Month: November 2015

SUNDAY LINKS 29/11/2015

wp-1448835429918.jpgAnother busy week, so little posting! I’m really enjoying my new job, and am generally feeling a bit more organised and prepared. Here are some links…

– Charlotte Tilbury opened a new boutique in London and it looks uk-mazing. And that dress!

– Why does a full stop totally change the tone of a sentence these days?

– Chriselle looks fantastic (as per) in black and navy. That’s totally my colour palette for winter so I can totally co-sign this aesthetic.

– Kate la Vie goes on an enviable trip to Paris with Elie Saab. Beautiful pictures ahoy!

A beautiful golden tree.

This was my favourite look on The Satorialist this week. I bought myself a vintage black velvet midi dress and am completely on board with anything vaguely witchy-looking right now.

A tiny cute earring.

– A romantic article on Unfettered Yorkshire. Sigh…

-Niko

ABOUT ERASMUS, or, why i haven’t graduated yet

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If you know me in real life, you’re probably aware that I spent the last year or so in Italy. If you know me in real life but we don’t talk ever, you might be wondering why I didn’t graduate university last year, with everyone else my age.Firstly, I went to two colleges; I did a BTec and then decided that I also wanted A-levels, so that was two years I happily delayed for the sake of getting onto an academic course (History of Art), but even then I should be graduating this year. I’m actually doing my second year of university again.

Because, let me tell you a thing, I did a year-long Erasmus placement at the University of Florence, and, much as I love the city, I did achieve very much, academically speaking.

The Italian University system is far different from that in the UK; lecture halls are packed and noisy, exams are oral, and the relationship between lecturer and student is much less like that of colleages, but like a secondary school teacher and teenager. I found this behaviour totally unprofessional, and it made me less keen to seek help when needed, as it was almost impossible for certain staff members to hide their distain for students. God forbid they should be required to do what they’re paid for…

The teaching style is different, too. There is heavy emphasis placed on memorising facts and dates, with very little room for personal interpretation or analysis. I’d go as far to agree that a lot of British students do have massive gaps in their general knowledge, but to go through a three year degree without developing critical skills just seems a waste of time to me. Students are allowed to resit exams as often as they want until they pass, provided that this is within twelve months of the original teaching, and many will fail several times. This is partly to do with the oral exam system, where the lecturer will simply call an end to the exam if a student struggles to answer the questions (in a written exam, you would just be able to return to the question later), and the fact that so many resits are permitted suggests that the university doesn’t even expect many Italian students to pass on the first go. Coming from a system where a resit is very rare, and only under extremely special circumstances, this is completely alien to me, as one would expect the teaching to be sufficient to equip the student to pass on the first try.

There’s also a lot of waiting around because of this oral system. An indefinite number of students can take a written exam at once, whereas obviously only one student can be questioned at a time. This meant that the exam I had signed up for on a Monday, I ended up sitting on Wednesday afternoon. Obviously at this point, the lecturer was sick of examining students, and decided to take it out on me by being what I can only describe as the rudest little twat I’ve ever encountered in my life. If it weren’t for that fact that I needed to stay sweet and negotiate a passing grade from him, he’d have had a verbal slap in the face after his first snarky comment.

I think the main problem was that my university had too much confidence in us, and expected us to attain a whole year’s worth of credits, just as we would in the UK. This is quite unusual for an Erasmus placement, as most sending institutions only require a certain amount of credits, then an assignment set from home to make up for the rest. This would have been better as it would have massively reduced the pressure I was under, and being pushed to do more self-directeed research would have made up for what I wasn’t getting in class.

When people ask me about it, I always tell them that they’re better off finishing their degree, and doing a gap year once they’ve graduated, completely circumventing the crappy university system. I’m glad I went to Florence, and have plans to move back ASAP, I only wish that I’d come out of it without having to appeal to my home university to continue my degree!

Has anyone else been on an Erasmus placement? How was it? Google, and the people I’ve spoken to tell me that they’ve had very similar experiences.

SUNDAY LINKS /// 22/11/15

wpid-wp-1448232676350.jpgHello and welcome to the newly-rebranded Sunday Links (I just don’t like the word ’roundup’). The wind is icy cold and I’m seeing more and more trees popping up – Christmas is just around the corner. Also I have a job so that’s good. That’s why I’m so busy. Anyway, here are some links!

– Posh, Broke & Bored shares her Seoul beauty haul. I need to get myself t0 SK, pronto!

– This Brooklyn bar menu generator is spot on for just about every trendy.

– Speaking of food, how about these three back-pocket sauces to jazz up plain ol’ chicken breasts? I have no more excuses for avoiding the bag of them in my freezer.

Life after getting laid off. The author has a great perspective on things, which a lot of u could really do with!

– The Atlantic on the increasing intolerance of student activists. Especially relevant in light of recent events at my own university (York).

– The most incredible display of paint pigments in Japan.

– Designers have people employed to look at archives. I am a very rummagey person and I would very much like to sign up for this task.

This photo from Scott Schuman is pulling on my heartstrings! He looks so relaxed, lazing at a Milanese bistro with his Aperol Spritz, while I’m here, freezing my fingers off in York. More Italian-themed mournings due on this blog soon, I promise.

– And also these pastries look amazing! I think when I have a free day and a lot of patience I will make an attempt at them.

I watched La Grande Bellezza this week and it fueled my longing for Italy.

– Niko

COCOA BLEND: zoeva’s dream palette

wpid-wp-1447957034012.jpgSince Zoeva’s Cocoa Blend palette was released this summer it’s been at the top of my wishlist (you might recognisse it from this wishlist), but I was a bit hesitant to pay the international shipping fees. Keeping my beady eye out, I finally snapped one up on Beauty Bay before it sold out again, taking advantage of their free and speedy tracked delivery.

And the wait was SO WORTH IT. For a ridiculously affordable price, you get ten beautiful eyeshadow colours that can take you from daily wear, to intense evening looks. The palette, themed around a box of chocolates as the names suggests, leans very much towards warm shades, and is a welcome change to the cool tones that are currently dominating my eye collection.

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The shadows themselves are super soft and easily to blend, and are packed with pigment so you can create looks as intense as you like. They’re interestingly multi-dimensional and you don’t really get to appreciate this until you apply them to the skin. Pure Ganache (bottom row, far left), for example, looks like a warm gold in the pan, but on the skin reveals a burnt reddish undertone. I was also really excited for Substitute For Love (bottom row, second left), an orangey matte that works well on its own, or as a base for a smokey eye combined with Beans are White (top row, far right) and with Delicate Acidity (bottom row, far right) as a ‘pop’ shade on the centre of the eyelid.

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In natural daylight

The packaging is gorgeous, and the chocolate box theme is carried clearly through with it. Made from card, the palette is lightweight, which makes it great for travel, especially since it’s such an all-purpose colour selection, but I would worry about it getting bashed up a bit in transit. It does come with another card sleeve for a bit of pretection, though.

Overall this is a brilliant palette with a great edit of shades that you can mix and match for just about any occasion, and I can see myself getting a lot of use from it. The price point is super affordable, and I’m already considering what my next Zoeva purchase will be.

-Niko

‘SPREZZY’: a recent history of menswear

If you read my Sunday Links regularly, you’ve probably noticed quite a few posts from Four Pins up on there. Last Friday, editor-in-chief, Lawrence Schlossman, resigned to move onto new projects. Four Pins has published his history in personal style and it’s quite funny to realise how long I’ve been following him on social media… that first picture of him in the sportcoat? I remember when that was posted on his Tumblr blog years ago, How to Talk to Girls at Parties. I’m not going to talk about Lawrence much here, because it feels stalkerish, but I’m going to use that gallery as a mini exploration of the past few years in menswear.

We first see Schlossman during his university years, dressing just like anyone else c.2004 would. This was before men’s clothing was really a ‘thing’ like it is now, high fashion was still seen as ‘metrosexual’ and not for the regular guy.

Notice how suddenly his style changes after that? There was definitely a massive revolution at the 2008-09 mark, when suddenly menswear blogs were everywhere, sharing outdated rules on how to dress, harking back to better days when men wore suits all the time, and there was a strong emphasis on Ivy League prep looks and heritage clothing. That then moved into a brief dip into heritage workwear. I mainly followed American bloggers, so my feeds were full of Bean Boots and lumberjack shirts. Probably handcrafted by people with pretentious beards in California or something.

It wasn’t long before people got bored of the stuffy and outdated rules that they were previously clamouring to fit into. Of course it was only natural, after a huge trend towards extremely casual fashion, starting from the 1980s, to yearn for some kind of formality and structure as a reflexive backlash, but there was a reason that we don’t dress with so many rules anymore, they simply don’t fit in with our modern lifestyles. Soon, we were enamoured with the Italians, ‘sprezzatura’ was the buzzword of the year, and Pitti Uomo was all anyone talked about. The relaxed tailoring that we see in pic. 14 of the article marked the beginning of the departure (or redeparture) of the strict rules that the menswear world had briefly revived.

Schlossman then embraces much more casual style, but in a for more flattering and grown-up manner. This has been the general trend in men’s clothing and as you can see, it’s he’s clearly approaching a comfort zone that is equal parts classic and modern, and he doesn’t at all look like he’s wearing a costume.

The final images in various all-black getups are absolutely great; you can see someone who’s totally in their element, and while it was great that there was a brief revival of ‘the rules’, it’s even better that they’ve been broken and played with to bring us to what we have today on the menswear scene. Elements of classic tailoring are still there, but there’s far more room to inject some personality without being sneered at for wearing the wrong type of tweed at the wrong time of year, and we’re really moving to a point where fashoin isn’t just for women or camp men, it’s for everyone.

Any observations to add?

– Niko

LIPCOTE: beauty’s worst-kept secret

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I feel like this product is seriously underrated, and since I arrived back at university without it, I’ve just felt lost! Lipcote is a lipstick sealer that prevents smudging, feathering and fading, and is an absolute life saver!

I think a lot of people who have heard of it have been put off by the previous formulation, which had a strong chemical smell and stung while it dried on the lips, but it’s back with a vanilla flavour and none of the sting, a welcome improvement.  Simply apply lipstick, blot, then paint a thin layer of the product on your lips and let it dry. Your lipstick will become unbudgeable and withstand everything from eating to regular everyday wear, no reapplication needed.

It works best for matte lipsticks and simply won’t work on anything really glossy, so if you want that look, I’d recommend applying Lipcote and putting gloss over the top, but for strong colours in matte and cream formulations, this is perfect.

I’m glad Lipcote and I have been reunited, this time with prettier packaging and more lip-friendly!

– Niko

SUNDAY ROUNDUP /// 15/11/15

wpid-wp-1447604262858.jpgI’ve been quiet here this week… a few uni-related things but I’ve got myself together now and have a couple of ideas up my sleeve for next week! Anyway, your links for this week, mesdames et messieurs:

– Speaking of busy people, the Business of Fashion interviewed Giambattista Valli. Twelve. Collections. Per year.

Seoul’s Café Dior looks so crazy on the outside, but the interiors are divine…

– Toeing the line between heritage and modern can be difficult, but this Swedish house is perfect interior design inspiration.

– An interesting critical review on the V&A’s Japanese art collection from the Economist.

– If you’re ever wondering what a clueless and out-of-touch person looks like, this is it.

– Food52 (sort of) explains the Maillard reaction. Especially pertinent because I’ve been using a lot of beurre noisette this week (heaven.)

– Possibly the best advice column ever. I’ve always found that the most intelligent people I know tend not to go shouting it from the rafters.

– How many browser tabs is too many?

– Garance Doré on willpower. I can relate.

– Do you ever hate-wear things?

Now, time to get more work done!

– Niko

DETAILS: pompon

pomponThat’s French for ‘pompom’.

You know when you keep seeing something everywhere, then you can’t stop thinking about it? That’s heppening for my with pompoms. A little bit theatrical, a little bit retro, and the perfect way to add a bit of fun to an outfit, they’re like polka dots that came to life. I’ve got pompoms on the brain! Here’s a mini edit if you’re looking to add something to your own collection – I’ve already bought the bag charms to satisfy my craving…

  1. Grey rabbit fur bag charm, £1 /// 2. Peach rabbit fur bag charm, £2 /// 3. Claire’s black plush pom pom ears headband, £5 /// 4. Next black pom pom point shoes, £28 /// 5. Boohoo glitter pom pom clutch bag, £14 /// 6. River Island black pom pom heeled sandals, £70.

– Niko

CUCINELLI: conscience and cashmere

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Today, ladies and gentlemen, I want to talk to you a little bit about Brunello Cucinelli, of Brunello Cucinelli fame. The Business of Fashion published an article about him last week, and I was reminded again why he’s one of my favourite people in the fashion industry right now. So basically this post is going to be a lot of gushing and a little bit of reflecting on what makes him such a great guy. I hope you’re as passionate about knitwear brands as I am.

It’s currently very trendy to criticise businesses; they exploit their workers, destroy the environment, encourage mindless consumption, and overall have no social conscience. Apparently. I’m not saying that this isn’t true of some large companies, because I know it is, but what I love about Cucinelli is that he has cultivated a brand that pulls in healthy profits, whilst being totally unique in the way he goes about things. Through his so-called ‘humanistic capitalism’, he has restored a historic village, his staff have brilliant work hours and are well cared-for, and he only seems to be making the world a better place. If you’re not familiar with him already, I’d really recommend that BoF article just to get an idea.

Cucinelli is a massive inspiration to me, as someone who hopes to run their own business in the future, as he demonstrates just how businesses can keep investors happy whilst creating more than an empire, but a legacy of conscientiousness and good practice. Paying employees above the minimum wage, and making sure they have free time and are otherwise comfortable not only creates good morale, but has the bonus of allowing the company to select only the best workers that truly want to be associated with the brand – I like to think that simply being nice comes back to you, and this is certainly an example. I could cynically say that this is just part of a business plan, but to me it feels like that and more; Cucinelli seems to genuinely care that his name and image isn’t solely associated with fine knitwear and luxury goods, but a more holistic idea of community and mutually beneficial relationships.

While I’m not going to tear down any business that people are happy to buy from, even with massive mark-ups – I’m not one to tell people how to spend their own money or impose my own ideas of worth stuff people want – I really appreciate the fact that his pricing reflects the quality of the products and the production system that maintains a happy workforce. Yeah, Cucinelli is far out of my own budget at the moment, but I really wouldn’t mind parting with my hard-earned cash when I don’t feel like they’re trying to squeeze every last penny from me.

Finally, the fact that he’s doing this whilst gradually restoring the 12th century village in which everything takes place is incredible; travelling via train through Tuscany, I’d always long to buy up all the crumbling historic villages and save them from ruin before it’s too late to do anything. By also using said buildings to house his business, they become useful and relevant – granted a second life, rather than being turned into museum relics of times past, a free market solution to preservation. He’s even built a theatre that sensitively blends in with the traditional architecture.

Sure, if and when I become rich (I’ve decided to be rich one day) I’ll still buy a load of rich people stuff like Valentino gowns and fully-staffed yachts (naturaly), but I’ll also want to feel like my money is doing some perceptible good, and changing the world for the better. Brunello Cucinelli does all of this, and genuinely seems to be striking the perfect balance between work and personal life. If there’s any business I’d want to model after, it’s this one.

– Niko

SUNDAY ROUNDUP /// 08.11.15

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This weekend I achieved approximately 10% of the things I was planning to do. Oh, lazy days…

In the spirit of Movember, Buzzfeed’s Try Guys get prostate exams. I know this is presented in a comedic way, but I think it’s good that they’re bringing attention to and normalising something that people are often embarrassed about, maybe saving a few lives in the process.

Garance Doré highlights another non-nail-art nail art. I actually saw this on Dita von Teese a few years ago, and I’d definitely like to try it at some point.

I really loved this look that The Sartorialist posted this week. Absolutely nothing in this pictures should work, but it just does, you know?

5 Simple Steps to Starting Your Day Right. Really helpful to me, as my attempts to take up running have been somewhat disrupted by a REALLY painful rib injury and poor planning.

Nubby Twiglet shares why your business NEEDS a press kit. As someone with a few projects planned in the future, this is definitely something I need to be thinking about.

About James Bond’s boots. I watched Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, and Skyfall for the first time last week and what struck me (aside from all the product placement) was how Bond wasn’t just classically well-dressed, but actually STYLISH. Props to the wardrobe department!

Pictures of plastic bags, coupled with quotes from Humans of New York. Somehow, this all makes sense.

Beautiful bridal shoot – I love the model’s profile, and that backless dress!

Did you see Kurt Cobain’s grody old cardigan was auctioned off this week? I suppose things have as much value as you give them.

Raf Simons speaks to Cathy Horyn about the pace of things at Dior. It’s not so surprising when reading this, to see why he left.

OH MY GOD. REMEMBER THIS?!

Off to buy my combats and one-shoulder top now. Byeeeeee!

– Niko