 350 copies- 12” EP on the FFFt label although a digital download will be available a month later with a further remix by 808 State.
In support of this release The Fini Tribe crew are joining up with Rammed, a live music club experience, for two separate and different nights at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh. The single launch night will take place on February 28th where the Fini Tribe Sound System will rock the night out alongside regular Rammed DJ’s The Baron and Oli Findlay in the French Quarter boasting a dance floor with flashing lights. The second outing is on April 26th in The Speakeasy which will feature a rare live appearance by the band. Both nights are not to be missed and further details will be announced nearer the time although spaces are bound to be limited due to the carefully selected intimacy of the venues’
As if to confirm that maybe Edinburgh does have a burgeoning underground music scene a pre-release copy of Opium Kitchen’s two track single ‘Hommagination’ and ‘We Will Be’ found its way into my inbox then swiftly into my heart this week. Due out on February 18th the former track is a louche piece of verbal and insistent, incessant guitar riffing played out over a solid rhythm section. The second track resembles Iggy Pop’s ‘Fall in Love with Me’ filtered through Joy Division-in a very good way- with some rumbling bass and nu-glam handclaps powered along with Robert King’s dark vocal stylings all adding up to heady mix and bubbling cauldron of dark mysterious cacophony. Sterling stuff indeed! Definitely something to look out for and there will be a full review nearer the time of release.
Here to round off today is the original mix of The Fini Tribe’s ‘De Testimony’ and remember to clear the dates 28th February and April 26th for those Rammed outings. Best clear the next days too!

PRINCESS GRACE:MORE THAN AN IMAGE

Princess Grace: More Than An Image

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 This exclusive archive collection by Scottish knitwear specialists Pringle based on the style of Princess Grace of Monaco-who initially found fame as a Hollywood glamour icon under her own name of Grace Kelly- and drawn from her own private collection was a lesson in understated but classic chic. Timeless, effortless and exuding both class and glamour whilst the opulent surroundings of the Signet Library simply enhanced these features commendably without distracting from them.

 The Princess Grace theme was not just a gimmick  tagged on to promote sales, as in the case of too many high street stores and the never ending round of non entity celebrities only too willing to  lend their name, promote their egos and share their style ‘secrets’ with the public, but a genuine attempt to capture the essence of this ineffably chic lady and her ever enduring style conscious look. To complement the look however Pommery Champagne was served and the catwalk show’s musical accompaniment was Camille Saint-Saens’ cello piece ‘The Swan’ in reference to her wedding to Prince Rainier where the former was the drink of choice and the latter the music.

 As for the collection itself- sixteen pieces in all- it was like its muse in that it was understated whilst making a statement. The colours were mostly muted greys and blacks, vivid blues and pinks, whilst some were emblazoned with motifs and others accessorised with fake fur trims but all were highly covetable. Each piece is a limited edition however and with only the finest Scottish cashmere being used this makes them even more desirable as well as long lasting both in style and endurance terms.

 Available exclusively in Jane Davidson’s Thistle Street store this collaboration is already highly prestigious and before this show even took to the catwalk many orders had been taken for several of the pieces.

 In essence the collection is that of a fairytale princess literally straight out of the Hollywood film archives but in reality the clothes at its core are down to earth and basic but simultaneously overwhelmingly luxurious and effortlessly stylish; much like their muse!

 For further information about this collection and its availability please follow the link below

 http://www.janedavidson.co.uk/designers/pringle/

EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FASHION FESTIVAL: SYMPOSIUM

Edinburgh International Fashion Festival 2013- Symposium

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 Described by director Jonathan Freemantle as the core event of 2013’s festival, Symposium consisted of a day of interesting, complementary and contrasting talks on this year’s main themes: storytelling and performance. Fittingly held in the dissecting room at Summerhall various fashion subjects were opened up to investigation to show how the internal workings of the industry and its peoples create the outer subject matter with which we are so familiar without giving too much thought as to its origins. The talks ranged from the doyenne of American Vogue, the indomitable and indefatigable Diana Vreeland, to Amanda Harlech performing a piece wherein choice outfits from her life created a history of its own.

 The first talk of the day was delivered by author Amanda Mackenzie Stuart who read select passages from her biography about the legendary Diana Vreeland who established herself in the 1930’s with her ‘Why Don’t You’ column in Harpers Bazaar wherein she pointed her readers toward a glamorous lifestyle with some outlandishly ludicrous- and some not so –suggestions. From here she was promoted to editor before defecting to Vogue as editor in chief during the extremely culturally shape-shifting sixties which she promoted with ruthless abandon whilst embracing the decade’s spirit wholeheartedly.

Mackenzie Stuart read passages which took us on this journey and her talk was tinged with Vreeland’s acerbic wit and observations but at the same time also made clear she was not to be dismissed as some relic as she also brought to the fore the ideas that style had little to do with money and everything to do with ‘the divine spark’ that comes from within.

 The divine spark was a phrase which resonated throughout this day of talks and her biography Diana Vreeland Empress of Fashion is certainly an interesting work making an excellent companion piece to the 2012 documentary The Eye has to Travel about Vreeland which whilst not so insightful manages to provide some footage of Vreeland herself and thus provides the important voice which Mackenzie Stuart didn’t dare attempt to replicate to accompany much of this fascinating material.

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 The second talk of the day was a chaired discussion between the author of Fashion Scandinavia Dorothea Gundtoft, Lauren Dyer Amazeen and Jonathan Freemantle which threw up such topics as the high street as art and fashion gallery and how fashion is perhaps moving too fast as the seasons are all melding into one and having a wardrobe which is exclusive to a particular season is no longer necessary or even viable. The trio also discussed how many people look at clothes and cannot distinguish the art form contained within as they are too busy looking at the product or, in more extreme cases, no further than the label.

 One topic which I found particularly interesting was when they discussed the creative culture which actually exists in Edinburgh but so many locals seem to be unaware of as they are too busy complaining that nothing goes on. This is something I have always maintained and Freemantle summarised it perfectly when he said ‘Edinburgh never received the memo’ when it came to how much is going on here behind the scenes. The fact it has a climate and space which removes itself from clutter and noise-the fringe and festival not withstanding- allows art to grow and artists to consider what they are doing without their visions being influenced or compromised by the whirlwind and expense of a city like London or New York.

 The last talk of the morning session was delivered by Professor Sandy Black who authored The Sustainable Fashion Handbook. This discussion opened up issues about unnecessary wastefulness, landfill and how the fashion industry can do something to help these grave issues which affect the future of the planet. We already all know about recycling but there are many other ways we can help and Vivienne Westwood’s DIY ethos is something she supports as Westwood was the first major big name designer to recognise the problem whilst promoting it within her range. It is anathema to a fashion designer to suggest the public buys less clothes and this is what Westwood did but, of course, she would prefer if you bought less clothes then she would prefer that they were more of hers. An interesting and humorous talk about a very serious subject, it provided food for thought before breaking up the morning round of events.

 Afternoon was kicked off-in the highest, most stylish heels obviously-by shoe designer Georgina Goodman in conversational mode with journalist Jackie McGlone.

Future-Positive-edinburgh-fashion-3 Georgina Goodman by Igor Termenon

 Mentored by Manolo Blahnik, Goodman made an interesting raconteur who described shoes as being weapons accessing emotions. She made a convincing point concerning this argument and her style was intriguingly captivating but simultaneously down to earth whilst she delivered anecdotes which throughout never failed to fully engage.

 Next up was Bella Freud who, also in conversation with McGlone, somehow made her whole career sound so effortless. Whether it was deciding to start up a knitwear company or make a film it seemed she had no qualms about embarking on these projects and utilised whatever skills she had at her disposal to make them succeed. The fact she has been a name ‘brand’ since the early nineties indicate it is not all as haphazard as it initially seems and a strong artistic vision lies at her core as well as some serious ‘editing’ which was another key word of the day.

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 Of particular interest was a clip from her debut film ‘A Day at the Races’ which emerged  as some statement of intent with its slinky soundtrack-The Stooges and Bryan Ferry’s  malignantly malevolent but sashaying ‘Casanova’ were highlights- accompanying images of supermodels all driven around in her family Bentley. The grainy homemade feel only made it more glamorous and otherworldly.

 Amanda Harlech then gave a short but captivating performance which was simply entrancing. Pulling out select pieces from a large trunk, to create a narrative, which included baby clothes, Westwood, Galliano and Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel each item took us on a very personal journey which was hers alone but told the story of all our fashion evolvements, albeit with different garments. It was a truly mesmerising piece and one which brought a reverent hush to the hall.

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 Concluding with a panel discussion –think Question Time for glamorous people- where the afternoon’s participants were joined by David Lindsay-Net A Porter- and Paula Goldstein-digital editor of Purple.fr- it was a fitting and more relaxed finish to a highly innovative and enjoyable day which never once allowed the pace to drag or its audience to flag. It is about time fashion was discussed and appreciated as a serious art form which, whether we like it or not, plays an important part in all our daily lives and days like these merely provide conclusive evidence of this.

EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FASHION FESTIVAL

Edinburgh International Fashion Festival 2013

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Following hot on the heels of last years success husband and wife team Jonathan and Anna Freemantle unveiled the line up for the second instalment of the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival in the opulent surroundings of the Peacock Gallery in the Waldorf Astoria on the hottest day Scotland has had in years. Melting under the glass roof were design team-another husband and wife duo- Clements Ribeiro- whose love and patronage of Scottish Cashmere which is simply the best in the world they revealed at the press conference although they, like many others, were unable to establish exactly why. Their new collection will preview at Mansfield House tomorrow evening in an opening gala which features a runway show then an after party launching things in suitably stylish fashion.

 Mixing tartan, punk, rebellion themes alongside those of romanticism and femininity is a trademark of Clements Ribeiro and one which they have wisely never deviated from too radically. From their first headline grabbing collection which remade/remodelled the old fashioned twin-set which had no cachet with a younger audience until they gave it an edgy twist and what was formerly the preserve of spinster aunts suddenly found a whole new younger audience as well as winning celebrity endorsements from the likes of Madonna and Nicole Kidman. This success launched them onto an international market almost immediately and this is a stage they have managed to negotiate from successfully ever since.

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Inacio Ribiero and Suzanne Clements at the press launch of EIFF 2013 . Photograph by Tibor Galamb.

 The new collection does not move too far from the ethos of their original collection which is fitting as they first emerged in the midst of a recession-one of the reasons they work together is because it was hard enough to get one job never mind two- and buying clothes which last and stand the test of time is important when there is no money to spend on the frivolous and latest dictates of the so called fashion cognoscenti.

 This is merely the very glamorous beginning however and various events will take place over the next two weekends focussing on fashion as performance and storytelling. Following Friday’s extravaganza there is the launch of Life Story’s ‘Sutori’ collection in London Street on Saturday which sounds like the perfect hangover cure for those who have partied a little too hard at the opening festivities.

Sunday unveils Symposium, a collection of talks and panelled discussions on various subjects and with luminaries such as Amanda Harlech and Bella Freud guest hosting-among many others- it sounds an intriguing prospect which anyone with an interest in fashion’s origins and what it articulates would be unwise to miss, Taking place at Summerhall the day rounds off with drinks in the Royal Dick and with another sweltering weekend on the card it could make for an exceptional day out.

 During the week several other events take place including an Open Studio on Wednesday in Leith and a men’s collection at Harvey Nichols on Thursday. Saturday sees Future Fashion taking place during the day at the City Art Centre and this is followed by a fashion show at 5pm. The weekend and festival closes with Gianni Scumaci unplugged followed by a closing party in the Voodoo Rooms where everyone can breathe a sigh of relief, knock back a few drinks and upstage each other with their party outfits.

  Although last year’s festival was a success this year has built on that and taken things to a more sophisticated level and looks like not only repeating that success but actually improving on it! Definitely a worthwhile event and one worthy of support in a city where fashion and style, although lacking the effrontery of Glasgow, actually has more individual and less generic tastes than many would presume.

 Follow the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival link below for full details of upcoming shows and information on how to buy tickets for events.

http://edinburghinternationalfashionfestival.com/

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just An Observation Friday July 5th

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 Allegedly there is a heatwave on the way! At last, is all I can say, as I really need to see lots of lobster coloured people walking the streets of Edinburgh moaning about the unbearable heat and forgetting that only a short while ago they were complaining just as bitterly about the cold/wind/rain/wind (delete as applicable or don’t delete if all apply) and wishing it were a little warmer/ sunnier/drier (delete as applicable again). It is about time we had a semblance of a summer in Scotland and 2013 has not been too bad thus far although the traditional storm clouds gathered and torrential rain made a fleeting appearance as soon as the Scottish school holidays began.

Perhaps we should just reconsider when these holidays take place or whether they are necessary at all! It is definitely worth a try suspending them indefinitely if the end result is we all get better weather.  Just a thought!

 The Edinburgh International Film Festival ended last Sunday and I must admit it was with more of a whimper than a bang. Totally underwhelmed not only by the films but also by promotion of the event I find it amazing that when I am out and about so many local residents are unaware  it is even taking place. Being one of the world’s longest running events of its kind s to sweep it to the side is pretty unforgivable and shows a lack of concern for Scottish culture which is constantly undervalued anyway. Apparently one of the big sells this year was that they were showing many films which had been refused by other similar film festivals although whether this is a good or bad thing is still unclear in my mind. Did we show the cream of the crop or were we scraping the dregs from the bottom of the barrel.

Not everything was bad however and for a more detailed report of what is and isn’t worthwhile just click here for more detailed insights and reviews.

 Next week sees T in the Park make a return which means that inevitably so will the rain. Last year was more T in the Swamp and turned into a totally washed out mudfest. I am being pressured into going to see Kraftwerk on the Friday evening-which I am convinced would be really quite something- on the premise that I will be in the VIP area. I must admit to being tempted but would be more tempted if I was being transported in and out via a specially chartered helicopter.

Much as I love Kraftwerk I have seen them live before in much more suitable pristine surroundings and they were simply outstanding and among one of the best live shows I have ever seen. I am not sure I want this memory sullied by mud and the indignity of portaloos.

 This weekend there are two interesting events occurring though as luck would have it they are both on at the same time. First up is the launch of Neu! Reekie co-founder Michael Pedersen’s debut poetry collection, Play With Me, at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. Several years of hard work finally comes to fruition at this event which also features appearances by former Fire Engine and current Jesus! Baby singer Davy Henderson alongside fellow Neu! Reekie cohort Kevin Williamson among others. Definitely one to check out if you can although if you miss it there will be a similar follow up event on Friday 16th August as part of the International Book Festival.

 Elsewhere an intriguing and adventurous new night featuring live music within a club environment called Rammed is launching at the Speakeasy in the Voodoo Rooms at 8pm. Its creators claim they are trying to put back some of the elements missing from Edinburgh nightlife over the last few years whilst adding a few new elements to ensure that proceedings remain both current and relevant. Musical acts for the launch are the unforgettable Homesick Aldo and the riotous Andy and the Prostitutes with DJ sets by the Baron and Anna Kissed. There is already a buzz about this event and if toxic glamour and excellent music is your thing then I suggest you make sure you don’t miss it.

 That is it for this week and I am off out to bask in, what I am hoping by now is tropical sunshine. Either that or I am staying indoors to hunt out a pair of wellies and parka to go and see Kraftwerk. Now that is a sentence I thought I would never write!

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just An Observation Friday June 6th

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At the time of writing summer seems to be making a rare appearance with blue skies and sunshine proliferating over the last week. Aside from the inappropriate ratios of clothing to flesh and alcohol to body weight-typical of Scots although it would appear not wholly exclusive to them- there has not been much to complain about over the last few days.

 Unless of course you count the ongoing strains of the Bongos which invaded the confines of my living space via a few trustafarians at last weekends Meadows festival which certainly brought on a new condition henceforth known as ‘Bongo Rage’ in me. I don’t know what it is about a bit of grass combined with dreadlocks, lager, burnt food all topped with sunshine and open air that makes people with no talent think they are Mickey Finn (from T.Rex who also possessed little in the way of talent but at least looked amazing) and feel the incessant desire to pound away on the bongo skins aimlessly for a whole weekend.

From my flat which overlooks the Meadows the resulting sound was like a constant migraine niggling away at my psyche with little relief until the Monday morning. Trying to enter the spirit of the thing I actually ventured over to see if I could soak up some of the atmosphere-usually I decamp to another part of town during this weekend- and whilst it was a reasonably pleasant experience, no doubt enhanced by Sundays glorious sunshine, I can truthfully report that bongos are even less bearable at close quarters. In fact the visual horror of seeing a bunch of hippies flailing around minus rhythm or style may have taken things to a new height of irritation.

 This weekend sees the return of the dreaded bongos at Leith Links festival which although I am pretty sure I am not attending  I may just make an appearance at just to hurl some much needed abuse to punctuate their aimless beatings. Much more appealing however is Leith Late13 taking place next Thursday between 6-9pm on Leith Walk in 17 venues and featuring over 30 artists, musicians and performers.

 The previous evening I will be attending an opening for Atelier E.B. in the prestigious Inverleith House surrounded by the picturesque splendour of the Botanic Gardens. The company is the combined brain child of Beca Lipscombe and Lucy McKenzie and the event holds host to their new collection ‘Ost End Girls’ and whilst they still focus on their desires to promote the Scottish textile industry-combining it with Belgian manufacturing- with cashmeres, tweeds and other traditional fabrics they will also for the first time be showing a summer collection. A full report of the evening will be posted after the event but this is a worthwhile venture which deserves support and is open to the public from Thursday 13th until the 16th at the same venue-Inverleith house- so do yourself a favour and go along.

 As mentioned last week a new venture called Rammed featuring live music and DJ’S aiming to create a sonic environment is due to make an appearance in the near future. So far all I can reveal is that a date of Saturday July 6th in the Voodoo Rooms has been announced and that the headlining act is proto superstar Homesick Aldo who after causing waves on the scene over the last year or so has been locked away in rehearsals creating new material and extending his musical palette to re-launch his musical/blues experience on the public at this event.

I, myself, am hoping to hear the fruits of his labours at a private open house party tomorrow night.  I am admittedly very curious about both this and the new venture as I feel it is about time Edinburgh got back into trying to create some sort of underground scene which is both exclusive and inclusive at the same time. If you have not heard, or heard  of, Homesick Aldo then I suggest you do and a feature which appeared on this site several months ago is a s good a place as any to start. The article can be found here.

 Today however I am actually strangely excited about going to see what will obviously be an over the top camp extravaganza and exposé about glitzy entertainer Liberace, Behind the Candleabra. As I am attending with a friend who himself is a camp piece of toxic outrage who minces more than a butchers equipment I am expecting my viewing experience to be accompanied by squeals of delight, salacious cackles and attempts- most likely unsuccessful- to control his desires to highkick his way down the theatre aisles whilst all the while claiming the film to be a wonder of  modern cinema. However from the trailers I have seen thus far I feel I may have to suppress my own desires –total anathema to me usually I hasten to add- to follow his lead and embrace the moment!

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just An Observation Friday April 5th

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The arrival of Spring-I’m being the eternal optimist here-this week also saw the most draconian overhaul of the benefits system in recent years from a government who consistently inform us ‘we are all in this together’ but probably more so if you are on the lower end of the social spectrum. Whilst a sense of perspective is required- a ridiculous list of  taxes which didn’t exist 100 years ago did the social media circuit as a form of protest without taking into consideration that neither did a National Health System or Benefits of any sort- the so-called Bedroom Tax defies any logic whatsoever.

Especially as we still support a family who are allowed to have various palaces left standing empty at our cost and it would appear that Muslims are exempt if they keep a spare room for prayers. Whilst I have no problem with other peoples beliefs it does seem more than a little like political correctness gone mad and hardly reinforces the doctrine of us all being in it together.

There has also been a lot of speculation about the Michael Philpott case this week and a lame attempt to tie it in with benefit scroungers. Whilst there are some people out there who choose and manipulate the benefits system as a way of life treating it as a career – and do very nicely out of it- the vast majority have no choice and live on the measly amounts handed out to them whilst still putting themselves forward for every job available in a frustrating attempt to improve their circumstances. People like Philpott only represent the small minority who use any means at their disposal- children and illnesses (real or exaggerated) seem to top this list- to defraud the system and tarnish the reputation of the genuine claimants.

People such as him do not see them as benefits but an entitlement and know how to work the system. The fact that six of his children died in his latest scheme to frame someone else has nothing to do with him being in receipt of benefits and everything to do with him being a reprehensible and vile human being. It did however give George Osborne and the Daily Mail fuel for the fire to ignite further animosity towards any other benefit claimants and in the week when the system had an overhaul this went beyond opportunistic and came across as cheap, petty, vindictive and spiteful. How very unlike this government!

Elsewhere sad news was received concerning the revered Scottish author Iain Banks who announced via his website he was suffering from terminal cancer. Apparently the author of ‘crow Road’, ‘Complicity’ and ‘The Wasp Factory’ has been given only a matter of months left to live. It is however warming to learn that he is out there making the most of his time left by living the high life on his honeymoon in Italy- after a proposal which went along the lines of ‘Will you do me the honour of becoming my widow?’ in typical Banks macabre humour-and intends to fight his illness for as long as is possible. Our thoughts are all with this man who has been one of the most revered and successful authors in recent Scottish literature.

Out at the cinema the best film on the circuit at the moment has to be Compliance. Based on a true story-aren’t they all these days- concerning a case at a McDonald’s in Bullitt County the film focussed on how compliant- and utterly stupid it must be said- people become when faced with an authoritarian figure. In this case the authoritarian figure is little more than a voice on the end of a phone that claims to be a police officer and offers no evidence whatsoever to authenticate this claim. Having always had a flagrant disregard for authority I watched this film with a mixture of disbelief and discomfort. It is a very unsettling but also compelling film and surely already a contender amongst the best films of the year so far. A full review is here. I do have high hopes for the latest Ryan Gosling offering ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ due out on April 12th as pre-publicity and trailer have done their work of sparking my interest.

The big news this weekend however has to be the opening of The Breakfast Club-occupying the site formerly known as Negociants- in Edinburgh. Promising a much needed breath of fresh air its proprietor, Warren Deighan, already has impeccable credentials and having enlisted the services of a young crew with their eyes and pulses on the zeitgeist his experience and their nous look like creating a winning combination. A full look at this exciting venture can be found here.

I am now off for a weekend that will start at the Breakfast Club this evening and very likely find me up back there on Monday morning. What will have happened in between is anyone’s guess

HOMESICK ALDO

 

 

Homesick Aldo

 Homesick_Aldo©G_Evan%0d%0a s

Imagine a lone drifter stowed away on a freight train travelling the route of Highway 61 absorbing the works of Jack Kerouac and Hunter. S. Thomson wrapped up in the blues. Eventually emerging with impeccable rock and roll insouciance-channelled via Johnny Thunders and John Cooper Clarke-combining the licks of Sonny Boy Williamson, Jimmy Reed and, Muddy Waters accompanied only by a harmonica and primal drumbeat-so stripped back that even the White Stripes appear grandiose-then you get some insight into the force of nature which creates the musicality and myth Homesick Aldo.

A new kind of star for a 21st century which has thus far wrapped itself up in technological turgidity where so much music has lost not only its integrity and raw emotion  but also its driving forces and beliefs.

Aldo, on the other hand, takes elements of the past and his own selected musical heritage, hurling them into a musical time machine, effortlessly streaming the zeitgeist of our current climate by introducing authenticity and rawness back to a medium which languishes in hype and X-Crement Factor cheesiness evolving into our first authentic millennial self titled bluesician,

A sound both ageless and timeless; seemingly from either a hundred years ago or a hundred years into the future but most importantly very much of its own moment proving – if proof were needed- that the blues are a style that never goes out of fashion.  Beyond being yet another artist merely adopting the pose of the trendy ‘unplugged’ ethos as, despite the basic instrumentation, his act crackles with an urgent, vibrant vitality fuelled by electricity.

His raw, innovative solo live show – a lone harmonica,  an errant kazoo, an occasional singular drum all topped off with wailing bluesy vocals are his only arsenal- is an antidote to the overly rehearsed, moribund dullness of mainstream live shows with artists merely going through the motions and he instead concentrates on capturing the audience’s attention; demanding their souls whilst stealing their hearts and devotion in the process.

A live act like no other on the circuit at the moment and everywhere he plays even the sceptical and non believers have inevitably found themselves drawn into this maelstrom of a musical hybrid emerging from this singular young man. The songs are freeform interpretations of blues classics mixed with original compositions all stirred along with familiar reference points- a New York Dolls steal here or a Stones or Dylan reference there-but with a fresh approach which renders them unique and affords them freshness.

Audiences are important to Aldo and this also sets him apart. Far from expecting them to sit in awe at his exceptional talents he actively encourages their participation. Thus the dancing, clapping and banging on a tambourine which have occurred at live shows I have witnessed are immediately hastily incorporated into his act ensuring that it goes off into yet another dimension staving off any predictability or complacency from either himself or his loyal converts.

Currently in the studio recording an independent two track single to be released in the spring and whilst the A side will be a garage rock stormer the B-Side will be more of a showcase of his live stage act. Wary of drawing other musicians into the mix he has thus far shied away from this but recognises it is something he may have to consider if he is to extend his musical palette and reach a bigger audience.

For the moment though he is perfectly happy to stand a lone wolf and from the reactions he is eliciting everywhere he plays he is right to stick to his guns playing the music he loves so fervently. With live gigs lined up for early spring – mainly in his native Scotland but also including an appearance at the London’s legendary 100 Club- this may be the last chance to see him in such venues and with such low key billing as his star is on the ascendant. A showcase evening in Edinburgh at a larger venue is being arranged for the spring featuring several upcoming Scottish bands but centring on him. Homesick Aldo 2013 could be yours for the taking!

Upcoming Gigs include Nice N Sleazy Glasgow on March 23rd and London 100 Club on the 13th April.

A single is being recorded and should be available later in the Spring. Until then check out links below for some idea of what to expect.

http://newtownproducts.bandcamp.com/album/talkin-innocent-outlaw-blues

http://soundcloud.com/aldoblue

Portrait by Gavin Evans -thanks to Gavin- who has also worked with David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Joe Strummer and a host of others. His website with full details of his rock and film star  portraits and their availability can be found here. http://www.gavinevans.com/

Evans also has a film ‘The Audition’ showing at Summerhall every day from 10am-6pm until May 18th and his work can also be found at The Institute 14 Roseneath Street Edinburgh his studio/gallery/ cafe. Details can be found here.

THE NEXT DAY

The Next Day- David Bowie

The Next Day 

‘Here I am not quite dying’ is a fitting opening salvo for a man who on the 7th of January 2013 was plagued by rumours of extreme ill health and possibly even impending death. At that point the next headlines surrounding the alleged ailing former star many would assume to be his obituary. But as another  song says, what a difference a day makes; by the time most were waking up the next morning–his sixty sixth birthday- Bowie was once again global news having surprised the world at large by releasing a new single, his first new recorded material in a decade.

It wasn’t so much the song which was news-although it has revealed itself to be a slow burning melancholic classic reflecting on a happy and fruitful period of his life- but the fact that this arch manipulator had connived to dupe the world’s press and his own fan-base by managing to record not just the single but a whole album without anyone knowing. In an age when the private lives of the stars are only 140 characters away from their innermost  thoughts and movements this great star- probably greater than most of them combined- had managed to keep his comeback a total secret even from his record company thus throwing the world’s media into a state of confusion and flux as to how this could be.

The great flaw in this theory however is that a comeback suggests that Bowie had ever been away and though he has been low flying on the radar his DNA courses through our lives and the 21st century in ways in which we sometimes take for granted and are thus unaware of. We now live in the future he once imagined for us so it is more than fitting that he has decided to rejoin us and remind us all of this fact.

Unveiling his new single in the way he did was simply his way of showing up modern obsessions with celebrity for the sham they really are and for a man who built a career on artifice this was a double barrelled statement. By not making a fuss he created the biggest fuss of all. Ouch! Take that Lady Gaga et al.

So to the album then.

Opening with the title track ‘The Next Day’ which snarls, and sneers its way voraciously with haughty rock and roll attitude like only Bowie can. ‘You can’t get enough of that doomsday song’ he tells us over a beat which resembles a beefed up amphetamine rush through ‘Repetition’ from Lodger and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ from ‘Heroes’. Actually those two albums are the main constant reference points- along with other aspects of his backlog- throughout The Next Day and there is a sense, confirmed slightly by the cover sleeve art which is a debased cover of the aforementioned ‘Heroes’,that this album continues and returns to the state of mind and creativity which occupied him at this time. In a sense this is perhaps the album Lodger should have been rather than the disappointing work it eventually became which no-one, including its creator, was overly enamoured with.

The second track is the sax and sex driven space age chugger ‘Dirty Boys’ which will set the feet of all those not so young dudes tapping with delight with its skewed funky motifs. Up next is second single ‘Stars are out Tonight’ which even minus its Tilda Swinton assisted video which debunks his own myth whilst self referencing with reckless abandon rocks out on its own relentless terms and of course the reassurance  ‘Stars are never sleeping/ Dead ones or the living’ just in case anyone was still in any doubt.’ Love is Lost’ continues the pace before the swirling, melancholic, plaintive ‘Where are We Now’; the single which re-awakened the world to Bowie on that Tuesday morning in early January and which has him recollecting those halcyon days in the late seventies when he found himself in Berlin with little more than his disillusion with stardom and fame for company and Iggy Pop and artistic rehabilitation as his consorts. It is one of those great Bowie songs where he assumes the mantle of a space age crooning Sinatra and the melody and chord structure recalls Lodger’s ‘Fantastic Voyage’.

‘Valentines Day’ lightens the mood and occupies the space on the album that numbers such as ‘Kooks’, ‘The Prettiest Star’ and Everyone Says Hi’ did on previous collections. It is that lovely pop melody that Bowie despite all his haughty froideur cannot help inserting to create a little humanity and warmth amongst the detached chill which surrounds it. The least said about ‘If You Can See Me’,which makes an unwelcome return to the singing vicar does jungle of Earthling, the better although it is mercifully brief and perhaps the first misstep so far. Perhaps its main drawback is that it sounds like he is simply trying too hard whereas most of the material thus far has sounded rather effortless in comparison.

‘I’d Rather Be High’ is more of return to form and gets things back on track commendably as does ‘Boss of Me’ but ‘ Dancing Out In Space’ snaps us firmly out of our moonage daydreams and provides a new routine for our space faces ‘You move like water/ You’ve got stars on your head’ and is a quirky funky little number. ‘How Does the Grass Grow’ has Bowie incorporating the guitar lines form the Shadows’ ‘Apache’ as a sung cadence and it all works rather well  whilst ‘ (You Will) Set the World on Fire’ prepares us nicely for the two official closing tracks ;of course there is a deluxe version with a further three tracks.

The penultimate track ‘You Feel So Lonely You Could Die’ filches the kiss off line from ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ and revisits both ‘Drive In Saturday’ and ‘Five Years’ and is bound to be a firm favourite with long term Bowie enthusiasts. High melodrama, swirling crescendos and descending codas conspire to create a song of melancholy and beauty. Closing track ‘Heat’ is essentially a Bowie rewrite and retread of Scott Walker’s eerily spooky ‘The Electrician’ which has long been the song Bowie claims he wishes he had always written. Well here he does exactly that and it works as an update, refashioning and fitting finale to an album many thought they would never hear.

That is the album in full then and after several listens it has really taken root in my psyche in the way that vintage Bowie always also did. It is definitely his best and most consistent recording in several decades and shows that far from being washed up he was merely waiting until he had something worthwhile to give us all again.

2013 looks like being very much Bowie’s year  and his visage is everywhere from magazine covers and newspapers to television and the web almost on a daily basis whilst the upcoming V&A exhibition is already being reported as being their busiest ever. This album is  the cherry on the cake to all this attention and the fact we have a new David Bowie album at all is news in itself. The fact it is good and counts amongst some of his best is a bonus we couldn’t even have hoped for but then again when did he ever let us down? Apart from the eighties of course and as he had already created them for us in the seventies we can almost forgive him this artistically moribund era.

To hear the album in its entirety click the following link.

http://pitchfork.com/news/49744-listen-to-the-new-david-bowie-album-now/